Tag Archives: war

Rest Me Naught

Rest me Naught

The partisans attacked
Shortly after sun dawned
Trapped behind the lines
Two days after the treaty signed

Under grey sky I consider
Am I the last one to perish?
Perhaps the final number
In a redundant skirmish

Papers signed inky in a rail car
I’ll never chance to see
Peace comes for some
But no solace arrives for me

The religious get their rites
Murderers given last meals
I’m ordered a shovel
And to get down on my knees

Night-flashes of lost loves
Forever gone forlorn
First flash of eye glance
Waking early on a first mourn

Distant desperate acts
Seeking a fleeting peace
Unadvised by the muddy
The needy and the weak

Boots and coats removed
To strip last identity
The cold doesn’t sting
As much as anonymity

Trenches are flooded
Mortar shells rest unused
Canteen still has drops
Munitions stockpiled to abuse

Grandmother will never know
When my corpus lays
Flowers will grow eventually
While a Legion prays

I am unknown to no-one
Forgotten by unborn kin
What counts as victory?
Who credits this a win?

No photo in a locket
Soggy letters long left to rot
Telegrams remain unanswered
No lover to forget me not

(All my years for naught)

Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government

Continue reading Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Slice of Guam / Micronesia / German history from WW1

Super interesting video by the (excellent) series The Great War about the Germans in Micronesia in WW1.

In brief: The Germans “colonized” Palau (and Pohnpei i believe) during the pre-war period, but when the Japanese took over their holdings, their ships were stuck without ability to re-provision,. As such, ended up in Guam (held by the then-neutral US who’d “acquired” the island during the then-recent Spanish-American war (along with Philippines and Puerto Rico)).

For a period, the US, Germans and Chamorros lived together without much incident, but when the US entered the war, the warship Cormoran was told to surrender but instead, was scuttled. The hulk now lays in Apra harbour, with the Tokai Maru (Japanese naval vessel sunk by US sub in WW2) alongside, together making a popular dive site.

{I lived on Guam and travelled to Palau, Yap etc. in early 1990s and was well familiar with WW2 history and this wreck but didn’t know the details of the back story.}

Also (from comment elsewhere):

Keep in mind, i have big heart for the Micronesian people pulled into wars with NOTHING to do with them and their interests. (Spent extended time in Guam, Saipan, Palau (my fave place on earth) and Yap.

IMO The only way to (possibly) prevent future catastrophes is to learn the fck-ups of hubris and vagaries of colonialism to then intelligently articulate the rights of peaceful people.

Note that Guam was dragged into another few erstwhile global conflict chapters of late – ergo: repopulation of bases (many of which were repatriated to locals control in mid-1990s) after US Military bad-actors repeated fcked up in Okinawa predicating mass migration of troops due to local pressure/protest, plus the sabre rattling by DPRK with threats of bombs at Andersen AFB (which i passed through almost daily for 18 months to a landlocked beach – no longer possible to do). Also worth noting: each day thousands of ROK holidaymakers come to the island so the threat wasn’t just to US interests, but also to intimidate other Koreans.

In all of the this, the locals (especially indigenous Chamorros – who vote for a US congress-rep but who is not able to vote in US congress) are further marginalized. The “spin” is it creates jobs and increases “aid” to the island.

Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63

Remembrance Day with Vasco's Bones

From an olden church and (otherwise vacant) cenotaph at Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, Dave O – acknowledging an extended medical and death related hiatus – discusses the local history of colonization by Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, then British Raj in the context of the colonization leading to exploitation, conscription and war with no meaning to local populace. Plus the meaning of reparations and the conflict of peaceful resistance – evidenced my Mahatma Gandhi beach a stone’s throw away – contrasted with continued wars throughout the world, shadowed by disposable tourism, economic and racial caste systems.

Recorded Nov. 11, 2016, Released 11:11 Nov. 11, 2017

Gather Round for Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63  (37:11, .mp3, 192k, 58MB, stereo)

Also of note: Vasco da Gama’s bones, black knee-high socks, French generational losses, siege of Leningrad, Churchill’s mishaps, lost human potential of engineers, poets and lovers, MacArthur’s folly, Australia’s vulnerability, the emergence of regions over nation-states, Brexit for British Columbia + Cascadia, Catalonia and Scottish successions, work of raising a child, trappings of hubris, death by disease and guns, aggressive use of intelligence, forethought and diplomacy, and unfiltered view of sacrifice and life.

Cover art photo: By Dave Olson at Fort Cochin, taken by Lomo Sardine can camera with expired B&W film.

Remembrance Day Peace Ramble in Cochin, Kerala, India


11:11, 11/11, in Cochin, India, Dave – wearing a handmade poppy on Mahatma Gandhi beach by Chinese fishing nets – riffs about sacrifices of soldiers, sailors, flyers, resistance fighters, parents. Plus discusses the importance of avoiding jingoism which leads to war and death and name-checks Henry David Thoreau, condemns greed, and encourages peace and diplomacy and compassion.

Roll your own Remembering 11/11/11:11

For the fallen, the resisters, the hurt and even the vanquished. #RemembranceDay #Poppy #NoMoreWar

Rabbit Holes of History: Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, War in Pacific etc.

*** Study Notes from Rabbit Holes including Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, and War in Pacific etc ***

Over the past while, whilst dealing with this illness, I’ve gone down deep into “rabbit holes” about various segments of history.

Went deep into Norse history from early viking expeditions to Orkneys and Hebredies in search of (literally) greener pastures, to invasions of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Francia and expeditions to Russia including trading with Middle East – Also their steel forging skills – All through to the Norman invasion with William the Conquero. Then Viking voyages to North Atlantic away from Europe and to North America. Also learned about new satellite archaeology techniques used for finding settlement sites in eastern Canada. There will be remarkable discoveries in the next decade which will rewrite books.

Then went deep into “dark” ages to the founding of what is now modern western Europe – roughly from post-Roman to Charlemange. I was specifically interested in how a culture grows up around the ruins of a much greater culture. Like you’re a dirt farmer in what is now England and you look around at lovely aqueduct and empty baths while you try to figure out how to get clean water. Makes me wonder if we’re living in a “dark ages” or we’re the Romans.

Then deep into the “Great war” and the unrest and revolutions which happened in the aftermath which broke down monarchies and gave rise to nationstates… But also produced situations which led to what we now call World War II through rise of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and showed the falls of capitalism through the depression. Each of these flavors contributed in away to the events that transpired. (Also Hitler’s home movies and i’ve already absorbed everything about art theft during this era).

Then deep into the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill and Josef Stalin and how they had to jockey amongst themselves to convince the others of the importance of their different priorities… Also deep into the north African campaigns through the desert – especially the desert expeditionary unit (mostly New Zealanders) who lived for months at a time in uncharted areas in difficult conditions to gather intelligence. They did receive a rum ration though.

And also I am continually unpacking my knowledge of the war in the Pacific… Most recently started with “Fall of Japan” a massive tome which chronicles – in great nuanced detail – the events in Japan from the day after Nagasaki bombing to the signing on Missouri (Aug. 6-30 1945).

As you might expect, lots of efforts to raid the palace, people convinced the emperor was a body double or coerced, dozens of ritual suicide by high-ranking officials, people going into hiding, renegade bands of soldiers holding tough, and back channel diplomacy actions trying to smooth things over for an inevitable fate. Including all the secret communication machinations used to finally get messages back-and-forth between the right people to effectuate the surrender and peace and landing etc.

Then watched film called Emperor – this began as MacArthur and his crew were landing at Atsugi after the signing and follows the story of a General Bonner Fellows who was tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito would be held to trial or not. Of course he had to wrangle between Tojo (who just had tried to kill himself but was “saved” in time to be tried and executed, and Kanabe (?), the previous prime minister, and all the militarists and hard core zealots who insisted on vague answers and didn’t understand that really they didn’t *really* want to try Hito but they needed an legitimate excuse not to do so.

Also Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur wasn’t too bad actually, and they dramatized the famous meeting between the Emperor and The Supreme Commander with only one dedicated translator between them. And they re-created the famous photograph.

Then, I’m onto a book called “Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan” which doubles back over the previous bit and starts with the planning of the signature ceremony on the USS Missouri and into his landing at Atsugi and motorcade (with thousands of Japanese soldiers turning their backs in respect) and starting to issue his edicts to manage the situation and deal with a starving population.

Still working on this one.

A few notes include (from a civilian peacenik perspective):

The rivalry between Army and Navy is far more vast than I realized. We civilians think of the Armed Forces as fairly unified and not completely discrete, or/and even rival, units. Of course this is most evident in the rivalry between MacArthur and Nimitz but also amongst the rank and file – especially jr officers seeking to climb the ladder.

The Tokyo firebombings must’ve been even more miserable way to go then the Atomic bombs further south. Both suck. Also glad Eleanor Roosevelt pushed so hard to spare Kyoto from the bombs.

The Russians joining the war against Japan the day after Nagasaki and still expecting a seat at the negotiation table so to speak. Funny Russians.

The Chinese Reds filling the power vacuum left by Chinese army instantly after the bombs – even while the news was still travelling to POW camps around Asia. The commandants of the camps did not know quite what to think when Allied forces started parachuting in to demand release.

The two-men chosen by Japan to sign the surrender document: the diplomat with the wooden leg who had to get from the US Destroyer to a launch via a bosun’s chair, and then try to maintain dignity wall climbing up a ladder on the side of the Missouri while wearing a cutaway coat and a top hat.

MacArthur’s choice of guests to be on board at the signing was very specific and included the Canadian doctor (who signed on Canada’s behalf) who had done the surgery on the affirmation Japanese diplomat’s leg.

He also made sure to invite a bunch of generals who got their ass kicked in the war including the poor bastard who was left on the Philippines (Wainwright whom MacArthur greeted with a “Hey Skinny!”) when MacArther split to Australia, plus the British general who had to surrender Singapore when they were caught unaware.

As per above: Didn’t realize MacArthur had fcked up and ignored orders after Pearl Harbor. Stationed in the Philippines, he didntorder a full alert and, as a result, the Philippines was destroyed quickly by the Japanese who were well ready for the invasion.

MacArthur’s move of exiting the plane with no weapons was a powerful move. Oh also, MacArthur had Admiral Perry’s US flag expedited from the Smithsonian to have on display on the Missouri. Nice nuanced touch which was noted by the Japanese who, after the ceremony, discussed amongst themselves they would have treated their vanquished enemy so kindly and respectfully. They concurred that they would not have and that convinced them to cooperate with the victorious allies.

I’m interested to continue on with this work and to see how MacArthurs “Republican” views were instrumental in outline things like brewing and hemp production in Japan.

From Truth Dig comes Chris Hedges Favorite Books

From Truth Dig comes Chris Hedges Favorite Books

This booklist includes Ulysses, Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick and other classics.

The Oxford Shakespeare

By William Shakespeare

The Oxford Shakespeare is the ultimate anthology of the Bard’s work: the most authoritative edition of the plays and poems ever published.

Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness, a novella written by Joseph Conrad, tells the story of Charles Marlow, an Englishman who took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa.

Kolyma Tales

By Varlam Shalamov; John Glad (Translator)

It is estimated that some 3 million people died in the Soviet forced-labor camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent 17 years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, their hopes and plans extending no further than a few hours.

Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville

No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville’s monumental Moby Dick.  Mad Captain Ahab’s quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic—a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity.  It is the greatest sea story ever told.  Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville’s contemporaries.  Today, however, it is indisputably a classic.  As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick “commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world.”

The Brothers Karamazov

By Fyodor M. Dostoevsky; Constance Garnett (Translator)

The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, and is generally considered the culmination of his life’s work. Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880. Dostoevsky intended it to be the first part in an epic story titled The Life of a Great Sinner, but he died less than four months after its publication. The book portrays a patricide in which each of the murdered man’s sons share a varying degree of complicity. On a deeper level, it is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, reason, free will and modern Russia.

Life and Fate

By Vasily Grossman; Robert Chandler (Introduction by)
A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century. Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even stranger hope. Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers’ nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves.

The Balkan Trilogy

By Olivia Manning; Rachel Cusk (Introduction by)
The Balkan Trilogy is the story of a marriage and of a war, a vast, teeming, and complex masterpiece in which Olivia Manning brings the uncertainty and adventure of civilian existence under political and military siege to vibrant life. Manning’s focus is not the battlefield but the café and kitchen, the bedroom and street, the fabric of the everyday world that has been irrevocably changed by war, yet remains unchanged.

At the heart of the trilogy are newlyweds Guy and Harriet Pringle, who arrive in Bucharest—the so-called Paris of the East—in the fall of 1939, just weeks after the German invasion of Poland. Guy, an Englishman teaching at the university, is as wantonly gregarious as his wife is introverted, and Harriet is shocked to discover that she must share her adored husband with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Other surprises follow: Romania joins the Axis, and before long German soldiers overrun the capital. The Pringles flee south to Greece, part of a group of refugees made up of White Russians, journalists, con artists, and dignitaries. In Athens, however, the couple will face a new…

The Collected Essays, Journalism And Letters Of George Orwell

By George Orwell
A record of a great writer’s nonfiction work and an evolving picture of the last years of his life, during the time when he published Animal Farm and 1984. “A magnificent tribute to the probity, consistency and insight of Orwell’s topical writings….A remarkable self-portrait” (Alfred Kazin, Book World). Edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus; Index.

Open Society and Its Enemies

By Karl Popper
Popper was born in 1902 to a Viennese family of Jewish origin. He taught in Austria until 1937, when he emigrated to New Zealand in anticipation of the Nazi annexation of Austria the following year, and he settled in England in 1949. Before the annexation, Popper had written mainly about the philosophy of science, but from 1938 until the end of the Second World War he focused his energies on political philosophy, seeking to diagnose the intellectual origins of German and Soviet totalitarianism. The “Open Society and Its Enemies” was the result.

The Origins of Totalitarianism

By Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

Moral Man and Immoral Society

By Reinhold Niebuhr
Moral Man and Immoral Society is Reinhold Niebuhr’s important early study in ethics and politics. Forthright and realistic, it discusses the inevitability of social conflict, the brutal behavior of human collectives of every sort, the inability of rationalists and social scientists to even imagine the realities of collective power, and, ultimately, how individual morality can overcome social immorality.

The Nature and Destiny of Man

By Reinhold Niebuhr; Robin W. Lovin (Introduction by)

“The Nature and Destiny of Man” issues a vigorous challenge to Western civilization to understand its roots in the faith of the Bible, particularly the Hebraic tradition. The growth, corruption, and purification of the important Western emphases on individuality are insightfully chronicled here. This book is arguably Reinhold Niebuhr’s most important work. It offers a sustained articulation of Niebuhr’s theological ethics and is considered a landmark in twentieth-century thought.

Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

By Sheldon S. Wolin
Democracy is struggling in America—by now this statement is almost clich. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In “Democracy Incorporated,” Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms “inverted totalitarianism”?
Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive—and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a “managed democracy” where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today’s America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today’s politics, the quest for an…

The Destruction of the European Jews

By Raul Hilberg
A three-volume study of the Holocaust. First published in 1961, Raul Hilberg’s comprehensive account of how Germany annihilated the Jewish community of Europe spurred discussion, galvanized further research, and shaped the entire field of Holocaust studies. This revised and expanded edition of Hilberg’s classic work extends the scope of his study and includes 80,000 words of new material, particularly from archives in Eastern Europe, added over a lifetime of research. It is the definitive work of a scholar who has devoted more than 50 years to exploring and analyzing the realities of the Holocaust. Spanning the 12-year period of anti-Jewish actions from 1933 to 1945, Hilberg’s study encompasses Germany and all the territories under German rule or influence. Its principal focus is on the large number of perpetrators – civil servants, military personnel, Nazi party functionaries, SS men, and representatives of private enterprises – in the machinery of death.

Samuel Johnson: A Biography

By W. Jackson Bate
Bate’s magisterial biography provides a picture of Johnson as a genius and as a human being, a man whose brilliance was born out of the torment of his mind.

The Fire Next Time

By James Baldwin

At once a powerful evocation of his childhood in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, The Fire Next Time, which galvanized the nation in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, stands as one of the essential works of our literature.

In Search of Lost Time

By Marcel Proust

For this authoritative English-language edition, D. J. Enright has revised the late Terence Kilmartin’s acclaimed reworking of C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation to take into account the new definitive French editions of À la recherche du temps perdu (the final volume of these new editions was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1989).

Ulysses

By James Joyce

Loosely based on the Odyssey, this landmark of modern literature follows ordinary Dubliners through an entire day in 1904. Captivating experimental techniques range from interior monologues to exuberant wordplay and earthy humor.

Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61

Vimy Rdge Diaires

On Remembrance Day in sunny, brisk Vancouver, Ian Bell (fresh from a CBC appearance “On The Coast“) joins Dave to read from Grandpa Mark’s diaries written in the trenches in WW1 as a young Canadian. From the library steps with a flask of scotch, they reflect on the costs and motivations of war, importance of friendship and the ethereal experience of going “over the top” and facing the terror on the other side, plus anecdotes about capturing Germans soldiers and discourse on the importance of personal documentation to pass forward to generations.

Sit awhile for: Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61 (38:00, 32MB, 128k mp3)

Continue reading Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61

Invasion of Peleliu (AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC – 1944)

Invasion of Peleliu