Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Gone With the War

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Who would have thought that Gone With the Wind was an anti-war novel?

“All wars are sacred,” he [Rhett Butler] said. “To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn’t make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to,fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles, But so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of bugles and drums and fine words from stay-at-home orators. Sometimes the rallying cry is ‘Save the Tomb of Christ from the Heathen!’ Sometimes it’s ‘Down with Popery!’and sometimes ‘Liberty!’ and sometimes ‘Cotto, Slavery and States’ Right!’ ”

-Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, ChapterXII

But it is Scarlett O’Hara who hits the nail on the head with her naive reaction against jingoism:

When first she looked at the crowd, Scarlett’s heart had thump- thumped with the unaccustomed excitement of being at a party, but as she half-comprehendingly saw the high-hearted look on the faces about her, her joy began to evaporate. Every woman present was blazing with an emotion she did not feel. It bewildered and depressed her. Somehow, the ball did not seem so pretty nor the girls so dashing, and the white heat of devotion to the Cause that was still shining on every face seemed–why, it just seemed silly!

In a sudden flash of self-knowledge that made her mouth pop open with astonishment, she realized that she did not share with these women their fierce pride, their desire to sacrifice themselves and everything they had for the Cause. Before horror made her think: “No–no! I mustn’t think such things! They’re wrong–sinful,” she knew the Cause meant nothing at all to her and that she was bored with hearing other people talk about it with that fanatic look in their eyes. The Cause didn’t seem sacred to her. The war didn’t seem to be a holy affair, but a nuisance that killed men senselessly and cost money and made luxuries hard to get. She saw that she was tired of the endless knitting and the endless bandage rolling and lint picking that roughened the cuticle of her nails. And oh, she was so tired of the hospital! Tired and bored and nauseated with the sickening gangrene smells and the endless moaning, frightened by the look that coming death gave to sunken faces.

She looked furtively around her, as the treacherous, blasphemous thoughts rushed through her mind, fearful that someone might find them written clearly upon her face. Oh, why couldn’t she feel like those other women! They were whole hearted and sincere in their devotion to the Cause. They really meant everything they said and did. And if anyone should ever suspect that she– No, no one must ever know! She must go on making a pretense of enthusiasm and pride in the Cause which she could not feel, acting out her part of the widow of a Confederate officer who bears her grief bravely, whose heart is in the grave, who feels that her husband’s death meant nothing if it aided the Cause to triumph.

Oh, why was she different, apart from these loving women? She could never love anything or anyone so selflessly as they did. What a lonely feeling it was–and she had never been lonely either in body or spirit before. At first she tried to stifle the thoughts, but the hard self-honesty that lay at the base of her nature would not permit it. And so, while the bazaar went on, while she and Melanie waited on the customers who came to their booth, her mind was busily working, trying to justify herself to herself–a task which she seldom found difficult.

The other women were simply silly and hysterical with their talk of patriotism and the Cause, and the men were almost as bad with their talk of vital issues and States’ Rights. She, Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton, alone had good hard-headed Irish sense. She wasn’t going to make a fool out of herself about the Cause, but neither was she going to make a fool out of herself by admitting her true feelings. She was hard-headed enough to be practical about the situation, and no one would ever know how she felt. How surprised the bazaar would be if they knew what she really was thinking! How shocked if she suddenly climbed on the bandstand and declared that she thought the war ought to stop, so everybody could go home and tend to their cotton and there could be parties and beaux again and plenty of pale green dresses.

op. cit., Chapter IX

Bad Bad Bad

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Was Mohammed, the Koran’s Prophet, a despicable pedophile?

A Short Illustrated History of Sex and Violence

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Here’s a brilliant illustration presenting a history of sex and violence throughout time. I believe the artist is Milo Manara. It’s a big horizontal tableau, sort of like the Bayeux Tapestry, and very entertaining. It is also very graphic in its portrayal, so don’t let kids or Baptists see it. Click on the link below to see it in all of its lewd glory:


Utopia in Pictures

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

A wonderful French online exhibition on Utopian visions has some startling galleries of illustrations. They deal with old conjectures about the future, contemporary accounts of Western encroachment into the New World, and social and economic revolution. I have posted some of the most striking images below. (more…)

Vietnam and Iraq

Monday, September 10th, 2007

It’s an open secret that the Bush administration wants to bomb Iran.  So if Iraq is like Vietnam, according to the forty-third President, then is Iran like Cambodia and Laos?

This is going to end well.

Why You Should Become an Army Medic

Monday, August 20th, 2007

I was talking to a retired army medic last night. He had been shot three times (with one bullet still in him), served in three wars (Vietnam, Panama, and Gulf I), and yet he did not regret his army career.

In response to my noting that nurses tend to be very touchy-feely, perhaps due to the physical nature of their work, he told me of the greatest benefit to being an army medic. Being shot at is no fun, but during peacetime, medic battallions are often sent out on field exercises, for weeks at a time. Five hundred nurses all alone in the woods, with nothing to do at night. Of these five hundred nurses, maybe thirty would be men, and as my friend put it, “about twenty of these guys didn’t really care for women.” So that makes for a ratio of about forty five lonely female nurses for every straight guy. Four hundred and seventy nurses, healthy, young and horny, all alone in the forest with only ten fellows to keep them company at night. There was never a porno movie made with such an exciting premise. And this man lived it.

Beyond the salacious sylvan romps, I learned some other things about being an army medic. After college, he joined the army in 1974, as they would train him to become a full registered nurse (he had not gone to a nursing school, but to a regular college on a basketball scholarship). He figured he was safe, because the Vietnam War was winding down. He was mistaken. His whole graduating class got sent to Vietnam in 1975 to mop up the dead and wounded. Of his medic battallion, half were killed. No-one had told the Viet-Cong that medics are protected by the Geneva Convention. As all the fighting troops had gone home, he and his fellow medics worked unprotected, as he described it, “while we matched body parts and put them into body bags.” Retired, at the age of fifty one, the Army tried to talk him into going back into service two years ago for the Iraq War, ostensibly to train and teach. He laughed and refused when they asked him. When I noted that, had he reenlisted, the Army could have reneged and sent him anywhere that they wanted, including the war zone, he agreed that, “they have a way of doing that.”

It is worth noting that he found one shared trait among the surviving nurses — they all played army as kids, so had honed the instincts of acting smart and staying low under fire, even in play.

This man loved his career as a nurse and medic, with the good and the bad. So for the young man looking for his way in the world, eager for adventure and female attention, go out into the woods, play war, and dream of being an Army medic.

Phaemon’s Dog

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Phaemon the philosopher had a little dog whom he had trained to go to the butcher every bring back a lump of meat in a basket. This virtuous creature, who would never dare to touch a scrap until Phaemon gave it permission, was one day set upon by a pack of mongrels who snatched the basket from its mouth and began to tear the meat to pieces and bolt it greedily down. Phaemon, watching from an upper window, saw the dog deliberate for a moment just what to do. It was clearly no use trying to rescue the meat from the other dogs: they wouild kill it for its pains. So it rushed in among them and itself ate as much of the meat as it could get hold of. In fact it ate more than any of the other dogs, because it was both braver and cleverer.

from Claudius the God, by Robert Graves, 1935

Such is the cruel fate of the virtuous when faced with suffuse and irradicable corruption.

China, India, and the Rest of the World

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

I’ve been doing some population studies, and in trying to get the big picture, I have made a little chart on world population trends by country (source:, which you can take a gander at below: (more…)

Mrs. Evanchik Interviews the Infantry

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Mrs. Monica Evanchik, my lovely and talented wife, has made an excellent mini-documentary on a US Infantry officer who got wounded in Iraq. In a short three minute piece, she gleans, from hours of interviews and many photos, this soldier’s story of attending West Point, being unexpectedly called back into service, getting wounded, and recuperating and rotating back into his civilian life.


Palestine and the Sopranos

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

As I read about the civil war going on between Fatah and Hamas for control of Gaza, I can’t help but be reminded of the last episodes of the Sopranos, of two rival gangs of gangsters murdering each other over petty differences and the spoils of their bandit kingdoms.