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Apr. 5th, 2015


It's just a game app ... and it's free.

The thing about the biking around town and playing a gps game, that's still happening. I even bought a new bike and a bigger cell phone and a cell phone holder for my bike and a better headlight and then I had to get high-vis shirts because I ride at night and then I upgraded my data plan.

Ingress is not free, but it's pretty cool and I'm glad i'm playing, but it's not free. It also takes time ... or does it? I would suggest riding from gps point to gps point with a plan of attack is better than watching a movie or ballgame every evening. I get my legs and heart pumping and a brain strategizing the strategery.

Tonight I blanketed my nieghborhood in green Easter grass. I created fields over my part of Tempe. This is the intel map of my area tonight.

I built the fields right of center around the lakes and over highway 60. It took a week to plan and collect the gear I needed, 2.5h hours to clear blockers and field. That's a discussion for another day. I started by bike at 10pm but realized an hour in that I was way behind schedule, so I got the dog in the Jeep and we finshed my gps connections.

It can be a free game if you choose casual play. I had to buy Mikey a new collar.

You can see enemy territory in the northwest, the blue triangle. The Enlightened green team is winning here.

Your town has a map of portals and a battle going on right now. You're just not in it.

Feb. 3rd, 2015


Smurfs vs Frogs

I've never been a fan of gaming. Video games don't interest me. There is one one exception but I haven't played in years. I've always enjoyed building virtual cities with Sim City. I owned four versions of the game over the years. I love sports so you'd think I'd be into sports games, but I'm not, and the shooter games bore me to no end.

The idea of sitting on a couch for hours on end flicking my fingers on a game controller while staring at the screen seems a waste of time. I'm simply not a gamer. I get the attraction, the technology is amazing, I'm just not part of the gaming generation.

Last week I downloaded an app to my iPhone that changes my gaming attitude, because this game is like no other I've tried. Ingress is a GPS based game developed by Google that's played out in the real world. You have to go outdoors, walk, run, bike and move around to play. You could cheat and use a car, and people do, but the idea is to get off your ass and interact with the world around you.

I'm out of shape and I must do something about it. I've had periods of heavy activity, gym memberships, running, exercise machines and periods of inactivity. Right now I'm in one of those ruts. I find excercise to be boring, a chore. Ingress might be the solution.

I've been riding my bike all over town since I downloaded the app, 60 minutes, 90 and 2 hour treks between GPS points used in the game. Without getting too much into the details the game has two teams and those factions fight for control of portals, the GPS points of monuments, public art, landmarks, parks, public bulldings, etc. It's a game of war played on the biggest board of all, Google Maps.

Millions of people play all over the developed world, Ingress is huge in Japan, Europe and here in the USA. Maybe I'll post something in the future in regard to the game's details, but for now I just going to get on my bike and ride. I hope this sticks, because I really need to get back in shape.

Jan. 13th, 2015


Here's Looking At You

It should be no shock the immediate response to the Charlie Hebdo attack is more surveilance, more police presence and more homeland security. My skin crawls when I hear this, because we all know these massacres only happen because our security apparatus failed. 911 was not an achievement in defense. They already have billion dollar budgets and infringe on the rights of ordinary citizens ... now they want more money because they failed.

My politics have changed so much in the last decade I can hardly keep track. I'm far more concerned with the little guy, the disadvantaged and people trampled by the system. Life can change your views if you open your eyes and ears. I never assume I'm correct about anything these days. It seems there's always a worthy point of view in opposition worth considering, right or left.

Regardless of what side I'm on in any debate there are two things I will never waiver from, freedom of expression and atheism. Free speech and religion cannot coexist. I'm sorry if you disagree but that's how I see it. Every faith has crusades, torture, killing and oppression. The slave one day becomes the master, only to repeat the cycle of abuse. Religion has done far more harm than good.

Freedom of expression is the exact opposite of religion, the domain of the open minded. The souls at Charlie Hebdo were no saints, they were harsh judges of social, religius and political norms. They were coarse and unapologetic, and they were honest. That may be the one trait that lead to their doom. Some people can't handle the truth.

While many cheer je suis Charlie I also like to say baiser les terroristes. Fuck the terrorists. What I hate most about terrorism, right after the bloodsoaked death of innocents, is the manner in which society responds. We take freedom from ourselves in the name of security. We have built a police state in response to terrorism ... we lose.

Jan. 10th, 2015


Talkin' Bout My Generation

Do you remember the first time you walked into a shopping mall? I was in high school when Lincoln Mall opened. They had everything we needed in one location including arcades and theaters for entertainment. It was amazing. I had no clue it was the end of an era.

Before the mall we shopped at Joe's Corner Market, Weissmann's Pharmacy and Durfee's Hardware. Our gas was pumped by Mr. Pryor at the service station he owned. We had a burger at Hilda's Light Lunch, Pam's diner and hung out at Mel's Drive In. You knew the people who owned and operated most of the businesses you patronized because they were standing behind the counter serving you. The shopping mall is the tool corporate America used to steal small business.

When you think back to big corporations of the 50's and 60's they were building large consumer items, automobiles, televisions and radios, appliances and machines. The sale of these items was done by mostly small business, dealerships owned by local merchants. Aside from a department store there weren't many retail outlets with regional or nationwide recognition. Today it seems the vast majority of stores we shop in are corporate owned chains extending coast to coast or regional multi-state chains. Every mall has the same apparel shops and restaurants, all corporate. There are still family owned businesses but you have make a personal effort to find and patronize them. Most people will just go to the mall where everything they need is under one roof.

The Walmartization of America is not a good thing. I know this may sound like an old guy complaining, but we've lost something buy transferring billions of dollars in commerce from small business to corporations. We've lost community.

Maybe the corporatization of the retail marketplace was unavoidable but they didn't stop there. Wall Street and investors are always looking for a new way to make a buck. Privatization of public services has proven to be a big profit engine. Wall Street follows the money and when they see hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on a government service they want a piece if that action. Capitalists don't want government competing with them so they'll point out the inefficiency and waste of public services and claim they can do it better, for a profit.

Once government hands over this business through contracts with private firms they must then provide those companies with enough business to make investors happy. This is where the relationship between corporate America and government becomes murky and questionable. Public utilites are now private, rate increases are approved not to cover costs but to increase profits. Private prisons need inmates so state and local police and courts must provide bodies. They don't make money on empty prisons.

My generation presided over the tranfer of wealth from the middle class to the one percent corporately connected investor class. Do deny this fact is foolish. There is only one way to turn the tide away from corporate America and towards our neighborhoods.

Patronize family owned business. Trust locally owned and operated establishments to provide you what you need. Avoid the mall.

Our dollars decide what business survives, knowing this please give your $$ to small business rather than corporations. Small business is community, big business is all about one thing ... and it's not community.

old age

The Greatest Generation's Last Hurrah

Not too long ago I was having a conversation in a bar, something I like to do, about the greatest generation compared to the generations that followed. We came to the conclusion that baby boomers are the worst of all generations and may be blamed by future generations as the perpetrators in the demise of the American empire ... maybe even human civilization.

The Greatest Generation is the title of a Tom Brokaw book about the generation that fought and won WW2, his parents generation, the generation of my grandparents. It's a great book, I highly recommend it. It's pretty much been decided that the generation born in the early part of the 1900's, especially those born around 1920 give or take 5 years, saved the world from facism. They also harnessed the atom, explored outer space and did a shit ton of other cool shit to advance mankind through science, technology and medicine. The mid 20th century is pretty fucking amazing when you measure it against the rest of our human timeline.

When the men who fought WW2 came home to Rosie the rivitor they got right around to fucking and planning, fucking and buliding, fucking and moving forward. There was progress! The nation exploded in a BOOM of housing, interstate highways, business, transporation, jets, television, manufacturing, growing suburbs, rockets and technology. Mankind was off to the races and America was leading the way while Europe was rebuilding. From the late 1940's through the 50's and into the 60's America was getting busy and a lot of babies were born, baby boomers. I'm one of them, born in 1961 at the tale end of the boom.

Life was good, the middle class was living well and the country was feelin' alright. Then shit got real.

The greatest generation was in power during the cold war, Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, rock and roll, civil rights violence, MLK was killed, men in orbit, Bobby's murder, the counterculture, war protest, man on the moon, Woodstock, Kent State, the Arab oil embargo, recession, Nixon, disco, and Three Mile Island. America went through some drama, the times they were a changin' and the greatest generation didn't know what the fuck was going on or what to do about it. Their babies became hippies and yuppies and the good old days were over. The 70's were a clusterfuck that ended with Carter administration, an economy in ruin and the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 ... my graduation year. My generation went to college, joined the workforce, voted, and began to envision and shape the world we wanted to live in because the world at the time wasn't looking so great.

Ronald Reagan was elected and shit started turning around, for some of us. On the surface America appeared to be pulling out of it's slump as people got back to work and a lot of wealth was generated. The 80's were good to me, I started a family and bought my first home, but under the surface were millions of people left behind. The middle class was a massive consumer class and corporations invented new ways of taking and making money, the gap between upper and lower income people continued to winden. Few in the middle cared, we had houses, two cars, a little money in the bank and a nice vacation every year. Life was good for the average American voter so after Reagan we elected Bush Senior to keep the good times rolling.

If you weren't doing okay in the late 80's it was your own danm fault. That's still a real attitude. People at the bottom just needed to work harder, right? Bankers and brokers were snorting cocaine off stripper's asses with rolled up hundred dollar bills. The investor class was making bank, living large and many in the middle class poured money into the stock market trying to get on that bandwagon. Gordon Gecko's line, greed is good, was the Wall Streer mantra in fiction and reality.

It's not possible to romanticize the industrial revolution but one hundred years before our time the weathiest men in America were builders. Vanderbuilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon and a couple of dozen other barons amassed great wealth, but unlike much of today's 1% you could see the result of their work in factories, railroads, shipping and the skylines that rose from our landscape. They were called robber barons and ruled with an iron fist but they created jobs and built tangible empires. You cannot say that of the hedge fund managers and junk bond salesmen of the 1980's. They simply got rich playing with other people's money.

I believe this is a very important point in our recent history. Corporations, bankers and investors found new ways of making money. Instead of building, growing and hiring they saw profits in cutting costs, downsizing and closing factories. They sold off hard assets, buildings and machinery and turned a profit by scraping what was once a mighty manufacturing sector. Jobs became one of America's biggest exports. The greatest generation built America up but when they retired and handed the reigns of power to my generation, the baby boomers began tearing it down.

.... to be continued?

Dec. 31st, 2014


The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue.

One the things I love about watching old films again and again is noticing the little things I may have missed the first few times, small details, maybe a set decoration or wardrobe choice, that make a film richer if you notice such things. When you're focusing on the story and characters the sets and props can go unnoticed.

Have you ever noticed how paltry the Maltese Falcon statue is? The mysterious object behind the intrigue is an unremarkable chunk of cheap art that few would give second notice to. The storm scene in The Caine Mutiny is also cheesy, a ship model tossed about in a tub, as are the battle scenes in Action in the North Atlantic, but I love those scenes because that was the technology of the day. I believe the boat used in Key Largo is the same boat used in To Have and Have Not. It was named Santana in Key Largo which happens to be the name of Bogart's personal yacht, which is currently under restortation somwhere in Rhode Island.

When watching films from 1930's - 50's I admire the way men dress in suits and hats, women's hairstyles, the decor of the era, furniture, archetecture and cars. It was a large period in many ways with big style and fashion unique to the time. When I know a film so well I don't have to follow the story too closely these are things I focus on.

I've noticed how every actress in Bogart films is hot unless the role is specifically not meant to be. Even very small roles, like the Acme Bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep, are filled with sultry and sexy women. When I was young I never noticed this about old films because sexuality is downplayed, no skin, no sex, and everything was done with innuendo and double entendre. It's easy to miss if you don't look for it.

Another detail I pay close attention to are the crossover actors appearing in multiple Bogie films. Of course there are our favorite costars, Lauren Bacall, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet, but there are several others appearing in multiple films with Bogie, sometimes in very small roles.

Angel, the gangster bartender in Key Largo is played by Dan Seymour. He also appears in Casablanca as a door man in Rick's Cafe Americain and a large role in To Have and Have Not as Capt. Renard, the fat Vichy cop. Elisha Cook Jr plays the young hapless, hotheaded, thug Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon and an unfortunate small role in The Big Sleep. Marcel Dalio is hotel operator and resistance sympathizer Frenchy in To Have and Have Not and a dealer at Rick's in Casablanca. He's also has a one scene role in Sabrina, a film I watched for the first time this evening. Bruce Bennet appears in Dark Passage, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Sahara. The list could go on.

Of all the actors who've worked in multiple Bogie flicks none are more interesting than the three I first mentioned. I own all the Bogie-Bacall films. Every time Peter Lorre appears on screen I'm delighted. I love his face. I could listen to Sidney Greenstreet speak for hours. "I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk" ... and Greenstreet's jovial manner in his roles as Kasper Gutman and Ferrari allow him to talk. I sometimes replay his scenes just to hear his lines again.

I could make this a very long post if I started into the great quotes from these films, but they're too numerous to mention and I could never decide which are the best. I haven't the desire to undertake that task.

So this is where my brain goes between December 24th and New Years Day every year, Bogie Week has me thinking about the little details and dialouge of classic films I love. I know it's weird and few have a passion for such trivial things, but if you love film nior and how Hollywood did things 60+ years ago, you'll understand.

....... Post Bogie Week edit ........

I was a little tipsy when I wrote the post above. It's a little rambly and disjointed but I'm leaving it as is.

I ended up watching 19 Bogart films over a 12 day period, a record marathon. I had eight days off work through the holidays and not wanting to spend money it was easy to have matinees and double features. I watched another Greenstreet film, Across the Pacific. I had never seen it but it could become one of my favorites. Greenstreet has a major role as a treasonous American in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese are plotting their attack on US interests. Mary Astor, of Maltese Falcon fame, is also in the film. It takes place mostly aboard a Japanese merchant ship and in the Panama Canal Zone. It has a Casablanca feel, espionage and intrigue.

I also watched Bogie's final film for the first time, The Harder They Fall, with a young Rod Stieger. Bogie plays Eddie Willis an aging sportswriter who's out of work and is offered a gig promoting an up and coming boxer. The boxer is managed by gamblers and the whole thing is rigged. Eddie struggles with the obvious tanked fights and corruption. The last frame of Bogart's film career is him sitting at a type writer.

I wrapped up my marathon by streaming High Sierra. I've seen it a few times, it's good but not on my list of favorite Bogie films. I realized Barton MacLane is another frequent costar, he's also in Maltese Falcon, Sierra Madre, All Through The Night and Bullets or Ballots.

I don't believe I'll ever break this new record of 19 films. I don't usually have 12 days of Bogie and access to unseen films is becoming limited. I actually saved a few never viewed films on my Amazon watchlist for next year.

Sep. 30th, 2014


one game

When major league baseball adopted the single game wildcard game as a path to the League Divisional playoffs I was not in favor of the plan. I hated it. Baseball playoffs have always been a series based system. The entire baseball season is a schedule of sixty 3 game series for each and every team, 162 games in 180 days. Every year the greatest measure of team sports in the world is the team that plays 175-ish games to win the World Series.

The NHL and NBA play an 82 game schedule plus a 16 team playoff tournament. Every champion must play at least 98 games, if they sweep four consecutive 7 game series. Not gonna happen, but we do know the most games a hockey or basketball champion will play is 110. Baseball's regular season is 162, even for the shitty teams.

The NCAA basketball tournament is possibly the purest of all major team sports, amatuer or professional. Sixty-four teams in sixty-three games, one champion. The champion must win 6 straight games in the bracket after playing a regular season and conference playoff schedule of 30-32 games.

College football is muddy and managed poorly, even the new final four of football will not solve college football's ills. The polls still decide too much. Four teams is not enough. The bubble teams left out of the bracket may have legimate claims. Baseball has no such controversies.

Baseball has the simplest of playoffs. Six division champions from two leagues get a few days off while four teams play two games to earn the right to travel to the city with the best team in their league. Tonight was one of those games, a contest that restored my faith in the underdog. Even if Kansas City was the home favorite in this game they are the 2014 underdog.

The Royals faced the Oakland Athletics this evening, a famous franchise I respect very much. Any knowlegable baseball fan understands the history of the Athletics. They started in Philadelphia in the 1860's, moved to Missouri 90 years later and finally settled in California in the late 1960's after the Dodgers and Giants moved west. Oakland was a powerhouse franchise when I was young fan. The Athletics are the first team I saw at Fenway Park, in 1971. The team does their spring training just a few miles from where I live.

Jon Lester was pitching tonight, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick,Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp all started in the field. All are former Red Sox players. Jonny Gomes and Nick Punto came in later, also former Boston players. It was hard to not root for Oakland.

Tonight's game was one of the finest baseball games I've watched in my life, an instant classic.


Sep. 2nd, 2014


Scattered Thoughts on Uncivilized Humanity

Daniel Pearl, James Foley and Steven Sotloff have a few things in common. They're all men, Americans, journalists, and were all murdered by beheading at the hands of Islamic nutjobs. Their murders were videotaped and distributed as evidence of their murderers meaning business. The west should take them seriously.

These men were bold journalists, working in dangerous places for in a business that's vital in insuring democratic ideals are maintained in the civilized world. I have a love-hate relationship with the media. Journalism is a noble cause when truthseeking is the goal but I'm afraid journalism's branch of truth and justice has been surpassed by our insatiable hunger for sensational content and the fact news has become a propaganda machine. Most media is garbage.

Few events have fed the sensational propaganda machine like the executions of western journalists. We truly feel we're better than them, and we are, but it's not as black and white as it feels in our hearts and minds.

Men like Pearl, Foley and Sotloff were journalists in the true sense, risking their lives in sketchy states to bring us facts, untainted truth from the front lines in a land that is both the cradle of civilization and a stark example of how far humanity has to go. No one in their right mind would travel to Syria these days, unless they were on a mission.

I'm atheist. I cannot even pretend there's a god. As years pass I feel my unapologetic rejection of religion is justified. Every act of violence or intolerance in the name of god is further proof religion is a cancer on humanity. The belief a man should be executed over his personal religious beliefs is both familiar and foriegn. Persecution is part of white European history. We've drawn and quartered, burned at the steak, drowned and beheaded heretics on multiple continents. Is our history inconsequencial when discussing the issues of today? Is Queen Bloody Mary better than a jihadist?

Liberal western democracies have evolved beyond systemic religious oppression, but the third world lags behind, dragging their feet in the middle ages. We can feel superior if we like but we cannot claim innocence. The world is not black and white.

If George Bush's America had never attacked Saddam's Iraq would ISIS be a problem today? Considering ISIS and Saddam are both Sunni Muslim I would say, "Yes, they'd be a problem, but a different problem." We cannot travel; in time to change our actions but we can go into the past to analyse our decisions and the resulting mess we created. Even a staunch conservative might admit we might have fucked up in Iraq, but hard core conservatives don't admit mistakes while counting ill gotten riches. The ends always justify their means. Regime change in Iraq caused billions of dollars to change hands, someone always profits from war.

The ends justify their means. I'm guessing that's exactly what the Islamic terrorist is thinking as he saws off the head of an innocent man. These men, Pearl, Foley and Sotloff represent precisely the values a religious lunatic would cut down, truth and justice. The ethics of journalism are contrary to the ethics of religion. Truth is the enemy of religion.

What else is truth the enemy of? Is truth opposed to government? Is truth the enemy of freedom? I believe truth is the enemy of police. In a war between monotheist belief systems, Judaism, Christianity and Islam ... is truth on any side? I don't think so.

In my heart I hope Pearl, Foley and Sotloff met their maker with the same courage they pursued their craft. If they met their God I hope they questioned the deity about the failure of God to make this world a better place as they would question a politician ... because that's what journalists do. They question all forms of authority.

Witnessing the inhumanities of war in the Middle East it's doubtful Daniel, James and Steven had any illusions of gods, religion or government. They died with eyes wide open to an injust and uncivil word. I wish them eternal peace ... whatever that means.

Aug. 25th, 2014


Four and a half months ....

.... since I last posted in LJ.

Not much has changed since my last batch of blogs back in the first quarter. The Russians are still causing trouble in the Ukraine, the Tea Party still hates Obama, the middle east is still a cluster fuck, our nation is being constantly exposed for the police state it is ... and the media is just part of the system, the Ministry of Propaganda.

I never blogged about the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner. I had no words. There is blood on Vladimir's hand.

It doesn't matter which side you're on, you know the people in Gaza are getting screwed again. The Israeli's are dropping bombs but the Palestinians real oppressor is Hamas. They executed 18 men in the streets this week, to send a message to the people. Hamas is the government, not the Palestinian Authority.

Congress hasn't done much these days, except vote to sue Obama. Does this sound familiar? The Clinton years are a blueprint on how the GOP treats any president from the other party. One fabricated scandal after another is trotted out there, some gain legs, most don't. Either way the Republicans can keep the media off the fact they've done NOTHING for the past six years. Priority #1 is blocking anything Obama tries to accomplish and criticize every executive decision.

The shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent unrest should be an eye opener for Americans, but we're so divided on that case no traction will be gained. The militarization of the police will continue, the rights of minorities will be ignored, the police will continue to abuse the citizens it's vowed to protect, and the judicial system will provide a growing population for our for profit private prisons.

Close to home the city of Tempe has called for neighboring police forces to aid them in their seasonal Safe & Sober campaign. Officers from Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Maricopa County and Pinal County DUI task forces have all joined hand in hand. They're not singing Kumbaya. ASU students returned to class this month. The crackdown is not new, but it's gets bigger every year.

The police presence on Mill Ave and in the neighborhoods around the university is so intense you'd be crazy to go there on a weekend evening. Safe & Sober is just another name for Stop & Frisk. They've arrested more than 1400 people in three weekends. Tempe is not a big city, downtown is actually quite small, 1400 is a HUGE number.

People have been arrested for biking after hours, a DUI in this state. People have been arrested walking home from bars, public intoxication. The .08 limit is not actually a law here. You can be busted at .02 if the cop believes you're impaired in the slightest. They've processed hundreds of DUI's in August. You can't fight vague lawspeak like ".... in the officer's judgement".

Of course there have been many cited for underage drinking and some of those DUI's are genuine busts, but the majority of people arrested are simply out to have a good time, and the cops found something to harass them for. You cannot go to dinner on Mill Ave and have a beer with your meal. It's not safe. I won't go.

Business downtown should be feeling the pinch soon. Everyone knows where the cops are and what their game is. There's an unofficial boycott of the Mill Ave district, stay away, stay safe, the sober part is up to you. I have no business on Mill Avenue except for dining, drinking and maybe a little shopping. I can take my dollars elsewhere.

If this were simply a anti-drunk driving campaign they would not be citing bikers, walkers or harassing Uber and Lyft drivers. They're stopping ride sharing people under the guise of an underage drinking stop. They ask all occupants of the vehicle for ID. The state does not like ride sharing. People avoiding drinking and driving should be applauded, not harassed. The taxi companies are funding the anti-ride sharing faction. The cops are enforcing the turf of the established cab cartel.

Our police have become a profit engine, a revenue stream, the courts and media are part of the system. Like I said, not much has changed since I last posted.

Mar. 5th, 2014


A Game of Risk

I have been a geography buff my entire life, a collector and reader of maps, a student of cartography. My sons have the gene, there are Rand McNally road atlas' and large hard cover World Atlas' in our second bathroom. That's our reading. So it should be no surprise our favorite classic board game is Risk, the geography and war game.

I played day long battles of Risk as a kid with my family, me and dad always being the final superpowers, dad winning the game until I was about 16. After I trounced him for my first ever global domination victory over the forces of father, he never played the game with me again. Maybe it was my victory march across the kitchen, or strut, however you want to see it. Regardless, dad was never a good loser.

I still have an early 80's edition of the game, or is it from the late 70's? I don't know, but there's a good deal of duct tape holding the box together, and the dice collection is a hodge podge of die, red, white and green. I have all the plastic army pieces and territorial cards. We also use coins as extra pieces, quarters represent 25 armies of course. This game survived the drinking wars I played with my buddies as an older teen and into my 20's, many campaigns going long into the night.

I taught my sons how to play Risk, my weathered old map serving another generation of generals. Our last game was in Xmas week 2012. James surrendered command of his forces to Jeffrey, who had been defeated earlier, because he wanted to go to bed at 2am. I then crushed the replacement commander.

Decades ago, after many failed European campaigns, I learned the Ukraine was the most difficult territory to defend. Constant assaults from Asia, Europe and the Middle East made it almost impossible to build a empire from that point on the map. I learned later in life how the board game was true to life in this regard. The Ukraine has indeed been a difficult place on the geopolitical landscape.

Once again the Ukraine is at the center of political and military movement. The Russians have been pushing south for centuries, in search of warm water ports. The Caucasus region has suffered a good deal under the red heel. The Black Sea is the only body of water available to the Russian Navy where the naval bases won't freeze over. They had warships in Sevastopol 160+ years ago when the Ottoman Empire prevented Moscow from expanding south. The British and French were so concerned with Czarist expansion they allied with the Turks to declare war on Russia in the 1850's, the Crimean War. The first use of ironclads in battle occurred in the Black Sea, by the French.

We didn't cover the Crimean War in history class, did we? I know the basics because I read about it many years ago, but aside from The Charge of the Light Brigade most people have no idea of the importance of that war. The allied victory of sorts held Russia at bay and resulted in Ottoman power lasting several more decades in that region, until WW1 swept them away ending the 600 year reign of Turks.

The Russians have always had designs on Ukraine and the Crimea, one for it's expansive agriculture and the other for it's deep ports that don't freeze over. Over the centuries Russians have migrated west for opportunity. Some were resettled by Josef Stalin after he expelled the native Tatars. moving them west to the stans, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Through ethnic cleansing and forced migration Stalin created the Russian identity of Crimea being used today by Putin to justify his military action to 'assure the safety of Russians in the Ukraine."

Holy fuck, talk about a 'long game' ... Stalin planted the seeds for Putin's propaganda.

Of course Putin means "securing the warm water naval base at Sevastopol." ... but that's not good politics. Putin is acting like all other Russian leaders have behaved before him, with the exception of Gorbachev. They have bullied and dominated their neighbors for centuries. What's happening today is merely a continuation of history ... and there's not a damn thing we can do about it unless the United States is prepared for WW3 ... and I doubt we are. I also doubt NATO wants that fight.

Putin knows this. It has nothing to do with Obama. It's a simple calculation of geography and logistics. As much as the right wingers would love to blame Obama, none of their boys, Romney or Lindsay Graham, could not have stopped those Ruskie troops. They were already stationed at the naval base, on Crimean turf, exactly as Stalin planned.

If we invaded Cuba there's not a fucking thing Putin could do to stop us. To suggest otherwise is foolish. The USA and Russia can act in their back yards with impunity. They always have and always will. The next move will be diplomatic and economic, many half measures will be proposed ... but the facts on the ground won't change unless NATO puts boots in the Crimea.

That second move, in reaction to aggression, is always the most difficult, politically and militarily. It requires a great movement of attitudes within many nations, platitudes, fortitude among leaders and the massive logistics of moving men and equipment across a continent to create a dangerous military theater.

Nyet. That ain't happening. Putin will win this game of risk but just like the board game this will be a very long war, the cold war part 2.

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