Last Man Standing Wins

Medieval Fighting

So it has always amazed me how until modern times, armies would line up and face-off on the battlefield to basically bash each others skulls in. 


Whether in medieval times or in the civil war…it goes something like this. 

– Red coats line up on this side. 

– Blue coats line up on that side. 

– Everyone pull out their weapons.

– Scream your bloody heads off.

– And run towards each other swinging. 

– The last man standing from either side is the winning army!

How brilliant is that? 


Basically, mass suicide for both sides (like trying to take the hill running straight into machine gun fire). 


These days, there is a notion at least of using stealth, smart bombs, and sending in drones or robots, so as not to risk real people’s lives unnecessarily. 


But I guess that takes the fun out of it–can’t slice and dice and smash the enemy with your bare hands.


Last weekend, I watched people who like to fight the old fashioned way, dress up in medieval gear, take their sides on the field in the park, and go at it. 


They had swords, and clubs, and javelins, and bow and arrows, and more.  


They even had roles, and one guy I talked to was actually the king for one side of the fight–and apparently you have to earn that role in battle and in council vote. 


On the battlefield then the people get together and go at it hitting each other with some pretty scary weapons that fortunately are (mostly) padded, but still they seemed to get some pretty good zets!


Honestly, it sort of looked like a lot of fun and good exercise, but probably (more than) a little dangerous too. 


I saw one combatant coming off the field, taking off his outfit as it was pretty hot out, and he literally had layers of shielding on, so aside from seeing them take hits again and again, I could see that they felt they needed the protection. 


What was also interesting watching this–and I understand sometimes they get about 150 people on the field at a time to go at it–is that people seem to really want to go back in time to the way things were…more natural, more real, and even more deadly–up close and personal!


We are so much in a virtual world or like Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX and Tesla) said living in a simulation, that there is just a wild yearning and craving to get back to nature, basics, and what’s tangible and real. 


Even if it means bashing heads on a hot Summer’s day…and reenacting the times of lore…put your smartphones down and pull out your swords and clubs–it’s a new day and age. 😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Is Europe?

Where Is Europe

So we are reading every day about the Europe border crisis.


With hundreds of thousands streaming to its shores, and either an inability or lack of desire to absorb the migrants. 


As the Middle East and North Africa burn with the Arab Spring, Caliphate enthusiasts, civil war mongers, religious extremists, terrorists, and anarchists, innocent people caught in the crossfire are seeking immigration to Europe as refugees or for a better future.


But significant entities in Europe, perhaps better known historically for their ultranationalism, deportations, expulsions, and the Holocaust are left gropping with what to do with a seemingly endless wave of Muslim immigrants. 


As Europe tries to figure it out, thousands are dying in capsized boats, sufficated truck cargo holds, and at the mercilessness of their handlers. 


So what will be of a future Europe that either heartlessly turns away needy migrants or potentially becomes more a Muslim enclave than the predominantly westernized and Christian continent they have been?


At least for now, Europe is facing a major humanitarian and identity crisis. In the longer term, they run the risk of their culture fading or disappearing altogether as the demographics shift beneath their techtonic feet. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Saw It Right Off

Saw It Right Off

This was something amazing that really gave me pause.

In the physical therapy center, hanging on the wall, encased in this wooden box.

A saw from the civil war that was used by the doctors of the time to amputate soldiers legs and arms.

The saw was so ominous looking, especially with it’s design of medieval-looking torture, it’s raw industrial quality, and the age and rust.

I could literally envision the utter fright on the faces of the young men upon seeing the doctor approach with this tool.

They would give you a piece of wood to sink your teeth into, so you wouldn’t bite your tongue off when they started sawing away at your limbs.

Not sure how people lived like this…not all that very long ago.

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Terrorism – Is it Going Away?

Terrorism - Is it Going Away?

Going on 13 years since 9/11…

Ukraine invaded by Russia seeking to annex Crimea

Malaysia Airline with 239 aboard missing and still a mystery

Sochi, suspected hijacker tries to divert plane, F-16s scrambled

Syria aided by Hezbollah fighters, estimates of more than 150,000 dead

Iran ships medium range missiles to Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Iraq Suicide bombing a somewhat regular occurrence

Pakistan death toll in war on terror estimated at 49,000

Saudi Arabia concerned about Muslim Brotherhood and
Hezbollah

Lebanon, twin suicide car bombings in capital

Egypt, terror attack on tourist bus in Red Sea resort

Somalia, car bombing at national intelligence headquarters

North Korea accused by South of “reign of terror”

Where are we in the war on terror–are we really any safer?

All opinions my own.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

This is a photo I took in the Metro in Washington D.C.

It is an advertisement for a cessation of hostilities in Syria where estimates are over 100,000 people killed in civil war, so far.

Now in Egypt, you have about 1,000 killed in the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and violence continues there as well.

What is really confusing is that in both cases you have terrorists and extremists fighting more secular societies–yet, we do not unequivocally support the secularists in their battle again Jihadists.

At the same time, we went to war for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a “war on terror” and to this day it continues with somewhat regular drone attacks.

While I understand that as a Democracy we need to support fair and free elections, does this mean we have to buttress up fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists–just because they got voted in.

Sometimes, people don’t know or understand what they are voting for until its too late, which seems to be what happened in Egypt when the people elected the Muslim Brotherhood.

Similarly, the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930’s won many seats in the Reichstag, and we know the ten of millions murdered and the destruction that this led to.

Democracy, does not mean good always prevails, but when evil is rightfully elected what are we to do–simply support free elections or support good over evil?

Perhaps, the notion of good and evil is a little simplistic (especially when neither side may be very good), but the idea is the same, are we fighting for free elections or the better candidate in terms of overall freedom, human rights, and world peace.

Can we really afford to straddle the fence here? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

In Search of a True Patriot

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This morning I saw Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and professional wrestler, on Piers Morgan (CNN).

He was promoting his new book Democrips and ReBloodicans.

He was comparing our two-party system to a bunch of L.A. street gangs!

On one hand, he sounded crazy—claiming our politicians were nothing but thugs –fighting each other to get and maintain street power, rather than doing the right thing for everyone in this country.

Yet, despite Ventura not being the most eloquent speaker, some of his craziness sounded spot on.

Politics has gotten way too political!

The politicians stick to their party lines—pointing fingers and denigrating the other side—for our country’s problems.  Each side claiming they can do better.

One side taxing and spending, the other side cutting both—both sides driving our countries finances over the financial cliff.

Dictators are driven by their desire to get and hold power as long as their military might and repression of the masses holds out.

But democracy is supposed to be different—we are a nation that takes pride in looking at both sides of the equation and coming to a middle ground that makes the best sense for everyone.

What happened?

Each side has pushed things just a little too far and then farther—getting power and then abusing power for their aims, forgetting about compromise, and leaving the other side lying in wait for when they can pounce on their opponents and re-assume power to undue what the other has done and push ahead their agenda.

This is a vicious game of ping-pong, where a volley is never achieved, but rather each side treats every shot as their last.

Civility and political correctness has left the palace.

In its place, a desire to win power and keep power at all costs.

An infatuation with doing for themselves at the expense of others—all the while telling themselves, this is truly for the good of the country.

Or like they used to say on the TV show Hill Street Blues—“let’s do it to them, before they do it to us!”

A country cannot successfully govern, by doing and undoing or by looking out for only 1/2 of the constituents.

Some way must be found to restore leadership—where government is again recognized as by the people and for the people, where integrity is valued more than power, and where our country’s future prosperity and survival trumps a parties’ survival in the next election and their partisanship agendas.

The examples are almost too numerous to mention with our political parties locking horns while budget and tax showdowns loom, deficits continue to boom, government shutdowns are being groomed, healthcare reform is up for grabs, employment continues to sag, and we wax and wane between war and peace—now cyber and kinetic—in hot spots around the globe.

Civil war is such a strong term—and in the Civil War, this country saw the loss of more people than all the other wars we have been in combined.

Again, we face a type of civil war, where one side is trying to beat the other rather than join forces in conquering our nation’s ills and building our capabilities.

The results can be a similar devastation where problems fester until they explode and lives are lost, not in one side picking up arms against the other, but because we self-destruct in our own greed and contempt.

Leadership bridges, not divides, from across the political spectrum and all our leaders are needed now more than ever.

Jesse you are a “crazy dog,” but you say some things that are undeniable truth.

We need to look beyond the surface of unconventional people and hear the message that running politics like street gangs is a losing battle—but we can change rivalry to partnership if we see past the different colors, and instead focus on the red, white, and blue.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)