The tank, the submarine, the torpedo, the machine-gun, even the rifle and the hand grenade are still in use.
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The tank, the submarine, the torpedo, the machine-gun, even the rifle and the hand grenade are still in use.

-George Orwell

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You fight your superficiality, you shallowness, as as to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untank-like as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong, you might as well have the brain if a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and them you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words, and then proposing that there word people are closer to the real thing than we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful consideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that - well, lucky you.

-Philip Roth

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Soon you shall be landing In the battleground, ensure you have the right weapons to fight the enemy; ensure you know your enemy and what he is capable of; take them unprepared to gain the victory and stand with your head held high; show it to the world the cause you have been fighting for, deception is the key, challenge your enemy when it is least expected; break them mentally before breaking them physically. You are a soldier; your enemy is a soldier and you are facing the best, both sides have a lot of similarities only variation lies in the cause. Cause is driver for the battle; cause is binding comrades together and even if the victory is gained the cause stays undefeated. You stand defeated for your strategy, tactics and leaders but never for the cause, it’s still alive, it shall always be alive with the men who have sacrificed their lives, with the men who are still alive. They stand defeated with the physical strength but not for the cause they have believed in and you can never take it away from them. Fight for a cause and you shall stay invincible.A war story is always biased towards one side and it’s hard to narrate a true war story. We choose and make our heroes from what we have read, heard and believed in. If we know the cause both sides are standing for, it will become difficult to take sides. Always respect your enemy, respect for the fact they are standing neck to neck with you, respect them for the courage they have shown to defend the other side, their land, respect them for whatever you have earned the respect for from your men, from your country and from your people.Powerful strategies, tactics, weapons, leaders are allies to the war, they support but never claims victory all my themselves Greatest wars won always had the greater cause. Rebel without a cause is never a rebel just an aimless person whose fate lies in the defeat.

-Pushpa Rana

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It is not the dead rather the ones who lives through war have seen the dreadful end of the war, you might have been victorious, unwounded but deep within you, you carry the mark of the war, you carry the memories of war, the time you have spend with your comrades, the times when you had to dug in to foxholes to avoid shelling, the times when you hate to see your comrade down on the ground, feeling of despair, atrocities of the war, missing families, home. They live through hell and often the most wounded, they live with the guilt, despair, of being in the war, they may be happy but deep down they are a different person. Not everyone is a hero. You live with the moments, time when you were unsuccessful, when your actions would have helped your comrades, when your actions get your comrades killed, you live with regret, joyous in the victory can never help you forget the time you have spent. You are victorious for the people you have lost, the decisions you have made, the courage you have shown but being victorious in the war has a price to pay, irrevocable. You can't take a memory back from a person, even if you lose your memory your imagination haunts you as deep down your sub conscious mind you know who you are, who you were. Close you eyes and you can very well see your past, you cant change your past, time you have spent, you live through all and hence you are a hero not for the glorious war for the times you have faced. Decoration with medals is not going to give your life back. the more you know, more experiences doesn't make it easy rather make its worse. Arms and ammunition kills you once and free you from the misery but the experiences of war kills you everyday, makes you cherish the times everyday through the life. You may forgot that you cant walk anymore, you may forget you cant use your right hand, you may forgot the scars on your face but you can never forgot war. Life without war is never easy and only the ones how survived through it can understand. Soldiers are taught to fight but the actual combat starts after war which you are not even trained for. You rely on your weapon, leaders, comrades, god, luck in the war but here you rely on your self to beat the horrors,they have seen hell, heaven, they have felt the mixed emotions of hope, despair, courage, victory, defeat, scared.

-Pushpa Rana

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You. Man at the machine and man in the workshop. If tomorrow they tell you you are to make no more water-pipes and saucepans but are to make steel helmets and machine-guns, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Woman at the counter and woman in the office. If tomorrow they tell you you are to fill shells and assemble telescopic sights for snipers' rifles, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Research worker in the laboratory. If tomorrow they tell you you are to invent a new death for the old life, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Priest in the pulpit. If tomorrow they tell you you are to bless murder and declare war holy, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Pilot in your aeroplane. If tomorrow they tell you you are tocarry bombs over the cities, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Man of the village and man of the town. If tomorrow they come and give you your call-up papers, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Mother in Normandy and mother in the Ukraine, mother in Vancouver and in London, you on the Hwangho and on the Mississippi, you in Naples and Hamburg and Cairo and Oslo - mothers in all parts of the earth, mothers of the world, if tomorrow they tell you you are to bear new soldiers for new battles, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! For if you do not say NO - if YOU do not say no - mothers, then: then! In the bustling hazy harbour towns the big ships will fall silent as corpses against the dead deserted quay walls, their once shimmering bodies overgrown with seaweed and barnacles, smelling of graveyards and rotten fish. The trams will lie like senseless glass-eyed cages beside the twisted steel skeleton of wires and track. The sunny juicy vine will rot on decaying hillsides, rice will dry in the withered earth, potatoes will freeze in the unploughed land and cows will stick their death-still legs into the air like overturned chairs. In the fields beside rusted ploughs the corn will be flattened like a beaten army. Then the last human creature, with mangled entrails and infected lungs, will wander around, unanswered and lonely, under the poisonous glowing sun, among the immense mass graves and devastated cities. The last human creature, withered, mad, cursing, accusing - and the terrible accusation: WHY? will die unheard on the plains, drift through the ruins, seep into the rubble of churches, fall into pools of blood, unheard, unanswered, the last animal scream of the last human animal - All this will happen tomorrow, tomorrow, perhaps, perhaps even tonight, perhaps tonight, if - if - You do not say NO.

-Wolfgang Borchert

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There is no doubt that 'force multipliers' - squad automatic weapons - have changed the character of warfare once again, just as their predecessors did during the First World War, if perhaps not to quite the same degree. In the immediate future it seems that most armies will be using some form of 5.56mm machine-gun at squad level, be it a box-fed LSW or belt-fed SAW. If there is a cloud on the horizon where modern light machine-guns are concerned it is that they are not powerful enough for long-range work, or for penetrating cover and light armour. Nevertheless, the new generation of light machine-guns will remain in use well into the next century, not least because they are popular with the soldiers who operate them, the machine-gunners. Likewise, there will still be a place for the heavier GPMG, which does have the 'punch' that the LSW lacks.Machine-guns themselves have become lighter, and their operating principles both more secure and more efficient; the ammunition they use has shrunk to a quarter of its original size and become almost 100 percent reliable. The one important thing which has not changed dramatically is the human component; the attitude with which man faces the prospect of death in battle, and how he prepares himself to face that possibility quite deliberately, for it was the original invention of the machine-gun which reformed that. More than any other single 'advance' in weapons technology, the machine-gun allowed an individual (or actually, a small team of men) to dominate a sector of the battlefield. They had an inhuman advantage which simply had to be exploited if they were to be on the winning side, whether their opponents were Zulus, Sioux, or Dervishes, or other industrialized nations to be beaten into last place in the race toward economic supremacy. Whether the machine-gun has been as important, in any sense at all of the word, as it near-contemporary, the internal combustion engine - or even, date one say it, the bicycle or sewing machine - is still to be decided, but there is one clear, irrefutable fact connected with its short history: it has killed tens of millions of men, women and children and blighted the lives of tens of millions more.

-Roger Ford

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Conceive a world-society developed materially far beyond the wildest dreams of America. Unlimited power, derived partly from the artificial disintegration of atoms, partly from the actual annihilation of matter through the union of electrons and protons to form radiation, completely abolished the whole grotesque burden of drudgery which hitherto had seemed the inescapable price of civilization, nay of life itself. The vast economic routine of the world-community was carried on by the mere touching of appropriate buttons. Transport, mining, manufacture, and even agriculture were performed in this manner. And indeed in most cases the systematic co-ordination of these activities was itself the work of self-regulating machinery. Thus, not only was there no longer need for any human beings to spend their lives in unskilled monotonous labour, but further, much that earlier races would have regarded as highly skilled though stereotyped work, was now carried on by machinery. Only the pioneering of industry, the endless exhilarating research, invention, design and reorganization, which is incurred by an ever-changing society, still engaged the minds of men and women. And though this work was of course immense, it could not occupy the whole attention of a great world-community. Thus very much of the energy of the race was free to occupy itself with other no less difficult and exacting matters, or to seek recreation in its many admirable sports and arts. Materially every individual was a multi-millionaire, in that he had at his beck and call a great diversity of powerful mechanisms; but also he was a penniless friar, for he had no vestige of economic control over any other human being. He could fly through the upper air to the ends of the earth in an hour, or hang idle among the clouds all day long. His flying machine was no cumbersome aeroplane, but either a wingless aerial boat, or a mere suit of overalls in which he could disport himself with the freedom of a bird. Not only in the air, but in the sea also, he was free. He could stroll about the ocean bed, or gambol with the deep-sea fishes. And for habitation he could make his home, as he willed, either in a shack in the wilderness or in one of the great pylons which dwarfed the architecture even of the American age. He could possess this huge palace in loneliness and fill it with his possessions, to be automatically cared for without human service; or he could join with others and create a hive of social life. All these amenities he took for granted as the savage takes for granted the air which he breathes. And because they were as universally available as air, no one craved them in excess, and no one grudged another the use of them.

-Olaf Stapledon

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FOXFIRE NEVER SAYS NEVER!By the time the kidnapped turquoise-and-chrome car overturns--turns and turns and turns!--in a snow-drifted field north of Tydeman's Corners Legs Sadovsky will have driven eleven miles from Eddy's Smoke Shop on Fairfax Avenue, six wild miles with the Highway Patrol cop in pursuit bearing up swiftly when the highway is clear and the girls are hysterical with excitement squealing and clutching one another thrown from side to side as Legs grimaces sighting the bridge ahead, it's one of those old-fashioned nightmare bridges with a steep narrow ramp, narrow floor made of planks but there's no time for hesitation Legs isn't going to use the brakes, she's shrewd, reasoning too that the cop will have to slow down, the fucker'll be cautious thus she'll have several seconds advantage won't she?--several seconds can make quite a difference in a contest like this so the Buick's rushing up the ramp, onto the bridge, the front wheels strike and spin and seem at first to be lifting in decorous surprise Oh! oh but astonishingly the car holds, it's a heavy machine of power that seems almost intelligent until flying off the bridge hitting a patch of slick part-melted ice the car swerves, now the rear wheels appear to be lifting, there's a moment when all effort ceases, all gravity ceases, the Buick a vessel of screams as it lifts, floats, it's being flung into space how weightless! Maddy's eyes are open now, she'll remember all her life this Now, now how without consequence! as the car hits the earth again, yet rebounds as if still weightless, turning, spinning, a machine bearing flesh, bones, girls' breaths plunging and sliding and rolling and skittering like a giant hard-shelled insect on its back, now righting itself again, now again on its back, crunching hard, snow shooting through the broken windows and the roof collapsing inward as if crushed by a giant hand upside-down and the motor still gunning as if it's frantic to escape, they're buried in a cocoon of bluish white and there's a sound of whimpering, panting,sobbing, a dog's puppyish yipping and a strong smell of urine and Legs is crying breathlessly half in anger half in exultation, caught there behind the wheel unable to turn, to look around, to see, "Nobody's dead--right?"Nobody's dead.

-Joyce Carol

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The discords of our experience--delight in change, fear of change; the death of the individual and the survival of the species, the pains and pleasures of love, the knowledge of light and dark, the extinction and the perpetuity of empires--these were Spenser's subject; and they could not be treated without this third thing, a kind of time between time and eternity. He does not make it easy to extract philosophical notions from his text; but that he is concerned with the time-defeating aevum and uses it as a concord-fiction, I have no doubt. 'The seeds of knowledge,' as Descartes observed, 'are within us like fire in flint; philosophers educe them by reason, but the poets strike them forth by imagination, and they shine the more clearly.' We leave behind the philosophical statements, with their pursuit of logical consequences and distinctions, for a free, self-delighting inventiveness, a new imagining of the problems. Spenser used something like the Augustinian seminal reasons; he was probably not concerned about later arguments against them, finer discriminations. He does not tackle the questions, in the Garden cantos, of concreation, but carelessly--from a philosophical point of view--gives matter chronological priority. The point that creation necessitates mutability he may have found in Augustine, or merely noticed for himself, without wondering how it could be both that and a consequence of the Fall; it was an essential feature of one's experience of the world, and so were all the arguments, precise or not, about it.Now one of the differences between doing philosophy and writing poetry is that in the former activity you defeat your object if you imitate the confusion inherent in an unsystematic view of your subject, whereas in the second you must in some measure imitate what is extreme and scattering bright, or else lose touch with that feeling of bright confusion. Thus the schoolmen struggled, when they discussed God, for a pure idea of simplicity, which became for them a very complex but still rational issue: for example, an angel is less simple than God but simpler than man, because a species is less simple than pure being but simpler than an individual. But when a poet discusses such matters, as in say 'Air and Angels,' he is making some human point, in fact he is making something which is, rather than discusses, an angel--something simple that grows subtle in the hands of commentators. This is why we cannot say the Garden of Adonis is wrong as the Faculty of Paris could say the Averroists were wrong. And Donne's conclusion is more a joke about women than a truth about angels. Spenser, though his understanding of the expression was doubtless inferior to that of St. Thomas, made in the Garden stanzas something 'more simple' than any section of the Summa. It was also more sensuous and more passionate. Milton used the word in his formula as Aquinas used it of angels; poetry is more simple, and accordingly more difficult to talk about, even though there are in poetry ideas which may be labelled 'philosophical.

-Frank Kermode

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But what I would like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No.""I'm sure there would," I interject, "he was against it from the first.""Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No.""That's probable," I agree, "but they damned well said Yes.""It's queer, when one thinks about it," goes on Kropp, "we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?""Perhaps both," say I without believing it."Yes, well now," pursues Albert, and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, "but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right, and let's hope so;--but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?""That I don't know," I say, "but whichever way it is there's war all the same and every month more countries coming in."Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started."Mostly by one country badly offending another," answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. "A country? I don't follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.""Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?" growls Kropp, "I don't mean that at all. One people offends the other--""Then I haven't any business here at all," replies Tjaden, "I don't feel myself offended.""Well, let me tell you," says Albert sourly, "it doesn't apply to tramps like you.""Then I can be going home right away," retorts Tjaden, and we all laugh, "Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State--" exclaims Mller."State, State"--Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, "Gendarmes, police, taxes, that's your State;--if that's what you are talking about, no, thank you.""That's right," says Kat, "you've said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there's a big difference.""But they go together," insists Kropp, "without the State there wouldn't be any home-country.""True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more than we were.""Then what exactly is the war for?" asks Tjaden.Kat shrugs his shoulders. "There must be some people to whom the war is useful.""Well, I'm not one of them," grins Tjaden."Not you, nor anybody else here.""Who are they then?" persists Tjaden. "It isn't any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already.""I'm not so sure about that," contradicts Kat, "he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books.""And generals too," adds Detering, "they become famous through war.""Even more famous than emperors," adds Kat."There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that's certain," growls Detering."I think it is more of a kind of fever," says Albert. "No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing--and yet half the world is in it all the same.

-Erich Maria

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To begin with, there is the frightful debauchery of taste that has already been effected by a century of mechanisation. This is almost too obvious and too generally admitted to need pointing out. But as a single instance, take taste in its narrowest sense - the taste for decent food. In the highly mechanical countries, thanks to tinned food, cold storage, synthetic flavouring matters, etc., the palate it almost a dead organ. As you can see by looking at any greengrocer’s shop, what the majority of English people mean by an apple is a lump of highly-coloured cotton wool from America or Australia; they will devour these things, apparently with pleasure, and let the English apples rot under the trees. It is the shiny, standardized, machine-made look of the American apple that appeals to them; the superior taste of the English apple is something they simply do not notice. Or look at the factory-made, foil wrapped cheeses and ‘blended’ butter in an grocer’s; look at the hideous rows of tins which usurp more and more of the space in any food-shop, even a dairy; look at a sixpenny Swiss roll or a twopenny ice-cream; look at the filthy chemical by-product that people will pour down their throats under the name of beer. Wherever you look you will see some slick machine-made article triumphing over the old-fashioned article that still tastes of something other than sawdust. And what applies to food applies also to furniture, houses, clothes, books, amusements and everything else that makes up our environment. These are now millions of people, and they are increasing every year, to whom the blaring of a radio is not only a more acceptable but a more normal background to their thoughts than the lowing of cattle or the song of birds. The mechanisation of the world could never proceed very far while taste, even the taste-buds of the tongue, remained uncorrupted, because in that case most of the products of the machine would be simply unwanted. In a healthy world there would be no demand for tinned food, aspirins, gramophones, gas-pipe chairs, machine guns, daily newspapers, telephones, motor-cars, etc. etc.; and on the other hand there would be a constant demand for the things the machine cannot produce. But meanwhile the machine is here, and its corrupting effects are almost irresistible. One inveighs against it, but one goes on using it. Even a bare-arse savage, given the change, will learn the vices of civilisation within a few months. Mechanisation leads to the decay of taste, the decay of taste leads to demand for machine-made articles and hence to more mechanisation, and so a vicious circle is established.

-George Orwell

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Dear Mary Duende, It's freezing here in the trenches, but loneliness is colder than any hyperthermia. Gunshots and shrapnel have become my companions. But life is better now than it was when I was at the law firm. How are our children? Does Pierre still spend his days roaming the countryside collecting cattle skulls? Maybe one day people will see the value of making soup bowls out of skulls. Pay no attention to the blood smears on this letter, for it is neither mine, nor any other human. We had to sacrifice our sheep to gain some ground. The blood kind of looks like spaghetti sauce in the light of the setting sun, but I wish it tasted as good as your spaghetti sauce. I'm sorry I slept with your sister. I didn't realize she was an invalid. Even though her hair smelled like horse entrails, I still should have refrained myself. I have no hobbies now, so I've taken up biting my fingernails as I ponder life's many psychological constructs. I have enclosed some of yesterday's fingernails, so you could put them in your brassiere and think of me as they scratch your bosom the way I used to do in jealousy when you were nursing Pierre. The Germans are shooting at us again, so I'd better close here. I send my love in the form of a bloody sock off my left foot. Think of me as you huff it. I miss the way your hair smelled as it would fall across my face. When are you going to send me some more clippings and glue, so I might attach it to my forehead? It brings me great luck in combat. With Love, Lorca Duende

-Jarod Kintz

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Except fang. I glared at him. "Go on, try to stop me, I dare you." It was like the old days when we used to wrestle, each trying to get the better of the other. I was ready to take him down, my hands curled into fist. "I was just going to say be careful," Fang told me. He stepped closer and brushed some hair out of my eyes. "And I've got your back." He motioned with his head toward the torpedo chamber. Oh my God. It hit me like a tsunami then, how perfect he was for me, how no one else would ever, could ever, be so perfect for me, how he was everything I could possibly hope for, as a friend, boyfriend, maybe even more. He was it for me. There would be no more looking. I really, really loved him, with a whole new kind of love I'd never felt before, something that made every other kind of love I'd ever felt feel washed out and wimpy in comparison. I loved him with every cell in my body, every thought in my head, every feather in my wings, every breathe in my lungs. and air sacs. Too bad I was going out to face almost certain death. Right there in front of everyone, I threw my arms around his neck and smashed my mouth against his. He was startled for a second, then his strong arms wrapped around me so tightly I could hardly breathe. "ZOMG," I heard Nudge whisper, but still fang and I kissed slanting our heads this way and that to get closer. I could have stood there and kissed him happily for the next millennium, but Angel, or what was left of her was still out there in the could dark ocean. Reluctantly, I ended the kiss, took a step back. Fang's obsidian eyes were glittering brightly and his stoic face had a look of wonder on it."Gotta go," I said quietly. A half smile quirked his mouth. "Yeah. Hurry back." I nodded and he stepped out of the air lock chamber, keeping his eyes fixed on me, memorizing me as he hit the switch that sealed the chamber. The doors hissed shut with a kind of finality, and I realized that my heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to start snapping ribs. I was scared. I was crazily, deeply, incredibly, joyously, terrifyingly in love. I was on a death mission. Before my head simply exploded from so much emotion, I hit the large button that pressurized the air lock enough for the doors to open to the ocean outside. I really, really hoped that I would prove somewhat uncrushable, like Angel did. The door cracked open below me and I saw the first dark glint of frigid water.

-James Patterson

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Some guns were fired to give notice that the departure of the balloon was near. ... Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great balloon's rising so high as might endanger its bursting. Several bags of sand were taken on board before the cord that held it down was cut, and the whole weight being then too much to be lifted, such a quantity was discharged as would permit its rising slowly. Thus it would sooner arrive at that region where it would be in equilibrio with the surrounding air, and by discharging more sand afterwards, it might go higher if desired. Between one and two o'clock, all eyes were gratified with seeing it rise majestically from above the trees, and ascend gradually above the buildings, a most beautiful spectacle. When it was about two hundred feet high, the brave adventurers held out and waved a little white pennant, on both sides of their car, to salute the spectators, who returned loud claps of applause. The wind was very little, so that the object though moving to the northward, continued long in view; and it was a great while before the admiring people began to disperse. The persons embarked were Mr. Charles, professor of experimental philosophy, and a zealous promoter of that science; and one of the Messrs Robert, the very ingenious constructors of the machine.{While U.S. ambassador to France, writing about witnessing, from his carriage outside the garden of Tuileries, Paris, the first manned balloon ascent using hydrogen gas by Jacques Charles on the afternoon of 1 Dec 1783. A few days earlier, he had watched the first manned ascent in Montgolfier's hot-air balloon, on 21 Nov 1783.}

-Jacques Charles

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Hitherto, the Palestinians had been relatively immune to this Allahu Akhbar style. I thought this was a hugely retrograde development. I said as much to Edward. To reprint Nazi propaganda and to make a theocratic claim to Spanish soil was to be a protofascist and a supporter of 'Caliphate' imperialism: it had nothing at all to do with the mistreatment of the Palestinians. Once again, he did not exactly disagree. But he was anxious to emphasize that the Israelis had often encouraged Hamas as a foil against Fatah and the PLO. This I had known since seeing the burning out of leftist Palestinians by Muslim mobs in Gaza as early as 1981. Yet once again, it seemed Edward could only condemn Islamism if it could somehow be blamed on either Israel or the United States or the West, and not as a thing in itself. He sometimes employed the same sort of knight's move when discussing other Arabist movements, excoriating Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, for example, mainly because it had once enjoyed the support of the CIA. But when Saddam was really being attacked, as in the case of his use of chemical weapons on noncombatants at Halabja, Edward gave second-hand currency to the falsified story that it had 'really' been the Iranians who had done it. If that didn't work, well, hadn't the United States sold Saddam the weaponry in the first place? Finally, and always—and this question wasn't automatically discredited by being a change of subject—what about Israel's unwanted and ugly rule over more and more millions of non-Jews?I evolved a test for this mentality, which I applied to more people than Edward. What would, or did, the relevant person say when the United States intervened to stop the massacres and dispossessions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo? Here were two majority-Muslim territories and populations being vilely mistreated by Orthodox and Catholic Christians. There was no oil in the region. The state interests of Israel were not involved (indeed, Ariel Sharon publicly opposed the return of the Kosovar refugees to their homes on the grounds that it set an alarming—I want to say 'unsettling'—precedent). The usual national-security 'hawks,' like Henry Kissinger, were also strongly opposed to the mission. One evening at Edward's apartment, with the other guest being the mercurial, courageous Azmi Bishara, then one of the more distinguished Arab members of the Israeli parliament, I was finally able to leave the arguing to someone else. Bishara [...] was quite shocked that Edward would not lend public support to Clinton for finally doing the right thing in the Balkans. Why was he being so stubborn? I had begun by then—belatedly you may say—to guess. Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward in the final instance believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.

-Christopher Hitchens

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The North Korean capital, Pyongyang, is a city consecrated to the worship of a father-son dynasty. (I came to think of them, with their nuclear-family implications, as 'Fat Man and Little Boy.') And a river runs through it. And on this river, the Taedong River, is moored the only American naval vessel in captivity. It was in January 1968 that the U.S.S. Pueblo strayed into North Korean waters, and was boarded and captured. One sailor was killed; the rest were held for nearly a year before being released. I looked over the spy ship, its radio antennae and surveillance equipment still intact, and found photographs of the captain and crew with their hands on their heads in gestures of abject surrender. Copies of their groveling 'confessions,' written in tremulous script, were also on show. So was a humiliating document from the United States government, admitting wrongdoing in the penetration of North Korean waters and petitioning the 'D.P.R.K.' (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) for 'lenience.' Kim Il Sung ('Fat Man') was eventually lenient about the men, but not about the ship. Madeleine Albright didn't ask to see the vessel on her visit last October, during which she described the gruesome, depopulated vistas of Pyongyang as 'beautiful.' As I got back onto the wharf, I noticed a refreshment cart, staffed by two women under a frayed umbrella. It didn't look like much—one of its three wheels was missing and a piece of brick was propping it up—but it was the only such cart I'd see. What toothsome local snacks might the ladies be offering? The choices turned out to be slices of dry bread and cups of warm water.Nor did Madeleine Albright visit the absurdly misnamed 'Demilitarized Zone,' one of the most heavily militarized strips of land on earth. Across the waist of the Korean peninsula lies a wasteland, roughly following the 38th parallel, and packed with a titanic concentration of potential violence. It is four kilometers wide (I have now looked apprehensively at it from both sides) and very near to the capital cities of both North and South. On the day I spent on the northern side, I met a group of aging Chinese veterans, all from Szechuan, touring the old battlefields and reliving a war they helped North Korea nearly win (China sacrificed perhaps a million soldiers in that campaign, including Mao Anying, son of Mao himself). Across the frontier are 37,000 United States soldiers. Their arsenal, which has included undeclared nuclear weapons, is the reason given by Washington for its refusal to sign the land-mines treaty. In August 1976, U.S. officers entered the neutral zone to trim a tree that was obscuring the view of an observation post. A posse of North Koreans came after them, and one, seizing the ax with which the trimming was to be done, hacked two U.S. servicemen to death with it. I visited the ax also; it's proudly displayed in a glass case on the North Korean side.

-Christopher Hitchens

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Things I Used to Get Hit For: Talking back. Being smart. Acting stupid. Not listening. Not answering the first time. Not doing what I’m told. Not doing it the second time I’m told. Running, jumping, yelling, laughing, falling down, skipping stairs, lying in the snow, rolling in the grass, playing in the dirt, walking in mud, not wiping my feet, not taking my shoes off. Sliding down the banister, acting like a wild Indian in the hallway. Making a mess and leaving it. Pissing my pants, just a little. Peeing the bed, hardly at all. Sleeping with a butter knife under my pillow.Shitting the bed because I was sick and it just ran out of me, but still my fault because I’m old enough to know better. Saying shit instead of crap or poop or number two. Not knowing better. Knowing something and doing it wrong anyway. Lying. Not confessing the truth even when I don’t know it. Telling white lies, even little ones, because fibbing isn’t fooling and not the least bit funny. Laughing at anything that’s not funny, especially cripples and retards. Covering up my white lies with more lies, black lies. Not coming the exact second I’m called. Getting out of bed too early, sometimes before the birds, and turning on the TV, which is one reason the picture tube died. Wearing out the cheap plastic hole on the channel selector by turning it so fast it sounds like a machine gun. Playing flip-and-catch with the TV’s volume button then losing it down the hole next to the radiator pipe. Vomiting. Gagging like I’m going to vomit. Saying puke instead of vomit. Throwing up anyplace but in the toilet or in a designated throw-up bucket. Using scissors on my hair. Cutting Kelly’s doll’s hair really short. Pinching Kelly. Punching Kelly even though she kicked me first. Tickling her too hard. Taking food without asking. Eating sugar from the sugar bowl. Not sharing. Not remembering to say please and thank you. Mumbling like an idiot. Using the emergency flashlight to read a comic book in bed because batteries don’t grow on trees. Splashing in puddles, even the puddles I don’t see until it’s too late. Giving my mother’s good rhinestone earrings to the teacher for Valentine’s Day. Splashing in the bathtub and getting the floor wet. Using the good towels. Leaving the good towels on the floor, though sometimes they fall all by themselves. Eating crackers in bed. Staining my shirt, tearing the knee in my pants, ruining my good clothes. Not changing into old clothes that don’t fit the minute I get home. Wasting food. Not eating everything on my plate. Hiding lumpy mashed potatoes and butternut squash and rubbery string beans or any food I don’t like under the vinyl seat cushions Mom bought for the wooden kitchen chairs. Leaving the butter dish out in summer and ruining the tablecloth. Making bubbles in my milk. Using a straw like a pee shooter. Throwing tooth picks at my sister. Wasting toothpicks and glue making junky little things that no one wants. School papers. Notes from the teacher. Report cards. Whispering in church. Sleeping in church. Notes from the assistant principal. Being late for anything. Walking out of Woolworth’s eating a candy bar I didn’t pay for. Riding my bike in the street. Leaving my bike out in the rain. Getting my bike stolen while visiting Grandpa Rudy at the hospital because I didn’t put a lock on it. Not washing my feet. Spitting. Getting a nosebleed in church. Embarrassing my mother in any way, anywhere, anytime, especially in public. Being a jerk. Acting shy. Being impolite. Forgetting what good manners are for. Being alive in all the wrong places with all the wrong people at all the wrong times.

-Bob Thurber

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Forget bringing the troops home from Iraq. We need to get the troops home from World War II. Can anybody tell me why, in 2009, we still have more than sixty thousand troops in Germany and thirty thousand in Japan? At some point, these people are going to have to learn to rape themselves. Our soldiers have been in Germany so long they now wear shorts with black socks. You know that crazy soldier hiding in the cave on Iwo Jima who doesn’t know the war is over? That’s us.Bush and Cheney used to love to keep Americans all sphinctered-up on the notion that terrorists might follow us home. But actually, we’re the people who go to your home and then never leave. Here’s the facts: The Republic of America has more than five hundred thousand military personnel deployed on more than seven hundred bases, with troops in one hundred fifty countries—we’re like McDonald’s with tanks—including thirty-seven European countries—because you never know when Portugal might invade Euro Disney. And this doesn’t even count our secret torture prisons, which are all over the place, but you never really see them until someone brings you there—kinda like IHOP.Of course, Americans would never stand for this in reverse—we can barely stand letting Mexicans in to do the landscaping. Can you imagine if there were twenty thousand armed Guatemalans on a base in San Ber-nardino right now? Lou Dobbs would become a suicide bomber.And why? How did this country get stuck with an empire? I’m not saying we’re Rome. Rome had good infrastructure. But we are an empire, and the reason is because once America lands in a country, there is no exit strategy. We’re like cellulite, herpes, and Irish relatives: We are not going anywhere. We love you long time!

-Bill Maher

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During this hour in the waking streets I felt at ease, at peace; my body, which I despised, operated like a machine. I was spaced out, the catchphrase my friends at school used to describe their first experiments with marijuana and booze. This buzzword perfectly described a picture in my mind of me, Alice, hovering just below the ceiling like a balloon and looking down at my own small bed where a big man lay heavily on a little girl I couldn’t quite see or recognize. It wasn’t me. I was spaced out on the ceiling. I had that same spacey feeling when I cooked for my father, which I still did, though less often. I made omelettes, of course. I cracked a couple of eggs into a bowl, and as I reached for the butter dish, I always had an odd sensation in my hands and arms. My fingers prickled; it didn’t feel like me but someone else cutting off a great chunk of greasy butter and putting it into the pan. I’d add a large amount of salt — I knew what it did to your blood pressure, and I mumbled curses as I whisked the brew. When I poured the slop into the hot butter and shuffled the frying pan over the burner, it didn’t look like my hand holding the frying-pan handle and I am sure it was someone else’s eyes that watched the eggs bubble and brown. As I dropped two slices of wholemeal bread in the toaster, I would observe myself as if from across the room and, with tingling hands gripping the spatula, folded the omelette so it looked like an apple envelope. My alien hands would flip the omelette on to a plate and I’d spread the remainder of the butter on the toast when the two slices of bread leapt from the toaster. ‘Delicious,’ he’d say, commenting on the food before even trying it.

-Alice Jamieson

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