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July 13, 2007

The last time the Americans abandoned their allies

From Wikipedia:

In Vietnam, the new communist government sent many people who supported the old government in the South to "re-education camps", and others to "new economic zones." An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials. 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps, according to published academic studies in the United States and Europe. Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed. These factors, coupled with poverty, caused millions of Vietnamese to flee the country.
Given the nature of the various terrorist groups in Iraq, it's safe to bet that the carnage after an American retreat there would be even worse. Whatever brutal regime finally emerges after the inevitable devastating civil war would take revenge on their enemies in a most bloody fashion. Refugees would flood the Middle East, most winding up in permanent camps similar to those of the Palestinians. Possibly millions would die.

Whatever your thoughts on the wisdom of the original invasion of Iraq, it should be clear that retreat now by the Americans would be a disaster. And not just for Iraq, but for America and the world. I think everyone knows this -- including the opportunistic politicians now leading the charge for withdrawal -- but they are unable politically support a cause that the hated George Bush has staked everything on. This is madness, childish madness, and unless the politicians, the media, and the public grow up a lot of people are going to die.

But maybe it won't be so bad. After all, like in Vietnam, the press will be driven out of Iraq and no longer will there be death tolls reported daily on the news. There may be a few video clips smuggled out, a couple of rumours of atrocities trickling across the internet, but those can (and will) be ignored by the media. It will be up to the scholars a decade or so into the future to figure out the final toll for an article in their obscure journals.

June 10, 2007

The Journey of Mankind

Take a few minutes to explore this flash presentation on how Homo Sapiens spread over the earth. It's based on the latest scientific info and contained quite a few nuggets that surprised me.

(via the Mayor of Mitchieville)

May 08, 2007

Dazzle ships

During World War I, submarines became a threat to all naval vessels. Camouflaging ships was ineffective, so a different approach was tried. The ships were painted in bright colours with strange geometric patterns. The idea was that this would make it more difficult for the submarine to determine the heading of their prey from a distance -- and it worked!

This strange artform died out after the war, and was not meaningfully brought back during WWII because of the advances in submarine instrumentation and the fact that it made the ships sitting ducks from the air. Thousands of vessels were painted in this manner, but unfortunately, few at the time thought to keep a record of the designs. There are no known colour pictures and very little documentation.

More can be found here and here, if you're interested.