Sleep dep zombie, future of war

Can’t sleep. It’s amazing when I can drag for 14 hours through a day feeling like a zombie, then when I make it to bed, I can’t sit still. And after all of my bitching about the weather, it’s almost vaguely warm tonight, and I don’t have my fan armada set up yet. So I just took two tylenol-PMs, got a snack of microwave pretzels, and I’m listening to some jazz show on PBS that doesn’t sound half bad. I really wish I knew more about jazz sometimes, but I guess I’ve only got so many brain cells, and most of them are occupied with worthless trivia about the heavy metal genre.

I just finished reading a book about the Civil War – more specifically, a journal or diary by a surgeon from New York who spent three years in the army. I think it was cleaned up by some high school teacher and some of his students as part of a historical society project, so I couldn’t tell if it read well because of the man’s education, or the post-processing. I thought there would be more blood and guts, lockjaw and field amputations. That stuff was mentioned, but it was mostly a travelogue, about how the army put down tents and set up camp, then moved at a moment’s notice. But even with this travel, they still had visits from their wives, leave in Washington DC, and semi-regular mail. (But not regular pay!) Despite the lack of gore, I did enjoy the little notions of the bygone era, like how the guy said “I called on Dr. Hall this evening,” not meaning that he picked up a phone, but that he walked over to his tent and socialized. It’s interesting how technology and society has changed this sort of interaction. I mean, the book was written mostly from letters the guy wrote to his wife. Who actually sits down with pen and paper to write letters anymore?

(The show is Jazz at Lincoln Center, btw.)

I went impromptu CD shopping for a second today (someone at work went to Tower after lunch and I tagged along.) I didn’t sweep the whole A to Z looking for specifics, but I did pick up the first Anthrax album, and the first (or third, if you count demos) CD by Pacific Northwest Death/Gore Metallists Engorged. I bought their CD on a whim, but I REALLY like it. It reminds me a lot of Carcass, which is one of my all-time favorite grind/gore-type bands. While most of Carcass’s grumbled lyrics are medical terms straight out of Grey’s Anatomy, Engorged is almost a parody, a lot more humorous and referential to horror movies. It’s a pretty good accidental find.

Not much else. I am playing Blitzkrieg still, on a very regular and scheduled basis. I’m now in the desert, outside of Libya. It’s neat to see the terrain change from France’s grassy hills and villages to the African desert. And even my equipment changed color, to the desert fatigue paint jobs. Missions are getting a lot more complicated, but I’m gaining ground faster, so I must be learning something.

I am reading a new book on the future of war, which is turning out to actually be a larger lesson in economic interdependence of major ruling powers, and how war has evolved since the conquest for land position has diminished, but the tension of economic dispute stays the same. It used to be the case that in order to be a world power, you had to have a strong rule on the Atlantic trade route. But as of 1980, the economy of Pacific trade routes equaled that of Atlantic. So even if you were a shithole country in the far end of Asia, you could rise to the point of being a major economic power. (See also: Japan, Korea, Singapore, et al.) And a major point is that many people say war is obsolete because more and more countries are linked together by trade. But the truth is, before World War I, most academics said the same thing, and that France and Germany would never go to war, because their hands were so deep in each others’ pockets. And you know how that one ended up.

The magic of the little blue pills cascades over my head. It’s time to go have a long series of bizarre dreams.

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Only the dead have seen the end of plagarism

Well, damn. I had a perfect quote for a long rambling about Memorial Day, which is “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which is popularly attributed to Plato. Turns out it probably wasn’t him; MacArthur used the quote in his farewell speech and said it was Plato, and then it appeared everywhere. Turns out George Santayana probably said it in a soliloquy about World War I, and MacArthur got it backwards. Oh well.

So it is Memorial Day weekend, which most people usually attribute to the banks closing, or a big car race, or the beaches opening. Even in a time when a war is ending, not many people think about those who paid the ultimate price of freedom, because even as I type the phrase “ultimate price of freedom”, it sounds so tacky that it’s hard to fathom. But I was happy to see the ships here for fleet week, and even with the crappy weather, it looked like people were out for wreath-laying and parades, which is good. I didn’t go out for any celebrations, but I did stay in to watch the Rolling Thunder guys on CSPAN, and I watched Black Hawk Down today, which I guess is a fitting Memorial Day thing to do, since it shows the “leave no man behind” motto in action.

Other than that, it’s been a very bland weekend. We had cold and rain and grey skies for the most part, and it made me want to sleep forever, never leaving the cocoon of my bed. I’ve been too frustrated with my progress at Blitzkrieg to keep playing; I’ve been too bored with what’s on the tube; I’ve been waiting for some spark to get going again on this book. I’m not actively reading anything, either. In fact, I’ve been mostly reading my road atlas, which easily burns away lots of my dead time as I study all of the places I haven’t been yet.

As far as my fifty-stage goal, now that I hit Hawaii, I have 11 states to go: Alaska, Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South and North Carolina, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. I can hit those last four in a good weekend car trip, so I want to do that this summer. I really want to go to New Orleans, and when I do, it’s a simple matter to jump in a rental car, drive to Mobile, and get two more states. I have no interest in either of the Carolinas or Nebraska, but maybe a Delta last-minute deal will kill a weekend and those states. Alaska is the last big deal, and I’ve wanted to go there for years. I’ll save up and get out there at some point.

Not much else. The sun almost came out today, so I went to the Virgin in times square and ran through the CDs, coming out with about ten or so new things and a couple of DVDs. I got the Black Hawk Down DVD, which is great, and I got the last Austin Powers because it was on sale, but I mistakenly got the full screen version and I didn’t get the one with Heather Graham in it, so I’m pissed there. I found a Peter Gabriel single for “More Than This”; the Jackass soundtrack is pretty cool; they rerelased the first Crowbar album; and I found a copy of the first Flotsam and Jetsam album and it wasn’t $19. I’m reluctant to admit I finally found a copy of the Night Ranger album “Seven Wishes” and the first Dokken album – more proof that people always seem to gravitate to some of the first music they discovered. I also found a Saga album I was unfamiliar with that was rereleased by SPV, and after getting it home, found it was the most unbalanced and bizarre album I have, maybe next to the GG Allin discography and Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. Very weird.

That’s all.

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I can’t stop playing Blitzkrieg. It is the most addictive strategy game ever. It’s fairly accurate to World War II, but instead of being a first-person sort of thing like Medal of Honor, all you are doing is moving around your tanks and troops and stuff on an isometric map that vaguely resembles the old SimCity, except it has way more detail of the French landscape (or whereever you are in Europe.) When your troops run into the enemy, they automatically enter battle and try to do their duty, so you don’t worry about that. What you do worry about is the supply line, guarding the flank, getting overrun, enemy dive bombers (you can call up air support) and about a million other things. It’s not hard to figure out how to move around your dudes, but it takes forever to learn the actual art of war and how to keep your army alive.

Not much has been up here. It’s still winter outside, which sucks. We have a three-day weekend, but it’s in the high 50s and cloudy and generally shitty. I have barely left the house all weekend; it’s the kind of weather where sitting in front of the TV is optimal. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything on but NASCAR and other crap. I went to the drug store yesterday to pick up a $10 prescription and left $119 later, with a ton of stuff I vaguely needed: new britta filters, new cleaining supplies, new toothbrush, new printer cartridges. I spent part of yesterday cleaning this hellhole, and actually got the kitchen somewhat in order. Pretty exciting, huh?

I got about 35 new CDs from Ray. A friend of his is apparently going to prison, and he sent Ray his whole music collection so he could somehow sell it off and scrape together some of the fines he will also owe the government. So for $206, I got this giant box full of Death Metal, Black Metal, and some other old stuff. I stocked up on a lot of the old early-90s stuff that I had on tape a lifetime ago, and haven’t heard in ten years. I finally got a CD copy of the Cynic album Focus, which is pretty cool and weird. I also got the metal cased version of the Slayer double-live album, which is pretty neat.

Right now I am listening to the Saxon album The Power and the Glory; I finally got a version from Holland for like $19 on Amazon. I love all of those old Saxon albums, and had them on tape back in the 80s when they had a deal with Sony (I think.) Now EMI has some of the old stuff out in Europe, and it’s great to hear it again. It reminds me so much of driving down the road in the old Camaro, listening to all the old heavy metal we could find in the local Camelot Music’s bins. But digging around for this old metal on eBay or weird third-party web stores always makes me think that my musical knowledge is somehow stuck at 1989, and I’ll always be trying to find that old Indestroy demo or looking up what Dave Mustaine is doing these days, while all kinds of other music comes and goes. And I’ll admit, I’ve tried to objectively listen to this New Metal a bit to see if I’d like it, and I realize that it’s probably true: I’m getting old.

Shit, I was at a party and someone was talking about Metallica, and I said “yeah, I used to be a fan of theirs, but I’m not anymore”, and the chick I was talking to said “oh, you mean you’re not a fan now that Jayson left?” What the fuck?

I want to redesign the front page of, but I’m not sure I’ll do it this weekend. I almost saw the sun for a second, but now it’s gone. Looks like I’ll reboot to Windows and continue invading France.

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