Snow Crash

I’m getting so restless around the house, I actually cleaned. I really want to go out and do something, but it’s freezing again, and I don’t really want to blow any money, either. So I’m watching Die Hard with a Vengence on TV, although I missed the part where they digitally edited McClane’s sign that says “I hate niggers” to “I hate everyone”. I did just catch the part where the 7 train is at the fake 2-3 Wall Street station and blew up in a way that completely defies physics. Despite about 20,000 goofs, this is still a good movie. If I ever see it in the $7 bin, I’ll have to pick up the DVD.

One fun thing about watching the Sunday afternoon movie is you see the most pathetic, low-budget infomercials for junk As Seen on TV products. There was just one for the Eggstractor or something like that. It starts out with black and white footage of a woman with really crappy, frizzed out hair and no makeup, trying to peel eggs in the most pathetic way possible. Then they switch to full color and show the woman with totally Jenny Jones makeover hair, full makeup, and happily plugging eggs into this device that looks like a plastic squeze tube and another piece of plastic that extrudes off the egg shell. She’s happily de-shelling eggs like the thing’s giving her ten orgasms per egg. Then it shows the kids using it, and it’s the greatest thing since GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip. They also use the phrase “high protein” about 80 times in 30 seconds to placate the Atkins freaks. I never knew peeling eggs was such a god damned problem.

Anyway, I finished reading Snow Crash, and I was really happy with it. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and something so completely different. I’ve always wanted to like cyberpunk, but the Gibsonesque stuff wasn’t that great too me. It was good, passable, but too much like the crappy SciFi shows that they make to fill up time on the WB network on Saturday afternoons, and not enough like the very first time I saw Star Wars or something like that. But this book really blew me away, because it was like one part Mark Leyner’s humor with one part Kurt Vonnegut’s ability to take a couple of disparate stories and slowly weave them together by the end of the book. It’s also got all of this weird religious theory in it that almost threw me, but was still very interesting, and I wish I could learn more about that without tackling some giant, 1200-page theory/reference book I will never read.

I’m now reading a book about the Nazi POW camps in the US. It seems like a lot of people didn’t know this, but during WW2, we captured a lot of German soldiers in the course of battle, and since we did not occupy the land we captured in places like Africa or Italy or France or whatever, we then sent these guys to the US to be interred until the end of the war. And they had something like 500 camps all over the US (but mostly in southern states like Texas and New Mexico) where they held something like a quarter-million Nazis. What’s even more strange is that American guards let the Germans continue to keep their military order and Nazi rule among themselves, because this created a much more secure situation that was easier to oversee with a number of guards severely limited because of the draft sending able-bodied men overseas. It was actually easier to have the Nazi officers brow-beat the enlisted men and discipline the people than to have listless and heavily disciplined men fight back against guards and sabotage everything in the camps.

And this was not any sort of atrocity or concentration camp or anything that a liberal apologist would cry over. The military was very strict about upholding the Geneva convention, because they were hoping that this would mean their enemies would reciprocate and treat American POWs fairly. (Germany tried, for the most part within their means to treat American prisoners okay. The Japanese totally did not.) So this meant that POWs received roughly the same treatment that an American enlisted man would: clean beds, hygenic facilities, three squares a day, libraries and books, chapels and bibles, soccer games and shuffleboard, and even college credit for English courses. All of this meant few POWs escaped, and those that did were more interested in staying in the land of plenty, as opposed to going back to Germany after the war. POWs even got hired on as farmhands and in non-war-related factories, working (sometimes unguarded) with the local farmers to replace their sons and brothers who were away fighting the war. They got paid for their labor, and worked well, considering the German military discipline and the fact that many troops were farmers back in Germany.

Anyway, I’m about halfway through the book (I forget the title – I’ll post it later) and it’s pretty good. Lots of photos and testimony from former POWs and guards. The funniest story in the whole thing is that the author received a phone call from someone late one night, after the first edition had been published. They were talking about the camps, and then they confessed that they were in fact that last escaped Nazi prisoner, who had been on the lam for nearly 40 years! The author co-wrote a book with him about his tale, and I will have to look that up sometime.

Nothing else going on here…


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