Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

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!) 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 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.