Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

Wikipedia reads like a blog on this, so I'm not going to be able to go with the easy reference.

Cinco de Mayo is the catchy title for the holiday that, at one point, commemorated the Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla. The generally remembered impression of the battle is that the Mexican force (rag-tag or formal military, or both) fought off a superior (more numbers or better trained or some combination there-of) French force, at a time when France was the premier continental power in Europe (which, at the least, implies that being beaten by Mexican forces is really not an expected thing). There's lots of places to go with this, but I'm not generally concerned about the exploitation of nationalism by beer companies (if you really want to name yourself after a failed brewer whose major success was in messing up governments, go for it).

The point I'm going to make is really about the rest of history. The army that won the battle of Puebla was eventually beaten (after a siege? quite possibly). In the long-term the French adventure failed. In the shorter term, the heroes of this underdog/against-the-odds battle were killed. By overwhelming superiority, as Napoleon the Third sent more troops into Mexico, and his generals had a good long spat of winning battles.

There should be more here. France invaded a nation because it could, the nations' people fought, and the early heroes died suitably tragic deaths, and the world moved on. Puebla remembers the battle, and that is almost the end of this.

In casual observation, it seems Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-American holiday in a much different way than it is portrayed. It's a victory against imperialism, which, in the parts of the United States that were once Mexico, has significance.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peace and Justice

In church today I listened to a few songs done by a member of the congregation. She is, like most Unitarians, upper-middle-class, white, and liberal. her songs were musically well done, but the lyrics were more than a tad lacking.

I am not a person opposed to the notions of peace and love, and global harmony, and all the other, overdone hippie idealism. What bother me, and what really, for me, devalues this idealism, is the notion that is is all so simple to just stop conflict, and then we have peace.

Certainly, immediately ending conflict and then not having any more would lead to a peaceful world. And if you're an upper-middle class white American, that certainly sounds like a good idea.

For the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and those generally not benefiting from the high points of this civilization, it is effectively ending the possibility of radically improving their lives. Now, I am not saying that violence is the way out of poverty, but I am saying that conflict certainly is. The threat of violence, especially large-scale violence, is a powerful bit of leverage, and more importantly, a powerful fear of those who have plenty to lose. Hell, the US of A was formed from a tax revolt. Violent resistance to injustice, and other forms of resistance and conflict that bring about the end of injustice, are a very important part of how the world functions.

Wherever we cannot understand why people are fighting, it would be a good idea to look at how much rhetoric in the conflict concerns writing wrongs and establishing justice. Because, honestly, faced with peace and oppression or conflict with a potential ultimate goal of more justice, I'm surprised at how many people pick oppression.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Toy Soldiers

It's in the subtitle of the blog, so I should probably talk about the whole wargaming thing sometime. The problem is that my wargame is normally Warhammer, and Games Workshop has not been very kind to me lately.

Once upon a time, I had serious fanboy love for White Dwarf, the gaming magazine of games workshop. It had everything - cool models, interesting stories, terrain projects to make, gamer feedback, and special rules and things. Having an issue made me far superior to the legions of gamers who didn't, and brought me a lot closer to the people that were willing to throw down a few hundred bucks to seriously get into the game. I'd vanish for a few hours into a nerdy paradise, and come back fully pleased and energized about my hobby. This is probably too revealing, but it is truth.

In the past year and a half, Games Workshop released new editions of most of their games, released two different warhammer-based computer games (one was Warhammer 40,000, but that still counts), and the venture into video games was very successful. It allowed gamers who couldn't afford to get into the hobby as much as they would like a way to enjoy it, and that was good. With this game, though, game dreams of greater exposure, and this culminated in White Dwarf being available in the racks at Borders and other such stores. However, the gaming magazine the helped create and sustain the devoted hobby was not deemed fit enough for this new, wider audience, and this is where my lack of attention to wargames recently comes from.

White Dwarf reads like a catalog, or a promotional pamphlet. it is dry and filled with product information, and nothing else. It no longer shows models painted by mere mortals, and it only features the big three games, living the amusing little oddities to rot in some far corner of their website. The magazine is dry and uninteresting, and I can only imagine this course of action will be a tremendous failure. At least, for the sake of the hobby, I hope so.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Trinity, Part 2

The site is really unremarkable. It's the sitting around here today and going "yesterday, I stood where the first Atomic Bomb went off" that's pretty freaky.

Also, it's good to not confuse trinitite with rabbit poop.
(This is apparently a problem, with people selling rabbit poop as trinitite on eBay)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Trinity, part 1

I'm going with the family to the trinity site this weekend, and so i'll try and do a multi-part post about it.

First - Power, in all its forms, is a fascinating thing to me. Atomic power, energy, and weapons are perhaps the greatest overstepping of what humans should be capable of, and was accomplished through a tremendous exertion of human will, intellect, and definitely some dire circumstances and abuses of power.

The bomb as the first use of atomic power is really an unforgivable thing. This amount of energy, this potential resource here, should not have been brought into existence with a weapon as the intended purpose.

Trinity would be a more redeeming place if it was the test site of an atomic reaction, and not an atomic weapon.

But its the weapon we live with, and its the weapon that is forever tied there. I'm a generation to young to be speculating seriously on the hard-line nuclear debates, but the smaller one, the three-nuke countries and the growing number of small nuclear arsenals will make this place perhaps of more significance in an era of probably increasing nuclear proliferation.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Water and Politics

This is one of the big fields I intend to do an awful lot of writing in when I have the knowledge necessary. I'm willing to bet that more wars at the close of the century will be fought over water than over anything else. The plan, then, is to be in a position of influence before this happens.

More to come, more to come