A needed pause…

I’ve been swallowing news in big gulps since Vlad the Invader sent his wanna-be Red Army across the Ukrainian boarder. Cable, streaming, social media, and blogs, I’ve been trolling all of them for snippets of new and interesting information. 

That’s one of the dangers of being a history guy… and one that’s spent a fair amount of his time concentrating on a combination of general war in Europe and the cold war. Throw in a hefty dollop of defense policy and global strategy and, well, it can be downright hard to tear your eyes away, for fear of missing whatever news happens to break while you’re looking somewhere else.

I won’t deny being keyed up by the flow of information available in the open-source environment. I’ve lost track of the number of “holy shit” moments. It would be entirely too easy to follow the rabbit hole down into something not entirely healthy. 

Knowing that about myself, I’m going to try to step away a bit – even if it’s just for tonight. I’ll be doing my best to stay the hell off Facebook and Twitter and all the other sites and slip into a comfy chair with a good book. It’s 100% an effort to blow out a week’s worth of accumulated gunk from the darker corners of my head. 

Taking a night off from the war is a luxury our friends in Ukraine don’t have. I might be tuning out the news for a few hours, but I’m sure it, and the overall state of this old, beshitted world of ours, won’t be out of my thoughts for very long. 

Back to the future…

I grew up in the 80s… not so very long ago in geo-political terms. Back there and back then, the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire run by faceless party bosses and apparatchiks in far off, shadowy Moscow. As a cold war kid, having Russia back as the Big Bad feels like the most natural thing in the world. It’s the way things ought to be.

Russia, in the guise of “first among equals” in the USSR, had a long history of intimidating, invading, and occupying its neighbor states if they strayed too far from the edicts issued from Moscow. The old countries of the Warsaw Pact and former Soviet republics, spent half a century or more under the heel of or at least under threat from the Red Army.

My Point? It’s mostly just a way of saying that the ongoing invasion of Ukraine doesn’t represent anything new under the sun. It’s Russia being true to form and returning to old patterns from the 20th century. The difference now is that the Warsaw Pact is long dead and the former Soviet republics have been independent for decades – many joining NATO as they are well aware the threat that an expansionist Russia represents,

Even as the United States and the USSR postured across the German plains, the post World War II global order kept the peace in Europe for the better part of three generations. Since the end of the Second World War, Europe has known an almost unprecedented period of peace. If history is a guide, that’s not necessarily the natural state of things in the region. Today, it seems, we’re closer to a general war in Europe than at any time since 1945… driven almost entirely by one man’s obsession to restore an empire that hasn’t existed in over thirty years.

It seems that we’ve gone back to the future in the worst possible way.

The privacy of Facebook…

So at least one major news outlet is making a big stink that the US Department of State doesn’t include taking a look at the Facebook page of people entering the country – in this case on the now infamous K1, fiancée visa. The official line is that it would be an invasion of privacy, which is the point where their argument starts to lose me.

I’m not at all sure that there is, or should be, any expectation of privacy when it comes to information you share with people on Facebook. The very nature of the platform is that the information is put there so that many people can see it all at once. That’s kind of the point of social media unless I’m missing a mark somewhere.

I don’t guess there’s much chance we can all agree on this, but it seems reasonable to me that the nice bureaucrats over at State could probably take a look around an applicant’s Facebook page and go ahead and rule out those who are friends with ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or any of a number of pretty well known enemies of the state. If it’s sitting right out there on an open source platform and they’re not bright enough to keep that sort of jackassery encrypted, we could at least skim off that proportion of potential terrorists who are not so bright instead of welcoming them with a green card and tax ID.

If you want to be let into the country in order to wrap yourself in its benefits and protections, I’m not at all sure letting the investigator give your online life the once over is any more out of line than expecting you to list your next of kin and a few personal references.


Preparations for getting underway…

You’d think after spending four Christmases fighting my way home across 900 miles, a quick hop from on side of a small mid-Atlantic state to the other could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss. If you thought that, however, you would be exactly wrong. Traveling with Maggie and Winston in tow is a task table_3_supply_classesso complex that it makes even the planning for Normandy look like amateur hour. Beds, food, fuel, clothes, sundries, health and welfare items, medication – if I added barrier material and ammo I could cover down on all the classes of supply getting loaded into the truck in preparation for getting underway.

There’s a fair percentage – maybe 30% – of what’s getting packed that I won’t actually use or need. Still, I like knowing that I have it. You could fill warehouses with things I like having along “just in case.” For me, apparently it’s just in case I need to rebuild my life from the ground up starting only with what I have on hand with me in the truck. Almost disturbingly, that’s only a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t travel as much as I use to, but when I do, I travel heavy. After all, you never know what just in case might pop up requiring you to rebuild civilization using only contents of your luggage.

The international edition…

I get the vast majority of my page views from right here in the good ol’ US of A. No surprise there. One of the fun factoids I’ve noticed recently is that I’m starting to see a lot more international traffic filter through the doors. Now I don’t want to imply this increase is a direct result of a couple of posts talking about the National Security Agency (Hi there!), but that’s more or less when the traffic picked up… and in the best traditions of snarky blog authors everywhere I want to take the opportunity to welcome my new readers from the UK, France, Germany, Canada, India, the Philippines, Australia, Serbia, Bangladesh, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Mexico, Ireland, Russia, Norway, Finland, Poland, Romania, Vietnam, Sweden, Paraguay, South Africa, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Brazil, Egypt, Singapore, Austria, Cyprus, Angola, Jordan, Malaysia, Israel, Taiwan, and the Bahamas.

I hope you have a pleasant visit here at jeffreytharp.com and find many, many interesting posts for your reading pleasure. Please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times and remember that all posts on jeffreytharp.com are subject to the copyright laws of the United States of America and traffic here is probably monitored by at least one domestic intelligence agency. Thanks for your interest in my blog.

Your viewing of this site constitutes consent to hold the author harmless in the event of an invasion of your homeland or a drone strike on your house.