My Photo
Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It's only fitting that we note a very sad anniversary before this year slips away. 2008 marks 75 years since Stalin deliberately starved Ukraine's "kulaks" in order to force rural collectivization and destroy Ukrainian nationalism.

The world gets tied up in wads about “The Holocaust” – and it should. The Holocaust is the archetypal genocide and one of the most hideous acts of deliberate evil in history, but we should pause occasionally to remember how horrific much of the 20th century was and that Europe’s Jews were not the only victims of genocide. (Just ask the Armenians, Ukrainians, Cambodians, Tutsi, and so many millions of Russians and Chinese…)

Perhaps six million died in the Holocaust. The Holodomor killed about seven million Ukrainians and over 14 million died all across Russia during forced collectivization. Learn more here and here. (Other links in updates as I find them.)

This begs the question, of course, of why events like the Holodomor are not remembered when the Holocaust is. Perhaps – just perhaps – it has something to do with the fact that socialism is coming back into vogue (if it ever went out) among the left that controls the West’s media. Perhaps it is inconvenient to show the real human cost of trying to implement socialism in the real world (as communism – yeah, I know, I know: “not the same thing!” Bullshit. Same religion, just different denominations). Deprecating Hitler costs the left nothing (nor should it); pointing out that former heroes of the left like Stalin and Mao were savage, ravening, mass-murdering monsters creates more problems.

So… few around will honor those who died in the Holodomor. Count me among those few.


Read more
<< Home

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Matt, Zachary, and Lyle

I deeply regret that I missed this comment when it was posted [it refers to this post]:

"I have just read the account of Zach's passing. I knew Lyle in High School. He and I shared my great times together. He was like my brother. After he got out of the Air Force we lost track of each other. It is with incredible sadness that I read this about his son. This should never have to happen to a parent and especially to someone as great as Lyle and Lois. I know it has been almost two years but now my heart breaks anew for both of them. I hope that they find peace in their lives. Lyle - Know that I pray for you and Lois and Zach.
Sincerely, Matt"

Matt posted this on 23 Sep 08. I am an idiot - I let Vita ab Alto languish for over a year, not posting or even checking comments, so I missed this when it came in. Matt, if you ever see this, I apologize.

Lyle was best man at my wedding to Karen Annie Sweetheart. We spent many years together in the Air Force, helping define the term "nerd" in ways that are approached only in places like Step Brothers (in fact, we wore NVGs together, but it was purely professional, I assure you) or Napoleon Dynamite (I seem to remember something like a Liger in one of Lyle's D&D games...) We had some pretty unique experiences, too: On one of the several TDYs I concocted to the Sacramento area as an excuse to visit KANH before we got married, Lyle volunteered as my copilot. His family was in Yuba City, so it was a win-win. However, we were both so familiar with the drive from Reno NV to Sacramento that, when we passed Reno VORTAC, we convinced ourselves that we had a good two hours before landing. Of course, it takes about a tenth of the time to fly the distance in a B-52 as it does to drive it... I think I got the flaps to 100% about midway down McClellan's runway and I think Lyle was still apologizing to Sac Approach on rollout. We (and the rest of the crew) walked away safely, nonetheless.

I, too, began to lose contact after Lyle and I left active duty. I'd heard nothing for almost a year before Zach's death. Of course, that was the time that the Sisson's were dealing with the final staqes of his disease.

I remember Lyle telling me about Matt many times, and once, when on one of those Sac TDYs, Lyle tried to link us up, but we weren't able to make it work. Nonetheless, I feel like I've met Matt and I regret that he, too, has lost contact with the Sissons.

I hope that both Matt and Lyle will see this some day. I, too, hope that Lyle and Lois have found peace in their lives and I pray for them frequently. I hope that Lyle and Lois will reappear someday and initiate contact with us and with Matt...

Maybe this Christmas season will see a change...


Read more
<< Home

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A New Form of Embarrassment

Thinking to add a touch of culture to our lives, we bought season tickets to "Broadway Across America" in Birmingham. The season culminates in Wicked, which we all realy want to see. The initial offerings are not quite as well known, however. The first, which we attended last weekend, was Avenue Q. It's...umm...a puppet show. I knew it won a Tony and was popular some time ago. The ads said, "not for the very young." "That's okay," I thought. We have two teenaged daughters. "A little risque humor, an off-color joke or two - maybe a 'Will and Grace' sort of vibe - won't hurt them. Nice of the theater to warn people not to bring small children, though, thinking this is Sesame Street."


It IS Sesame Street.

...If Sesame Street were written by Will Farrell and John C. Reilly - "Step Brothers" meets Snuffleupagus. Better yet, think of the stoned high school "theater types" of Walter Kerr's God on the Gymnasium Floor saying, "hey, dude, let's make, like, a DIRTY Sesame Street!"

More F-bombs than GBU-12s on an Afghan wedding party; Bert is a gay Republican who secretly loves Ernie; Tellie Monster ("Trekkie Monster") is a porn-loving misanthrope; full-frontal puppet nudity... Like, totally EDGY, man! Oooh, they really stick it to educational television!

Still, Ave Q succeeds... Ultimately, a lot of it is cute and sweet; it has a nice ending; and you can't help but laugh, even at the Nasty Bits. Still, there's no form of embarrassment that quite equals sitting with two teenaged girls watching puppets have sex on stage...

Read more
<< Home

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Congratulations, Hans!

Okay, I'm blogging again...after almost a two-year hiatus. Why? I've been inspired by publication of a book by friend and estwhile Vita ab Alto correspondent, Hans. Hans' real name is Rob Tate and I am now disgustingly jealous of him. He's just had a beautiful coffee table book published: "Hans-Joachim Marseille, an Illustrsated Tribute to the Luftwaffe's 'Star of Africa'."

I've called Rob "Hans" for years because he's had a serious man-crush on Marseille his entire adult life. (He gets me back: He calls me "Dieter.") Now Rob's put his encylopedic knowledge of his hero to good use and realized a long-time dream. Many friends of mine have been published, but never in such lavish fashion. His subject is interesting, too. Marseille was one of the Luftwaffe's uber-fighter pilots, of course, but he was also a complicated man and never a Nazi hack (despite the use the Reich's press made of him). If he'd been born in America, he would probably have been a Swing Kid.

I believe I will blog awhile longer now; I've become bored with my own professional writing and could use a more creative outlet. Besides, there's certainly no lack of things to comment on these days.

In any event, congratulations, Rob. Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance in praise of manly Germans!

Read more
<< Home