New Years Eve–2017

The year is all but a memory and I would like to thank all my followers and commenters for their continued patronage and for making 2017 an excellent year for IST.

It has been a helluva a year….the election of a president without the popular vote…..the systematic tear down of the institution that we Americans have come to depend on….the total destruction of our diplomatic endeavors….a year where autocrats were praised and democracy takes a back seat to personal gain….a year of fake news and a year of accusations…..

Now we look forward to the new year, 2018, that is……and most of us have little what to expect….will the country destroy itself from the inside or will it finally come to its senses?

Here is a little help with the expectation thing…..

The world is on edge. North Korea is threatening war. No one knows what Donald Trump will do next. And deeper forces of disruption are at work, from fake news to cryptocurrencies.With that in mind, welcome to the latest edition of the Pessimist’s Guide…to 2028. It’s an attempt not just to look at the potential shocks of next year but also to consider how they could shape the coming decade.The scenarios outlined here are not meant as forecasts. Instead, they are provocative ideas intended to make you think about how quickly our world is changing.
There is another look at what to expect in the coming year…..
I hope that all have a good evening and remember do not drink and drive….contact me for a hang over cure if needed…..enjoy you celebration but carefully……be safe……chuq

Rasputin, The Mad Monk

Today is the last day of December and as usual I have some history to impart to my readers…..I cannot let the month and the year go without one last shot at educating the reader.

How many Americans know of the monk Rasputin?  The Mad Monk of Moscow…….

Grigori Rasputin was born into a peasant family in Siberia, Russia, around 1869. After failing to become a monk, Rasputin became a wanderer and eventually entered the court of Czar Nicholas II because of his alleged healing abilities. Known for his prophetic powers, he became a favorite of the Nicholas’s wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, but his political influence was minor. Rasputin became swept up in the events of the Russian Revolution and met a brutal death at the hands of assassins in 1916.

The story goes that he had so muck influence over the tsarina that some military types took it upon themselves to rid the monarchy of this influence.

The story goes that he was poison, shot, clubbed and drowned before he actually died…..

The end of December marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Rasputin, the “mad monk of Russia”, or “lover of the Russian queen” if you believe the Boney M song, though you probably shouldn’t. While the song is undoubtedly a floor-filler, unsurprisingly it is not exactly a reliable historical account of Rasputin’s life.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, a mystic and spiritual healer born in Pokrovskoe in Siberia, wielded huge influence over the Russian royal family, particularly Alexandra, the Tsarina, who looked to the spiritual healer to cure her haemophiliac son, Alexei. The life of Rasputin was certainly pretty strange but it is the stories surrounding his death that are the strangest of all.

What is known is that one evening Rasputin went to the Yusupov Palace in St Petersburg at the invitation of Prince Felix Yusupov. Rasputin’s dead body was recovered from the frozen Neva River days later. No one is completely sure what happened in between these two events.

This is a fascinating story…..and a mystery for the ages…..this is your last history lesson of the year, 2017….but the new year will bring even more….my gift to my readers….you are welcome.

Early Wine Making

Saturday and a very cool day here……Sun and the garden make it a good day to sit and enjoy some cheese and nuts….but again doctor says NO wine….I think he is a masochist…LOL

The day before New Years Eve and lots of celebrating to be done and quantities of wine will be drunk by those doing the celebrating……

Speaking of wine…..a new discovery has changed the dates of the earliest known wine makers……

A series of excavations in Georgia has uncovered evidence of the world’s earliest winemaking, in the form of telltale traces within clay pottery dating back to 6,000BC – suggesting that the practice of making grape wine began hundreds of years earlier than previously believed.

While there are thousands of cultivars of wine around the world, almost all derive from just one species of grape, with the Eurasian grape the only species ever domesticated.

Until now, the oldest jars known to have contained wine dated from 7,000 years ago, with six vessels containing the chemical calling cards of the drink discovered in the Zagros mountains in northern Iran in 1968.

Yes, it is a torture to talk about wine and not be able to enjoy a glass or two… if you have any enjoy it for me….thanx my friends.

That is it for me for today…..I will be back Monday morn with more great stuff…..see you then my friends…..peace and love…..chuq

Closing Thought–29Dec17

What happened to America?

In the 50’s and 60’s it was booming and had a bright positive future……now fast forward to today…..we cannot say that about this country now.

Some are blaming  the Millennials, but is it truly their fault the demise of a ponce bright and prosperous country?

Everyone likes to bash millennials. We’re spoiled, entitled, and hopelessly glued to our smartphones. We demand participation trophies, can’t find jobs, and live with our parents until we’re 30. You know the punchlines by now.

But is the millennial hate justified? Have we dropped the generational baton, or was it a previous generation, the so-called baby boomers, who actually ruined everything?

That’s the argument Bruce Gibney makes in his book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.

I gotta slide out of here….better things in the wind….see you guys tomorrow…..chuq

The War Of 1812

Most readers know that I have studied conflicts through history and to everyone chagrin I do enjoy giving a history lesson whenever I can…..and today is one of those times (heavy sighs and eye rolls)

Probably one of the least studied wars in US history is that of the War of 1812.  There was a lot more to that conflict than the UK wanting to even for the loss in 1781……

On the surface, it may seem that the War of 1812 was just pointless bloodshed spattered on the pages of human history. After all, according to the final Treaty of Ghent, all relations and borders were supposed to return to status quo ante bellum, or pre-war, status. Look beyond the legalism and into the practical effects of the war, however, and one will find significant attitudinal changes in the United States after the conflict, ushering in what most historians consider the “Era of Good Feelings” in the decade following the war.

The biggest American casualty of the war was the Federalist Party, the first political party that had arisen in the United States. A party of bankers and businessmen, the Federalists’ steady opposition to the war doomed them in the eyes of the American public. Their vociferous opposition to the commencement of the war, and their subsequent contemplation of outright secession at the “Hartford Convention,” angered many Americans, who viewed the Federalists as “un-patriotic.” The Federalists had principally represented men of means and wealth, with the bulk of their membership in the Northeast. With the end of the war the party all but ceased to exist, and many of its former members rallied to new party banners, namely Republican and Whig, where they formed the political base for centralization, protectionism, and, eventually, abolitionism, in the latter half of the 19th century.

It’s That Darn War On Drugs

The War on Drugs was declared in a presser by Nixon in 1971 so we have been fighting this “war” for 46 years and spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs:  about $51 billion or about a trillion dollars over the lifetime of the program.

I bring this up because of a couple of articles I read…..

As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed.

Almost every aspect of the report contains bad news. Overall opium production reached nine thousand metric tons, compared to 4,800 tons in 2016. That was a record level since the UN began keeping statistics on the product in 1994. Some 328,000 hectares were used to grow poppy (the source of opium), an increase of nearly 50 percent from the previous record set in 2014. Poppy cultivation also spread to provinces that were previously free of such cultivation. That development means that twenty-four of the country’s thirty-four provinces now are directly involved in illicit drug production. Despite a 14 percent drop in price per unit, the overall value of the crop increased by 55 percent because of the sheer overall volume. An evaluation of the UN report from the Afghan Analysis Network aptly concluded that opium is “a low-risk crop in a high-risk environment.”

The part of the program to eliminate the Afghan opium trade is a failure after all the cash spent to rid the countryside of the poppy fields….

Then there is cocaine problem coming out of Columbia…..

European police organization Europol on Friday said that a “significant increase in production in Colombia has caused intensified trafficking activity” to the European Union.

Europol made the claim in its “How Illegal Armed Drugs Sustain Organized Crime in the EU” report on regional drug trafficking activity.

Yet another failed program…the eradication of the cocaine production….farms and factories…..

WE are throwing money at these programs and are getting no positive results….time to find another way or legalize all drugs…..

What Happened To The Religious Right?

Remember the Moral Majority?

These guys put “God” back into politics.

I agree with a friend (name withheld to protect his identity) said that he stops listening when someone says they are a Christian and that attitude seems to be the sentiment of many Americans.

At one point the “Moral Majority” held all the political power…those days are waning….what happened to those “morally” perfect leaders?

Evangelicalism doesn’t have a brand problem; it has a product problem.

Ok, Evangelicals do have a brand problem—but they also have a major product problem.

Bible-believing born-again Christians, aka Evangelicals, have had a brand problem since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority sold the Born-again movement to the Republican party in exchange for political power a generation ago, forging the Religious Right.

The Republican party has been using Christianity’s good name to cover bad deeds ever since, all the while tapping Evangelical media empires and churches as communications and organizing platforms to bring ordinary believers along with the merger. Having become true-believers themselves, Evangelical leaders have offered themselves up as trusted messengers for this New-and-Improved political gospel project.

And it has worked.

I cannot say that the movement is all but dead…..for it is still strong in the Deep South….the Alabama special election showed that when with all the allegations against Moore he still won the white vote overwhelmingly.

The rest of the nation has lost confidence in this movement but it will stay strong in the South until the older generation leaves us.

Closing Thought–28Dec17

We all remember Qaddafi….the leader of Libya……hated by Reagan and Bush 1, tolerated by Clinton then embraced by Bush2 and finally killed by Obama…..since his death Libya has been a bloody mess….factions fighting factions, tribes fighting tribes, and ISIS showing its ugly head….I give you this quick historical sketch because Libya will soon be holding a presidential election and there may be a Qaddafi on the ballot…….

The son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, is planning to run in the 2018 presidential elections.

Libyan tribal chief Basem al-Hashimi al-Soul confirmed the candidacy of Saif al-Islam on Sunday (17 December)

“Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan president, enjoys the support of major tribes in Libya so he can run for the upcoming presidential elections due in 2018,” Soul told Egypt Today.

Just a little something to fill the dead air….

Tomorrow is another day and I will be here with more stuff…..chuq

A World War Two ‘What If’

From time to time I will write a ‘what if’ post about some historical event…..I even find others that think about history in a ‘what if’ frame of mind…..

I read a ‘what if’ in “The National Interest” there’s is a WW2 ‘what if’…..I thought that since I had been neglectful with my history posts I would post this…..

What if Germany had never declared war on the United States during World War II?

Scholars and analysts have long wondered whether this represented one of the great “what-ifs” of World War II; could the Germans have kept the United States out of the war, or at least undercut popular support for fighting in the European Theater, by declining to join the Japanese offensive?

These ‘what if’ posts are just fun to imagine what would have changed if anything, if events had taken a different path.

Can You Say WMDs?

Do you remember the WMDs from the 1990’s and more recently in 2003 before the invasion and occupation of Iraq?

I have written about the rhetoric surrounding the situation with North Korea….but so you do not have to remember that I will give you the link……

Well it has gotten a little louder with this batch of defectors……..

Blood tests on at least one of the North Korean soldiers that defected to the South this year have detected something extremely concerning, according to a South Korean TV channel. Channel A, citing an unnamed South Korean military source, says anthrax antibodies were detected in the soldier, suggesting Pyongyang could be ramping up its biological weapon capabilities, UPI reports. According to Channel A, South Korean authorities have confirmed that the soldier is immune to the deadly bacterium, though it’s not clear whether his immunity comes from vaccination or exposure.

Anthrax can kill within 24 hours if people are not vaccinated, the International Business Times notes, and the South Korean military says its anthrax vaccine will not be ready until the end of 2019. The news adds to concerns about possible biological attacks: The White House released a report last week that said Pyongyang had spent “hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland,” and Japan’s Asahi newspaper recently reported that North Korea has been trying to find ways for anthrax to survive the high temperatures that intercontinental ballistic missiles experience.

The nuke thing was not enough now they are developing biological weapons as well……stir that pot……those damn drums are getting louder.