Category Archives: Non Sequitur

Who is the most dangerous person in the world right now?

Raise your hand if you expected President Donald Trump. Sorry, but this guy makes Trump look as non-threatening as a stuffed teddy bear wrapped in bubble wrap covered with Pokemon stickers.

Chinese President for Life Xi Jinping (source)

Hands down this is the most dangerous man in the world. More dangerous than Trump. Much more dangerous than Putin. He’s even more dangerous than the unhinged leader of North Korea Kim Jung Un*.

Here’s why:

  1. He controls what will soon become the world’s largest economy. The Chinese economy has business leaders from around the world kowtowing to Beijing including America’s largest companies Apple and Google. Since the trade war started there has been a steady stream of business leaders from all over the US pleading with Trump to end the war.
  2. He controls the country that is investing heavily in the developing world, creating a pool of “soft power” that boosts support of Chinese policies in places as far flung as Zimbabwe and Norway. Does China dominate global investment? | ChinaPower Project
  1. He controls the world’s largest military, and one that is modernizing and developing a navy to project that power to protect Chinese interests.

Comparison between US and Chinese military capabilities, source: Rand

Finally, and most importantly sometime within the next 6 or 54 months Trump is going to be out of office. Xi will still be in power. Thanks to the vote in 2018 ending term limits, Xi can stay in power indefinitely. Ending Term Limits for China’s Xi Is a Big Deal. Here’s Why.

He has no rival, and should any begin to emerge he has the power to remove them. He is an emperor in all but name, and in my view the most powerful man on the planet today.

And since power corrupts, that makes Xi Jinping the most dangerous man in the world.

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*Sorry but I don’t believe the mainland propaganda that NK is independent. No Chinese leader would seriously allow a threat at the border of China. If China can’t abide US troops stationed on the border, then it would not tolerate an unstable North Korea. It only tolerates NK because it controls NK from the lowest conscript to the pinnacle of North Korean military leadership. If Kim so much as sneezed in the direction of China he’d be dead and replaced.

 

What do you love the most about the Roman civilization?

Excellent question, but one that’s very difficult to answer.

I would say what I love most about their civilization is their spirit. But what is that exactly? I’m not sure myself. Please bear with me as I explore the idea below.

You have a tiny city state, one of hundreds of others scattered around the Mediterranean like shells on a beach at the time, and from that tiny state situated on hills alongside a river would spring a civilization that changed the world – one which continues to touch us today through our laws, literature, science and language thousands of years later.

It could easily have been crushed, but it kept on. It never quit. Even during its darkest hour when the Gauls swept down the Italian peninsula and sacked Rome in 390 BC, they never gave up. Instead the men of fighting age took refuge in the citadel, a fortress on the Capitoline Hill, while the elderly men donned their finest toga’s and sat waiting for the barbarians to come.

When the Gaul’s arrived at Rome they found the gates opened. Fearing a trap, they entered the city cautiously and found the patricians seated in the porticoes of their homes.

Livy writes, “They gazed with feelings of real veneration upon the men who were seated in the porticoes of their mansions, not only because of the superhuman magnificence of their apparel and their whole bearing and demeanour, but also because of the majestic expression of their countenances, wearing the very aspect of gods. So they stood, gazing at them as if they were statues, till, as it is asserted, one of the patricians, M. Papirius, roused the passion of a Gaul, who began to stroke his beard – which in those days was universally worn long – by smiting him on the head with his ivory staff. He was the first to be killed, the others were butchered in their chairs.” (Liv. 5 41 7–10)

Roman Patricians (source)

Almost 200 years later Rome faced another dark hour by the hand of the Carthaginian Hannibal. But unlike the Gauls before, Hannibal was a consummate general, well tempered by battle who would become Rome’s greatest enemy.

Hannibal and his family, with only tepid support from Carthage, swept the Romans out of Hispania and southern Gaul before crossing the Alps and defeating the Romans in a series of battles culminating in the Battle of Cannae.

Cannae was one of History’s greatest battles – if only due to the prose of Livy who would document it two hundred years later. Livy paints a chilling scene on the battlefield after Hannibal’s victory.

Livy again:

“The next day, as soon as it grew light, they set about gathering the spoils on the field and viewing the carnage, which was a ghastly sight even for an enemy. There all those thousands of Romans were lying, infantry and cavalry indiscriminately as chance had brought them together in the battle or the flight. Some covered with blood raised themselves from amongst the dead around them, tortured by their wounds which were nipped by the cold of the morning, and were promptly put an end to by the enemy. Some they found lying with their thighs and knees gashed but still alive; these bared their throats and necks and bade them drain what blood they still had left. Some were discovered with their heads buried in the earth, they had evidently suffocated themselves by making holes in the ground and heaping the soil over their faces. What attracted the attention of all was a Numidian who was dragged alive from under a dead Roman lying across him; his ears and nose were torn, for the Roman with hands too powerless to grasp his weapon had, in his mad rage, torn his enemy with his teeth, and while doing so expired.”

Due to contemporary movies like 300, I believe the Spartans are seen as bad-asses of the ancient world, but honestly having studied both, Sparta’s greatness would last a few generations while Rome’s lasted for millennia. And it was due to the Roman spirit, the spirit of never quitting that eventually defeated Hannibal.

In my view the Romans are more deserving of the title than the Spartans.

Sorry Leonidas, the Romans would have kicked your ass.

Hannibal expected Rome to do what his nation did: capitulate after being defeated on the battlefield. War reparations and other terms would be agreed to, the Romans would be disarmed and life would return to normal.

That’s what happened when city-states defeated other city-states. In fact, Livy’s early chapters are a litany of shampoo-rinse-repeat when it comes to fighting enemies like the Veii, the Hernici, or even the Carthaginians whom they would face three times in massive wars.

But not Rome. Rome would not surrender – and it didn’t after Cannae. Instead it raised armies including one of slaves – an unthinkable action of the times that shows just how desperate Rome was – and eventually took the war to Carthage itself, leaving Hannibal impotently raging in southern Italy.

The Roman republic was a marshal republic. All the senators had served in the military and the consuls lead armies into battle. Society moved to the rhythms of war, with the timing of wars often dictated – especially early in the republic – by the agricultural season.

But it’s not the soldiers that represent the spirit. I don’t wish to leave with that impression. Everyone in the society, from the lowest slave to the emperor, felt the spirit of the Roman people that lived on through its religion, its festivals, its literatrue and its history.

It’s that spirit that caught my eye in middle age which has lead to a seven year long obsession with ancient Rome, including 6 trips over the past 6 years to Rome and its former provinces. It’s the spirit that lives on today in the Romans themselves, who, suffering from coronavirus sang to one another from their balconies during the darkest hours of the epidemic.

The spirit lives on: Modern Italians Singing During Quarantine

My U.S. conservative father, when alive, could not stand Mahatma Gandhi. Do other conservatives in the United States feel that way about Gandhi, and why?

Yes I do feel the same way. Gandhi was only successful because he fought an opponent with a conscience: the British. Had he be born under any other empire his non-violent approach would never have been successful.

I’m also married to a woman of Jewish extraction. Gandhi’s views of the Holocaust are rarely reported because they make him appear deranged. Here’s what he had to say. Source: Repudiating Gandhian pacifism in the face of mass murder

“Looking back on the Holocaust Gandhi stated, “Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.” He also said that had the Jews committed collective suicide, that would have been “heroism.””

Gandhi also had this to say about Britain’s Darkest Hour when it alone resisted Nazism.

“Gandhi wrote to the British during the war, “This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist, it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man.””

Yes Mahatma, Hitler was a bad man. But you were blind to that at the time, and thankfully the British didn’t take your advice.

Gandhi’s reputation hasn’t aged well outside of India. And it isn’t aging well with the Indian diaspora either.

Other than American muscle cars, what other muscle cars do you find amazing?

American muscle cars define the term. Seriously, they do – according to Merriam-Webster: “Any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.”

But to answer your question – which poses a rather interesting challenge – let’s remove the term “American-made” and what do we have left? Here are some of my personal favorites.

Is it rude to consider a Porsche a muscle car? Perhaps, but a Porsche is like a body-builder wearing a well-tailored Armani suit who exhibits impeccable manners in public. Until you get it out on the open road and then… Well, for the lucky owners who appreciate the power and finesse of German engineering, magic happens. And nothing embodies that magic like the classic 911.

The 2020 Porsche 911

The Porsche is not as loud as American muscle cars- but the sound of its engine conveys power. Ask a gearhead, and chances are they’ll be able to identify the sound of a Porsche over other cars, with the true connoisseurs able to narrow it down to a particular model and year.

Whereas American muscle cars aren’t known for subtleties like cornering (speaking as someone who can lose the rear-end of a Mustang without even trying), the Porsche is made to hug the tight curves and narrow lanes of European roads. Although I can’t afford one, and will never own one, I hate to admit that I do love this car and have since I saw Tom Cruise sink one into Lake Michigan in the movie Risky Business.

For the next car we travel to the other side of the world to the Land of the Rising Sun, my old (and Godzilla’s) stomping grounds for the Nissan GT-R.

I’ve liked Nissans for over 50 years when my father bought a Datsun and it rusted out seemingly within weeks after a St. Louis winter. But while it was a rust-bucket, it showed promise, and that promise came to fruition with one of my all-time favorite cars, the Datsun 280z.

1978 Datsun 280Z

The 280Z had a smaller engine, producing only 170hp at the time, but a later turbo boosted that, along with an impressive power to weight ratio and made them popular with drivers who wanted something different than the grossly overweight under-powered Z28’s and TransAms that ruled the American road of the time. Back then the owners of those American cars didn’t realize just how much the brands had been neutered by their makers to improve fuel economy standards. And they were heavy, making them slow off the line – easy pickings for the nimble 280z.

The GT-R is the well-engineered descendant of the 280z, with a 565hp engine delivering 467 lb-ft of torque. While not as familiar to the American audience as its top selling predecessor, the GT-R has serious muscle that will turn heads at the track, especially when paired against the Mustang and Camaro.

Finally, I’m going to praise a car I personally own – a combination of European style with Japanese engineering: the Fiat Spider 124, based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a great little sports car and has been extremely popular in the USA for over 20 years. Starting in model year 2017, Fiat decided to work with Mazda to create the Fiat 124 Spider. The Spider takes the well-tested engineering of the Miata and adds Italian styling, springs, dampers, roll bars and gear box to create a car that looks and feels different from its all-Japanese sibling.

Back in the 1980s there was a commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that had the tagline “Two great tastes that taste great together,” that taught Americans peanut butter and chocolate were a great combination – as if this Land of Diabetes didn’t know it already.

The 2020 Fiat Spider

The Spider is the sports car example of that. The Italians know styling and driving, and the Japanese know how to make well-engineered cars that don’t fall apart when you’re on I-5 in San Diego doing 70mph in the passing lane (yeah, I have a “Fix It Again Tony” story of my own like most Fiat owners).

I own a Ford Mustang GT and the Spider and both are very different cars, but to quote a famous Japanese woman, both “spark joy” behind the wheel and have muscle when you need it – thanks to the Spider’s 4 cylinder turbo. While the Mustang is pure, flag waving, American muscle, the Italian-Japanese Fiat 124 Spider will get the blood pumping when you hit the accelerator just as well.

Sadly it appears Fiat is leaving the US market (at least with Fiat branded cars. It still owns Chrysler/Jeep) and it’s likely the Spider will no longer be available in the coming years. But its sibling the MX-5 Miata continues to sell well and will be around for awhile.

 

As an Israeli who do you prefer more as an ally, the U.S or Russia?

I’m not Israeli but I’m a life-long friend of Israel.

While the USA is a better ally, it doesn’t hurt Israel to maintain cordial relations with Russia. Many Israelis came from Russia (specifically, the USSR) and have maintained ties with Russia. For example, former Defense Minister Avi Lieberman was born in Kishinev, and speaks fluent Russian.

Jewish history should teach the importance of never placing your trust in one person, people or nation. Jews have been betrayed countless times in places where they were formerly welcome going back 2,500 years.

Russia and China should be Israel’s Plan B if America turns its back on the nation. Given the rising anti-Semitism in the USA and Europe, especially on the Left it’s a good strategy.

No friends of Israel (source)

If the US shifts leftward as expected in the fall 2020 election, those connections to Russia and China will be critical to keeping the country secure.

 

The two robbers Marv and Harry from Home Alone are going to rob your house. How would you beat them?

It all starts with signage. I have posted no trespassing signs around my property. Where I live even people who can’t read know what that sign means.

Then there’s my perimeter security system. Should they breach that, they will have to contend with several large outdoor dogs who, if family isn’t around, don’t take kindly to strangers. By that time the police will likely arrive and I’ll be able to rescue them from the dogs.

But if they somehow manage to get past the dogs my home has several solid core doors with heavy locks that aren’t easy to breach, even with a heavy crowbar. They are also alarmed, as are my windows, so expect more police to arrive (where I live there’s no danger of them being defunded.)

Breach that, and I have numerous indoor dogs that will bite. Don’t discount the small ones: they are the fiercest.

And if somehow they get past all that, well… Let’s just say I know the laws in my state which include the Castle Doctrine – meaning that I have a right to defend my family. While “Home Alone” made home invasion look cute, the reality – rape, torture and murder – is anything but.

Nothing I own is worth a life. All the valuables we own are in safe deposit boxes, and everything else you would likely find cheap at the Goodwill. I know because that’s where a lot of my stuff goes. Seriously, we keep little around that would be valuable to trade for drugs.

What is important – us – can’t be bought or sold. My family is worth more than my life, and I will do everything in my power to protect them.

Let’s just say that Marv and Harry wouldn’t be around for a sequel and leave it at that.

Won’t Be Around for the Sequel

Why do conservatives call Joe Biden a radical liberal, while progressives call him a neocon? Does this mean he’s a centrist?

No, because he’s both a radical liberal and a neocon.

Biden is the Democrat’s Reagan. What this means is that Biden, a neo-con who supported American interventions from Panama to Syria and dedicated his decades of service to boosting the power and wealth of the banking industry, is going to surround himself with radical liberals who are taking over the party. This echoes Reagan who was a country club, liberal republican when taking office but surrounded himself with social conservatives who set the agenda for his administration throughout the 1980s.

Reagan was almost 70 when he took the oath of office in 1981. His biographers paint a picture of his battle with senility and increasing reliance on his closest advisors, particularly his wife, Nancy. By the time of his re-election, Reagan was pretty much a figure-head, which allowed the neo-cons to have their way abroad in El Salvador and Iran, and the social conservatives to have their way domestically – particularly Attorney General Ed Meese.

If Biden wins, he will be 78 years old come inauguration day. Trump will be 74 years old if re-elected. Serious questions have been raised about Biden’s mental health, so it is likely that Biden will handle the presidency as Reagan did: as a figurehead, reliant upon his advisors. Those advisors will drive the agenda of administration, and it is expected that agenda will be radical given the party’s encouragement and support for the BLM movement.

The question is: how much will Biden participate in his own administration? If his cognitive faculties are better than we think, then he is likely to rely upon ex-Clinton and ex-Obama administration officials who are more conservative than the upcoming generation raised on a daily dose of anti-Trump hysteria and energized by protest. But if he’s sailed away, then expect the country to bear the full brunt of the radical Left.

Taking Power in 2021? (source)

Is there a resentment in Japan towards the United States because of World War II?

Walking down the street once in Kyoto my wife and I were approached by a young woman. “Are you Americans?” She asked. We answered we were. She then launched into a bitter tirade calling us all kinds of names because of “What you did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” That was 25 years ago.

But that was one woman out of 125 million. If the majority in the country felt that way at the time I doubt we would have lived there, but Japan has a range of opinion on every issue including whether the bombings were justified.

My wife’s father was on a ship heading for Japan from Burma as part of a special ops force that had practiced for months for the expected invasion of the home islands. My father was in the Philippines under the command of Gen. MacArthur’s forces.

Had the bombs not been dropped and the expected allied casualties been as high as anticipated, chances are neither one of our fathers would have returned alive and we would not exist.

And chances are quite good that neither would the woman who verbally assaulted us.

My dad, lower left somewhere in the Philippines, 1945

Instead all three of us were able to walk the streets of a free Japan, able to express our opinions without fear.

I often wonder how History would have viewed the USA if we had the bomb but not used it. “You had the capability to end the war, a war which killed hundreds of thousands of allied forces and millions of Japanese civilians, a war that left Japan fragmented and half under occupation by the Soviet Union, yet you failed to use it.” But I’m sure the wife, our children, and I would not be around to debate it.

Why is the AK 47 so powerful?

You want a powerful weapon?

Here it is:

Barrett .50 cal (source)

This rifle is capable of taking out lightly armored vehicles and helicopters. And here’s why:

Round Comparison (source)

The AK-47 round is the 7.62×39 (4th from left). The .50 cal is the last round on right.

I’m a fan of the AK-47 but as others have stated it’s not as powerful as it’s made out to be in non-military or non-firearm circles. There are other weapons that are much more powerful, able to reach out and kill for miles whereas the AK-47 is only accurate for 300 yards or so. The size of the cartridge – the case holding propellant – shows why.

See also the thread: What is the difference in lethality between 5.56, 7.62 and 50 cal?