Category Archives: Non Sequitur

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?

 

China is going to kill an Australian citizen who smuggles drug in China. Should the US and other allies help Australia to rescue him?

Wow, I hadn’t realized the death penalty was so popular. All the comments so far have supported the Chinese government killing an Australian citizen even though we don’t know anything about the case. The attitude seems to be that anyone who travels to Asia should respect its laws, and if they run afoul of them, tough – you did the crime, you accept your fate.

So, does the same thing apply to Brunei, a country where homosexuality is illegal? Would the pro-death penalty supporters of Beijing also support the conviction of a homosexual there and her sentencing to death by stoning? Would they state, “The Australian citizen that had gay sex violated Brunei state laws and insulted the Brunei’s civilization with this illegal act.”

How about the conviction and sentencing of a black man in the USA to lethal injection? Would they state, “Well, after he is sent to hell, he may meet Akmal Shaikh, and they can stay together…” Given the lack of compassion shown to this unknown Australian, would their attitudes change?

I’ve struggled over the issue of the death penalty for decades, and have been on both sides of the issue. It is not an easy thing, life or death, particularly when applied to crime. But over the past few years I have come out strongly opposed to it. There have been too many breaches of justice in the US, too many death row prisoners exonerated for their crimes, for me to trust any government with such a Life and Death decision. And that includes China.

Paul Browning, Convicted and Sentenced to Death 1986, Exonerated 2020 (source)

I’ve lived in Asia – specifically Japan – and I am a firm believer in respecting local law as a traveler even if I don’t personally agree with it. But I am well aware of the failings of the Japanese justice system. One of my favorite Quorans has written extensively on her experience with it. Krysta Storer (クリスタストーラー)’s answer to What was your scariest travel experience?

I see no reason why we should immediately assume the Chinese government is perfect, that its case against the Australian was air-tight, and that the Australian received as fair a trial as s/he would have gotten in Australia. Even if that is true, if I oppose the death penalty in the USA, and in Saudi Arabia and Brunei, I also oppose it in China. Morality is not relative.

That said, there is little Australia and its allies can do to pressure China to “rescue him” other than to convince China that the execution of the Australian will damage relations. It could start by leaking information about the citizen and giving a face to the man or woman so many people are so easily condemning to death.

Update: CNN is a terrible news site dedicated to bashing Trump, nothing else apparently. Here’s a better article that provides details including the name of the man, Karm Gilespie. Australian sentenced to death in China on drug charges

Update2: For those who disagree with the comparison to homosexuality, what would you tell this young man – assuming the question is honest and not one of the usual Quora trolls?

Hi iam 21 year old gay who live in a Muslim country where homosexuality is death penalty, I can’t leave my country because I don’t have the money and sources to support my self. And if my family find me I will be killed like animals What should I do?

 

Is Ukraine committing a crime against humanity by stopping the water supply to the Crimean peninsula?

No Ukraine is not guilty of a “crime against humanity.” Russia should have considered the logistics of its illegal annexation and occupation BEFORE going through with it. It had no problem furnishing truck loads of soldiers wearing uniforms without insignia. Maybe it should have sent truckloads of water instead.

Water Would Have Been Better (source)

Are you familiar with the Yiddish word “chutzpah?” Here’s the definition: Impudence. Gall. Claiming Ukraine is guilty of a “crime against humanity” after Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine is a great example for the word.

Ukraine has no obligation to support the illegal occupation of its territory by Russian forces, so it’s up to Russia to either fix the problem by building desalinizing plants, or more cheaply, negotiating with Ukraine.

Ukraine has every right to claim its former territory, but I’m sure it also needs something that Russia has. Perhaps by providing it, the Ukraine might agree to allow the water to flow. For background: Crimea: water supply becoming a tool for political pressure | UACRISIS.ORG

Should Have Thought Of That First (source)

Do gun owners who shoot guns with their dog nearby damage their dog’s hearing over time since the dog isn’t wearing hearing protection?

Most gun owners don’t shoot around dogs due to local laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms within city limits. In order to shoot they have to go to a gun range where the sound is deadened using sound baffles, and dogs are usually kept away from the range.

Hunters often use dogs when hunting in rural areas. In that case the dog is usually several meters away from the firearm, and the discharge infrequent so that the damage to the dog’s hearing is minimal. I do not hunt but I own dogs and keep them inside when I target shoot for safety reasons.

But you raise a good point. Gun owners should be responsible for the hearing of their pets too. And guess what? A quick internet search found numerous products doing just that.

The Mutt Muff – Hearing Protection for Dogs (source)

 

Why are the people of the Southern states so mean, weird, and ignorant?

So, do you live here? How many Southerners do you know? How much time have you spent down here – or are you simply repeating stereotypes because Southerners are one of the few remaining groups we can make fun of?

I’m a Yankee who moved down here over 10 years ago. I used to spout stupid things about them – and then I visited the South. American Southerners are people – and like all people I’d say about 95% of them are decent and 5% of them are asshats. I’ve lived all over the USA and abroad and I’ve found that 95:5 ratio to be pretty consistent.

I’ve learned that many who dislike Southerners are often the same ones preaching “diversity.” True diversity means accepting people for who they are – and what they are not – and respecting them regardless.

Google Perpetuating Stereotypes

Why Isn’t Israel Afraid of Iran?

Link to Iranian Air Force Commander Statement.

I’ve followed Israel since the 1970s and visited there recently. While I wouldn’t say Israel isn’t afraid of Iran (you’ll get a lot of variance in attitudes among 8.7 million people, even in their government), I think they take the threat seriously and act accordingly.

Israel has some of the best intelligence services in the world. When it comes to Iran I would guess they have better intelligence than any other nation including the USA and Russia. This is due to their reliance on physical assets – people – as opposed to intercepted communications provided through technology which the US and other services prefer. My guess – and it’s just that – is that they have assets in place through all levels of the government and military and as a result know pretty much everything they need to know.

One of the things they understand is when their enemies are mouthing off and when they are serious. This can usually be determined by the person making the statement, his position, and his support. They can then run that statement against the overall picture provided by their tens of thousands of assets. In this case I’d say this particular commander is just “playing to the crowd.”

Living in a bad neighborhood gives you a different perspective, which is why I don’t trust American or European pronouncements on Israel and its neighbors.

Is the best thing that could possibly happen the US right now, aside from a vaccine becoming available against C19, is for Trump to lose the election, so that the nation can heal, get back to decency, and bring people together after the great divide?

Were we divided prior to Trump’s election in 2016?

The chart below shows presidential favorability percentages from Eisenhower through Obama. The source is a Pew Research article

from January 2017 before Trump took office.

The higher the bottom number, the less division. Note that prior to the Clinton era, the opposing party averaged 30–40 percent approval. Since Clinton, approval has fallen off a cliff, with Obama averaging just 14% approval among Republicans.

The chart supports the hypothesis that division in America has grown since the Clinton years. So this is not a new phenomenon.

As an older American, I’ve been alive and aware for most of the time covered by the above chart. The idea that Trump has only 5% approval ratings among Democrats (source: Gallup

) makes this era even more divisive than 1968 when to put it bluntly, America was on fire with political assassinations, riots, and anti-war protests.

Trump Approval Ratings (source)

Given the situation with BLM protests, looting and riots, 2020 is looking increasingly like 1968 – but we’ve still got a ways to go.

If it’s not a new phenomenon, it’s not going to be cured by removing Trump. All that’s going to happen is the Democrats will have their man in power, and the GOP will be the ones calling for #RESIST, but the country will be no closer towards unity.

I’ve seen Democrats write that removing Trump is the first step, that things can’t get better with him in power. Why is that? This ignores why Trump was elected in the first place, and reflects continued ignorance of the concerns and needs of the Trump voters. Many Democrats simply write them off by calling them racist or ignorant instead of listening to them and attempting to address their grievances.

We have forgotten how to compromise. We’ve been fighting so long that any compromise is perceived as weakness or treachery by those in our tribe. Firebrands are ready to burn heretics at the stake for questioning orthodoxy. Instead we behave as if it’s winner-take-all, and all that matters is winning.

And the country as a whole loses. That’s why foreign countries like Russia and China are acting to stir the pot and encourage dissent and discontent.

No wonder Europeans laugh at us. From their perspective there is little difference between Democrat and Republican yet we seem ready to enter into a civil war over it.

The country needs more than Biden. It needs people on both sides of the ideological divide to say “enough,” and stop demonizing the other party. We’ve got to recognize that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them less of a person. And we need to find some of that tolerance that people spout about yet don’t apply to themselves.

Is the best thing that could possibly happen the US right now, aside from a vaccine becoming available against C19, is for Trump to lose the election, so that the nation can heal, get back to decency, and bring people together after the great divide?

Were we divided prior to Trump’s election in 2016?

The chart below shows presidential favorability percentages from Eisenhower through Obama. The source is a Pew Research article

from January 2017 before Trump took office.

The higher the bottom number, the less division. Note that prior to the Clinton era, the opposing party averaged 30–40 percent approval. Since Clinton, approval has fallen off a cliff, with Obama averaging just 14% approval among Republicans.

The chart supports the hypothesis that division in America has grown since the Clinton years. So this is not a new phenomenon.

As an older American, I’ve been alive and aware for most of the time covered by the above chart. The idea that Trump has only 5% approval ratings among Democrats (source: Gallup

) makes this era even more divisive than 1968 when to put it bluntly, America was on fire with political assassinations, riots, and anti-war protests.

Trump Approval Ratings (source)

Given the situation with BLM protests, looting and riots, 2020 is looking increasingly like 1968 – but we’ve still got a ways to go.

If it’s not a new phenomenon, it’s not going to be cured by removing Trump. All that’s going to happen is the Democrats will have their man in power, and the GOP will be the ones calling for #RESIST, but the country will be no closer towards unity.

I’ve seen Democrats write that removing Trump is the first step, that things can’t get better with him in power. Why is that? This ignores why Trump was elected in the first place, and reflects continued ignorance of the concerns and needs of the Trump voters. Many Democrats simply write them off by calling them racist or ignorant instead of listening to them and attempting to address their grievances.

We have forgotten how to compromise. We’ve been fighting so long that any compromise is perceived as weakness or treachery by those in our tribe. Firebrands are ready to burn heretics at the stake for questioning orthodoxy. Instead we behave as if it’s winner-take-all, and all that matters is winning.

And the country as a whole loses. That’s why foreign countries like Russia and China are acting to stir the pot and encourage dissent and discontent.

No wonder Europeans laugh at us. From their perspective there is little difference between Democrat and Republican yet we seem ready to enter into a civil war over it.

The country needs more than Biden. It needs people on both sides of the ideological divide to say “enough,” and stop demonizing the other party. We’ve got to recognize that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them less of a person. And we need to find some of that tolerance that people spout about yet don’t apply to themselves.

Why did Carthage refuse to support Hannibal when he was so close to conquering Rome?

Good question. Unfortunately it’s a difficult one to answer because we have little information from the Carthaginians themselves. Nearly everything we know about them comes from Greek and Roman sources. Those provide a view from the outside, and a biased one a that.

TLDR: The Carthaginians didn’t view the Romans the way Romans viewed them: as an existential threat. Plus the Barcas scared the people in power.

I’ve been reading and re-reading sources like Polybius and Livy as well as modern historians like Adrian Goldsworthy in the hope that something would pop up and provide a clear picture of the Carthaginian senate and the Barca family. So far the best answer I can come up with at this time is this:

To put it bluntly, the Carthaginians didn’t take war seriously. They came from Phoenicia, part of the Phoenician diaspora that seeded the Mediterranean with the concept of trade. The Phoenicians knew how to trade like the Spartans knew war, which is why even under the onerous war indemnity imposed by the Romans after the First and Second Punic Wars, they were able to pay them off early. That scared the likes of Cato the Censor, leading to his infamous Carthago delende est ending of his speeches that eventually resulted in the final and last Punic war which saw the Phoenician Carthage destroyed.

What bothers me most about Carthage in the time of the Barcas is that they didn’t understand the threat posed by Rome, nor after the First Punic War did they understand Roman thinking.

We’ve gotten Rome of that time wrong for the most part. Our cultural images of the Romans are the propaganda of debauchery that was common during the 18th and 19th centuries, applied to the late Roman empire. But the Rome of the 2nd Punic War was nothing of the sort. Rome was a completely militarized society that had warred constantly from its birth in 754BC right up until Hannibal showed up in Italy in 216 BC.

For example, the historians of the period marked the opening and closing of the gates of the temple of Janus. When Rome was at war, the gates were open. When the Romans weren’t they were closed. From around 650BC until Hannibal’s arrival in Italy in 216BC the gates were only closed for an eight year period after the First Punic War.

Temple of Janus on a the Reverse of a Sestertius Minted During Reign of Nero (source)

Roman politicians served in the military. Both consuls were expected to lead armies, and success on the battlefield usually translated to power in the Senate. Roman society from the highest ranking senators to the lowest freed man served in one of the seasonal call-to-arms as Rome battled one enemy, defeating it and moving onto the next.

The Carthaginians, on the other hand, relied on mercenaries – usually foreigners – as Rome would do at the end of its empire. I’m not aware of the Carthaginian senate requiring military service to the degree that Rome did, and my impression is that trade was more important than war. This may have been the result of its position in North Africa, where the city-state lacked any nearby enemies unlike Rome which fought the nearby Sabines and other tribes from its birth. Rome fought its way to control the Italian peninsula. Did Carthage do the same? It’s unclear.

What is clear is that the Carthaginian senate saw the Barca family as both the best antidote for Roman military power, and the greatest danger to the senators themselves. Hannibal’s father and his brothers were seasoned warriors who excelled on the battlefield, but not on the senate floor.

And there was a strong contingent of pro-Roman Carthaginians who felt that they could appease their Italic enemy. It wasn’t a bad position necessarily. Rome would have done much better with Carthage as an allied city-state, allowed to prosper financially while Rome controlled all things military. In fact that’s how the peace treaty was written after the 2nd Punic War. Carthage was in fact demilitarized, to the point where the city had to undergo a crash rearmament at the beginning of the third and final Punic war.

Bust of Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal’s Father (source)

Had the Carthaginian senate backed Hannibal they would have pretty much handed over power to the Barca family if they beat Rome. So it’s no surprise they hamstrung the Barcids whenever they could. But even without the support he needed from home, Hannibal came closer to ending Roman power than any other ancient kingdom for the next 500 years