Movie review: Er ist wieder da.

When Hitler wakes up in Berlin in 2014 he is confronted by a thriving
modern Germany that, much to his surprise and regret, has not been destroyed
in the Götterdämmerung that he had staged at the end of World War II
and which he thought was the only thing his country  and people deserved for
failing him, their Fuhrer, and destiny.

Hitler, seen as a satirical comedian, soon rises to national fame as a
freelance reporter sniffs him out and sells him as a gimmick to a
commercial television station who use the mass murderer to prop up
their popularity figures. The internet then does the rest.

The movie is at times slow and, I must say, boring, unlike the
trailers, five of them, that are made with fast edits and snappy
satire. The trailers in no way represent the whole movie, as the
situations are far and in between and only at times, mostly in the
second half, does the movie gain the same speed and snappy witticism
that the trailers have.

The big message in the movie is that if the fear of foreigners gets the
better of the average German, numbed by commercial television,
democracy will give a new Hitler another chance to rise to power again.
This comes a bit towards the end as most of the movie is about Hitler
being seen as a funny figure that nobody takes serious and just laughs
at or makes selfies with.

There are some brilliant moments in this movie. One is were the bunker
scene from der Untergang is replayed scene by scene, but with the staff
of the commercial TV station replacing Hitler and his circle.

Another is where they show how Hitler becomes viral on the internet and
YouTube, which is where the movie shines with fast edits and visual
tricks and  which shows exactly the emptiness of it all as I experience it
nowadays: it doesn’t matter what it is about as long as it gets you the viewers. It is regurgitating words.

A great scene is where Hitler looks at a mountain range, comments on
how beautiful it is and then throws an empty coffee cup into the grass.
He pollutes that which he finds pretty. It is Hitler used as a mirror
for all the people who do the same, but now that Hitler does it it
gets meaning. This has to be placed next to his remark that the only
party he would ally with is the Green Party, because they value nature
and thus they value Germany.

We have some snappy comments on the current day German politicians, but
this is as temporary as anything as most of them will be nobody’s in
ten years time, perhaps with the exception of Merkel.

It also comments on the emptiness of commercial television and
shows us the silly ultra right wing fringe groups who are mostly a sad
bunch and no threat to society except for some of the numskulls being
pretty violent.

But the major flaw of this movie is a serious one: it skirts around all
of the big issues. The problems with Islam gets nary a mention. Only at
the end we suddenly get to see that Islam exists and even Wilders gets
injected and the latter in such a cowardly way it offended me, for even
though I am not a supporter of him and his ideas I think it is unfair
to show him as a kind of new day Hitler.  Also
unmentioned is the fragile economy and the big millstone of the
European financial situation that hangs around the neck of Germany. In
fact Europe and the European Union hardly gets a mention at all.

This is all the more surprising given the fact that Hitler rose to
power partly because of the global financial crisis of 1929. But the
movie doesn’t even mention this, but instead harps on about Germans
with their petty problems with foreigners and the threat that this
might pose to democracy because that is what might get a new Hitler
elected.

But what irks me the most is this totally warped vision of modern
Germany that this movie offers. If there is one country(I can think of
another country: Japan) that is unlikely to ever get a new Hitler
elected it is probably Germany. The Germans of today are vastly more
liberal, vastly more democratic and far less struggling with their past
than they were back in the 30’s where the average German was a
conservative, disliked the Weimar republic(it was more or less
imposed), in fear of both right wing and left wing violence in a
country in turmoil because of a deep financial crisis and suffering
from a post war trauma(a surrender that never truly sprang from a defeat,
unlike World War II: in which it was made sure that it was a real
defeat: hence unconditional surrender).

Hitler wasn’t elected because Germans hated Jews. Hitler was elected
because of the chaos and the promise that he would end it. And he rose
to power not because he was democratically elected, but because key
people, politicians and business men, very anti democratic people at
that, supported him by perverting the democracy they hated in the
misbegotten idea that they could control him, profit from him or
otherwise gain an advantage or even, yes even, replace the republic with a system they preferred.

This is totally at odds with modern day Germany and somehow
arguing that a new Hitler might arise because modern day Germans have
issues with foreigners is a silly notion that insults a country and its
inhabitants and then to compound this by totally ignoring all the big
issues that actually might cause a Hitler to rise makes it a super
silly nonsense movie that has no relevance to anything and can only be
valued as being slightly funny but otherwise… pointless.

 

 

 

 

Stefan Molyneux! Because paying taxes sucks!

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Philosophy is like lighting a room with cigarettes: not very practical and possibly unhealthy(and it makes you smell bad).  It is a bit of a forced statement, but it reflects how I feel after having seen some philosophical discussions. These discussions tend to become quoting contests in which the one who can quote the best or the most wins the contest. And I suck at remembering quotes, that is why I prefer to make them up myself.

I guess that philosophy might have it’s uses, but it can be used to reason the non-existent into existence and that is why it sucks as well. The apologist William Lane Craig gives a showcase example of reasoning a fictitious being into existence.  It his god of course, not yours(because only his god can be reasoned into existence). A philosopher isn’t required to give proof, he is just required to string words into sentences that sound okay. It is why religion likes to don the cloak of philosophy, because in philosophy, like in religion, anything can be said and nothing needs to make sense because nobody can agree on what sense is..

Another example is the ‘philosopher’ Stefan Molyneux. He is styled as an anarcho-capitalist or styles himself that way. Molyneux strikes me as a spokesman for the disgruntled members of the lower middle class and those teens who think Ayn Rand’s writings are pearls of wisdom. While the teens might eventually grow out of their fantasies, the disgruntled ones are condemned  to perpetual wailing because they have to pay taxes each and every year and everyone knows: paying taxes sucks..

In anarcho-capitalism the state is evil because it amasses wealth and power and gives that to a selected group of people who use it for their own selfish goals. These people are called politicians and they are as dangerous as the Illuminati are and probably in league with them! Therefore the state should be abolished. Those who hold to Ayn Rand’s writings will readily agree because Rand sees the state as parasite limiting progress.. And of course a lot of tax payers agree as well, because they don’t want to pay taxes and without a state you don’t need to pay no taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Of course, someone must have asked at one moment: “but who is going to take care of all the stuff that the state does?”
“Like what?” (insert condescending tone).
“Like education, research, exploration of the universe(nasa), firefighting, policing, health care, the furtherance of the common good, protecting the weak, feeding the poor, disaster relief, providing justice, maintaining the infrastructure, settling disputes, sponsoring art, protecting the environment, protecting historical sites, making sure that the coin in your hand is worth something tomorrow and..”
“Capitalism!”
And there is the solution. The free market will arrange everything through the never failing system of supply and demand all perfectly organized and overseen by companies who are, of course, pinnacles of talent promotion and efficiency. And so the people don’t have to pay taxes anymore because the free market will take care of everything that you paid taxes for. So you don’t need to pay taxes anymore cause: paying taxes sucks!

But even the likes of a Molyneux realize that unbridled capitalism might not solve everything and so they start reasoning things into existence. First they come up with voluntary organisations that will regulate the market based on voluntary participation and arbitration.  Next they give limitless self healing properties to the free market in which the consumer, well informed through the internet, will punish those companies that  fail to meet standards by no longer buying from them. Companies will deliver these services off course against cut-throat prices thanks to the power of the internet and all will be well, so we don’t need to pay taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Happiness becomes a commodity and profits and margins become the main principles for making decisions. And if you  fall by the wayside because you happen to be too poor to pay for education, too ill to work for your money, too crazy  to make sense or just someone who can’t keep up with the rat race: though luck, live is a bitch. I don’t  care as long as I don’t have to pay taxes! Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But uh…, what happens if  that someone then is going to get a gun and rob you or goes on a killing spree? To get the things through violence?  Who is going to prevent him or her from doing so?”
And now Molyneux turns into an advocate of the  extreme interpretation of 2nd amendment: everyone gets to have a gun. And he sees firms and organisations of armed people protecting each other, protecting of course, not robbing or blackmailing or racketeering.  Not like those gangs do, but benevolent voluntary organisations of the kind that you have never seen in the course of history.  Thus society becomes an armed society in which anyone can be shot by anyone, especially when they suck or nobody is watching or they are outgunned a hundred to one. Is that the wild west? Yes.. But who cares… as long as I don’t have to pay taxes. Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But what happens when a foreign country makes use of the now largely disorganized organisation of this country?”
“Army!”
“What?”
“We have an army of volunteers to protect us against foreign aggression.”
“Just like they had at the start of the American Revolution?”
“Yes!”
“Like that army made up of local militias that was unable to defeat the English until it was reformed into the continental army?”
“Yes!”
“So why would that work now?”
“Because of the internet.”
“Say what?”
“Because the internet makes everything different.”
“I see.”
Of course anarcho-capitalists will play the internet card again and again.
“Who will prevent those abuses that unbridled capitalism caused in the 19th century such as working days of 14 hours or more?”
“The internet!”
“What about the abuses that now occur in some countries where some people and even children are treated as no better than slaves?”
“The internet!”
“What if a company pollutes a place and pays off people or just moves elsewhere rather than cleaning up or changing their production methods?”
“The internet!”
“What if companies form a monopoly?”
“The internet!”
Monopolies are a cause for reasoning things into existence. Both Molyneux and Ayn Rand follow two tracks:  they attack government and babble. Rand goes on a tangent arguing that it is governments that cause monopolies and she finds ample proof in history.  Of course she does. History is full of bad behaving governments(and companies). When however she has to argue how this not will happen  with a truly free market economy she has only on thing to offer: trust me on my word.  And so does Molyneux. You see, as much as Rand and Molyneux give examples of how monopolies were caused by states or the law,  they can not give you any proof that a free market prevents them, because there has never been a free market economy such as they want: one without state interference, and therefore they have no proof to offer. And if they can argue a perfect system into existence based on zero proof then any system, including those that did exist and failed(communism, absolutism and fascism) can be declared to be perfect by downplaying the parts that are not.  So just take their word for it because when you do you no longer need to pay taxes. Cause you know….Yeah, you know the drill.

It is funny that the internet actually started out as a government project. Would a company have been able to do it? Let’s have that answered by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about space exploration.  He is asked in his reading about his book on the video: The History and Future of NASA and Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles (2012) whether private enterprise could have done it and he answers that private enterprise requires investors who want to see a return of investment that can be quantified. And the frontier of (space) exploration poses unquantifiable dangers to investment and therefore will scare away investors.  Exploration has always been something  that governments have done and  companies come in after to reap the benefits.  Nothing wrong with that, but that is the way it has worked and not the other way around. Be sure that anarcho-capitalism will not be a way to the stars: there is no profit in it. But who cares about the stars anyway.. as long as you don’t have to pay taxes.
Would the internet have come about without the state? It might have, but it also very likely it wouldn’t.

There is no perfect system because every system can be abused, twisted and corrupted because every system is a system made by fallible humans, but people want to find this self-healing perfect system(so they don’t have to pay taxes) and the likes of Molyneux  cater to that desire by dreaming up perfect systems out of thin air. It is perfect, because it hasn’t existed and thus has not been tarnished by reality. And it will never exist. It is a philosopher’s stone.  That is the power of philosophy. It creates things that do not exist: gods or stateless non coercive societies based on market capitalism.  And history be damned! For history sucks. Just like paying taxes does.

Did I tell you I was an historian?


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I am no atheist!

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Some days ago I lost a post I was writing about ‘my’ atheism.  Strangely enough it was a wordpress article and normally wordpress saves your work, but I can’t find the post. I did find the picture I uploaded.  Perhaps I lost the post when I turned of the computer while traditionally ignoring all the warning signs that pop up on the screen when doing so. Seems you can’t shutdown your pc anymore without warning signs and alerts popping up all over in such abundance that you ignore them.

Because I put a lot of effort into it I felt spent, so I probably wouldn’t have written this it if I hadn’t been watching a video made by Logicked(see below: the relevant passage is at 16:00).

Logicked is the identity for someone who says of himself: (I am an) Atheist / anti-creationist “debunking entertainment” videos with a top hat.
At some point in the video he tells that he was not raised with religion and this struck a cord with me as I can’t actually recall to have grown up with religion either. My parents had grown up with ‘religion’. She come from a group called Nederduits Hervormd(impossible to translate well but here we go: Lowergerman reformed)My mother told me once that her parents were looked down upon by some distant family members because they were related(they were nephew and niece), which according to those family members wasn’t allowed according to the bible(figure that for a book that has incest at the core of it’s writing). My father’s parents were vaguely catholic. I can’t recall my grandparents ever mentioning church or going to church.
My father was the most dominant of my parents by far, and a firm believer in science, so he ‘acquired’ books from the then popular Timelife series. This covered an extensive range of subjects in history, art and science and geography. He also liked science fiction novels and had a subscription on a popular science monthly. I always got the feeling that he wanted to give his children all the advantages he never got. I think he was very proud when I got my masters in history. It is all conjecture on my part, for my father died suddenly, so I never got around to ask about these things.
Religion was for me something on par with Tolkien and the Norse gods. I name these in one sentence because the time life series had a book called the early middle ages, basically the period of 400 to around 1200, which was mostly about the vikings and early England. It is that time in which the legends of Arthur are set. It has some very beautiful pictures in it. I don’t have those pictures of course, but here are a view similar ones I found on the internet.

Germanic_bracteate_from_Funen,_Denmark_(DR_BR42) copy
Germanic Bracteate
nordic art
Nordic carving
c78d661a2e50128513b6e391d8c23cc8
Coast line in scandanavia(not sure where)


For me these pictures speak of a vibrant society.
It might be one of the reason I like to make landscapes like these:

Book of summer
Book of summer(an inspired bit of nonsense I made on Veleda’s sim).

Religion was only talked about in our family in the way people talk about dwarves or orcs. Or, perhaps, like in role play games, where you have to pick a god as a trait, such as other people like to collect stamps.
Later on I joined the young humanists, not out of a conscious act against religion, but simply because I had a friend who invited me to join. Again, religion never played a part, nor did we ever think of religion as being a valid source of ideals that could only be supplied by religion.
When I went to university to study history, I did get to study religion, or to be more specific, Christianity, but it was like reading about the Scandinavian Gods(Hence the picture at the top). Some kind of religion that once held sway but has no relevance in our world. Of course there were people who killed in the name of religion, but these were to me nutcases belonging to a very small minority.
It is therefore that I don’t feel like an atheist even though other people might describe me as such. For me atheist supposes  that there is something valid to differ from, but in my world there was never something else. Besides, I don’t like be part of a group by default. I fact I have problems with belonging to groups regardless.
So I never felt like an atheist simply because religion(or perhaps I ought to say theism(which Is not the same I know)) is something I wasn’t  much aware of in my day to day life. Perhaps there were people who believed one thing or another, but probably my world is mostly populated with secular people or people who see religion as something personal.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the state of affairs in the United States. I actually started to find this out via Steve Shives, who  posted a video about five stupid things about Ayn Rand(a proponent of way of thinking that has led to some very objectionable ideas).  From Ayn Rand we got to Ayn Rand and Jesus and then from Jesus to the Logicked.

So we get from I an no atheist to I am one.

Damm, how do I hate to admit that.

—-

Logicked on himself(https://www.youtube.com/user/logicked/about).
Logicked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91d9hBisMg).
Steve Shives on Ayn Rand(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CyunRUJmc).
Steve Shives on Ayn Rand and Jesus(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeRAnNvyk5c).
Steve Shives on Jesus(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FLEnBK7s7o).

Vital tips for playing “This war of mine” and surviving till the war ends.

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Contents
Introduction
Part one: Starting tips
Part two: mild spoilers
Part three: spoilers
Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

 

Introduction

(1-12-2014 :Important update in the mildy spoiler section!)

“This war of mine” is a game that was released on 14 th of November 2014. It is a survival game which gives control over a group of civilians trapped in a derelict house in the war-torn city of Pogoren. It is up to you see to it that they survive the war. There are similarities with games like Dead State and State of Decay in that these two also allow you to run a group of survivors in apocalyptic settings, but the feel is different. The first two mentioned games have a very important fighting component in them and in the end your heroes eventually become very good fighters and able to deal with most of the threats, including those from the military. Not so in This war of Mine. The game is no doubt inspired by the situation of Grozny during the Chechen wars and has a very realistic feel. Everything that happens in this game probably has happened and will happen in future wars. You are vulnerable civilian and it is wise to avoid combat, not only because of the lack of (good) weapons, but also because the enemies -thugs, rebels, looters and soldiers- are usually better armed and have the numbers on their side. But avoiding combat is also important because any injury vitally impacts the survivability of the group as whole. In this game there is no instant healing and even slight wounds can cause a character’s health to deteriorate to the point that he or she gets so sick that the whole group suffers and even lose moral.
This post give some is not a review, I will make one in due time, but made to give a few vital tips to get people started. In vital I mean that the game would otherwise be a very frustrating experience. There is no manual at the time of this writing, although there are two wikis being worked upon. Thus basic knowledge is lacking and this game needs this basic knowledge.
The post give below tips which will range from minor, but essential tips, up to tips that some might consider spoilers and cheats. I marked each section,  so if you don’t want to read more than you need to get started then just read the parts you like. I will mark them as best as I can.
Note that there are also two wikis that you can consult:
http://this-war-of-mine.wikia.com/wiki/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki
http://thiswarofmine.gamepedia.com/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki

 

 

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Part one: Starting tips
Scavenge the house
(This part has changed after an update of the game after the first of December 2014)

When scavenging the house, try to scavenge what you need. This is a bit of a trick and requires you to consult the creation manuals. Therefore it is of vital importance to take a look at the creation guides that you can find in the wikis(See links above).

Don’t sit around but have your companions clear the house, even if it means using hands to remove dirt. Get the stuff together to make the things you need.

Make a bed or even better: make two beds
Beds are vitally important in the game. Beds will allow your companions to sleep during the day so you can have them guard or scavenge during the night. There are four states of tiredness: normal, tired, very tired and exhausted. Each state takes about 4 to 5 hours to change to a better state, so during the day you can get a character from very tired to normal provided you put the character to bed at once in the morning. I think this does not work for the night. It seems only to improve the condition one step.Beds are also good for curing and recovering from wounds. Companions that are slightly sick or slightly wounded have a good chance to recover when put into a bed. Worse health have a good chance of improving when you combine medicines and bandages with a bed.

Make a crowbar
The house provides enough materials to make a metal workshop and that allows you to make a crowbar. You need it to open the doors and cupboards in the house.

Make a radio
When you can spare the electrical parts make a radio. A radio gives vital information(it really does!) and even might raise moral.

Priority number one: food(and water)
Food(and water) are vital to the game. There are three ways to get them. You can scavenge for them, you can trade for them and you can make them yourself. Basically you want to do the latter, but until you can make them yourself you have to survive on what your scavenge. Trading is the last option to do as food is hugely expensive and should only be traded for as a last resort.It follows from above that your main strategy must be to make your own food and water. Since how to go about it is possibly a spoiler it will be listed lower down the list. You companions will get hungrier during the game and you need to have them eat. You can get away with skipping a day, which is very important at the start of the game.

Look at your character’s abilities and desires
Most characters have a special ability which could be very important. I like the combination of Bruno and Katia. Bruno is a good cook which allows him to create food and moonshine with reduced ingredients and Katia has good bargaining skills, which allows her to sell things against better prices. By using them both you can actually make a reasonable profit. Another character with a very good ability is Marin, who is a handyman and he is able to create things for the house for less. Especially when you have to make very expensive upgrades this can be a lifesaver as some components are very hard to get a hold of, such as electrical parts.Also, almost all characters have a desire, such as smoking or drinking coffee. Be aware of that so you might provide them when you have some to spare.

Avoid combat
It gets you killed.

Do good deeds
Don’t hesitate to help out other people, you raise moral and sometimes they give you something in return.

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Don’t steal
Well, maybe you like to, but stealing generally doesn’t sit well with your fellow companions, lowers moral and might make enemies.

Talk to them
When companions get depressed they are in need of a talk and therefore a chat bubble will appear above their head. Have one character of yours talk to them by selecting him or her and then pressing the other’s chat bubble. Note that this might take the better part of the day. One character has a ability that helps with this.

Be frugal with rare items
Some items are rare in the game and yet vital, such as parts and electrical parts. Especially electrical parts are very hard to get, so never sell them. Normal parts usually can be traded for. Books are also rare and you shouldn’t use them all for fuel. Books can raise moral with characters that like reading.

Put people on guard during the night if you can
One is okay. Two is better. Give them weapons. Knives seems to be enough. Guns are only effective when you have ammo.

During the night make a careful study of the locations you can visit.
When it says dangerous.. it is!

Priority number two: safety
This might be a personal choice, but I generally concentrate on boarding up and getting a reinforced door and making weapons. There might be other viable strategies.

Scavenge thoughtfully
You can only send one person to scavenge and he or she got a limited backpack. When you scavenge note that one slot of your backpack can contain a certain amount of things. To optimize your scavenging try and fill these slots as best as possible. In other words, don’t just grab the first things: collect them in groups of two(wood, books, etc), of four(materials, parts, electrical parts, etc) or ten (water, sugar, etc). Also make note of what you might need to make the next thing you plan to build and plan accordingly.

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Part two: mild spoilers

The trader
The trader comes every three days. He usually starts at day three but sometimes he starts at day two. Sometimes he might skip a day further into the game, but usually he sticks to this three day visit routine. You can use this pattern to get ready for a trade.

Raiders
It is my experience that the first day there will be never a raid on your house. Thus you can put everyone to sleep.

Hospital
There is a hospital in the game that will be available at some point. You can have your wounded and sick characters treated at the hospital for free. In general that will fix the character. It cost you a night of scavenging though.

Some items created have to be picked up
Some items that you create such as a meal, moonshine, alcohol, raw food and vegetables are left on the upgrades that you use to make them. They need to be picked up. One advantage: they can’t be stolen by raids as long as you don’t collect them.

Make or get a hatchet
Part of the furniture in your house can be turned into wood and fuel provided you have a hatchet. You can get a lot of fuel and wood that way.(Warning: pick these items up before the night, otherwise they are lost!)

Trade locations
There are some locations on the map where you can trade. Some of these places have lower prices for certain products, others sell things that are hard to get. More on this in the spoiler section.

When creating a stove.. try to go for the improved stove
It saves on resources in the long run.

Don’t waste resources on a shovel
At the start of the game every resource counts because you have to concentrate on making upgrades that provide food. A shovel is handy, but not vital, not even in locations where you need to clear debris. Clearing debris without a shovel cost around two hours, not one location has more than two debris blocking the way. Maybe when you got a working food system you can make a shovel.

Keep a cupboard in your house
(Important: this feature has been blocked since the 1st of December 2014. You no longer can stash your stuff in a cupboard in the house.)

I am not sure if this is a cheat or a spoiler, but it is so very important for the game. To avoid being robbed of your things during a raid you can maintain one cupboard in the house. As long as you don’t empty the cupboard you can put everything in there before the night begins and it won’t get stolen during a raid. I use one of the metal ones in the corner of the house as the wooden can be cut up for wood.

 

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Part three: spoilers

Warfare
During the course of the game fighting in the city will intensify and thus make some areas unavailable for a while. Usually these are not the two first area’s you start out with. Note that both the start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Winter
Unless you start out in the winter you will be inflicted with winter during the game. This means two things. One: the rain water collector will no longer function and you have to make water by collecting snow and melting it on the stove. Two: you need a heater and fuel to keep warm. It is an extra burden. The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

End of the war
The end of the war will be announced on the radio.

Crime wave
Sometimes a wave of crime will burden the city. It basically means an increased amount of raids during the night. Boarding up, weapons, a reinforced door and guards help, but you never get to the point that you are completely free of raids.  The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Food and water
There is one foremost priority in the game: make a self perpetuating food cycle. To do this you need to make two animal traps, at least two rain collectors and a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden is hugely expensive to make as it requires you to make a herbal garden first, then upgrade that to a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden will allow you to create four vegetables every three days, the trap creates two meat every one or two days. However you need to reinvest a vegetable into the garden to create the next four vegetable and the traps requires one meat to work again. Note that the garden also requires ten water. On average if you set this up right and cook right you can feed four persons.

Trading
Prices are set against what the trader, who visits you every three days, is asking.
The garage. Materials and shovels are dirt cheap, Katia general can fill all the slots with material bought here. Sometimes you can buy a hatchet here. Wood, parts and such are also cheaper. Weapon parts are okay. Special note: don’t use the saw-blade to open the door above the garage as it seems to trigger a bug that makes the garage owner hostile later on in to the game(to Roman foremost I think) and eventually everyone in other locations too.
The church. The church might be a hostile location depending on the scenario. If it is not, then a priest resides here and you can trade with him. Materials are cheap. The rest are standard prices.
The hotel. The hotel might be a residence for some armed thugs. They are willing to trade. Watch out where you click though as the trade icon is usually close to some of their private things. Materials, parts and wood are cheap.
Military outpost. Nothing is especially cheap here as far as I can tell. You can get weapon parts in abundance, weapons templates and weapons, so that might be the reason to buy here. Personally I avoid the place as the soldiers turn hostile at the drop of a hat.
Central square. Could be considered a place to trade because you can get almost everything. Only no cheap deals, as far as I know.
The brothel. Another place to trade. No cheap deals, nothing special. Probably only useful when in dire need.


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Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

How long does the war last?
The war last around forty days, give and take. Pay attention to the radio,

Restarting the day
When the night passes a day will start and generate certain events like a raid. Some raids can cause serious wounds to your companions. You might want to restart the day by exiting the game session and then press continue. A new random series of events will be created.

 

twom-10
Game flow
The game starts with a few areas and then more areas open up gradually. The first lootable area will always be either one of these: abandoned cottage, shelled cottage or ruined flats. They will never be together on the map. There is no danger. Take a crowbar with you when it is a cottage. The ruined flats require sawblades, which you don’t have at the start of the game, nor can make that easily so might have to return later. The next area might be the decrepit squat of shelled school. If the shelled school appears next to the decrepit squat it will be filled with armed thugs. The supermarket will usually open up soon too.
You will get a winter somewhere in the third week and this last perhaps one or two weeks.
During that time fighting will make areas unavailable thus you must be ready before that happens. You need to set up a food cycle, stack a lot of water and fuel. The water you make by using a rain collector, and that requires five hours for four parts of water. Since it is almost undoable to do it twice a day, you need at least two, three is better. You also need a lot of materials to make water filters.
If you have Katia and Bruno you might want to make one or two moonshine stills. Bruno makes moonshine with less ingredients and Katia sells it against better prices.

Getting on the good side of people
During the game some people will come by and ask for help or resources. Also some places ask for specific donations. Here is what I found.
Hospital:Bringing medicines, bandages and such to the hospital raises moral, especially for the one that brings it. This is a one time bonus, I think. Curiously enough, this did not affect Emilia.
Decrepit Squat:Bringing raw food to the squatter in the decepit squat gets you a moonshine and a valuable and raises moral. You also help the guy to survive.
Garage: Bringing bandages or moonshine to the garage owner raises moral. He also gives you a lot for them.
Sniper Junction: Take a crowbar with you as there will be a guy wounded by the sniper and he asks you to help him. You need the crowbar to open a door. He gives you a few valuables(I got 2 or 3). Keep track of the time though as he is wounded and he takes a long time to get home and give you the valuables.
The supermarket: depending on the scenario you might run into the soldier that is about to rape a girl. I have had a hard time killing him, until I got boris using a crowbar on him, which wasted the scumbag in three blows without a wound to boris. So bring a crowbar with you. You need one even if the soldier isn’t there as there are some locked cupboards with valuables.

Setting up the food cycle(an example)
During night scavenge for materials mostly, but keep your food supply in mind(water and food) also pick up valuables for selling to the trader. Do not forget you need wood.
Day one
Make a metal workshop, make a crowbar, make a bed. If katia and bruno: make a moonshine still. Loot the cottage. Maybe get some raw food and vegetables. You need them for day three. If enough time left and resources.: make moonshine. Make a second bed.

Day two
You might make a stove for day three. If enough materials make an improved stove or upgrade the workshop to an improved workshop. Make moonshine with Bruno, if possible: two moonshine. If  the trader arrives on this day: trade for parts if possible. Materials next. Fuel is a also a good option. Usually you get raided the second night, so prepare.

Day three
Make an improved stove if you did not do so the day before.. Make food for at least two of your companions. Make moonshine. If the trader arrives: trade for parts or materials or fuel. Depending on parts either make a rainwater collector. If enough parts: make trap for small animals.

Day four
If you have enough parts try to make either another rainwater collector or make another trap(requires 10). Priority is on the traps.

Day five and onward

Collect materials, wood, parts and electrical parts for making a vegetable garden. This requires 120 materials, 60 wood, 10 parts, 13 electrical parts(advanced workshop > herbal garden > thermal lamp > vegetable garden.) Don’t forget the radio. You also need fertilizer and 10 water.

Is the game random?
Yes and no. The groups that you can select are randomly offered, but they seem to be taken from a pool of set combinations. They range from two to four. Both two and four are rare. For instance: A two group is Anton and Cveta. I never got another two group. There is a group which consists of Katia, Bruno and Pavle. There is group that consists of Marin, Boris and Emilia. A group made up out of Pavle, Marko and Bruno. A winter group made out of Marin, Katia and Arica. Another group is Cveta, Anton, Pavle and Zlata. You never get an all women group for instance, nor is there a group that combines Marin and Bruno. Or Marko and Boris.
From keeping track of resources I noticed that crucial resources that you can scavenge are a given. Materials, wood, parts and electrical parts all seem fixed. There are items that have a slight variance, like sometimes you find moonshine instead of valuables. Food might vary in amount but often less raw food might mean more vegetables and vice versa.
The maps seem fixed up to a point and tied in with the groups. Some locations will not appear in the game together such as sniper junction and central square.
The game seems to offer new companions every two weeks. It seems that the max is seven according to the wiki,  although I have my doubts as it seems to me that the game stops offering newcomers when you have four in your house.. But then I might be wrong.

Doing other things
I tried various other things like making a herbal garden for making medicines or selling off alcohol.. Considering the amount of resources you need the investment hardly pays off. Just making a pair of bandages requires that you to make a moonshine still, a distillery and an improved herbal workshop. Then you have to go through a long production cycle of: making moonshine, making alcohol and then using that with materials to create a handful of bandages. Considering the scarceness of materials this hardly is worth the effort as you can for instance get healed at the hospital for free.
In addition some items require certain ingredients that you can’t make or buy. Medecins for instance require medicinal ingredients. You can find a few at the supermarket and perhaps buy some at the central square perhaps, if that is available.

 

twom-8
Some locations. What to expect and what to bring.
Supermarket.
Bring a crowbar. If there are looters you have to make a run for the resources. Another option is to leave the location at once as that stops them from looting and they will not appear the next time you visit. Another option might be that the soldier is there, that is about to rape the girl. If you feel heroic you might go for him with the crowbar. Attack him from the rear when he is still talking to the girl. The supermarket has a mixture of items, food, ingredients and such. The assault rifle you get from the soldier after killing him is a pretty worthless trading item for some reason.

Construction Site
Bring a crowbar. If there are sounds of shots being fired at regular intervals there are armed people at the top. Avoid them for they shoot you on sight. Only scavenge the lower part of the building. Next time you return the place will be deserted. Sometimes you start out without any shot being fired, in that case there might be soldiers up on top and you might get caught in a struggle between looters and soldiers. You find mostly materials and wood. But if you can get to the top you can get canned food and better loot.

Sniper Junction
Bring a crowbar and a sawblade. A sniper shoots at you when you expose yourself. Move from cover to cover. Wait for his shot, then move. The first time he hits you, you get slightly wounded, the second time you get wounded. I assume you get a deep wound next and then next you are killed. Lot of materials, wood and other stuff.

Shelled School
The danger free version offers only squatters who leave you be if you leave them be. Lot of materials and wood. Parts and some electrical parts. Water and medicines. There is an area behind a grate that requires a sawblade. This could give you randomly broken rifles, guns and helmets. If you are lucky. Note that you have to clear dirt once to get over the top. There is also a dangerous one that has armed men. I ran when they started to threaten me so I can’t tell much about this version.
Decrepit Squat
Bring a crowbar, a saw blade and raw food. The raw food is for the squatter who gives you valuables in return. The crowbar is for the cupboard in the back and the saw-blade for the grate at the top. Lots of materials, woods, sugar, water and some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Ruined Flats
Deserted. Bring two sawblades for two apartments. Materials, food, wood, weapon parts.

Garage
Bring bandages for trading. You might bring a saw-blade for opening the grate on top, but this might trigger a bug(?) that makes him hostile later on. At least that is my explanation. Since I avoid doing that I have never had any problem with the garage guy becoming hostile.

Shelled Cottage or Abandoned cottage
Bring crowbar for both and expect to dig dirt either once or twice. Deserted places, so there is no danger. Materials, wood, sugar, food, water, some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Hospital
Bring a bandage to donate or trade. Some food and materials can be found here, including a vegetable. Pick up everything you scavenge because it seems to get lost the next time you return except for the part at find at the start of the map.

Church
Crowbar, a saw blade and maybe a shovel. When there are no armed men in the back you can trade with the priest. You will know when there are armed thugs because  when you need to get into the church using scaffolding there is no priest, but armed gunman in the last part of the map.. You can scavenge for materials, wood and such when the priest is here. When the thugs are here you can scavenge the church for things and find some broken rifle, or gun or helmet or vest. Stay away from the house at the back.

Hotel
Two versions. One has armed men willing to trade. Don’t steal their stuff and you are fine. You can loot the rest of the building. Other version has a harmless lunatic in which chase you might bring a crowbar as you either have to dig through two heaps of dirt or open a door with the crowbar and then dig through one heap. You need to open a few cupboards with the crowbar. Lots of materials and wood. Even some weapons parts and I found a shotgun with ammo here.

Brothel
Bring a saw-blade. You can loot the entry areas which gives you some vital parts and electrical parts. You can also trade here. The sawblade can open a grate at the top of the brothel so you can loot some more. However this is a dangerous place as the trader warns you not to get beyond a certain point, expect to be attacked when they find you did.

Military Outpost
Not much to loot before you run into the soldiers. You can trade here. The soldiers are a dangerous lot and will start shooting after perhaps one warning.
There are more locations, mostly listed as lived in, either by armed people who are unwilling to trade or harmless people equally unwilling to trade.There is a warehouse that is listed as very dangerous. It requires a crowbar to enter. Since there was no real need to explore it, I never returned there with a crowbar, but I got the feeling they shoot you on sight.

 

twom-9

That was about it. Maybe I add some more information and pictures later.
There are two wikis being worked upon and some guides that help you with things. I would suggest to go there if you want to know more.

Changelog:
Changed 1-12-2014(Update of post after change in the game. Also cleaned some of the text and added a index).

Sucker Punch, Tacitus, atheism and Orwell

” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I don’t like quotes like these, because it feels like mindless repeating something that someone else has thought off and is probably quoted out of context anyway.. I heard  this quote when I watched the movie Sucker Punch, just to give you an idea of the context..
Sucker Punch is a curious movie. On the face it seems to be an over-the-top action movie filled with scanty dressed women who are facing various diverse unrealistic situations such as world war I with zombie Germans and so on.. The whole is tied together by a double layered story. The first layer is the ‘real’ world in which the main character is locked up in a psychiatric hospital. She fantasizes to escape her dreary environment and impending doom(being lobotomized). The next layer has her and her other inmates being held by a sleazy guy who acts like a pimp and the environment has a definite vintage feel. It is the layer in which she escaped to the next world.
Sucker Punch has not been received well and I think I can make case  that this has much to do with the pretty women dressed in fetish outfits and the over the top action scenes. It is too flashy and too sexy to look like a profound movie and as such it isn’t.  And that is ironic. Perhaps more quotes would have helped, even if these quotes are totally out of context such as the quote above. And as the case may be: quoting things out of context and cherry picking is a well established practice.

The quote made me also think of an issue I have been struggling with these last few months. I have been watching a lot discussions surrounding atheism on you tube. Atheism can be described as a rejection of the claim that a god(or gods) exists on the ground that there is not enough proof to think otherwise.  In the western world this discussion focuses mainly on the god of the Christians because that god is culturally tied to those areas.

In the Netherlands(my native country) there are almost no discussions surrounding atheism and as far as I can tell nobody takes exception when you say you are an atheist. Perhaps it might lead to an exchange of views, that eventually ends with stand off, but nothing more.
In the US and on You Tube however the discussion is on. There are good reasons for that.  In the US the obvious conflict is the one between fundamental Christians, spearheaded by creationist and apologists, and the atheists. But it isn’t just a fight between ‘extremes’ but one that has a profound influence on our world and thus affects us all. The well funded extreme Christian basically denounce anyone who oppose their claims and want any other claims suppressed. And this is scary because the US is the most powerful nation in the world both economically and military and also very influential in many other areas. A right winged extreme Christian United States is no blessing too the world.

An example of a group of people that are seen as enemies of the faith are those scientists who hold views that are contrary to the views held by extreme Christians. If their scientific investigations do not match with the Christian claims  or even contradict them then science has to take a backseat and adapt to fit the Chritian. claim. Such extreme views are propagated by the likes of a Sye ten Bruggencate.
An example is a passage from the works of the Roman historian Tacitus. When describing the burning of Roman in 64 AD he tells us that the emperor Nero shifted the blame to a group of people called Christians by the populace.. He then tells that the name Christians comes from a man called Christ who has been killed on orders of Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.  More about this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ
This is the only passage on Christians and Christ that exist in the extant works of Tacitus. It is often pointed to as proof of Christs existence. The whole issue comes down to the interpretation of this sentence: Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,[]
Either this sentence builds upon the previous sentence in which Tacitus says that the name Christians is a name given to these people by the populace.. and then what is said about Christ is also derived from that source(whatever the value of such a source) or this sentence does not build upon the previous one and is one that stands on its own: this is what I Tacitus have found about about Christs(from other sources than mere hearsay). As you might have gathered, even the best of ancient writers do not out of habit mention their sources.

Whatever viewpoint is  the most valid one is very much in dispute, but one thing can be said for sure: this passage is not undisputed proof for the existence of Christ for the passage inself is disputed.
But extremist Christians still keep submitting that Tacitus offers precisely that: undisputed proof for the existence of Christ.

In the US the conflict is taken to the classroom where intelligent design is pushed as valid alternative scientific idea next to ideas such as evolution. These attempts have often failed, so an alternative strategy is develop: remove disliked theories such as evolution from the classroom.
And here we touch a profound  pattern. This is no longer about a conflict over opposing ideas,. this touched on  the progress of humanity. Evolution is not the only view that collides with intelligent design and creationism. Ideas about how the universe and life evolved contradict extremist views and eventually any critical thinking will. So when evolution is removed, this will be just the first of ideas that will be removed, because evolution isn’t a stand alone idea, it is part of a bigger picture, remove one and you need to remove the next . And then the next will follow. And the next. And the next. Until nothing remains.
But these are the idea that are born from critical thinking and eventually critical think will need to go. But it  this same critical thinking that underpins progress and inventions.  Without critical thinking there would be no internet or mobile phones or cars or advanced medicines or science.
Critical thinking, out of the box thinking, qualities that are so readily demanded from applicants by companies and institutions alike, have to be suppressed to make the world match with  extreme Christian concepts .And so we are now entering Orwells world of 1984 where history is rewritten to match the current state of affairs between the superpowers, because suggesting that it might have been changed is to suggest that ‘Big Brother’ has changed his mind, which suggest that he might have been in error. And ‘Big Brother’ does not make errors. The world will be eternally frozen into the now.. there will be no past and no future. There will be no progress.

I have often seen these discussions about atheism as fringe discussions,  interesting only to inhabitants of the United States and not ‘us’  Europeans. In addition I do not always like the methods and arguments of those that fight Christian fundamentalism. But the fact is that they, atheist, sceptics, scientists, artist and anyone else who are not liked by extreme Christians) are actually fighting for something that we accept as normal and we are not helping them.  They are up against some pretty powerful well funded organisations that do not hesitate to stoop to lies, deceit and manipulation to advance their agendas, and which will include an attempt to brainwash the next generation in thinking that the bible is the only proper source of knowledge and truth. And although  I don’t feel on any level qualified to join the discussion, I can at least report on it.. for even writing about it will be contrary to those who like to drag humanity down into ignorance.

So more posts will follow…

 ” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” might seem to be a reason to take a stand on something. But as a matter of fact, if you do stand for something it doesn’t mean you are doing better than those that stand for nothing. Fundamentalist stand for something.. and see what that leads to.

“Gott mit uns”(God with us)

Grand-Guignol-Gott_mit_uns-1928
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand-Guignol-Gott_mit_uns-1928.jpg

I can’t help it to  write this post. I resisted several times and I even have a complete rant hidden as post someplace that addresses this issue, but I decided against posting it.

But now it happened again!

“What is the issue?,” you might ask.

It is the use of the “Gott mit uns” argument.

The “Gott mit uns” argument usually pops up in discussions between atheists and theists. It is an extension of Godwin’s law: the longer a discussion on the internet last, the higher the chance that Hitler or Nazis will be mentioned.  And Hitler is a hot button.

The argument comes down to this: and the Germans(or the German army) under Hitler used “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles(which means that he supported Christianity or was a Christian, but certainly not an atheist) In an slightly less charged discussion it might also mean: for any argument you have that he is an atheist(and therefore by association atheists are evil) we have an argument that he is a Christian(and therefore by association they are evil).

I have heard Matt Dillahunty use this example twice(once in his debate with Father Jacobse and once on the ACA podcast) and now I hear it repeated by Jacquelyn Glenn(1).

I think they usually have good arguments, but I would like people to stop using this argument because it speaks of a lack of knowledge of history of Germany, Hitler and the Second world war and therefore illustrates a lack of insight. And here is the reason why.

“Gott mit uns’ was a slogan displayed on the buckle of the privates and soldiers of the regular German army( and not on that of the SS for instance, who used: Meine  Ehre heisst treue: my honor is loyalty).  The slogan was used by the Germans under the Empire(1870-1918), during the Weimar Republic(1918-1934) and even by Prussia before the German unification.  In other words, it wasn’t implemented as part of a conscious decision by Hitler but part of a tradition of the German and Prussian army(2)
Now you might say, by not removing it, he supported it, but this speaks of a lack of knowledge of German history. For one when Hitler went on his program of rearmament in 1933 he needed the German army to make it happen. In addition Hitler came to power through a series of power deals, most specifically with the conservatives which were well linked with the German army, industry and with the churches. In addition, Hitler did not attain full dictatorial powers until after after the burning of the Reichstag, the death of von Hindenburg, the president of Germany and one of the leading exponents of the Germany army, and the elimination of the SA.  And those who are informed about the German army, know Hitler did not acquire full nominal control of the German army until the removal of von Blomberg in 1938(3).
We basically have no idea what Hitler’s vision was on the buckle. You could claim he supported Christianity because of it, but you could equally state that he was against it because the SS had a different slogan. Against the latter views speaks for that the SS slogan was not introduced by Hitler, but by Himmler and the SS had nothing to do with the army, even though the waffen-ss became a rival of the army during the war.

I hope that the above will convince people to be cautious when using the argument that the belt buckles of the German soldiers say anything about Hitler’s religious convictions. It is a small point, but it makes me cringe every time when I hear people refer to it as if it is a proof in one way or another.

(1)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbtDQYAk09Y#t=387

(2)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gott_mit_uns
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meine_Ehre_hei%C3%9Ft_Treue
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schutzstaffel

(3)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_von_Blomberg,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler’s_rise_to_power
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_von_Hindenburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_re-armament

Bookreviews: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

By Max Brooks: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War [Audiobook]By Max Brooks: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War [Audiobook] by -Random House Audio-
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(contains a section that can be seen as a spoiler: it is at the end and marked as such)

I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this book for two reasons: I have a interest in post apocalyptic settings and like to see how a book is translated into a movie.
The translation of the book into a movie is something that we need not consider here. Although there are similarities between them, they are superficial at best. Unless the sequel to the movie gets aligned to the book, that is.
There are three similarities: there is a zombie outbreak, the storyline plays out all over the world, and there is the same character that we follow: the UN investigator.
But the latter’s role is just totally different. In the book he has almost no personality as he is only used to give voice to the people telling their stories, while in the movie Brad Pitt takes the center of the stage.
The audio book adds an additional layer to story. A book that I read lets me give the voices their own characteristics in my mind. A ‘hero’ is to me something personal that I fill in. I read from various other reviews that many found the writings to be similar voiced. I did not experience that as such as they used distinct voices in the book that gave them color and personality.

Now let’s mention some good points of the audio book.

The stories from everywhere created an interesting jigsaw puzzle that not only pieces together an overall idea of what was going on in the world at the same time, but also build up to unfold the development of the zombie ‘war’. It is an interesting, and certainly fresh idea for a zombie apocalyptic story. The writer tries to keep the pieces fitted together by referring forward and backward to certain key moments, events or ideas, which is certainly helpful at the start of story as the jumping all over the place can also create confusion if not kept in check.
The voices used in the book helped a lot with fleshing out the characters and I was certainly gripped by some of the stories.I saw in the actor list that they used some respectable actors for various roles: Alan Alda,Jurgen Prochnow, Martin Scorcese, Bruce Boxleitner, Frank Darabont.
Some stories stand out for me. The one related by the Chinese doctor Kwang Jinghsu who tells about the first zombie case he runs into and the description is horrifying. The flight of the Indian Ajay Shah to try and escape by ship via Alang, the ships’ graveyard. The one told by the blind Japanese hermit Tomonaga Ljiro who seeks to die in a lone forest, but refinds faith. But I was specially gripped by the story of colonel Christina Eliopolis who is sucked out of her damaged airplane but manages to save herself by chute and lands in marsh full of wandering zombies hundred of miles from safety.

So to the bad points.

The first good point is also the first bad point, because all the stories are separate stories that tells but a moment in the whole war, there is little room for character development. This makes a character rather one dimensional.
There is some kind of attempt to give the ‘grunt’ Todd Wainio a kind of overall binding role as he returns several times and has most of the space in the story, but he is the least interesting of all characters as he is as fake as can be.
I am probably too European to like the way some Americans like to represent their military, and Max Brooks is one of those. Overconfident and smug. He is that guy that flattens your hometown and napalms the surrounding lands and then approaches your with a big smile to say: “So there missy, that should settle it. No need to worry. We got it all under control.. We’ll be heading over the next town now. But I might be around later on, if you feel interested.” Wink.
(Waino tells the interviewer on a side note that he is certain he has some kids fathered by some grateful ladies from the places he liberated. What a revolting man).

As much as there are likable characters -or at least believable characters- in the story there are also totally unbelievable characters.
The prime unbelievable character is General Travis D’Ambrosia, the commander in chief. At the moment the counter attack is ordered he is basically a defeatist and should have been relieved of command. He tells the interviewer some nonsense about three basic rules of war: men must be bred, fed and led. And then he explains how all these rules do not apply to the zombies. And then tells of more advantages they have, totally neglecting to mention all the weakness zombies have and which can be exploited(which they later do).
An almost equal unbelievable character is the Englishman David Allen Forbes. He was introduced as having experience with castles and writing a book about it and then goes to tell some nonsense about European History in which the middle ages are classified as institutionalized anarchy.

Say what?

But it got worse.. Next he mentions that there is a difference between a castle and a palace and he mentions how castles were often turned into palaces so they lost their defensive value.
And that is true enough.
And then he says the most profound stupid thing I have ever heard: ”.. like Versailles, that is why it was such a cock up.”
Did I hear him say: like Versailles?
I played it again: Versailles.
Again: Versailles.
Versailles?
VERSAILLES!!!!!!
%^%^&&**&*&
No student of any level of history of warfare would ever mention Versailles as a defensive structure. Versailles was not a palace converted from a castle. It was build from the ground up as a prestigious object to show off the power and wealth of Louis XIV, the 17th Century king of France, the ruler of the most powerful nation of Europe at that time. Versailles was exactly not a defensive place because Louis had a big army, and big navy to protect him and plenty of forts if he needed them. It was exact the opposite of a castle because he could say: I can afford such a place and do not fear my enemies..
It was never at anytime considered or converted or used as defensible structure, not by the French, not by the Germans when they occupied France, not by the Allies when they liberated Europe..
Nearby Disneyworld Paris is more defensible.
Only an utter clueless guy would mention Versailles or use it.

Another weak point in the story is that the style of story is distant, observational and in hindsight. You know that everyone is basically going to survive. There seems to be seldom any interaction between the interviewed of the moment and anyone else of the interviewed. It turns to matter of fact observations. This is perhaps intentional, but it creates distance. As if you are hovering above it instead of being in the midst of it. It also takes away any uncertainties doubts, or interesting complication. Nobody of all of the interviewed seems to contradict someone else. It is dry, distanced and faultless. Which might make a nice report, but takes away from the story.
But what I often missed is the anguish people would experience when they see one of their loved ones turned or sick. Or even see them back as zombies. Brooks describes that at the start somewhat. But soon enough he the zeds are zeds. That they are your friend, lover, partner, dad, mom or buddy is pushed aside fairly rapidly.

And then there is this.. this -how to tell it- this demonstration of a certain myopic mindset.
When public humiliation and corporal punishment(flogging) are reintroduced crimes are are no more, so we are told by the former vice president of the United States.. I see.
And when American soldiers ‘fight’ they suffer of course less losses than say the Russians and the Chinese man on man.. Of course.
And in Israel a rebellion erupts when the zombies start to show up, because certain extreme groups in Israel rather compromise the safety of the whole nation to further their own cause. Right. Patriotism is only for Americans.
And the Cuban problem is easily solved by having them take in five million United States refugees so that the western(=American) ideas of greed ( oh sorry: free enterprise) and democracy gets spread around and eventual restores Cuba to a democracy.
It is that simple.
And when a German officer(from West Germany) is ordered to abandon civilians by his (former East German) superior, he at first refuses, but when pressured buckles under anyway. without asking an explanation, consulting his staff or talking it through with the civilians. Noo. All he has gained is the benefit of fifty years of western inspired conscience. See how down on their morals those (Former) Eastern Jerries really are anyway, cause that guy kills himself afterwards.
But regardless of west or east: it is the same cadaver discipline of course and the same way out. They never change, those Germans: only their excuses.
At some point I was wondering if this was meant to be satire or that Brooks really thinks that is how you deal with the worlds issues or how the world works?

But the list extends into the story telling.
So the battle of Yonkers shows that the US army is not ready to deal with the dead yet. Mind you, they are shown to be extremely incompetent. Not even using things to hinder the advancing horde with, like say a wall of cars, barbed wire, cheval de fraises, minefields, stakes, ditches, wood fences, wires, fallen trees and anything else the books are filled with. And claymore mines! No Clymore mine. Easy to set up, deadly, shoot balls of metal that go right through you. But noo.. the army has been ordered to be incompetent.
Or has it been written?
For Brooks now tells us that there is a break between refugees and the zombies. Up till now he tells us in all other stories how they were mixed.
But the Battle of Yonkers is designed by Brooks to show of the incompetence of the US army, forced on them by who knows who? The press? The politicians? Their superiors? Why not blame them all!
It is a setup.
We are looking directly at the writer forcing an unbelievable twist in his story. You can see his hands grabbing it, twisting and turning, until it is disjointed enough so that the best equipped army in the world loses the first time around.
Mano-a-mano.
Zombies 1. Humans 0.
It is one of those fake wrestling matches.
They have to lose to have the US overrun, but also to have the army get up for a second round. As if war just consist of a few important battles.

—zzzzzz spoilers down here zzzzz ————-

Its a few years later, after this severe defeat the army counter attacks under command of mister defeatist D’Ambrosia via an offense from the rocky mountains. From the west to the east.
Wow.. how many people would that take? Well, they walk side by side, just like how they search for survivors and evidence after an aircraft crash, so we are told. So that’s something like 1400 miles as the crow flies. And assume for every ten yard one grunt. That is 300.000 men. Oh wait they got a second line: 600.000. And then you need replacements, backups, support, perhaps some more men per 10 yard really, certainly in denser area’s. Double that. Triple that. Quadruple that. You need to guard the flanks too, the liberated areas. You need logistics, repairs. replacements. 5 million? 6? And that from a country that has suffered 200 million dead and lost over ⅗ of it’s land. And most of it’s industry and food supplying area’s.
Brooks is basically unable to properly handle this. His stories are basically light weight and interesting, and work as separate instances, but he can’t tie it together in the end. He needs to twist too much to make it work. I assume he does. Because I hope that he does not really belief all these things that he wrote down. It is such an absurd look of the world.
But you got to give him credit for one thing though. Once the United States has won the victory at home, it doesn’t retreat into isolation and let the rest of the world to it’s own devices. Why should they anyway. What would the world do without them! They got a whole world to liberate… or conquer.
It is just the way you look at it.
It is..

—————spoilers end———————————–

One star extra for the great voice acting and the great colonel story. It gave me tears, honest.

View all my reviews

Flash Fiction: History

History

“I had not expected you to be here, sir.” I said and I wanted to leave him to his moment of solitude, a moment which he would have seldom time to enjoy.

He was standing near the balcony overlooking the boulevard that was in front the house.

He was his usually tall self, slender to the point of wiry and holding a cigarette. The one that was kept from the public eye, because smoking was bad now and it was something that could be used against him, even though the elections were still few years away.

“Don’t leave..please join me for a moment.” He said.

I walked over to him and we both stared out of the window, looking at people and cars on the street. Small figures in the distance. The sky was losing the redness of the dusk and the black of the night was taking over.

“There will be no stars tonight.” He remarked.

“No sir. It is going to rain.”

He nodded.

“I have not seen you before.”

“No sir. My name is Claire Redmond and it would have been unlikely that you would have seen me otherwise.”

“Oh? How so?”

“We are not encouraged to.” I said.

 “Meaning you are told to avoid me.”, he laughed.

“That would be one way to say it, mister President.”

He nodded.

“What is it that you do, Claire?”

“I am a historian, mister President.” I said, “You might also call me record keeper. I write down what happens here.”

“Ah, you make history.”

“I would say you make history and I write it down.”

“That might be one way of putting it.” He smiled.

“It is unavoidable, being who you are.”

He nodded.

“Ever wondered about that, mister president?”

“About me making history?” He squeezed his eyes, sucked on his cigarette and was silent for a moment.

“Whenever I see a movie about a president, like one about Kennedy or Nixon, I think about it. But when I am in the midst of it I often forget,  but sometimes I feel it:  this is a historic moment, but that is just a small moment among all the other moments. It somehow becomes normal.”

“And was this a historic moment? One where you have this melancholic moment where you stare out over the city to make a decision about bombing a country or not?”

“I was just enjoying a cigarette.” He smiled.

“Pity. It would have made a nice historic movie moment, mister president.”

“It would have.”

“Maybe I could alter history a little bit and make this a historic moment, for the benefit of us both?”

“You would willing write yourself into history?” He said.

“A historians privilege.”

“I would have to make a decision first, though.”

“True, but even not making one could be a historic moment.”

“Sounds like a done deal then.”

“If I was narcissistic enough.”

“And you are not?”

“No mister president. I am historian.. not a politician.” And I gave him my best smile to cushion the shock.

He laughed, even with his eyes.