The Next South Ossetia: Crimea

Though South Ossetia is only recognized by Russia and Nicaragua, it has still allowed Russia to extend its influence by attacking neighboring states. South Ossetia, along with Abkhazia and Transnistria, are puppet entities supported by Russia.

The next puppet state may well be Crimea, which is part of Ukraine:

World Briefing – Europe – Ukraine – Concern About Russia – NYTimes.com
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Tuesday that Moscow had been issuing Russian passports in Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. “We all know that they are handing out Russian passports over there,” Mr. Kouchner said in an interview with Kommersant, a Russian online newspaper. The government of Ukraine has said it wants the fleet to leave the Crimean base in Sevastopol when its lease runs out in 2017. But the Russian naval authorities have indicated that they want to retain the base. Mr. Kouchner said Russia might try to make advances in Crimea after the success of its military operations in Georgia in August.

Gap regimes such as Russia rise and fall with hydrocarbon prices. The lower we can keep the price of oil, the less Russia will be able to create this kind of trouble.

Disappointing Sequels

Watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull yesterday. I had been hearing bad reviews of it for some time, with most debate focusing on whether or not it is worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The South Park satire finally gave me no choice but to watch.

Crystal Skull made me think of Oblivion, another piece of art that was the fourth in the series and much worse than the third. Their similarities do not end their. Both are lobatomoizations of what had come before: both Oblivion and Crystal Skull maintain the art direction and “world” of what had come before. But the logic is gone. The game preceeding Oblivion, Morrowind, presented players with a fully realized world where one could play for 100 hours, save the world, and never die. The movie preceding Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, expertly mixed a romantic view of archaeology, a romantic view of Christian traditions, and a romantic view of European lore to tell a story of a father and son.

Crystal Skull is unfiarly panned for many elements which could have made an excelletn Indian Jones movies. Crystal Skull is set in the 1950s, so its use of an early Cold War mythos is fully appropraite. But nothing makes sense. It’s a Mummy movie that somehow stars Indiana Jones. Like Oblivion is a puzzle game that somehow takes place in Tamriel.

Review of ‘The Searchers’

The war is over. The Americans have won. After three years, they have re-established the political machinery and defeated an insurgency. Awakening Councils of Concerned Local Citizens (financed by the Americans) keep the peace. Except for the odd SpecOps raid, the American military is nowhere to be seen.

The insurgent is home from the war. He fought the Americans, fled when the choice was surrender, and after the end of major combat operations took to irregular fighting. What remains of the insurgency, however, has degenerated into banditry and thievery. The insurgent is suspiciously wealthy, but has no use for his ribbons and medals. There is nothing left to fight for. The war is over.

Then intercommunal violence flares up. A cycle of kidnaping, rape, murder, corpse desecration, human trafficking, and honor killings begins.

It’s Texas, 1868.

The Searchers is a family-friendly movie in a sense that has disappeared from cinema. The story is incredibly dark, but most of the action happens off-screen. The attention of children watching the movie would be drawn to the colorful characters, interesting locations, and strange accents, while teenagers would be drawn to a love story involving the heartthrobs of yesteryear and some classic cowboy-and-indian fighting. But adults will see a post-war that’s shockingly nihilistic and lonely.

The Searchers with John Wayne is available from Amazon, Greencine, and Netflix.

My grandma

My grandmother died today.

She was able to bring delight to anyone she just met.

She was a living window to a world very different from mine. She had an uncle she could not speak to, because he knew only German and her only English. She remembered when nativist paramilitaries (the American Legion, I believe) harrased “German” farmers who were trying to organize relief supplies to their cousins back home after the Great War. She remembered the burning of German books. She learned to sing German songs in a church where men sat in one part, and women in another.

When my grandma was a girl, her family was what we would now call “low SES.” Her parents did not care about education. If one of their daughters was sick, none of them would attend school, because otherwise it was a waiste of time to go in to town that day. My grandmother supposeldy attended school to the 6th grade, though I do not how reliably or regularly.

I once asked her, “Is there any other thing you wished you could have done in our life, when you were young?” Yes, she answered. She always wanted to be a hair dresser, in town.

I never knew anyone with a quicker tongue, and she was in full control of it. She knew how to handle herself. She knew how to befriend people, and how to turn people against her enemies. If there was a Depression, she would make it through. If there was a war, she would live through it. She once held her daughter in a manger as a tornado destroyed the barn she was in. A small woman, she had the strength of an ox.

“They will never build a road here,” she once said, while riding in a car on the Needles Highway. “Adolf jewed them good,” I once heard her say, referring to a local farmer who struck a good bargain.

My grandmother always spoke well of “Germans” (that is, Americans of German ancestry as opposed to Bohemians, Swedes, Norgwegians, people from cities, etc.), Republicans, and the Missouri Synod. She was deeply suspicious of Democrats, Presbytarians, and people who were unfair to “Germans.”

My dad once said in heaven everyone will have to walk quietly past the Missouri Luthern section, “because they do not know that anyone else is there.”

I hope my dad stops in to see my grandma.