Poppies



  • Blackadder, one of the goofiest sitcoms ever made, ends on a surprising, tasteful and emotional point.

    Good Luck Everyone - Blackadder - BBC – 03:17
    — BBCWorldwide

    "Who would have noticed another mad-man around here? ... good luck, everyone."

    Remember the heroes of the first fully-modern war, people.



  • Books:

    John Keegan's excellent (like everything he's written) overview of the war.

    A history of wartime camouflage, the men who invented it, and the fighting they had to do with the "old school" military officers to get it adopted. Much of the work is about WWII, but it includes chapters about the Dazzle camouflage used on ships in WWI, and steel sniper/observation nests constructed for the trenches and disguised as trees.

    Dazzle camouflage patters. The intent of Dazzle wasn't to render the ship more difficult to see (on the contrary: most Dazzle patterns are extremely visually distinctive), but to make ranging and targeting the ship more difficult-- for example, to mislead the viewer into guessing the wrong direction of travel or distance to the ship in an era before such things were measured by radar or lasers.

    Exactly what its title says, the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the build-up to it. This is the "turning-point" battle, the one after which both sides believed that trench defenses were virtually impenetrable and changed the war's tactic to a war of attrition.

    This book takes the opposite approach, instead of covering one small period of time, it covers one geological location of the length of the war. Recommended.

    Films:

    No commentary on these, as films are easier to digest and these films are pretty goddamned famous anyway:

    Stanley Kubrick is the greatest.

    <poop>

    Mel Gibson before he went insane

    <poop>

    More lighthearted fare. Clara Bow!

    Internets:

    http://www.europeanfilmgateway.eu/about_efg/EFG1914collections

    This site has an immense collection of digitized WWI films from various European collections. Impossible to navigate and links have a tendency to take you to a million unrelated sites, alas, but the search field works pretty well.

    WWI in real-time. This has become kind of a trend on Twitter, someone will make an account that delivers the news as it happened 25/50/100 years ago. Shallow, but entertaining.



  • Books:

    Detailed treatment of how the war started. That's one of the most interesting parts for me. Good book.

    #Audio:

    ###Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon

    The definitive WWI treatment. Still 2 more parts to go, but so far... well, it's hardcore history. It's the best thing ever.



  • Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    This one is about 20% WWI, and it was pretty good. Although not exactly about WWI.

    Mediocre Spielberg film. But still Spielberg.

    Sigh, I have to agree. Paths of Glory is the best. Although, someone still needs to make the Saving Private Ryan of the WWI.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    Most WWI movies are interwar, which is a problem for two reasons:

    1. They're not very accessible to people used to modern (post-1970ish) films or even "classic" (1940s+) films.

    2. Nobody remembers interwar films except the 4-5 most famous of them. And even then, only film buffs have actually seen, say, Metropolis-- sadly at this point in history, probably more people have seen this shitty anime homage than the original film.

    The instant WWII ended, studios basically instantly started making WWII films and forgot entirely about WWI. But to be fair, so did society-in-general... when I was a kid, WWI was like a paragraph in the history books, and WWII was like 4 chapters. Criminal.

    @cartman82 said:

    Although, someone still needs to make the Saving Private Ryan of the WWI.

    Have you seen Gallipoli? It's really, really good.

    One I forgot to mention, but for a shallow popcorn movie, I quite liked Flyboys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyboys_(film)


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @blakeyrat said:

    Dazzle camouflage

    Dazzle camouflage was an amazing innovation for its time. With its advent, the enemy had a very hard time even telling what kind of ship it was or which end was the front to know its heading. It really shows what can happen when you look at a problem from the other direction. Everyone was trying to make ships camouflaged and harder to detect, and then some guy comes up with the idea of going 180 degrees from that by using the wild patterns to obscure specific features. Positively ingenious.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Have you seen Gallipoli? It's really, really good.

    Yeah, I watched it a long time ago and remember it vaguely. It has that cool soundtrack.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Most WWI movies are interwar, which is a problem for two reasons:

    1. They're not very accessible to people used to modern (post-1970ish) films or even "classic" (1940s+) films.

    2. Nobody remembers interwar films except the 4-5 most famous of them. And even then, only film buffs have actually seen, say, Metropolis-- sadly at this point in history, probably more people have seen this shitty anime homage than the original film.

    The instant WWII ended, studios basically instantly started making WWII films and forgot entirely about WWI. But to be fair, so did society-in-general... when I was a kid, WWI was like a paragraph in the history books, and WWII was like 4 chapters. Criminal.

    Probably because for Westerners, WWI is seen in much more negative light than WWII.

    WWII has a ton of heroic Americans and a clear-cut enemy and flashy battles and the final glorious victory. WWI has none of that - friends and enemies are muddled, battles are dreary and indecisive, Americans barely enter into it militarily and in the end, thanks to crappy politics, none of it really mattered. All the major players lost, except Americans.

    Interestingly enough, WWI is on Balkans regarded much more highly than WWII. In WWI we were an important player (and one of the instigators too), we fought well and got nice booty in the end. A lot of Balkan peoples finally got their much desired nation states, on account of Austro-Hungary and Turkey going away.

    In WWII, on the other hand, we were a sideshow, easily swept aside and fucked over by the Soviets in the end. For Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Polaks and the rest, there was no glorious victory after which they got to ride away into a bright future. Just painful rebuilding and secret police and gulags and communist economy.



  • @cartman82 said:

    and in the end, thanks to crappy politics, none of it really mattered.

    What the FUCK are you smoking.

    Smuggling Lenin back into Russia was possibly the smartest move any General has ever made in history. That one event, even ignoring the BILLION of other bits of fallout (fall of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Genocide, shitty cutting-up of Middle Eastern countries that we're still struggling with now a century later, etc.) is enough to justify the study of WWI.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    What the FUCK are you smoking.

    Smuggling Lenin back into Russia was possibly the smartest move any General has ever made in history. That one event, even ignoring the BILLION of other bits of fallout (fall of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Genocide, shitty cutting-up of Middle Eastern countries that we're still struggling with now a century later, etc.) is enough to justify the study of WWI.

    Not that it didn't matter historically, you idiot.

    It didn't matter politically, for the victors. Because they ruined themselves to achieve victory and then failed to solve the German issue. Because WWII happened.



  • You think the rise of Communism didn't matter politically for France, the UK and the US?

    I don't even know how to address your post. It's so ridiculous on the face of it I must be misreading it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    You think the rise of Communism didn't matter politically for France, the UK and the US?

    I don't even know how to address your post. It's so ridiculous on the face of it I must be misreading it.

    Once again, it mattered in terms of side affects. The whole world got turned on its head. The entire "modern" political landscape was created (Eastern Block, Middle East...).

    It didn't matter in terms of Atlantic vs Continental power divide within Europe. The whole reason the war got started in the first place. Germany was defeated in the worst possible way - not crushed militarily, but crushed financially and politically. This created an unstable situation, that eventually led to World War 2. So from the POV of the victors (the French and the British mostly), the war didn't solve their their situation and they had to fight again 30 years later.

    Thus, the victory "didn't matter" to them.



  • I'm still not wrapping my head around what you're saying exactly. And I disagree with what's laid-out there (Hitler is the reason WWII got started; his opinion that the surrender of 1918 was a betrayal to the German people was a by-far minority opinion before he took power. The government Hitler illegally seized power from certainly had no ambitions towards conquest or war.)

    But it sounds like you know what you're talking about.



  • I think I see the problem.

    You think I'm saying "War didn't matter".
    I'm actually saying "Victory didn't matter for the Atanta powers, because they had to fight again"

    As for the Hitler thing, that's debatable. To what extent is history shaped by Big Men versus historic forces? If Tandey shot Hitler when he had the chance, would WWII happened? And if it would, what form would it take? Who knows. IMO, some sort of conflict would happen, but it wouldn't necessarily be WWII.

    Interesting thought. Imagine 40-ies, 50-ies Germany without Nazism. The economic crisis is over. And they have both Einstein and von Braun on their side. And they still hold a WWI grudge. And then, there's the even bigger monster, Stalin. And Americans.

    Now that I think about it, I want to read an alternative history novel with that premise.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    For shame. One of my all time favorites (of any type of movie):



  • @boomzilla said:

    For shame.

    Oh damn. You're right. I've seen that and totally forgot about it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Hitler is the reason WWII got started;

    There's plenty of blame to put on the Japanese, too.



  • @cartman82 said:

    I'm actually saying "Victory didn't matter for the Atanta powers, because they had to fight again"

    Right but by that logic, no victory ever matters anywhere ever. So my brain kind of rejects it.

    @cartman82 said:

    As for the Hitler thing, that's debatable.

    I don't think it is.

    @cartman82 said:

    If Tandey shot Hitler when he had the chance, would WWII happened?

    If it did, it would have spread primarily from the Japanese invasion of China, and been a much different war. Then again, western powers didn't give much of a crap about Japan's invasion until they extended far past Japan and attacked the Philippines (and of course Hawaii), which only happened after Japan got a "boost of confidence" by allying with Hitler.

    It's an interesting alternative history scenario. But the main question: would WWII have happened without Hitler? I'm leaning towards: no.



  • @boomzilla said:

    There's plenty of blame to put on the Japanese, too.

    The Japanese arguably started the war by invading China (depending on whether you count that invasion as part of WWII or something else), but the thing is nobody really cared about that except Russia, and even Russia didn't care enough to come to China's aid.

    The Japanese didn't expand the war beyond China until after they had assurances from Germany, though. Had they remained in China, would it have become a World War? I don't think it would have.



  • Possibly. I think it probably takes both of them to do it. I wonder how long we could have stayed out without Pearl Harbor.



  • I honestly don't believe even stuck-up superiority-complex Imperial Japan would have gone as far as Hawaii without assurances from Germany. They probably would have still have invaded the Phillipines, which would have gotten Anzac and British Empire-in-general forces involved. But does that flare up to a World War? Still not enough, IMO.

    (Interestingly, if it had, Germany would have been a non-entity. They would have strictly followed the surrender agreement in this alternative reality, and their military would have been small, poorly-trained and with obsolete equipment.)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    They probably would have still have invaded the Phillipines, which would have gotten Anzac and British Empire-in-general forces involved.

    Eh...the Phillipines were a US territory then (1896-1946) so I don't see why those guys would have gotten involved but we wouldn't have.



  • You're right, I was thinking of Burma. Sorry. My brain.

    Well whatever. The whole scenario is too hypothetical form my brainmeat. Would Japan have invaded Burma? Phillipines? Bombed Hawaii? Who knows. Maybe aliens from Uranus would have given them fusion bombs and they'd go on to dig a hole to the center of the Earth with them and be defeated by mole men. Why not.



  • "Japan 1941 countdown to infamy" by Eri Hotta.

    Has an extremely detailed account of... well.. 1941, and the internal politics (Army vs. Navy vs. Imperial) in Tokyo. It feels incomplete, but some of the details were telling.

    1. By 1941 the Japanese were already drafting men in their 30's and had commandeered the ornamental iron from people's fences, etc.. I had always bought the party-line that they obviously knew they didn't have the resources to fight the US, but she is saying they already didn't have the resources to fight China.

    2. The diplomatic corps in Tokyo didn't have much faith in their representatives in Washington. So, they sent help - unfortunately for them, they sent the same guy who had signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy. The US was not impressed by his peaceful overtures.

    The book somehow ignores the question of whether the IJA asked the IJN specifically how and where the IJN was going to launch an attack on the US... Maybe there are no good sources...



  • @ijij said:

    "Japan 1941 countdown to infamy" by Eri Hotta.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    Since we're, sigh, talking about WWII, here's an interesting book on the Japanese perspective during the defense of Iwo Jima:

    Kuribayashi had actually visited the US and toured it, and was firmly in the "it's impossible for Japan to win this fight" bucket. He observed that Japan, even with its much smaller population and land area, couldn't build a car for every family (something the US could do easily by the 1930s) and knew exactly what would happen when that US industrial production was turning-out tanks and ships instead of Chryslers. The book gives the impression that there were two types of Japanese officers: those who had never visited the US, and those who had and knew the fight was hopeless. But that didn't stop them from performing their duty.

    What's most shocking to me is how he was completely abandoned on the island. Japan didn't even attempt to evacuate or resupply his unit, despite being in radio contact with him until almost the last moment of the defense. So not only was Japan hurting on manpower and equipment, they made virtually no effort to preserve the manpower and equipment they had left. Unbelievable.



  • Oops. Meant to stay on the War to End All Wars.

    But I was going to argue the political, and bailed out. ;)

    Anyhow, I put the first disk of Keegan's 1st World War into the car-player this morning... now I'm really looking forward to it.

    Also, loved "The Blue Max"! It would come on once a year when I was kid, and I watched it every time.



  • @ijij said:

    I had always bought the party-line that they obviously knew they didn't have the resources to fight the US, but she is saying they already didn't have the resources to fight China.

    I think it's the same fundamental problem, either way. No one wanted to stand up and state the obvious. Never tell the emperor "no." Etc. And enough people probably also believed the happy talk because they wanted to or weren't in a position to see otherwise or whatever.



  • It went both ways. Nobody among the "commoners" (as an American I really fucking hate even typing shit like that) could question the Emperor, of course. But at the same time, the Emperor was trusting the wrong military advisers explicitly and not questioning the shit coming out of their mouths.

    Combine that with the fact that none of these inner circle ever saw or experienced even a millisecond of the deprivation the rest of the nation was experiencing (an accusation which, BTW, is often wrongly thrown towards WWI generals), and combine all that with the weird-ass samurai-sort-of philosophy prevalent at the time*. And combine that with Japan's frankly utterly incompetent diplomatic corps. And you get disaster.

    You think Germany was in bad shape after WWI? The Japanese population after WWII would have traded places with them in a millisecond.

    * You know what Kuribayashi was doing the night before his "last stand" counter-attack? Cleaning weapons? Last-minute drills? He was writing a poem to be transmitted back to the mainland and printed in the newspapers there.



  • (Again, the book feels oddly incomplete, but...)

    She argues/presents the case that the IJA and IJN backed themselves into putting themselves on the line in front of the Emperor, late in 1941.



  • @ijij said:

    She argues/presents the case that the IJA and IJN backed themselves into putting themselves on the line in front of the Emperor, late in 1941.

    I totally believe that. My father worked as an executive at a Japanese owned company for nearly 40 years (25 or so of those at the glass ceiling for non-AmericansJapanese). These sorts of historical stories could come right from his anecdotes at work.

    EDIT: duh..non-Japanese



  • I came here hoping for an explanation for the poppy flower in the corner. I was disappointed.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @mott555 said:

    an explanation for the poppy flower in the corner

    I'm not into the endless alternate-history military-buff discussions some of my friends can get into, but I followed the conversation at least :)



  • @boomzilla said:

    at the glass ceiling for non-Americans

    ?? ;)

    Non-Japanese?

    Then you would understand this book better than I truly did. And might see what's missing. (What's missing may imply something that is there...wind around the trees or something poetic).


    I was trying to find "Yagyuu Jubei" the TV series on DVD, but could only get "Yagyuu Jubei" the Movie...

    The TV Series was like the A-Team of Samurai shows...
    Yagyuu in disguise finds corrupt local official, attempts to correct the wrong, cannot because the official is too evil. Yagyuu removes disguise, slaughters evil official(s).

    The Movie was denser than Hamlet. Well, of course, everyone is betraying everyone, but this guy is betraying that guy to lure the other guy into betraying me, so that I have an excuse to...
    Good for the atmospherics, and acting, but I have no idea who did what to whom. Except. Jubei wins.

    Anybody know where I can find "Yagyuu Jubei" the TV series?



  • @ijij said:

    Non-Japanese?

    Oops.

    @ijij said:

    Then you would understand this book better than I truly did.

    I've added it to my list.



  • @mott555 said:

    I came here hoping for an explanation for the poppy flower in the corner. I was disappointed.

    Seriously? They don't teach you that in Wisconsin schools?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Seriously? They don't teach you that in Wisconsin schools?

    What? Holiday traditions in England? Is that in Common Core or something?



  • @cartman82 said:

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    Don't know how you composed your entries above, but there's Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War, based on the stage musical of the same name.



  • @boomzilla said:

    What? Holiday traditions in England? Is that in Common Core or something?

    I don't live in England, somehow civic groups in my town still pass out poppies every November 11th.

    Is that... is that not a thing elsewhere in the US? I live in a pretty typical town...



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Is that... is that not a thing elsewhere in the US? I live in a pretty typical town...

    Yeah, we discussed this elsewhere today. I've never seen it personally, and neither had some others. It doesn't surprise me that some places here do it, though (and I think I made similar remarks to that effect on the other thread).


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Is that... is that not a thing elsewhere in the US? I live in a pretty typical town...

    I've lived in Michigan, Massachusetts and now Texas and this thread is the first I've heard of it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Seriously? They don't teach you that in Wisconsin schools?

    1, I've never been to Wisconsin. /pedantry

    1. WWI was largely glossed over when I was in school. It was like a ten minute presentation of "Yeah, there was a war, some dude got assassinated, we entered in 1917 and ended the thing." Then we'd do like 6 weeks on WWII.


  • @mott555 said:

    I've never been to Wisconsin. /pedantry

    Oh I meant Nebraska. Sorry. Whatever shitty awful State you live in that's full of assholes.

    @mott555 said:

    WWI was largely glossed over when I was in school. It was like a ten minute presentation of "Yeah, there was a war, some dude got assassinated, we entered in 1917 and ended the thing." Then we'd do like 6 weeks on WWII.

    Yeah, and then you go to the grocery story on November 11th and the nice veteran gives you a plastic poppy to pin on your coat (in exchange for a donation your parents gladly gave) and you ask the significance because you're a human with human curiosity and now you know what the poppy is for.

    I guess I just assumed this experience was pretty universal. What the fuck is wrong with everywhere except where I am!



  • Aha! A reasonably famous inter-war movie, set in Russia no less!

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512L53dMS8L.SX385.jpg


    Filed under: Alec Guinness. Everybody else, too. But, Alec Guinness.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Yeah, and then you go to the grocery story on November 11th and the nice veteran gives you a plastic poppy to pin on your coat (in exchange for a donation your parents gladly gave)

    Somehow that's never happened to me.

    @ijij said:

    Filed under: Alec Guinness. Everybody else, too. But, Alec Guinness.

    I've literally never seen him outside of Star Wars. That probably needs to change.



  • @mott555 said:

    I've literally never seen him outside of Star Wars. That probably needs to change.

    Aside from Star Wars, I think of The Bridge on the River Kwai.



  • @mott555 said:

    WWI was largely glossed over when I was in school. It was like a ten minute presentation of "Yeah, there was a war, some dude got assassinated, we entered in 1917 and ended the thing." Then we'd do like 6 weeks on WWII.

    Going from memory here though... but I recall my class doing a 'mock trench warfare' thing in school by ducking down under table-level in the class room and creeping about, throwing wadded paper balls at each other I think?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Have you seen Gallipoli? It's really, really good.

    I hate that movie. Not because it's a bad movie; as you say, it's really, really good. [spoiler]I hate the stupid, pointless tragedy of the end.[/spoiler] Of course, it's based on a real event, and that's what really happened (maybe embellished; maybe not — I don't know the history in sufficient detail), but knowing that just makes it worse.



  • @mott555 said:

    I've literally never seen him outside of Star Wars.

    That means you've never seen The Man in the White Suit.

    Which means you need to watch it IMMEDIATELY. Greatest movie ever.



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    Of course, it's based on a real event, and that's what really happened (maybe embellished; maybe not — I don't know the history in sufficient detail), but knowing that just makes it worse.

    Gallipoli was a serious military B*****ming at the level of 'the Allied commanders sent an ill-prepared force into a deathtrap' AIUI, so I doubt the movie found all that much to embellish it with.

    Filed under: recon-pull beats command-push, every time



  • @boomzilla said:

    Aside from Star Wars, I think of The Bridge on the River Kwai.

    Also fantastic. (And also David Lean directed).
    And Lawrence of Arabia. (Ditto.)

    Last time I watched Star Wars and he appeared on screen, I was like, "damn, everyone else here needs training wheels, this guy can act..."



  • @antiquarian said:

    thread is the first I've heard of it.

    I'd heard of it, but it's so rare anywhere I've lived that I had completely forgotten.

    @blakeyrat said:

    the nice veteran gives you a plastic poppy to pin on your coat

    Now that you mention it, I do sort of vaguely remember that when I was a kid. I don't recall seeing anybody doing that in the last 40-50 years.


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