Sunday, January 20, 2008

God of War

KennedysIn 1961, John F Kennedy began his first full day as the youngest ever elected president of the United States.

The day before, the 43-year-old Roman Catholic had been inaugurated as the 35th president on a snow-covered Capitol Hill in Washington, asking 'My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man'.

He took over from the oldest president in American history, General Dwight Eisenhower, who was bowing out aged 70. The pair would be America's last Commander in Chiefs..
Kennedys - Inauguration
Shortly after his election, Kennedy supported a Cuban rebel attempt to overthrow the communist regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

It was unsuccessful and led the Russians to install nuclear weapons on Cuba in 1962 triggering the apocalypse that became known as the Cuba war. Historian Larry Niven later described the events thus ~

Atomics had been used, here, and now Cuba was uninhabited, and some American cities were gone, and some Russian. It could have been worse.

Why wasn't it? How did we luck out? Intelligent statesmen? Faulty bombs? A humane reluctance to kill indiscriminately?
No. There was no luck anywhere. Every decision was made both ways. For every wise choice you bled your heart out over, you made all the other choices too. And so it went, all through history.
'Here we are. This is ours. This is where we live from now on!'. 'From now on?' Michael was incredulous. He stood up, looking, and then turned to blink back at where the rocket used to be. "What about the rocket? What about Mars?"

'Here,' said Dad. He touched the small radio to Michael's blond head. 'Listen.' Michael listened.

'Nothing,' he said. 'Thats right. Nothing. Nothing at all any more. No no more rockets, no more Mars.' Michael considered the lethal revelation and began to sob little dry sobs.
 - Planet Mars
Planet Mars
Where did you get the rocket?' whispered Timothy, for the other boys were running ahead. 'I saved it. I saved it for twenty years, Tim. I had it hidden away, hoping I'd never have to use it. I suppose I should have given it to the government for the war, but I kept thinking about Mars. . . .'

'And a picnic!' 'Right. This is between you and me. When I saw everything was finishing on Mars, after I'd waited until the last moment, I packed us up.

They reached the river. It was long and straight and cool and wet and reflective in the night. I've always wanted to see a Martian,' said Michael. Where are they, Dad? You promised.'.. ~ The Million Year Picnic (January 2008).

In 2008, astronomers watched a football pitch-sized lump of rock hurtle through space at a speed of 45000 km/h. The fragment, which had been christened WD-5, was on a collision course with Mars. The impact on 30th January would subsequently be known as the Martian Armageddon. During the period December 2001-November 2005 humans from Earth had colonized the deserted planet, occasionally having contact with the few surviving Martians, but for the most part preoccupied with making Mars a second Earth. WD-5 changed all that. Captain Wilder and family had family had returned home using his private rocket that he had concealed from government service. On their million year picnic, Wilder had promised his children that they would see some Martians on the Minnesota River..
In 1971, the BBC TV unit in Welwyn Garden City filmed British spaceflight Commander Bert Smith's family reunion. 'Alright treacle', said Bert. 'Cuppa tea, love?' said his wife. 'I could murder one' said her husband.
In 1771, Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England who maintained possession until the Iron Lady of Argentina, President Eva Peron defeated that country in the 1982 Malvinas Conflict.
BalrogAt the, end of the third age, the fellowship of the ring entered the chamber of records [the twenty-first hall of Moria] lit by a wide shaft high in the further eastern wall; it slanted upwards, and far above, a small patch of the blue sky could be seen. The light of the sharp fell directly on a table in the middle of the room; a single oblong block about two feet high, upon which was laid a great slab of white stone.

Here is written in the runes of Men and Dwarves: Second Lieutenant John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Eleventh battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Balrog - Tolkiens Phantasm
Tolkiens Phantasm
A rolling boom seemed the come from depths far below, and to tremble in the stone at their feet. Doom, doom it rolled again, as if huge hands were turning the chamber into a vast drum.

'They are coming' cried the elf, 'We cannot get out', said the dwarf. 'Trapped!' agreed Tolkien.

Tolkien awoke in the military field hospital. He had been heavily sedated. For much of the night, he had been screaming and screaming. And shouting Trapped! Trapped!.

In Tolkien's combat shattered mind, he was trapped in a phantasmagoric nightmare he would later revisit in his post-war life as an author of fantasy. Like Kurt Vonnegut fifty years later, he would use escapist literature to describe the horrors of war.
In 1968, the Battle of Khe Sanh started in northwestern Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam concurrently with the Tet Offensive. Elements of the United States (U.S.) III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) defeated two to three division-size elements of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and by the end of the year, a re-elected President Johnson was able to announce the end of the Indochina Wars.
In 1926, strongman and actor Steve Reeves was born on his family’s farm in Montana. After gaining popularity in Italian films playing Hercules, he made a move to more sophisticated roles as the spy James Bond in Dr. No. He retired from the role after 4 feature films and from acting in general afterwards, occasionally making cameo appearances in television and film in the 70’s and 80’s. After spending the 90’s raising horses and promoting drug-free body-building, he returned for one last role as a gladiatorial mentor in the Ridley Scott film Gladiator. He died the day the film premiered in 2000.
In 2004, the Soviet Union’s Martian colony is hit by a gigantic sandstorm. Their underground facility is saved, but the above-ground facility is totaled. They are forced to request aid from the American and European colonies, who escaped the worst of the storm. The destruction of the facility marks the end to an era – it had stood since the Soviet Union had first landed on Mars in 1975.
In 2028, in Tate & Lyle PLC v. the Pan African Society the UK based multinational food manufacturer are ordered to pay reparations of $10bn. Descendants of Abram Lyle and Henry Tate express deep regret at the shameful involvement of their company to the victims of the African Holocaust who were enslaved by the sugar refining process. 'Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness' they quoted from Samson in the Book of Judges, Chapter 14, a clear reference to the lion and bees image of 'Lyle's Golden Syrup'.
In 1947, the British Government in Exile arrive in Reykjavik, Iceland for final status talks with the Fuehrer. The miserable renegade Churchill and also the keys to the Royal Navy are in the possession of Lord Halifax and a gorgeous looking Princess Elizabeth I. A sheep in sheep's clothing you might say.
In 2005, a day after the inauguration former President Al Gore was still beside himself with rage. In a barbed reference to Gore, his successor had described airline safety as 'a basic priority' for the American people. He was speaking about a comment on page 344 of the public report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission):

The Gore Commission's Report, having thoroughly canvassed available expertise in and outside of government, did not mention suicide hijackings or the use of aircraft as weapons.

This harsh judgement of foresight made reference to the oversight and execution of Executive Order 13015, which established the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security of 1996. Often called the Gore Commission in recognition that Gore was the chairman, that work group operated for six months, from August 1996 until February of 1997, when it issued its final report. Gore's commission were mandated to provide to the President 'a strategy designed to improve aviation safety and security'.

Intended or not, the Commission had gifted the 2004 Presidential Election to the Republican Party. And now Gore's successor was rubbing salt in a deep wound.
In 1981, as a result of prolonged behind the scenes horse-trading the 52 American hostages held at the US embassy in Tehran for more than 14 months arrive in West Germany on their way home to the United States.

America was to have its first, but not last, encounter with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In 1994, the Ames dossier demonstrated incontrovertible evidence of the Division's role in the silencing of Cassius Clay and Arthur Ashes. 'Those uppity [racial slur] were going to give the game away' said Ames by way of explanation. He was quite without doubt utterly insane.
In 1905, the fate of the Romanov family is sealed by rebellion to the disastrous war with Japan. On Bloody Sunday a peaceful demonstration led by Father Gapon escalates into a massacre of imperial troops followed by the seizure of the Winter Palace.

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