Antipundit Rides Forth
Thursday, April 24, 2003:
I'm not really attached to my possessions.
I kind of take the view advanced in Fight Club that caring too much about the stuff you own is bad for you.
I would be irritated if I lost the DVDs, videos, books and games console that took me a long time to accumulate but ultimately it wouldn't matter.
My one prized possession is my laptop hard drive and CD-ROM backups of it as I've got a huge treasure trove of high-quality articles on subjects from business, science, art, history, culture, technology, equities, crime, biographies, politics, humour, architecture, science, movies etc. I've been gathering from the Internet for the last five years or so and replacing them would be nigh impossible.
Nothing of any sentimental value either.
Ali Choudhury // 6:20 PM
Wednesday, April 23, 2003:
I've been reading a biography on FDR by Ted Morgan and Russia's War by Allen Overy and I've come to the conclusion that it was fundamentally the Russians who destroyed Nazism.
Hitler had about 200 divisions fighting in the East and about 6 in Italy when the Allies showed up there. He would have had more defending Normandy if the Russian threat had been neutralised.
And if there was a single battle on which the course of the war changed it wasn't Normandy or Midway but Stalingrad where the Russians and Germans fought an incredibly bitter battle from street-to-street and house-to-house. It was here that the belief in German invincibility was shattered and the Russians began to steam-roll their way into Eastern Europe.
It was a bit of an eye-opener reading these books. I hadn't known facts like 20 million Rusians died during WW2 or widespread killing of Jews that took place at the hands of both Germans and Russians. I'd always assumed the bulk of the killings was done at camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald and not at the hands of their own neighbours.
Well to sum up I'd say there were a few important facts which determined the course of WW2.
1. The outcome of the Battle of Britain which enabled the UK to stay in the war.
2. The reformation of the Red Army and the Russian Air Force plus the promotion of able commanders like Konev, Zhukov, Chuikov and Yeremenko.
3. The American Lend-Lease agreement which enabled the Russian economy to concentrate on producing weapons like T-34's and Stukas while the population fed themselves with spam from the West.
4. THe Russian-Japanese neutrality agreement which meant that Japan played very little attention to Russia during WW2. Surely the most fatal mistake on behalf of the Axis forces.
Additionally it was a sad fact so many Russians (civilians and soldiers) died at the hands of their own people (the NKVD) for the most innocuous "crimes" and their leadership did not bear much of a favourable comparison with the Nazis.
I guess we all have to thank the patriotism and endurance of the common Russian soldier and civilan for the fact we're not speaking German.
Ali Choudhury // 9:29 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2003:
Transformers - WWE/F
Optimus Prime=Bruno Sammartino
The Commander. The Icon. The Living Legend. Prime is Bruno. Of course given the amount of times he's been killed and brought back to life you could make a pretty strong case for Prime=The Undertaker.
The Dinobots=Road Warriors/Legion of Doom
The coolest teams bar none. Snarling bad-asses with little dialogue and immense attitude.
Grimlock="Me Grimlock say kick butt."
Hawk "Good for us. Bad for you. We win. You lose. Same old story. Uuuuuuggghhhhhhh what a ruussshhhh!"
Sky Lynx=Kurt Angle
Wear the same colours (red, white and blue) and both are egoists who are very good at what they do.
Could also make a case for Kurt Angle=Starscream.
Trypticon=The Big Show
Both are big, lumbering jackasses with the potential to be immense, destructive forces but too stupid and too busy stuffing their faces full of Big Macs/energon to have any real importance.
Both are Big Red Machines. Errr, that's it.
Intelligent, evil bad-ass you can't help rooting for.
HotRod/Rodimus Prime=Chris Jericho
Both are charismatic yet have serious detractors for some reason.
Uni ate planets. Yoko looked like he did the same.
Cringe-worthy, annoying midgets.
Both of them are definitely insane, the kind of guys on wild power-trips who repeatedly refer to themselves in the third person. You can hear the flapping of white coats.
Stone Cold Steve Austin=The Matrix
Lit up the WWF's darkest hour.
Ultra Magnus=Lex Luger
Both were kind of billed as the Next Best Thing. Both kind of flopped, in part due to their vanilla personalities.
You just automatically want to root for them.
Both are pretty cool. Jazz was always popular.
I never liked Starscream and seeing him get blown to pieces was supremely satisfying. The same goes for Shawn Michaels and I guess it says something that one of my all-time favourite matches is Hell in a Cell 1.
Omega Supreme=Chris Benoit.
All the physical tools, negative persona.
The Rock rules the WWF. Metroplex as THE ultimate status symbol as far as toys go. It's a weak parallel but **** , this ain't easy.
Old soldiers who don't fade away but stay around forever.
Ali Choudhury // 8:24 PM
According to my reading of the first issue in the Marvel series and from the version of TF history given in Desertion of the Dinobots, I'd have thought the Decepticons would have pulled off huge initial victories thanks to surprise and military expertise (on the order of billions of casualties) against TF foes who were mostly non-combatants and inexperienced in the way of war. As they were on the verge of total victory, the new Autobot leader Optimus Prime would inspirationally weld the remnants of the Autobots into a competent fighting force that stopped the Decepticons (kind of like William of Orange against the Spanish).
From what I know of TWW, it seems the Autobots weren't on the verge of extinction, were pretty competent soldiers already and weren't as reliant on OP as made out in other continuities. One thing I did like is the Optitrax (sp?)(should have been orion Pax really)--->Optimus Prime transition which doesn't make the Rodimus Prime thing in the movie look so goofy now. I guess you could retcon why Prime didn't turn back into Optitrax when the Matrix was removed by accepting the proposition that the Matrix was slowly giving off energy into Prime's body and ove the course of hoever many million years the change was permanent. Probably would have been the same for Rodimus if the Hate Plague had never happened.
Before reading TWW synopses, I also kind of envisioned TF history as being somewhat a little more complex and politically driven.
I'd have thought that instead of taking the cartoon line of Autobots and Decepticons effectively being separate races of Transformers with the 'Cons effectively being evil and wanting to take over the universe, they'd have shown them as being one TF race to begin with who split over differences in their outlooks.
To make a lazy analogy, the core Autobot membership could have consisted of space-faring traders, scientists, artists and entertainers like the Athenians while those who later became the "Spartan" Decepticons typically attracted TFs who were traditionally the protectors of Cybertron from outside threats and gloried in a gung-ho, aggressive culture.
As the military might of Cybertron grew, the Decepticons could've started arguing for Cybertronians to start colonising the galaxy to mimic and protect themselves from the other empires out there and the main TF population may have permitted them to do so.
The Decepticons would have become very successful (and rich) in taking over first barren, resource-rich worlds and then populated centres with conflicts breaking out between different Decepticon factions and increasingly heavy military conflicts with other galactic powers. Their numbers would have swelled with TFs looking for money and adventure.
The main TF population would have become more and more alarmed at 1)the sheer level of unnecessary, expensive warfare which they often had to pick up the tab for when the actions of a rogue Decepticon faction would bring an enemy armada to Cyberton's doorstep 2) the damage to their trade and diplomatic relations with normally friendly worlds and 3) a rising moral crisis as certain (but not all) Decepticons laid waste to whole systems and species to satisfy their lust for power and wealth.
This could have all come to a head when the Council of Elders and their leader (in spite of having several members sympathetic to and bought off by the Decepticons) demanded strict regulation of off-world Decepticon activities. And as the disputes grew, this could have broken into sporadic civil war as some TFs (including disgusted ex-Decepticons who were sick of their proud military tradition being dragged through the mud) provided covert and overt aid to systems being threatened by the Decepticons out of outrage to the treatment they would be subjected to by the Cons.
As these instances became more and more frequent the Great War could have started with the Decepticons deciding to take their battle to Cybertron first achieve mastery of their homeworld before taking over the rest of the universe.
Ali Choudhury // 8:23 PM
Battle of Autobot City
Well that's not strictly true. I think you'd be a pretty incompetent warrior if you were not to be able to kill the Autobots in the shuttle. The Deceptcons had them out-numbered, out-gunned and trapped.
As for the other deaths. Well we only saw Wheeljack and Windcharger die. The Cons had Skywarp, Thundercracker, and the Insecticons take on some very heavy damage. I don't think it was as uneven a battle as some think.
My own theory for any Deepticon supremacy goes like this.
1) The Autobots were outnumbered. I think on the respective sides theAutobots had 16 guys and the Decepticons 23. This doesn't seem much but I'm going on fact and not inference.
2) The Decepticons were juiced up and ready to go. During G1 they may have been suffering from energy shortages. They also had one single mission: to wipe out Autobot City. Pretty simple for most of them to understand.
3) The Autobots were not prepared for a major battle. They were caught off-guard and they were most likely not battle-ready. Imagine it's the eve of D-Day and the German Army suddenley launched a surprise sneak attack on Dover. The Autobots would have been away from cover (in the beginning at least) and physically unprepared.
4) If you see the Autobots at Autobot City, not many of them were wariors. Ultra Magnus, Springer, Kup, Windcharger and possibly Hot Rod were the only front-line proven warriors. The other Bots were workers, scientists or had other functions. If Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Tracks oreven the Dinobots had been around they may have had some more help.
Ali Choudhury // 8:10 PM
When I was about seven or eight on a whim I decided to buy a couple of comic books to see what they were like. One of them was the Captain America comic where his stand-in goes loco and kills twenty terrorists.
The other was Carwash of Doom.
I did not pick up another comic for another eight years.
Ali Choudhury // 8:04 PM
Prime vs Galvatron
Reposting my old TF posts from Usenet here.
I'm having a geek attack. My writing is so excellent.
OK, I'm entering the Prime/Galvatron debate.
Now if Op had fought movie-Galvy he would have had a very tough fight and I'm not sure he'd have won. In addition to being sane, Galvy could probably draw off extra power from Unicron. I mean he did seem a hell of a lot more powerful in the movie then he did later on.
Post-movie is a different story. Emperor Nutbucket no longer had his power-source and now that the Matrix had been presumably activated to a higher level, Rodimus or Optimus could have drawn even more power from it than normal.
I'm thinking of the time during Dark Awakening when zombie Optimus said the Matrix made him strong. I presume he didn't have it during the first two G2 seasons and maybe that's what gave him the edge when he disabled the Cons and whupped Megatron while taking some very heavy punishment, even if it didn't have the power it had later on in S3.
During the movie fight I think Hot Rod actually did a pretty good job of keeping Galvatron at bay, that is until he got caught. And contrary to what some ATTers think, I believe Rod could handle himself pretty well in a fight against Galvatron. What he lacked in brawn, he made up with speed and an unwillingness to give up.
Another thing mentioned in the recent debate has been that Galvatron was barely affected by Ultra Magnus and the Protectobots blasting him. I don't rememmber much from the Rebirth but what I do know is that Magnus said Galvatron was almost finished. IMO the Protectobots and Magnus would have been heavily involved in the fighting and hence much more tired while Galvatron was busy directing the building of the huge space-engine and not concerned much with the front-line stuff and consequently much fresher.
Ali Choudhury // 7:59 PM
Clancy and Transformers
I'm reading Carinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy right now.
There's a part in it where a CIA guy in the US embassy in Moscow reflects that the thing his kids miss most about America is the fact that they can't watch Transformers in the morning.
Clancy goes on to quote the opening theme. "More than meets the eye".
Ali Choudhury // 7:55 PM
Transformers, the Bible, Das Kapital, Keynes
Been reading a book by J K Galbraith on economics and stuff and thinking about he reasons behind TF popularity.
Galbraith said one of the reasons put forward as to why Marx's ideas in Das Kapital and John Maynard Keynes' ideas in The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money was the fact that no one could get an entirely clear idea about what the author was writing about.
Therefore, in a manner similar to the debate about the Bible, people argued about what the books were trying to say and everyone came up with their own views on the subject material. Interest in Das Kapital and the General Theory soared as a result of these discussions.
Galbraith argues that because the Bible, Das Kaptal and the General Theory were ambiguous or even contradictory in what they said, different people could read the same thing and come up with very different views. This in turn made them more popular than if they set out expicitly what the message was.
I think the same thing could be said about Transformers. From all the different canon US G1 cartoon, US comic, UK comic, G2 comic, Actionmasters, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, fanfic, Japanese continuity one can pick and choose a storyline to suit himself and his own view on the TF universe.
This probably makes the TF Multi/Universe a lot more dynamic and adaptable in comparison to stuff like Thundercats or the Go-Bots which generally only had one primary source of stories and probably is what makes it so popular with the post Star Wars generation.
Or maybe it's just because the toys are cool.
Ali Choudhury // 7:51 PM
I'm from the UK too. And your point is kind of wrong. Let's see we have Tony Blair right now (upper middle class, public school but definitely not over-privileged). Before him was a Brixton-born man who was born to working-class parents who worked in the circus (John Major) who succeeded a grocer's daughter from Grantham (Thatcher). Before her there was James Callaghan and Ted Heath who were hardly grandees either. In fact you have to go back to Harold McMillan to find someone "born into an over-privileged family with a silver spoon stuck in its mouth".
I wouldn't mind Prime as PM though. He'd take no shit during Prime Minister's questions for a start.
Ali Choudhury // 7:47 PM
In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:> Abe Lincoln was not the saint he's been made out to be. He often broke> rules to get what he wanted. He had a pretty disturbing private life,> and he suffered from extream drepression.
Of course he broke rules to get what he wanted. He was a politician for Cyberton's sake. And what he wanted most of all was to end the Civil War. The only part of his private life that could be considered disturbing was that his wife used to nag him.
Well let's see. The country's in civil war. Half the country hates your guts, the oher half thinks you're incompetent, the high-and-mighty in Washington make baboon jokes behind your back, one of your sons dies while you're in office and your wife is insanely jealous of any woman you see.
On top of that, your generals appear powerless agains the forces of Lee and Jackson, there's wide discontent with numerous Congressman and Senators urging a peace settlement with the rebels and letting the slaves go hang, while Confederate raiders are driving American maritime commerce into bankruptcy.
Well rosetursi, I'm not sure I'd be a happy bunny in that situation. Not unless I was a drug-filled masochist.
Hardly "Prime-like" > Then again... I don't consider the popular version of Lincoln to be > very Prime-like either.
Lincoln is kind of different from the popular version. For a start he was a notorious wise-cracker and spoke in a Western drawl that made folks in Washington cringe.
But he gave every ounce of energy at his command into fighting the rebellion and worked eighteen-hour days even while one son was dying and another became seriously ill shortly afterwards. He gave his damndest to keep his country together and obtain some justice for the slaves for whom too many Americans felt contempt and distaste. And just when he obtained the peace he'd worked so hard for, he was shot and killed.
He was, along with Washington and FDR, one of the greatest American presidents ever.
Given the way the Maximals in BW and BM venerate Optimus I'd consider their respect of Prime very Lincoln-like: the respect for a commander who fought for justice for all while not sacrificing his principles or his obligations.
Ali Choudhury // 7:44 PM
Transformers - Ultra Magnus
Was passed out on the sofa and thoughts turned not unnaturally, to Transformers.
Specifically why is Ultra Magnus not as popular as he should be?
I mean his toy was great. It had all the poseability of a brick but it looked dead cool and I bought it in lieu of Jetfire. Didn't regret that for a second as the Ultra Magnus robot was definitely the best looking of all my Transformers.
In the comics and cartoon he was a pretty big banana in the Autobot Army and also had the potential for a cult following with him spouting lines like "That's the most beautiful SIGHT I've ever seen, Now give me the bomb!"(Fight and Flee)
I came to the conclusion was because he's a Captain America clone. Now Cap's great (I even like the Liefeld run) but to be honest he's kind of whitebread. Although he can kick just about anybody's ass he's kind of blah and just not as cool as other comic characters. Cap's the comic book character your mother would want you to play with.
Ultra Magnus is the same (just look at the red, white and blue colouring). He commands a city, got freaking missiles on his shoulders and is 2nd in command of the most kick-ass Army in the galaxy. Yet he's just kind of boring.
I tried to extend this analogy further by using body paint as a criterion. Couldn't decide whether Optimus was Spiderman or Superman, thought Galvatron might pass for a Galactus and stopped when I realised Hot Rod looked just like Firestorm.
By the way, Grimlock is definitely Batman.
Ali Choudhury // 7:26 PM
Monday, April 21, 2003:
Evangelicals and Israel
Regarding Robertson I do find it a bit odd for Israelis to accept his support when a large section of the Christian Right believe the return of the Jews to Israel will signal the Second Coming according to end times theology.
At which time a small number of Jews will convert to Christianity and the rest go to Hell.
But I guess politics makes for strange bedfellows.
-M Ali Choudhury
-Apr 18 2003, 06:59 am # email homepage
Ali - (a) Only a small number of Christians believes that the return of the Jews to Israel signals the End Times; (b) If Robertson doesn't believe it, what does it matter that others do; (c) Those who do believe it probably expect large numbers of Jews to convert and be saved; (d) Many Christians, including Robertson by his own account, believe God's promises to the Jews must be fulfilled, and that Jesus's parable of the prodigal son - who stands for the Gentiles - and the elder son - who stands for the Jews - implies a promise to the Jews that "you are with me forever, and everything I have is yours" - and also implies that Gentiles and Jews are brothers in faith. So, though there may be a few disagreements, why not cooperate as brothers where there is common ground?
-Apr 18 2003, 10:01 am # email
pj: But isn't it a premise of Christianity that Jews forfeited their covenant with God because of disobedience?
And what of the popularity of the Left Behind books which would appear to champion dispensationalism?
BTW most of my info on this came from a Cato Institute article, so if you can supply a rebuttal I'd like to read it.
-M Ali Choudhury
-Apr 18 2003, 11:31 am # email homepage
It is a tenet of Christianity (and, I think, Judaism as well) that Jews must be faithful to gain the benefit of the covenant. But the covenant is eternal, and no matter how many Jews may be disobedient, their faithful children still enjoy the covenental promises.
The Left Behind series is popular, but I think you can draw from that few conclusions about specific beliefs. Time magazine's circulation goes up 40% when it puts Jesus on the cover; anything with Jesus in it is popular.
In the article you cite, look at the quotations from mainstream Christians, such as Reed, Olasky, and McAteer -- they are clearly just taking seriously God's biblical promises to the Jews, and wondering what those promises mean for us. Then look at the crackpot beliefs Bandow attributes without quotations -- because he cannot find anyone who said them or believes them: e.g. Jews are entitled to Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The fact is that there is genuine affection for the Jews among orthodox Christians, because they are the Chosen People of God, because Jesus was Jewish, because they are our brothers and sisters in faith and fellow followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is this affection, plus a general perception that Israel is largely a victim of Arab violence and our general support for free and democratic societies, that accounts for the conservative support for Israel. Dispensationalist ideas have essentially nothing to do with it.
-Apr 18 2003, 06:01 pm # email
Ali Choudhury // 10:19 PM