Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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Without Warning

What would happen to our world today if all of a sudden the USA would cease to be? That is the premise of the book Without warning by John Birmingham.

*** WARNING!! SPOILERS !! WARNING!! ***

On the brink of the Iraqi invasion in 2003 something inexplicable happens: an energy wave slams into the North-American continent, turning every higher organism into a pile of jelly. This Wave, as it is referred to, seals off the larger part of the USA, Canada and Mexico and Middle-America. No human or animal is capable of crossing the boundary of this Wave. Remote controlled drones can. The how and why of the Wave is not explained. That is not necessary nor important, the story is about what happens to the world if it’s last surviving superpower disappears.

Birmingham describes what happens, broadly from two perspectives. One viewpoint is from a general world perspective: what happens to our world in geopolitical reality, commercial and environmental sense? What if the richest and most industrialized part of the world vanishes from one second to the next? Millions of cars suddenly have no driver anymore and continue until they are stopped somehow. Thousands of household appliances run unchecked and cause fire. Huge industrial complexes have no human oversight anymore. Nuclear reactors show glitches, and nobody responds to correct the problem. Within days unimaginable huge fire storms rage the North-American continent. There are no fire departments anymore to respond. Some nuclear meltdowns occur. Coriolis effect moves an extremely polluted atmosphere across the Northern halve of our world.

What happens to our world in geopolitical terms? China carries the burden of the American budget deficit, and now her debtor is gone. Political turmoil sweeps the country and with it revolution. Israel’s backer and protector is gone, what will this country do to prevent annihilation? Same with her Arab neighbours. Europe and South-America disintegrate for the same reason: the stabilizing influence projected by the US is gone. It is the eve of the Iraqi invasion. The most powerful military land army under US command is situated in Kuwait and Saudi-Arab. They have no political leaders anymore, no home, no logistics and, very soon, no supplies anymore. What will they do?

Not all of the US is hit by the wave. Seattle, in the far North-East near the Canadian border lays just outside the boundary of the Wave. Alaska, Hawaii with its naval base, and Guantanamo Bay are still there, as are the US embassies all over the world. And there are millions of US citizens all over the world for various reasons, who are not caught up in the Wave. There is an embedded journalist in the US dominated army in Saudi-Arab. There is a female secret agent in Europe on a mission, which is now everything but important; or is it? A smuggler trying to stay alive at sea, a civil engineer in Seattle, who is drawn unwillingly into a political power game, the military commanders of Guantanamo Bay and the Iraqi invasion army who have to make political decisions. All these individuals are somehow caught up in the global upheaval caused by the Wave.

I think Without Warning is a very exciting and interesting story. Many events described are very plausible, although I have my doubts about some consequences of this fictitious Wave event . The story lines about the individual American citizens trying to stay alive in a hostile world binds us to the story on a personal level. A very nice touch is the use of real politicians, most of them who still hold power today.

In an interview John Birmingham said, that he received inspiration for this story after seeing many people cheering in the streets after 9/11. Even if it is fiction, I found it very interesting to read about a world without the last remaining super power. There are 2 sequels planned, I am curious how Birmingham will continue this story.

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Sexuality and cartoons…

 

 

 

Sometimes I stumble upon a thread or an article, which amazes me tremendously. Her some1 who sees a relation between certain cartoons and homo-eroticism…

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/7182402#7182402

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The orange devil

When my love came to the Netherlands last year , she took her best friend-till-then with her: Richard, an orange Persian cat. I had tried to talk her out of it, but to no avail. The journey is long and tiring for people, let alone pets. In addition, Richard is a bit older (10 years) and all his life is spent indoors. His only trip in the outside world was a traumatic experience he never needed to repeat again, as far as he was concerned.

But as I said, my love would know nothing of leaving herĀ  friend, and I can imagine that, I myself am also adopted by a cat (one does not own a cat, it’s the other way around). So on the day of arrival, I left with a car-owning friend to the airport to pick up my wife and her cat.
Luckily Richard travel with my love in the passenger cabin. Despite that I immediately noticed he was totally stressed. He travelled in a kind of bag, open top, with a collar-chain to prevent him from exploring the aircraft on his own. Fortunately there was no import problem. It proved a lot easier to get Richard into Europe than my wife. The Russian vet was familiar with all the papers and had all the technology in house to make Richard travel-ready. The customs at the airport had no problems. Richards misery was not over yet, the journey to my house awaited and then the encounter with Azrael, the current King-of-the-Hill of my house.

Maybe I should tell something about the relationship between Richard and me. When I stayed with my love, he took an attitude towards me, which can best be described as icy indifference. He could absolutely not appreciate the fact that I took his spot in the bed, but because my love undertook no action against that, he could not change much about it. My attempts at a more friendly relations were not very successful. Usually he let me stroke him a few times, but soon he got up and looked for a different spot. Fortunately there was one at my house Felix, who appreciated me more, especially around dinner time, so if Richard would not unbend I could always find comfort with Azrael.
Arriving home Azrael appeared not to be home, he likely was making the neighborhood unsafe. At home, Richard was finally released. As a righteous cat he was particularly suspicious towards his new environment.
Soon the boss of the house made it clear that he wanted to come inside, it was over with Richards rest, it seemed. Azrael was admitted and did not directly notice another cat was present, because so many new people in the house were incredibly interesting, right? Richard however immediately noticed him and, to my surprise, he lunged for the current master of the house. Said master did not know what was happening to him and stood immediately to the door yelling that he’d had enough and wanted to go into the safe outside world. It took a long time before Richard was sufficiently accustomed to his new surroundings.

He has now completely changed. How his adaptation went, I will tell you another time

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