Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Heart the War Nerd 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI have two televisions set up next to each other so I can watch movies while I do a taped workout, and although it helps make the workouts go faster, I end up giving them both only my half assed attention. The other day I finally watched Shaving Ryan’s Saving Private Ryan, a movie I have been avoiding for years. I had so much adrenalin coursing through me during the Omaha Beach scene that I didn’t realize I was seriously overdoing it with the weights, so much so that I could barely walk the next day.

This might surprise you, but even though I enjoy browsing through crime scene photos and studying the life cycles of parasites and vampire bats, I really can't bear the subject of war. Even though I have what some people may think are morbid and depraved tastes, the cruelty, the carnage and the waste of war are too much, even for me, to stand. I am certainly no Iris Chang, who apparently would pester and beg her grandparents for stories of the Rape of Nanking, an event of which they were the unfortunate eyewitnesses. As a child, she would sit at their knee and listen raptly to their sickening descriptions like they were treasured bedtime stories. Personally, I don’t like such knowledge rattling around in my head. That kind of information tends to be like some sort of opportunistic infection, lying in wait to attack and fill me with despair when I’m depressed, sick or weak. Perhaps this is what happened with Iris Chang, who committed suicide after she drove herself to exhaustion interviewing survivors of the Bataan Death March for her last project.

Despite my aversion to war reading, lately I've been really into the columns of Gary Brecher, The War Nerd. He probably doesn’t exist – people suspect he is a literary collaboration, a nom de guerre of the Exile's Mark Ames and John Dolan – but the column is brilliantly informative and, despite the grim subject matter, hilarious. He has scathing opinions about the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into in Iraq, writes stuff about North Korea that will keep you awake at night, and is highly politically incorrect. This is an excerpt from one of my favorite columns, Colombia: One Hundred Years of Slaughtertude.

There are some countries that turn into psycho killers once they put on a uniform, but wouldn't even run a yellow light once they're in civvies again. Two classic examples: the Japanese and Germans. The Japanese did things in China that just don't bear thinkin' about...beheading contests, sword practice on pregnant Chinese prisoners, baby-bayoneting volleyball -- but those same soldiers went home and turned into shy little salary-men who wouldn't jaywalk, never mind hurt anybody. Same with the Germans: let'em loose in a gray helmet and they think up stuff that'd make Saddam ashamed -- but back home in Dusseldorf they'd die before they'd drop a popsicle stick on the sidewalk.

I thought about this column the other day when I was commuting to work on my bicycle. I had inched into the crosswalk to let a car pass by me and take a right turn. A German man walked by and said, “Ja! You’re over the line.” I was no more than 5 inches into the crosswalk, but this was enough to warrant a public scolding from a German. I’m glad that I don’t live in such a terribly rigid and repressed society like Japan or Germany. All that human nature tapped down leaks out in other ways, like rape manga, war atrocities and scheisse porn.

i appreciate many things about this post. one of them is that you know the correct spelling of "scheisse".
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