** It’s always better to be informed than opinionated.
** I was e-chatting with JohnD in Norway the other day about the climate. He’s of the same mind as I am. The last ice age, or the Pleistocene Epoch, started about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until roughly 11,000 years ago. As with all the others, the most recent ice age brought a series of glacial advances and retreats. Nobody knows why it started, lasted 2.6 million years, and stopped. The mile or so of ice over what is now New York City, Toronto, and Chicago melted, and the Oceans became less saline as they were diluted by melting freshwater ice (causing a change in ocean life, etc.). Normally, periods between ice ages on Earth, such as the one we live in, last about 10,000 +/- years. It gives one pause.
** Here’s a thought: Instead of relentlessly harassing President Trump with bogus indictments and frivolous lawsuits, Democrats might want to find a candidate who isn’t old, isn’t dimwitted, isn’t on the take, and isn’t wrong about everything all the time.
** Can’t make this up.
First Person Jill Biden gave a speech in Utah at Hunter High (School) in Salt Lake City, UT. There have been multiple accounts of it. This one comes from the NY Post via X-Twitter.
** I’m surprised that Utah is as woke as it’s become. What happened to them – outside and apart from fake Doctor Jill? Masks: During the COVID-19 Plague-Arizona, there were no masks to speak of except for tourists; Southern Colorado, there were no masks, NMEX – masks, and Utah – masks. Some sort of virtue signal?
** The current world population is 8,086,017,971 as of Saturday, January 20, 2024, according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometer. Taken as a whole (not so big of a deal in the developed ‘first world’), they have problems with the availability of fresh water and energy needed to accomplish household and industrial tasks. I’ve ranted about this before on the blog. A distributed and robust electrical grid powered by small modular reactors/generators that also desalinated seawater and non-potable groundwater would address those problems so that the investment would pay back. Again, I’m focusing on the global problem, not necessarily a regional problem, though what applies to one also applies to the other. Why don’t we fix it?
** The jet-setters at Davos have not been this upset since law enforcement closed Epstein Island.
** Ward Clark reported, “Federal Government to Spend $700,000 Reminding Girls Who Identify as Boys That They Can Still Get Pregnant.”
** In Yemen: Of note that the vast majority of incidents have occurred outside of Yemeni territorial waters, and many have taken place away from Houthi-controlled coasts. (h/t war mapper)
Do You Love Blackrock?
The War in Ukraine began for several reasons. Great Russia (and Vladimir Putin) wanted to incorporate the Ukrainian population of Russian-speaking Slavs, the industrial might of Ukraine, and the agricultural capacity into itself to address weaknesses that would lead to the ultimate breakup of Russia. The population is declining in Russia at about the same rate as it’s increasing in Africa. Additionally, NATO (meaning the US) was courting Ukraine. However, the big military contractors had other plans. Adding new countries to NATO means a captive market for specific companies like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed (US Military Industrial Complex).
In March 2022, the U.S. committed $113 billion to the war in Ukraine. An additional $24 billion was committed two months ago, and now Pedo Joe Biden is seeking another $60 billion. (Does the Big Guy get 10%?) The funds aren’t all going to Ukraine; they’re going to American defense manufacturers, and who owns a significant stake in these companies? BlackRock.
Senator Tim Scott tried to ease concerns by calling the billions we’re giving away a loan. But it’s not a generous offer; it’s a tactic. By labeling it a loan, extreme austerity measures can be imposed on Ukraine. This includes selling government-owned assets, including its prized agricultural land, to multinational corporations. Ukraine’s farmland, the breadbasket of Europe, is a major target. 30% of it has already been sold to Dupont, Cargill, and Monsanto — all entities owned by BlackRock.
Pedo Joe Biden awarded the contract to rebuild Ukraine to BlackRock in December 2023.
How many former BlackRock employees work at the White House or in key slots within Pedo Joe’s regime?
Above: A Polish 7TPjw ( 37mm ) tank overcoming Czech border fortifications during the Polish invasion of Zaolzie in October 1938.
The Polish authorities played into the hands of the Russians and Germans. Instead of signing a coalition agreement with Czechoslovakia for mutual/common defense, Poland helped Hitler divide Czechoslovakia.
Together, Czechoslovakia and Poland might have been able to stop Hitler’s army (in 1938) – or at least have caused him to think hard on the subject of invasion. If the Germans hadn’t attacked Poland, the Russians wouldn’t have.
I published this on Virtual Mirage about four years ago, republished it here, and now at the request of a blog reader for your reading pleasure.
(above) Nine European Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII in May of 1910, four years before the war began. Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manuel II of Portugal, Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire, King George I of Greece, and King Albert I of Belgium. Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom, and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.
“He was her dark fairytale, and she was his twisted fantasy, and together they made magic.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
On 12 August 1914, Austria invaded Serbia. They almost immediately grappled with and fought the Serbian Army at the battles of Cer and Kolubara. Over the next two weeks, Austrian attacks were repeatedly thrown back with heavy losses, which marked the first major Allied victories of the First World War and dashed Austro-Hungarian hopes of a swift victory.
The morning after brought a day that would be filled with grim irony and empty gestures, but that isn’t the way that my last night with her ended.
Yesterday, Miss Steinberg, the Ambassador’s correspondence secretary, told me of a meeting I was to attend. She has very tender nerves from a lifetime of insignificant fieldwork. I felt her to be completely unsuitable for delivering secret messages, so the Office recalled her to the Embassy. Miss Steinberg, prone to hysteria over small matters, somehow survived working for the British Secret Service long enough to be eligible for a pension. One should not be too surprised. We British always cherish the eccentric.
I sat in my office on the second floor of His Majesty’s Consulate in Saltzburg, chatting with Colin Ramsey, the third cultural attache, who, as you know, is not a spy. He’s precisely what his title suggests. As a large, heavy, convivial man in his mid-sixties, Colin made the most of what he had left, styling his thick white hair into a pompadour and wearing suits cut locally, remaining painfully within his means. You met him once, I think. Remember him from the Press Club? He always smells of bay rum and cigars. He has burned a secret flame for Miss Steinberg for years. She can’t abide him. He fantasizes about her cheap perfume, imagining filthy nights of lovemaking, and has confessed his love publicly in the past when he’s in his cups. It revolts the Ambassador’s correspondence secretary and the rest of us since he shares his feelings regularly with the staff now that he’s apparently reaching his dotage.
When she entered my office without knocking, Colin stood, the soul of chivalry, and she looked at him over her half-moon reading glasses in the same way as a librarian would if you spoke out of turn. She’d lost weight since I last saw her. Thin as a rail with caved-in shoulders and a mouth that had that puckered look that you can get from eating too many persimmons. When she saw me, a warm light radiated over her face, and the stress lines softened, even if only slightly. When she looked back at Colin, the light turned back to ice.
After Colin excused himself and he’d pulled the door closed behind him, she spoke. “You’ve been gone a long time, sir.”
She should have known better because a cue such as that inviting discussion about what one did or where one went was simply not done. Catching herself, she continued, “Carl, the Ambassador wants you to meet with that awful man, Otto, tonight.” She reached out and touched my hand softly, much as one would reach out to caress a cat, which shouldn’t be strange to you since you know that if Miss Steinberg loves anything on Earth, it is those damned Angora cats that she keeps cooped up in her flat. The place always has that lingering odor of cat piss because they’d flee if she left the window open.
The meeting required an evening stroll. Instinct required that I carry an umbrella. Local expedience required that I not. It simply looks far too British. Therefore, dressed in local kit, I set off. The local kit is a gray London suit, Homburg, and no spats for the shoes.
Every kiosk had recruiting posters pasted on them. The government decided to levy the population to compensate for heavy losses at the front. There is nothing like a profound defeat to throw a wet blanket on recruiting efforts. I didn’t endure sideways glances from people. You see, I’m too far past my prime to camp comfortably with an army. I did that during the Anglo-Zanzibar War, installing a pro-British Sultan, and then during the Anglo-Boer War, watching my men fall to sniper fire, and I didn’t like it much in either instance, which is why I joined the political service as a spy. Diplomatic cover offers a better grade of bed linen, better meals, and a more diverse choice of female companionship.
I had to walk past a small legion of prostitutes to get to the restaurant where Otto proposed the meeting that cycled through the Ambassador and down to me. The length of the war could be effectively measured by the length of the harridan’s natural colored hair, tipped by a few inches of blonde. As soon as hostilities broke out, all of the peroxide had been diverted to the effort.
The newspapers in Saltzburg still rested on their stands as the sun set. Nobody wanted to read about casualties at the front. It struck home very directly. Telegrams informing families of their personal loss had been delivered, and the front lines had turned from costly frontal attacks to a static defense as Austria reeled from the news that the Serbs thumped them again and again. It made us British less than popular in all the right social circles since, as you know, we are allied with the Serbs.
I met the contact in a seedy part of town, which is hard to find in Saltzburg. He called himself Otto, but I don’t think that is the name he was born with. As you know, I call myself Carl these days, but it’s not my birth name either. Fair is fair.
Otto looked very much the way you’d expect the tuba player in a Polish oompa band to look. He was muscle gone to flab, mid-way between 5 and 6 feet, and dressed like a salesman down on his luck. It made perfect sense because until hostilities broke out and war profiteering brought the promise of economic resurrection, he’d been a failed salesman. Things changed when the Serbian scoundrel shot Archduke Ferdinand.
Otto wore a tweed sports coat, an American import polyester tie with a hand-painted hula girl, trousers tucked along the bottom of his portly belly, and run-down heels on unpolished shoes. He’d greased down a few strands of dirty blonde hair over his bald pate. His woman wasn’t unlike Otto. She had the unfortunate genes that destined her to a life of obesity. Either that or she couldn’t take the fork out of her mouth. Whatever the cause, fat jiggled east, west, and south when she walked north. Maybe one day she had pretty eyes. Now, they squinted to see through a puffy face that topped three chins. They were feral pig’s eyes.
“Carl, you came. I knew that you would, you Alsatian bastard.” I spoke German with an Alsace-Lorraine accent, and Otto made the cultural leap. Otto greeted me grandly with a sweaty hug. The restaurateur apparently didn’t know that there was a war because he burned coal in the big stove in the back of the place as if there was no end to it. I had to take my coat off, and it revealed a brace of American-made Colt .32-20 revolvers. It wasn’t one of those restaurants where anyone took notice of them. “I’m surprised that the women of the town didn’t delay you.”
“Whores don’t appeal to me,” I replied somewhat confidentially. “A woman’s passion is the greatest aphrodisiac.”
“Of course,” Otto said, taking note of his wife’s beefy scowl. The scowl faded as she shoved a whole bratwurst into her maw. “As you know, I feel just the same as you. Help yourself to bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer.” He shouted to the waiter, “More bread for the table and my friend the count.”
I am not a count, though others used that title when referring to me in the past. Otto liked to use it to improve the service. Otto also thought I came from Alsace Lorraine and did not suspect my parents had birthed me in Kent. That he understood that I enjoyed some sort of tacit relationship with the British should be understood at this point in the narrative.
I forked a sausage and sauerkraut onto my plate. The waiter brought a large stein of beer. Otto conspiratorially leaned across the planked table, “And what do you think of the woman?”
Now would be a good time to fill you in on the whole matter since England favors Serbia and Germany favors Austria-Hungary. King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and the Czar of Russia are all family, but as with many families, they are not on the best terms.
King Petar I, the monarch of Serbia, is not well and has backed off many decisions of state, favoring his son Prince Aleksander Karađorđević. All well and proper, but for the issue of royal children fathered out of wedlock. King Petar’s oldest child, a daughter, had been born one year before Prince Aleksander, and though tacitly acknowledged by her father, the king, who loved her, she steadfastly refused to leave Saltzburg. And that explains why His Majesty’s Secret Service sent me to town. The Serbians wanted her repatriated to Yugoslavia with or without her consent, and they reached out to an ally to accomplish the deed.
It always rolls downhill onto somebody. In this case, it’s me, which is why I watched Otto’s uncomfortably obese wife stuff brat after brat into the gash in her fat face that passed for a mouth. Otto was one of the few people who knew where King Petar’s issue, Maria Petra, lived at the moment.
As Otto and I ate our way toward a rendezvous with history, I recalled a clandestine meeting – between Maria Petra, the King’s bastard daughter, and me. Over three years ago, it occurred in a tea room next to the Seine, famous for Mont Blanc pastry and hot chocolate. She scooped a delicate spoon full of noodle strands of cream of chestnut that flowed over the whipped cream that topped her chocolate beverage. When she closed her lips on the spoon, it resulted in a dainty smear of creme de marrons on her upper lip that I leaned over and kissed off.
She dressed for the occasion in a pale blue blouse that matched her eyes. Strands of dark pearls circled her long neck and held a cameo. She wore her chestnut tresses back, twisted into a chignon. I delighted in removing her blouse fifteen minutes later but told her to keep the pearls on. We were in Paris, it’s what was done.
By the time we left her flat, tea time had passed, and the day had given way to the City of Lights.
I’d worn out my welcome between then and now, and she had worn out hers, so nobody knew how it would fall out between us. Back then, the Service would have used me and our relationship for Old England’s benefit if they’d read the tea leaves. However, at the time, she held no particular importance to them. There was no dead Archduke back then to change the world.
There was nothing but she and I, you see. Nothing but the two of us because, as a Serbian bastard with an adequate trust fund, she blended into Parisian anonymity. My anonymity is far more studied, but during our dance together, we whirled in a world without end until duty called, and I took ship to New York City as she entrained to Vienna.
And now, you understand why they didn’t follow normal protocol. You clearly grasp why the Ambassador involved himself personally as well as why His Majesty’s government singled me out to sit in a smokey gasthaus with Otto and his starving wife in a poor quarter in Saltzberg. People had begun hunting Maria and wanted me to do what I did and hunt better in those shadows at night that haunted the ancient streets and alleys. The hand of fate fits as snugly as a glove, if only for one night.
Portly Otto and I bade a farewell to his wife. She saw us off with a wet belch, which had not been followed by a napkin and a wave of one chubby mitt. After the wave, she slugged down half a stein of warm beer.
We synced into a leisurely pace down the pavement as Otto began his sales pitch. There was no way that he wouldn’t maximize our time together on the way to meet Maria.
“Have you heard of the Flammenwerferapparaten?”
I had not and told him as much. Doing a quick translation to English, I switched to my native tongue, “Flame thrower?”
“I am selling them for Herr Fiedler, for use by the Heer.”
“What does it look like, and how does it work,” I asked, switching from rescuer to spy on the fly.
“It is a single tank one meter long carried by a man. There are two sections within that tank. One contains pressurized gas, and the other contains flammable oil. When you depress a lever, the propellant gas forces the oil through a tube and over a simple igniting wick in a steel nozzle. It produces a jet of fire eighteen meters long–most impressive.”
“I take it that you think that the Allies might also be interested in this device?”
“Of course. I am a profiteer, not a nationalist. It’s all about getting a fair price.”
I put a comrade’s arm around Otto’s shoulder and told him sincerely, “That’s why I love you, Otto. Now tell me about Maria.”
“I spoke to her just yesterday and told her that I would bring you to her.”
“How did she take it?”
“Surprise, mostly. She asked if you had married. Naturally, I said that you had not, and I suspected you had been burning a candle for her these past years. She smiled, and in her smile, I saw her father’s smile. Warm, garrulous, and a bit mischievous.”
Now, back to you.
You predicted we’d find a way to get back together, but all of your card-turning and palmistry didn’t envision this, did you? A magnum of very fine champagne and then a quick tryst for old time’s sake that devolved into three hours of rough sex, followed by oysters and more champagne. A diplomatic car arrived, and I drove her to Serbia in the boot. The Americans call it a trunk — how quaint.
I sent a cable, and members of the Serbian Royal Household met her on their side of the border. People have different predictions. Some say that the war will be over in a week, a month at the most, as the Austrian army keeps hemorrhaging. Then I’ll see her again.
Identify the Aircraft
Can you have too many wings? Maybe.