Octavo Dia

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Reviews: Lee Takes Command

Papanek, John L. ed. Lee Takes Command: From Seven Days to Second Bull Run. New York; Time-Life Books, 1984.

Not a whole lot to say about this, one, except holy crap did they take a lot of casualties. Losing a quarter of the men in a unit was not uncommon.

And I had much a much higher opinion of Jackson prior to this. He was late and lethargic day after day.

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Submarines

I think we should build submarines that can launch drones.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: The Pentagon Papers


I have finally finished it. It has been years in the doing, but I finally made it to the end. I don't recommend it. You'll get little out of it that a professional historian hasn't already gleaned and reported in a much leaner and more informative format.

I didn't read it in book format, I read it online.

Anyway, I read the whole thing. I have only two comments that I don't believe I've seen discussed elsewhere.

The first is that, militarily, we knew what we needed to do. All through the papers they limited their options by what they thought the Chinese would let them get away with. The first time someone brought up the Chinese contingency, we should have been planning for that eventuality--if for no other reason than our estimates of what would provoke China to invade might be wrong.

The second is that we were trying to fight two armies with one army. If we consolidated our forces, the VC would hit us where we weren't. If we spread our forces, the NVA would overrun them. Meanwhile, we kept reorganizing our forces to meet this dual threat, and losing time and initiative with every reorganization.

Other than that, Vietnam was a sterling example of how to fight an insurgency badly.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Movie Review: Avatar with spoilage


I'm terrible about reviewing movies. I'll get out of a movie, and the first thing said is, "How was it?" Honestly, I don't really know. Until I've had time to reflect on it, I don't know if I liked it or not.

I'll tell you two things I didn't like: the camera work and the 3D.

I didn't like the camera work because it was too darn fast. Sure it was a three hour movie, but I would have gladly endured another hour just so I could spend time examining the background. I'm not very imaginative in that sense, so I show a great appreciation for other people's imagination. The novels I like are very description driven, and I would have liked a lot more time to absorb the world I was seeing. Weta Workshops put countless hours into that background that your silly camera just swirled by!

The second thing I didn't like was the 3D. It made me woozy.

Anyway, this was like the ultimate indigenous fantasy: the ghost dance worked and the buffalo brothers returned to drive off the invader. Still, as I was listening to the rousing call to arms, and in the first part of the battle, all that came to my mind was the battle of Rorke's drift.

Anyway, they won, though, as is the case in real life colonial situations, it was the half-breed that led to the ousting of the colonial power.

It was worth seeing again, but in 2D, and slow motion.

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