Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Everyone has a pet peeve about Christmas.  Mine is a little unusual.  See, about this time of year, people write articles about the “Christmas Truce” of World War I.  It is especially bad this year, as it’s the centennial.  This tradition annoys me because as a historian I see things very differently.  Remembering Christmas 1914 as the day everyone called time-out on the worst war the world has ever seen is a comforting story, but that’s all it is.  A story.  The Christmas Truce is mythical.  Of course, like many myths, it has some true stories at its core.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sony Panics and North Korea Tries to Avenge an Insult

I want to say right off the bat, that seeing a freakin’ movie is not standing up for your freedom.  Sitting down for it, maybe.  I have been trying to write about the Sony/North Korea/hack/panic fiasco since the story broke, but it evolves so quickly I felt compelled to re-write everything.  I think we’ve about reached the endgame.  Sony staff may be scared out of their wits, but now that The Interview has been released, one would think Sony Pictures could not have asked for better publicity.  All of this panic was unnecessary.  North Korean violence tends to come without prior warning, but vocal threats from Pyongyang are mere bluster.  I discussed this tendency last Spring.  We in the biz call it calculated madness.  North Korea effects the appearance of irrationality in order to scare the rest of us.  ‘They are unpredictable!’ we say, ‘who knows what they can do!’  And then the rest of us give North Korea something they want out of fear.  You see that in the initial response to “the Guardians of Peace” threats.