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(Another Person) Screwed Out of History: Dr. Ernesto Guevara

You probably know him as Che. Actually, you probably know him as this guy:

What you might not know is that this man was one of the most badass humans to ever grace history with his presence.

“Ernestito” Guevara was born into an Argentine family whose views were fairly leftist. As you’ll find out later, this kinda impacted him… tremendously.

As a child, Guevara was pretty much good at everything he did. Even in spite of a pretty serious asthma problem (Wikipedia describes it as “crippling bouts of acute asthma”), he was great at soccer and rugby. And swimming too, a sport that really shouldn’t be all that compatible with respiratory swelling. In fact, I think an asthmatic being good at swimming would be like Edward Scissorhands becoming a concert pianist.

No. Just... no freaking way.

Guevara was also extremely well-read; his family owned over 3,000 books, so he was able to enjoy the writings of everyone from Karl Marx, John Keats, Walt Whitman, and William Faulkner, to Franz Kafka, Jules Verne, Vladimir Lenin, and Friedrich Nietzsche. His favorite subjects in school included philosophy, math, engineering, history… okay, the lists go on, but the point is, this guy was intelligent. Even the CIA took notice of his wide-range of interests, calling him “fairly intellectual for a Latino.” When the world’s most powerful intelligence agency calls you an intellectual, however racist and backhanded a compliment it might have been, you know you’re pretty damn smart.

"Wait, what? This guy can READ?!"

After attending the University of Buenos Aires, completing a motorcycle journey across South America, and then going back to earn his medical degree — officially making him “Dr. Che” — Guevara was royally pissed off about the general state of things in his continent.

That’s when he decided to go to Guatemala, which was then on the Socialist path that Guevara liked quite a bit. Here, he earned his nickname, “Che,” which is actually just a mini-interjection like “bro” or the Canadian “eh?” This kind of shows that you shouldn’t screw with someone just because they say “uhh” or “like” a lot; they might just be the next great revolutionary. Then again… who am I kidding? They’re probably just dumb.

In any case, Che initially toyed around with going to Africa to work as a doctor, but eventually joined up with Fidel Castro in Cuba because… well like I said, this guy was badass and wanted to slaughter some capitalist pigs. So he took the initiation course on guerrilla warfare, after which their instructor called Guevara “the best guerrilla of them all.” He was basically the valedictorian of killing people in the face without being seen.

Speaking of which, Che was known as a pretty strict leader, and I definitely don’t mean he gave stern lectures for being bad. Actually, it was more of a “desert and I’ll shoot you” kind of thing he had goin’. His first execution was of a traitor who only asked that they “end his life quickly.” As Che wrote in his diary, “The situation was uncomfortable for the people and for Eutimio [the traitor] so I ended the problem giving him a shot with a .32 pistol in the right side of the brain, with exit orifice in the right temporal [lobe].” See how he uses his experience as a doctor to pinpoint exactly where the bullet entered and left? And how he talks about it as casually as we talk about the weather? That’s called hardcore.

"Oh how very interesting... the bullet seems to have entered his thoracic cavity and gotten stuck in the caudate lobe of his liver!"

True to his badass nature, Che was also incredibly daring and heroic, even reckless at times. When his lieutenant was wounded in a battle, Che ran into the hail of bullets and pulled him to safety. Having just seen this crazy bearded guy pick an injured soldier up and begin to carry him away, the enemies actually stopped firing. Some may say this was out of respect, but I think their guns were just afraid.

By the end of 1958, Che had become an expert at hit-and-run tactics and hiding; he pretty much epitomized the guerrilla fighter, and his tactics are still studied by military tacticians today. Which is kind of impressive, considering he had a degree in medicine.

In the fine print: "blowing shit up."

As the war progressed, Guevara led his men in the final push for Havana, Cuba. They traveled for 7 weeks, only moving at night and often not eating for several days at a time. Soon after, his greatest military success occurred at the Battle of Santa Clara. In the weeks leading up to this battle, his men had been outgunned, surrounded, and overrun, but they still kept going; by that point, Che could have just whipped out his balls and everyone would have surrendered. Instead, he decided to continue fighting the more traditional way, despite being outnumbered 10 to 1. He won.

In fact, Che was actually the first to arrive victoriously in Havana, Cuba; Fidel Castro only came six days later. As for Cuba’s old dictator, Fulgencio Batista, he totally bitched out and hitched a plane to the Dominican Republic.

Having just toppled a government, you’d think that Che may have decided to lay back and relax for a bit. Nope. He was given a few positions of power in Cuba, but by 1964, he was traveling the world trying to spread his revolution. All of the countries he traveled to are in red; the ones where he participated in a revolution are in green:

This bastard tried to overthrow governments in THREE DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

He traveled around the world a bit, his location remaining a secret for several years (which in itself is pretty cool), only to re-emerge in Bolivia where he tried to start another revolution. Unfortunately for him, this one didn’t go quite as well. This was largely because the U.S. was kinda pissed off about Cuba and they didn’t want another country gone commie, so they sent a CIA task force into Bolivia to fight against Che’s army.

Eventually, Bolivian troops were given a tip about Che’s location; they surrounded the area, but were only able to capture him after he got shot. Twice. Also, when I say surrounded, I mean they brought in 1,800 soldiers to make sure he didn’t escape. That was on October 7th.

By October 8th, he’d been tied up and transported to some beaten down old schoolhouse, where all he asked was for some tobacco to smoke. A Bolivian soldier gave him some, and when an officer came to take Che’s pipe as a souvenir, Che kicked him into a wall. He had his hands tied behind his back, but not like that mattered; he’s Che Guevara, dammit!

Bitches ain't shit.

Finally, on October 9th, the order was given to kill Che. An executioner entered his hut; all Che did was look up and say, “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!” His executioner, understandably shaken, opened fire, but somehow managed to hit only his legs and arms. Then he fired again, finally killing him after 9 bullets. When you can intimidate your executioner to the point where he can’t even do his job right, you’ve gotta be scary as hell.

Guevara was a revolutionary (in more than one sense of the word) who fought valiantly for his cause and mastered one of the coolest military styles in history, guerrilla warfare. Even today, his tactics are renowned for their brilliance, and like I said — this was guy was a physician.

The problem with all of this is, the most fame Che gets nowadays is being a really famous t-shirt image:

Which just goes to show you, even if you spend your entire life in an epic struggle for the poor, you can still end up on some fat guy’s t-shirt, violating everything you’ve ever believed in.


Social facilitation and inhibition

I feel like psychology has a term for every mundane phenomenon that occurs in our lives. For example, think back to the last time you were learning to do something awesome — some little trick, a new move, part of a song, whatever — and you’ve got it down oh-so-close in practice. We’ll call the desired results “X.”

X, also known as "You wish."

So you call some friends over: “Guys, check this out!” to show off your almost-there skills. But wait… what’s this? instead of X, it seems to be… well, we’ll call it “Y.”

Y. As in, "Your sorry ass totally just screwed it up."

Whoa, what the hell happened? Well apparently, social psychology has these phenomena called “social inhibition” and “social facilitation.” Social facilitation is the reason people who actually know what the hell they’re doing get pumped up by the crowd, go wild, and kick major ass. You, however, are a pathetic wanna-be who hasn’t yet mastered anything, and your situation is made worse by social inhibition.

Basically, an expert’s performance is improved by people watching, while those same people will totally screw an amateur over. So before you start gathering an audience and whoring all that attention, you’d better get that shit down pat.

Otherwise:

This is how you'll look in front of all your friends.


Caucasian Shepherd Dogs

D'awwww!

Isn’t that adorable? Just look at him… look at that fluffy guy! He’s called a Caucasian shepherd dog, and he’s probably the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen. He’s tiny and lovable and will totally fuck your day up. Actually, that dog would tie your day in a sack, chop it up, and throw it into a river… but not before taking a large shit in the sack first.

Here’s the pup again, but all grown up:

Slightly more intimidating, no?

And here’s another one, but this time you can appreciate this dog’s massive hugeness:

 

Run, bitch, RUN!!

Basically, this dog eats St. Bernards for breakfast. And then follows it up with a Prius. Wikipedia describes these monsters as “strongly-boned” and “very muscular.” It also says that they have “no maximum height.” Which kinda means that, somewhere off in the mountains, there’s a Caucasian Shepherd the size of a school bus eating trees and humping entire villages to death.

Wikipedia also notes, these dogs are “assertive, brave, alert, strong, hardy and courageous to a fault.” Almost sounds like the perfect boy scout. Except the perfect boy scout doesn’t look like this:

 

The animal manifestation of Satan himself. He's coming for you.

Lastly, similar to other Caucasian species, this dog is hostile to all other types of other races. That is, if it sees another dog, it’ll probably eat it. Maybe its owner too, if it feels like being a dick that day.

…yet another reason never to travel to Russia.


Hedgehog’s Dilemma

Imagine a group of unprotected hedgehogs in the middle of a cold and snowy winter. First of all, yes, yes it does suck to be them: a keen observation, good sir. But second of all, and more pertinent to their dilemma, if they try to huddle together for warmth… well, they’re hedgehogs, so they shank each other. It’d be kinda like hugging a barbed-wire fence.

Or this guy.

Apparently, some psychologists have compared this anecdote to human relationships. And sadly, I’m not talking about some psych major who lives in his parents’ basement. It was actually Sigmund Freud who carried this idea from philosophy into psychology. Freud… as in, the Mack Daddy of psychology.

"Do I make you horny, baby, yeah, do I?"

The basic premise here is that, the closer two people get to each other in their relationship, the more pain they inflict on each other. In other words, just like the hedgehogs have to sacrifice comfort — that is, the comfort of not being mutilated by a multitude of needles — for warmth, humans have to sacrifice their psychological well-being for a relationship. Worth it?

The German philosopher who thought of the idea didn’t think so. Schopenhauer actually drew the conclusion that, if someone has enough “internal warmth,” they can become a total recluse and avoid all the discomfort that comes from social interaction! I believe the modern term would be “sociopath.” In any case, all I’ll say is… this was a man that must have had a massive right forearm.

And I'm not talking about tennis.

Anyway, this is a great excuse as to why you’re 37 and have never had a girlfriend. I’m sure everyone will believe you.

Or not.


Screwed Out of History: Nikola Tesla

Tesla is almost solely responsible for the world’s current electrical layout.

As in, all this.

He helped established robotics, radar, remote control, and he helped expand ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. Yet, practically no one’s heard of him. Why? Well, there are two main reasons. One: he was in competition with a complete dickbag. And two: he, like many brilliant people, was absolutely bat-shit crazy, to the point where the scientific community didn’t really want anything to do with him. Continue reading


Vasily Zaitsev

Vasily Zaitsev was a Soviet soldier who fought during the Battle of Stalingrad. And when I say fought, I actually mean that he hid in cramped, elevated places and shot Nazis on the ground from half a mile away. With one of these:

It looks slightly more modern than a musket.

Not only did he end up killing almost 250 enemies with that hunk of wood, but he also probably scared the Nazis shitless. I, for one, would not venture onto the street if I knew an invisible man with the accuracy of an action hero was trying to kill me; and I’m not even talking about fighting this God-like destructive power.

"Today I killed 22, cheers!"

Continue reading


The Battle of Stalingrad: D-Day On Every Steroid Imaginable

When I say “turning point of World War 2,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is the 1944 Operation Overlord, aka D-Day. That’s when about 175,000 troops from America, Great Britain, and Canada (and Poland and Australia… and a few others) landed on the beaches of Normandy to save France.

God only knows why...

There were about 15,000 casualties total, the Nazis were kicked out, and the Allies could advance on Germany to beat back the bad people. Yay. What many history classes conveniently forget to mention, however, is that the Soviets were already marching en route to Berlin, and had been since 1943, after the Battle of Stalingrad. Continue reading


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