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85

Base Culture

This land is Helmand

(missing author)

5
terms
3
notes

by Lyle Jeremy Rubin. this was hella good

? (2018). Base Culture. n+1, 33, pp. 85-96

(intrans verb) to progress by revolving; (trans verb) to propel by causing to rotate

86

cheap portable irons or rechargeable Bluetooth headphones. More trundled through the Walmart Supercenter of Yucca Valley

—p.86 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

cheap portable irons or rechargeable Bluetooth headphones. More trundled through the Walmart Supercenter of Yucca Valley

—p.86 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago
87

I didn’t think much of any of this at the time, during either my hurried excursion in 2009 or my extended stay in 2006 and 2007. This was how it was, this is how it had been for a while, and I had yet to allow myself to explore the haunting realities hiding behind such a thin layer of bureaucratic instruction. Others had taken on a superior posture toward the region’s lumpenproletariat, much like they did toward most civilians. The lumpen were lazy and undisciplined, the sort that warranted whatever came their way. In a word made popular on Parris Island, they were nasty. That they had managed to find themselves in such a grotesquely helpless state made them all the nastier. I’d like to think the cause of my indifference lay elsewhere. In retrospect, I wasn’t so much contemptuous as I was afraid, afraid of what their bare existence said about me and my place in the world. The thought that I had been living at the expense of others had crossed my mind more than once, but to see that cost in the flesh was too much to bear, and so I didn’t think about it.

—p.87 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I didn’t think much of any of this at the time, during either my hurried excursion in 2009 or my extended stay in 2006 and 2007. This was how it was, this is how it had been for a while, and I had yet to allow myself to explore the haunting realities hiding behind such a thin layer of bureaucratic instruction. Others had taken on a superior posture toward the region’s lumpenproletariat, much like they did toward most civilians. The lumpen were lazy and undisciplined, the sort that warranted whatever came their way. In a word made popular on Parris Island, they were nasty. That they had managed to find themselves in such a grotesquely helpless state made them all the nastier. I’d like to think the cause of my indifference lay elsewhere. In retrospect, I wasn’t so much contemptuous as I was afraid, afraid of what their bare existence said about me and my place in the world. The thought that I had been living at the expense of others had crossed my mind more than once, but to see that cost in the flesh was too much to bear, and so I didn’t think about it.

—p.87 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago

political (originally communist) propaganda, especially in art or literature

88

according to the agitprop or many of our own self-rationalizations, this was precisely what we had volunteered for

—p.88 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

according to the agitprop or many of our own self-rationalizations, this was precisely what we had volunteered for

—p.88 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

(adjective) coolly and patronizingly haughty

88

Perhaps the superciliousness of some of my peers was related to this underlying fear.

—p.88 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps the superciliousness of some of my peers was related to this underlying fear.

—p.88 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

(adjective) having an insipid often unpleasant taste / (adjective) sickly or puerilely sentimental

89

If the war involved any dignity, it is not deserving of an American audience that will make instantaneous patriotic sap from it. The mawkish standard requires pushback.

—p.89 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

If the war involved any dignity, it is not deserving of an American audience that will make instantaneous patriotic sap from it. The mawkish standard requires pushback.

—p.89 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago
91

The list of questions never asked bends toward the infinite: What were the mercenaries I kept meeting truly there for? The ones who couldn’t help letting me know how much they were making for a six-month stint? The ones who kept on bragging about raking in six figures, and how those numbers always paled in comparison to what their bosses were making back in Maryland or Virginia? What about those contractors, specifically in the intel world, who foisted a never-ending line of gadgetries on my men to be field-tested and then shipped off to the global marketplace? Why did the gear never work? Why was it so unwieldy? Why did it slow down ops, and why did no one seem to care that it usually had to be escorted by those with the appropriate clearance, which meant putting my guys at risk from point A to point B and back again? Why so much acceptance in the face of ambitious captains who wanted to be majors, ambitious majors who wanted to be lieutenant colonels, ambitious lieutenant colonels who wanted to be full birds, ambitious full birds who wanted to be generals, and ambitious generals who wanted an extra star, all putting other lives on the line to make it happen?

Then one time I watched a group of marines obliterate the corner of a remote hamlet with the totality of their arsenal, from the M4 carbine to the M249 light machine gun to the M240 machine gun to the Mk 19 grenade launcher to the AT4 recoilless smoothbore weapon to the FGM-148 Javelin missile to the BGM-71 TOW missile. They’d lost friends, they were bitter, and they had come to see their surroundings not only as hostile, as was already the case back in Twentynine Palms, but as damnable. They were heading home soon and had some underutilized weapon systems to play with. I took pictures along with everyone else. I told myself there was something I didn’t know that justified the carnage I was consuming.

—p.91 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The list of questions never asked bends toward the infinite: What were the mercenaries I kept meeting truly there for? The ones who couldn’t help letting me know how much they were making for a six-month stint? The ones who kept on bragging about raking in six figures, and how those numbers always paled in comparison to what their bosses were making back in Maryland or Virginia? What about those contractors, specifically in the intel world, who foisted a never-ending line of gadgetries on my men to be field-tested and then shipped off to the global marketplace? Why did the gear never work? Why was it so unwieldy? Why did it slow down ops, and why did no one seem to care that it usually had to be escorted by those with the appropriate clearance, which meant putting my guys at risk from point A to point B and back again? Why so much acceptance in the face of ambitious captains who wanted to be majors, ambitious majors who wanted to be lieutenant colonels, ambitious lieutenant colonels who wanted to be full birds, ambitious full birds who wanted to be generals, and ambitious generals who wanted an extra star, all putting other lives on the line to make it happen?

Then one time I watched a group of marines obliterate the corner of a remote hamlet with the totality of their arsenal, from the M4 carbine to the M249 light machine gun to the M240 machine gun to the Mk 19 grenade launcher to the AT4 recoilless smoothbore weapon to the FGM-148 Javelin missile to the BGM-71 TOW missile. They’d lost friends, they were bitter, and they had come to see their surroundings not only as hostile, as was already the case back in Twentynine Palms, but as damnable. They were heading home soon and had some underutilized weapon systems to play with. I took pictures along with everyone else. I told myself there was something I didn’t know that justified the carnage I was consuming.

—p.91 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago
93

I’ll never forget the exhilaration in a battalion briefing room as forward-deployed Drug Enforcement Agency operatives crowed about their latest opium raid and burning of poppy fields. And it took a while for these memories to hark back to triumphant newspaper headlines or TV news segments of police swoops on Mojave meth labs. The juxtaposition of the Palms and the Helmand is not a perfect fit. Discerning the continuities at all is not something that came easily to me. Too many received wisdoms got in the way, especially the dichotomies among them: jargony distinctions like “schoolhouse” and “the fleet,” predeployment and deployment, or stateside and “in country” (originally “Indian Country”). Also more widely recognized ideological divides between domestic and foreign, national and global that have always, in turn, been attended by the tacit distinctions between civilization and chaos, enlightenment and areas of darkness. I had been trained my entire life not to connect what, in the course of a slow and painful unlearning — an unlearning of which this essay is very much a part — I am now so insistent must connect. The gated perimeters, violent diversions, and rent faces in the background are not just over there, in the theater of war. They have come home, or were part of our home to begin with, exported and imported a thousand times over, across the earth. They are borderless, even ubiquitous.

the arc escapes me a bit but the writing is stunning

—p.93 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I’ll never forget the exhilaration in a battalion briefing room as forward-deployed Drug Enforcement Agency operatives crowed about their latest opium raid and burning of poppy fields. And it took a while for these memories to hark back to triumphant newspaper headlines or TV news segments of police swoops on Mojave meth labs. The juxtaposition of the Palms and the Helmand is not a perfect fit. Discerning the continuities at all is not something that came easily to me. Too many received wisdoms got in the way, especially the dichotomies among them: jargony distinctions like “schoolhouse” and “the fleet,” predeployment and deployment, or stateside and “in country” (originally “Indian Country”). Also more widely recognized ideological divides between domestic and foreign, national and global that have always, in turn, been attended by the tacit distinctions between civilization and chaos, enlightenment and areas of darkness. I had been trained my entire life not to connect what, in the course of a slow and painful unlearning — an unlearning of which this essay is very much a part — I am now so insistent must connect. The gated perimeters, violent diversions, and rent faces in the background are not just over there, in the theater of war. They have come home, or were part of our home to begin with, exported and imported a thousand times over, across the earth. They are borderless, even ubiquitous.

the arc escapes me a bit but the writing is stunning

—p.93 missing author 7 months, 2 weeks ago

songs of praise or triumph; things that expresses enthusiastic praise

95

I became an opinion columnist and an op-ed editor for the school newspaper, where I penned romantic paeans to the democratizing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

—p.95 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago

I became an opinion columnist and an op-ed editor for the school newspaper, where I penned romantic paeans to the democratizing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

—p.95 missing author
notable
7 months, 2 weeks ago