Posts Tagged national geographic

Film: Saints And Strangers

My interest in this show is the private security angle and their importance to the founding fathers of the United States. It is a part of the story that always gets lost, but was absolutely critical to the early days of these pilgrims and their existence in the new world.

The videos below are cool background pieces, and especially the one about Myles Standish. I also liked this piece of video on the colonial weapons used. (wiki for Myles here)

Another relevant story to add in regards to Thanksgiving, are some of the myths associated with it. Like the actual food that was eaten (sorry, no pumpkin pie lol), and the probability that it wasn’t a day called Thanksgiving or celebrated in November. It was just a harvest celebration mimicking the English harvest festival, and it was probably celebrated late September or early October.

On Thanksgivings in the past, I have talked about the private security effort that was so crucial to the founding of my country, and it is very cool to finally see a show that describes the kind of environment they were operating in. A big hat tip to National Geographic and check your local listings when they show the series again. Happy Thanksgiving. –Matt


Saints & Strangers is a story that goes beyond the familiar historical account of Thanksgiving and the founding of Plymouth Plantation, revealing the trials and tribulations of the settlers at Plymouth: 102 men, women and children who sailed on a chartered ship for a place they had never seen. Of this group, half are those we think of as “pilgrims,” religious separatists who abandoned their prior lives for a single cause: religious freedom. The other half, the “merchant adventurers,” had less spiritual and more material, real-world objectives. This clash of values created complex inner struggles for the group as they sought to establish a new colony, compounded by a complicated relationship with the local Native American tribes. The conflicting allegiances among these groups culminated in trials of assimilation, faith, and compromise, that continued to define our nation to this day.



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Cool Stuff: Rhino Wars

This is an excellent article and photo series that National Geographic put together. It puts into perspective what is going on with rhino poaching and how powerful of an offense industry this is. That horn has value, and criminals are willing to risk much to go after that horn. In turn, that process is leading to the destruction of the animal.

Hopefully a defense industry can come up that can compete with this, or the animal will be hunted into extinction. Or perhaps an offense industry is required to defeat this offense industry?

I should also note that elephants are being targeted for their ivory as well. (read about this slaughter of elephants in Cameroon) Asia is creating such a strong demand for all of this stuff, and as places like China become more wealthy, then the buyers with money will only increase. This is a very unique war indeed, and it will definitely take extreme measures to stop it. –Matt


Rivaling the price of gold on the black market, rhino horn is at the center of a bloody poaching battle.

Rhino Wars
March 2012
By Peter Gwin
The rifle shot boomed through the darkening forest just as Damien Mander arrived at his campfire after a long day training game ranger recruits in western Zimbabwe’s Nakavango game reserve. His thoughts flew to Basta, a pregnant black rhinoceros, and her two-year-old calf. That afternoon one of his rangers had discovered human footprints following the pair’s tracks as Basta sought cover in deep bush to deliver the newest member of her threatened species.
Damien, a hard-muscled former Australian Special Forces sniper with an imposing menagerie of tattoos, including “Seek & Destroy” in gothic lettering across his chest, swiveled his head, trying to place the direction of the shot. “There, near the eastern boundary,” he pointed into the blackness. “Sounded like a .223,” he said, identifying the position and caliber, a habit left over from 12 tours in Iraq. He and his rangers grabbed shotguns, radios, and medical kits and piled into two Land Cruisers. They roared into the night, hoping to cut off the shooter. The rangers rolled down their windows and listened for a second shot, which would likely signal Basta’s calf was taken as well.
It was an ideal poacher’s setup: half-moon, almost no wind. The human tracks were especially ominous. Poaching crews often pay trackers to find the rhinos, follow them until dusk, then radio their position to a shooter with a high-powered rifle. After the animal is down, the two horns on its snout are hacked off in minutes, and the massive carcass is left to hyenas and vultures. Nearly always the horns are fenced to an Asian buyer; an enterprising crew might also cut out Basta’s fetus and the eyes of the mother and calf to sell to black magic or muti practitioners. If this gang was well organized, a group of heavily armed men would be covering the escape route, ready to ambush the rangers.

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Letter Of Marque: Ben Franklin’s ‘Privateer’ Fleet

This is a great documentary. What I thought was interesting is that Ben Franklin used privateers as a way to get British prisoners, in order to do a prisoner exchange with Britain for American prisoners. But because he did not provide incentive for the privateers to keep prisoners and deliver them or hold them, that the privateers just let them go. So I put the blame on Ben for not posting a bounty for prisoners captured, or at least some payment system that would motivate his privateers to capture and hold these prisoners.

Also, he poorly vetted the privateers he gave commissions too. I mean Ben really stumbled through this first effort of privateering. Although I am glad that the practice was improved upon and later turned into a key element of the Revolutionary War. It was private industry that targeted the logistics and commerce of the British, and basically made the American venture for Britain very costly.  Sun Tzu would refer to this as attacking weakness with strength, and British commerce and logistics was ravaged by American privateers.

What is also interesting is that with this bad experience, Ben made the conclusion that he did not like using privateers. Personally, I just think he didn’t have a clue on how to use them. Because if you look at the history of privateer usage in the War of 1812, congress used a bounty system to secure prisoners that privateers would have captured–all so they could do a prisoner exchange. In other words, America created a better offense industry using better rules and incentive. –Matt


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Cool Stuff: National Geo ‘Mission Army’ Competition–Deploy With The Indian Army For Peacekeeping Mission

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Cool Stuff: Desert Manhunt–Shadow Wolves On The Border

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