A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

July 27, 2016 | 3 Comments » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

What was the alternative to dropping the atomic bomb on Japan?

The alternative to bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been Operation Downfall. Operation Downfall would be split into two parts: Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet.

Operation Olympic was scheduled for November 1st, 1945. It’s goal was the invasion of the southern part of Kyushu, the southernmost of the four Japanese main islands. It was to involve forty-two aircraft carriers, twenty-four battleships and over four-hundred cruisers, destroyers and destroyer escorts. By comparison today’s US navy only consists of 271 deployable combat ships. Fourteen Army and Marine Corps divisions would have invaded the beaches. The Fifth, Seventh and Thirteenth Air Forces would have provided tactical air support for the troops on the beaches, with the Twentieth Air Force continuing their strategic bombing of Japanese infrastructure, in the hopes of slowing down the Japanese main counterattack.

Operation Coronet was scheduled for March 1st, 1946. Twenty-five Army and Marine divisions would have landed on two opposing beaches, with the plan being to take Tokyo in a large pincer movement. By comparison, the entirety of all American, Canadian and British forces landing on D-Day amounted to twelve divisions.

The Japanese also had some plans of their own. Operation Ketsugō would employ five thousand kamikaze aircraft. They planned to target the troop carriers ferrying troops to the beaches, which alone could have destroyed one third of the invasion force before it even arrived. They would also employ over four-hundred submarines and over two-thousand suicide boats to attack Allied transports. They also planned on using “human mines” – men in diving gear who would swim out and detonate bombs as the American transports passed overhead.

The Japanese moved one million soldiers to Kyushu. They also forced civilians into the fight, training women, schoolchildren and old men to kill Americans with muskets, longbows and bamboo spears. Casualty predictions varied widely but were extremely high for both sides. Depending on the degree to which Japanese civilians resisted the invasion, estimates ran into the millions for Allied casualties, and tens of millions for Japanese casualties.

Nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties resulting from the invasion of Japan. To the present date, all the American military casualties of the sixty years following the end of World War II—including the Korean and Vietnam Wars—have not exceeded that number.

The irony however, is that some plans for Downfall called for the usage of atomic bombs anyways. Numbers vary from seven up to twenty bombs. Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be bombed either way, but they were planning on using the bombs on the beaches to soften up Japanese defenses as well. Considering the lack of knowledge about radiation at the time, the troops would be marching through the still glowing impact zone, possibly killing every single one of them.

WW2 The Invasion That Never Was:



Why did they drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

There were three main criterion used for target selection: the target must be a large, important, urban area; the target must be such that a large bomb can do sufficient damage; and the targets are unlikely to be attacked by any branch of the armed forces by August.

A quote from my (admittedly bad, I am an engineering student) rough draft of my paper “Using the third criteria, the Target Committee received a list of cities which the Air Force would not plan to attack by August. The Committee then applied the other two criteria on these locations. Kyoto was the first choice, as the former capital of Japan and having a population of approximately one million. Kyoto’s destruction suggested the highest degree of psychological damage as it was considered a significant intellectual and cultural center to the Japanese.

The alternate first choice was Hiroshima. Hiroshima had a large amount of military significance for the Japanese, and the hills surrounding the city had the possibility of focusing the blast, inflicting maximum damage. In addition, the Air Force was unlikely to fire bomb the city, as it would be made difficult due to the presence of many rivers.

The next group of targets considered were Yokohama and Kokura Arsenal. The industrial activity in Yokohama had been increasing throughout the war and the United States Air Force was able to do more and more damage to Tokyo, making Yokohama a good strategic and military target. However, Yokohama was heavily defended with anti-aircraft weapons, making it a dangerous target. The Target Committee felt that it was an ideal alternate target, as it was separated from the other targets geographically and could face more favorable weather patterns in the event of poor weather.

Kokura Arsenal was a large Arsenal in Japan which held primarily lighter materials. It would make a good military target, but would not cause the largest amount of psychological damage to Japan.

The final two targets discussed were Niigata and the Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo. Niigata was a port of increasing significance with some industrial significance. The Emperor’s Palace was not recommended by the Target Committee because it was believed that bombing the capital should be a military decision.

The final recommendation suggested, in the following order: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura Arsenal. One of the major deciding factors was psychological effect so that Japan would be most likely to surrender and the international community would recognize the power of the weapon and, therefore, the United States. Despite Kyoto being identified as the ideal target for the use of the atomic bomb, it was not used. When Secretary of War Henry Stimson received the list of targets, he decided to remove Kyoto from the list. There is some debate as to why he removed Kyoto from the list of targets, ranging from moral, political, and/or personal reasons.”
It is rumored that Stimson honeymooned in Kyoto years before and loved it so much that he did not want it destroyed.

As for the Nagasaki bombing: Nagasaki was actually chosen as the alternate for the second bombing, but then due to bad weather on Kokura (after three runs they could not get visual confirmation of target), they had to change plans. The planes had actually flown so much over the course of the mission, it is estimated that they had only minutes of fuel left when they landed.
I had included in another area why they put Nagasaki on the list (after Kyoto was removed), but essentially, it fit the other criteria and it was a major sea port.
Lastly, I want to include that there was a lot of differing information out there, so if you’re still interested, google target committee and make your own opinions!



What’s happening to me physically and mentally when I’m running out of patience?

Imagine the part of your brain that gets irritated and annoyed is your thumb (it’s called the amygdala). Now imagine the part of your brain that has to be reasonable and calm is the rest of your fingers (this is the frontal lobe and surrounding grey matter). Wrap your fingers around your thumb. This is pretty much your brains natural resting state, the fingers keep the thumb in line. Now imagine that something just keeps bothering you and that thumb keeps bouncing around. At a certain point the rest of your fingers get tired and then the thumb is in control. You’ve just run out of patience.

– PainMatrix 



Why don’t journalists simply quote Obama’s original stance on whistle blowers, and ask him to respond?

Because real journalism is dead in the US mainstream media.

Real journalism is hard, it requires not taking sides, research, asking tough relevant questions, and filtering out the bullshit and propaganda, then finding the truth and communicating it to the public in an accessible way. All of which requires motivation, intelligence, a belief in the public good, credibility, a desire to speak truth to power and hold the powerful accountable. None of which applies to the vast majority of mainstream outlets today.

Corporate media wants the absolute minimum cost to generate content in the shortest possible time that maximises ratings (i.e. creates drama) but without upsetting other corporations, lobbyists, and advertisers. Also, given that most of the media is owned by half a dozen conglomerates, the media companies cannot risk or upset the other subsiduaries or call into question the close relationship between corporations and politicians.

Investigative journalism is the antithesis of the above; it’s expensive, takes effort, takes time, requires an unbiased attitude, and risks pissing off the powerful – it’s much easier to skim the surface, regurgitate press releases, oversimplify stories (i.e. good vs evil), make up stories or deliberately misrepresent the facts, and to lob softball questions at the powerful. After all, if you ask tough questions then they think politicians will stop giving access. Then with that environment, the effect on the journalists is pretty much a done deal.

– mecaenas 



Why does it take my printer a full 5 minutes to cancel a scan when I push the cancel button?

Printers work off of a process called ‘spooling’, which is like the oldest damn concept of queuing in computer science, pretty much. Spooling print jobs just means wrapping them up in neat little packages to wait in a queue that eventually will make its way to the printer one by one. This was necessary way back in the dreamtime, when the ancestral spirits determined that print jobs should be sent to machines via the old IEEE 1284 36 pin parallel ports. These ports are seriously dedicated to their jobs, but back then, printers weren’t that complex, so that was okay.

Eventually, someone decided that you should be able to monitor a print job and make changes to it. This made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad idea. They went ahead and created two extra parts of the printer driver/spool combo: the print processor and the print monitor. The former is able to give printers new jobs or alter their current ones, and the latter is able to give updates about the print job, like whether it’s jammed, how the ink level is doing, and even how far the paper is sticking out of the stupid machine.

Sadly, they were all complete shit.

Microsoft came to the rescue with the Print Spooler service. This gave vendors the opportunity to use a standard language for print processing and monitoring. However, they were still allowed to come up with their own languages and software if they really felt like it, and, for some reason, everyone really felt like it.

The problem is that ‘being able to cancel a print job’ isn’t really a selling point as much as ‘having tons of cool junk tacked on and being able to monitor it all from proprietary software’. That kind of stuff turns heads for the computer-illiterate masses. Meanwhile, print spooling is occurring the old-fashioned way, regardless of the fact that USB exists (and you can’t even get a Windows 7 Ready certification sticker if your machine has a 32-pin LPT in it anyway), and nobody is bothering to update the process or do it Microsoft’s way.

You can actually remove the third-party software and force the printer to work Microsoft’s way, but that involves some heavy registry editing, and is probably just not worth the risk.

Related: Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell to Make Us Miserable




Why do we want baby boomers to retire?

We don’t; we want them to die. It’s harsh, but it’s (relatively) true.

If you look at your family tree 100, 200 or even 500 years back, you’ll find out that your grandmothers churned out at least half a dozen babies in their lifetimes. Due to poverty or sickness, many of these poor kids died, but one or two would go on and have kids of their own. In better times, maybe three or four would survive, but due to war or terrible working conditions, they would die off in their teens or 20s, leaving very few children behind. Similarly the women, if not dying during childbirth, would die at what we now consider a relatively young age of around 50-60, because they wouldn’t be able to support themselves.

Fast forward to the 1940s, and we see countries with safe jobs, strong economies, and low mortality rates thanks to improved medicine and working conditions. Women still have 5 or 6 kids, and most of them survive… all the way through till now. Good for you, gramps – you’re one of the Baby Boomers.

And because these old people are staying fitter and healthier for longer, they’re staying at work. No more quitting at 50 because of a bad back or arthritis; these guys just neck a few pills, take up some physiotherapy and carry on. This means that the younger kids can’t move up the career path; the top jobs are all being held by people in their 60s or even 70s who have decades of experience and who still have all their marbles too. They’re making all the money as well, so younger people earn less, and keep earning less well into their 40s.

With all their working years they’ve bought all the houses and they own all the business and they’re not giving up any of it. So it’s really hard for the next generation to move up.

The trouble is that this lucky Baby Boomer generation only had one or two kids themselves (“because kids hold you down, man”), so there’s a much smaller generation to come next. And when the Baby Boomers get really old, and can’t look after themselves, they’re going to want pensions and healthcare – the sort of stuff that’s paid for by the taxes of the working classes. But the working classes don’t have the money to pay their own taxes, AND the pensions of the previous, larger generation, AND the taxes that pay for their own kids’ education and healthcare. What it eventually means is that for every person working, they need to earn enough to pay for themselves AND their parents AND their kids; they need three times as much money, which doesn’t exist because these old retired baby boomers still own all the houses, companies, stocks and shares, and will until they die.

The longer a Baby Boomer lives as a pensioner, the harder it will be for their kids to make a decent living.

– Grrrmachine 



 Why did WW2 Allied soldiers not use shields?

A sufficiently thick shield would be extremely heavy to carry. So you’d probably have to provide some sort of motor to move it. And since it’s not economical to provide one for every soldier, so you’d be better off making bigger shields that multiple soldiers can use together. And since you’ve got a motor, you can move quite a bit faster than on foot, so you’ll want to have a group of these shield-vehicles moving together. And since a motorized shield-vehicle can carry so much more weight, you could have the soldiers use guns that are far larger and heavier than their normal guns. It will be big and expensive, but impervious to normal bullets, relatively fast, and pack a lot of firepower. Maybe you’d call your new army an Armored Division, and your new mobile shields “tanks”

– nalc



What is fascism, and how is it different than communism?


Communism is an ideology that sees the world as a progression through different socioeconomic systems, each of which shape the society they exist in. Each system is analysed in terms of ‘classes’, which are groups with contradictory interests. So to simplify, a communist would say that society had the hunter-gatherer stage, the ancient war-slave stage, the feudalist stage, the mercantilist stage, the capitalist stage, etc. In the feudalist stage, the main classes were the noble and the serf or peasant; in the current capitalist stage, the two classes are the ‘proletariat’ and the ‘bourgeoisie’. A bourgeois person is someone who owns the resources needed to do work (ie land, mines, forests, factories, oil reserves), and makes money by hiring people to work those resources to embiggen their value and turn them into useful goods. A proletarian is a person who owns nothing but their own life and sells their time to a bourgeois person in exchange for a wage.

Communism holds that conflicts between classes in each system will eventually lead to a new system. In capitalism, the assumed conflict is that the ‘bourgeoisie’ want their workers to do as much work as possible for as little money as possible with as few benefits as possible, while workers obviously want the opposite, and the battle between them leads to things like strikes, outsourcing, wage stagnation, etc. In the future, they say, society will move into new economic systems that resolve these conflicts. And their proposed future system is called ‘communism’, in which all the things necessary to do work (factories, oil reserves, land, etc) are held in common and democratically controlled; so all people will essentially be workers/’proletarians’ and there will be no conflict of class interest.

There are dozens of competing ideas about how this should look and how society should get there. Some people think it should involve workers electing their own board, who would handle executive appointments and decisions — essentially being a publicly-traded company where shares are held by employees rather than people who buy shares. Others think all of a specific industry should be united in one mega-company in which all citizens vote on appointments. Some people think society should move to this system through slow reforms and votes, others think it should be done through a violent revolution. Some think it’s not something we’ll choose to do, but something that naturally happens when technology reaches a certain stage and renders capitalism unviable.

The most common form of communism, Marxism, is ‘anti-statist’ or ‘stateless’; it believes that the state, the national government, will ‘wither away’ and cease to exist in communism.

The most common criticism of communism is that it is against human nature, hopelessly inefficient, or requires an authoritarian force to establish. The most common defense of it is that it is the only true form of democracy; communists usually think that democracy is impotent unless it extends to the economy as well.

Another hallmark of communism, important in the next part, is that it is ‘anti-nationalist’. This means that virtually all communist ideologies see the idea of ‘the nation’ as being unimportant, unnecessary, or undesirable; I totally forget who said this, but there’s a popular maxim along the lines of “The workers of France have more in common with the workers of England than the nobles of France” — ie, your class is more important to your interests and identity than your nationality.


Fascism is a notoriously tricky thing to precisely define, because it is more a perspective and worldview than a concrete proposed system. Scholars usually define fascism in terms of a set of ‘symptoms’ or ‘features’, not all of which have to be completely met to qualify. These features include

Communism is on the radical left. Fascism is on the radical right. In their fundamental views and ideal goals, they are as far apart as you can get. In practice, however, many have perceived similarities between communist countries and fascist countries, with some places — eg North Korea — being perceived as somehow one or the other by different people (BR Myers is a fascinating read on North Korea’s ideology specifically, I urge everyone to check that out). This generally arises because the biggest communist movement to date was Leninism, which advocated a violent revolution led by a ‘vanguard’ who would form a traditional sort of state government and use its authority to slowly build communism (a popular slogan in the USSR during the middle century was ‘communism by the year 2000’), crushing dissent in the meantime and building up a strong military as it entered into WW2 and a decades-long Cold War, which has a very fascist vibe. So they had some of the same behaviours, motivated by polar opposite core beliefs.

– hungry_for_laughter