Flags on the side of the highway and scripture on grocery store signs

Flags on the side of the highway and scripture on grocery store signs February 28, 2020

Here is your open thread for February 28, 2020.

The First Gulf War officially ended on this day, 29 years ago.

That was the last war that ended, although even that war didn’t really end, it just sort of scaled back a bit on the ground. American bombers continued to strike whatever targets they could find to bomb in Iraq almost every week for the next 12 years until we decided to officially redeclare hostilities, launch an invasion, and reignite a conflict that’s still impossible to win or to end 17 years, trillions of dollars, and thousands of American lives later.

Countless millions of Iraqi lives later too, of course, but the whole point of such American wars is that those lives don’t count.

I wrote “trillions of dollars” above because nobody can say for sure what the exact cost has been. Estimates range from nearly $2 trillion to as much as $7 trillion. War is expensive. The other thing nobody can say for sure is where all that money went. We speak of it abstractly — the “war cost trillions” or “American taxpayers have spent trillions” — but we rarely talk about who was on the receiving end of all that spending, who was on the benefit side rather than the cost side of all those trillions of dollars. Somebody’s made a killing — trillions of dollars in less than 20 years.

Michel de Montaigne, the godfather of blogging, was born 487 years ago today. He’s long dead now, obviously, but you can still get to know him better than you know many of your closest friends by grabbing a seat on the wild ride of his Essays.

Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was born 105 years ago today.

Today is the 72nd birthday of Tony winners Bernadette Peters and Mercedes Ruehl. It’s also the 72nd birthday of Nobel prize winner Stephen Chu and of early CCM star Don Francisco. Paul Krugman, who also won a Nobel, turns 67 today. Gilbert Gottfried turns 65. Cindy Wilson of the B-52s turns 63. John Turturro turns 62.

Finally, February 28 is also Día de Andalucía, a day to celebrate for the people of southern Spain and an excuse for me to listen to the Pixies’ “Debaser.”

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