Up there

Another tragic week in which I have a hard time concentrating on toys, and for that I beg your pardon. We'll get to the fun stuff in a minute.

There's absolutely nothing I or any of the 298 people on board could have done to have kept that Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 from being shot out of the sky. There's nothing anyone could have done, save for the half-dozen or so people who actually fired the missile. If they really were hoping to down another Ukrainian transport plane, that makes it acceptable? We should no more accept that excuse than we should any reason for firing rockets or guns anywhere for any reason. War zone or not. It's not OK.

Back in my newspaper days the AP moved pictures of bodies from all over the world every day. We didn't have too much choice but to see them, never mind that they would never in a million years get into our newspaper. But I also think it's important to be aware of the result of our actions. We can't and shouldn't just stick our collective head in the sand. This extremely graphic (consider yourselves warned) Vice News video from the Ukraine is telling. Bodies stripped of their clothing, so fierce was the force of the fall to Earth. Farmers — for whom just trying to live in a war zone can't be the easiest thing — having to deal with the dead raining down indiscriminately.

It's odd how such helplessness breeds selfishness. I think — again — about all the flights I've taken. And all the flights I'll take in the future. My wife asks if I have anything coming up that will take me over that part of the world. (I don't.) I think about friends in this business who do have to fly over that part of the world. I briefly consider things and then tell my 7-year-old — again — that she's going to hear about another plane crash on the news, and that, no, she doesn't need to worry about me. And I use this space — again — for a bit of catharsis. It's probably not the right place to do so. But we're all friends here. And we've been here before.

And I worry that my sense of pacifism is naive — and perhaps it is. But this just isn't how humans should act.

Now for the real reason you're here ...

  • Turning a dumb thing into a teaching moment is another one of my favorite things about this job. Last week I found myself saying "Dammit, I hate seeing writers say 'Root your phone to get better performance and battery life.' As if root access alone actually does anything. They know better than that." Just a couple simple sentences and Jerry's set into motion. I didn't even know what he was going to write. But he wrote the hell out of it.
  • Funny story: Just hours after we publish my little piece on the Rachio Iro connected sprinkler system I'm replacing the rotting wooden box that covered my valves with a proper plastic valve cover. And I manage to break off the end of the line of pipes. While telling my wife to come look at the cool thing I'd just done.
  • No good deed goes unpunished.
  • Is a connected sprinkler controller a must-buy? Maybe not. But it's also very cool. And I see how it could be great for property managers with multiple systems to handle.
  • Dear AT&T: Nobody wants to use Powermat charging with the LG G3. Well, except maybe you and Powermat. Qi won. It's time to get with the program.
  • I love the idea of Amazon Unlimited — read all the books you can for $9.99 a month. But as TechCrunch and Gizmodo point out, the selection is limited and missing the top five publishers.
  • The Amazon Fire Phone ships this week. We ... shall ... see.
  • All these mock-ups of watch faces on the Moto 360 — but have any of them shown what they'll look like in their always-on, monochrome state?

OK. Back to our normal chipper selves this week, m'kay? Hope everybody has a good one.

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Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Again ...



As a Ukrainian-American.... it especially hits hard for me. 298 innocent victims of a terrorist attack on Ukrainian soil, it's uncalled for in this day. "Red lines" have been crossed and crossed again and never a response from the world. I hope that in light of this tragedy, the world wakes up and sees that the Soviet Union never really ceased to exist. The way the victims have been treated (leaving them in the backing sun for days), the fact that the parts of the pane are being picked up and sent off to landfills, evidence being destroyed and the Russian terrorists on the ground are preventing anyone from completing a proper investigation is unacceptable. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and with anyone who sets foot on a plane today.

Vechnaya Pamyat (Eternal Memory)
Heroyi ne vmyrayut (Heroes Never Die)
Slava Ukraini

The Malaysian Airlines disaster was truly shocking.

R.I.P. to the 298 people on board and my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and relatives of the victims.

If you think you get anything honest from ANY "news" outlet you're sorely mistaken. Do you're own research on things you want to be knowledgable on.

Yes and when you do your own research you might stumble across a news outlet called Reuters. They have been reporting from the ground about Russians blowing up Ukranian military planes using surface to air missiles recently. So no, this doesn't surprise me. Too bad you assumed I meant cable news as news.

Reuters is pretty bad as real news agencies go.

I think this string of comments is based on being in the US.

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On which part? I think Reuters are biased on a few issues which makes for poor journalism, and to be honest their accuracy and reliability is quite hit and miss.

The part about being in the US is because American news media (especially on TV) is especially horrendous.

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Mainstream news agencies are in the business of making money, regardless of the truth or location. Of course making money is everyone's goal but they are multi-billion dollar "news" firms vying to get the most viewers and make the most money. Thier goal isn't to tell you the truth. It is to make money.

I agree with your point, which is why I prefer independent news. But I'm not sure why you made it here?

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That still doesn't make any sense. For example, I can turn on the dreaded fox news channel RIGHT NOW, and get a fairly accurate assessment of the facts surrounding this tragedy (no less or more of a complete picture than most other news sources). I can do the same with MSNBC and CNN. People like to claim these networks present false news, yet the news they report is accurate. I think what fuels this broiler point response is that each of these networks also have editorial segments where they can inject their biases more boldly; however, that does not detract from their news stories segments. My original statement regarding watching the news leading to less information stands: it makes no sense.

I'm sorry you believe that any one of the stations you listed are even remotely accurate or truthful. Whether they believe they are being forthcoming and truthful is not of much matter. In order to successfully sell something you have to believe in it, which makes me think most of the people on those networks actually believe the garbage they are spewing out.

That still makes no sense. If I turn to fox news and they day an aircraft was shot down, you're telling me that the story is not true if I got it from one of these networks?

Look I'm all for multiple sources to get the most comprehensive story, but to remotely claim any of these networks are invalid is asinine. You may not like the stories they air, but that doesn't change their validity.

You are correct my friend, don't believe the news... We could have a video of the US shooting the plane down and the majority of America would believe it was Russians just because the news said so.

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Only fox, CNN, and msnbc tilt the news. BBC, and AL Jazeera should be the go to source for most news.

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They do some good work, especially when you take their limitations into account.

What's your problem with them exactly?

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Well, being owned by the ruling family of Qatar for one. Many reports of being anti-American for two. Yes I am American so I take exception to that.

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You'll still get better quality news from AJ than from any of the American media outlets.

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Newsflash: It is impossible to report the news without some "tilt". Even choosing what to cover and for how long is "tilt". Be a responsible consumer and obtain information from several unconnected sources and decide for yourself.

Truth, depending on any one source of info for anything (even something as trivial as tech coverage) is folly...

Been listening to the BBC on the way to and from work lately, you can definitely hear their biases, and Al Jazeera? Please they make MSNBC look unbiased

All of these relies just bounce back and forth. In the end, choose your news source(s) and go from there. Find all of the common denominators and formulate your opinion off that truth.

AC App via Nexus 5

The truth is a three edged sword.

Listen to both sides carefully, the truth usually lies in the middle.

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Yeah I take issue with that statement as well. And as much as it would be great for entire swaths of "humanity" to stop killing each other....it's what they do.

Yeah that was an ignorant statement. It's the equivalent to saying fighting doesn't solve anything. The fact is, if someone is committing evil acts and are unwilling to stop, then force, even deadly, is a perfectly reasonable response.

For example. If we had a dozen or so armed men near the launch, and the asked the crew not to fire the missile, but it was clear or at least appeared to be clear that they were going to fire that missile, would it be OK then to fire our weapons at them to stop them?

I have a feeling I edited that sentence a few times. The repetitive "for any reason" doesn't sound like what I meant it to sound, I think. Anyway. My point is it's tough to get shot — with missiles or bullets — if you keep the damned things away from people, ya know? I think y'all get my point.

And I never said my view on that is realistic.

Fun fact: My wife is a way better shot that me. ;)

Fair enough. I disagree about disarming anyone though. Until we have a very long period of zero violence of any kind, I will want to remain armed. It's a human problem not an instrument problem. I can kill a man with my fist or a weapon. It's the existence of evil intent that requires the manufacturing and use of weapons. Would I love a world with no weapons because there was simply no need? Of course I would. I just don't see that as a reality we will ever experience.

I get the feeling we simply disagree here.


I would settle for reasonable discussions about gun control/safety. We can't have that though because 'MERICA!!!!! 2nd Admendment!

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Look at what's happened to every group of unarmed people throughout history. Gun control only means gun centralization, where government has most of the weapons. Look at what's happening to unarmed people around the world today... Same thing.

For those of you that are unaware; the Japanese never invaded the US because "there is a gun hiding behind every blade of grass." An armed populace is the answer.

You can kill a man with your fist or with a gun. Doing it with a fist or knife is a lot harder than with a gun though. Both as a matter of required proximity and in the element of having to physically engage with a fellow human being. Almost every household in America has a collection of bug sharp knives in it, but how often do you hear about a fatal domestic disturbance that doesn't involve a gun? Anything can be used as a weapon, but guns make killing horrifyingly easy. There have been few more evil inventions in mankind's history.

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You missed the point. If I'm defending myself against a crazed knife man I want to do so with a gun. I don't want to have a mini sword fight. I just want to put my assailant in the dirt. Until the threat of all violence is completely eliminated I want to have the best chances of being the one defending my self in court.

Guns are the great equalizer and the world will never be rid of them. "Banning" guns doesn't actually ban them, it only centralizes gun ownership to governments and those willing to break the law to have them. That leaves everyone else vulnerable and helpless to the actions of government and criminals. Guns are neither good nor bad. The person behind the gun is the decision maker and unless we are all "allowed" to take precautionary measures to protect our families, we are setting ourselves up for devastating results.

Well done on reading an article about a passenger plane being shot down and turning it into an, essentially, American debate on gun control!

I consider this to be a debate on world gun control. Maybe the civilians could stop something like this if they were armed. Maybe the Christians in Syria and Iraq would have a fighting chance. ISIS is telling them to do one of three things. Leave, pay, or die as we speak.

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Phil is my favorite author here and I love his Sunday segments so I certainly wasn't trying to hijack this thread. I was simply discussing things and in no way is it related to politics or the USA. I study philosophy, history, and theory, among a few others interests. Politics is bullshit and neither "side" has a clue what they are talking about. Used to be hardcore political until I realized it was all bs, so please understand that my words have absolutely nothing to do with politics.

To be fair the article wasn't just about the tragedy because of the gun control statement injected the topic into the discussion.

Also, it is hard to comment beyond what Phil said in the article because it is so horrendous and hard to relate to other than simply offering condolences and support for justice.

I saw this also. That comment is disturbing as I am a gun owner and support the second amendment. I'm sharing his post on pro gun sites as we speak. Android central was my favorite android need site until today. I will no longer read it. Android police here I come. They keep politics and their personal views off their site..

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Supporting a piece of paper that doesn't support you leaves you pretty vulnerable. No document in the history of man has kept government at bay, and that includes the constitution. Understand that you have inalienable rights whether you believe they are god-given or natural rights. You have the right to protect yourself, which makes the infringment on your ability to own a gun a crime.

With that said, I don't think Phil is as anti-gun as that statement makes him sound. War is most often a needless bitch which invokes anger and sadness, which you can feel in his writing. I'd give him a chance.

I don't think "most" is accurate but those that do fall into that category are damned committed, unfortunately.

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If "most" believed killing is wrong when not in self defence we'd have many times more people protesting the fact that the US military is in over 160 countries and at war in nearly 10. People would rather bitch about who the hell can marry who and what kind of handouts they can receive from the government.

Android Central is awesome and so is Phil. It is his opinion. It says editorial. I support the 2nd Amendment as well. His personal political views have no bearing on his or his colleagues' ability to analyze and report on the android ecosystem. You're obviously free to do as you wish, but I feel you might be acting a little too rash in this instance.

I really want to see a review on the Amazon Fire Phone. It is interesting regardless of what anyone says.

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There's 2 reasons I look forward to your weekly editorial Phil

1) I get a chance to see a glimpse of "real Phil". The family man, someone's neighbor, someone's friend. Husband, daddy. A glimpse of day-to-day Phil. To me, this is the REAL reason I look forward to it. I love the articles and information, yes. But Sunday's isn't about that. It's about weekend, family, friends, unwinding. If this part stops I'll pretty much ignore AC on weekends.
2) the weekly summary (did I miss anything?) and the heads-up for the coming week(s)

The second one is nice, but I'll keep repeating it - I very much appreciate the transparency you show on Sundays. And I get you can't always be as transparent and "down to earth" as you'd like on this platform - but you make an effort to do so, and I really like that. It's not a political platform to push your personal agenda (too many op-ed pieces can be that way) but you just call it as you see it. A deep thank-you for that.

Now, for the rest:

Jerry nailed his article. Killed it,knocked it out of the park, etc. Awesomeness.

The sprinkler saga was amusing. If I was close by I would have dropped whatever I was doing to come down and lend a hand. Was it irritating? probably. Probably much funnier in hindsight then it was at the time...

Powermat? The only reason I know those still exist is I had to help my boss with his last week (he's rocking a Blackberry) Sadly people like me hesitate to jump on board with stuff like wireless charging is the lack of a standard - because with my luck I'd invest in the "wrong" standard. (makes me think back to the VHS/Beta wars, and MiniDisc, and....

FirePhone and smartwatches are both (for me) interesting to read about but nothing I'd think about spending money on at this point. FirePhone is interesting, but I'm really liking Android so we'll see how it grows (or dies). And smartwatches are cool - don't get me wrong - but right now if I can't take a few seconds to lift my phone out of my pocket or grab it off the counter, it's not that important. Maybe as the tech grows and matures, maybe. but I haven't worn a watch for years so between the 2 it's not something I'm clamoring to get my hands on. I still read about it though, because it's pretty dang cool stuff!

But going back to my first point. Phil, don't stop using this as YOUR space. Because then we get to see you as Phil, rather then "The Editor of AC". And yes, there's a distinct difference.

+1 to all of this! I love seeing the real Phil on Sundays. And yes Jerry nailed that article!

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If you find no convience in not having to pull out your phone or not getting up to pick it up off the counter, android wear is not for you. I manager 200+ people and my phone is always going off. Wear is now my hero..

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Another +1. One reason I like AC so much is feeling like I "know" the main writers. They may come from totally different worlds or view points than me but I love getting to know them. The two top things I look for every week are Phil's column and the Weekly apps review.

I totally agree with you. Other sites I find much less appealing, simply because they just write - it seems there's very little personality from one writer to the next. I'm getting to the point that I ALMOST don't need to check the by-line to see who wrote what - usually it doesn't really matter, but sometimes I'm reading a story and think

"Hmm, this sounds like Jerry, or Man I bet Phil would be all over this"

I go and check the by-line, usually a couple paragraphs in, and lately I've been right more often then not. I love that the personality comes through.

Random thought - there's not enough space for it, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a weekly op-ed from all the major writers for AC. Maybe spread them out throughout the week.... anyone else think this might be cool?

Did Qi win? Whatever Apple does will win probably. And Starbucks putting PMA mats in stored doesn't hurt.

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Whatever Apple does will most certainly not be a standard ands with only a third of the market at best I don't see how that's a "win"...

A third of the smartphone market is pretty significant. Exactly what percentage of smartphones come with Qi charging? At the moment wireless charging hasn't seen much uptake, so whatever Apple does could have a pretty big impact on the rest of the market. Not that I think they will include it in the next iPhone.

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I meant to say it wouldn't be an open standard, so it'd never amount to supporting anything but Apple's devices. Apple including it in their newest phone doesn't mean their whole market share would instantly buy in either, specially with the way they price their accessories. Just saying, I don't see how they stand to "win" any more than Qi which most OEM are already supporting (if they support wireless charging at all anyway).

Thanks for a great article Phil! I appreciate how you constantly remind all us geeks to think outside our gadgets and about what really matters in life: people ( including those who are considered "other"!)

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Mr. Phil, Thanks for this article. That was a very tragic and I hope everyone rises up against these bastards that gig this. To shoot without care and without knowing what you are shooting at is disgusting and irresponsible. I feel for the families of the passengers I rather they be lost at sea instead of this. And to the people who shot down this flight their families need to shot mercilessly.

The people in charge of flight path should also be shot mercilessly. Everyone knew transport planes were shot down at altitude in the past. Flying at altitude is not a valid excuse for flying over a war zone of an area we KNOW has weapons to shoot down planes at that altitude. THAT is inexcusable.

This is why I love ac. It's a huge tight knit community that has a personal feeling to it with the way it brings together people who have the same interests, and then it goes beyond our love for the technology with articles like this and all of the discussions in the comments section from different users and witers

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"If they really were hoping to down another Ukrainian transport plane, that makes it acceptable?"

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to shoot down a military transport plane during war time. If this conflict was over the soil of the country I live, I want our government to shoot down all transports that support the enemy killing my family. I'm not saying that their conflict is just. But it is a military conflict and yes, military transport planes are perfectly acceptable targets. They should have kept all civilian planes out of the area, even if they were at altitude. And ESPECIALLY if transport planes have been shot down at altitude in the past. Because of that, there was always a known risk that being shot down at 30000+ ft was a very real possibility. The airline is also to blame here. Others have rerouted flights around the conflict. This one was special I guess.

"We should no more accept that excuse than we should any reason for firing rockets or guns anywhere for any reason. War zone or not. It's not OK."

credibility ... Down the tubes. Good job hombre.

Dammit. Next time I'll be sure to tell you exactly what it is you want to hear. Because that's the sort of thing I really worry about.

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Not sure what journalistic credibility has to do with having an opinion, even if someone views it as a wrong one...

Was this crap really necessary, Phil? I have friends and relatives living in both Ukraine and Russia and I used to occasionally read various Russian-language blogs and entertainment sites (most of which are currently overflowing with pro-Putin and anti-Ukraine, anti-US and anti-EU propaganda to the point of being repulsive to read) and I am already fed up with this whole crap beyond any tolerable level and constantly trying to avoid voluntarily reading any more of any information related to this new "Cold War". It is extremely sad that all of the innocent people on that Malaysian flight have died and many civilians continue to die on Ukrainian territory (just because of a single ex-KGB dictator who is currently playing the role of the "world troll"), but please, this is supposed to be a site about Android devices which supposedly has nothing to do with a dirty, repulsive world of politics, territorial dispute and ethnic hatred in other countries and I certainly don't appreciate being reminded about all of this again right on the front page of this site, with an article which I cannot filter out or block. Even some Russian technology-related blogs like "habrahabr.ru" are able to avoid mentioning anything related to these unpleasant events, why can't YOU guys do the same?

Don't like it, don't read it. It's not like he buried the lead. No one forced you. It's an opinion piece. Everyone has one. You don't have to like it or agree. A little visibility on an important issues isn't bad thing for people who might not watch or read the news.

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Yes, a plane shot out of the sky is always a tragedy.
And very convenient for Obama/Kerry to direct our eyes from the atrocities that Israel is committing on the Gaza Strip.
And while at this moment what happened to the plane is pure conjecture, Israeli soldiers killing civilian Palestinians is a cold hard fact.

Bingo. It's too bad people can't separate their loyalties from facts. And it's too bad people won't stop choosing sides and realize there is no end to the killing. If you want to help the situation be pro-peace.

It goes deeper than that. I'm not there, and I never trust second-hand news about human lives. I don't have a valid opinion about who is right, who is wrong, or who started it all because I'm 3,000 miles away and not getting shot at.

But I know when the world sees pictures of people living behind fences against their will, it doesn't matter if you're right, or how right you are. The fact that you keep ordinary people not charged with any crimes locked up behind a fence makes you a monster in the eyes of the public.

Oh, yeah ... shame on Isreal for defending itself against a regime that wants it dead. The Israelis are speaking in the only language their fanatical enemies understand. Why no complaint about Hamas killing innocent Israeli citizens? Because "your kind" thinks that the "good guys" are bad, while perceiving the "bad guys" as victims. More power to Isreal! Their cause is just.

X-9 = 2B^3

Hamas is a terrorist group, you know that. Israel is not the one putting missiles inside hospitals and schools and using civilians as human shields. We all know there are certain groups in the middle east who will not be satisfied until Israel is wiped of the face of the planet.

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Guess what, pal? People get killed in war. Horrible, yes, but that's reality. With Isreal, civilian deaths are what's known as collateral damage. With groups like Hamas and the PLO, civilian deaths are of intentional design. And when someone takes out the cowardly men who hide behind schools and mosques, don't blame the folks who take them out in an act of self-defense.

X-9 = 2B^3

Don't tell me about the realities of war. I've handled more dead bodies than comments on this article so please, save it for someone who hasn't packed men, women, children, and body parts with ice in metal transfer cases. I know war from first hand experience and have been studying government, freedom, economics, and war ever since. We can converse, but don't lecture me on the realities of war.

Great Sunday morning read with my coffee as always. I like that you keep them short & insightful. Sometimes I don't agree with your opinion on everything, but it always provokes me to think about things & see other perspectives.

Jerry's article on rooting is awesome. Its a reference article I will be sharing with many for a long time to come when they ask questions about subject.

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"the Ukraine". That's pretty culturally insensitive. I should probably elaborate... "the Ukraine" was the term used when Ukraine was a region of the USSR - it's seen as offensive by Ukrainians, particularly now Russia are stocking their part in again.

Excellent editorial once again disregarding that minor slip.

Great article. Just wish the snarky troll commenters could find somewhere else to be. Hopefully this horrible event can wake some people up over there overseas.

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Phil, you are a nice guy that lives in the most powerful, prosperous nation in the world. You enjoy relative peace at home.
So with all due respect you have no clue how it is to fight for your life, for your children, and what kind of crazy things people do in these situations. I am a bit tired of people in the rich West, after murdering 100 million people in two world wars, lecturing other people about what's moral and what's not.

Make no mistake - Downing a civilian aircraft is a horrific act. The people responsible have no excuse for their actions. They should be found and trialed and punished.

You just don't know history, don't you? You are commenting as if the ww was between the West and some other group. In fact, both ww were between Western nations. WW1 - US, UK, France, Russia vs. Germany, Austria (sorry if I missed someone). ALL of them Western nations as you can see. WW2 is similar.
Pls, pick up a history book, read it, learn something about the world you live in.

Consider the superb "When Diplomacy Fails" podcast specials on the July crisis of 1914. The complexity and confusion LEADING to conflict is often very revealing. Most of all, it makes me wonder what's going on behind locked doors right now.
Even after 100 years we still wonder about the details. Why WW1 happened. How a world mostly at peace became a world mostly at war. How nations deeply opposed to involvement, got dragged, pushed and possibly even conned into it. Shortly after WW1 ended, the flu pandemic killed about 20 million; more even than died fighting the war.
Conclusion? Deep complexity can look just like chaos. But its still better (for all of us) to try to understand things and act rationally.
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What you call "murdering" people in two world wars, we call "saving the world's ass" from forces who would have conquered the planet! In the second war, Nazi Germany would've vanquished all of Europe. In later years, Soviet-era Russia would have done the same thing. Call America whatever you wish. Yet we're the reason why you're even around to hurl those insults our way.

X-9 = 2B^3

err, Germany is part of the West in case you didn't know. So is the US, UK, France, Italy, Austria, Russia, and most other belligerents in the two world wars.
The two world wars were between Western nations. Pick up your history book before you comment

As a Dane (from an occupied nation of WW2) my heart and thanks goes to the individuals who fought and died in 20th century conflicts, in the hope of making the world a better place. I often walk through the Brookwood military cemetery and am staggered by the price paid.

However - governments take part in wars, because they want to shape the future to fit themselves, not just suffer from it. The courage, compassion and infinite generosity of the VERY young men who died on D Day is beyond price. Which is why we should value and maintain the peace they hoped for - and honer them thus. No wreath, poppy, flag or meddle is equal to it. The tribute they would want, is peace.

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So just because you're not from the west you can get on a high horse and say that our views are invalid because we engaged in our own conflicts 70+ years ago? If anything that makes us the experts in getting through the troubles of modernization

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As a Malaysian and regular visitor to your site, it really moved me to read your editor blog regarding MH17. Thanks for all the kind words and support

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The world is an ugly hateful mess, and many of the commenters here confirm that fact.

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It still seems too early for firm conclusions or blame. Detailed and real evidence will come; it seems wiser to seek and check it before reaching any conclusions. The best service we can give to the people who died, is an open mind and persistence.

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As always great write up Phil,, I personally would enjoy seeing Jerry do something like this as well,, would be very interesting and damned entertaining

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