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February 12, 2024 18:07 +0000  |  Gaza Genocide Israel Palestine 7

Me: "Seth Rogan?"

Wife: "Yeah, what about him?"

Me: "He's one of the good ones"

Wife: "Ah! Good. I always liked him."

It's been a mad couple of months in this house. It probably started on New Years Eve when we kicked off the new year with a screaming match between Christina's parents and the two of us. In one corner, the in-laws insisting that Israel isn't bent on killing everyone in Gaza and that the Palestinians had this coming, and in our corner absolute disbelief that these people who we love and respect are looking into the face of literal genocide and thinking: Meh, it's not that bad.

Update (2024-03-01): my in-laws have come around!

I'm afraid to talk to my parents about it for fear that they too are on the wrong side of this. My brother has already made it abundantly clear that he is, but that's not all that surprising.

It's a crazy position to be in, to see something so terrible in the world and to have people whose views you generally respect be so blasé about 10,000 dead children and a state that clearly has made this a key goal. Somehow, it was easier to be fine with this when Israel was only corralling millions of Palestinians in an open-air prison and restricting their access to food, water, medical supplies and even musical instruments, but now that they've dropped the mask entirely and are just erasing a people before our eyes... I find myself thinking of everyone in my life:

Are they one of the good ones?

It's not really about judgement, but rather solidarity. Most of the time it really does feel like we're out on a limb here, a handfull of people both enraged by this crime and terrified by the silence around it that emboldens it. Israel has managed to conflate criticism of Zionism with antisemitism, and this has had a chilling effect on criticism in the political arena all the way down. People are legitimately afraid of being fired for opposing genocide, and so -- I have to believe -- many of us recognise this for what it is, but stay silent for fear of retribution.

I know it's scary, but I need this right now. I think we all do. I need you to tell me you're one of the good ones, that you recognise this for what it is, and that you wish you could stop it. You may think that you can't do anything about it, and you're probably right, but I'm not asking you to fix this, I'm just asking you to help me feel like I'm not alone out here on this limb, that the people I love and respect in my life are on the right side of history, even if we're powerless to shape it.

Leave a comment, message me privately, tack on a 🍉 or ✊🏾 or 🇵🇸 emoji onto your social handle, or even tweak your avatar to show support for a Free people. Please, just show me that there are still some Good people in my life who are not ok with this. I can't begin to describe to you the degree to which the despair of feeling alone on this limb is taking on my psyche.

January 01, 2024 22:59 +0000  |  Activism Employment Environment Existential Dread Genocide Politics Travel War 1

It's been a long time. I try to do a Great Big Post every year, but I basically just skipped over 2022. Here it is, the start of 2024 and I honestly can't remember much of that year so... maybe that's a good reason to persist in writing these sorts of posts?

Personal

Anna Started School

The biggest deal of 2023 wasn't even for me, but for Anna. She started school. Here in the UK you start school at 4 years old in what they call "reception". It's basically kindergarten, but with more structured learning. Like, she's learning to read already, bringing home little books with 3-letter words in them: tip, tap, pat, etc. I don't remember learning to read 'til grade one (six years old in Canada), but maybe my memory is just faulty?

Regardless, Anna seems to really like it. We wrestled for a Very Long Time about which school to send her to and I think we picked a good one in the end. The teachers all seem really supporting and nurturing, and the kids all seem generally happy.

Ebike!

Part of the school decision involved another one: we finally went out and bought an e-bike. A Bicicapace (bitchy-ka-patchy) Justlong. The cargo box in the front is big enough to haul ~£100 of groceries, and the back can carry Anna and a friend, or even a full-grown adult... or a Great Big Dollhouse as we discovered. It's big, beautiful, fast, and relaxing... but not cheap. It came to about £4500 in total, which is the price of some cars. Of course, it costs around £14/year to power, doesn't burn the world, make noise, or kill pedestrians so... there's that.

#Solarpunk

I'm pretty sure that this was also the year that I discovered the term "solarpunk": an art form / political movement to imagine & build a world where we use technology to harness nature while living symbiotically within its limits. A post-capitalist utopia to stand against the cyberpunk feudalistic dystopian hellscape we've been trading on for decades. Think less Blade Runner and more Star Trek, but with a lot more green:

#solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk #solarpunk

It's not easy to explain how much of a relief it was for me to discover this new movement. Just the idea that there are still people who hope for, and envision a better world has done wonders for my morale.

I'll probably get into more of this in a much more depressing future post. For now though, I offer this excellent YouTube explainer from Our Changing Climate:

Via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twGcjDnOb_U

Duolingo

I also started doing Duolingo in earnest back in July. I re-started originally without paying, but after a few days I looked into the costs and compared that to what I spend on dinner or even a Steam game. £60/year seemed like a good investment.

It actually feels like it's paying off. 6 months in and while I'm not yet able to even form a (useful) sentence, I'm understanding a lot more of what Christina & Anna are talking about. The problem for me is one of throughput: I take a really long time to translate a sentence, so long that by the time I understand what was said, 3 more sentences have passed me by. I'm getting better though and Duolingo is largely responsible.

Bye Reddit

And finally, I said goodbye to Reddit. I cut Twitter out at the end of 2021, but it took a while longer to get out of Reddit. My reasons were different though.

For Twitter, it was the way they were rage-farming. They would pit strangers against each other to make them angry, to drive up engagement, and thus sell eyeballs. In Reddit's case, I found most of the discussions informative, the news collected more accurate than what passes for such on television, and the community generally sharing my (progressive, left-leaning) ideals. Reddit however fell prey to enshittification, the process by which something is built initially for people and then made worse because some rich assholes want to extract profit from it.

When the CEO over there decided to lock out third party clients to lock users into their (ad-riddled) app, and then tried to blame app developers for the mess this created, I figured it was time to go. I didn't want to provide content to such contemptible assholes.

So I've switched over to Lemmy, which is sort of like Reddit, but federated (like Mastodon). The community is much smaller, but everyone seems much nicer too. There's even a solarpunk community!

Free Software

Late in the year, I started picking up Go, and ported my db program from the original Python to Go. The new version is much more portable, and once I've been using it for a few more months, I may just release it for the AUR.

If you're curious, here's the original Python version, and the new Go-based one.

Professional

My professional life was super chaotic this year. I switched jobs twice (and as of January 2nd, it's 3 times).

Limejump Becomes Shell

I joined Limejump back in 2020 and it was a fantastic job. I was using Shell's money (they were the parent company) to build green energy tech and was working with some brilliant, awesome people to do it. I did some of my best work of my career, working with my team to build something that few companies have managed to do (I can think of only one) in a language that I loved, with a team of fantastic people.

Then Shell decided that they wanted to roll Limejump into Shell proper and everything fell apart immediately. Worse though, is that being integrated into the company I started talking to actual Shell people, reading what they shared both publicly and on the internal network and realising how much of a mistake I'd made. Shell is intent on burning down the world, and they were using me to do it.

Goodbye Shell, Hello Utility Warehouse

I quit Shell quite publicly and found a new job at Utility Warehouse, this time my first role as a manager. The stack was different too, as they're using Go in a massively microservices-based system.

I worked there for four months, but was never really happy there for a lot of reasons I don't want to share here. So, after some spelunking through the job boards of some of my favourite companies in the UK, I found a new job at Octopus Energy.

Goodbye UW, Hello Octopus

I start at Octopus on January 2nd, so it's a good bet that by the time you're reading this, I will have already had my first day there. This job is going to be different as well. Where at Limejump I was a technical lead and at UW I was a manager, I'm dropping back into the technical saddle at Octopus as a staff engineer. Interestingly enough though, I won't be working in energy, but in water & broadband, which is fine by me. I've always been more interested in the technology than the domain.

Linux Training

One last thing on the professional front: I did a bunch more Linux training this year, teaching newbie Linux nerds how to Linux harder. I'm really enjoying this work, both in the curriculum creation as well as giving the actual workshops. It kind of feels like I got to go into education after all, but with more money and no children.

Travel

Alas, having children generally means that grand travel plans just don't happen. As expats, when we do leave the country, it's to go to places we've already been to see Anna's grandparents.

Anna Visits Canada

Anna got to see Canada for the first time this year, flying the full 9 hours across the Atlantic to Calgary and another hour to Kelowna with little to no screaming. Seriously, I was dreading this trip, but Anna was on point for so much of it. I'm super proud of her (and appreciative!)

The trip was basically just to see my family in the Okanagan, with a week staying at my brother's place, and another week with my parents. Both were very welcoming and thrilled to have Anna around, and Anna had a great time drawing with Grandma and bouncing on the trampoline with her cousins. We even had Violet over for a sleep over one night and the girls camped out on the pull out watching the fantastic Song of the Sea.

My takeaway from the trip though was a lot more depressing. I have never felt more isolated in my life than when I was trapped in my brother's house, on top a mountain with no car. Seriously, what the fuck is up with North American city planning? They carve a bunch of winding roads into a mountain, stack some monster trucks on it and call it "home". You can't even leave your home without climbing (and I do mean climbing) into a $50,000 beast vehicle just to drive 5minutes to a gas station. There are no sidewalks, just monster trucks! I don't get it. How is this "freedom"?

A month in Greece

The latter part of the Summer had us fly to Greece to see Anna's other grandparents. We went to sleep with the air full of smoke from fires across the valley, this at a time when Canada was also on fire. We piled into a car and drove from Athens literally through the smoke North through to Corinth (Κόρινθος) and then South all the way to Panagia (Παναγία) where we stayed at a lovely little hotel a short walk from the beach.

I relaxed on my own, writing some code in the hotel room while Christina and her parents took Anna down to the sea for a swim, I got to swim with a sea turtle, which was pretty amazing, and perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, the food was fantastic.

Activism

Extinction Rebellion's Self-neutering

Once a force to be reckoned with, XR opened 2023 with an abdication of its role as disruptor, instead opting for a more inclusive "numbers oriented" civilised protest. Not long after, everyone pretty much stopped caring about anything they had to say.

Just Stop Oil

Out of XR's rejection of civil disobedience however, Just Stop Oil was born. Currently they mainly favour "slow marches" (blocking traffic, but still moving so they can't be arrested, a loophole that no longer applies, read on) and throwing paint on everything from building doors to priceless works of art.

For the most part, they're treated like an annoyance in the media here, but they're being talked about all the time. They've had some truly exceptional media coverage, and so it would seem that their tactics are working.

There's even been a documentary made about them by Chris Packham (famous nature docs guy here in the UK) called Is it time to break the law?.

Just Stop Oil feels like a beginning. Few people blocking traffic or throwing paint actually believe that this will fix things. They're doing this out of desperation because they know that no matter how much they recycle, those with the power to keep the world from burning will still choose fire. It represents a sort of collective awakening, where we can all start talking about how this isn't up to us, and about who actually needs to change. It's the next step on the path toward real violence, and I don't think the establishment really understands this yet.

#FuckCars, #BanCars, #StrongTowns

This was also absolutely the year of the anti-car movement. The pandemic changed a lot of things, including where people live and how they work. With these changes, we're seeing an emergence of welcomed car-hate. From deflating SUV tires in London (this article is from 2022, but whatever) to banning cars parking on the sidewalk in Scotland, to Wales setting the default speed limit to just 20mph (32kph), cars are finally getting some push-back over here.

We also saw the introduction of the 15 minute city idea, which of course was immediately jumped on by poorly educated conspiracy nuts as "government control", as if requiring that everyone own and be able to operate a $50,000 vehicle is even remotely freeing.

Across the Atlantic, the Strong Towns movement is taking root in cities across the US and Canada to take space away from cars and give it back to people.

Oh, and I forgot Paris! With their fantastic activist mayor has been exploding cycling adoption across one of the most (formerly) car-dominated capitols in Western Europe.

When I need a source of optimism, this is where I look.

Politics

2023 felt very much like a tsunami of terrible news on the international scale. Fascism, oppression, and just straight-up burning down the world are all on the rise, along with profits for the rich and poverty for everyone else.

Local

Here in Cambridge, there was a push by the sitting council for a plan called the Sustainable Travel Zone: effectively a congestion charge within the city proper which would be used to pay for improved transit and active transport infrastructure.

They later killed it, thanks to a combination of extremely vocal opposition, and straight-up cowardice of those in power. Basically, there were enough swing votes that didn't want to blow their chances at another political race later, so they came down against something they initially favoured.

So now we have insurmountable traffic, absolutely no plan to address it, and a carbrained public that'll probably still vote Conservative because they're idiots.

UK

This country has been ruled by Tories since 2010, and in 2023 they actually had three different Prime Ministers because the quality of their options was so miserable.

Boris Johnson got the boot, not because of his racism, ineptitude, or robbery of the public purse to enrich his friends. No was kicked out of power because he had a Christmas party during COVID lockdown. It was a shit thing to do, but compared to his long long list of reasons why he never should have been permitted to hold the office in the first place, I think this says a lot about the UK public.

He was followed by Liz Truss, whose term was literally outlasted by a head of lettuce. In just 49 days, she brought in financial policy so damaging that it nearly bankrupted the pensions of the entire country. Legislation that was so toxically neoliberal that even the IMF was critical.

Finally, she was replaced by Rishi Sunak who ran unopposed. He's a billionaire parasite who appears to be making it his goal to do as much damage to the country as possible before he leaves.

  • They've passed draconian laws to effectively ban protest, which have already been used to jail people for six months whose only crime was blocking traffic while walking slowly.
  • They're curtailing local council powers to ensure that they can't bring in lower speed limits.
  • And they're opening up new oil & gas fields in the North Sea in the middle of a climate emergency.

Via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y_0rjKfyzw

All this, while the Labour party has been overrun by do-nothing-change-nothing Tories in red, who when asked about what they'd do differently, overwhelmingly answer "not a thing".

The state of UK politics is dire.

Canada

Canada's reputation continues to be great, what with our RCMP attacking, arresting, and intimidating indigenous peoples at the behest of fossil fuel companies trying to kill us all.

Via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7s-BgfcFXw

Ukraine

After nearly two years, Ukraine is still fighting for survival against Putin's end-of-life crisis. They've held out much, much longer than most expected, partially due to the demonstrated ineptitude of the Russian military, but most of the world seems to agree that the steely resolve of the Ukranians is the primary factor.

They've developed a new form of warfare in this theatre, leveraging consumer-grade drones to fly both surveillance and attacking missions, even managing to strike targets on Russian soil. There are thousands of videos shared on social media filmed by drones that're being used to guide artillery to cut down tanks and infantry.

Europe and Nato have been slow to work out just what they want to do on this front, but I think there's near consensus that either you fund Ukraine, or you fund Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, and Romania once Russia moves onto them. When you're dealing with a country that lies so easily and attacks civilians so readily, aiding your neighbour is a form of self-defence.

Palestine

Which I suppose, brings me to Israel's campaign of genocide.

On October 7th, Hamas broke out of the open-air prison that is Gaza, murdered 766 Israeli civilians and 373 security forces, and took 247 civilian hostages. The attacks were brutal, with some even wearing bodycams to stream the footage.

Israel was caught largely unprepared, despite having advance knowledge up to a year earlier complete with blueprints. Their response however has been methodical.

At last count, an estimated 20,000 Palestinians are dead, mostly civilians, nearly half of which are children. They're telling the civilians to evacuate to areas onto which they later drop 2000-pound bombs. I've seen video of IDF soldiers attempting to throw grenades at ambulances and journalists -- stopping short only when they realise they're on camera, and I've seen harrowing video of children burned alive.

This is genocide. It's being conducted by our "friends" with our help, our weapons and with our blessing.

We are complicit, and this will haunt us all for generations.

And I swear that if you leave a comment about how "I just don't understand", "but Hamas bad", or "Israel is just defending itself", not only will I not publish it, but I may not speak to you again.

COP 28

And then there was COP 28, a climate conference so important, we decided that it'd be a good idea to put the CEO of an oil company in charge of it. The result of this conference was the weakest language they could possibly get away with, including absolutely no commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

So that's awesome. It's not like we didn't have to evacuate fucking Yellowknife this year due to wildfires. I'm sure this whole climate thing is nothing to worry about. The economic fallout from choosing not burn every last drop of oil would surely be worse than acidified oceans and desertified crop lands. It's not like any of the people making these decisions will be alive when this becomes a problem.


So yeah. I have a lot of rather existential dread of late, and I want to write about that some more later 'cause there's a lot I wanna say on that topic. Needless to say 2022 was pretty bad and 2023 was worse. I fully expect 2024 to follow the same trajectory.

Though at least we have this to look forward to. Oh, and this.

November 21, 2023 21:47 +0000  |  Gaza Genocide Israel Palestine 0

In times like these, everyone seems to have an opinion, but most people lack the depth of understanding to ensure that that opinion is informed. I'm sure that at times I've been one of those people, so I do my best to seek out smart people with a depth of knowledge I lack and defer to their greater experience. Over the past couple weeks, I've come across some exceptionally well communicated pieces on this, and I want to share them here.

My favourite by far is Dave Meslin's take, shared via an Instagram video in a single take with no script. Dave is deeply thoughtful and passionate person with a great deal of personal insight around how the Jewish community (of which he is a member) has been divided on this issue, and the whole video is worth your time:

Via Instagram

Next is Naomi Klein, another prominent Canadian activist of Jewish background reflecting on antisemitism and militant Zionism, culminating in the idea of "an international left rooted in values that side with the child over the gun every single time". The piece was originally posted in The Guardian, but should that link ever disappear, I've preserved it here.

Then there's the CNN interview with the nurse from Médecins Sans Frontières who recently returned from Gaza and is desperate to go back. It's a remarkable interview. Just watch it.

Via https://youtube.com/watch?v=gk7iWgCk14U

I want to include Barack Obama's piece here again, as I thought that it demonstrates a broad grasp of the history. Like Klein's article, I've preserved Obama's Medium post as a PDF.

And finally, John Oliver delivered an exceptional story on Israel & Gaza on his show, Last Week Tonight where he talks about how extremists on both sides are effectively supporting each other at the cost of the civilian population:

Via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ9PKQbkJv8

October 29, 2023 23:25 +0000  |  Climate Change Gaza Genocide Israel War 0

I've been trying to write something about Israel's attacks on Gaza for a couple hours now and while I have a lot to say about it, my thoughts are too angry to be able to write anything worth reading. For what it's worth, here's what I have:

  • Israel has the right to exist, but it does not have the right to oppress Palestinians, steal their lands, or blockade the people of Gaza as they have been for more than a decade.
  • The Hamas attack was entirely predictable given Israel's actions in the region. That doesn't make it Right, but acting like it happened in a vacuum is intellectually dishonest.
  • I firmly believe that if there isn't enough international pressure to stop them, Israel will kill everyone in Gaza. It's a good bet that there are elements within Israel's military that have been planning for precisely this sort of situation for years and have drawn up their own "Final Solution" to their Palestinian "problem".
  • Yes, I chose that phrase carefully.
  • Barack Obama has written an excellent piece on this subject, worthy of the 5 minutes it'll take you to read it.

I am just so tired of all of this. The world is on fire and we're subsidising the companies with the matches in the trillions of dollars. Russia invaded Ukraine and is targetting the civilian population, and now Israel is doing their best to kill as many Palestinians as they can before someone steps in with a sense of mercy. My home country is stealing indigenous land to build a pipeline, and the country I'm living in is opening a new oil field. The only tools I have in my arsenal to fight any of this are waving a sign at a protest or donating some money to people who help the victims or just wave signs at other protests.

I feel powerless to stop any of the insanity in this world, but I think the most frustrating thing is that so much of this is objectively insane. How many civilians need to die in these wars? How many hectares of this planet have to be rendered uninhabitable before we just stop this madness? Why The Fuck are we even doing any of this, and what else can I do to stop it?

I don't have any answers here. I imagine that a year or so from now the list above will be longer with no new solutions.

For what it's worth, the Canadian government is matching donations for humanitarian aid in Gaza. It's one of the options I had open to me, so I sent some money. Maybe you can too.

May 15, 2013 21:24 +0000  |  Genocide History Violence War

It's been a few days, but I really should write something about it. I visited Auschwitz on Tuesday.

I don't think that any reasonable human being can be fully prepared for a trip like that. We've all grown up with the stories of the gas chambers and crematoriums, the Hollywood films referencing the "death camps", and the 1940s Soviet footage of the camp liberation. We all know what went on there, but being there, standing on the very spot where children were executed... it's something else.

Every person's experience with that place is personal, and for me, what struck me the most was the astounding industrial nature of the whole operation. In the beginning, Auschwitz was simply an industrialist's wet dream: unlimited free labour. People were shipped in by cattle car, worked until they couldn't, and then replaced like chipped cogs in a machine. But as time passed, new ideas were rolled into the process and the nature of the facility changed from simply slave labour to extermination.

What was hardest for me is that I've come to accept that bad things happen and people die... all the time. Sometimes those bad things are just unlucky street crossings or unfortunate genetics, and sometimes we're talking about random shootings and nuclear bombs. I understand these because the human factor, the nature of those killed, is never questioned. Jews may hate Arabs and Arabs may hate Jews, but one never questions that the other isn't truly human. Our media fed us all sorts of lies about the Japanese during WW2, but I don't think that Truman ever stopped thinking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as being populated by anything other than people. What I saw in Auschwitz... was something completely different.

The Nazis had decided that the population of Poland had to be eradicated. Additionally, they wanted to exterminate every Jew on the planet. We know that these were not empty words, as they did manage to murder six million Jews and six million Poles during their campaign of only a few years. But for me, the truly astonishing question is: what exactly does it mean to attempt to exterminate a people?

We often glaze over the fact that the world is Very Big, and that there are a lot of people living on it. We like to frame wars as if one nation invades another, like single entities poking at other entities and changing colour. But take a moment to absorb the fact that before the Nazis invaded, there were roughly 24million Poles in Poland. To put that in a scale that's easier to understand, Hitler wanted to eradicate roughly 10 Torontos worth of people. This was a job that needed meticulous planning and industrial "solutions".

When you're dealing with a "problem" this big, you can't simply march an army across the country. Poland is really big, too big for any army to eradicate so many. Instead they invented the SS, and compelled people to relocate to concentration camps, where they were put to work building more camps for more of their own people so they could get all of their kills in one place.

They had another problem: simply shooting them was inefficient and messy. They couldn't be wasting ammunition on Poles and Jews of all "things", and they needed their clothing for use in Germany -- it'd be no good with holes and blood stains. They needed a gas that was relatively fast-acting, that could be pumped into a closed space for a maximum kill ratio, and then vented over the camp without killing any Germans. They enlisted the help of IG Farben to design such a gas, and they used Auschwitz prisoners to test it:

  1. Put ten men in a sealed room, and pump in x amount of gas.
  2. Wait 20 minutes
  3. Check if anyone is still alive.
  4. If yes, increase the amount of gas.
  5. Repeat until everyone is dead.

Once the formula was perfected, they began killing people, but suddenly a new problem: they were killing people twice as fast as they could cremate them.

Imagine what that conversation must have been like:

  • "Sir, we've killed 400 people Jews today, but we're only burning the bodies at a rate of 200 per day. What do we do now?"
  • "Damnit do I have to think of everything? Just have the workers build two crematoriums for every gas chamber, and until they're ready just have the prisoners dump the bodies in a mass grave um.... over there".

Everything in the death camp was logged and counted:

  • Prisoners were forced to walk in rows of 5, and other prisoners had to play music while the work crews moved from their barracks to their "jobs". The music wasn't for morale, but an effort to keep the prisoners walking in time... to make counting them easier.
  • Those destined for the gas chambers (typically women and children, as they were the least "useful"), were stripped of their hair and clothing before execution. The hair would be used for clothing like socks for Germans, their personal possessions: glasses, shoes, even chamber pots, shipped back to Germany for sale and reuse.
  • One group of Roma were spared the chambers for a full 17 months, permitted to remain with their families as a sort of anthropological experiment. When Himmler tired of them however, they were all gassed.

To operate Auschwitz was to industrialise the process of liquefying a people that weren't a threat to anyone. Their lands and fortunes were all taken, there was no rational reason to do what the Nazis did unless we accept that to the Nazis, the Poles, Jews, Roma, and homosexuals weren't people, but simply numbers that needed to be re-allocated on a balance sheet.

After all this, I was actually considering the whole concept of Europe, and what it would mean for Poland to be a part. It's one thing for the British to have close relations with the Germans post-WW2, but Poland? The Germans didn't simply attack Poland, they attempted to erase them from history. They set up hundreds of camps designed to streamline the process of murder throughout Poland and Germany, and over the course of a few years gassed millions of men, women, and children as if they were action items on a project planner. Now I understand the grand purpose of the European experiment, and I support it completely, but I honestly don't understand the Polish restraint, and am not confident that I would be able to do the same in their place.

Auschwitz is not a place you should want to visit, but it's a place that everyone should see. The Nazis weren't special, they were humans doing some of the most evil things in the history of our species, and it's important that we all learn from it what we can, lest it be allowed to happen again.