Wednesday 8 June 2022

Bits and Pieces: The Missing Average and Suppressed Memories.

As I struggle with some newly discovered health problems, my attention tends to drift to different things. These are two.

The Missing Average and the two Australias.

This is a recent temperature anomaly map produced by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, reproduced today by the ABC, with Kate Doyle’s customarily excellent comments:

One part of Australia (the largest one) exceeds it, the other falls short of it, but pretty much nowhere average temperatures for this time of the year are found. The thick black line shows the border between the two (the exception is the corridor along both sides of the borderline).

An still lingering La Niña, associated now with the Indian Ocean Dipole (a similar phenomenon on the Indian Ocean) is warming up the north. A static high just south of Western Australia is pushing cold air towards the north-east, cooling down the south.

Around the east-southeast state and territory capitals, this means lower than usual temperatures. But Oz can be a pretty hot place, so this ain’t as bad as it may sound:
Melbourne’s coldest day is expected to be today, reaching just 11ºC. Canberra is only expected to get up to 8 today and Hobart 9ºC. Sydney’s coldest day is forecast for Wednesday at 15ºC and Brisbane is only expected to get up to 17ºC … yes, that is cold for Queensland.

At higher altitudes or lower latitudes, however, this may bring unseasonal snowfall. Surfing in Tassie could be a less than pleasant experience:

Evidence that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation is at risk is mounting.

Now, a new study points to the potential consequences of that on world climate. If Matthew England, Andréa S. Taschetto, and Bryam Orihuela-Pinto (UNSW) are right, La Niña could become a much more frequent feature of Australian climate. We should all worry, but inhabitants of all the Americas and Western Europe should be particularly concerned: the “Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” the authors write about is part of the better-known Gulf Stream. It may be close to shut down.

As this may hit hard countries currently members of NATO, I wouldn’t be surprised US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Council president Charles Michel blamed “Pew-teen” for that.

Suppressed Memories: NATO before NATO.


That’s what Isabella Higgins (one of the ABC’s Europe correspondents) announced in sombre tone a few days ago.

Finnish dark, traumatic collective memories of the Winter War, when Finland had to fight alone the invading Soviet Union, Higgins says, are pushing the traditionally neutral nation to join NATO.

And I suppose I don’t need to tell you that today we would call that conflict, fought in 1939-40, a war of aggression.

Higgins might be right on the memories thing, but I’m not convinced.

I’ll explain why I find that troublesome.

Observe this picture carefully. Pay attention to those planes’ appearance and particularly to the markings on fuselages and wings. Observe the cockpit, its windshield, the antenna-like object behind the cockpit and in the left wing, the shape of its front wheels.


World War II buffs, I’m sure, will have little difficulty recognising in that picture one of the workhorses of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe: two Messerschmitt Bf 109 (readers less familiar may try this Wikipedia entry, containing plenty photos and drawings).

But here comes the surprising bit: you see those swastikas? They indicate that those two planes were not piloted by Hermann Goering’s underlings. Those were not Luftwaffe planes.

You see, while often including their own version of the swastika, Third Reich military planes and vehicles always used a stylised version of the Iron Cross as their main national marking: a symbol quite like a bold face, black “+” arithmetical operator, with white borders, which you can see in the Wikipedia entry mentioned above, or here.

Those planes – alongside tanks, artillery, vehicles, infantry weapons and ammo, instructors and trainers – were provided liberally by Nazi Germany. They belonged to the Finnish Air Force and were deployed by Finnish pilots against the USSR in 1941 when Nazi Germany, with the support of its Italian, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, and Finnish allies (plus volunteers from neutral Spain and Sweden and virtually every single Nazi-occupied country, including the Baltic republics) launched its own war of aggression.

In a way, that was NATO, before NATO.

That, Isabella, is a collective memory suppressed today in Finland (then as now, I haste to add, not a Fascist dictatorship, but a liberal democracy): once they fought alone against the USSR, as you wrote, but soon enough they found a powerful but today most distasteful ally, as you neglected to mention. That memory did fade as the memory that an Einsatzkommando Finnland operated in a liberal democracy also faded. You know what Einsatzgruppen were, don’t you Isabella?.

Incidentally, that also explains why I think mass hysteria, fueled by our own media (including, sadly, the ABC) is a much better explanation than traumatic “collective memories”. After all, if Finnish bad memories are considered justified, why Russian bad memories are dismissed out of hand?

Image Credits:
[A] “Finnish Air Force: Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 fighter at Helsinki Malmi airport in June 1943.”. Author: unknown. Source: WikiMedia. File in the public domain.

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