Ranking Systems and Things Esoteric

Whimsical story to go with this bizarre pic.... I have never ever seen this image before,
of Joseph Goebbels looking like he's ready to do something comical for the photographer,
something for which Hitler probably would've ordered his execution....

I was going to delete this story but revised and expanded it instead.
This blog's Alexa ranking shot up to 136,000, 107,761 103,627 (it's  79,965 today, but has been hovering around 80k for a while) in the U.S.. The lower the number, the better the ranking.

What the hell is Alexa?

Well, it offers insights into a website's popularity. You visit Alexa.com, paste an http address in the included search box -- and then view estimates of that site's ranking in both the site's native country and the world.

Or, as Alexa says:

Alexa's traffic estimates are based on data from our global traffic panel, which is a sample of millions of Internet users using one of over 25,000 different browser extensions. In addition, we gather much of our traffic data from direct sources in the form of sites that have chosen to install the Alexa script on their site and certify their metrics. However, site owners can always choose to keep their certified metrics private. 
Our global traffic rank is a measure of how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months. The rank is calculated using a proprietary methodology that combines a site's estimated average of daily unique visitors and its estimated number of pageviews over the past 3 months. We provide a similar country-specific ranking, which is a measurement of how a website ranks in a particular country relative to other sites over the past month.

 A websites ranking can be actually much higher, however, based on a number of variables. A free Alexa browser extension is available if you're interested in blog rankings etcetera.)

This is one of the only non-mob-related stories I've ever written for Cosa Nostra News; it's also one of the most self indulgent...

My personal interests—which, unbelievable as it may sound, extend beyond Cosa Nostra—are wide and varied—and somewhat esoteric. (Okay... boring.) I love films and books; horror is among my favorite genres. In terms of writers, my literary hero is Vladimir Nabokov (see my Amazon review of an early Nabokov work here). But I have many other favorite authors, including Thomas Perry (read STRIP!)

"An aging but formidable strip club owner, Claudiu “Manco” Kapak, is robbed by a masked gunman as he places his cash receipts in a bank’s night-deposit box. Enraged, he sends out half a dozen security men to find the witless culprit. Their search leads them to Joe Carver, an innocent but hardly defenseless newcomer who evades capture and sets out to make Kapak wish he’d targeted someone else. Meanwhile, the real burglar, Jefferson Davis Falkins, and his new girlfriend Carrie seem to believe they’ve found a whole new profession: robbing Manco Kapak. Lieutenant Nick Slosser, the police detective in charge of the puzzling and increasingly violent case, has his own troubles, including worries about how he’s going to afford to send the oldest child of each of his two bigamous marriages to college without making their mothers suspicious. As this strange series of events explodes into a triple killing, Carver finds himself in the middle of a brewing gang war over Kapak’s little empire, while Falkins and Carrie journey into territory more dangerous than they could have ever imagined." (Amazon description)

And of course the one and only, the incredible, Elmore Leonard, who wrote one of the greatest Mafia novels since the Godfather, called PRONTO. ("Speedy, exhilarating, and smooth. Nobody does it better," wrote the Washington Post, of the book.... Entertainment Weekly proclaimed: "The man knows how to grab you—and Pronto is one of the best grabbers in years.")

"Fans of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens of the hit TV series Justified are in for a major treat. The unstoppable manhunter with the very itchy trigger finger stars in Pronto, a crime fiction gem from the one and only Elmore Leonard, “the greatest crime writer of our time, perhaps ever” (New York Times Book Review). The Grand Master justifies the overwhelming acclaim he has received over the course of his remarkable career with an electrifying thriller that sends the indomitable Raylan racing to Italy on the trail of a fugitive bookie who’s hiding from the vengeful Miami mob. The legendary Leonard, whom the Seattle Times lauds as the “King Daddy of crime writers,” proves that all comparisons to American noir icons John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain are well deserved with this tale of very dirty doings and extremely dangerous men coming together in the birthplace of Puccini, Garibaldi, and La Cosa Nostra." (Amazon.com product description)

My interests also include the Eastern front of World War II, after Hitler unleashed blitzkrieg on Russia's Red Army. Some of the largest tank battles in the history of modern warfare then took place, such as the Battle of Kursk. One hesitates to imagine how much more difficult the war against Nazism might've been if Hitler had decided not to invade Russia; Allies in the west faced about 25% of the Wehrmacht (the Luftwaffe was so mismanaged it was practically nonexistent when our soldiers stormed the beaches.)

I found an interesting story about the factors that helped bring about Hitler's defeat. Titled Gen Carl Spaatz and D Day, here's an excerpt:

With the notable exception of Albert Speer, the highest Nazi leadership had little conception of the industrial process. Almost all major German war-production decisions and priorities rested not on economic efficiency, but on the self-interest of the entities involved.Not only did the Nazis fritter away their industrial strength, but also their ideology and individual outlook sapped their efforts. Having gained power using tactics of terror and intimidation, Hitler preferred retaliation to passive defensive measures.

Resources expended on V weapons produced technical triumphs—but at the direct expense of aircraft production.

Interestingly, Hitler and his gang of merry antisemitic madmen were and still are frequently referred to as "gangsters," perhaps as a byproduct of the times. The war and events surrounding it must have appeared in newspaper headlines on a daily basis during the mid to late-1930s and 1940s, coinciding with the Mafia's rise in power after the formation of the nation's crime families once the Castellammarese War reached its conclusion. Both topics, Nazis and gangsters, were probably slowly and steadily linked in WWII America's collective imagination, its Zeitgeist.

Of course we Americans don't know our history, and I daresay that while most WWII buffs know all about D-Day, the Normandy landings, etc. they simply know little to nothing about the War's Eastern front, where 75% of Hitler's war machine fought first a war of conquest, then one of retreat, though count among them some of the most brilliant battle retreats and Rearguard Actions in military history. Lost Victories, the title of the battle memoirs of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, perhaps Hitler's greatest military strategist and battlefield commander, aptly describes those forgotten wars between two of history's greatest totalitarian regimes, the fascist Nazis and the Communist Red Army of Joseph Stalin.

Erich von Manstein
Hitler both admired and feared Manstein, who's considered a superlative military strategist as well as a logistical genius. Manstein was the architect of Hitler's invasion of France and the so-called "Low Countries." Anticipating the Allies expectation that the Wehrmacht would use the same strategy it used in World War I, Manstein crafted a battle plan that involved attacking where opposing forces truly least expected, through the Ardennes, a region of thick forests, rough terrain, and rolling hills (much later, toward the end of the war, the Battle of the Bulge was fought there as well). After smashing into France using, literally, the route of greatest natural resistance, the German tanks, led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, bolted for the English Channel, cutting off the French and Allied armies in Belgium and Flanders.

In only three weeks, Nazi Germany conquered France, defeating the French army (but allowing the inexplicable escape of remaining British and Allied forces at Dunkirk, a decision of Hitler's that has confounded historians for decades.)

A noteworthy Manstein bio linked to above notes:
To many close students of World War II, von Manstein is already considered the greatest commander of the war, if not the entire 20th century. ... At the head of a panzer corps he reached the gates of Leningrad in 1941, then took command of the 11th Army and conquered Sevastopol and the Crimea. After destroying another Soviet army in the north, he was given command of the ad hoc Army Group Don to retrieve the German calamity at Stalingrad, whereupon he launched a counteroffensive that, against all odds, restored the German front.

Afterward he commanded Army Group South, nearly crushing the Soviets at Kursk, and then skillfully resisted their relentless attacks as he traded territory for coherence in the East. 
Though an undoubtedly brilliant military leader—whose achievements, considering the forces at his disposal, cast those of Patton, Rommel, MacArthur, and Montgomery in the pale—surprisingly little is known about Manstein himself, save for his own memoir and the accolades of his contemporaries. In this book we finally have a full portrait of the man, including his campaigns, and an analysis of what precisely kept a genius such as Manstein harnessed to such a dark cause.

Hitler "retired" Manstein in 1942 over differences in approaches regarding Eastern Front military strategy. (Manstein lived in reality; Hitler had long since ducked into fantasy, and he was well on his way to turning on his own master race, declaring them unfit to serve under him.)

Manstein was one of those rare Prussians warmongers who was not fearful to speak up when he thought the F├╝hrer wrong -- also a factor fueling Hitler's decision to dismiss him.)

Manstein's battle diary, Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hitler's Most Brilliant General, makes for absorbing reading for World War II buffs and those interested in the strategic planning of large-scale land battles using conventional arms.


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