Wednesday, August 31, 2005
We just took a tremendous hit. In terms of loss of life, it appears estimates have ballooned from approximately 80 to at least 1000. In terms of economic impact, we've lost access for an unknown period of time to the fifth-largest port in the world, we've lost (again for an unknown period of time) 25% of our oil refining capacity, and we've frankly all but lost a major city: New Orleans. It could be months before any of these issues are resolved, and New Orleans will never be the same city, no matter what. The flooding won't receed tomorrow or the next day. Katrina headed north and swelled every river and tributory heading south. It will be days before the flooding even begins to receed. We can't even comtemplate how to start cleaning up until the waters receed. Meanwhile, countless bodies will head out to sea--people forever unaccounted for.
Yes, the tsunami was far worse in terms of loss of life and a far greater humanitarian disaster. But we're past that. Yes, I'm sure they're still struggling, but since they tossed the non-Muslims out of the relief effort I've sort of lost sympathy for them, and with that, the UN now has troops and money to spare.
So where is the UN for us now? Where is Jan Egelund, who accused the US of being "stingy" even while we sent a naval armada to the relief effort and ramped up our monetary committment with every following day? Where are the UN types who accused Bush of sitting on his hands, even though he immediately ordered said armada to the scene then waited for reports from the scene to tell him whether it was enough or more was required--and meanwhile Koffie Annan was skiing in Colorado?
I don't mean to be flip--I know that these are all rhetorical questions. The UN will never, ever come to the aid of this country no matter what happens. And I don't know that I'd want them anyway. Jan Egelund will never, ever back down from his "stingy" statement even though we gave far more than any other country, and he won't give us a single Euro in the wake of this disaster.
But the questions beg to be asked, particularly in light of the criticism we suffered. The Australians and the New Zealanders really took the bull by the horns in the wake of the tsunami. They deserve tremendous credit. But we also responded in force to an event half the world away, eventually shouldering the brunt of the relief--until we were all chased away for not being of the appropriate religion, that is.
So where's our relief? Jan Egelund???
Monday, August 29, 2005
On 9/11 we were struck an incredible blow. Our emergency services people responded to that blow and paid dearly for their dedication. They will forever be lionized in US history for their sacrifices.
As the wearied, ash covered firefighters finished their awful job, the staff of American pride was picked up by the infantryman and carried overseas.
Remember this in the wake of 911?
We took it to them. Big time.
And we owe our warriors. They did it for us. We owe them a means to stay in touch, to express themselves. I bid you take a look at project Valour IT. Valour IT seeks to provide computers and voice-actuated software to wounded warriors who cannot type. In this day and age, computers have become a primary means of staying in touch. Imagine if I took your computer away--I know people who would end up curled in a fetal position in a corner.
Help out if you can.
Update: Here's the URL for Project Valour-IT
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Just came downstairs after a day of going through every minute detail of the kids' school supplies, filling out paperwork, checking and rechecking, ironing uniforms, packing lunches....I went on missions with less prep than this.
Anyway, I turned on the TV with the idea of going to coverage of the hurricane. Just today the potential nationwide significance of this storm began dawning on me (read-WAY higher gas prices) and I was looking for coverage. ROFASix is way ahead of me (as usual) and has the frightening details here.
Well, never got to the news. Caught sight of Ron White (Blue Collar Comedy Tour). The guy is crude, nasty, biting and impossibly funny. So I stayed there. Better than the depressing reality of this hurricane.
As the show wound up I turned my attention back to the computer and was almost completely oblivious to the TV until I heard something that made me turn around. I can only honestly say I caught the last three letters: I-R-E. But I will swear that they show sent an old Morse telegraphers' exercise as part of the closing image (Ron White Productions).
I was part of the last generation of Morse Code operators in the Army, but it wasn't that long ago...honest. At any rate, we all knew a sort of limbering-up exercise (which could easily cross the line into showing off like you were a rock drummer beating out rhythm). It was "Ben's best bent wire".
Remember that to a Morse Code guy, dots are "dit" and dashes are "dah". Here is the exercise:
Dah dit dit dit ... dit... dah dit... dit dit dit
Dah dit dit dit ... dit... dit dit dit... dah
Dah dit dit dit ... dit... dah dit... dah
Dit dah dah ... dit dit... dit dah dit... dit
Pretty catchy, huh?
Friday, August 26, 2005
Well, here's another one I REALLY like. The Gun Line.
In a recent post he mentions two things I've mulled over a lot. English as a second language and nuclear free zones.
The US is a huge melting pot. The best one in the world. I spent five years in Europe and liked the place and most of the people, but if you think Europeans are more accepting of other cultures and people than we are, I have some news for you. Josephine Baker notwithstanding, the Europeans could teach us a great deal about xenophobia.
Having said that, we have a tremendous number of people in this country who speak one variation or another of Spanish as their first language. That's ok, to a point. I'm going to get myself in huge trouble here, but I'm on a roll. It's ok, to a point. We have the richest culture of any nation on the planet exactly because so many people come here and bring their cultures and languages with them. Vast numbers of Spanish-speaking people live here and serve in the Armed Forces. I applaud them for that, but they tend to stick together and speak to each other exclusively in Spanish. First of all, it sets them apart from everyone--there's no assimilation, no sharing. It's them and everyone else.
Now, here's the big one. I remember years ago watching a documentary about an airliner that went down. One of the difficulties in investigating what went wrong was that in the last minutes the cockpit crew reverted to their native language--Afrikaans. The international language of all civil aircraft is English. It's not my fault, it's just the way it is. And I don't blame the crew one bit. If I was a pilot and the international language was whatever, I'd probably lapse into English at the very end. In fact, it probably wouldn't be printable.
Now imagine a tank crew. A round hits the tank. Blood, guts and feathers everywhere. At this critical moment, under unbelievable stress, is our hero going to communicate with his crew in English, or is he going to lapse into the language he uses the majority of the time?
Case in point, when I was in basic training, a woman froze on the grenade range. In her terror she utterly lost her capability to speak English. I happened to be there at the time and ended up accompanying a drill sergeant to work with her as I spoke Spanish. It came to a good end, obviously, but it would have been a whole lot easier if she was more immersed in English.
I'm not picking on Hispanics and definitely not suggesting that they abandon their culture upon entering the US. It's exactly the amalgum of so many culures that makes the US the great place that it is.
But I'm suggesting that English as a uniting language isn't such a bad idea.
As far as Nuclear Free Zones, sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're not. They're funny when people post signs declaring X location a "Nuclear Free Zone". Sort of like all of the schools that spread signs around their perimeters declaring the school to be a "Drug Free Zone". Yeah, that sign will keep them off of the property. You know how scary signs can be...
They're not funny when communities such as Takoma Park declare themselves to be a "nuclear free zone", and that includes participating in evacuations. Whether or not it's likely that DC will be subjected to a nuclear attack is beside the point. Takoma Park, which sits astride evacuation corridors from DC, has announced that should DC be evacuated, they can't evacuate through Takoma Park. Well, first, I'd like to see them stop it, should it ever occur. And second, what an incredible abdication of responsibility. You'd like to see you friends fried before you'd allow them to head for safety via your neighborhood? What a bunch of yo yo's.
The left is far, far more frightening than Cowboy George.
For what it's worth, CPT Chuck's wife, the indomitable Carren, was also on her way to becoming an Army officer when a repeated back injury sidelined her. If I read things right, she fought through the first injury, determined to succeed, and it was only when she reinjured her back that she was forced to withdraw. So kudos to Carren for determination to serve her country, and for standing by one of our heroes.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
It's worth noting that while Sheehan's antics have endeared her to far lefties such as Code Pink, they have utterly alienated her from her family, the very people whom you would expect to depend on in your time of loss. Her parents and siblings have issued a letter distancing themselves from her and her husband has filed for divorce.
Being in a dark and maudlin mood today, I might point out one line from Cox's "letter":
"Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future."
Death without a purpose is something I dread more than any pain of death itself. Yet, as an aging ex-warrior I fear that is exactly where I head. Some day I shall simply fade away, and to no purpose. Just one more life lived, and not particularly well.
So much better had I lived a brief, yet glorious life as did Casey Sheehan.
For all my my faults, I give credit when it's due. Thanks to Murf for setting me down the path to a few positive changes.
Now, when it comes to HTML, I'm still like that room full of monkeys that will eventually type the works of Shakespeare. I do stuff and when it works, I'm pleased. When it doesn't work, I muddle until it does.
I still have some muddling to do, but I like the changes.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
A new fast food place opened in town this morning. For their grand opening they announced that the first 100 customers would get a coupon good for free combo meals for a year. My sister-in-law, who literally salivates at the words "free" and "sale", requested the use of my two kids. I knew what was going to happen--she has a long track record of using my kids to get free stuff and then taking it from them--but my wife shuts me down every time I bring that little detail up.
Anyway, off they went. Spent the night at the sister-in-law's place so that they could arrive at 5AM for the 7AM opening. Asked Snake Eater, Jr. about it this evening. Turns out I had no idea how weird such an event could get. They got there only to find out that people had camped in the parking lot the night before. There was a photo and article in the paper this evening. Tents, people playing cards at tables in the parking lot--all before dusk of the night before the grand opening. All for a year's worth of fast food...
Everyone has their priorities, but I think those people need to get a grip. You spent 16+ hours camping in a parking lot so you could get fast food combo meals for a year?
This is a sort of "sincere" chain. They give things like toothbrushes and motivational books with their children's meals. But it's still fast food. It's still fried and accompanied by a soda drink.
These people who had nothing better to do than camp in a parking lot for the priviledge of greasing their gullets with fast food have a finite number of futures. Either they'll grow sick of fast food combos well before the year is out or they'll grow fat and diabetic and sue their doctors for telling them they're fat and diabetic.
On the other hand, maybe they can use the coupons to feed themselves when they pull their next campout for tickets to "Before the Saga Begins: The Birth of Yoda".
Seems some fat woman went to her doctor, he told her she's fat, and now she's offended. So she complained to the complained to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. Sadly, the Board, which presumably is made up of medical professionals concerned for peoples' health, was just as offended as she and has asked the state Attorney General's office to investigate the doctor despite a committee recommendation that they close the matter with a simple letter to the doctor.
The woman has become diabetic and has developed gastroesophageal reflux and chest pains.
Lady--you're fat. You know it, too. When someone calls me fat it's kind of hard to get real worked up about it, because it's true. You need to take the same tack. The guy was just trying to help. And you're just looking for a payoff. To keep you in Twinkies for the remainder of your truncated life.
We were in Germany when my Army career finally ended due to a wrecked knee. We stayed for a while and I worked in the recreation department on a field station. In the winter, I was the Ski Guy. I did all of the maintenance and issued skis to the mostly civilian personnel. Back then ski bindings were adjusted using an algorhythm that depended on the skier's weight and boot sole length (leverage). I had one woman in particular who consistantly refused to tell me her weight. I was mystified. She always wore the black spandex pants that were fashionable then, so I could see every lump of cellulite from her waist down (shudder...). I knew she was fat. I knew just how fat she was. The only thing I wasn't certain of was her precise weight. She would take my chart and point to a setting. Well, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but even I knew her weight once she did that. But she did it time after time as though she was guarding a secret--"Maybe nobody actually notices how fat I am through my cellulite-revealing pants". She'd probably complain about the doctor, too.
I grew sick to death of Windows ME about two years ago and upgraded to XP. I have all of the materials around here.....somewhere. CPT Chuck can have my registration number if I ever find it, but maybe someone else can lay theri hands on it first.
And it's obvious from this post, that despite losing several yards of skin and a couple of digits to an IED, he hasn't lost his spirit or sense of humor.
Speaking of CPT Chuck, I guess it's time I mentioned Project Valor IT. I initially felt it was pretty thoroughly covered in the MilBlog circle and didn't want to be redundant, but upon retrospect, it's bigger than all of us. In a nutshell, it's a project to provide injured warriors with laptops and voice activated software so that they can stay in touch despite their injuries. I'll let CPT Chuck tell you about it here.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I'm not at all insensitive to the loss 0f a child. As I'ver stated, it must be the most wrenching experience possible. I know as a father I'd do anything it took to protect my children, right up to giving up my own life.
But I just don't always "get" other parents. I took Ryan's parents to task in the post below. Now it's time to once again take Natalie Holloway's parents to task.
She's gone. I'm terribly sorry. She was someone's child. It's the most awful thing imaginable.
BUT. What the hell was she doing in Aruba, hitting bars at midnight and leaving with guys she just met? Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Holloway. You endured a tragic loss, but what sort of values did you fail to instill in your daughter? What the hell is a college student doing in Aruba? I worked evenings as a fry cook and weekends making pizzas. Countless other students have waited tables, etc. You guys just wrote a blank check and said "Have fun". Well, she had fun alright. Right up to the point where something went wrong that night.
The local paper runs little personal ads on the third page. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries and anniversaries of deaths. Mostly stuff like "Lordy, lordy, look who's forty" and maudlin notes about how so and so was taken away from us.
Today brought another maudlin note about the loss of Ryan at the tender age of 20. I feel for his parents. The loss of a child has got to be the most wrenching experience possible. But they lost my sympathy early in their post. It read as follows:
"Ryan's life was cut short as a result of a restaurant serving Ryan (a minor) alcohol, afterwards he drove and died instantly in a car crash".
Bad punctuation aside, Ryan didn't die as a result of the restaurant serving him alcohol. He died because he chose to consume alcohol, presumably to the point of intoxication, and then drove. I wasn't there, but I'm pretty damned sure that nobody in the restaurant shoved a funnel into his mouth and nobody shoved him into his car and made him drive.
Those were all Ryan's decisions. Yes, the restaurant broke the law by serving him, but he killed himself. Plain and simple.
Have we hit the point where nobody is responsible for his own actions?
I don't know who wrote the ad/accusation for Ryan, but I'd suggest that he or she might find sympathy with Cindy Sheehan. You sure as hell won't find it here. You'd have found it right up to the point where you blamed the restaurant for his death. After that, you lost me.
If someone can tell me how to move the margin to the left so that most of the links read in a single line instead of being bunched up to the right, I'll welcome the advice. Hell, I'll even buy you a beer if you ever happen to find yourself in the Peoples' Republic of Maryland.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
“Nothing can ever be the same”.
I remember those words. I was working in R&D, but had been sold up the river for 90 days to the QC department. They had hired someone to a high level position and she was in over her head, so I was asked to pitch in until she got up to speed. I hated the day to day sameness of QC, but there was a radio and internet access everywhere, things we lacked in the R&D lab.
I got to work late that day, mostly due to my apathy at working in QC, so I heard the news in the parking lot: An airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I shrugged it off, figuring some bonehead had accidentally flown his Cessna into one of the towers. Soon after, the horrible facts came to light and I ran for the R&D lab to fill everyone in. News like that makes its way even into the R&D lab-they already knew. That's when my boss made the pronouncement: “Nothing can ever be the same”.
I was thinking about that yesterday for some reason. Thinking about a guy I know who was in the Army for something like 13 years, then bagged out for whatever reason. He was an Infantry officer, airborne and Ranger qualified, but I don't think he ever spent time in TO&E Airborne unit. Be that as it may, after being out of the Army for quite a few years he got a bug up his whazoo and joined a newly formed Reserve Civil Affairs battalion. The battalion is tasked to support the 18th Airborne Corps, and he signed up mostly so that he could jump again. That was in August of 2001.
He spent six months or so training full-time, then was off to Afghanistan. He came back, with another deployment looming, and ditched his lucrative civilian career in commercial sales to sign back up for the regular Army. For him, and countless others who have followed that same route, nothing can ever be the same.
Then after contemplating that, I read Dadmanly's blog. In profiling his battalion CSM, Dadmanly also writes of his unit's transition from a peacetime National Guard unit to a deployed active duty unit. It's a profound transition, and nothing can ever be the same.
Although I supported the invasion of Afghanistan fully, I wasn't real certain that we needed to enter Iraq as well. Given what has transpired there, I now support it fully. The media have apparently consigned the issue of the children's prison to the memory hole, but it was real. The pogroms were real, the torture was real. The WMD research, hidden away from us while the UN postured, was real. The links to Al Quaida were real as well. A place like that can't be allowed to stay the same.
Now that we're there, we have to stay there until the place stabilizes. To simply pull up stakes at this point would be to allow Iraq to become a lawless wasteland.
Nothing can ever be the same.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Military procurement isn't in the hands of the military. It's in the hands of congress. When the military says "We need an upgraded widget", congress decides if they'll fund an upgraded widget. If congress agrees, then the military will begin a search for which company can provide the upgraded widget. There are competitions, field trials, etc.
THEN congress gets involved again. If the best, cheapest widget upgrade isn't produced in Massachusetts,
murderer Senator Ted Kennedy gets up in arms. Or if it's not made in West Virginia, Grand Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd gets involved.
There are times in history when Congress has forced the military to procure a “second choice”. There are times when Congress has actually forced the military to procure something they didn't even want. I can't recall the specific example, but I think it was an aircraft.
Recently fourteen Marines were killed in an AAVP7A1. Lots of letters and numbers. In my day it was known as an LVTP-7. Not too much of an improvement, but I knew it stood for Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel.
Figure: Landing Vehicle. In other words, the thing floats. Not well, mind you. I have great respect for the Marines that get into those things. I've seen them launched, and they just b a r e l y float.
But float, they do and they provide Marines a means of not only of getting ashore, but of having armor protection once ashore. Not M-1 tank armor, but armor. Armor that can float, then fight ashore. It's a compromise. Sound familiar? Like Humvees aren't tanks? Well, neither are AAVP7A1s. They're damn good vehicles (if a bit scary to landlubbers) and they do the job that they were designed to do.
That 14 Marines were killed aboard an AAVP7A1 is a tragedy. I hate it. But uninformed news people make it even worse with their articles. They write of military failings—it was the military's fault that the Marines were in such an incapable vehicle, etc.
Hell, if the military had their way we'd be driving something that would fly across the Pacific, land and disgorge 300,000 Marines and fire eight-inch shells over their heads for support.
If you can develop such a machine and produce it in either Massachusetts or West Virginia, let me know. I'll invest.
My name is on a "patent disclosure" that the company filed for a closed-system bioreactor. I came up with a way to keep it from pulling a vacuum and imploding as it burned off oxygen but it never got as far as an actual patent. I guess that was my 15 minutes of relative obscurity.
A post by Byron York contains a photo of administration officials sitting down with Cindy Sheehan, the "grieving mother" turned attack dog who has been picketing President Bush's ranch. Note that they're just sitting down on the ground at her feet--no desks to hide fellating interns under, just a couple of regular guys there to talk. Read the dialog, too. They may as well have been talking to a post, but they didn't just stand up and tell her to pound sand like I would have.
Anyway, we've all heard about the woman who decided to picket President Bush's Crawford, TX ranch. Apparently she arrived there aboard a bus labeled "Impeachment Tour". Cute.
At any rate, she asks "Why did George Bush kill my son?". Ignoring the fact that Bush has an alibi, he wasn't in Iraq at the time of her son's death, it's a simplistic question. "Why are we there?" is the real question, and NOTR posts the answer to that question here.
I particularly like the answer because it validates what I've been saying: It isn't altruism, it's to our interest to destroy the Saddam regime and rebuild Iraq into a country that can contribute. Much as we destroyed Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan then rebuilt them into contributory societies.
Russell Wagner served briefly in the US Army. I don't know about his service, but he exited as a PFC, so I'm assuming it was brief and without distinction.
Later in life he decided it would be a good idea to tie up a couple in their 80s and stab them to death. Gruesome, hideously painful stuff.
Wagner croaked in prison and some jerk petitioned to have his remains interred at Arlington. As it turns out, technicalities remain supreme. Had he been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, he would have to be buried elsewhere. But since he was "merely" sentenced to life, he's eligible.
Reminds me of the brother-in-law. The Catholic Church does not recognize divorce, but he married a divorced woman with a child. How? Well, she wasn't married in the church the first time, so she was never married. So they say. Technicalities.
Sort of like OJ Simpson getting into the Football Hall of Fame, while Pete Rose can't even though he bet on his own damn team. Not like he was going to throw the game.
Anyway, next time I get really drunk and there are no Park Police in sight I intend to unleash a huge leak on Wagner's grave, as he lies there next to brave, noble men and women.
In the same vein as NOTR's reply: I already find Dean plenty offensive. Physician or not, he's a very petty person (Note I avoided the term "man". That term has implications for me).
Monday, August 08, 2005
I was extremely uncomfortable with the game. From the animated screenshots I saw on TV, the game tracks the real events. It's not a game about a huge sweeping event such as the invasion of Normandy or the Battle of the Bulge, in which the vast majority of participants are anonymous, rendering the whole thing somewhat generic (though they damn sure weren't generic to the guys who were there). This game is about a well-defined military action which has been written about in great detail and has had a major movie as well as several TV documentaries made about it. It was a small-unit action and most Americans can name at least one person who was there. Try Randall Shugart, Gary Gordon, Michael Durant, Jamie Smith, Todd Blackburn, Matt Eversman...It goes on and on.
Our military people were hung out to dry by an incompetent president who is on record as "abhorring" the military. People were starving due to a warlord mentality in Somalia. The UN made a typically pathetic effort to relieve the suffering and we ended up sending in military forces to destroy the warlords and allow aid to be distributed amongst the people. Once on the ground, US military commanders informed the commander-in-chief that they needed armor to effectively prosecute the fight against the warlords. This much I remember vividly: The Dept. of State (Which controls the military since when?) said that sending armor to Somalia would be deemed "provocative". Why it would be any more "provocative" than our military patrols is beyond me, but I don't have a PhD in International Relations.
So we sent a raid into the middle of a city swarming with armed and hostile citizens, and paid dearly.
Now somebody has created "entertainment" based on that. I have but to wonder how long before someone releases a "Battle of Roberts' Ridge" game. Or maybe an "MH-47 Down" game.
Sick, sick, sick.
Matthew Heidt at Froggy Rumunations has more to say about it.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Toni at My View noted the Moonbat Blog Taxonomy page which rates Moonbat Blogs by their "Reality Quotient".
I like the page, although I think the rater is far too kind to Oliver Willis...
Do check out My View, but skip the post on the male thong unless you're on a starvation diet.
Here's a prime example of the sort of utter lowlife that still slithers about at the lowest levels of our society: The "Reverend" Fred Phelps.
Don't know if there is a God, but if there is, who the hell does Fred Phelps to think that he can speak for Him? If God hates "fags", which I doubt; that's up to Him to announce, not arrogant pissant Phelps.
Not content with just hating "fags" (Does that include lesbians?Or maybe he gets off on that so gives them a pass on it) now Phelps hates America, and those who defend it. He's been traveling around "protesting" (being a jerk, more like it) at soldiers' funerals, adding needless pain for their families and mourners.
Check out the PDF file announcing their latest protest. It's clearly written by someone of exceedingly limited intellect.
Clearly it won't be to my advantage to drive to Arlington tomorrow and beat the hell out of the old fool and his cretinous followers in front of the Metro Police Department, but here's to hoping that I someday find myself in a dark alley with a few of them.
Tip of the beret to Gold Falcon.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Anyway, spent a few days at the Boy Scout Jamboree. While the atmosphere was certainly dampened by the deaths at the beginning of the week, life went on.
Was it hot? Hell yes. Was it humid (even worse)? Hell yes. Was the weather utterly miserable? Hell yes. Was it fun anyway? Hell yes.
There were some 47,000 scouts in attendance, and I'd hazard a guess that at any one time there were close to that number of visitors in attendance as well. It was crowded, frantic, frenetic and at times miserable. But we lived. No heat issues among our hearty gang of four, though we saw plenty of video game addicts lying prostrate along the path.
There were literally hundreds of exhibits. Sea Scouts, Venturers (Explorer Scouts), Order of the Arrow (yes, I'm a member), Eagle Scouts..you mention it. The Army exhibits took the cake, though.
Here Snake Eater, Jr. emerges from the loader's hatch of an M-1 tank.