September 30, 2007

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:03 am

Why Iowahawk is not a millionaire is beyond me. This is stinkin’ brilliant.

September 28, 2007

Funny Thing About International Treaties

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:48 am

They tend to look more beneficial to other countries than they do the United States.

At least the ones the “international community” complains about us not joining.

This gripe sponsored by the Law of the Sea treaty. Ace’s place reminded me of it.

September 26, 2007

Thanks Again, San Francisco

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:27 am

Back in the distant past of a few weeks back when the San Francisco city fathers hotly debated the terrible burden of having blue painted airplanes darken their skies, a commenter over here asked why we were bashing their fair city.

This week, it’s because they need a few Marines walking the streets.

Oh, by the way, the Blue Angels will be in Salinas this weekend. Salinas isn’t as frou-frou as San Fran, but they somehow manage to gather excitement for the show.

September 25, 2007

Draft The Boomers

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:31 am

Wow. I thought I was the only guy that thought this way. “National Service” is not just a tax but forced labor; if we’re advocating it (I am not), then new adults aren’t necessary the correct demographic.

Indeed, the moral case for conscripting the elderly for civilian service is arguably stronger than that for drafting the young. Many elderly people are healthy enough to perform nonstrenuous forms of “national service.” Unlike the young, the elderly usually won’t have to postpone careers, marriage, and educational opportunities to fulfill their forced labor obligations. Moreover, the elderly, to a far greater extent than the young, are beneficiaries of massive government redistributive programs, such as Social Security and Medicare – programs that transfer enormous amounts of wealth from other age groups to themselves. Nonelderly poor people who receive welfare benefits are required to work (or at least be looking for work) under the 1996 welfare reform law; it stands to reason that the elderly (most of whom are far from poor) can be required to work for the vastly larger government benefits that they receive. Middle-aged people are also not obviously inferior candidates for civilian “national service” than the young. I know I could do most kinds of service better today than when I was 18. To be clear, I am not arguing for imposing forced labor on the elderly or the middle-aged; but I do believe that doing so would be no worse than imposing that burden on the young.

Why then the focus on the young? I suspect it is because they are politically weak. Research shows that 18-21 year olds are less likely to vote, less likely to engage in political activism, and have lower political knowledge levels than any other age group (see e.g. – this book). Obviously, they also have less money, make fewer campaign contributions, and are least likely to actually hold positions of power in government. The AARP would crucify any politician who had the temerity to suggest that the elderly be required to do forced labor.


Yeah, Like That

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:08 am



September 24, 2007

Someone Quietly Alert Folks Like Charles Johnson

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:23 am

I sat in a room on a military base that was decorated with descriptions of Japanese-American folks in WWII who put a marker down for their national loyalties and fought for America. The speaker was eloquent if not unaccented, a Muslim, who was working hard to make DoD ready. Assisting him were folks who were first- and second-generation Americans who felt equally strongly about their country.

Later I spent some time listening to a chaplain discuss religion in military operations, in the single best lecture of such kind I have ever heard. The discussion was thorough, didn’t talk down to the junior enlisted, and respectful of the faiths discussed. Following that I sat in on some extended classes on cultural understanding and awareness that were not political correctness run amok but actually useful classes that understood the challenge of standing between cultures.

I will email some of this to a Muslim friend of mine, a shipmate with several brothers in American uniform right now. The bottom line is that there are Americans who are taking big risks and putting their lot in with their countrymen despite their costs being higher than mine.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears. I know there are comrades working and fighting alongside me against hirabim who kill and destroy.

We used to say things like “Save it for the Nazis”. Pass the word to the haters; I’ve got shipmates in the fight. Respect them as you respect the rest of my comrades-in-arms.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:24 am

Yeah he’s going to pull the heartstrings on this but the man has a point.

I am not asking you to love the war. I am asking you to listen to a man who watched his guts leak from his body to protect that freedom of the press you use to attempt to dishonor him.

Just listen to him.

September 23, 2007

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:33 am

Interesting essay on Jack Kerouac.

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:54 am

I don’t know if you all have seen this yet but here are some courageous folks.

[Surgeon MAJ John] Oh recalled that it wasn’t apparent just how delicate the situation was until they began cutting away Moss’s combat uniform and unraveling all the gauze bandages.

When he saw the tail fin of the RPG round, he yelled, “everybody get out!”

“I had never even seen an RPG before, but I figured anything with a rod and fins on it had to be a rocket of some kind.”

Oh asked for volunteers to stay in the operating room and help him save Moss’s life. Several soldiers raised their hands.

Oh and his volunteers strapped on body armor and helmets. They called in a two-man team from the 759th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).

Protocol, as far as Oh knew, dictated that someone in Moss’s condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and listed as “expectant,” which means he would be expected to die because nothing could be done for him.

But Oh believed something could be done for the wounded soldier before him.

He “was still talking to me,” Oh recalled. He choked back tears as he explained: “When he comes in like that, there’s no way you can give up at that point.”

After the EOD team arrived, Oh warned the volunteers one last time that the surgery could cost everyone their lives.

The operating room crew prepped Moss for surgery.

September 21, 2007

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:55 am

Hey, look at that! I actually get to work for a living for a while! Expect blogging to be a bit more light….

September 20, 2007

Audio Geek Tidbit

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:42 am has a bunch of concerts from bands that allow tapers to upload music to the Net (Deadheads know this: at last count 2,875 Dead concerts archived there–can you smell the patchouli already?), and other archival music such as public domain 78s. Unfortunately, they tend to use an audiophile format called FLAC that isn’t standard for mp3 players and the like. I can play them using the best media player of last resort, VLC (if you don’t have it you might want to get the free download), but those FLAC files just didn’t fit with my other music stuff.

Here’s the Mac version of the secret dance you need to convert FLAC files to something else that works better in iTunes. There’s another format called “shorten” or SHN, but that’s another issue.

September 19, 2007

Toughest Job In The Military Apparently Ain’t Just A Slogan

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:46 pm

Blackfive mentioned this continuing story, with a must-read about it from Rusty Shackleford. Short story: Pilot’s body was desecrated on video and used to further a narrative in the press. Pilot’s widow takes time from grieving while taking care of their five kids to address that.

I’ve ripped audio of the statement made by Mrs. Gilbert. The video is powerful, powerful stuff (take care: the site resizes your browser to get to the video). The Major married up, he did; his family is a class act.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:42 am

Oh, geez. Doc’s on a writing tear. And he was in the same small town I was at one time, and I am certain we never would have met, which is a real shame. I started here and am glad I did.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:36 am

The banality of evil.”

September 18, 2007

Snark Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:45 pm

It’s like reading Reason without having to sift through the smarmy anti-war / anti-”conservative” neohipster boilerplate so many of today’s establishment libertarians wear like one of Bill Maher’s sloughed skins.

Bogdanos On Being A Whole Person In A Whole Society

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:59 pm

Update: Doc’s comment reminds me of the example of (link gone since Smash went dark) Lieutenant Commander (sel) Kylan Jones-Huffman, USN, killed in Al Hillah in 2003. Rest in peace, shipmate.
— — —

I just noticed that Thieves of Baghdad is on sale at Amazon. It’s a book I’ve consulted more than once; it’s the story of the right man at the right time, one hell of a read, and it resonates with me. Here’s a long quote from COL Matthew Bogdanos’ excellent book:

Confronted with serious threats to civilization–whether cultural theft or terrorism–how do we respond? Do we come back at it with the reasoned and compassionate consensus of the whole-foods collective or with the mindless savagery of the lynch mob? Ideally, neither. Instead, we must come at the homicidal rage of the one and the senseless disregard of history of the other with hard steel, informed strategies, and a rock-solid code of acceptable behavior for ourselves. Yet today’s cultural bifurcation tries to force us to choose only one or the other–the inert idealist or the mindless brute.

Historically, the life of action and the life of the mind (or artistic sensibility) have always been two halves of a single whole. Today, when we conjure up the classical Greek ideals, we think of philosophy and art, but even in their greatest contribution to aesthetics, Greek society was all about agon–competition. Each year in Athens, the presentation of new plays was such a competition, with Aeschylus, Spohocles, and other vying for the prize in playwriting. But agon does not mean hostility. In most every boxing match since the ancient Olympics, you’ll see the guys hug each other after the last round.

Consider Aeschylus–the first and in many respects greatest of Greek tragedians–famous today for his masterpiece, the Orestia trilogy. That is not, however, how he saw himself. The inscription he wrote for his own gravestone mentioned not his theatrical renown, but what mattered most to him. “This gravestone covers Aeschylus…The field of Marathon will speak of his bravery, and so will the long-haired Mede [Persian] who learned it well.” In his eyes, he was a warrior first. Sophocles was elected one of Athens’s ten generals. Xenophon led ten thousand Greeks on an epic march out of Persia and then wrote an equally epic masterpiece describing their Anabasis. Socrates, the father of modern thought, fought with conspicuous bravery at Delium, Amphipolis, and at Potidaea. He also worked from time to time as a stonecutter, reminding us that a little blue-collar experience can be an instructive counterweight in a life spent with books.

As recently as the nineteenth century, General Sir William Butler, knighted for bravery, published author, and accomplished painter, said a “nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.” Lord Byron, “rock star” Romantic poet, died while fighting for Greek liberty against the Turks. Winston Churchill, a product of the Royal Military Academy, fought hand to hand against the dervishes of the Nile, was a hero of the Boer War, served as first lord of the Admiralty, won the Nobel Prize in literature, was not a bad painter, and will be remembered as perhaps the greatest statesman of the modern era.

Nor is this a feature of Western civilization only. Under Bushido, the code of the warrior, a samurai was expected to excel as much in poetry and calligraphy as in his swordsmanship. A revered seventeenth-century samurai text held that to focus on only the martial arts is to be a “samurai of little worth.” Indeed, the most treasured mode of artistic expression for the samurai–valued for its serenity and simplicity–was the Cha-no-yu, the tea ceremony.

But the mechanization in World War I turned the warrior into a lamb for the slaughter, and it turned officers into bureaucrats. The draft and consequent democratization meant dilution, and the profession of arms ceased to be a profession. After Vietnam, recruiters were kicked off campuses, and except in the American South, the military, and alongside it the military code of honor, dropped in social cachet to about the level of chewing tobacco. And the idea of a promising person going off for a stint in the service became only slightly more common than going West to become a cattle drover. All of this contributed to the “culture war” that has left us with red staters and blue staters, yelling at each other on TV, unable to find common ground or arrive at sensible policies.

The fact that honor is a word now rarely used without irony costs us in other ways as well. To be an “idealist” is to be considered something of a flake. So what we’re left with is the idealization of wealth and comfort, justified by Calvinist piety. It is worth remembering that when Socrates was condemned to death, it was for the crime of impiety, or as Voltaire put it, of being “the atheist who says there is only one God.” A couple of thousand years later, another Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis, said, “In religions that have lost their creative spark, the gods eventually become nothing more than poetic motifs or ornaments for decorating human solitude and walls.”

And the warrior’s code has decayed along with those gods. There are things worth defending other than self, but the idea of the warrior as that defender has become another antiquated concept. And so the warrior must exist in parallel with the everyday world, John Keegan tells us, but is not of this world, and always follows at a distance. The warrior’s ideals, like the warriors themselves, are forced ever farther to the margins of society.”

There is more of this, and it’s wonderful stuff. Most of the book, however, is a “there I was” story that’s a ripping yarn.

By the way, the Butler quote is pretty interesting (from this symposium lecture led by this Army guy I heard about later on):

Indeed, there are countless admonitions about the value of soldiers also being
scholars. The most famous, perhaps, was British General Sir William Butler’s remark in 1889,”The nation that insists on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man,” he wrote, “is liable to find its fighting done by fools, and its thinking done by cowards.” That caution is familiar to all of us; however, of relevance to us today is the context in which Butler offered it, and which I didn’t know, in fact, until preparing for this presentation. Butler’s admonition was, in fact, offered in a biography of Charles Gordon, while writing about the need for a military commander to be prepared to lead civil reconstruction after a battlefield victory.

What they said.

Greyhawk Nails It

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:38 pm

What he said. With lots of links to people who feel no shame, and a few to people who should stand proud.

Update: Barry correctly points out that the permalink is funga’d. Scroll to “Standing in the Gardens of Stone (part 3)”, a post title that sounds a bit like an obscure psych/prog record from 1972.

Congratulations One And All

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:33 am

I believe that milbloggers provided a crucial initial defense to the enemy attack on our “national will” center of gravity by reporting the ground truth and what they felt as well as saw. I believe that we could well have lost the war if not for these guys, to include the blogging reporters on the ground and the organizations that picked up the information as samizdat and ran with it.

So I’m happy to see they got a little face time, and am honored to have met a few of them in the blogosphere.

Gosh I Bet This Isn’t Being Done These Days At All

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:16 am

Wall Street Journalist researches some disturbing stuff about the Red Brigades and Stasi. Hot Air has the link and the summary.

Happy By Wire

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:15 am

The first time I heard about this concept was in a science fiction book. I wonder what version 3.0 will look like.

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