Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ugly Gun Sunday

This week's subject came to my attention via e-mail from a reader (thanks Ed). Pink guns are nothing new here, but pink "realtree" camoflauge pattern certainly is. I guess this is something to do with deer being unable to see the same colors people do. Lucky them. Imagine showing up in deer camp with this. You'll spend more time explaining it's a technical advantage and not a sexual orientation statement than you would hunting deer.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jerky Barbecue

Yesterday's trip to the Fiji barbecue was pretty much what all of the barbecues are here on post: good intentions, horrible food. That's due to the relative isolation of North Camp. Supplies are purchased from the local club on post, that gets them from the same supply as the mess hall. So what you get is the same steak: a half-inch thick piece of gristle reminiscent of partially hydrated jerky. Locally speaking, that's good eating. I prefer foods that don't leave me with a muscle fatigue induced aching jaw for the next day. So I stick with the overcooked chicken breasts. If you have some water in your mouth at the same time as the chicken, it'll break down fairly quickly so you can swallow it.

First stop after getting home and release: Outback Steakhouse. Filet Mignon, sweet potato with butter and brown sugar, Sam Adam's beer. The shock to my system will be huge, but it's worth it.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Stuck in the clinic as duty medic for most of the weekend, which is Friday-Saturday here. Generally, this isn't very exciting. I hope it stays that way. The Fijian contingent is having a barbecue during the time we get a break, so I will get the chance to see how that is.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"the gun was left by a veteran member of the SWAT team who forgot the weapon in the grass while packing up gear after the standoff ended."

In the Army, one of the worst examples of neglect you can commit is losing a weapon. Essentially, there is no good reason to lose a weapon if you are concious. I have seen entire bases locked down for one missing rifle. When the problem reaches that level of command, at least one person's career is shot.

That's not to say I don't feel sympathy for this guy. I've had a rifle stolen from under my care many years ago by OPFOR during field exercises. I spent a good portion of the duty shift trying not to vomit from nausea after finding it missing, until a grinning Specialist handed it back to me in the morning, having been highly praised for infiltrating the center of camp and bringing back with my rifle. I can say that never happened to me again. I'd guess if this member of the SWAT team was in the same state when he found out, and it probably will have the same effect on him: if it's not in my hands, it's on my back; if it's not on my back, it's locked up.

What needs to be done, besides some degree of punishment to make a point, is a review of how SWAT teams manage accountability for sensitive equipment. This wasn't just an individual failure. Where was the team leader when it was time to leave the scene? Why didn't he do an equipment survey before leaving? How often are sensitive items accounted for? It speaks volumes about security practices and leader responsibility when it's a homeowner calling in to report a missing police weapon. There should be more than one person receiving punishment in this case.

Ugly Gun Sunday

Keeping in our theme from the previous post, "stupid things to do related to critters", we have another fine example of technical excellence, aesthetic ignorance.

Somehow, I see the owner of this being the kind of guy who likes to stay in the background, not draw attention to himself, and just sort of hang out. You know, subtle, cool, and debonair. Someone like this guy:

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

"the hospitalized student later said the panda was so cute and cuddly he never expected to be bitten".

"the disgruntled bear later stated he stopped once he felt full, but he was hungry again an hour later....."

Apparently they have people who watch too many Disney-inspired movies in China too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cold and Flu Season

Once again, it's time to get flu shots; but, even the Army modernizes sooner or later, so now the medics are able to use the inhaled version. I personally still prefer the needle; the inhaled stuff seems to burn like hell when I've used it.
Once we've taken care of ourselves, it's on to everbody else. Here, the Colombian infantry line up. No hyperventilating or fainting in this bunch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does This Clarify The Concept For You?

Today's topic in my business class is the difference between intentional torts and negligence. Thus the question from one of my fellow students "Do you personally believe that a business is always liable for its employees actions?"

To which I replied "One of the legal doctrines I work under is "respondeat superior" (Latin for "Let the superior answer"), in which my employer is legally liable for my actions IF I am acting within the course and scope of my employment (Nolo, n.d., ¶ 2). That is, if I assist in deploying a stent in an artery, and rupture the artery thus killing the patient, my employer is liable. However, if I smother the patient with a pillow before the procedure so I can go home early, my employer should not be liable for my actions, as they were not within the scope and course of my employment. So for most of us, it would appear that strict liability, that is, always being liable, doesn’t apply."

I hope it wasn't overly nuanced.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ugly Gun Sunday

Damascus, Aluminum, and faux jade?

The fact that it's never been done before, may indicate that there was a good reason not to.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

The 20th century’s Great War, heralded as “the War To End All Wars” but proved not to be so, is commemorated by its symbolic ending on Europe’s Western Front on Nov. 11, 1918 — Armistice Day.

Since 1954, the date has been celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States to honor America’s military veterans. In 1938, the year before World War II erupted in Europe, Armistice Day became a legal holiday and “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

The Armistice Treaty, which became effective at 11 a.m. Paris time (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) in 1918, was signed in a railway carriage in Compiegne Forest near Paris. It signaled the end of the Western Front’s hostilities between Germany and the Allies, principally the British Empire, France, Belgium and the United States.

The 1914-1918 war was staged mainly on Europe’s Eastern Front and Western Front between the Central Powers, including the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey), and the Entente Powers (the Allies), including France, the British Empire, Russia, Belgium, Italy and the United States. America entered the war in 1917 to give relief to exhausted British, Canadian, Australian, French, Belgium and other Allied forces and toward ensuring victory for the Allies.

The war exacted more than 40 million casualties, including 20 million deaths — both military and civilian. Military deaths totaled almost 10 million: 5.7 million Allies deaths and 4 million Central Powers deaths. Civilian deaths, mostly due to famine and disease, were 3.7 million (Allies) and 5.2 million (Central Powers).

The United States suffered 116,708 military and 757 civilian deaths and counted 205,690 wounded.

The war was victory for the Allies. Germany was completely demilitarized, and German troops were withdrawn from Belgium, France and Alsace-Lorraine. The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles followed in 1919, when the United Nations had its beginning through its predecessor, the League of Nations, toward bringing lasting peace throughout the world. But the terms of the peace treaties were prophesied to deliver “a new century of war.”

Twenty years later, in 1939, Europe again was in embroiled war: World War II. The 1939-1945 global war claimed more than 60 million lives, mostly civilians.

Today in the United States, Veterans Day has supplanted Armistice Day since 1954. However, Armistice Day is an official holiday in France. In Belgium, it is hailed as “the day of peace in the Flanders Fields.” In Poland, Nov. 11 is Polish Independence Day. Armistice Day is termed Remembrance Day or Poppy Day to honor the war dead in the Commonwealth of Nations, including the Britain, Canada and Australia.

In writing of World War 1’s pervasive trench warfare, American historian Leon Wolff writes of Britain’s 1917 campaign in Belgium in his book “In Flanders Fields” that “titanic armies sat — squatted, as the armchair critics contemptuously put it — amid scenes of unique desolation. Everywhere near the battle zone where the trench system had finally congealed lay the debris of war — smashed, rusty rifles, empty haversacks, stricken and abandoned heavier equipment, here and there among the scrub a lonely grave adorned by single cross, as well as more formal cemeteries. Trees were nude stumps. Moon craters studded the landscape.” Wolff pondered that “the Allies and the Central Powers had contemplated each other balefully out of the ruins of the countryside and the wreckage of their respective war plans.”

Numbered among the most famous World War I poems is the memorable “In Flanders Fields,” which was penned by Canadian soldier-physician-poet Major John McCrae in the spring of 1915 during the tortuously bloody Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. McCrae, a surgeon who died in Francein 1918 at age 45, had found it “impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood,” according to a World War I historian-journalist.

“This poem was literally born of fire and blood during the hottest phase of the Second Battle of Ypres,” according to a Canadian commander-journalist, Edward Morrison. “My headquarters were in a trench on the top of the bank of the YpresCanal, and John (McCrae) had his dressing station in a hole dug in the foot of the bank.” Soldiers were “burying their dead whenever there was a lull. Thus the crosses, row on row, grew to a good-sized cemetery.”

By Ed Todd
MRT Correspondent
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 12:00 AM CST

Today is the first Veteran's Day from which I have personally benefitted. The US contingent here (Sinai) was allowed to sleep an extra ninety minutes, rather than the usual 0530 PT session.

This was followed by an hour in formation with contingents from on post, including Australia and New Zealand, to recognize the day, and lay wreaths. Only two fainters during this formation, which isn't too bad for that amount of time on pavement, and none from the US Contingent. If I had my way, every National Guard unit in the US would have to report in on November 11th, for formation at the local cememtary where veterans are laid to rest. At least it would draw attention somewhat more to what the day is about, rather than a rest day for government employees, the greater percentage of which have never spent a day in military service. Those that have, certainly do deserve their day off, at the least.

As an aside, we have a WWI/Armistice Day memorial in my hometown, seen above. It holds a special place in my heart, as my great-grandfather served in the infantry in Europe then. Our family has had at least one male in the military every generation since then. I'll be the last one in the line, as no one in the family has any interest in military service anymore.

The memorial statue is of interest to others across the country also; apparently copies are scattered across the country, most emanating from one studio in the '20s and '30s. In truth, it's a beautifully done piece, with classic attention to detail. More on the history of the statue, and a project to document various locations here and here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

JERUSALEM - Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.

Nice to see the traditional decorum and restraint of Middle Eastern culture on display again.

The Greeks objected to the march without one of their monks present, fearing that otherwise, the procession would subvert their own claim to the Edicule — the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus — and give the Armenians a claim to the site.

The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way, sparking the brawl.

I'm sure this all about protecting the dignity of the religious site; being men of God, it surely couldn't be about anything else, like say, tourist income? Then again, reports relayed to me by soldiers here who have gone on the sanctioned Holy Land tours tell me portions of the tour are like running the gauntlet of carnie barkers on opening night at the county fair. You WILL buy religious trinkets before you leave the sites.

Hopefully, these guys aren't big into contemporary culture and marketing. MSN notes the lack of quality reality shows available currently (I hadn't realized there ever were any). Anyone doubt that at least one network would drop a load of cash for a season of "Extreme Monk Fighting: Bruisin'em in Jerusalem"?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ugly Gun Sunday

Who owns stuff like this?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gross Dude!

Working on my class materials, iTunes on the computer set to random, 40 GB of music available, and what pops up? A Backstreet Boys song! Damnit, that's what I get for doing bulk downloads of Billboards Top 100. OK, delete. And next is.....Argh! Celine Dion! Delete! Followed by.....'N Sync! Jesus, how did I miss this crap? Delete? Next......Marc Anthony! WTF? Delete!....Curse you, iTunes, you twisted piece of Top 40 fluff-dealing crap. Up next....MM's personal playlist of mental/ear floss labelled "deathmetal". No more random selections for tonight.

Oh Yeah, I'm Gonna Feel The Love For This One...

My answer to this question in class tonight:

However, let me ask: Is the fact that President-elect Obama an African-American going to have any impact on his ability to create the change upon which he campaigned?


Based upon reading the blogs of those in opposition to his election, the greatest resistance to the proposed changes is philosophical. There is a major divide in this nation relating to the role of government in economics and culture. As the popular vote was 52% in favor and 48% opposing the President-elect, this division will eventually have a major impact. Congress must pass the laws; if enough people are unhappy with those laws, members of Congress will be the first to pay the price. I think the racial aspect will in the short term enhance his ability to achieve his goals, as political correctness will exact a price for opposing desired changes. In the long term, most people will vote for their wallet; if things go well for them, he will be supported; if not, then the opposite. Money is a far more powerful long-term motivator than race or ethnicity for most people.

Let the slings and arrows commence.

THIS Needs To Happen More Often

Three Islamists sentenced to death for the Bali bombings which killed 202 people were executed by firing squad at midnight Saturday (1700 GMT).

This is long overdue. This is something that should be done Every Single Time there is a religiously motivated murder in the United States. Since this seems to be largely (99%) confined to one particular religion, it shouldn't be much of a problem for anybody else.

Although a slow pull upwards via rope and telephone pole would be preferable as a personal measure.

Friday, November 7, 2008

So Much For More Personal Time

"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." --Thomas Jefferson

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
--Barack Obama

It would've been nice to come home from this deployment, carry on with school, go back to work, and spend time with my family. Now, I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time the next four years re-engaging with politics. All I'd like is to be able to make a good living, build up my finances for a decent retirement, and enjoy life without constant oversight by busybodies telling me to cough up cash and shut my mouth.

Not a chance of that now.

If there's a chance of rehabbing the rotten corpse of what used to be the GOP, it'll take a lot of normal people, that is, people who hold jobs that actually produce wealth, require you to be there some 50 weeks a year, and add quality to other people's lives, to get involved and start moving up others like us. No more of this crap of being conciliatory to the point of betraying our values; I'd rather be ostracized for non-groupthink than spend the rest of my life pretending having other's values shoved down my throat is an enjoyable learning experience.

If I wanted to live Cuba, I would have moved there. Too bad the party in power soon didn't feel the same way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rorke's Drift

Seems an appropriate analogy for what the Right will be doing for the next four years, as we've just experienced the electoral version of Isandlwana.

Despair is for the weak.

Shine On, Crazy Diamond

Sitting here, doing homework, and listening to some vintage Blues/Gillian Welch. And it occurs to me: I've never sampled true moonshine.

A short perusal of the web demonstrates, 'shine has kept up with the times (for educational purposes, that is) and there's no shortage of equipment out there to make some fine quality corn likker.

It would be a fine thing indeed to know someone who's mastered this traditional craft......yep, a fine thing indeed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Opinions: They're Like...

...well, you know how the rest of it goes. Having a cup of coffee after morning Army PT, CNN International is on in the background. Today's topic, who would various people off the street vote for, and why. Some highlights:

Egyptian guy on the street on why: He's multiracial, so he'll be tolerant because, well, he's multiracial.

Next Egyptian guy: Obama. He'll stop persecuting us and favoring Israel (exactly how much money do we pour into Egypt every year?).

Over to Israel, we get some more deep, intensely reasoned answers:

Israeli on the street 1: Obama. "Because he's black, and I like black people." This is a quote; the reporter isn't used to people actually just laying that reason out, and asked if color is a good reason to vote for them. Answer, once again a quote: "yes".

Israeli number 2: Obama; because I'm investing a lot of money over there, and it will be safer with him in charge. This answer almost led to internal burns of lungs from a mouthful of coffee and trying not to laugh at the same time.

Israeli number 3: Obama; US out of Iraq!

There were some McCain answers among the Israeli's, mainly due to fear of withdrawn support if he doesn't get in. Guess they'll find out one way or another before too much longer. Regardless, it's apparent the US doesn't corner the market on shallow thinking and politicians.

Leave, Day 3: Cairo Again

Going back in time a little, here's some images from leave this year. A brief overview of Cairo, on the way to the Egyptian Museum. Keep in mind the general impression you get from the image above that a marketing agency took in Cairo.
Your run-of-the-mill living quarters in Cairo. The Wife asked me, earnestly, why there were people living in buildings waiting to be demolished. Of course, the answer is, because they're not getting demolished. It's just the standard of living here.

Some of the local motorcyclists. It gets better.

And some of your folks who don't ride cycles....

A dog getting ready to cross the road? Nope, that's a stream. Time for a drink.
Not bad for a 250cc bike.

Pizza, Egyptian, Hamburgers: If you can shove it in a greasy sack, you can get it delivered via motorcycle.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In Future, Electricity Will Come From....

the ass end of unicorns, if The One gets his way:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.
What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It’s just that it will bankrupt them.
Does he phone up Gore and Hugo Chavez every time he needs to come up with a policy statement? I'm waiting for an announcement that he'll round up all the kulaks in the weeks following the election for deportation to the wastelands of Minnesota, followed a mass agricultural collective plan.

Ugly Gun Sunday

New! The .22 rimfire Suburban Commando Tactical Marksman model, suited to taking out possums, coons, somnolent squirrels, and Fluffy the cat. No matter how hardcore your OPFOR, CAH Arms gets you ready for the war!

Black Long Johns Stealth NightForce Ninja Suit accessory only $200 extra.

All design features are the intellectual property of Crack Addled Hillbilly Arms, Inc. Any and all infringements on engineering innovations of CAH, Inc. will result in legal action or a Camaro trunk load of carrion on your lawn, whichever we remember first.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Concealed Carry Says Barry

But of course, he won't take your guns away.

He has people to do that for him.


Gratuitous Dog Post

A recent acquisition by our vet section here on post. The word is, dogs that make it into camp are supposed to be turned in to the vet, and dispatched, per the Force Commander. However, the vet section is American, and doesn't much care for offing perfectly good dogs. Although we're not allowed to keep them on post, the observation outposts along the border (Egypt/Israel) are allowed one mascot each. Nowhere near as nice as the typical home in the States, but better than a life of scavenging and avoiding the locals throwing rocks or worse for entertainment.

This one gets to stay until he's old enough for the Bob Barker procedure, then he's off to one of the Fijian outposts.