a Someone should care, maybe not you....: August 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

31 August 2005

Sheep in a panic.....

Today we got to see self fulfilling prophecies. An announcement went out from Atlanta today that the pipelines that bring jet fuel and gasoline to Georgia were temporarily shut down due to power outages from Katrina. It was also emphasized in the same announcement that there was no shortage of gas and gas would continue to be shipped into the state by truck and by ship. Consumers being panicky humans promptly decided that Georgia was about to run out of gas and that prices would skyrocket. And they began rushing to the gas stations and buying all the gas they could. Lines around the stations, rumors circulating, panic buying.
Want to guess what happened? Stations began running out of gas. Not because of a shortage but merely because people were panic buying more than usual. So of course word flashes out that the stations are running out of gas setting off more panic buying. Now let’s look at economics. Supply and demand. There is a limited supply of gas in the state right now and massively increasing demand throughout the day. What happens when demand increases and supply doesn’t? Prices go up. In my home town on Monday gas prices were between 2.49 and 2.52 per gallon in the afternoon. As word of Katrina’s severity spread they jumped to 2.64, by Tuesday morning, by Tuesday evening they were up to 2.72. As today’s panic went off they have jumped to 2.99. In parts of Atlanta it is reported that some stations were selling gas for 5.00 per gallon!
See how it goes? Totally false rumors spread that the state was going to be OUT OF GAS spread causing people to rush out and buy lots of gas, causing stations to run out of gas, causing more people to rush to other stations to buy gas causing prices to skyrocket. Panic is such a wonderful thing. People are such sheep.
The Governor has issued an executive order to punish stations that are price gouging. I wonder how well that will work. How much did your gas jump in the last two days?

Update 1 Sept. - This morning I went out and at several of the gas staions in town the price had gone up .50 overnight. 3.49 a gallon now. And the headline in the local paper is about gas panic and the false rumors that we are going to run out.

30 August 2005

An interesting experiment....

Go out into your backyard some night with a flashlight, I get best success with a light with a bright tightly focused beam. (I use my dive light) I then put the light on top of my head to get the best angle of reflection. Now look around at teh groudn and you will notice small emerald green light shining back at you from the grass. Focu on one and walk over to it and look down. Bingo, you have just found a spider. Spiders eyes reflect green. And it is AMAZING how many of them are out there in the yard. Interestingly enough, moths' (or at least the ones that are sleeping in the top of the bahia grass in my yard) eyes reflect gold. So tonight I would see clusters of gold shining up in the grass and green flecks from down in the deep.
Now the most interesting spider I came across doing thiw was last year. I suddenly saw a bright green refelction coming from the air. I walked over and there was a garden spider spinning it's web. The cool thing was that I could see the spider with the light but not the web. So I got to watch this spider dansing in mid air for several minutes before he (or she) ascended up into the tree.
Give it a try some night. It is interesting.....

Here's an idea

Well, martial law in the New Orleans area,probably going to spread over most of South East Louisiana befroe it is done. The whole city flooded, parts of it deeply flooded. Which leads to a good question, Should we bother to rebuild it? (Not if we will rebuild it because we are stubborn people and will do so.) Let's look at it, what is at all rational about rebuilding a city that is only kept from flooding daily by massive engineering efforts anyway? Myabe we whould let it go, if individuals care to rebuild that is thier money, but maybe the government whould just start looking for a new place to put a port. (Besides, the only thing that has kept the Mississippi River flowing to New Orleans has been the Corp of Engineers, the rivers course has been shifting to the east but the Corps keeps leveeing it back to the old line)
Let the river go, build a new port city.
Just a random thought.

Edit: Later in the day--- the thing to realize of course about rebuilding a port somewhere else, a "safer place" as Miranda says in the comments, is that there really is no safer place along the Gulf Coast. Any where along the coast is subject to Hurricane damage. The only advantage to moving New Orleans would be to get it out of that hole between the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchitrain.

28 August 2005

A fun dialogue....

I wasn't going to post tonight but as I was skimming through blogspace befeo going to bed I came across this little gem. If I wait till tomorrow I'll forget about it so here you go...
From the front lines

Why can't I come up with funny stuff like this?

27 August 2005

A new blog

There is a new blogger joining our ranks and I would like to encourage you to go and give him a read. Three Score and ten or more I suspect it will be a pretty interesting addition to your reading.

Evening Meditations......

I love my pond. Actually I am very fond of the whole 5 acres, but in the evening the pond is best. This evening I was there just as the sun was setting and I took a seat on the deck in an old torn up collapsible chair, you know, the kind you buy for $7 and carry in a bag to the beach. The sun was down but it was still light. The beasts of my yard came and hung out on the deck with me. The big lab/pit bull mix was lying at my feet, the beagle was snuffling around down by the water but then came up to lay on the deck too. The big (formerly) male cat was crouched on one side of the deck peering over the edge down into the plants like a leopard waiting for something to walk beneath his tree, the small (formerly) female was doing the same thing on the other side of the deck before she went down to crouch at the side of the water and wait for a frog or something to get close.

Speaking of frogs, they were starting to sing. The tree frogs high chirp, the leopard frogs call and occasionally the bass bellow of a bull frog. The cicadas, katydids, and crickets were all joining in the evening chorus too. Other than this it was quiet. So quiet that when the flocks of cattle egrets heading for their roosting spots flew over I could hear the susurrations of the wind through their wings. (Interestingly enough, they are ALWAYS flying from the southwest to the northeast at this time of day)

The whole time I sat there only two cars drove by, more than usual for that time of the day.

A couple of the bats that live in the oaks across the pond came out and began to do an air show over the pond. Air show of death for the flying insects but cool for me to watch. Did you know that bats will swoop right down and take bugs off the surface of the water? I’ve seen it. Eventually the mosquitoes started to come out and I decided it was time to go. It was for evenings like this that I bought that land. (Well, that and the several 150-200 year old oak trees on the property.) But sitting there is a balm on my soul. It is hard to stay hostile to the world in a setting like that.

26 August 2005

A Travesty of Justice......

Ok, the city government of New London Conn is sinking to a new low. After succesfully getting the Supreme court to agree that they can sieze the homes of citizens for a private development the city has come up with a new idea. They are charging the losers rent. That is right, they have decided to charge the families that are being thrown out of their homes rent for living in city property since 2000 when the original condemnation took place. One of the residents who owns 4 houses is being charged $6100 per each month of the last five years. To add insult to that injury, they are saying they will pay the fair market value of the properties as required by law, but that they will pay the fair market value of 2000, not of 2005. Think if you will about how much property values have gone up since 2000. So the city is going to pay them ancient prices, then take the money they pay them back in the form of "use and occupancy payments" (i.e. rent)
Talk about unmitigated GALL!

Here is a link to an article detailing what is going on. A New (London) Low

Just when I think I can't be further disgusted by an act of government something like this happens.
Just remember folks, the Government is here to help you. Spare me God.......

25 August 2005

Things I have heard...

Yesterday I was listening to News & Notes with Ed Gordon on NPR. This is a quite liberal program although I will grant that they do bring in conservative guests as part of their panel often. They were discussing Pat Robertson and his recent foray into international relations with Venezuela when I heard something that blew my mind.One of the guest panelists said (and I have to paraphrase because I don't have a perfect memory) -=Pat Robertson is a kook, just like Rev. Fallwell, the Rev. ******(I missed this name I think it was Butz but who knows), Minister Farrakhan, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson....=- I had just heard an African-American on a liberal radio program refer to not only Louis Farrakhan as a kook, but also Jesse Jackson. My respect for Michael Meyers just went through the roof. I need to go find more things he said because I am ecstatic that a leader in the African American community is identifying these people as what they are. Kooks. (I also happen to agree with him on Robertson and Falwell too)

Michael Yon has written a complete description of the fire fight I mentioned on 22 August in which LTC Eric Kurilla got shot three times. It is a very good article and he has photos of the whole thing. Including this one taken from his blog of Kurilla as the first round hits him.

Kurilla is an old school military leader. Not many field grade officers lead from the front anymore. They will be near by but not taking point, charging down the alley after the bad guys. Why don't they? Well, because it is pretty disruptive for a Battalion to lose it's CO. But when you get a leader like this, the men will follow him anywhere.
Probably the most damning thing in the article is the information that the guy who shot Kurilla had just been released from Abu Ghraib where he had been detained as a suspected participant in an earlier attack.

I responded to a comment on Eddie the Republican's blog today. Some anti war poster came up with the usual questions, the ones I see all the time.
The Iraq War was completely unnecessary, and its initiation was entirely based on lies. Where are the WMD's? Where is the connection with Al Qaida? How is life in Iraq better now than before? Seriously. And wasn't this supposed to have been the next step toward catching Osama bin Laden? Where's he? Probably hanging out with the Bushes at home in Texas.

I get so tired of these. But here is my response:
1. WMDs - May not be any. I'll admit that. The issue is that EVERY intellegence service in the world, including the French, the Germans and the Russians, believed that Hussein had or was activly trying to develop Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons. Even Hans Blix, the UN inspector, never said there are no weapons, he said we haven't seen any but we want to go back and keep looking.

2. Al Queda - Very little if any connection between Al Queda and Hussein. But so what? There are LOTS of terrorists that are not Al Queda and Hussein was activly supporting many of them.

3. Life better of Iraq now - NO. It is not at the moment. But this is when you have to look at potential long term benefits over short term benefits. In the long term things can become much much better for the people of Iraq than was possible under the regime of Saddam Hussien. (and I suspect things would have gotten worse when he died and which ever of his sons won the ensuing power struggle took over.)

4. UBL - No, it was not the next step in catching bin Laden. It was an effort to prevent the development of WMDs, deny financing and training facilities for terrorists, and to remove a hugely destabilizing force from the playing field in Southwest Asia. Bin Laden is still hiding somewhere in northwestern Pakistan.

Eddie disagrees with my assesment of #3. But I'll stick with my answer. Until there is running water and electricity, and no car bombs and no gangs of "insurgents" roaming the country, things are not better. They will be eventually, if the anti war folks don't force a premature pullout, but for now, things are still worse in Iraq.

Speaking of Pullouts and exit strategies, here is my exit straegy for Iraq.
We will leave when the war is over and we have won. Not a day sooner.
That sounds a little better than "Stay the course"

Turtles and Feminists

Learn something new every day. In Mexico it seems there is a certain class of men who believe that raw sea turtle eggs taken with lime and a pinch of salt act as a natural Viagra. An enviromentalist group that is trying to protect the endangered Olive Ridley Turtle created an ad campaign around this poster.
The text, for those who are spanish impaired says "My man doesn't need turtle eggs." With the subtest at the bottom saying "Because he knows they don't make him more potent." The enviromentalists know that they are dealing with a group of Latin males who strongly operate on the "Machismo" motif in life. What better way to get their attention that with a beautiful women talking about sex?
Enter the feminists, a government agency called the National Institute for Women has condemed the ads for being sexist and exploitive of women.

Oh well....

For further info: Turtle Eggs, Sex, and Flirty Ads New York times. (requires registration)

23 August 2005

PKZ and confusion in War

I was sitting around today waiting (at home) for my father to go into surgery and messing around on Google and I punched in the name Pacha Khan Zadran. Anyone out there heard of him before? Be honest.
My guess is no. PKZ as we called him in Afghanistan is a WARLORD in southeast Afghanistan. The all caps are deliberate becasue he is an all caps kinda guy. He was a major player for the US in the war against the Taliban and Al Queda there. He rules his tribe (the Zadran) with an iron hand. And he is a fascinating example of why Afghans are different from us.

We in the West have this really strong sense of loyalty to causes. We associate a cause with our people and make them one. Germans and Nazism (old but an example) Americans and democracy, examples abound. Once the cause is accepted we drive and fight to the end for it. Afghans do not have this sense of cause. They have a sense of tribe and people. As soon as it becomes apparent that a cause is bad for their tribe/clan/family they abandon it. We see this as treason and untrustworthyness, they see it as common sense. I was interrogating a commander from the Hizeb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and he was telling me how after fighting against the Northern Alliance for years he (and the rest of HIG) joined with them when the Taliban looked like they were going to win. I asked him how he could expect me to believe that they guys he had been fighting against would accept him so readily. His answer? Because he had changed sides. He couldn't understand that I would doubt him. He informed me that "It is my right as a human to change sides when I need to." This is why if we stick to our guns in Afghanistan the Taliban is doomed. As soon as it becomes clear that they aren't going to win the majority will abandon them. In point of fact, the majority have already abandoned them. And their hardcore remnant is begining to fade away too. (Not that the US press will tell you any of this.)

Now the point of that little diversion is to explain why there is a big seperation in how people in the Army in Afghanistan view PKZ. He is anti-Taliban. He also happens to be anti-Karzai. Or prehaps it would just be more accurate to say he is Pro PKZ and pro Zadrani. He will help us in our casue so long as we are helping him in his. He feels it is his right to rule the three provinces his tribe lives in, Paktika, Paktia, and Khost. (called P2K) He basicly appointed himself boss and has gone to war with the Governor appointed by Kabul over the right to run the area. The US forces are caught in the middle. (Sometimes quite litterally as the two sides are shelling each other with rounds flying over the US firebase outside Gardez) PKZ will stop Taliban and Al Queda insurgents coming from Pakistan unless the US ticks him off then he will guide them. He is quite friendly with many of the US forces, a Counter Intelligence team I know swore up and down that he was the best chance we had to catch UBL. (Usama bin Laden) On the other hand, the part of the US Army that is supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan, desperatly wants him arrested locked up and taken away becasue he is a destabilizing force in the area. He is directly linked to the intel that led to the US bombing a wedding aprty and a convoy of village elders in the area. (all his opponents) We in the Interogation center saw both sides of this conflict as we read the varying INTSUMS (Intelligence Summaries)coming in citeing all the horrible tings he had done (kipnapping relief workers and holding them hostage, selling weapons to ACM (Anti Coalition Militia) forces, threatening the government)and those citing all the great things he was doing (guiding SF teams through the mountains, providing security for outlying bases, killing Al Queda operatives that tried to sneak in.) He was actively doing both things. And our higher ups couldn't seem to make up their mind as to whether he should be supported or taken out. (arrested preferably) If we arrested him the Zadran tribe would turn against us. But the other tribes in the area that hate him would leap to support the government. There would be at least temporary destabilization and fighting. But we are getting that anyway in his long self serving war against the appointed Governor, and attempts to conquer the city of Gardez. We need to decide if our cause is the long term peace and stability of Afghanistan (in which case we arrest him) or the short term benefit of having him (and his very well armed and experienced troops) help us hunt Al Queda.
My vote: Take him down. It will cause some short term grief, fighting, maybe even a few American deaths, but in the long term, it will help bond south east Afghanistan to the country instead of to the WARLORD.

22 August 2005

And the War rolls on.......

How many of you know about the Zarqawi letter? (I didn't)

Even CNN couldn't grasp the importance of the letter. They ended up giving more coverage to the impending E-Bay auction of Jennifer Aniston's old love letters than to the missive in which the top Al Queda leader in Mosul writes to the second most wanted man in the world, and describes in amazing detail the weaknesses and impending collapse of the terrorist network in Mosul and surrounds. Only then, did the military ask if I wanted to write about the letter.

Michael Yon

And we wonder why the information we get says the war is sucking for us.

And from the same article....
The operation has begun. The Commander of Deuce Four, LTC Erik Kurilla, was shot three times in combat yesterday in front of my eyes. Despite being seriously wounded, LTC Kurilla immediately rejoined the intense and close-quarter fight that ended in hand-to-hand combat. LTC Kurilla continued to direct his men until a medic gave him morphine and the men took him away. I was right there.

Pray for the man. We need more like him.

Something you may not know about Afghanistan

The Rape of the Past
Just go read it. I may comment on it later but really, the article sums it up pretty well.


Yesterday, while driving back from my sister's where I spent the weekend, I heard an ad on the radio that annoyed me. It is part of a series of Public Service Announcements (all of which annoy me) done by the Ad Council. I am sure you have heard or seen them (if you are in the US, the overseas readers are spared this) The gist of all of these ads is that "If you commit a GUN CRIME your family serves your sentence with you." fine, but you know what? That is true if you commit ANY CRIME! There isn't any special suffering for the families of those who commit gun crimes that the families of unarmed criminals don't also undergo. The same seperation, the lost chances, lost associations, the same rules in prison, visitation limits, everything. It is ALL the same.

It is a small thing but what can I say, it annoys me evrytime I see or hear it.

I note that the father of a Marine Lance Corporal who died in Iraq took the cross with his son's name on it from the display at "Camp Casey" because he felt the protest was dishonoring what his son died for. More power to him. I can respect what the protestors are doing, (as wrong as I feel it is) I just wish the press would give equal time to the parents of soldiers who died who support the war effort. Or even better, go and do real reporting from Iraq on something other than car bombs. Alot of good is being accomplished there but you couldn't tell it from what you see on CNN or FOX. (or read on many blogs)

18 August 2005

Here's an idea most biologists will hate

My sister is a biologist. She has ranted on and off about invasive species and such similar things. I thought of that when I found this article. Big Game Imports to summarize, some researchers think that it would be a good idea to introduce many animals from the african savannahs to the great plains of the US. Why you ask? Because they think these animals could fill the ecological spots formerly filled by mamoths, sabertooth tigers, and similar extinct creatures, and provide a new enviroment for the endagered species of Africa. A further benefit would be to provide an increase in tourism to the currently economicaly depressed areas of the great plains. Of course one can expect ranchers and farmers to be a tad leery of releasing lions and elephants to roam the plains. Interesting idea but I see issues.....

17 August 2005

Speculation on Able Danger

There is a growing wave of agitation about the alleged identification of Mohammad Atta before 9/11 by a secret army intellegence unit called Able Danger. As it is told they I.D.ed Atta as a member of Al Queda operating in the US and were going to tell the FBI about it but were waved off by JAG lawyers.

Now here is my speculation based to a great extent on what I know from personal experience about the army intel system. First and foremost, there is this thing called Intellegence Oversight which is long and complicated but can be summed up by saying the Army cannot gather intellegence on any "U.S. Persons" without specific permission from God. (Well not quite God but pretty dang high up the chain) Who is or is not a US Person is sometimes a rather vauge issue. (it has been cleared up alot, the above web page does a much better job than most of the instructors I have had over they years, and I expect some definitions have been modifeid post 9/11) So Able Danger is out there gathering info and they come across Atta and his buddies and they gather the info in and stick it in their files. Then they later decide that the FBI should be brought in and sicced on these guys and the lawyers freak. Why do the lawyers freak out? Well technically under the law the Army should not be gathering intellegence on people inside the US, that is the job of the FBI. Now they MAY have been authorized to do this but that hasn't been stated and probably never will because this group was way up classified. But this is pre 9/11 and let's face it, in the Clinton Administraion, which did not have a great relationship with the military. So the lawyers said, "Nope, we weren't supposed to gather on people in the US and if we report that shit will hit the fan for us all." So they killed the process. Today the info would have been passed without so much as a hiccup. Then, they took a broader perspective of the law.

I really hate all the 20/20 hindsight being employed about 9/11. It is dirt easy to see NOW all the connections. At the time they were nothing significant. Bunches of little things that slipped between the cracks. We will never know how many things didn't slip between cracks, how many possible attacks were thwarted. This hindsight accomplishes no more than looking aback and saying "How could Chamberlin have missed all the signs about Hitler?" (Actually those were ALOT more obvious but you get the point.) It was not the fault of the Clinton Administraion, or the C.I.A. or the Army, or the F.B.I. It was just something that happened, things were missed because the focus was on other things that were determinbed at the time to be more important. It happens, get over it and move on. All the press, politicians, and conspiracy theorists digging into this serve no usefull function. In fact by making the various agencies go back and rehash old decsions, these people are distracting these agencies from doing their jobs now.

16 August 2005

No constitution....Okay.

So the Iraqis have not met the "deadline" for having their new constitution finished. Various pundits are wailing that this is a sign of the failure of the Bush plan to establish a new government. Bull Crap. This is, if nothing else, a sign that the people working on this constitution are trying to get it right. They could have rushed something together to meet the deadline with the thought they could modify it later. (sort of like Microsoft with any Windows update.) Instead they said "Hey, we aren't done." Good, I would rather see them take more time than cludge something together that wouldn't work.
I really happy our guys took their time and did it right. And we still blew our first effort. (anyone remember the Articles of Confederation?)
The press, the US govt, and everyone else needs to back off and let these guys do it right. They are dealing with some very serious issues.

Israel is pulling out of the Gaza as we speak. This is a HUGE gamble for peace on the part of Sharon. Frankly I never would have guessed he would do it. But prehaps only someone as hardline as he is could get away with it. Sort of like the line, "Only Nixon could go to China." Only a hard core opponent can get away with it because anyone else would be seen as caving in. I hope it works out for them. Of course this still leaves the West Bank to deal with in the future but one step at a time.

14 August 2005

Finnish Blueberry Buns: Yes, I'm baking again.

Well I woke up this morning thinking I owuld make some more Nan-i-Afghani. But instead I saw The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas that I got for Christmas several years ago. I started flipping through it and came across Blueberry Buns. Since I have massive amounts of Blueberries thanks to the bushes on my estate (doesn't that sound impressive for 5 acres?) I thought this sounded like a plan.
They came out wonderfully. Not neat or pretty per se. I don't have that whole presentation thing down very well but taste wise it is nice.
For those who care to try it---

You start with the basic yeast pastry.

1 package active yeast: 1/4 cup warm water: 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to luke warm: 1 teaspoon salt: 1 egg, well beaten: 1/2 cup sugar: 4-41/2 cups sifted white flour: 1/2 cup soft or melted butter.

Disolve the yeast in the water. Combine the milk, salt, egg, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, stir in 2 cups of the flour, and beat until smooth and elastic. Stir in the butter until blended, add the remaining flour, and mix until a stiff dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth. Place in a lightly geased bowl, turn to grease the top, and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch down and let rise again (about 30 min); the dough will be puffy but not doubled.

Filling: 1 cup mashed blueberries: 2 tablespoons lemon juice: 1 egg, beaten: 1/2cup sugar (or more depending on tartness of the berries)

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, flatten, and shape each into a round about 4 inches in diameter. Turn up the edges slightly to hold the filling. Combine the blueberries, lemon juice, egg, and sugar. Use about 2 tablespoons of this mixture to fill each round of dough. Let the buns rise for 30 minutes, brsuh the edges with milk, and bake in a hot oven (400 degrees) for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot or cold.

NOTE: my berries are really quite sweet so I only added 1/4 cup of sugar to the filling instead of half. And I brushed the edges not with milk but with a milk and egg white mix.

When hot they go VERY well with whipped topping on them. I think I'll go eat another one.

13 August 2005

more thoughts.....

Well I wish I had found this article first but credit must be given to Stephalapogus over at My Opinions. The Marines are going with low tech unarmored transport in Afghanistan. Actually not uncommon except on the scale they are doing it right now. I had a friend that used to go on patrols with the New Zealand SAS. They rode horses. four or five days out at a time. The transport is a great idea and eveyone will be pleased unless the ACM (Anti Coalition Militia) decides to ambush a supply train. Then the anti war groups will start howling about pointless risks and such. Troops are kept from doing a lot of usefull things because those things might be "dangerous". You know what? We are a war, it is an inherently dangerous business. Often we (speaking as a troop) are willing to do the dangerous thing because it would get the mission done faster. For example: There was a time earlier in the war in Afghanistan when the interrogators could take a detainee, jump in a truck with him and take the detainee to a location they are wondering about and question him about it on the spot. "Which house is the one the Taliban man lives in? The one with the green door right there? Ok, thank you." bingo, take a GPS reading and a photo and drive away and let the infantry take him down the next day or so. Now you have to get him to describe the house and try to get an exact location, question the guy for hours about the house so the infantry can identify it. And still we often end up with the wrong house. Why you ask? Because to our non Afghan eyes, all the bloody houses look pretty much alike. And there aren't addresses out there, no house numbers. Directions in Afghanistan: "You go down the road till it crosses the dry stream bed. Turn left and travel for 3 or 4 hours until you go around the big bend where the rocks are. Go up the hill past Asadullah's house and Rahmantullah's will be the one on the left." Needless to say figuring these directions out takes more than a little bit of time. Showing the average Afghan a map doesn't help much. They just don't see the correlation between what is on the paper and what is out in the world. (Most of them, there are of course exceptions.)
Oh well, the hard part of the war for the leaders isn't the fighting over there, it is the war of PR here.
People like Mrs. Cindy Sheehan camping out on the road to see the President. Frankly I think he should see her (again, yes, he met her once, of course now she says he was cold and impersonal which is not what she said at the time but hey, politics can change our memories). Of course it would be pointless because she doesn't want to talk to him or hear anything from him. She wants to make a good tirade and get press. So he should meet her privately, no press, no aides, no recorders, tell her he's sorry her son was killed. Let her vent and then get on with it.
It is sad when I read the blogs of people I respect and they get so worked up about hating the President that they seem like they are frothing at the mouth. It frankly reminds me (and I apologize for this potential insult) of how former congress man Bob Barr from Georgia, or radio talk show hosts like Michael Savage talked (and still talk) about the Clintons. They get so caught up in hate that they couldn't bring themselves to admit the person was capable of doing good things. Understand, I am not terribly fond of many of the things our current President does. I am somewhat less pleased with many of the things the former President did. But both of them have done good things too. And as much as I may dislike many of the things Pres. Bush is doing, I still think he is so much better than either of the options the Democrats offered that it is sad. (These people are the Best and the Brightest???? God help us all.)

11 August 2005

mostly filler

Today is mostly filler. I had to drive off to the airport in Jax and pick up my parents who have been away on a working vacation for the last 2 months.
I really need to make a list of things to blog about because I keep coming up with good ideas and then not doing them. Make a list and stick to it with periodic intrusions fro bread or other interesting outside events. In future entries I intend to take the John Horne story and do a comparison of his story with one of the more critical press accounts and give my take on some of the differences. I also intend on doing a semi fictional narrative of a cordon and sweep operation in the mountains of Afghanistan. I also am going to do some edited for legality accounts of some of the more interesting interrogations I did. (I say edited for legality becasue details of the interrogations are classified.) I am not going to get into the book and movie reviews as a general rule becasue so many other people are doing it so well already. Exceptions will be made as the mood strikes me though.

I have finally noticed the underlying (or an underlying) cause for many of my more egregious spelling errors. My left hand types faster than my right. I am guessing this is primarily due to the abuse I have heaped on my right hand in the many years of fencing I have done. But I often end up with teh instead of the, or peopel for people, taht/that. I am sure you have noticed it. I try and fix it but miss a few. (the spell check doesn't work with the configuration of my Firefox so I live with it). Add that to a congenital spelling defect in my brain (I am orthographicly challenged)and things get messy. Spell check on my old Commodore 64 got me through college.

As a final note, I would like to encourage everyone to read Michael Yon's blog.
Michael Yon: Online Magazine
His latest entry is about an encounter with IEDs in Iraq and the chaos that ensues. It contains a graphic description of what happens in a vehicle that is hit. He also discusses the progress of the forces there, and situation. His comments on how the Iraqis view Abu Graib prison should be eye-opening to everyone who is convinced it is a horrible torture center.

Enough for now.

09 August 2005

Nan II The Product of the General......

This past weekend I once again threw myself into baking mode. It is becoming surprisingly common. I gain made an effort at a form of Nan. (for those not in the know that is a southwest asian/Indian subcontinent flat bread) This recipe was provided to me by one of you, the readers. And I thank thegeneralx for it.
I have decided to enclose the recipe this time too.

1&3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
1 egg slightly beaten
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
vegetable oil
Poppy seeds (optional)

Mix all ingredients except milk, vegetable oils and poppy seeds. STir in enough milk to make a soft dough. turn dough onto lightly floured surface: knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bow: turn greased side up. cover: let rest in warm place 3 hours.
Divided dough into 6-8 equal parts. flatten each part on lightly floured surface, rolling it into a flat 6x4 inch oval shape about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Place two cookie sheets/pan into the oven: heat to 450 degreee. Place bread on pans. Bake until firm, 6-8 minutes.

I varied this only in that I cooked the bread on a pizza stone instead of cookie trays. It makes a nice light tasty bread. Again, not the Nan I remember from afghanistan but good. This is the first Nan attempt I have done that was not labeled "AFGHAN" and I rather suspect it's origin is more India, simply because that is where more of this stype stuff comes from. The biggest difference I saw between this and the other recipies I have tried is the others have all called for yeast, or a sourdough starter. This works fine without it. The nan baked here is great with rasberry or apricot jam, honey, or as a dipping bread when eating something dippable, I did clam chowder (and I avoided cutting my hand open this time) I was going to try chili but found out I didn't have the makings too late. The nan keeps pretty well, I have one loaf left. I have kept it wrapped in a dishtowel and it hasn't gone stale at all. 15 seconds inthe microwave heats it up nicely. I'll probably eat this one for breakfast today.

I have pretty much given up the dream of getting my nan exactly like that I had in Afghanistan. the water here is different, the flour is different and unless I build a charcoal/wood burning oven in my backyard, the oven is different. But I will keep experimenting. And reporting results. I really wish I could find my digital camera so I could take pictures of the fresh bread and post here. It looks good.

07 August 2005

New link

I have added a new link. I realize this may not be a momentous occasion for you but this is a blog that is well worth reading. Michael Yon is an independent journalist operating in Iraq. This blog is where he reports, his OnLine Magazine. I have read a bit of it and it is good. Those who are in favor of what we are doing there and those who are opposed should read this interesting new voice. He certainly brings things to you at a level that the regualr press does not.

I admit I am curious as to how Mr. Yon got his press credentials and managed to get to Iraq and apparently embedded with a US unit. The military doesn't let just anyone travel with the troops. I will be doing some research on that and will get back to you if I learn anything interesting.
Meanwhile, read....

PS If you feel up to a gut wrenching read go to this post on his blog. The photo I was going to post the photo that goes with the link but you will see it there.

06 August 2005

Various topics

You would think the police in NYC would have more important things to do than this.
ICY CRIME NOTE: New York Times require registration.

Google: I recently got an email from a reader asking if the Google adsense thing was working out for me. This reader then commented that she had heard that in the fine print was a note that if you clicked an add on your page you forefited all of the money. GAH! (I have been know to click an ad if it looks interesting) So I went and looked through the fine print again. It does not say you will forefit your money, it does say they can cancel your account if you click your own ads and that you should NEVER do so. Oops. So no more clicking for me. Now as to the question of how it is working out for me, as I checked my account it seems I have earned about $11. OF course Google doesn't pay you at all until you cross some mystical level of earning. (If I am reading the various legalese correctly) IN one place it looks like that level is $50, in another it speaks of $100. Who knows? At any rate, It is not looking as though I am going to be making enough money from this to avoid getting a real job sometime soon. Sigh..... but readership is increasing and in theory adclicking should increase too. As an aside, as a direct result of my having google ads I tend to click other people's google ads more often. Hoping for Karmic balence....

Stranger danger --- Well I am not the only person to be struck by the irony of the Utah kid hiding from searchers becasue they were strangers. This from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Chilren...

...Kids don’t need to be told the world is a scary place. They watch the news, hear adults talking, and may even experience violence firsthand. Rather, they need to know their parent, guardian, or another trusted adult is there for them if they are in trouble; and most adults they encounter in their lives are basically good people... NCMEC believes the time is now for our society to retire the “stranger-danger” message; realize child safety is much more important than a slogan; and make sure we are arming our children with relevant, age-appropriate messages that will empower them.

They also make the oh so obvious commnet that most abductions aren't done by strangers, but by people the kid knows and strangers are often the ones who help rescue kids. Is the paranoid culture of fear dying down? No. I seriously doubt it. But there is at least a glimmer of reason showing.

And finally, if you want to see some interesting, disturbing, scary bits of random video footage check out this place Ifilm Warzone These are mostly relativly anonymous bits of footage from the war zone. WARNING: Many of these contain scenes of graphic violence, death, and destruction. but then, it is footage from a war, what do you expect? Another quick note on this, while I didn't see any I have heard that some of the films come complete with army recruitment comercials...who knows?

04 August 2005

News from Iraq 2

A couple more excerpts from emails from Iraq. These are actually a couple of weeks old but I thought they were still quite relevent.

Iraqi soldiers are goofy and friendly and kind of innocent. They are not US-quality troops, but they are better than any 3rd world Army I have seen. They are amazed at my Arabic, both because I speak some and because they can recognize it as Arabic but can't understand it. One of them asked me, "you are be Egyptian?" I explained to him that I do not be Egyptian, but that most of my Arabic teachers be Egyptians. Then, confused that an NCO would have language skills, he asked, "You are normal soldier?" I explained to him no, I am an abnormal soldier. I told him that I was with "reconaissance forces," and that seemed to satisfy him.

As stated before my friend is a MSG who is there to train the Iraqi Army. His time is interesting to say the least. His comments on his arrival at the training base,
A mortar round hit 50 meters from where we were standing as we were getting out of the HMMWV at work this morning. Another round landed near the gate we had just driven through. And an IED at the outer gate failed to detonate later in the day. Apparently they heard I was coming... It's nice to be considered important.

Despite all the hollering and politicing, the Soldiers get on with doing their jobs.....

03 August 2005


I really believe that the press often doesn't carry many stories that concern what really goes on in Washinton or the world as a whole. It tends to focus on the trendy and the "BIG" news of the day. (i.e. what's her name in Aruba or the current hot opinion of Iraq) That being said I don't think the press would avoid a story of 30 odd congressmen involved in a child sex/snuff ring. But this GUY seems to think it is going on. At times, even my mind boggles......

01 August 2005

Miles per Gallon, a rant.....

I was listening to NPR this afternoon while running some errands and
Talk of the Nation was on. The were talking about oil dependency and the need to cut back consumption and such. One of the things they mentioned was car gas mileage and how it hasn't improved in the lst 20 years. In fact, one of their guests claimed that gas milage is worse now then it was 20 years ago. (I would want to see the evidence of that despite what I am going to say next) This reminded me of one of my many gripes about cars. In the late 70s and early 80s I was driving a small white Honda Civic CVCC. It was my mothers car and she drove it to work 45-50 miles one way 5 days a week. It was exceptionally dependable, it was quick and best of all it went forever on a tank of gas. About 50 mpg as I recall. I could fill the car up drive from my home to Atlanta, around 200 miles, drive around Atlanta all day, and drive back on one tank of gas. (please note, this was a small car with a small gas tank.) Now I want to know why the heck I can't get that car now? If Honda put that exact same car on the market today I would buy it. Now people get excited about hybrid cars that get 40 mpg and they are running on electricity half of the time! What the heck is going on here? Never mind what I said up there, maybe that guy is right and we do have overall worse mileage now than we did then.
NOTE: Our car was a bit exceptional with it's mileage. The official estimates from Honda were 35-40 mpg for the car. But still, that was in the late 70s, you would think in the 21st century we could make a car that will equal the mileage of a car from the 70's for the equivalent cost.
Forgive me while I grump.