a Someone should care, maybe not you....: October 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 October 2005

Interesting thoughts.......

A link was given to me today by Three Score and Ten or more of a review that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote of a book. In this review (which I recommend that all of you go and read)Justice Scalia says the following:
But in a democracy, it is not the function of law to establish any more social policy than what is fairly expressed by legislation, enacted through prescribed democratic procedures. It troubles Smith, but does not at all trouble me --— in fact, it pleases me -- —that giving the words of the Constitution their normal meaning would "“expel from the domain of legal issues . . . most of the constitutional disputes that capture our attention," such as "“Can a macho military educational institution dedicated to what is euphemistically called the 'adversative'’ method admit only men? Is there a right to abortion? Or to the assistance of a physician in ending oneÂ’s life?"” If we should read English as English, Smith bemoans, Â"these questions would seemingly all have received the same answer: '‘No law on that one.'"”

That is precisely the answer they should have received: The federal Constitution says nothing on these subjects, which are therefore left to be governed by state law.

The rest of the review is eqalling thought provoking. I will warn you that it is also a bit convoluted.
I am curious as to what you find intruiging, interesting, or terrifying about this bit of writing.

27 October 2005

"Christian" terrorists

I hear on Talk Radio, or read in some blogs and papers that all terrorist organizations around the world are Moslem.  I am not sure where people get this because the good old IRA is about as “Christian” as it gets.  But some folks, Irish expats and their supporters mostly, refuse to admit that fact.  But the IRA is well known.  Today I thought I would introduce you to another set of “Christian” terrorists.  These guys make most other groups look like nice guys to have in the neighborhood.  Today we will talk about THE LORD”S RESISTANCE ARMY.Or this LINK  

This wonderful little collection of fanatics and loons has been fighting for the last 20 years in the northern part of Uganda and the Southern part of the Sudan.  One of their claims is to want to establish a nation in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments.  They take a VERY Old Testament view on how to go about doing this.  They also want to “liberate” and “restore the honor” of the Acholi people.  (this is ironic as they are the main victims of the LRA too)
The leader of the LRA is a man named Joseph Kony. (the guy with the dreds and the beret)

  He is the nephew(or maybe the  cousin) of Alice Lakwena, a spiritualist who lead a rebellion that was crushed in the 80’s. (She is quite a piece of work herself and is due a post of her own someday)  

Kony’s main recruiting tactic is to abduct children and brutalize them until they feel like they can’t go home.  He will often force a child to participate in the killing of his (or her) own parents and siblings.  He then makes the LRA seem to be the only place the child will be safe.  Of course the child will die if he or she leaves because Kony’s men will hunt the escapee down to be sure of it.

He seems to be very charismatic.  Many of the current leaders in his group are children that he abducted 10-15 years ago.  It is said that over the years the LRA has abducted more that 30,000 children.  Most of whom die rapidly.  The boys are used as suicide soldiers, often armed with little more than sticks or machete’s while the girls become wives to LRA leaders or sex slaves servicing the troops.  The LRA is usually described as having about 1000 fighters.  This gives you an idea of the casualties the abductees take in the fight.

It must be said though that for such a small group they are amazingly effective.  They have driven more than a million people out of northern Uganda as refugees.  They have destroyed the economy of the area. And they have evaded of defeated every attempt by the Ugandan army to destroy them.  At first they were supported by the Government of Sudan. (or so Uganda says, the Sudan of course denies this)  But recently the Sudan has been cooperating with Uganda in it’s attempts to defeat the LRA.  To no avail of course.  Kony and his slave army are still running free.  As mentioned above the main victims of the LRA are the Acholi people that Kony claims to be fighting for.  It is their villages he pillages, their children he kidnaps, them that he kills.  And to make their situation worse, when the government comes to fight the LRA the Acholi get caught in the middle and slaughtered too.  (it doesn’t help that the Acholi fought against the current leaders in the revolutionary wars that established the current government)

The LRA is one of the major destabilizing forces in the area and shows no signs of slowing down.  Attempts to negotiate peace have failed due to Kony’s paranoia and the government’s lack of any real desire to  for any peace but that of the grave with him.  What do the first world nations due to help?  Mostly wring their hands and moan about how bad things are.  Various aid groups and religious leaders have set up peace talks to no avail.  They also indirectly help Kony by threatening to cut off all aid if the government of Uganda puts too much money into military spending.  So, as is typical, half assed interference does nothing except make the situation worse.  Of course no one outside the area has any interest in actually, say sending troops to finish this nut case off.  Interventions in Africa leave a bad taste in the mouth of Europe and the US now.  (Except for France, but they only intervene in their old colonies, unilaterally,  and without UN  or international sanction I might add.)

Think how lucky you are not to be there.

26 October 2005

Sympathy for the Devil

I tend to get pretty bent out of shape when people on the anti war side start comparing Bush to Hitler and the US to the Nazis.
That being said, some understanding for some of their actions can develop as things progress in Iraq.
In WWII when the French Maquis or the Russian Partisans (who, coincidently, were called terrorists by the German forces) blew up a vehicle full of German soldiers, or shot some commissioner or other official the Germans had a tendency to borrow from the ancestors of their Italian allies and decimate things. For those who don't know, this quite literally meant to kill one out of every ten of some group of people. The Romans tended to do it to rebellious Legions occasionally to rebellious villages although they more often were just exterminated, the adults all killed and the children sold off into slavery. This was of course soundly condemned by the Allies when it the Germans did it despite the US, the British, and the French haveing histories of doing the same things in past wars.
But where does our understanding of the desire to inflict such an "atrocity" arise? Well,it has come to light that on the 20th of September of this year a convoy of contractors escorted by some soldiers took a wrong turn in the town of Duluiyah which is north of Baghdad.
The vehicles came under fire from RPGs and machine guns and one was pretty wrecked. The four contractors riding in the vehicle were killed. Thus far this is an act of war and can be understood if not liked. Unfortunately, two of the contractors were not killed in the initial fire fight. They were dragged from the vehicle and forced to kneel at the side of the road. One of them was then shot in the back of the head with a rifle. (He was the lucky one.) The second man was drenched in gasoline and set on fire. Children in the area crowded around and threw straw on the burning man as he screamed in agony to make the fire bigger.
This is reported in the the Daily Telegraph of London and is now being carried by the AP, Boston globe, Al Jazeera and other news agencies.
Yahoo News has the AP story.
Four U.S. Contractors Killed in Iraq

Now I am pretty understanding about what happens in War. I know that it is my job (in the long run) to kill the enemy soldier and it is his job to kill me. But I draw the line at roadside executions and dousing prisoners in Gasoline and setting fire to them. (And if ANYONE says "Well look at Abu Ghraib..." to justify this... Well, I will despise you as the ignorant piece of crap you have just proven yourself to be. Unless of course you can PROVE to me that we poured gasoline on prisoners and set them on fire.)
In this case I begin to seriously understand how the Germans felt when they torched towns in occupied Europe. Near as I can tell the French didn't do stuff like this. The Russians did.
It is hard not to really, really want to follow that age old tradition of decimation at times.

24 October 2005


In Brazil the right to own guns has been upheld in a national vote. A proposal was before the people to outlaw the sale of guns. Despite support for the ban from the government of Brazil, the Catholic Church and the United Nations (why are they involved at all in this??)sixty four percent of the people of Brazil voted against the ban. The yes campaign had held a lead at first but the NO campaign convinced people that banning the sale of guns would have no effect on the criminals who use guns because they don't buy them legally anyway. They also pointed out that gun ownership was a basic civil right that the government shouldn't try and take away. The attempted ban was the culmination of several efforts by the government of Brazil to control gun crime. Brazil has the world's highest deathtoll from guns.

It is good to see that somewhere in the world people aren't lining up to give up their freedoms and rights for an illusion of security. The people of Brazil realized that the Police cannot protect you from criminals. In fact, in parts of Brazil the police are the criminals. But even in the USA police won't protect you, they merely show up after the damage is done and try to clean up and catch whoever committed the crime. This is amply demonstrated over and over again. The most recent for me involves a house I own and rent out. In the past few weeks a car stereo and an air compressor have been stolen off the property, another attempt to break into a car was foiled by dogs as was an attempt to pry open one of the windows. This house in out in the country, calling the police (the sheriff actually) is nice but they will readily tell you that unless they just happen to be nearby it will take at least 15-20 minutes for them to arrive. So, can they protect the girl who rents my house? NO. After the last last incident the deputy who responded told her that she should get a gun and learn to use it in case the prowler returns. There is now a shotgun in the house.
Let's hear it for the Brazilians and hope that in the USA we have the fortitude to maintain our rights and freedoms too.

Brazilians reject gun sales ban

22 October 2005

State sponsored child abuse

Ok, I can understand this “protect the children” thing to a degree but these guys are going too far.
In Pennsylvania the courts have just gone and taken a newborn baby away from his mother because the baby’s father was convicted of a sex offence (raping two teenaged girls) 22 years ago. He has not offended since.
Pardon me but I think that is ridiculous, stupid, foolish, moronic, and several other things that are not repeatable in public company. This is the third child that that the state has taken from the couple for the exact same reason. Each time basing it on her husbands past offences, admitting that there is no evidence or reason to suspect that he has done anything new. They quite frankly admit that they are basing this wholly on his past offence and the fact that he is on a sex offenders registry.
In an attempt to placate the officials the couple is living in separate houses despite being married. This doesn’t matter. The child was taken.
I know a lot of folks out there on the conservative side dislike the ACLU but they are representing the mother in her attempt to regain custody of her children. I hope they succeed. I concede that there are times (which should be rare and extreme) when it is necessary to take a child from its parents. But to do so due to a 22 year old crime is abuse of the system.

I first heard of this case a week or two ago when Fox News anchor John Gibson was talking to a judge and it was mentioned that a federal court had issued a restraining order against the county officials to stop them from following the mother around day and night to remind her that they were going to take the baby. Gibson of course was all in favor of the local officials while the judge was pointing out that the county was on legally shaky ground because the mother hadn't broken any law.

What the hell happened to the conservative ideal of getting the Government to stay the hell out of our lives??????

Officials Remove Newborn Over Father's Abuse Case (registration required.)

19 October 2005

I can't believe this crap......

Today a Spanish court issued an international arrest warrant for three US soldiers. Back during the fighting in Baghdad a tank fired a round at the Palestine Hotel. A Spanish journalist was killed. So Spain wants to arrest three soldiers and put them on trial. Now I am trying to figure out what exactly they are trying them for. If it was the tank crew I would say maybe involuntary manslaughter but no, it is a Sgt, (who was probably the gunner on the tank, a Capt. who may have been the tank commander, and a Lt. Col. (Battalion CO maybe????) I sincerely hope the the US government tells the Spanish Govt to kiss their butts.
I am exceedingly not happy with this all across the board.
Spain orders arrest of US troops

Pear cobbler (kinda)

I haven't done any cooking posts for awhile and I was missing them. (they seem to be more popular than my other stuff)
So here we go, The other day I went out to the house I own and I picked some big pears off the tree by the pond.

Now it may not be clear in this photo but a couple of these are double fist sized pears. They are all sweet and juicy. I was wondering what to do with them and decided on an improvised cobbler. (maybe a crumble would be a better term)
I cut a few of the pears up into fairly small pieces and popped them into the microwave to precook them. (this softens them up a bit, and it won't take nearly as long to cook the final product.) Then I ground some cinnamon onto the pears and liberally sprinkled brown sugar over them and stirred it together. Then I put some more brown sugar and some more cinnamon on it. I took a package of spice cookies (Sweetzels Spiced Wafers to be exact, put them in a zip lock bag and beat them to crumbs and pieces with a rolling pin. I then poured the cookie crumbs over the pears . As an afterthought I melted half a stick of butter and poured it over the crumbs and spinkled a little bit more brown sugar on top of that it in the oven on 350 for about 40 minutes and bingo.

With Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream this is a wonderful if not at all dietary treat.

There are a few things I will do differently when next I do this.
1. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and stir it into the crumbs before putting it on the pears. It will give a bit better consistency to the crust and spread the flavor around.
2. Mix the brown sugar and the pears and the cinnamon together a bit better. Maybe put it all in a bowl or a bag and thoroughly mix it before putting them in the pan.
3. Not bake quite so long. It got a little dark on top.

Any suggestions from other cooks?

(It is VERY good)

18 October 2005

Transparent Aluminum

Remember that scene in Star Trek III (?) where Scotty is babbling about manufacturing transparent aluminum to make a whale tank to save the earth?
Well guess what? We are making it now. And testing it as windows in armored vehicles. Stronger and lighter than bullet proof glass.
It is nice when you see sci-fi becoming sci-fact.
Air Force testing new transparent armor

17 October 2005

Another Opinion on Ms Miers.

I really have no strong opinions one way or another about the women as an apointee. But I am interested in what people think and how they express their opinions. Here is a very well thought out oposition to her apointment. Well expressed enough in fact to move me a bit towards his point of view.
Harriet Miers and the Ghost of Alexander Hamilton.

If more people could express themselves like this instead of ranting it would be a good thing.

The poster is a soldier who has just deployed to Iraq. He also has an excellent post on why a draft isn't a good thing. Interesting stuff to read.

16 October 2005

Tariq Aziz

There is an article in BBC News that says Tariq Aziz will not testify against Saddam Hussein in his upcoming trial. A British paper had said that Mr. Aziz had agreed to testify against Hussein in exchange for basically being allowed to go into exile and live his life out peacefully. US officials, of course, will not comment on any such arrangement. Aziz's lawyer adamantly denies the arrangement and says the news report is "totally false".
Personally, I rather suspect this means that negociations are still underway.

I thought it interesting that the article says Aziz has been held at a "secret location since his surrender in April 2003". I guess that means I shouldn't tell a "war story" about when and where I saw him while I was in Iraq. (no I didn't interrogate him, his guards were taking him for a walk for some fresh air.)

On a different note, I went to another fencing tournament on Saturday. It was fun. I again placed right in the middle of the pack. My fencing is having moments of competency interrupting long streaches of mediocrity. I hate starting over. But it seems to be getting better. Afterward we went to BBQ buffet place. It was very good. One of the fencers is a grad student from New York, she had never experienced a southern BBQ buffet. (despite doing her undergrad in NC) she was quite impressed.

13 October 2005

Breaking news Chechnya

Chechen terrorists (and I use that term deliberately) have launched an attack on the city of Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria. It seems to have been a mass attack launched against the police and security offices in the city but a school and the city's airport have been caught up in the fighting.
This of course brings to mind the vicious assault on the school in Beslan just over a year ago. This is rapidly becoming one of those parts of the world where folks just kill each other merely for being alive.

Some interesting thought on the Miers nomination

This is on one of the blogs I read regularly (well, as regularly as he posts)
It is an interesting view from a Libertarian.
Miers Post

My personal thoughts on the nomination are pretty neutral. I see no overwhelming reason why she should or shouldn't be confirmed. I confess it does have a tinge of "cronyism" but every President indulges himself in that nasty little habit. "To the winner goes the spoils" as they say. But then, it seems her name was on Harry Reid's list of acceptable people.
I am amused by the fact that both the left and the right seem equally nonplussed by her nomination.
Threescore and ten may have a point here...... Supreme Court

12 October 2005

Someone else doing hurricane cleanup

First he cleaned the trees out of his own yard then he and his neighbors went to help others. Check out his Stormin Mormons post and the three or four posts previous to it.

11 October 2005

Michael Yon update

Was just reading Michael Yon'd latest update. The Battle of Mosul IV. The description of how things went on there and how the Iraqi Police have been trained and are improving is quite impressive. Of vital importance is his summation where he explains why we must carry on in Iraq. I know some of you guys don't think that but I am curious as to what you think of his reasoning.
I have been saying much the same thing as he is saying all along but he says it with more authority and style. He has spent more time in the fight than I did.
It is a long post but well worth reading.

Resurgent Taliban

I have been hearing alot in the American press and on anti-Bush blogs about the "resurgence" of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the last year and a half. What exactly defines a resurgence? If that means there are more encounters, fights, and casulties then yes, you might say there has been a resurgence. If you mean the Taliban is regaining power and influence again, then no, there has not.
Now why, you may ask, would there be more fighting if the Taliban is not regaining influence? Well there is a very simple answer to that. We are making them fight more. After the initial invasion and conquest we set up posts in certain areas of the country, mostly Kabul, Bagram, Kandahar, and scattered firebases in the P2K provinces. (Paktika, Paktia, and Khowst) In the rest of the country we would go on periodic raids or patrols. About the time I was leaving Afghanistan we were extensivly expanding our presence across the country. We were expanding our PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams), ISAF (International Stabilisation Force Afghanistan) which is currently headed by NATO was establishing new PRTs, new firebases were established in provinces around the south and east of Afghanistan. In short, in many places where previously we had periodicly strolled through to show the flag, we now stuck a realtivly large contingent of troops. Many of these provinces contained Taliban supporters and/or others who were opposed to the Karzai government. The fact taht we were now sitting on their doorstep, collecting intel on them and activly hunting them down forced them to quit sitting in their mountain villages bitching about us to activly defending themselves. Which they do, of course, by attacking. And then we kill or capture them. There are very few new recruits coming into the Taliban in Afghanistan. The majority of their new fighters are young men recruited out fo the Madrasas in Pakistan, who are then armed and sent into Afghanistan to die. Alot of these guys have become very discontented becasue they see that they are going in to fight while thier leaders are staying (relativly) safe in Pakistan.
The Taliban's absolute failure to disrupt the parlimentary elections or the Presidential elections demonstrates their impotence. they are fighting now to try and maintain a sense of legitimacy among the Afghan people. It is an effort that is failing. The fact that many of the junior leaders of the Taliban are accepting Karzai's amnesty and are returning to Afghanistan demonstrates this. Remember where I talked about the Afgahn habit of changing sides?( PKZ and confusion in war ) They are changing. They can see the writign on the wall. the Taliban in finished as a major force. It will continue to hang around and fight for a long time simply because there will alwasy be a few fanatics and idiots who will pick up the cause but the Taliban has no chance to restablish themselves in Afghanistan. (this is of course assumeing we continue to support the new government of Afghanistan, if we pull out, all bets are off)
Now there is a second issue that concerns the "resurgence". Namely the US press calls anyone who fights against the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan the Taliban. this is not true. There are alot of minor and a few major warlords running around out there that are actively fighting the establishment of a central government in Afghanistan. They in no wise are Taliban, they may be allied by convenience but they are not Talibs. They don't want a strng central government because that will cut into their power and influence. they can't be the god boss of their valley if the government can come in and arrest them or tax them So they fight.
A good example of this can be seen in the ambush of an Afghan National Police convoy on the 10th of October. IN the village of Bahram Shah in Helmand province a police convoy was ambused, several cars were destroyed, 18 officers were killed. The battle lasted for hours. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack at once and the press quickly passed on the information. But, (you knew there was a but coming didn't you?) when General Abdul Rahman the chief of the Helmand police was asked about it he said taht the ambush was probably staged by the smuglers that operate in that area along the Pakistan border.
"Here in Bahram Chah, people don't have any [legitimate] businesses or sources of income," he said. "The only way for people to earn a living is through smuggling. And these smugglers don't want the [central] government and administration to be established here. So, of course, [people of Bahram Chah] are involved [in this attack]. But we are still investigating [exactly who took part]."

Police Chief Says Smugglers Helped Taliban With Ambush
the taliban will continue to fight, lives will be lost, (mostly thiers)damage will be done. But Afghanistan is on the path to real peace for the first time in more than 25 years. Let's keep them on that path.

10 October 2005

I've been out

I spent the last few days at a big fencing tournament in Miami with a few teammates and students. It was a long tiring and productive weekend. If you are at all interested in more information on that feel free to click the link to Swordsen's Fencing Log over in my links section.
I will return to my regularly scheduled blogging soon.....

05 October 2005

Darwin whispers to me at night

To further expose you to the wonderfull world of webcomics.....
Anyone who has ever worked in retail or a customer service position knows this feeling.

Go and read the rest.
Queen of Wands

04 October 2005

Well, I went to Bogalusa La over the weekend to help clean up hurricane damage. It was interesting. There was, on the one hand, a lot to do, but on the other hand, things generally seemed to be well in hand.
We arrived Friday afternoon about 1700 and were told we could set up our tents and relax and get started in the morning after everyone else arrived. We said we would rather set up our tents then get to work. So we did. Went off to a neighbor hood, found a house with trees lying in the yard and offered to clean them all up. After being questioned by the lady of the house repeatedly about how much we would charge for the work (nothing) she said yes and we went to work. Eleven guys and three or four chainsaws can go through a lot of tree pretty fast. So before dusk we had their lawn pretty substantially cleaned up. We left the stumps in the yard because we didn't have the digging tools needed to dig them out. Back we went to camp with a feeling of victory. While we had been out others had been arriving and continued to arrive during the night. Early Saturday morning(0600) we were up and were given a list of targets. It was quite efficiently done. You directions to house 1 and directions from house 1 to 2 and so on. The directions included street names and distances and such which was good because many street signs were down. We were told to stick to the list and if we got it finished to come back and get more names. The problem with this of course is that the lists had been compiled almost two weeks earlier (last weeks crew had been cancelled due to Rita) so a lot of the houses on the list had pretty much cleaned up already. Our team's decided policy was to go to a house and spend about two hours there unless it needed extrodinary work (none did)then move on. So we never completely finished a piece of property but we got up the worst of the damage and left things much much better than when we arrived. Of our first six houses two of them were already done by the owners but the other four each got a lot of trees cut up and moved around. I hated looking at all that great oak firewood being piled into burn piles for destruction. I will recall it this winter. So about 1700 we went back and got a new list. We knew we wouldn't finish but could maybe get two houses in before dusk. We went to a house and got to work and here is where my rebellious streak came up. This house had lots of trees down but the neighbor's house had three large (tow of them very large) trees lying across his roof. Now what I wanted to do was to finish the yard we were in (it had a lot of trees down) and then blow off the list and go to the neighbor's house (which had also been flooded) and spend the last hours or so before dusk doing whatever we could there. And I argue forcefully for this option. Unfortunately (in my opinion) our crew chief was more of a rule following guy and decided we had to stay with the plan. He did go and get the neighbor's name and address so he could be added to the lists for the next crew. Unfortunately when we got to the next house on the list it had already been cleaned up by relatives and it was too late to go to another place and start. So we walked away from a man who needed help to go to a place that had needed help but didn't anymore. I recognize the need for organization and planning. I really do. I know that more gets done when work is done in an orderly fashion following a plan. But it galls me that we left that man with three trees on his house. Due to drive length and people's jobs and such we were really only a Saturday crew, we had to leave on Sunday to come home. So we didn't get back to that house. I can only hope that someone else will this week.
So while I know we accomplished a lot and did real good work, I personally feel unfulfilled by the mission.

Now a few random observations:
1. Gas was 40 cents a gallon cheaper in the midst of the hurricane damage than it is here where I live. Can anyone explain the logic in that to me?
2. There was a lot of damage but not as much as we had been led to believe. A lot more trees were up than were down, more house relatively undamaged than damaged.
3. Underground power lives would be a REAL rational thing in a place like that. (they did go almost a month without electricity. It came back on the day before we arrived in town, crews were still stringing wires out in the parrish areas)
4.Wahl's Catfish House in Bogalusa is an excellent place to go eat. I highly recommend it should you for some ungodly reason find yourself there.
5. I found that I didn't' take very many pictures. It seemed a bit intrusive to stop the truck, get out and take a picture of the ruins of someone's house. And there weren't so many "ruined" houses that you could just get pics from the road.
6. Bogalusa is about 50 miles inland. Where I live is about 50 miles inland too. It was interesting to see what we have to look forward to if a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane rolls our way. I may just evacuate after all.

This is part of our crew after doing our Friday night house. Did I mention it was warm and VERY humid?