a Someone should care, maybe not you....: November 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.

30 November 2005


Another food (ish) post, one of the traditions that our family has developed over the years has included the inclusion of a traditional Finnish drink into our holiday menus. Now in Finland I understand this is a drink for the spring not the fall and winter but hey, we like it.
The drink is called Sima and it is basically a light mead. Fermented honey.
It is exceedingly simple to make.
1 gallon of water
1 lemon
2 cups of honey (or brown sugar)
Take your lemon and grate the zest off it. Add the zest to the water.
(for those who are curious, the zest is the yellow part of the peel. NOT the white part)
Juice the lemon. Add the juice to the water.
Add the Honey or brown sugar to the water.
Heat sufficiently to dissolve the honey/sugar. (no need to boil)
Allow the mixture to cool until it is luke warm. Add yeast. (how much yeast takes experimentation, it depends on how much yeasty flavor you like.)for 1 gallon of water I'd go with about a 1/4 of a tsp.
Let the mixture sit for several hours until foam starts developing on the surface and the yeasty smell permeates the room.
NOTE: the longer it sits in this state the more ALCOHOL develops in the Sima. I don't drink booze so I bottle it now, if you like stronger drink let it sit longer.
Bottle the mix. I use Grolsch or St. Paulies Girl beer bottles because they have resealable caps. Soda bottles work just as well but don't look as cool.
Put a couple of raisins in the bottle and a little sugar. Fill the bottle leaving some space for pressure build up at the top. (if you over fill the bottle will break)Seal and let sit until the raisins are floating. Chill and drink.


Well the great feed is over. Or at least round one is. :) I enjoyed it. I can understand Babs desire for eating something else. If Pilau was all you had everyday it would get old. For us it was a treat, we'd get permission to send our interpreters into the village outside Bagram airbase and they would return with local food. It was always great.
Hope the rest of you had great feasts and times too. Serena, I'm sorry you have no place to prepare a good feed. (In France, the land of ego food, they don't supply kitchens in your dorms? Horrors.)

I haven't posted during the holiday although I have been working on a post that is taking longer to put together than I expected it too. It should be interesting when I get it done. I am also doing some research on other terrorist type groups out there to do future reports on.
As for current events, well I see some little group of Peace advocates had people get kidnapped in Iraq. They are of course blaming the US and the UK for it. The "Christian Peace Teams" wander around in areas that are very dangerous and blame the US/UK when bad things happen. hmmmm Well I guess they have the overall point that if we hadn't invaded they would not have been allowed into the country so they couldn't have gotten kidnapped. So yeah, I guess it is our fault. Not our fault they are idealistic fools though.
The TSA is going to allow airline passengers to carry small tools and short scissors onto planes again. Those and nail clippers were always such a huge threat.... Bet they won't allow my Leatherman yet though......
On the Iraq front, well at least one Democratic leader knows the truth and isn't afraid to say it. Joe Lieberman states "...but the cost for America of failure in Iraq would be catastrophic - for America, for the Iraqi people and I believe for the world."

23 November 2005


Well, tonight I went back into cooking mode. An Afghan feast for my family. I found some lamb while shopping last week and my mother suggested I cook up a meal for the family before Thanksgiving because my brother and sister would be coming into town and she (my mother) didn't want to cook twice.
So I did.

What we have here tonight is Qabili Pilau and Nan. The Pilau is a nice and lamb dish.
It requires 1 lb long grained rice (basmati recommended), 6 tbs vegetable oil, 2 medium onions chopped, 1.5-2 pounds lamb on the bone or 1 chicken jointed, salt and pepper, 2 large carrots, 4 oz seedless black raisins, 2 tsp cumin or char masala, .25 tsp saffron (optional).

First you rinse the rice and let it soak for at least 45 minutes.
Hear 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan and add the chopped onions. Stir and fry them until brown. Remove the onions from the oil and set aside. Put the lamb in the oil, Brown well on all sides in the oil. Add 1 cup water, and salt and pepper. Bring to boil then turn down the heat and let simmer until the meat is tender. (NOTE: the recipe doesn't say anything about it but following the example of the dish I ate in Afghanistan, I cut the lamb into fairly small chunks and in so doing of course removed the bones)
When cooked, remove the meat and put in a warm place. Grind the onions to a pulp, add them to the meat brothand stir well. Set this aside.
While the meat is cooking wash and peel the carrots and cut into pieces the size of matchsticks. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan and add the carrots. Cook the carrots gently until lightly browned and tender. (If they stay tough add some water and simmer until tender. Be sure to let the water evaporate) Remove the carrots from the oil, add the raisins and cook them gently until they begin to swell up. Remove the raisins from the oil and set aside with the carrots. Save any remaining oil for the rice.
Bring 5 cups of water to boil and add about 1 tsp of salt. Drain the rice. Put the rice into the boiling water and par boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain the rice in a large sieve. Place the rice in a large casserole dish and sprinkle with the char masala/cumin and saffron. Take the meat juices and measure out about 3/4 cup. Pour it over the rice and stir gently once. Place the meat on one side of the dish and the carrots/raisins on the other. Pour any remaining oil over thr rice mixture. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.
To serve place about half the rice on a plate, put the meat on top then cover with the rest of the rice. Garnish with the carrots and raisins.
You will note, I did not follow that step. Instead of vegetable oil I used olive oil.
This is a very savory dish. I love it. Unfortunately for my brother and sister they were both delayed and will not arrive here for a few hours so they will be eating leftovers. But it reheats very well. If you have any questions about making this feel free to ask or just look on the web. There are several sites dealing in Afghan cooking.
I won't go over the bread recipe because I already did one on a previous post.
Have a great Thanksgiving, be safe.

21 November 2005

Update on Sony spyware......

The state of Texas is filing suit against Sony under their anti-spyware law. Maximum penalty is $100,000 per violation. Each individual CD is a separate violation.
Of course they won't get anything even close to the billions that would be but it is a nice idea........

20 November 2005

Like a broken record

There are certain blogs that I refer to so often I feel like a broken record when I say,"GO READ THIS!!" Michael Yon is one of these. His latest post on the final Ball of the Duece Four (the unit he spent time with in Iraq) is great.

Go, read. NOW.

I always feel like, somebody's watching me....

Paranoia? Maybe, but then again, maybe not? Have you heard what Sony BMG did to everyone who bought a CD recently?
It seems that Sony, in a fit of righteous indignation over all of the vicious music pirates out there put something called XCP on their CDs. It was in theory a piece of copy proctection. Not computer CDs, music Cds. And when you put that CD into your computer to play it Windows being the helpful bit of software that it is installs XCP on your computer. (You Mac, LINUX/Unix guys are safe it seems) XCP is supposed to monitor how many copies you make of the CD and prevent it. IT is also a rootkit. (A Trojan Horse) that writes itself to your system, communicates with Sony's computers about what your computer is doing, and opens big holes in your security that other hackers can then exploit to bust into your computer. There were 52 titles that Sony had released with XCP on it.
This wonderful little bit of spyware was discovered on Halloween by a computer security expert. He recounts this on his blog. sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights
It is a scary tale. This guy is an expert and he had real issues with getting rid of this thing. Turns out if you just delete it (assuming of course you could actually find it) it cripples your CD player.
When he went public Sony said the root kit was "not malicious and does not compromise security." (HAH) Thomas Hesse of Sony went on NPR and said "most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"
Maybe because we don't want our computers telling you every time we play a certain CD? Perhaps because we aren't happy with people sticking unwanted software on our personal computers with no way to get rid of it without our permission?
Sony then put up a bit on it's website that offered a way to remove XCP. Of course to use it you had to give Sony your email address, install and Active X controller on your computer, and it turns out that the uninstall left big holes in your security again.

After a great deal of denying, ranting, etc, Sony has recalled all of the XCP discs and has made a real way to get rid of XCP available. They have not admitted they did anything wrong. There are several lawsuits pending. I look forward to them and hope Sony gets nailed to the wall.
If you have played a recently purchased sony CD on your windows based computer you need to read the blog of the guy who found it because he explains the manual steps you can take to uninstall it without having to depend on Sony. He also goes into a lot more detail than I have oh what happened, how Sony responded, and what the possible problems you could face because of this. (They are substantial!)

the sad thing of course is that all of this would have no effect what so ever on the serious music pirates. They like most hacker types operate in the LINUX/UNIX world and this bit of software would have had no effect at all on their systems.

Remember, your privacy is always at risk. It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

For further info
The Rootkit of all Evil (subscription required)
More Questions raised

17 November 2005

A reminder

Weapons of mass destruction

16 November 2005

Two cool things

A while back I did a very brief post called Battle Armor. It concerned an new power assisted exoskeleton to help the elderly walk and carry things. (yeah right) It is called the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) and it is out there and fairly expensive (14-19K)

HAL by Cyberdine
I am sure the army is looking at this stuff hard.
This company ignored all of the American bad movie mojo, they have a computerized device they call HAL and they call themselves Cyberdyne. Maybe it will be a robot plague instead of Zombies.

The other cool thing is a new experimental vehicle from Toyota. I'm not sure I'd want to drive this down the interstate (it only goes 25mph) but around town would be fun. Or if I lived in a Big City (San Fran or NYC)


Looks like the anime world is approaching faster all the time. COOL

(These items were mentioned in Time Magazines Amazing Inventions of 2005. Along with a cloned dog, a hydrogen powered motorcycle, and a variety of interesting little things.)

15 November 2005

Losing my conservative street cred

I have been reading in some of the conservative blogs and listening on the radio and am hearing/reading a new wave of attacks on the ACLU.
Here I confess that I like the American Civil Liberties Union. It is good that there is an organization out there that will challenge the government on things that are not very popular. I am impressed that they will defend the civil rights of just about any group. ( I do note with disappointment that they seem to push for every constitutional right except those granted by the Second Amendment, but no one is perfect.)
There needs to be an organization like them that will call to question things the government does. Now, am a glad that they are continually going after things like nativites in courthouses? NO. But they also defend the rights of student free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.
I am not a card carrying member of the ACLU, but I will be once I get a real (or pseudo real) job or at least some source of income that actually exceeds my bills by some reasonable amount.

The American Civil Liberties Union

12 November 2005

An interesting post on riots in France

I was reading the blog of a civilian working in Afghanistan for an NGO, which I often do because I am very interested in what is going on there still. She had a very interesting post on the riots in France and compared the youth there to the youth of Afghanistan. It is quite a good read.
Buzkachi vs. Riots

In a related thought, I am really quite amazed by some of what I read in these blogs by NGO workers in Afghanistan. It struck me that they spend ALOT of their down time drinking. While we in the Army are forbidden alcohol because it might offend our Islamic "hosts". So we can't drink there but the NGO workers can and do. Confusing a bit, but then, this is the Army we are talking about.

11 November 2005

Salt pit

This photo is being distributed through the press as the "Salt Pit" the CIA secret prison in Afghanistan. As I looked at the picture I thought it looked familiar. When I read about it's general location I knew that I was right, it was familiar. I had been there once and drove past it several times.
I was coming back to Bagram from Gardez after a rather productive mission. I was in a convoy with "Task Force 5", a Special Ops group that had run the mission in Gardez. We were being escorted by the "Mohawks" OGA trained Afghan troops. (note OGA stands for Other Government Agency, which could be anyone, the DEA, FBI, NSA, DHS, or the CIA. In this case it was the CIA) This facility was the Mohawks base and we pulled in (through some fairly heavy security, all Afghan) and dropped them and several other people off. The facility was described to me by one of the TF 5 guys as being an old Al Queda training camp that the CIA had taken over to train Afghan soldiers and to use as their base camp. Al Queda had used the lager kind of burned out looking building for simulating raids and doing explosive training. The smaller facility in the back was much newer and looked to be US construction. Needless to say I did not wander around the place. Used the latrine, changed vehicles and headed on to Bagram.
We drove right past the front gate to this place every time we went to Kabul. It was on the Old Kabul Road right before you got to the airport. Here is another pic I took of the facility from the road going into Kabul.

I had the opportunity to talk to a few people who had been detained by the CIA in Kabul (hence I assume, a dangerous act, that it was here). They generally complained that the conditions in Bagram were worse than where they had been held and that we were being stricter on them that the CIA had been. I thought that was a bit strange, but that is what the guy kept telling me.

09 November 2005

I don't normally do this.....

but hey, it turns out I am one of my favorite B-Movie action heros.

You're Ash, baby.
Gimme some sugar baby.

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Confederate currency????

The whole Confederate Flag issue in my neighboring state of South Carolina has taken an interesting turn. A couple of weeks ago I was over in SC and when I came back and looked at the change in my pocket I found this.

Now the first thing I thought was "HUH?" then I realized what had been done. Someone had taken a die and impressed the confederate Battle Flag onto the South Carolina quarter. My brother suggested that perhaps someone did that to protest the fact that SC uses the flag, but then agreed that it is much more likely that someone did it to declare the flag is a part and parcel of South Carolina history and culture and will not go away.
At any rate I though it was interesting. I am curious as to how many of them they did? Is this unique or are there more floating around out there? Take a look at your change and if you see one I'd like to hear about it.

07 November 2005


Ah there is so much to write about, so many topics I could choose from. I have seen things, read things, heard things! Signs and portents, types and shadows, omens, clues, and just strange thoughts and feelings.....
It leaves one quite confounded when trying to decide what to discuss.

So. In a fit of whimsy and obnoxiousness, I'll do something that isn't all that common among many in America. I'll write about the French. And I'll say good things about them.

Now I have said and thought many bad things about the French over the years. And I will say more bad things in the future I am sure. But despite everything I have said, (and meant when I said it!) deep down you just have to respect the French a bit. They can be annoying, supercilious, obnoxious, pushy, ethnocentric, nationalistic, and what all(in fact, that sound a lot like US in the world too). But you know what, they're French and they know it. They are perfectly willing to tell the entire rest of the world to go bugger itself if they want or need to do something for France that everyone else thinks shouldn't be done.
They have a LONG history of unilateral military interventions around the world that has annoyed and pissed off everyone from the UN on down but do they care? NO. Why not? They're French. Other countries in Europe cave in to Green pressure and have decided to drop nuclear power despite the massive energy crunch that is constant in Europe. France has 58 nuclear power plants that generate almost 80% of the electricity used in the country. And they are improving them and building more. Why? Because they are French and France needs power. It may not be a great thing but back when France was actively testing nuclear weapons in the South Pacific, Green Peace protested them sailed their ship into the test zones, caused all sorts of disruptions and grief. IN the US when that happened we screened them off with other ships, sprayed them with water cannons, negociated. France sank the Green Peace boat. Sent a commando team in and sank it one night. Boom, no more issues. (briefly) Why? Because they are French and France needed to test nuclear weapons. There are a whole long litany of examples I could cite where no matter how annoying they may be because they aren't doing what WE want them to, you really have to admire them. They do what they think France needs.
Now one more example that I just heard of this past weekend while driving home. I was listening to NPR and they were discussing the causes of the riots in France and what the effects may be. One of the things the NPR commentators were bemoaning was the fact that in France, they do not keep racial records. It is illegal in France for the government to collect or store information about what race a person is. They operate under they theory that no matter where you come from, what you look like, what your religion is, now, YOU ARE FRENCH. Just French. NO hyphens. Pure equality under the law. (Does thins work? No. Racism is alive and well in France but it is a nice thought.) I wish we did that in the US. More just plain Americans and less "something-american." Less worry about how poor blacks or poor hispanics or poor whoevers are doing and instead just worry about how the POOR are doing. A theoretically race blind system.
So, despite all that I have said and thought about the French in the past and will do in the future, Here's to you boys! At least you are willing to stick up for yourselves.

Note: the French may do what they think is in the best interest of France. I often think they are insane. Some of the things they choose to do are just demented (reoccupy South East Asia for example) I am also vastly ammused by the people whobitch and moan because the US unilaterally went into Iraq and then cite us ignoring our Ally France when we did so. Despite the fact that France does more unilateral military action around the world than most people in the US can imagine. It is just usually a smaller operation than we pull out.

Oh yeah, speaking of Riots in France. Serena, STAY SAFE!

04 November 2005


Well when it turns out that one of the big "LIES" the President was supposed to have told to get us into the war is part of a convoluted plot on the part of at least one of our "allies" it really makes you wonder.
the whole Niger yellowcake uranium thing is held up over and over by opponent of Bush as evidence that he lied tot he American people to get us to go to war. It has now come out that the information that led to this claim is in fact false, it was a set of forged documents. (this has actually been known for awhile) The new info is that former free lance Italian spy Rocco Martino is the man who supplied the documents. And to top this off, he says he was being paid by France to supply this false information to the US.

Senator Luigi Malabarba, who also attended Thursday's hearing, said in a telephone interview that General Pollari had told the committee that Mr. Martino was "offering the documents not on behalf of Sismi but on behalf of the French" and that Mr. Martino had told prosecutors in Rome that he was in the service of French intelligence.

A senior French intelligence official interviewed Wednesday in Paris declined to say whether Mr. Martino had been a paid agent of France, but he called General Pollari's assertions about France's responsibility "scandalous."

The Italians Intel service (Sismi) was apparently uninvolved in the fiasco and has been helping to straighten out the mess.

Now can someone tell me why we should care if France is on our side in this effort or not?

Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents Identified
(subscription {free} required)

I am going to be out of town for the weekend so everyone have fun and I'll write something interesting (?) Sunday night or Monday morning. feel free to come by while I am gone and click the ads to the left and make me a little money. :)

03 November 2005

Al-Queda capture

Another "key" Al-Queda guy has been captured in Pakistan. A writer, a planner, a bomb maker, it is good to get these guys off the street so to speak.
There is one thing I would like to point out about this guy to all those who say we should only search dark skinned, dark haired, arabic looking guys at airports and leave all the blondes and red heads alone because we all know, all Islamic terrorists are dark skinned Arabs right? Well not so fast buddy, this fellow, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, was born in Syria but he is a red head. Very European features. Get a lot of these guys in places that used to be part of various Crusader Kingdoms. A lot of European blood bred in there for hundreds of years. So let's just keep that in mind when we start talking about who to watch as a terrorist shall we?

Al-Queda arrest

02 November 2005

A Country???

In an article today discussing trade talks between the European Union and the United States, the BBC said something that surprised me.
A new trade pact is supposed to be in place for 2006, but the US and EU have so far failed to agree on agriculture. The US says the EU is not making enough compromises on the issue.
Both countries agree that they need to both reduce support for their own farmers, at the same time as lowering tariffs for imports from developing nations...

The press in Europe is referring to the EU as a country. Now maybe that has happened before but I haven't noticed it. And frankly I find it pretty surprising. Is the EU becoming the United States of Europe? Possible but unlikely I think. Maybe more like what the US would have been had the Articles of Confederation been kept. But it will be interesting to watch.

US warns trade talks could fail