Now that "S2" is hitting the theaters, a picture depicting Mr. Maguire sitting with an open robe displaying some very impressive... rrmm... "equipment" is making the rounds again. No, I won't link it, but it shouldn't be too hard for you to find if you really want to see. Instead, I figured you'd want to see the original photo that the photoshop was created from. Nothing like proof to rain on a gal's (or, if you're into that sort of thing, guy's) parade.
Firefighters in a Dallas suburb returned to their station to find a fire started by potatoes they left cooking on a stove, officials said Friday.
~ Isn't it ironic/doncha think? ~
Can you pass this 8th grade final exam from an 1895 Kansas school? I might pass it, but the math section alone would probably relegate me to "short bus" classes the next year. What I found most notable:
It's been, God, more than twenty years since I got out of the 8th grade, but the tests I remember were nothing like this, and if they had been:
As I left the 8th grade Arkansas was instituting standardized tests (for students and teachers), and as I recall things like this did in fact happen. Nothing defines bloodsport more effectively than the politics surrounding schools, and the gladiatorial contests these initiatives created spattered impressive amounts of gore across the local papers. The sad thing is I'm not sure any of it did much good.
It's the fact that the century-old test has changed but the two-decade old experience might not that makes me seriously consider private schooling for Olivia.
Instapundit linked up this Blackfive article that explains the reality behind the media's "Bush administration recalling old soldiers" spin:
The military is not calling back discharged and retired individual soldiers. They are dipping into the Individual Ready Reserve. There is a big difference between calling up IRR soldiers and recalling retired or discharged soldiers.
When you sign a contract to enlist or get a commission, it is generally for EIGHT years. You perform four years of Active Duy, then you have four left in the Reserves or National Guard.
The media getting something wrong to make a conservative administration look bad. How shocking.
Update: Also of note, the AP's instant rehabilitation of Saddam's personal portrait artist as a "man-on-the-street" representative of Iraqis who think the recent handover is bogus. It might be, but using a quote from someone with an obvious tie to the previous administration and not mentioning it is, well, let's say just a little sneaky, don't you think?
Is it a lie, or is it simply a means that will be justified by the end? Depends on who you're voting for I guess.
New Scientist is carrying this article detailing recent findings about the relationship between large brains and certain types of primate behavior. Turns out, larger brains confer the ability to be a sneaky bastard, which is advantageous in a complex social network such as the ones that nearly all primates live in. Includes this amusing example:
Byrne [one of the authors of the study] has himself observed a young baboon dodging a reprimand from its mother by suddenly standing to attention and scanning the horizon, conning the entire troop into panicking about a possible rival group nearby. "We were rather shocked that baboons could do anything quite as subtle as that," he says.
Seems like primate children are alike no matter what species they belong to, no?
Frank over at IMAO hits a triple with this nifty "in my world" bit:
They soon came to the main room where a number of celebrities were partying and saying how much they hated Bush. At the end of the room was a large platform on which the corpulent Michael Moore rested his bulk. Seated on the platform near his feet was a deranged looking Al Franken laughing hysterically. Moore reached into a bowl near him and pulled out a creature that looked like a frog and swallowed it whole, slime trailing down his mouth.
Mandrake will be so disappointed in us...
Ellen, pushing a red target shopping cart down the aisles: "We need a grill."
Scott: "Our yard is 10ft x 10ft. The garage is full of spare parts and gardening stuff. The association Gestapo will take our child if we get a grill and leave it outside. I have it on good authority it's not a good idea to grill inside."
"We need a grill. This grill."
"We'll have to sit on the ground with that! We'll look like extras in a cross between The Brady Bunch and Dances with Wolves."
"We need a grill."
Ellen: *blink* *blink*
So a grill we got, a Thermos brand table-top grill, about 18 inches per side, 2.25 square feet of flame-broiling goodness. The learning curve was steep but short, with a small bag of "match lite" briquettes (which have the advantage of smelling like a fireworks factory while being only marginally safer) being replaced by "regular" charcoal and lighter fluid (OOK! THAG MAKE FIRE!), and then, after Ellen saw how I worked with that, a chimney starter that didn't require lighter fluid.
Scott: "But! But!"
Ellen: "Listen sparky, I didn't spend all this time, effort and money buying a house just so you could play Willie the mad match thrower around it. My house, my rules."
"Look! Grill tools!"
Actually, it all worked pretty well, at least in small batches. The chimney starter would fire up just enough coals to cook four burgers, two steaks, or a pound of chicken with enough heat to do the job quickly while leaving cool sear marks. Of course the operative word here was small.
Scott: "How many people did you invite to Olivia's birthday party?"
Ellen: "Umm... lemme count... looks like... sixteen. No. Seventeen. Since we have a grill now, we can have a barbecue!"
Scott: "I thought this was supposed to be a really small get together?"
Ellen: *blink* *blink*
So there I was, trying to figure out how to feed more than a dozen people with a grill the size of a briefcase. The biggest problem, I thought, would be getting enough heat. No way the chimney starter will work this time, doesn’t light enough coals. So I filled the grill up with charcoal, maybe two layers deep and corner-to-corner, doused it with lighter fluid, and hit it with the grill lighter.
What I was expecting was a nice, even, hot grill. What I got would compare favorably to the ass-end of an F/A-18 on full afterburner. The frozen pre-made hamburger patties we'd gotten specially for this occasion started to sear six inches from the grate, and hot dog wieners turned a crusty black in seconds. Dripping grease from the patties caused flare-ups that would take the eyebrows off the unwary (well, they would have if anyone could have gotten that close to the Kilauea-in-a-can I'd created). What went on as patties and dogs came back as roof shingles and dried rat turds.
Eventually a real grilling expert, in the form of my father-in-law Billy, coolly stepped in to save me from the miniature forge-of-Hades I'd created in my driveway. A few strategic water-hose blasts here, a few vents closed there, and (after about fifteen minutes) hot dogs started taking minutes to sear instead of seconds. Burger patties no longer charred in arching hellfire flare-ups, instead cooking nicely, if rather quickly. Most glorious of all, both wife and mother-in-law were far too busy hosting the estrogen-fest upstairs (twelve of the seventeen attendees were female) to make it down for a critique.
Because the only thing worse than screwing up a party in front of your wife is, of course, screwing it up in front of your wife and her mother.
Yeah, it's a little like that. Actually, it's a lot like that.
Translation: 32 ways to open a beer. Especially liked granny opening one with her teeth. You go girl!
Kathy over at "On the Third Hand" has this nice roundup of Iraqi blogger reactions to the surprise handover yesterday. Includes a nice (albeit written in somewhat mangled "arablish") account of how the Arab media in particular seems to have been caught flat-footed by the schedule shift.
Big media is also spinning this positively, which is a big surprise to me. And, truth be told, I have a much more emotional reaction to it than I would otherwise have thought. Oh, no tears or anything (I save those for Toy Story movies), but a definite feeling of relief. That it sucked the air out of Farenheit's hype baloon with a big ol' bang was just a nice cherry on top.
It's your country now folks, use it well.
BBCnews has this story discussing a new book out that for the first time uses the new 3-D ultrasound to examine the behavior of very early foetuses (that's how they spelled it) in the womb. The pictures taken show complex behaviors developing much earlier than previously thought. Includes several very interesting pictures.
OK, I'm totally bummed there is NO belly dancing class for 6 weeks! There is NO summer session. What the hell am I going to do with myself?
For now, enjoy a belly dance article.
I am Neferteri and the cute guy wrap around me is Seiti. He is an Albino Green Burmese Python, approximately 5 years old and about 5.5’ long. Seiti is my baby and he loves the camera.Read entire article here.
Seiti is one of 33 snakes that I presently own. Why in the Goddess’s name would make anyone want that many snakes? I need one for each costume I have! Just kidding.
See more of Neferteri and check out the rest of her articles!
In doing some research for an upcoming encounter (working title: "How to Turn your Tabletop Grill into an F-16 Exhaust Pipe"), I stumbled onto this extremely helpful tip from our government:
CPSC Warns -- Never Use Charcoal Grills Indoors
I'm not sure what's worse... the warning itself, or that it was issued for a reason.
Here's your sign...
Lots of people who watch CNN/MSNBC/Fox News, etc. more than we do will probably have seen it by now, but those who don't should know that Scaled Composites has video up of SpaceShipOne's first space flight. No sound, but extremely cool pictures. And M&M's... mmmmm... M&Ms...
Scientific American is carrying this summary of a new study conducted on the center of the Milky Way using the Chandra X-ray telescope. Seems there is a "diffuse" source of x-rays in there somewhere, one that can't be accounted for with supernova, big horking black holes, or other exotic stellar critters. The Chandra telescope revealed them to be coming from two plasma formations, one at 10 million degrees C and the other at 100 million degrees C. While interesting, it just pushes the problem one step backward, since astronomers have no idea what could be generating the plasmas.
Those in the peanut gallery who have always thought our target was Saudi Arabia and not Iraq (there's at least one out there I know of), and think the 9-11 commission's report backs this up need to actually read the report:
Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding, but we found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda.
Now, since I've thought all along that the comission was nothing but a political stroke-fest, I get to have it both ways... doubting the comission's assertion about Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Those who actually believed what they said about Iraq... well, consistency's a bitch, ain't it?
Fark linked up this account of a Yankee in Emperor Tokugawa's court:
One thing most foreigners are surprised to see when they come to Japan is men urinating in public. Taxi drivers, salarymen and just plain drunks can be seen standing against a wall, a hedge or over a grid in public streets any time of day or night, peeing. I call it the Grand Pee.
Includes a review of a gizmo we featured awhile back, the "My Sweet Pee", a simple device that allows women to urinate standing up. Apparently in Japan it's considered an innovative demonstration of equal rights!
Those of you considering "work" may find GoodPlasticSurgery.com an interesting site. In the early 20th century the middle classes displayed their wealth by emulating old-money Europe, only on a smaller scale (door knockers, furniture, etc.) After the war, they did it by purchasing common items made with high-quality materials and/or exclusive designers (designer jeans, al-clad pots, etc.) Now it seems modifying our bodies will be the hallmark of 21st-century conspicuous consumption. And it's not just boobs... I lump piercings and tatoos (which can be damned pricey) in there as well.
Peter B. gets a blue frizbee-shaped no-prize for bringing us this follow-up to that story we ran last week about the maniac who decides not to go on a killing spree because of a nice dog he met in a park. Apparently, the Canadian press are in sort of a frenzy to find out just who's dog it was, and have landed on Elvis, who turns out to be the B's family dog. He also says the following:
Another dog named Cisco was involved but our media seemed to only want to give credit to Elvis? The National Post was the only media that seemed to care about the truth. All the others tried to get my wife to lie about the time and also the courtroom sketch.
Nice to know that the US doens't have a corner on fork-tounged lizard reporters. Also tres cool to be contacted by the primary source! Thanks!
We've got quite a few (well, ok, "most but not all") dollars in mutual funds, so I tend to at least pay a little attention to the market as things go by*. One of the most confusing terms I've come across is "earnings per dilluted share." I mean, what, do they stick them in a barrel of water or something? Well, turns out, not surprisingly, it doesn't work that way. Actually the concept is pretty simple, once someone explains it: stock options and things like them are not "real" shares, but could be. A statement including "dilluted" shares is simply figuring things as if all the "not-quite" shares were real shares. See? Simple!
* Since most of our savings is going into the stock market, I have desperately tried to get interested in finance. Unfortunately, once I get into the nuts-and-bolts, I find it all eye-crossingly dull. This from a guy who has read Pliny the Elder's Natural History! Occasionally I'll stumble across a book that's written well enough to be interesting to me (I'm currently working on Sowell's Basic Economics at the moment, and I'm finding it very enjoyable and informative), but I just don't bother with the magazines. Unless I can't sleep.
Well, which is it, Dog Toy, or "Marital Aid"?
I did OK with the first round, but the second round's a b*tch!
Fark linked up this story on an interesting new method of enrichment (no, I don't live with a former primate vet tech... why do you ask?) for one zoo's chimpanzees:
At the zoo's new Regenstein Center for African Apes, chimpanzees can touch a panel hidden from public view that will shoot harmless bursts of air at unsuspecting visitors.
Hours of fun for apes of all ages!
The National Center Blog is carrying this letter from the front written by Joe Roche, a combat engineer with the 16th Engineer Battalion in Iraq. Again, it was letters from soldiers that first started to unravel the debacle that Vietnam really was. If it's going terribly, it will show up here first. Needless to say, it's not.
The paralells between this and Will the Real Tet Offensive... are quite interesting.
And winning the award for most bizzare music video, we have Beint af toppnum í Albaníu (I think... can't quite find a title). In spite of the title, it's in English, sort of. Long live space race!
Slashdot linked up this AP story about new developments with the space elevator project. This time it's an interview with the head of the project, which has already been given $500,000 for basic research. His take: 15 years from start to finish, 10 billion dollars. Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the cost of the ISS.
The 12-month-old baby, who had been playing in the backyard, was rushed to a hospital only after his parents noticed fang marks on the diaper and swelling on his bottom while giving him a bath in the evening.
Doctors said there was no need to administer an antidote but the baby would remain in the hospital for observation.
Read entire article here.
The annual duck celebration in Stuttgart, Ark., was winding down — the Queen Mallard beauty pageant was over and the world's best duck dog had been determined. Then Daniel Duke stepped onto the Main Street stage.Read entire article here.
"I knew I had a shot at it," the 19-year-old said of the $1,500 award, which he hopes to use to attend the University of Arkansas. "And I think it's pretty great you can get a scholarship for calling ducks."
Fark linked up this ABCnews article detailing the story of a rancher who kept an ancient Indian settlement both secret and perfectly preserved for the past 50 years. Archeologists didn't even realize the importance of the find until two years ago, and now they're so busy cataloging what's in the open to actually do any digging. The rancher, now 74, forced a promise out of the state that they would take steps to protect the property before he took a buyout and retired.
It's just possible they'll be able to pull it off, but pot hunters, the bane of all amerind archeology, are a resourceful bunch. Like the old man, now that they're public I have a sinking feeling the finds won't stay "un-looted" much longer.
For the past eighteen months every time a group of pissed-off Iraqis gets together and decides to blow themselves up some Americans every talking head around the world will say the same word at once: Tet. This is Tet, that is Tet, here comes the Tet again, over and over again, culminating in the greatest Tet revival of them all, the Fallujah offensive in April. At that point, you couldn't swing a baseball bat without cracking open the skull of some commentator saying "Tet".
All it really showed was how poorly understood Tet is among journalistic circles. This is not surprising, since the Tet offensive is probably the most poorly understood event in a very poorly understood war. Worse still, by calling the game too soon the media are now incapable of admitting that the recent country-wide bombings and insurgencies in Iraq are at least as "Tet-like" as anything they reported in Fallujah. The media are therefore ignoring valuable parallels and insights between Tet and current events, ones that could provide perspective, and help avoid repeating profoundly damaging mistakes.
It is, of course, useful to understand what, exactly, happened at Tet before moving forward. After some fifteen years of more or less continuous conflict and three years of direct American involvement, the North Vietnamese leadership decided only a bold move could quickly end the civil war in Vietnam. To that end, a surprise offensive was planned for the 1968 Tet holiday (January 31st), Vietnam's New Year celebration and up to that time traditionally a period of truce.
The plan was for the North Vietnamese army to stage a diversionary attack on a remote US base in Khe Sahn near the North-South border. While US forces were thus distracted, southern guerrilla Viet Cong (VC) cadres along with smuggled-in North Vietnamese regular army soldiers would attack most major cities in the South simultaneously. The people of the South, it was assumed, would see how the corrupt Southern regime was incapable of defending them, rise up, and join the insurrection, quickly ending the entire conflict with a single stroke.
At first the plan worked brilliantly. US leadership, which had always been looking for the "one big fight" required to smash the North, went after the bait of Khe Sahn like a starving marlin. The VC uprisings caught all remaining US and Southern forces completely by surprise, allowing the VC to rapidly gain control of several cities, even allowing them to blow a hole in the wall of the US embassy in Saigon during a direct assault.
Unfortunately the offensive began to unravel nearly as quickly as it had started. The key failure was the South's inability to see "the light of truth and liberation" their Northern brethren offered and their consequent refusal to join in the revolt. Through a bit of luck and a bit of skill, a lower-ranking US Army general had held back a few battalions of US forces for protection in Saigon, and these, combined with the Southern Vietnamese army (ARVN), were then able to annihilate the VC forces after a few weeks of admittedly bitter fighting. The Viet Cong would never again be a real factor in the Vietnamese conflict.
Someone completely unfamiliar with the story of Vietnam might be surprised to find out that not only was Tet a disaster for the Viet Cong, it was also a disaster for the United States military. Tet marked the point where public opinion started its decisive swing from supporting an eventual victory to wishing simply to get out. The US's military presence ceased growing and started shrinking almost overnight. Protests of the war would grow larger and increasingly violent. It is no exaggeration to say the chain of events that directly led to the fall of Saigon had its first link forged at Tet.
Conventional wisdom among many military history buffs is this is the direct result of the negative media portrayals both during and after the event. Certainly at the time the events of Tet were portrayed in a negative light and the general perception for perhaps the next fifteen years would be that Tet was a resounding defeat for Southern and US forces.
However, while this is now demonstrably untrue, to lay the blame for the loss of Vietnam on the media's portrayal of a single event is to completely ignore the greater context of the war itself. Vietnam was a debacle from end to end not because of the top brass's inability to control a hostile media, but because of its complete and utter incompetence in the handling of the conflict itself.
Equipped and trained to fight a gigantic force-on-force conventional war with the Soviet Union, like a toddler with a hammer the upper echelons of military leadership kept trying to bang the square peg of Vietnam into the round hole of mechanized warfare. Lower echelon officers who could see what was wrong and attempted to make a difference were prevented from and sometimes even punished for developing new tactics and strategies to fight and win. The dissonance between an army that knew how to win (or at least how not to lose) and a leadership that refused to let them slowly began to tear the military apart from within.
Uncomfortable media reports, worrisome losses, and incessant protests could be dismissed as long as our leaders assured America they were winning. As hard as it is to imagine now, the government's say-so was all that most of the "greatest generation" ever needed to feel confident. But Tet ripped away the curtain of deception the military and political leadership had drawn over the truth. Contrary to what they had been told by their leaders, at times almost daily, the enemy was not growing weaker, was not demoralized or bankrupt, and was not going anywhere any time soon. That Tet itself ultimately ended in victory was of little import. The evidence of their strength, their resolve, and their skill was as bright and clear as the TV screens that transmitted it. It was a fundamental breach of trust between the American people and its political and military leadership that ultimately doomed the effort in Vietnam. The ultimate significance of Tet is that it was here the breach first fissured open.
The parallels between Tet and the three guerrilla insurrections in Iraq (Ba'athist, al-Sadrist, and the current Zarqawist) are many, but they are subtle and too often incorrectly drawn by the media. Then, as now, Guerrilla forces are fighting a US-run occupation to discredit and destroy a US-backed regime. Then, as now, the battle is timed to maximize its effect on an upcoming presidential election. Then, as now, victory will be measured more by a swing in opinion polls than any loss of blood, land, or treasure.
The differences between Tet and the various insurrections are at least as important, and almost never discussed in the media. Iraq is not split in two, with large numbers of its citizens fighting each other. There is no huge regular army standing behind the guerrillas, waiting to pounce. There are no superpowers writing blank checks to the opposition. The government of Iraq is not a military junta of Christian outsiders, emplaced by a violent coup and empowered by US force. Most importantly, America today blindly trusts no one with the lives of its children. We are quite ready, perhaps at times too ready, to believe reports that our political and military leaders are dropping the ball, and are quick to call them on it.
While the political lessons of Tet, that no one with a huge amount of power should ever be trusted blindly, and (much later) that journalists can be trusted to report what they see, but not what they think it means, can be said to have been well and truly learned by modern America. However, the military lesson of Tet seems to have been learned by hardly anyone at all.
When reduced to a narrow military lesson, Tet teaches us that it is profoundly dangerous for an irregular guerrilla force, no matter how well organized or equipped, to take on a more powerful conventional military force in any sort of sustained offensive. Such offensives frequently start out with the advantage of surprise and spectacular success, but with time, especially without the support of the people, merely serve to expend carefully hoarded materiel and expose carefully trained cadre and commanders to the overwhelming firepower of a superior force.
In 1968, with a force trained in the wrong tactics using the wrong gear supported by locals who clearly wished to be somewhere else, the US military utterly destroyed a guerrilla force that had defeated a previous Western foe (the French) fifteen years earlier and seemed undefeatable just weeks before. Thirty-five years of technology, training, strategy, and tactics have made our military orders of magnitude more effective at fighting insurgents dumb enough to try and take them on.
Tet should not teach us an organized uprising is a sign of immenent defeat, but instead is an opportunity. Like a column of enemy tanks moving without air cover, we should see these guerrillas for what they really are.
Just wanted to take a moment to congratulate Nina, Ellen's sister, on her graduation from High School today! Enjoy your summer while you can, college starts soon enough!
Fark linked up this Wired story about how an unlikely company has become the number one employer in Afghanistan:
[A] confluence of factors culminated this week in a confirmation by the Afghan Ministry of Commerce that [Overstock.com, a site specializing in product liquidations,] is currently the largest provider of private employment in Afghanistan. According to Mariam Nawabi, commercial attaché for the Afghan Embassy in the United States, Overstock is currently believed to provide employment, directly or indirectly, for about 1,700 people living in Afghanistan.
I fully expect someone out on the idiotarian fringe to start saying this is a bad thing because the workers are being "exploited". To this I can only point out that no one is forcing these people to work. If at any point they feel these buyers are cheating them, they can always just stop working or sell their wares at a local market. There is no wage slavery here.
You know it's a busy world indeed when even the perverts start time shifting:
Boulder, Colo., police want to find a man who gained access to rooms at the Broker Inn during a recent cheerleader camp and used cameras belonging to some participants to take photos of his genitals resting on the girls' personal items.
No word yet if he was dumb enough to have a picture of his face on the roll, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Discovery Channel online is carrying this summary of research that claims to have made a remarkable discovery:
Genghis Khan left a legacy shared by 16 million people alive today, according to a book by a Oxford geneticist who identified the Mongol emperor as the most successful alpha male in human history.
They did this by tracing an unusual Y chromosomal "fingerprint" discovered during a generalized genetic survey of Central Asia. Eventually the trail of evidence lead right back to the only Mongol village in existence with a heavy preponderance of this trait and an oral tradition of being the birthplace of the Great Kahn.
Circumstantial, but still very interesting.
Sometimes dogs are annoying, sometimes they can save lives, in the most unexpected ways:
A Canadian man, driving a car packed with weapons and ammunition, was intent on killing as many people as possible in a Toronto neighbourhood but gave up the plan at the last minute when he encountered a friendly dog, police say.
Slashdot linked up Ghost in the Shell 2, which is due in theaters later this summer. We really enjoyed the first one, might try to figure out a way to see this one. Ms. Tiny Toes makes it a little challenging, but them's the breaks. :)
Space.com is carrying this summary of a more comprehensive look at the data provided by Cassini during the recent Phoebe flyby:
"All our evidence leads us to conclude, Phoebe's surface is made of water ice, water-bearing minerals, carbon dioxide, possible clays and primitive organic chemicals in patches at different locations on the surface," said Roger N. Clark, team member for the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, U.S. Geological Survey in Denver. "We also see spectral signatures of materials we have not yet identified."
Big dirty slushball, in other words. Kind of weird to think this thing is probably what a comet turns into when it's not near the sun.
Lots of people are linking up this NY Times piece detailing the case of a German boy with a peculiar genetic mutation:
The baby, it turned out in the first such documented case in a human, had a double dose of a genetic mutation that causes immense strength in mice and cattle. Drugs are under development that, investigators hope, will use the same principle to help people whose muscles are wasting from muscular dystrophy or other illnesses. Experts say the little boy, now 4½ and still very strong, offers human evidence for the theory behind such drug
The scientists seem to think treatments based on this finding may be available in as little as five to ten years.
Not content with the now undeniable progress of blacks in America, academics have now decided the problem is America isn't helping the right blacks:
While about 8 percent, or about 530, of Harvard's undergraduates were black, Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Harvard's African and African-American studies department, pointed out that the majority of them — perhaps as many as two-thirds — were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples.
They said that only about a third of the students were from families in which all four grandparents were born in this country, descendants of slaves.
What would have been far more useful would be a survey of the entire student body to see just how many of all the students have grandparents who were born in this country. Harvard being Harvard, I don't doubt a significant number of whites would, but I imagine a significant number would not.
I'm currently working through Someone Else's House, an excellent and shocking chronicle of the struggle to integrate the US. So far, one of the main lessons of this history seems to be meddling, no matter how well intentioned, is still meddling, and often leads to disaster. Make sure the laws don't allow discrimination to be legal, and then let people sort it out themselves seems to be the only long-term road to success.
True, it does mean it's taken 40 years to make even this inadequate progress. But it is progress, and we are still moving forward, even if the steps are shuffling and painful. It's only the arrogance, bloody-mindedness, and willful naivete of academics and radicals that allows them to think the only reason they can't wipe out some three hundred years of slavery and discrimination with the wave of a legislative, regulatory, or rebellious magic wand is that they simply haven't found the right one.
I guess that's one definite difference I can see between radical conservatives and radical liberals. Radical conservatives want to change what you do. Radical liberals want to change what you think.
Just to prove the US isn't the only country with busybody morals police, we have this breathless article about a "funtastic" cruise off the coast of Cyprus:
An urgent inquiry was launched in Cyprus last night after an undercover police operation exposed a group of up to 100 tourists, including Britons, taking part in what was described a mass orgy aboard a cruise ship off the island.
There were no minors, no children, international waters, everyone knew what it was going in, and it was miles off shore so nobody else could "accidentally" see it. Is it for me? No, not really. Is it for you? Well, the operative word there is why should I care? And why should these police? Let's hope Interpol turns them down flat and the operators of the ship either lie low for awhile or move to a different port. Damned shame moralists could come in and ruin everyone's (adult) good time. To think all this time I thought that only happened in America.
In the comments on FARK I did find the world's most appropriate image for this post:
At around 11:30 am (Ellen knows the exact time of course) June 24, Olivia Rachel Johnson was welcomed into this world. In a year, we've gone from this:
We have indeed come a long way, baby!
Damion gets a fashionable no-prize for bringing us MulletJunky.com, your one-stop-shop for everything related to everyone's favorite short-in-the-front, long-in-the-back hairstyle.
Scary thing is, if trends hold, these things will be in fashion just as my daughter is entering junior high. *shudder*
Just before he goes on vacation, The Religious Policeman decided to do a little cat-blogging of his own:
I'm not an expert on cat breeds, but I rather think that our local cats have thinner faces, longer ears, and rougher fur, than the typical Western breed.
Probably right, although the many pictures (including some insanely cute kittens) look about the same as the ones who come through Ellen's clinic all the time. No longhaired ones though, for obvious reasons.
I often wondered what, if any, sort of cat inhabited Saudi Arabia. Now I know!
Bigwig over at Silflay discovered a nifty homage to a Japanese artist in a recent Beetle Bailey strip. I'd seen it, even smirked at it a bit, and never even noted the artistic difference.
Scientific American is carrying this article detailing new findings about man's use of grains as a staple food source. By studying a site in Israel called Ohalo II, archeologists have determined humans were using grains as a significant part of their diet about 25,000 years ago, nearly twice the age as was previously thought.
Instapundit led me to this extremely interesting summary of good things happening in Iraq. For once I didn't detect a whiff of Vietnam-style sunshine-blowing in any of these reports, a very nice feeling indeed. Recommended.
Praise the Lord that The Smoking Gun exists, without which you would not be able to read the actual text of the Ryan divorce case. Jeri Ryan's divorce case. Yes, that Jeri Ryan.
I find reading court documents damned near as informative as watching COPS. Nothing like getting the first-hand accounts, unfiltered and without gossipy media wonks spinning it back and forth. Without TSG and their published transcripts, I'd still think Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson were victims.
Want to know why US currency, after being so stable in appearance, has changed so frequently of late? How about this:
Millions of dollars of the fake cash have been passed into circulation since [the superdollar's] existence was first noticed over a decade ago.
The money, officially known as Note Family - C14342, is thought to originate from communist North Korea.
Guess it's a good thing North Korea sits on some of the most worthless real-estate on the planet. Imagine what they'd be like if they had natural resources.
Sarah G. gets a clucking no-prize for bringing us how a chicken lays an egg. Ellen did several stints on a research farm as part of her VT degree, so I'm sure this is all old hat to her, but hell I didn't know how it worked. I'm not sure I wanted to though.
iTunes just played What About Me?, a song from what I must guess is a one-hit-wonder by the name of Moving Pictures. Probably around 1982, but that's just a guess. Hadn't heard the thing since then, but when it came on just now I instantly recognized the melody. I remember being deeply moved by it when I was 14, but
35 36*-year-old-me thinks it's stoopid. Just bad. We're talking "oh-my-god-my-eyes-are-dripping-sugar" awful. And yet I remembered every single lyric, could sing along with it no less.
I get yelled at because I can't remember where I put my keys from one day to the next, yet I could instantly recall the lyrics to an idiotic song I haven't heard in twenty years. How many more brain cells are being wasted storing the lyrics to various Wham! and Billy Ocean songs? Someone please tell me, how can I get them back?!?
~ Carribean Queen... ~
* I quit counting after I hit 25, and now usually have to ask Ellen how old I am. Pretty sad when such a common question has me standing there concentrating and counting on my fingers.
Navy buffs will enjoy this article about the upcoming DD(x) super-high-tech destroyer. Innovations include flexible gas-turbine power, electric motors driving the screws (propellers), and provisions for direct energy (laser) and high-energy electromagnetic-kenetic weapons (aka "railguns"). Includes this most excellent quote: Our bottom line is that if we can put millions of joules of energy onto a target, something will happen.
Anyone who thinks the occupation is an unmitigated, unrelieved disaster should read this:
My platoon and I were on a security patrol in the countryside on the outskirts of the town when one of our vehicles became stuck on a narrow road bordered by a canal. It was in danger of rolling into the water. We had to stop our vehicles which can be very dangerous.
A family that lived nearby came out of their house and began to move toward our patrol. They were smiling and waving. There were children playing everywhere. The women prepared food and the eldest males met with us. Our vehicle was badly stuck and we needed chains to remove it. At this point, the surrounding families joined us and showed us tremendous hospitality. This is remarkable because often times, local terrorists will sometimes intimidate those who help us or show us kindness.
In the heart of one of the more dangerous areas of Iraq, no less.
Poorly run? Probably. Badly planned? Definitely. Without redemption? Never.
Nature recently featured this article detailing a new set of studies that claim musical notes in a song are statistically very similar to words in a book. The article mentions this helps explain why most people have such a hard time understanding atonal music. However, I also think this could provide some insight as to why prodigies seem to always concentrate in language, music, and mathematics.
Turns out the SpaceShipOne test wasn't all peaches and cream, with problems in stability, attitude control, and composite faring failure making themselves evident. The system is grounded for now until they can sort it all out, but this is a delay, not a retreat. Considering how far ahead they were of all the other teams, I just think it makes it more interesting.
Yes, NASA launches have historically gone perfectly or they haven't gone at all. But that's where most if not all of the 20 times more you pay for NASA launches is going.
Update This informative slashdot comment goes into greater detail about what went wrong with the control system.
After gathering dust for most of the past ninety years, the gun that kicked into motion the events that would lead to WWI is scheduled to be put on display. Been sitting in a Jesuit community house the whole time. Damned monks, never up to any good.
It's a joke people, a joke.
What do you get when you cross Eminem with Saddam Hussein?
Ok, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know either, but this song parody is funny anyway!
Via Daffodil Lane
Instapundit led us to this Telegraph piece that summarizes new research on the efficiency of trains as a form of mass transit. Turns out their nowhere near as friendly to the environment as we think.
While this is for the UK, the US will probably be even worse, as our ancient regulations require far heavier trains and cars, especially for passenger service. However, considering Amtrak only stays in business with massive government subsidies, don't expect any changes soon.
I expect enviroweenies roaring disapproval at a scientific attack on one of their pet beliefs within a day at most.
Remember Mr. Hiibel? Everyone's favorite unreasonable Nevada Cowboy, who refused to even give a police officer his name? Well from now on he has to provide it.
I personally don't have a problem with this. It's not like we live in some sort of Tolkeinish reality where "true names" give you some sort of evil power over people. The Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and self-incrimination. Your name constitutes neither of these, IMO.
Pleased we are to be welcoming Tran Van Hay, a Vietnamese national looking to set a Guiness world record for the longest hair. Mr. Hay hasn't been to a barber in more than 30 years, and his hair now has reached a claimed 20 feet in length. Includes freaky-weird picture!
First Christian rock, then Christian theme parks, now Christian debt relief. Where does it all end?
Sometimes being the guy who cleans out the spam bin for a 60-user network has its uses.
Let's all take a moment out of our all-too-busy lives to consider what an exotic super car was like in a different age:
When, sixty-four years, 6 wars, and 12 U.S. Presidents ago, Alfa Romeo created the ultimate 8C2900, the above specifications were obviously pretty wild. Only the Grand Prix cars of the era could offer more in terms of high tech, speed and acceleration. Perhaps the only comparison worth mentioning today is the McLaren F1.
- Dual overhead cam 8-cylinder, aluminum head and block, 225 bhp.
- All independent suspension
- 4 speed gearbox integral with differential at rear
- 19 inch wheels
- Aluminum sports body
Like the guy on TV says, "do you need a car like this? No, you don't really need a car like this. Do you want a car like this? Oh yeah, you want a car like this."
The woman [who went to the gynecologist complaining of a malodorous discharge], upon questioning, finally confessed that her husband was a hunter. He had recently brought home a deer and gutted and dressed it in their garage. She saw the tongue, admired its length, and had snuck off with it to use as a masturbatory aid.
Although we can't confirm all the details of the item quoted above (it may have become embellished through multiple retellings, or it may derive from a source other than the one we located), we can verify that the basics of the incident related are true.
Ok, all those times the women in my life sighed and rolled their eyes at how disgusting men are? [Nelson voice]HA-ha![/Nelson voice]
New Scientist is carrying this article that provides a very graphic illustration that the Mad Mullahs in Iran are most definitely up to something:
Nuclear inspectors are expected to visit a site in the Iranian capital, Tehran, following evidence from satellite photographs that it was scraped clean earlier in 2004.
With, of course, nifty pictures to show that the camera doesn't lie.
Only the media are dense enough to believe an oil-rich, sparsely populated country needs nuclear power for its energy needs. They're working on a bomb, people, and working on it as hard and as fast as their desperate little sandal-clad feet and sand-scratched hands will let them.
We barely trust ourselves with this technology, and anyone who thinks an unelected brutalizing theocracy with a proven track record of terrorism has some sort of right to one of these things needs to have their head examined. We're a little busy right now with their neighbors, so I can only hope Israel steps up to the plate again to ensure they remain the only nuclear power in the region.
Because, after all, America won't be the first target of an Arab bomb. We'll be the second. And if you doubt that for one second you're either dangerously naive or working for the other side.
It's all over the place, but just in case you missed it, SpaceShip One just became the first privately-financed vehicle to fly into space. While the chattering classes obsess over how to keep the plebes from giving the penultimate plebe another four years, and bin Laden et. al. are sitting in rocky caves trying figure out how to blow it all up, some of us are busy building functioning spacecraft in our garages. With our own goddamned money.
If that's not a nail in the coffin of big government, I don't know what is.
TBIFOC linked up this innovative way of advertising pets for adoption. Anything that gets people to consider adopting a pet is fine by me.
Standing in front of the Los Angeles Times building on Spring Street and surrounded by aides, President Bush put forth a new and long-overdue proposal today, to the cheers of thousands of long-suffering readers of that paper, to start to repair the tragic situation with the American journalism system. He called it "No Reporter Left Behind."
Laugh-out-loud satire from a pleasantly unexpected source.
Neo-dems who have trouble sleeping because "Farenheit 9-11" hasn't opened yet may find this Clinton story interesting:
Clinton, who was interviewed Thursday, said he did not believe that Bush went to war in Iraq over oil or for imperialist reasons but out of a genuine belief that large quantities of weapons of mass destruction remained unaccounted for.
Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."
"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for," Clinton said in reference to Iraq and the fact that U.N. weapons inspectors left the country in 1998.
This must've had the media machine in a Nomad-worthy meltdown:
Media is good. Media is perfect. Media is incapable of error. Bush is Republican. Bush is evil. Bush must be stopped. Iraq war started by Bush. Iraq war is evil. Iraq war is wrong. Clinton is Democrat. Clinton is good. Clinton created prosperity. Clinton says Iraq war is right. Clinton says Bush is right. Clinton agrees with Bush. Media is therefore in error. Media is incapable of error. Clinton says Bush is right. Media is therefore in error. Media is incapable of error. Clinton says Bush is right. Media is therefore in error. Media is incapable of error. Clinton sa^&@$ *$%## !@#44 $#@ @#% #$@
Unfortunately we can't beam them all into deep space so they can explode harmlessly. More's the pity.
Via Instapundit and Captain's Quarters
First, they brought back that bug-spray-in-a-bottle pachouli and every other damned thing hippies thought was cool, and we did nothing. Then, they convinced kids leisure suits and the Sunshine Band were it, and we stood by. Now they're trying to bring back polo shirts and penny loafers! Not again! The line must be drawn here -- this far, no further! And I will make them pay for what they've done!
I will. Oh yes, I will.
Shiva H. Vishnu! Spiderman's been off-shored!
Spider-Man India interweaves the local customs, culture and mystery of modern India, with an eye to making Spider-Man’s mythology more relevant to this particular audience. Readers of this series will not see the familiar Peter Parker of Queens under the classic Spider-Man mask, but rather a new hero – a young, Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar. As Spider-Man, Pavitr leaps around rickshaws and scooters in Indian streets, while swinging from monuments such as the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal.
Feh, why not?
Tossing a 26 pound wet baby is good upper body exercise.
Slashdot linked up this Detroit News article that details how the auto industry is adapting nanotechnologies to build better cars. Turns out GM is already using nanotech in a limited way for pedestrian things like bed liners, but this is only the beginning. Windshields that don't crack, paints that won't scratch, suspensions that adapt themselves to the road, all and more are within reach.
I still think that my great-grandchildren will build their dream homes by picking a pattern out of a book, buying a 55-gallon drum of liquid, a 10-pound sack of "dust", and a dumpster full of specially-formulated dirt. Dump the sack in the drum, stir for ten minutes, then dump the drum on the dirt. A week later, and there's your house, ready to move in. All that's left is to clean up the dust, mummified corpses of a million machines.
Fark linked up this interview of a journalist who went "under cover" as a used car salesman for three months. In it, he describes the things he found both good and awful about the business. Bottom line: not all car salesman are sleazes, but their business model makes them seem so.
I've only purchased one new car in my life so far, and we got lucky because my sister-in-law was (is?) a member of some club that guaranteed a car at exactly $200 over the dealer's cost. No muss, no fuss. The salesman was still greasy as an oiled gangster, but at least we didn't have to talk price with him.
Alexis and Olivia FINALLY got to meet!
Go check out the pictures!
FYI- O and Lex were born on the same day.
Well, we're done dodging the red-eyed devil bugs, but looks like now we need a pied piper:
Health officials in [Washington DC suburbs] are recording an unusual increase in complaints about rats, which are feasting on the carcasses of cicadas.
Somehow I don't think K&D will find these guys as cuddly. Or they might. Never can tell sometimes. :)
New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing a new and innovative idea about using evolutionary science to make F-1 cars go faster:
The team started with a population of randomly chosen tuning configurations, each of which was tested on two virtual tracks.
Recombination and mutation of the best 40 per cent were then used to come up with the next generation, some of which were faster still around the track. Eventually their system evolved configurations that consistently broke track records.
They had to use a game/sim, but considering the high fidelity of those the results should translate. Some of the back markers don't have much to lose, so I wouldn't be surprised if this tech ended up at, say, Sauber or Toyota.
Olivia's first day at the pool. We have a chlorine mermaid on our hands!
Guest author: Nina(my sister)
Nina from punkbands.com got a chance to talk with Dillon from newly Epitaph signed Scatter The Ashes. Topics covered were their new album, signing to Epitpah instead of Island and about being compared to The Cure and Refused.
Read entire interview here.
Monroe County NY Democrats are dusting off one of the oldest political tricks on the books:
Monroe County Democrats have teamed up with High Falls Brewery to offer two free 2-ounce beers to those who register to vote at the festival.
Lots of tut-tutting from the usual suspects, who want to make fun illegal. Personally I have no trouble with it. After all, during the actual election liquor stores are closed to prevent larger units of alcohol from garnering more concrete results.
And two ounces isn't always two ounces. Ellen and I once went to a beer festival in downtown DC. The way the system worked, you got a stack of 10 "pogues" (wooden poker chips basically) with your admission. Each pogue was good for 2 ounces of beer.
Which is what I got when I went up to any of the dozens of beer booths, which were typically manned by big grinning guys who looked like they spent their days lifting kegs onto trucks. What Ellen got in her daisy-dukes, tight half-shirt, and sandals was, well, whatever she wanted. Ellen quickly became the "beer girl", and eventually we ended up sitting in a corner trying to sober up so we could drive home.
To this day she thinks they just weren't paying attention when they filled her glass.
Bias? We don't see no stinkin' bias:
Really? No, not really:
The celebration [by opponents of the Iraq war] is premature. The commission's cursory treatment of so salient a national question as whether al Qaeda and Iraq confederated is puzzling [...] More to the point, though, the staff statements released Wednesday — which seemed to be contradicted by testimony at the public hearing within minutes of their publication — raise more questions than they answer, about both matters the staff chose to address and some it strangely opted to omit.
"Wow," I can hear the Peanut Gallery thinking, "couldn't you do any better than the obviously far-right National Review?"
Well, seeing as how I cited three far-left sources first, I figured I'd need to put in a little balance.
So my friend ... was home one night, probably on his computer, when he heard a shreak coming from downstairs. It was Emily, his younger sister. Upon running down to see what had happened, he found a very traumatized Emily to be reading the latest Victoria's Secret catalog.
Via Red Sugar Muse
Jim Hake from Spirit of America just got back from Iraq, and sent out a nicely detailed e-mail summarizing his recent trip there. Unfortunately it's not posted on their website yet, so I'll "republish" it below.
An aside: The parallels, and contrasts, to the trips made by peace activists thirty years ago to Vietnam are striking. Then, as now, citizen groups went "under their own steam" to see what was going on in a faraway place and what they could do to help. Private groups would tour both North and South Vietnam and try to meet with all parties to see what could be done to achieve peace.
The results of the two missions couldn't be more different. Then, almost without exception, groups traveling to Vietnam would come back transformed. Even the idealistic ones, with bright ideas and shining faces, when confronted with the debacle that Vietnam had become, would change their message and mission radically. Once they'd seen first-hand the incompetence of leadership in all areas, the hopelessness and war-weariness of the people involved, they would suddenly stop talking about what could be done to win and start talking about what could be done to get out.
Now, it seems even missions to Iraq with a strongly negative spin (which lately seems to include anyone carrying a press pass), when pressed, will admit the situation is not in fact completely hopeless. People with less of an "anyone-but-Bush" agenda, who are more interested in succeeding in the mission at hand than placing blame on whoever or whatever got them there, are of course far more optimistic, although no less guarded.
It's time to let the dead bury the dead, and get on with what needs to be done to finish this successfully.
I'm back from my trip to Iraq. This message provides observations, conclusions, implications for Spirit of America moving forward, a few photographs and an interesting story or two.
This is a long message so if you read no further please understand three things: (1) there is hope for Iraq, (2) the support of the American people can make a critical difference to the Iraqi people and their future, and (3) our job at Spirit of America is to help the American people make that difference.
My goals for the trip were to:
1. Validate - or not - the key assumptions behind our plan to increase the scope and scale of Spirit of America's activities in Iraq.
2. Define the support most needed by Americans serving in Iraq for improving the lives of, and relationships with, the Iraqi people.
3. Determine the best approach for having SoA personnel in country to support our expanded activities.
4. Identify the ideas, people and programs with the greatest potential to effect an immediate and lasting improvement in the lives of Iraqi citizens at the grass roots level.
The trip was invaluable. The goals above were largely but not entirely achieved. On #3and #4 we made good progress but more work is needed.
The situation in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. The bad news we see, read and hear does happen even though it isn't nearly the whole story. But my most important conclusion was an encouraging one. There is hope for a positive, free and peaceful future for Iraq. A key part of the hope is the American people can engage and help the Iraqi people build a postive future. That opportunity is based much more on the involvement of the American private sector and citizens . much more person to person/people to people than government to government.
With the inevitable ups and downs in Iraq, it will be challenging to remember that there is hope. It is only hopeless if we give up. I know that may sound simplistic or na=EFve but it is true.
Those serving in Iraq - military and civilian - face a very tough situation. They deserve our full support. So do the Iraqi people, especially those who are working hard at great risk to build a better future for their country.
My trip was from May 28 to June 4. I spent 1-=BD days in Baghdad, 4 days in Ramadi and 1 day in Fallujah. These are three of the most difficult areas in Iraq today. Ramadi is approx. 60 miles west of Baghdad. Fallujah is 30 miles west. While in Ramadi and Fallujah I was a guest of the 1st Marine Division. I stayed and traveled with them. I was in Baghdad as an "unattached" civilian but took the necessary steps to move about safely. I was also in Amman, Jordan coming and going.
I was accompanied by LtCol David Couvillon (the first Marine that SoA supported last summer) and two retired members of U.S. Special Forces. All have had extensive experience in Iraq. They were along to provide insight and analysis on our next steps. LtCol Couvillon was a Battalion Commander during the war last spring and after war served for 5 months as the Governor of Wassit Province. There are 11 provinces in Iraq and his position was akin to a Governor of one of our states. Couv has a great connection to and fondness for the Iraqi people. He also has a great understanding of how to make progress at the grass roots level.
During the trip I was able to spend time with and talk to Iraqis (from the Ministerial level to local leaders to "ordinary" people - mainly men, boys and girls), civilians working in Iraq, CPA personnel and, of course, the US Marines at all levels (Commanding General to Private First Class).
With the Marines in Ramadi we visited a neighborhood where the Marines were helping to build a mosque and a health clinic. We traveled in a Humvee convoy. There were about 25 Marines, an interpreter and us (four civilians). The Marines were led by an exceptional young officer: Capt. Egan. We spent time with the local Imam as well as boys and girls of all ages. We distributed school supplies, soccer balls and Frisbees that had been donated by Spirit of America and our supporters earlier this year.
Here's a photo of us playing Frisbee and me throwing one. Given my performance in windy conditions I don't think I'll be coaching Frisbee teams in Ramadi any time soon.
bWith the group of
boys below I was talking about soccer (with the help of our
interpreter). Two of the guys were boasting that they are excellent
goalies. I told them my son had scored four goals in his game the week
before. They seemed doubtful until I pointed out I was sure that
goalie wasn't as good as they were. We all had a good laugh.
The adults and
children were happy to see us, happy to talk and play. And, like
children anywhere (at least mine!) happy to get gifts. The women of
the community made flatbread for us during the visit. Fresh and hot it
was excellent. Clearly, not every visit to a neighborhood in Iraq
would be like that one but it was one of those nice human moments. It
was also instructive to see how the Marines operate and relate to
local communities. Very impressive.
After we returned to Camp Blue Diamond we videotaped a few of the young Marines talking about their experiences in Iraq. We'll get these up on the Web soon. Just before we left a Staff Sergeant Delgado approached me and said, "Sir, if you could get sandals for the kids around here, it would be a big help. Lots of kids didn't come out today because they don't have anything to wear on their feet and the streets are too hot." THAT is one great example why it's important to spend time in the field and with the men and women who are in it every day.
We're getting on this and you'll soon be getting a message about SSgt. Delgado's sandal request.
In Fallujah we spent time at a center where Iraqi civilians meet with the Marines to work on civil affairs and rebuilding projects. The center also serves as a training site for the Iraq Civil Defense Corps (ICDC). There I had a chance to discuss with the son of a local sheikh ideas for a neighborhood sports program that Spirit of America is considering supporting. He was positive on the idea and asked that we come back to meet with other local leaders to explore it further.
Also in Fallujah we visited a village on the outskirts of the city where the Marines were rebuilding a road. It was a rural village of about 20 homes. People largely live off the land - crops, goats and sheep. The Marines came to talk about the road project. We also passed out Frisbees, toys and school supplies to the local kids. Here are some children from the village with Spirit of America school supply kits.
Back at Camp Blue
Diamond we met with the two officers (Maj. Chandler and Maj. Dunham)
responsible for providing the TV equipment donated by Spirit of
America to the 7 Iraqi stations in Al Anbar. When we met about =BD of
the equipment had been delivered to the stations and technical
training was being planned. With the new equipment Iraqi personnel at
one of the stations took to the streets with camcorders to do "man in
the street" interviews. When they broadcast the interviews the
received numerous calls with positive feedback. Things like that
associated with a free press that we take for granted are entirely new
inmost of Iraq. We'll be getting a more detailed update on the TV gear
and stations in the next few days and will email you as soon as we
Also back at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi we met with the Director of Economic Development for Al Anbar Province. He is spearheading the creation of women's sewing centers in the Ramadi-Fallujah region. These centers will provide women with a chance to make money, some for the first time, and improve their lives and their families'.
Marines' Commanding General Jim Mattis is very enthusiastic about the project- both for its economic impact and because it will provide women a place to discuss women's issues (day care is provided). He has asked if we can help by providing the sewing machines. For starters we are looking for people to buy the first 50 sewing machines costing $475 each. You can support that request by clicking here: . http://w= ww.spiritofamerica.net/requests/1086384717.html . If things go well with those, we'll do our best to provide 950 more, thus helping 1000 women.
The Marines are in frequent-enough danger in the Ramadi and Fallujah areas such that safety is never taken for granted. Each time we left base to visit a local village or community we were briefed on recent threats to Marines convoys (usually from IEDs - Improvised Explosive Devices). The base at Ramadi (Camp Blue Diamond) was mortared while we were there. After they were launched it was a nervous 45 seconds before they landed uneventfully about 400 yards away from our trailer. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Attacks are not constant but occur often enough to restrict the military's freedom of movement and action. To get around requires traveling in armed Humvee convoys or helicopters. We owe a great debt to the men and women that risk their lives every day over there.
As odd as this may sound, it is good news that things are not worse. It is a small, small percentage of the people that are fighting the coalition, our troops and the new Iraqi government. If that weren't the case we would hear much more bad news. It is easy to attack, easy to terrorize. That things are not worse evidences, in my view, that there is more hope than one might think and that the vast majority of Iraqis are not aligned with the future the terrorists and coalition fighters represent.
Conclusions and Implications for SoA
* There is hope for a relatively free, peaceful and prosperous society in Iraq even though the situation is very difficult and the challenges are enormous,
* The support and assistance of the American people (as distinct from the US Government) is essential to the progress of the Iraqi people. The best hope of Iraq turning out well in large part lies in the support and commitment of the American people.
* We will continue to support requests from and needs identified by Americans serving in Iraq. These projects currently support Marines, Army, Air Force and SeaBees and we're the things providing range from sandals, soccer balls and school supplies to sewing machines and TV and radio equipment.
* It is essential that we also support those Iraqis that are champions of a new Iraq and who are taking the initiative to improve the country in ways small and large. These people represent the future of the country and, in many ways, of the Middle East. By standing for freedom and a better life they are risking their lives
* There is an opportunity to increase the scope and scale of Spirit of America to positive effect in Iraq with the potential to "be the difference that makes the difference" in key areas. In the face of enormous needs and an infinite number of good things to do, accomplishing this requires a focused strategy.
* There are 3 areas of strategic focus for Spirit of America that deserve our greatest attention. They are the areas about which both the US Military and Iraqis are most enthusiastic.
1. Economic development programs - such as job training and microfinance. Our providing tools and sewing machines fits in this category. Housing and construction related projects emerged as high impact because of the jobs and visible signs of progress they create in addition to needed housing stock.
2. Youth programs, especially sports programs and support for education.
3. Media and information projects - such as training and equipment for Iraqi-owned and operated television and radio stations.
* In cases it will be better to conduct some of our projects as the American people without a direct or apparent link to the military or US Government. This approach will make it easier to establish the person-to-person, people-to-people links that we seek. In some cases it will increase the results we are able to produce - both in the eyes of the military and the Iraqi people.
* It will be essential to have a Spirit of America in country presence.
* There is no way to operate in Iraq without physical risk; i.e., SoA in country personnel includinng Iraqis, will be at risk of attack. Anyone who visibly works for progress in the country is an enemy of terrorists who seek chaos and a potential target for criminals who see financial opportunity in murder or kidnapping. We are still assessing the best way to structure our in country presence. In any scenario much of our work will be managed and executed by Iraqis (and, we are developing good contacts in that regard).
In the coming weeks you will hear more from us about:
* Status of projects you've already supported in Iraq and Afghanistan including the television station equipment and tools for Iraq and the soccer gear and
* New requests from Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* Our plans for increasing the scope of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and providing focus to the desire of the American people to help
Lastly, I want to thank the men and women of the Marines who put themselves in harms way to host us and ensure that we were able to move about safely. LtCol John Lutkenhouse went to great lengths to arrange meetings, trips and travel so that our visit achieved its goals. In fact, our "dance card" was so full that one of our team fell asleep standing up during one meeting. Fortunately, he caught himself before hitting the ground. I was doing the same sitting down.
As always, thank you for your support - whether that involves donating your time or money or simply reading these messages and considering if there are ways you can help.
All the best,