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31 October 2006

John who...


John Kerry has walked into a political minefield by associating uneducated, uninformed folks with members of the US Military.

Pretty sad. I don't know about Major John's academic credentials, but I've got a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA, along with graduate work in environmental engineering, two professional engineering licenses and a Six Sigma Black Belt.

Guess I'm too dumb to know any better. What I have found of interest in recent DoD surveys is that there is a higher percentage of individuals with graduate degrees among the US Army's NCO corps than any single enlisted segment. Additionally, US Navy requirements for the advancement to E7 will now require a bachelor's degree and all officers must have some language proficiency.

Huh.

Now if I was only smart enough to figure out what John meant by his comments...


UPDATE - The prevailing opinion is that Kerry let his own context and sarcasm get the best of him. Perhaps this is even more damning as it reveals to me his own contempt for the military. I suspect he is still holding on to old ideas from his time in service during Vietnam and shortly afterwards.

By the way, acknolwedgement to Major John over at Miserable Donuts - his JD trumps my MBA!

Dang Army guys...

At least we still have the best chow.

27 October 2006

Predictions...

A lot of people are pondering and getting all worked up about the midterm elections. History would provide a good predictor of all but a few of the races. This article on poll design should be compulsory reading for every wanna be political hack.

The bottom line is that the congressional races are heavily skewed towards the incumbent. Should a majority of voters rise up in anger (as they did with Joe Liebermann and Cynthia McKinney) they can affect the outcome of the election. However, in both those cases the overturned candidate was outed by their own party in a primary!

My prediction, no major changes in majority.

And if the majority should change - no major changes in policy.

This is not to be feared or reviled, we must adapt out policies in the face of the evolving situation. There is much to correct. And much to reinforce.

26 October 2006

Additions...


Scoot has posted a nice article about the impact we have on each others lives. He also notes that these are dark times for me. He is correct. Nonetheless, I still find some respite and comfort in blogging. I have added a section which links to my del.icio postings. This is a great tool which enables the surfer to collect items from the web and sort them in a searchable database.

Many of these articles are about the conflict we find ourselves engaged in at this moment. I find much to agree and disagree with in almost everything I read. As Citizen Une says, I am a hybrid - although she claims firm entrenchment in the Democratic camp - I find her views ranging to the libertarian on many issues. She has a keen intellect and a real clear notion of justice. She is also a seeker, unafraid to quest into uncharted territories.


We are very different in many ways, but alike in so many more. I owe a lot of my own personal growth to her - after all, she got me to dance on stage in front of a paying crowd!


No, there were no g-strings involved.


As we close in on sixteen years (eighteen serious) together we find ourselves examining our lives and desires. Much has been discovered, I know that even more remains to be understood.
I am still here.

25 October 2006

Miserable Donuts: More Evidence of Low Morale and Uncaring Soldiers

My comrade, Major John Tammes, has a great post over at Miserable Donuts about the real effect of empowered military members.

Miserable Donuts: More Evidence of Low Morale and Uncaring Soldiers

I think the best example of American help comes from being able to rapidly identify needs, take action and make a difference. The work done by CA (Civil Affairs) units needs more support, more press and more encouragement from the body politic and we citizens. There is only the highest good in the efforts of these men and women.

By the way, check out the recent issue of Foreign Affairs for an indepth article by Colin Kahl on our conduct in the most recent conflicts is actually going.

23 October 2006

You don't know what you got...

The purpose of this blog was to lend a voice to my opinions, as erratic and erroneous as they may be.  And yet I find cold comfort in blasting these missives into the ether.  They bounce around a few places but in general, only serve my own ego.  I am feeling in a particularly dark mood this day.  Whether I continue with this remains to be seen.  I am approaching a year, and much like my previous post, and there is little to show for my efforts save an archive of ramblings.
 
No, my metanoia is not due to the fact that republicans may lose the congress.  If they do, it will be due to their own ineptitude, which will be replaced by the democrats own ineptitude.  The basics of our nation rely upon the free exchange of ideas and commerce.  This magic formula enables the United States to be more prosperous, tolerant and stable than any nation on earth.
 
A country of 300 million people of such wide ranging diversity is a testimony to the inherent goodness of humanity. 
 
Do we have some problems?  Certainly, but I am convinced that the process of debate and discourse will win the day.  I am a technologist.  I believe in the possible, but will start with the probable. 
 
President Clinton's two legacies from his time in office are welfare reform and keeping his mitts off the economy during a time of blistering, unsustainable growth.  I believe that President Bush's two legacies will be education reform (NCLB) and sponsoring the reformation of our national security policy and armed forces. 
 
I do think the invasion of Iraq was justified.  I also think the follow-up was not well executed.  The tribal nature of that part of the world can not be understated. 
 
I worry about that country and those people, they too are born inherently good.  
 
When I was in the gulf for a part of the summer of 2004, I had a chance to stay at a very nice resort - thanks to the Navy's force protection policy.  This resort was frequented by Saudi nationals who sought escape from the constraints of their society.  A large family was at the pool.  The women were clad from head to toe in traditional garb and the younger girls were also clad head to toe in what appeared to be a wetsuit, but were swimming.  The boys were in western style suits along with their fathers and uncles.  
 
One of the young boys invited me to play a game of water polo.  He was about 12 or 13.  Clearly I was a westerner, you don't get much paler than me!  We spent an hour playing in the pool and simply having fun.  He reminded me of my sons.  Eager, open and unsullied by any prejudice or bias.  After some time, I had to depart, I shared my goodbyes and he asked me if I would return again to play.
 
I said that I hoped I would.
 
Indeed, I hope we all can. 
 

18 October 2006

Addiction...


I like computer games.

I like them a lot.

In fact, I grew to like one game so much it may have damaged my life. I am talking about World of Warcraft. It is an immersive, exciting and engaging environment which will suck time out of your life like a turbo-charged Hoover.

It was only recently that I realized how hurtful the game had been to me. In fairness, I was not a "dedicated" player, having only played on and off throughout a week. But given my other commitments, which were legion, it was time ill spent.

Why am I telling you this? It was this post at Soul Kerfuffle which made me stop dead in my tracks today and say.

"Crap, that could have been me."

In fairness, I broke off this heinous relationship about a month ago, but the residue lingers. I originally signed up in April of 2005. I had one character who made it to level 43, pretty low considering most get to level 60 in less than a year. But this is beside the point.

The game provided escape. It allowed me to escape from a lot of unpleasantness. It made me feel like I was accomplishing something, when in actuality I was not. I did write some good side stories, that at least felt good, but overall the time was idled away. Almost as bad as watching TV, but worse because the interactions forsook the flesh and blood of those near and dear to one.

So here I blog, that may be worse. But it seems manageable (I can quit anytime!). At least Citizen Une never said "I think you may have an addiction problem with blogging" as she did with WoW. I dismissed her comment at the time, but now I think she was right.

WoW is a great game. It is a triumph of computing and creative genius. It may form the basis for a broader virtual world where people can work out real problems. But it was too seductive for me. I never spent a whole day playing, but I know folks who did. They also posted on the forums, maintained fan sites, wrote stories and generated art.

Creative to be sure, but not of this world.

Ironically, in the cancellation process, Blizzard asks why.

One of their choices is addiction.

I pulled down the selection and submitted my confession.

Boy it's bright out here.

17 October 2006

A picture is worth...

I have taken to entering blogspot entries via e-mail.  It is less time consuming and allows for a better editing process.  Alas, I am unable to determine how to input hypertext links via e-mail, much less pictures!  I spend some time selecting the photos which I steal, I mean appropriately link, from across the web.  My question to you, dear reader is does it matter?  Is the substance of the words the reason for your visit or the shiny images?  Lately blogger has been very reticent to accept pictures, I suppose I will have to switch to the Beta.
 
Things have been tumultuous in Citizen Deux land.  My father suffered a coronary "incident" and was quickly evacuated by my ever able and much beloved brother from the heartland of the Appalachians.  He is doing better, thank you.  I am constantly overwhelmed by the strength of my feelings for him.  He is truly a heroic figure in my eyes.  In fact, over the years his stature has increased rather than diminished.  Being a father and husband now, I am reminded and humbled daily about the challenges and emotion required to be successful in those roles. 
 
My own father practiced his art in a different time, no internet, cell phones or reality TV.  And yet his lessons resonate with me.  He stood by his family, no matter what.  He expressed his unconditional love for his children.  He supported his wife during times of crisis.  He worked hard to provide a better life than he experienced and took genuine joy in the unfolding of his own life.  He used the experiences he had gained to instruct and guide his children and no doubt held his tongue when he felt some more forceful guidance was warranted. 
 
He always practiced honesty.  He is honest in his beliefs, honest in his affection and honest in his humility.  A man of more integrity, I have not met.  There were times when his colleagues and peers around him chose to give up or give in.  Whether to despair or temptation, he did not.  I realize this sounds a bit like a eulogy, but I feel compelled to reflect upon my relationship with him as I work to impart his wisdom through my eyes to my own two sons.  I am called to imagine the love he feels for his own wife of almost fifty years as I approach a mere sixteen with Citizen Une.  
 
Certainly my father has his clay shoes, which he wears less often than I.    Additionally, I realize that my parents were indeed greater than the sum of themselves and yet at this moment I look to my father for his strength and wisdom, even if asked only in silence.
 
 

11 October 2006

Is it dark out, or is it me...

Life has an uncanny way of reminding you of your own humanity and humility.  On numerous occasions my own excessive pride and ego (which may actually be represented as an unbounded differential equation - after all I am a geek) sidles up to cut my legs out from underneath me.  This present period is no exception.  Despite the fact that the Citizen Deux Improvement Project (thanks to Lauren Muney - see the fitness link on the right) is progressing well - down 12 pounds in three months, there is much to do.
 
Rest assured, that I am cautiously optimistic - I am an optimist at heart - that I can reconcile these challenges and return to my buoyant, Pollyannaish self (yuck!).  I have learned a LOT in the past few months since my return from Chile - if travel is broadening, may I be afflicted with agoraphobia!  A couple of simple thoughts and previews;
 
* Don't Ask Don't Tell - In summary, the overwhelming response from military members was "Don't care".  The biggest complaint was from senior enlisted and officers who have found themselves in the unpleasant position of managing a DADT case.  These typically were very difficult personal cases involving a lot of emotion and requiring a lot of time.  None of these seemed to resolve well.  Most of the junior enlisted who responded indicated that the policy seemed to be unevenly applied, understandable from their perspective.  I even had one member who indicated that their colleagues actually banded together to provide a shield against a DADT inquiry.  Good comrades will do that, but it only takes one vengeful jerk to ruin it.
 
*North Korea - They are trying to stay out of China's clutches and hope by "acting out" they can keep the US and the South engaged.  It seems to be working.
 
*Elections - Who knows.  I'll tell you my predictions the day after.  Actually, I am still standing by the "status quo" position.  I will even predict a Liebermann victory in Connecticut.
 
*Life in General - I'll let the rest of you know when I figure this one out...

09 October 2006

Good morning enlightened free world…


Well, Kim Jong Il has crossed the Rubicon. North Korea has detonated a nuclear device. Even now, somewhere deep in the E-ring of the Pentagon a list of contingency plans are being reviewed and forwarded to the NCA (National Command Authority). It would be irresponsible for me to speculate on the contents of these plans, I certainly have no first hand knowledge of them. However, the implications of our actions will be felt around the world.

In one sense the Hermit Kingdom has hung up a “Nukes for Sale” sign to anyone willing to pony up sufficient cash for its collapsing economy. Considering the value of that economy is approximately $23.5bn, a $100mn price tag represents a pure cash infusion of almost 0.5%.

The key questions we should be asking ourselves is can we get the rest of the world to pay attention to this dangerous condition? Recall that the Korean Conflict has never been reconciled with a peace treaty. In essence, the war continues under an ongoing truce. The security of the world demands that North Korea step away from the edge and place their materials under international controls.

Even with a bucket of nuclear weapons, North Korea could never hope to win a conflict with the EFW. After an initial delivery of destruction their military infrastructure would be obliterated by a combined conventional and nuclear fusillade. South Korean forces would likely occupy the remnants of the North and the economic impact to the region would be staggering. Japan would emerge as an even stronger player and the United States would be forced to withdraw from the area for a time.

No, the greater concern is the release of one or two weapons to the individuals who have sworn themselves to our destruction. The Islamo-Fascist Alliance, sufficiently well funded and capable, could deliver blistering destruction to Los Angeles, Sydney, or any other city sufficiently close to a port.

This situation is not the fault of republicans or democrats, the right or the left. It is the long lingering result of a world emerging from conflict and change over the past several centuries. In one sense, I am optimistic. If we can rationally resolve these challenges (conflict between IFA and the EFW, North Korea, the globalization of our economy, etc.) then there is a real chance for an exciting new era in social evolution.

If not, then we are poised to enter a modern dark age in which modern states isolate themselves from the rogue entities, who are allowed to wither and die or are eliminated in brutal conflicts.

My dad was visiting me this past week, providing cover for Citizen Une and myself to take a much needed break. He served in the 3rd ID, 139th Field Artillery as a battery commander during the Korean War. We shared a brief moment of irony as we looked at the headline, sidebar column of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

I know Navy ships are even now being tasked to that part of the world.

I embraced him as he left, each of us wondering what would be required in the days and months ahead.

02 October 2006

And so it is...



This is a stunning representation of the course of a portion of the world in which everyone is focused. A good friend, and retired USMC Major forwarded this to me.

Play the map.

Then, think on it.