May 2004 Archives

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May 31, 2004

There have been many excellent things you should read (or which ought to be re-read) for Memorial Day this year.

John of Castle Argghhh!!! has the tale of a young Lieutenant's final homecoming in Memorial Day 2004.

BlackFive notes Memorial Day - Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Zabierek - Never Forgotten. Also see Taking Chance Home, and indeed, his entire Bonds That Shall Never Be Broken archive.
He has more here and here, too.

The DoggerelPundit surpasses himself with Elements of Chance. Don't miss this one, folks.

Citizen Smash (the Indepundit) asks: "What does Memorial Day mean to you?"

Jen Martinez posts A Time To Remember. Also see In Memoriam.

Rhesa at Creative Slips has a photo you should see.

The Emigre with a Digital Cluebat follows up on a BlackFive post.

Donnah, the Florida Cracker, on Honor and Glory. See also this post.

Jeff Jarvis on what we fight against.

Stephen Den Beste's piece on the price of heroism is a must-read.

Lots of people have been pointing to this video tribute.

Val Prieto on weekend plans.

Command Post readers will be telling their stories.

Over at PowerLine is "Memorial and Remonstrance."

Mostly Cajun has family remembrances and more. (If the link doesn't work, scroll down to "Memorial Day.")

At National Review Online, James Robbins writes "Recognizing Heroes."

Also at NRO, Kate O'Beirne tells us about The Soldiers You Never Hear About. republishes President Reagan's remarks given at Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

Oliver North on Memorial Day, Then and Now.

Jim of Smoke On The Water gives us For Love Of Country.

J.R. has A Memorial Day Tribute.

Beck at Incite posts his Memorial Day Memories.

Emperor Misha I comments on a recent story of selfless and heroic sacrifice. And don't miss this post.

Cox & Forkum: Futures.

Brilliant as always is Mark Steyn.

James Joyner of Outside the Beltway has a wrap-up of WWII Memorial dedication coverage.

Jim of Parkway Rest Stop advises us to take a minute.

Windrider posts photos from the WWII Memorial at Silent Running.

AnalogKid at Random Nuclear Strikes has a photo essay, as well.

Ith at Absinthe & Cookies has a photo and a prayer., and follows with her comments on the National Memorial Day concert.

Ptah at Crusader War College reminds us that the living deserve thanks, too.

So does Susanna at Cut on the Bias, here. She has this post with photos, too.

Jeff of Alphecca has photos from Arlington.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has some links you should see.

The Mudville Gazette has another collection of links from milbloggers.

Moe at Occam's Toothbrush gets right to the point.

Aaron of Pardon My English has some thoughts.

Sgt Hook, currently serving in Afghanistan, has a list.

Tom Paine of Silent Running has stories.

Eric at Who Tends The Fires posts "The Holiday That Gets Forgotten." [Not if I have anything to say about it, it won't - Russ]

At Random Numbers, on heroes.

Dean Esmay has a number of posts. Just click and start reading.

Jeff the Backcountry Conservative posts about a Medal of Honor recipient. He, too, has collected a lot of links, which I will not try to duplicate here.

Pudge at Right Wingin' It says "remember to remember."

John of Balloon Juice presents us with a list.

Frank J. of IMAO fame gets uncharacteristically serious.

Kim du Toit remembers one particular man.

SlagleRock offers some personal observations.

Jeff Goldstein of protein wisdom talks back.

Serenity salutes.

Stephen Green, VodkaPundit, recalls a speech.

Matt at Stars n Stripes posts a followup news item about one example of America's best.

Candy at Candy Universe has her thoughts for the day.

Joe at Cold Fury notes his family's record of service.

[I'm done searching for links to add to this post. However, if you see something that ought to be here but isn't, please let me know - Russ]

Posted by Russ at 07:00 PM | Comments (7)
Team Spirit

While in the Army, I took hundreds of pictures. Though not a gifted photographer, my camera came with me whenever our unit went to the field. Naturally, I don't appear in many of those pictures.

I hope to be posting some of those in the future, as I get them scanned. In the meantime, here's a photo of my own Band of Brothers (and a couple of Sisters), taken in Korea at the conclusion of Team Spirit 1990.

First Platoon, A Company, 102nd MI Battalion:


(Click the picture for a full-size version.)

Posted by Russ at 02:42 PM | Comments (1)
One Veteran

Russell L. Emerson, my grandfather, enlisted in the Washington State National Guard, and served in the Field Artillery in France during the First World War. A number of the artifacts of his military service -- his medals, his marksmanship badge, and a set of Captain's bars, among others -- are kept at my Mom's home.

Russell L. Emerson

He came home after the war and lived his life. I'm pretty sure he was a Federal Marshall, but I've never been too clear on that.

He was felled by a heart attack in 1939, and is interred at San Francisco National Cemetery.

One of my most treasured posessions is the presentation flag from his funeral.

I wish I'd known him.

Posted by Russ at 02:22 PM | Comments (1)
May 29, 2004
Memorial Day

John of Castle Argghhh has posted.. well, my words aren't enough.

Read it.

And remember.

Posted by Russ at 12:27 AM | Comments (1)
May 28, 2004
Quote of the Day

If you're not already reading every word written by the DoggerelPundit, shame on you.

Then how are we to take the measure say,
When Tillman, Chance, or Dunham—others fall.
Why, see them as they are! they willing weigh
Their measure, simply said, at all for all.

Outside them, never shortage drought or dearth
Of disaffected, boasting pained complaint.
Yea, betters show us duty on this earth,
And some are something very near a saint.

Though Heroes live and die to scattered care,
There’s honor understanding honor’s guard.
Reflect and ponder; who is willing there
And why, it is so quiet in your yard.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Russ at 03:44 PM

Stephen Den Beste writes about the film Battle of Britain. Not a review of the film, as such, nor of the DVD (as I did last August). No, he writes the sort of review I wish I'd written.

It's about why men fight, and about heroes:

Real heroes feel pride, but it is not pride in being an unusual man, better than those around him. Far more often it is pride in having been part of an unusual group. If you press them, you'll find that they will say that their fellows were better than they were. They will brag about the achievements of other men they served with, but will downplay their own.
I'm put in mind of something said at the conclusion of the documentary We Stand Alone Together, the recollections of the real men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, whose story was told in the mini-series Band of Brothers. Richard D. Winters, who commanded Easy Company from D-Day through Operation Market Garden, recalls part of a letter he received from one of his men many years after the war:
I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he said "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" Grandpa said "No, but I served with a company of heroes."
I received the DVD set of Band of Brothers for my birthday. I know how I'll be spending my Memorial Day.

Posted by Russ at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
May 27, 2004
Speaking of Justice...

I hope the previous post made it clear: I am all in favor of extremely harsh sentencing for "cyber criminals," by which I mean "those who would damage or destroy our information infrastructure, and those who would use it to cause harm to people or organizations" (not "androids sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor.")

At long last, via James Joyner, we find a plan that makes sense:

If we execute murderers, why don't we execute the people who write computer worms? It would probably be a better investment.
Hear, hear.

Write a virus, maliciously crack a server, defraud people via e-mail, initiate a denial-of-service attack, spam thousands or millions of mailboxes... it's all the same to me.

I'd take a big tall tree and a short piece of rope
I'd hang 'em up high and let 'em swing 'til the sun goes down
(Charlie Daniels, "Simple Man")

Once upon a time, hanging was a reasonable and prudent punishment for all manner of crimes. We've become more lenient over the years; I don't see how it's helped.

Posted by Russ at 11:07 PM | Comments (3)
Not Enough Justice

The Justice system can work - though not as efficiently or as effectively as we might hope:

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A man who sent 850 million junk e-mails through accounts he opened with stolen identities was sentenced to up to seven years in prison on Thursday.

Atlanta-based Internet service provider Earthlink Inc. said it hoped the sentence and an earlier $16.4 million civil judgment against Howard Carmack will deter other spammers.

"Before spammers send one more spam e-mail, we think they should remember that what happened to Howard Carmack can happen to them," said Karen Casion, Earthlink's assistant general counsel.

Unfortunately, this was mere human Justice.

Had it been a true act of Cosmic Justice, Carmack would have been flattened by a Hormel truck on his way to the courthouse.

Posted by Russ at 10:17 PM | Comments (1)
May 26, 2004
Don't know why / There's no sun up in the sky

Via the WeatherBug:

655 PM EDT WED MAY 26 2004





I have one friend who might like this. Me... I'd settle for ordinary rain.

Posted by Russ at 08:15 PM
May 25, 2004
Prejudices Reinforced

From today's Best of the Web comes this series of quotes taken from people in North Korea about Abu Ghraib:

"I was shocked to see the pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners on television and in the newspapers," said Kim Sun-Ok, a 31-year-old employee working at a state telecommunications company.

"Most of my colleagues are saying the abuse is inhumane and cruel," the female Pyongyang resident said. "I think the Americans are like wild wolves that attack people without mercy."

Un Kyong-Hi, a college researcher in her 20s, said the abuses reinforced negative perceptions about the Stalinist state's ideological foe.

"Many people have seen pictures of the abuse, which is the top international news here. People's ideas that the United States is a barbarian country are being reinforced."

Peoples' ideas reinforced, indeed.

Where do you suppose they got those ideas in the first place?

The North Korean state propaganda machine has only three real themes:

  1. Hurray for our leader.
  2. Ju-che ("self-reliance") is good.
  3. Americans are evil.
One tactic the Norks have engaged in over the years is to use photos of the results of communist atrocities as "evidence" that American soldiers are barbaric murderers.

The photos they typically use are pictures taken by GIs at mass grave sites discovered after the retreat of the North Korean People's Army (NKPA). But since the photos, like the two below, show GIs with the bodies of the dead civilians they found, the propaganda trolls simply fabricate a caption (sort of like Micah Wright). It's apparently been effective.



Again, these are photos of civilians murdered by the NKPA, discovered by American and allied forces after the NKPA retreat.

Imagine what they do these days with their pirated copies of Photoshop.

Over the years, our MPs have been chosen for particular attention from the propagandists. There is one photo I've seen (but can't find) that shows an American MP in full regalia guarding an enormous number of bodies found, stacked up, after the liberation of Seoul. Naturally, the Norks claim that MPs killed all those civilians. Even now, when the Norks want to make a point in a children's cartoon or on a poster, their "villain" will often be dressed as an MP.

The behavior of the handful of miscreants at Abu Ghraib surely hasn't helped.

It might also be instructive to remember that, as in the Soviet Union, "man on the street" interviews in North Korea are nothing but a Nork propaganda exercise. There is zero chance that any information that might show US forces in a good light would ever be shown to the people of North Korea, and there is zero chance that person would speak against the wishes of the State -- not if they don't want to end up in a grave like in those pictures.

Posted by Russ at 10:47 PM | Comments (1)
May 24, 2004
We're #1!

I appear, for the moment, to be #1 on Google for the term "War is Heck."

I also remain at #1 for "Thomas Friedman idiot." Sigh. Maybe I never should have fisked him.

[This Geek Moment has been brought to you by... well, OK, I have no sponsors.]

Posted by Russ at 06:45 PM
I Am The Answer

What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?


Another birthday. Like I said last year: big deal.

[Update, 25May04: Yes, I got the telephonic rendition of the Birthday Song last night.]

Posted by Russ at 12:51 PM | Comments (4)
May 22, 2004

I've been thinking of doing a site redesign. I've used the templates and styles you see before you essentially unchanged since I began blogging last year.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of the look of it.

In the coming days and weeks I'll be spending some of my Copious Free Time™ working up a new "look" for this page, and possibly rebuilding the underlying data structure and the manner in which archives, etc., are presented.

If there's something design-wise you've seen here or elsewhere that you think really stinks, that makes you want to claw out your own eyeballs, please let me know -- the last thing I want to do is drive away the few regular readers I have.

I was thinking of a dark-blue-text-on-black-background theme, with about twenty enormous graphics, and abundant <blink> tags.

[See also]

Posted by Russ at 08:33 PM | Comments (4)
Quote of the Day

Today's quote of the Day comes, once again, from the DoggerelPundit:

Perverted aim is aim to break;
     Put soldier's and your life at stake.
What frays our steel, seeks out it's stress
     And widens every crack?—our Press.
from "Regression Analysis"

Posted by Russ at 01:13 PM
Forget your weekend plans

Unless you're an exceptionally fast reader (like Yours Truly) you may want to cancel those plans you've made for the rest of the day today.

Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! has committed another act (in two parts) of extreme bloggery.

Read Strength (part 1).

Then read Strength (part 2).

I include here the comment I made to Bill:

Occasionally I get the feeling we need more men like Sullivan Ballou... then I stop and think: we have thousands and millions of them. Some are already in uniform. Many more have already served and are now too old or too broken to rejoin the service.

And some are like the impossibly young highschool girl who rang up my grocery purchases the other day, who is in the Delayed Entry Program, who enlisted with no particular MOS in mind, just "the needs of the service," and who knows she'll be going - and wants to be going - overseas when her training is complete.

With such people standing out in front, we owe them nothing less than to keep "the house" ready for their eventual return.

So... when does the book come out?

I'll buy that book, you bet.

Posted by Russ at 12:54 PM
May 21, 2004
No Comment

It has been suggested to me that I, presumably in my role as a native Californian, comment on that irredeemable treacherous harpy, Nancy Pelosi, and her partisan shrieking against the President.

I wouldn't dignify her ravings that way. Nancy Pelosi is beneath both contempt and comment.

Posted by Russ at 02:03 PM | Comments (3)
May 20, 2004
Quote of the Day

James Taranto at has a little comment on John Kerry's "Let America Be America Again" theme in today's Best of the Web. [Click the link and scroll down to "LAABA Lamp." And if anyone at OpinionJournal reads this: Hey! You guys need linkable HTML anchors on your page!]

Taranto sums it up nicely, but not as nicely as Ith at Absinthe & Cookies did, in our Quote of the Day:

So what's America now? ... Heck, for all I know, America has actually been a guy named Lewis who lives on the Maine coast collecting driftwood.

Posted by Russ at 06:01 PM | Comments (1)
May 19, 2004
What is the Spirit of the Bayonet?

To KILL!!!

Outnumbered British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.

The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down.

Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.

(Via Misha.)

For those of you who might be concerned about the bloodthirstiness of the question and answer at the beginning of this post, I should note: tough. Get used to it.

That Q&A is (or was, at any rate) asked of and answered by Army basic trainees all across the US as we went through bayonet training. The drill sergeants wanted us to put on our "war faces," to get our adrenaline pumped up before going through the bayonet range.

The day before my basic training unit went to the bayonet range was the day our Navy clashed with Libyans in the Gulf of Sidra; two Libyan patrol boats were sunk. We had it in for Khaddafi - it wasn't at all hard to get us riled up.

Posted by Russ at 12:16 AM | Comments (1)
May 18, 2004
Movable Type Kerfuffle: Followup

To those of you not interested in the Movable Type 3.0 dustup: move along, nothing to see here.

Are they gone? Ok....

Mena from Six Apart, producers of Movable Type, is looking for user feedback, via trackback, into how we users are actually employing MT. Fair enough... but I have a question afterwards.

On the server to which you (the reader) are connected, I have two separate instances of MT.

The first is this blog, on which I am the sole author.

The second is a blog set up strictly for content management, and is not publicly viewable; there is no overlap between the first and second blogs. It is a separate install because of the archiving scheme. That blog has two authors.

Even though, as I understand it (and I might be mixed up on this), such an installation would be cost-free, I would be willing to pay a nominal fee for this sort of use.

The third blog with which I am associated is not hosted on this server. It is a non-commercial group blog, with one instance of MT, and with 26 authors in the system (I act purely as an administrator; I do not post there, though I may in the future.)

This third blog is where I see the biggest problem with the licensing scheme announced for MT3.0. None of the "Personal Edition" licensing options is adequate to handle this particular circumstance, 1 blog with 26 authors, and even the closest option would be prohibitively expensive. We had been looking forward to the release of 3.0 so we could enable some specific features on the group blog, but without further information to the contrary, there's zero chance we'll stay with MT.

It is almost as if Six Apart wants to eliminate MT use among large-group blogs... but I'm more inclined to think that they didn't actually consider the matter fully.

OK, now my question.

As I noted in my previous post on the subject, there has been mention made of a "general release," as opposed to the currently available Developer Edition.

A couple of points:

1) So far, all we know about is a Developer Edition. The name implies that there may be a non-developer edition, with appropriate licensing and pricing.

2) Not only is this implied, it's stated - not clearly, rather obliquely, but stated nonetheless:

We would recommend that, if you're not the type of person who likes to tinker with Movable Type or would require a installation, you hold off until the general release.
[Emphasis in the original.]

You see, a "general release" is a different animal than a "Developer Edition." Different capabilities, different features, different licensing, different pricing.

I've sent 6A feedback, a query about this, but have as yet received no reply -- understandable, due to the avalanche of mail they are no doubt receiving.

But the question remains: if the current release is a "Developer Edition," this implies to me that it's meant for something other than what the majority of users are doing with MT. I would expect a product labelled "Developer Edition" to contain tools and/or information to allow people who wish to extend MT to do so by developing plugins; it might also be the variety of product that an ISP would purchase to resell or provide service to their customers.

While I am perfectly happy to make use of plugins (I use MT-Blacklist, for instance), I have no desire to "peek under the hood," to access the guts of the product. If MT shipped as a binary plus configuration files, I would be satisfied (as long as I could customize the administrative interface -- I have made extensive changes to mine.)

(The default admin interface looks like it was designed to be used on a 14" monitor with a 640x480 resolution. The text entry boxes are quite narrow, and 10 lines of visible input in the "Create New Entry -> Entry Body" text box is about 20 lines too few. Plus, there's a lot of wasted screen real estate. That should be more easily configurable... or at least, the method of altering it should be documented somewhere other than in the Support Forums.)

It was implied in the original release announcement quoted above that there will be a general release at some point. I hope that's correct, and that this kerfuffle is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

Posted by Russ at 11:59 PM
Quote of the Day

Thomas Sowell, on The Hyena Press:

What we are seeing in the media today is a degeneracy that is by no means confined to the media, and is indeed actively promoted in many of our schools that are busy breaking down moral standards instead of educating children.

Along with this degeneracy has come a tragic irresponsibility by people who simply refuse to realize that we are currently engaged in World War III -- and were for years, before we were finally forced to realize it by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This war may last longer than both the other World Wars put together and has more potential to end with our destruction as a nation.

[I would classify the war against Islamofascism as WW4 -- the Cold War was WW3.]

Posted by Russ at 02:28 PM | Comments (1)
May 17, 2004
Who lied?

"Oh, you mean those WMD...."

(Via LT Smash, who also has a roundup of blog reactions.)

Posted by Russ at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)
May 13, 2004
Movable Type Kerfuffle

Hold yer horses, people.

MT users all over the 'sphere are kvetching about the pricing and licensing of the newly-released MovableType 3.0 Developer Edition. Look at the trackbacks to Mena's post at Six Apart and you'll get the idea.

People aren't just unhappy -- they're seriously POed at the prospect of paying the stated rates with the limitations on the number of blogs and authors.

I host and run two blogs here, with one author on this blog and two on the other. In addition, I manage a third blog (hosted elsewhere) that has about 25 authors. So yes, this is a matter of some concern to me.

A couple of points:

1) So far, all we know about is a Developer Edition. The name implies that there may be a non-developer edition, with appropriate licensing and pricing.

2) Not only is this implied, it's stated - not clearly, rather obliquely, but stated nonetheless:

We would recommend that, if you're not the type of person who likes to tinker with Movable Type or would require a installation, you hold off until the general release.
[Emphasis in the original.]

You see, a "general release" is a different animal than a "Developer Edition." Different capabilities, different features, different licensing, different pricing.

So everyone take a chill pill, eh?

I will happily wait to see what comes of this general release. If circumstances dictate, then and only then will I start shopping for a new blog software package.

Posted by Russ at 06:27 PM | Comments (3)
May 11, 2004

To: Subhuman Islamofascist Scumbags
CC: Fifth-columnist fellow-travellers, J. Chirac

You have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and are now using them as an excuse to continue your murderous ways... not that you ever needed an excuse before.

You think the humiliation inflicted on your imprisoned fellow terrorists was the height of American infidel behavior? You think that was a terrible and unforgiveable offense?

You think the murder of an innocent civilian is supposed to be justified by that? You suppose that beheading Nick Berg - or any of us - is an appropriate response?

It may behoove you to take note of one comparatively minor fact: the Abu Ghraib incident was the behavior of a small group of bored, jaded, poorly-trained rogue soldiers acting independently, without the sanction of the United States.

Just imagine what we will do to you if we, as a nation, get really pissed off and then act on it.

The only reason these poor excuses for soldiers are being prosecuted is because we had decided to extend the benefits of Geneva Convention coverage to your terrorist buddies. We didn't have to. Indeed, the laws of war would allow our troops to summarily execute anyone captured while illegally engaging in combat.

We're above that. We can afford to be magnanimous... for now.

Our magnanimity, patience and forbearance will not stretch infinitely. If and when the breaking point is reached, neither you nor your cause will survive. Even the continued existence of your people and culture would be in danger. We destroyed two nations and killed millions of their young men during a single war in the 20th century. What makes you think that we would hesitate to do so again if it became necessary? If it comes down to "us versus you," what makes you think we wouldn't choose "us?"

Some people claim to want nothing more than peace and stability in the Middle East. Think on this:

How stable would the region be if your deserts were converted to radioactive glass? How peaceful, if your cities were made into radioactive rubble?

Thank you for your attention to this matter,
The Management

Update: More info (and more vociferously presented) on the subject from Emperor Misha I, plus the world's longest comment thread. Well, the longest I've personally seen.

Update, 6/17/04: Bill Hobbs has similar thoughts.

Update, 6/18/04: See also my followup post.

Update, 6/15/05: More from Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report — "Anything short of summary execution is us simply being nice for its own sake!"

Posted by Russ at 11:24 PM | Comments (3)

How many of those Iraqis in Abu Ghraib were treated like this?

Do you suppose there will be an investigation by the perpetrators' chain of command?

Do you suppose the Berg family will get an apology?

I didn't think so.

Posted by Russ at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)
Guerrillas, then and now

Several months ago, I wrote about werewolves. Not the hairy kind of creature from legend and lore, but the all-too-real kind of die-hard never-surrender Nazi.

The History Channel program I referred to, "Nazi Guerillas," will repeat tonight (11May) at 6pm and Thursday (13May) at 8pm Eastern (other timezones may vary -- check your local listings.)

Note that the program was originally created and aired before the capture of Saddam Hussein. In an effort to draw parallels between the situation in Iraq and that in postwar Germany, it makes mention of the fact that at that point Hussein had not yet been captured.

Nevertheless, as a history lesson applicable to today's reality, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Update: Added show time for 13 May.

Posted by Russ at 12:40 PM
May 10, 2004
So Close

Doing leftovers, Steve gets so close. He starts out well -- you can't go wrong with smoked duck -- but then he screws it up.

I may have to head to Florida to deliver a culinary butt-kicking, perhaps via ClueBat™.

[Sorry, Steve - I call 'em like I see 'em.]

Posted by Russ at 10:29 PM
Quote of the Day

Nearly 25 years after Iran fell to the rule of the mullahs, Victor Davis Hanson, writing in The Wages of Appeasement -- How Jimmy Carter and academic multiculturalists helped bring us Sept. 11 at, draws upon ancient history to give us a warning:

As long ago as the fourth century B.C., Demosthenes warned how complacency and self-delusion among an affluent and free Athenian people allowed a Macedonian thug like Philip II to end some four centuries of Greek liberty--and in a mere 20 years of creeping aggrandizement down the Greek peninsula. Thereafter, these historical lessons should have been clear to citizens of any liberal society: We must neither presume that comfort and security are our birthrights and are guaranteed without constant sacrifice and vigilance, nor expect that peoples outside the purview of bourgeois liberalism share our commitment to reason, tolerance and enlightened self-interest.
"Paging Mr. Santayana, George Santayana, please come to the white courtesy telephone...."

Posted by Russ at 01:12 AM
May 09, 2004
Reading: Future Tense

I confess: I am a bibliophile.

I read a lot. Constantly. If I'm not actively typing something on the computer, I'm reading something online. If I'm not doing work of some sort, or in front of the computer, I have a book in my hands.

I read while I'm waiting for the microwave to finish cooking something. I read while I'm stirring something on the stove. I read while taking a walk. I read during meals.

I can't even sit down in front of the TV without having a book handy -- if I'm not multitasking between the TV and a book, then at a minimum, I'll read during the commercials.

Yes, I read in the bathroom; I'd read in the shower if I could.

Of course, I often just sit down to do nothing but read. And it is a rare night indeed when I don't read in bed for at least an hour before turning out the light.

Sadly, my memory is such that I usually have to wait a long time before re-reading an old favorite, usually several years. Remembering too much about the book tends to diminish the pleasure of the re-read.

Not only do I read constantly, I read quickly. I often finish a 300-page book in just a couple days. If I do little else but read, such as during a vacation, I'll get through even the longest novels in short order. The paperback version of "Shogun" (1200 pages, more or less) took less than a week.

Consequently, I tend to keep a moderately large supply of fresh reading material close at hand.

Each book on the following list is (relatively) neatly stacked on or next to my nightstand. This list is a bit longer than the usual list of books in my reading queue; I usually keep only about a month's supply on hand. This will last me through the summer, I hope. Listed by author, though in no particular order:

Patrick O'Brian
- The Thirteen Gun Salute
- The Nutmeg of Consolation
- The Truelove
- The Wine-Dark Sea
- The Commodore
- The Yellow Admiral
- The Hundred Days
- Blue at the Mizzen

J. R. R. Tolkien / Christopher Tolkien
- The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1

Bernard Cornwell
- Sharpe's Christmas
- Sharpe's Skirmish
- Sharpe's Havoc
- Sharpe's Escape

Frederic Wheelock
- Wheelock's Latin

David Drake
- Grimmer Than Hell

Eric Flint
- Ring of Fire
- 1634: The Galileo Affair (with Andrew Dennis)

Neal Stephenson
- The Confusion

John Keegan
- Intelligence in War
- Illustrated History of the First World War

Victor Davis Hanson
- Carnage and Culture

Jac Weller
- Wellington in India
- Wellington in the Peninsula

W. M. James
- The Naval History of Great Britain During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Volume 1: 1793-1796

C. Nepean Longridge
- The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships

Jerry Pournelle
- There Will Be War (Volumes 2 through 9)

That should keep me busy for a little while.

No, I'm not going to list all the books stacked in my bedroom that I've already read. There isn't time enough to do so... and I'd rather be reading.

Posted by Russ at 04:35 PM
Reading: Past Tense

Yet another meme makes the rounds, via Dodd Harris.

While some of the listed books I haven't read are on my to-read-eventually list, many are on my avoid-like-the-plague list. Some are on my never-heard-of-it-or-maybe-I-did-I-just-don't-care-to-make-the-mental-effort-to-remember-them list.

Books I've read are bolded.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22 [Hated it.]
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis [If this book is the reason for the word "kafkaesque", I'm not interested]
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel García - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass [The Clintonian overtones leave me unwilling to touch thiis one]
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

41 out of 101, by my count. There's a lot of overrated garbage on that list, and a number of books that ought to be in the top 101 that aren't listed.

Where's the Tom Clancy?!?!? </sarcasm>

Posted by Russ at 03:34 PM
May 07, 2004
Game Face

Steve H. of Hog on Ice and Val Prieto of Babalu Blog are having a smoke-off. Steve will be smoking a duck; I think Val is doing a chicken.

I'm torn as to who I should throw my support to. I mean, I have conversed with Steve on several occasions, whereas I've never done so with Val. So Steve gets points for acquaintanceship.

But Steve fallaciously insists his electric smoker will outperform Val's charcoal smoker. Oh, sure, the finished products of the two smokers will likely be nearly indistinguishable, taste-wise. Steve, however, omits the "soul factor" from his calulations.

Smoking is more than just putting a hunk of meat into a warm smoke-filled enclosure until it reaches the peak of tenderness and tastiness. Smoking is a labor of love - tending the fire, keeping the temperature on the sweet-spot, adding the smoke-producing wood chunks. It demands periodic attention throughout the day, and when you've finished, you have a work of art that the people you're feeding know is the result of your expert ministrations.

It shows them that you care enough to smoke the very best.


Plus, of course, during the intervals between smoker-tending sessions you can drink beer. Make sure you have at least a twelve-pack handy.

If you're using an electric smoker, you might as well just oven-roast the meat and add Liquid Smoke when you're done.

Sorry, Steve - I have to go with Val on this one.

Posted by Russ at 10:26 PM | Comments (8)

If I heard it right, Senator Lieberman (D, Conn.) sounded like a completely rational patriot in the Senate hearing today.

No wonder he got creamed in the Democrat presidential primaries.

[I'm still trying to find the quote....]

UPDATE: Hillary!, however, was a complete b****. I don't know what she said, but the fact that she's a total b**** remains a constant.

UPDATE 2: I did hear him correctly. Click "more" for the transcript of Senator Lieberman's remarks, courtesy of the WaPo.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody. [It's clear he meant to say "never apologized to anybody." -- Russ]

So it's part of -- wrongs occurred here, by the people in those pictures and perhaps by people up the chain of command.

But Americans are different. That's why we're outraged by this. That's why the apologies were due.

And that's why I hope as we go about this investigation, we do it in a way that does not dishonor the hundreds of thousands of Americans in uniform who are a lot more like Pat Tillman and Americans that are not know, like Army National Guard Sergeant Felix Del Greco of Simsbury, Connecticut, who was killed in action a few weeks ago; that we not dishonor their service or discredit the cause that brought us to send them to Iraq, because it remains one that is just and necessary.

We've got to get to the whole truth here, and nothing but the truth. We can't be defensive. We've got to be aggressive about it. And as Senator McCain said, we've got to do it quickly so that we and you and most of all our soldiers can get back to fighting and winning the war on terrorism with determination.

As far as I'm concerned, we do have to know how this happened. And we have to know it so we can stop it from happening ever again.

You've said that the behavior of those soldiers was fundamentally un-American. I agree with you. And this goes way back to the first American declaration, the Declaration of Independence, where we said that every human being has those rights as an endowment of our creator.

That even goes to human beings who have been apprehended by our military as they have been in Iraq because they are suspected of being part of the terrorists, of the jihadists, of the foreign fighters, of the Saddam loyalists who are killing Americans and Iraqis every day.

We know that people are flawed. And that's why we believe in the rule of law, to try to make this better and punish those who fall below appropriate humane standards.

Posted by Russ at 02:15 PM | Comments (2)
Quote of the Day

Regarding Abu Ghraib and the War on Terrorism in general:

Let's have some perspective here. While our handful of abusive troops represent the exception, the same is not true of our enemy, whose true nature we dare not forget. The ordinary enemy combatant is an unrepentant murderer.

The enemy and his sympathizers rejoiced as they mutilated our people and dragged them through the streets. Sex-related humiliation is one thing, but how about the deliberate killing of innocent women and children as a theological obsession?

Where's the outrage for the actions against us? Where are the condemnations? Where are the apologies?

David Limbaugh, at

UPDATE: see also today's Cox & Forkum editorial cartoon.

Posted by Russ at 01:00 PM
May 06, 2004
This Missive: Dismissive

"Friends"? That was a TV show? Hmm, I must have been busy with something else....

I have never seen a single episode of Friends. Not once. If it were a choice between Friends and turning off the TV, I'd be reaching for the remote faster than you can say "annoying theme song."

It's going off the air? Feh. Tonight is the last episode? So what?

Nor, I might add, have I ever seen Buffy, or 90210, Baywatch, Survivor or ER (despite the fact that I went to junior high school with Anthony Edwards, who didn't mind being called "Tony" back in the '70s.). I don't make it a practice to watch any sitcom currently running, except The Simpsons.

I only ever saw one episode of Seinfeld. I hated it. Passionately. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've watched Fraser.

Dramas? Ya, I watch 24 and CSI. Oh, and Monk, but that's syndication-only, so I don't think it really counts. Babylon 5 ruled. So did Firefly. It's a pity they're gone.

Reality shows? Oh, puh-leeze. I'd sooner crazy-glue my eyes shut, then nail them down just to be safe.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Posted by Russ at 10:36 PM
May 04, 2004
Where's mine?

According to the Senator's military doctor, the wound for which John Kerry received his first Purple Heart was minor, and close to having been self-inflicted:

Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.

I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.

The wound was covered with a bandaid.

Well, heck.

The wound I described here was inflicted by a piece of metal about 1.5cm wide by .3cm thick (by 15cm long), and penetrated 3 or 4 millimeters. I pulled the metal out myself, and didn't bother with a bandaid.

Where's my Purpleheart?

Posted by Russ at 11:45 PM | Comments (2)
Another One Down

Now that this is out of the way...


I can get to work on the Spirit of America ClueBatsTM that are due to various people.

[My garage workshop isn't large enough for me to do serious woodworking while I have a project in the painting/staining/finishing stage. Sorry for the delay.]

If you were one of the bidders here during the SoA fundraiser and haven't seen the e-mail I sent out after bids were closed, please allow me to reiterate: send me a copy of your donation receipt and I'll send you a mini-ClueBatTM (I think it'll end up between 25% and 50% scale) as a memento and a Thank You for your donation.

Posted by Russ at 06:53 PM | Comments (2)

If there's one sound I hate to hear, it's the screech of the Emergency Broadcast System.

OK, there's one sound that I'll presume is worse: that of an oncoming tornado. I've never heard one, and I hope never to hear one, but I can only assume that it's far far worse than the EBS noise.

We had a Tornado Warning yesterday. Fortunately for me, the tornado touched down about 12 miles from here. Thankfully, I've not heard that anyone was hurt. All we had right here was a thundersorm.

Thunderstorms are not an uncommon weather phenomenon here in NC. But short of a hurricane, none of the weather I've seen here compares to the seasonal monsoon storms I saw during three summers in Korea.

In June of 1990, our platoon of MI troopers had been tasked to go to the field with one of the armor battalions from the 2nd Infantry Division to monitor their communications, making sure they weren't using bad radio procedure. We were to report security lapses in an effort to improve the tankers' security.

So, SGT Rick, SPC Dave and I piled our gear in our HMMWV and headed to the field site that had been chosen for us, one of several hilltops overlooking the tankers' exercise area.

In hindsight, a hilltop might not have been the wisest location.

We arrived and proceeded to do the usual things MI troops do in the field -- we set up the radios, the portable radio mast antenna, and our individual shelters. The radios were easy, since they were mounted in the HMMWV. All we had to do was set up the OE-254 antenna mast -- about 50 feet away from the truck -- and hook up the RF cables. Piece of cake.

In hindsight, a 40-foot-tall mast antenna might not have been the wisest thing to set up.

As the afternoon wore on, the wind picked up and clouds began to roll in. We began to worry that the wind might knock down the mast, so we double-checked the guy-wires; we also paid attention to our shelters (basically, ponchos strung between trees and staked to the ground.) The wind continued to increase, and our shelters gave up.

In hindsight, ponchos were probably a bad idea.

We could see that rain was coming, so we loaded our personal gear back into the HMMWV. Darkness fell quickly as thick black clouds rolled in. Then the rain began. The three of us piled into the HMMWV as the deluge began.

In the BBC TV series "Blackadder II," the character Captain Redbeard Rum (played delightfully by Tom Baker of Dr. Who fame) says of the Cape of Good Hope, "the rain beats down so hard it makes your head bleed." I can only assume that the writer had been to Korea. You've heard all the folksy expressions describing how hard it may be raining? Cows peeing on flat rocks, and so on? Well, none of those expressions do justice to the monsoon rain. It was as if God Himself had decided we were a fire that needed to be put out.

The ragtop on our HMMWV began to leak. The wind was blowing rainwater into the truck through the gaps around the doors. The three of us were soaked to the skin, along with all our gear.

All this time our mission had continued. There was no thought of abandoning the site, of packing up and driving down off the hill. Of course, the fact that the "road" (more accurately, "goat trail") we had driven up had washed out may have contributed to our decision to stay put. We were wet, but still mission-capable.

Then the lightning came.

It began off in the distance, maybe a couple miles or so away. It came closer -- much closer. Then realization dawned on us: we had an antenna up on a mast on top of a hill, with cables running into our thoroughly soaked vehicle. And the "flash [wait] bang" time was getting shorter and shorter.

Realizing the situation, SGT Rick called in to our commander with a final "we're going off the air" message. The rain beating on the roof of the truck and the nearly uninterrupted BOOM of thunder made speaking on the radio -- or face to face -- nearly impossible. The moment he signed off, we disconnected all the antenna cables from the radios and threw them out of the vehicle and removed the whip antenna from the back of the truck. We were now wet and miserable, with no commo, a leaking vehicle, squatting on the HMMWV seats to keep our butts as dry as possible.

Not a minute after we disconnected the radios and antennas, the lightning found us. What had earlier been "flash [wait...] boom" became "flash[pause]BOOM!!!" then "flashBANG!!! fl..BANG!!! BANG!!!" There was a flash of lightning and a simultaneous peal of thunder every few seconds. Our antenna mast, still upright despite the wind, was struck over and over.

In hindsight, the antenna mast acting as a lightning rod probably saved us.

This continued for what seemed like hours. It seemed that way because it was hours, about 4 hours, lightning striking all around the vehicle as the three of us squatted on the seats, praying that the next "fl..BANG" wouldn't be the one that fried us where we sat. [We had come to the conclusion that sheltering in a rain-filled ditch was not likely to be any safer than staying in the vehicle. And in the vehicle, we avoided the chance of drowning.]

Finally the lightning moved off, though the rain continued. None of the three of us slept very well - or at all -- that night. I don't really remember.

The storm moved out of the area, and the morning dawned clear and sunny. We reestablished contact with our commander, and were ordered off the hill. Out of communications and at the center of the storm as we had been, people had worried about us. Driving down the hill, we came across our platoon sergeant, who had been unable to get his HMMWV up the hill. The road goat path that had been washed out was barely navigable by daylight -- it would indeed have been impossible in the dark during a pounding rainstorm. It later turned out that we were the only team that hadn't been able to get off its assigned hill.

In hindsight, it was good training.

I figure everyone needs one or two nights like that during their lifetimes.

Posted by Russ at 12:21 AM | Comments (3)
May 02, 2004
Esoteric Irony

Have I mentioned that I'm a history geek?

I laughed out loud when I saw this:


[For the non-historically-minded, it's supposed to be Graf Spee. Not a huge blunder, as such things go, but somewhat entertaining.]

Posted by Russ at 10:39 PM | Comments (4)
Faith and Politics II

In my previous post on this topic, I had a few choice words for Senator Kerry. I suggested that he is a hypocrite. I'll stand by that.

What I could/should have done, however, was shine a brighter light on the alleged "keepers" of the faith: those who are charged with maintaining the concrete fundamentals of their faith.

All too often, we hear of bishops, et al., who act contrary to the tenets of their faith, and worse, who fail to stand up for what are supposed to be core principles. The recent example of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) -- the consecration -- making a bishop -- of a man who openly flouts the teachings of his church regarding homosexuality was just the most recent instance of this sad trend towards spinelessness.

[For ongoing bloggish examination of the state of the ECUSA, as well as a whole variety of other topics, I highly recommend Christopher S. Johnson's blog, Midwest Conservative Journal.]

Imagine, then, my surprise at reading of a church leader who actually acts on the tenets of his church: N.J. Governor Denied Communion:

CAMDEN, N.J. – The incoming leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden has decided that Gov. James E. McGreevey cannot receive communion.

The Most Rev. Joseph Galante said Thursday that he was taking the stance primarily because the divorced governor, who is Catholic, remarried without receiving a church annulment. He also cited McGreevey's support of abortion rights, stem-cell research and other positions that contradict church views.

Note to John Kerry: not every bishop or other church leader is going to roll over or give you a big thumbs-up just because you're running for President.

"Go along to get along" may play well in Senate offices, but when confronted by men of conscience like soon-to-be-Bishop Joseph Galante, it won't work.

Posted by Russ at 08:53 PM | Comments (1)
Birthday Wishes

Belated birthday wishes to the great Glenn Ford, who turned 88 yesterday.

He's one of those celebrities who put their career plans on hold when their country called, enlisting in the Marines in 1942. He went into the Naval Reserve after the war,eventually rising to the rank of Captain.

I don't expect to see that sort of thing happening too often these days. Pat Tillman, of course, was a noteworthy exception.

Naturally, Ford is best known for his acting. He was one of the greatest of the Western stars, second only, perhaps, to John Wayne.

It's said that with a "draw" time of 0.4 seconds, he could out-draw both John Wayne and James Arness. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Posted by Russ at 08:15 PM