Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Thank you. You have very effectively demonstrated my original point.
As a refresher, my point was this: Anyone who claims to support the troops but not what the troops are doing ends up performing intellectual gymnastics of such complexity as to boggle the mind.
You drew a moral equivalence between our soldier’s actions and those of Sadam’s soldiers, saying you “see no moral difference.” And then in the very next paragraph you claim “I am not protesting “what our troops are doing.””
But really you are. You just ease your conscious by thinking that if you are devaluing the troops, it is not that bad. Because after all Bush devalued them too by sending them to war in the first place. Therefore you feel that your devaluation is not a big thing and you should go ahead and do it with your protest.
This is the type of thinking that I was talking about, heavy on emotions and light on logic. I really didn’t expect to see it so clearly from you.
I did some quick research on this WP issue that has you so upset. I started by googling “fallujah white phosphorus civilian” on the various news network sites. Here’s what I found:
ABC & Fox – No Matches.
CBS – 2 stories from 2002, pre-invasion, speculating about Sadam’s weapons stash.
CNN – Reports that Iraq is investigating allegations that the US intentionally targeted civilians.
MSNBC – 2 stories from the Reuters wire basically summarizing the allegations made by some Italian film makers in a documentary they did about the recent fighting in Fallujah.
I didn’t see any pictures of burned bodies which you said are all over the news. Admittedly I don’t watch very much broadcast news so I would have missed it there anyway. I get the vast majority of my news from the internet. That way I can quickly look at much of the raw data behind the stories and come to my own conclusions.
On this one it seemed to me that the hubbub all pointed to a film made by an Italian crew called “Fallujah – The Hidden Massacre.” So I downloaded it and watched all 27 minutes and 8 seconds of it to see for myself what the reporters were talking about.
I could write pages tearing apart the ridiculous lies and false implications made in the film but it is not worth my time. They use lots of second hand info and hearsay to try to back up their positions and they show a lot of gruesome dead bodies for shock value, but they present remarkably few facts. Therefore, let’s just stick to the WP issue.
As a star witness, they bring on an ex-soldier who says he was in on the Fallujah fighting. He claims unequivocally that WP is a chemical weapon. His assertion is patently wrong.
White Phosphorus is NOT poison gas. It is an incendiary material. Upon exposure to air, it will burst into flames and is difficult if not impossible to put out. While burning it creates a cloud of phosphorus oxide. Phosphorus oxide reacts with the humidity in the air to form phosphoric acid, the additive that gives Pepsi, Coke and soda pop its tangy taste and makes it so that Coke will clean rust really well. This stuff isn't poisonous, but it is irritating; it is in fact edible if it isn't in a concentrated form. If you got it in your eyes it would sting like lemon juice or vinegar, but it's not going to kill you.
WP is used as by the military because it burns well and gives off lots of light and smoke. Therefore it makes a good marker for targeting weapons systems because it is easy to see from a long way off. When a WP round is landed on the battle field, artillery spotters and forward air controllers use it as a reference point to direct other shooters to the specific target.
Fighters on the battle field know this. Therefore it also happens to be an effective tool to flush the enemy out of prepared defensive positions. If a WP round lands nearby, they know they are about to be blown up by something heavy so often they flee their position. When they are in the open, they are easier to kill with lighter weapons thereby reducing the amount of collateral damage inflicted by our troops.
It’s a good tactic that saves the lives of innocents.
Now if burning WP comes in physical contact with human flesh the results can be horrific. I know of an evangelist who had a WP grenade that he was throwing detonate from an enemy round right beside his head, blowing him from his boat and horribly disfiguring his face in Viet Nam. His survival story is a very compelling picture of God’s grace.
But my point is that to intentionally target civilians by using WP as a weapon instead of a marker (like Sadam’s troops did) is morally reprehensible. Using it as a tool on the battlefield to mark targets (like our troops did) is a whole different deal and can actually reduce the number of innocents killed. It takes incredible mental gymnastics to claim otherwise.
It is interesting to note that the guy never actually claims that we used WP as a weapon. In fact, he apparently never actually saw the stuff being used on the battlefield at all because his proof consists of hearing radio traffic about its use. I have no doubt that we did use WP on the battle field. I just don’t believe we used it to inflict mass casualties on civilians.
If we had we would be hearing it from many more sources. And they would be much more credible that this Italian group.
Now I’d like to address your assertion that our military has been decimated. That’s a pretty silly emotional statement devoid of fact. To have lost 10% of our approximately 2 million uniformed members (what decimated means) we would have lost upwards of 200,000 dead. We’ve lost about 1% of that. Give me a break!
It is unfortunate that a grandfather of 52 has been activated. However it has nothing to do with our combat losses. No, it results from the changes in our force structure that have happened over the years. Back when I was in uniform our “don’t ask, don’t tell” Commander in Chief and the Congress decided that with the fall of the Soviet Union we should take a “peace dividend” and draw down our active duty forces. As a result of that idea, which has some merit by the way, we are now much more heavily reliant on reserves.
Now this grandfather made it his choice to draw a pay check from our government for many years with the understanding that if he was ever needed, the government could activate him and send him to war. There were several points during his reserve career that he could have chosen to stop getting that check. He took the money. Now he is being called on to serve. Choices have consequences.
The last thing I want to point out is that, to support your decimated comment you mention one soldier killed that comes quickly to mind from the whole state of Wisconsin. To you this is evidence of mass butchery of our troops in a modern war?
I gave you twice the number of casualties from my limited experience in uniform of people I actually knew (not just read about) that were killed during peace time. Your evidence is still lacking.
And just FYI, the re-enlistment rates have been remarkably high over the last couple of years. If things were as bad as you claim, our troops would be getting out in droves. Also, last year the military significantly raised their recruiting goals and nearly hit those much higher targets. This year they well exceeded their recruiting goals.
So the call up of reservists has nothing to do with running out of soldiers because they are being killed in huge numbers. It has to do with a force structure that is designed to rely heavily on reservists.
I only have time right now to answer one question that you have asked me. The rest of your story can be seen on Fox News.
I see no moral difference between Saddam's use of white phosphorous (WP) and ours. The published photos of our WP use clearly show toasted civilians. And you did not address the terminology of Saddam’s "Chemical Weapon" WP, and our benign tool of war WP.
One other point I would like to clarify. I am not protesting “what our troops are doing”. I am protesting what our crooked lying government is doing. My actions do not “devalue our troops” as you say. The Bush administration already has that covered. If you will notice, our voluntary military is currently decimated to the point where they are calling out of retirement a 52 year old grandfather from Mosinee WI, and current troops are being stop loss back door drafted for up to 30 years.
Yesterday they buried 19 year old Pfc. Alex Gaunky from Sparta WI. Remember, this was to install an Islamic Republic government, where women have no rights.
Monday, November 28, 2005
I re-read my post below just to be sure. And yes, I do believe that which you so casually dismiss as “crap”.
I do believe that donning the uniform is dangerous in peace time having watched buddies die.
I do believe that modern warfare is incredibly destructive, and, as painful as it is, we are still amazingly fortunate to have suffered as few losses as we have thus far.
I do believe that protesting what our troops are doing devalues their service. Having 6 currently deployed service members in the 13 or so houses on my cul-de-sac, and having spoken with several of them and their families, I assure you that those troops feel similarly.
Apparently you are not quite sure whether you believe protesting would devalue their service or not. But my point is moot because it is also apparent you really don’t care. Even if you believed it would you’d still go forward and just be “sorry.”
Likewise with the whole enemy propaganda thing, I believe what I wrote because I’ve checked out Al-Jazeera’s web site, looked at the facts. However again it appears you don’t really care how it affects the troops in the field as long as your protesting damages the sitting administration.
Oh, yes. And I do believe the bit about the Islamists too because I’ve looked into what the Koran has to say about it. And I also happen to believe what they actually say day in day out about wanting to kill us. Call me a sucker, but when people say they want to kill me (over and over again) I tend to believe they are not speaking metaphorically, especially when they are sending mad bombers to blow them selves up nearby while they keep saying it.
Now you can dismiss all that simply as crap. Don’t let facts get in the way of your protesting.
Speaking of facts, let’s talk about “illegality” of the war, as you termed it. You do realize that Congress voted to authorize the President to use force of arms “to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” And that was well prior to the invasion of 19 March 2003. How then is the war illegal?
When you refer to the “lies” that the war is based on, do you mean statements like this?
“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources -- something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.
When Saddam Hussein obtains nuclear capabilities, the constraints he feels will diminish dramatically, and the risk to America’s homeland, as well as to America’s allies, will increase even more dramatically. Our existing policies to contain or counter Saddam will become irrelevant.”
Of course that wasn’t President Bush on the eve of war who said that. No, it was Senator Rockefeller, D-WV, back in October 2002.
Do you really believe that Saddam had no WMD’s? HE GASSED HIS OWN PEOPLE!!! Have you forgotten the pictures of whole villages, including women and children, lying bloated after his gas attacks? You can’t actually use something (like the WMD poison gas) unless you have it!!
Do you doubt he was seeking nuclear weapons? Senator Rockefeller didn’t.
I could go on but this has gotten too long already. Sorry to clutter it up with all these inconvenient facts. (Crap, I know.)
However I do want to ask you one other question. You seem to claim that our military’s use of WP is just as bad as Saddam’s. I am assuming you know that Saddam intentionally targeted civilians who were incapable of shooting back including women and children when he used the stuff. When our guys shoot it, we shoot at combatants with guns who are shooting back. Our guys (and gals) risk death and do in fact actually die because they are so hesitant to kill innocents.
Are you saying you see no moral difference between these two scenarios?
If so, please allow me a little ethics primer: Intentionally targeting civilians is wrong and evil. Intentionally targeting combatants shooting at you is unpleasant and unfortunate, but not wrong or evil.
But then if you don’t really care that your protesting would harm our troops and strengthen our enemies, why would you draw a difference between our troop’s actions and Saddam’s? Besides, if you were to draw a distinction, it might cause you to think about what the implications of your protest actually are. Wouldn't want crap like difficult implications to get in the way of a good protest, would we?
You claim it is our fault that they want to kill us, “we give them plenty of reasons.” Even if that were true (and it’s a viewpoint I see little actual factual evidence to support) cutting and running will not make them like us more. No, history shows that appeasing emboldens the aggressors. Just ask Chamberlain.
Do you really believe that crap?
I protest this illegal war in Iraq because it is based on lies smeared together by our corrupt dysfunctional government. Let’s see, was it weapons of mass destruction, or was it freeing the Iraqi people, oh wait, was it the spreading of democracy, oops, it was the creation of an Islamic Theocratic Republic. Are we proud of ourselves yet?
If my protesting this war devalues the service of our troops, I am sorry. Somehow, I cannot believe my protesting can devalue the service of our troops as much as the bush administration sending them off to a war based on lies.
If protesting this was provides juicy propaganda to the folks that want to kill us, well I am sorry for that too. Our military actions provide plenty of juicy propaganda for this. Our government backs this up with their ill-chosen words (Crusade), and actions. Somehow, when Saddam used white phosphorus, we called it a chemical weapon. When we use it, we call it a tool of war. Are we proud of ourselves yet?
If we wonder why these people want to kill us, we give them plenty of reasons. Would you take well to occupation?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Please understand that I totally believe there is room for debate here. I think that with any worthy undertaking it is very healthy to look at various sides and viewpoints. I am not against the principle of protesting at all. Nor do I agree with our current president on every issue in spite of my conservative leanings.
The first thing that must be understood is that protesting something as vague as “the war” has an adverse affect on everyone in uniform, whether State-side, or over in Afghanistan or Iraq for a number of reasons. Anyone who claims to support the troops but not what the troops are doing ends up performing intellectual gymnastics of such complexity as to boggle the mind.
The truth is that military’s job is to break things and kill people. I know. I’ve worn the uniform. They sign on to go into harm’s way knowing that there is a real risk of being killed. Even in peace time.
As an aside, one of the reasons I got out of the Navy (back in ’95) was that I was tired of going to memorial services for my buddies. One of my flight school roommates was killed when his helicopter crashed at night flying off the USS America. I literally watched another buddy of mine kill himself by ejecting too late from his F/A-18 when it lost control right off the catapult on the USS Saratoga.
I say this not to shock you, but rather to help you understand that wearing the uniform is a dangerous business. Anytime. Our people in uniform know this. Even so they are still all volunteers! Now I certainly will not diminish the pain and suffering that is born by the families of those who died. And I still honor the memories of Rich and Sonny. But to have lost slightly over 2100 souls in over 2-½ years of fighting a modern war is nothing short of miraculous.
Yet when we protest what our troops are assigned to do we devalue their service. The protestors may say that they support the troops. But somehow their protest signs and slogans never seem edify the military. Perhaps that’s because the vast majority of the people who feel compelled to actually protest “the war” really don’t support the military as much as they claim they do.
Another reason protesting the war is hazardous to our troops is that it provides juicy propaganda for the people who are killing them over in Iraq. When al-Jazeera is showing clips of our Senators and Congressmen demanding our military pull out now, it allows our enemies to say, “See! See! Their own leadership says that what the Americans are doing is wrong. If they are wrong then killing them must be right. Come join us and kill more Americans!” Imagine how they’d respond to thousands of us waving signs and shouting to bring the military home before the job is done.
The other thing I find interesting is that many people who may be inclined to protest the war will say things like, “those people are not our enemies.” That’s just plain ignorant. We may not want them to be our enemies, but they have decided that we are their enemies.
According to the Islamists way of thinking, the thinking of the ones killing our troops, their enemies (i.e. us) have three options. We can either convert to Islam (their flavor of Islam, that is), become slaves to the Islamists, or die. Preferably at their hand.
Running away and disengaging from this war that we are in the process of winning won’t change their world view and how they perceive we should fit into it. My question to those who believe we should forfeit the war in Iraq as we draw near winning it would be which of the three options would you prefer? The way I see it there are only four choices: conversion, slavery, death, or war. Take out the war that leaves three. Which one do you want?
For the people who say that we just need more understanding of our enemy, I will explain it in simple, mono-syllabic words that are easy for any first grader to understand: They – want – to – kill – us.
Now that may not be enough to make them our enemy to someone who is more used to intellectual gymnastics than I am. But it really doesn’t matter because they’ve already declared that we are their enemy. Which, just for the record, by definition means that they are our enemy regardless of whether we recognize it or not.
I understand that it is unpleasant to see disturbing images from a war zone. War is an ugly, unpleasant business. But there are times when it is a necessary one. When there is a group that is dedicated to killing us seems to me to be one of those times.
We are an amazing country. We seem to be undefeatable in war and can only loose fights by forfeit like we did in Viet Nam or Somalia. It astonishes me that there seems to be a growing call in our country to throw yet another fight. Are we really like a marathon runner who, even though he is way out front, sees no need to bother crossing the finish line, but would rather just get in his car and go home because he is winded?
Pulling our troops out now will not lesson the killing in Iraq but rather increase it dramatically. Not only that, but pulling out now will only save American lives in the extreme short run. Long term it will lead to a grater loss of American lives because it will embolden and strengthen those who want to kill us.
Do you want to see some encouraging images from the war? Check out this site here: Michael Yon: Online Magazine. Michael Yon’s dispatches are fascinating, and should be required reading.
The bottom line is war stinks. We can debate about pre-war intelligence and WMD’s till the cows come home. But I strongly disagree with anyone who says we shouldn’t resist those who are committed to destroy us. I for one would much rather have the IED’s going off on the other side of the world than in my local police station or elementary school. I do not want to see my country burn for weeks on end.
I am American, not French!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Anyway, with that in mind, I just got the below emailed to me. Being a student of history, I couldn’t help but share it. I don’t know who originally wrote it, but it’s worth the read…
The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.
Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.
It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert.
Italy has increased the alert level from "shout loudly and excitedly" to "elaborate military posturing". Two more levels remain, "ineffective combat operations" and "change sides".
The Germans also increased their alert state from "disdainful arrogance" to "dress in uniform and sing marching songs". They also have two higher levels: "invade a neighbour" and "lose".
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual and the only threat they worry about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
In my (rather pathetic) defense, things have been rather crazy around the Cree Casa. We had a major computer failure which necessitated replacing old faithful finally. I kept her going for over 7 years, which in computer terms made it a dinosaur. And of course when the computer finally did give out, I had to replace it now, to keep Gorgeous’ business flowing, so all my research and planning into what computer I wanted kind of went out the window.
I had to find a computer that fit my budget and was immediately available. And somehow you can’t just buy the machine, bring it home, plug it in, turn it on and be right where you left off. I had to figure out how to salvage as much of the stuff that Gorgeous needs to keep working from the old machine so we wouldn’t be starting over with so much.
I also discovered that there is a big difference between my needs and my wants. In computer terms, it’s in the neighborhood of $2,000! I found a basic machine that meets our needs. But what I want, oohh booy!
So we had the computer situation going on. Gorgeous is working her business wide open so she has been on the road a bunch. My work was hot and heavy for a while, but has since calmed some. Blah, blah, blah.
I’ve had a chance for a deep breath. Whew! And now I’m back. We’ll see where this all goes next…
Monday, September 26, 2005
I really hate it when butterflies hit the windshield. I mean they do tend spread pretty colors around the glass with all their guts. Even though they are colorful smears, they’re pretty big and really make a mess when the wipers spread them around. Sometimes they pass by at a near miss and don’t make a mess in my field of view.
The trouble is that they are big enough that I can often see them in the rearview mirror after they pass by. I’ll see them fall straight down into the pavement behind me. Sometimes I’ll even see the wings flap. As a former aviator, I know those steep impact crashes aren’t going to be walked away from. It’s depressing.
And then there’s the scraping them off the windshield at the gas station. There’s nothing worse then pulling up to tank up and find the station doesn’t have any of those little squeegee things. Unless it’s reaching for one only to find they are all drier than my yard after two weeks with no rain. (I’ve heard they make this thing called a sprinkler…)
How are you supposed clean off the butterfly guts with a dry bones squeegee? And there’s no way you can get the job done with a little Windex and a paper towel when you get home.
Bottom line is there are just too many butterflies this year.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
He was talking about how one of the things that happens when we are in community is that we look out for one another. And he brought up the fact that there is someone he could trust to let him know if he happened to have a booger hanging from his nose. He’s right, by the way. It wouldn’t do to have a pastor of a big church out and about with a booger hanging out there. He should have someone around who feels comfortable enough to let him know about it so he can rectify the problem.
Me personally, I thought it was a good use of the word, completely appropriate context. But then Gorgeous and I have a bit of a reputation as being the "bodily function" couple. It is not uncommon for a conversation we are involved in to eventually go "there." Part of it is because Gorgeous used to work with animals and has lots of good stories. The other part of it is that I am a bit of an immature guy and find the whole subject exceedingly funny. Call me infantile…
Update 27 September 2005
If you want hear or see the entire message, go here. It's Part 1 - We Need Each Other.
I recently read an interesting article by John Piper called The Goal of God's Love May Not Be What You Think It Is.
In it he basically says that according to the Bible, God does the things he does pretty much to make himself look good. “His glory is the goal.” At first pass that is an outrageous statement. I mean is God really that self centered, that much of an egomaniac?
It really depends on who is making himself look good. If everything I did was in an effort to make myself appear as good as possible it would be incredibly selfish of me because the truth is I’m not that good. However, what if I was perfectly good? Wouldn’t I have a responsibility to behave in a way that helped others see that as true?
God, however, really is perfectly good. He is the one person in this whole universe who not only can behave that way, but actually should behave in a way that helps all of us to see it.
I guess it would only be outrageous if God was trying to make himself appear to be something he’s not or be something more than he is. Since God really is outrageously good, or glorious, for him to do anything different than making himself look as good as possible would be false advertising. It would make him appear to be less than he is, and would in fact detract from his goodness.
The whole thing is more complicated than I thought when I sat down and started typing. And I don’t have enough coffee on board yet this morning to even come close to getting my mind around it all.
I’ll just sum up with a quote from my friend and favorite Brazilian pastor, Jedaias, “God is Good!” That says it all.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Saturday is often the one chance I have to sleep in. Today I have to drive down to Jacksonville for a job, so it wouldn’t have been an option anyway. But I still want to know why we even need sleep in the first place.
The “getting up” rule is pretty simple. The boys are not to get up before the alarm goes off. If they do, the rule is that I scoop the violator up by the scruff of their neck. A cool feature of cats is that they go stiff and stop all resistance when you pick them up properly by the scruff of their neck. Gorgeous taught me that and she would know, having been a Veterinary Technician in a past life. Then I drag off the offender to a penalty box, either a bathroom or bedroom at the other end of the house. That way we can’t hear the door shaking as they paw at it while we go back to sleep.
Once the alarm goes off all bets are off. I figure it’s not their fault if I choose not to get up after the alarm goes off. So I don’t penalize them for jumping on me once the alarm sounds. It does add a physical element to the waking up process. Somehow they know exactly when that alarm is going to sound because the moment the radio starts, Pounce, usually right on the bladder. It helps expedite the waking up process.
When we first got Fat Boy he quickly developed a routine. Once the alarm went off He would jump on me, head butt my chin and then jump back off. He did this twice. Somehow a 10 pound cat can exert about 70 pounds of force when jumping on or off a snoozing human. I am sure there is a law of physics that explains this but I’m not studied up on it. If he hits your bladder I think the force goes up by a factor of approximately 1.3 (the bladder coefficient being 30% higher and all).
If I didn’t get up after the second time, he’d go over to the spring door stop, pull it back and let it go with a very loud “Boioioirrng” sound. That got me up every time. I knew what to expect and there was a gradual escalation which I could turn off at any time by simply getting up and feeding him. It was a good system.
These days Fat Boy lets Low Rider do his dirty work for him. He seems to just lay back and watch. I get the feeling he’s thinking, “Knock yourself out pal.” He knows he’ll get fed just the same so why risk being dragged off to the penalty box? Low Rider is smarter and less compliant. Not to mention he is skinnier, faster, and black so he’s harder to catch in the dark to haul off to the other end of house.
Anyway we’re all up now. And I’m going to head off to Jacksonville for work.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I’ve been playing the, “should I stay, or should I go,” game here in the Southeast for over 15 years now. In that time I’ve found the Navy’s tracking model to just plain be more accurate. I hope the modeling program wasn’t damaged with their server crash.
With two storms out there I was twitching more than I would in my second hour without a coffee cup in my hand.
Addictions can be rough.
In it he starts with an analogy.
Imagine that you started receiving letters in the mail accusing your neighbor of being a child molester. Occasionally you receive photographs or even a video showing the neighbor with a child on his lap or dressed up like a clown at a children's party. After a couple of weeks of this, someone then phones you to ask if you think your neighbor is a pedophile. What percentage of us do you think would say yes?
His view is that this is exactly how the major news organizations manufacture news again and again. His point is not so much that the news outlets make up facts to report (although sometimes they do resort to that) but rather that they latch onto facts that support an opinion that they agree on and report them over and over.
Then, after people have been bombarded with these facts for a while, they take a poll, the results of which become the BIG STORY. Then they yell, “See, See, even the people agree with us!”
Because the news media so rarely explores the facts behind the events that make up the reported news, he proposes that they effectively manufacture the news.
It sounds like a twist on that quote that is usually attributed to Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. Only today’s version is, if you repeat an opinion loud enough and often enough people will believe it is fact.
I think he makes an interesting point. But that’s just my opinion.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
For those of you who don’t know, cats have unique feature. Whenever they get suddenly freaked out the hair on their tail stands straight out so that it appears to be about four times the normal diameter and looks like a bottle brush. The interesting thing about it is that the tail puffs up in an instant but takes some time to come back down. Just like gas prices.
The puff tail can give you a good read on who knocked over the picture in the other room. This weekend Low Rider came tearing into the bed room up onto the bed. He landed squarely on a couple sheets of paper that Gorgeous just set down on her way through the room. Apparently Low Rider wasn’t expecting that texture or the slide across the comforter just then and viola, puff tail.
It always gives me a sense of accomplishment when I am directly responsible for the puff tail.
Like when Low Rider was eating breakfast a week or so ago and my toast popped up in the toaster. Puff tail.
Or a month or so back Low Rider was in the kitchen sink licking some butter off a knife. When I saw him there about four things happened nearly simultaneously.
- I yelled very loudly, something I am very good at.
- A plate shifted in the sink, adding to the noise.
- Low Rider immediately displaced himself vertically upward approximately 13”.
- And oh yes, puff tail.
Low Rider knew he was busted because the boys are absolutely not allowed up on the counters. Or the tables. Or the dressers. Fat Boy pretty much respects those boundaries because he’s not smart enough to know when I’ve booby-trapped them with masking tape. Low Rider can usually tell when its safe, and when he’s going to end up skulking around the house trying to shake that icky tape off a paw with me chasing him feeling guilty but laughing too hard to actually catch him and get the tape off.
Fat Boy’s not that smart so he generally stays down. Its safer that way.
I try to sneak up on them to scare them from time to time, hoping for a puff tail. I’m not as good at it as Gorgeous. She is sneakier, I guess. My victories are usually unintentional, which makes them all the funnier.
That’s how she got Fat Boy last night. The two boys were stalking each other after we got home. It is easier to get them when they are distracted. Of course Fat Boy isn’t very hard to get destracted because he's not so smart. Actually I’m being nice, he’s quite stupid.
He has repeatedly tried to jump up from the back of the couch only to misjudge the jump, smack against the back of the couch, and then slide down because he’s got no front claws. It looks like Wile E. Coyote to me every time he does it.
He is also prone to try to jump to the front of the couch from under the glass coffee table. The sound of a cat head hitting the underside of a plate glass table at full force is one you don’t forget. I'm giggling just thinking about it. His eyes are more crossed than usual after trying that.
My final proof on Fat Boy’s stupidity (I mean other than the fact that Low Rider was out smarting him at eight weeks. We new he was in trouble then since he was seven.) is that he can fall from the couch and land flat on his back, again repeatedly. I didn’t know cats could do this. I think he is breaking a law of physics. Otherwise how would this perpetual motion machine work?
He’s one of kind all right. That’s why we keep him around. Besides a good puff tail is guaranteed to please!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The FBI memo quoted in the article clearly states that the Bureau is not going to take resources away from higher priority efforts as a result of this directive. Even so, the writer was sure to point out some examples of internal heckling on behalf of Bureau personnel to make sure we understood his view that the agents in the trenches are uniformly against this directive.
I find myself asking a number of questions after reading the article. For example:
- What obscenity laws are currently on the books and are they being enforced?
- How is obscenity/pornography currently defined?
- Is pornography really destructive as some claim, or is it harmless entertainment?
- Does the current legal understanding of free speech cover pornography? Where is the line currently drawn?
- Is the FBI really stretched so thin that it can’t enforce our nation’s laws while it combats terrorism as the above article implies?
- Does pornography have any affect on society either locally or nationally? If so, what kind and how much?
I’m sure I’ll have more questions before I get through all this. I found some interesting things while poking around this morning. Unfortunately I have to set this aside right now and go do something I can get paid for so Gorgeous and I can keep buying groceries.
I am going poke around some more and think on this. I’ll let you know what I come up with.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I agree with him as far as the whole leadership team communication thing goes. However I don’t think it really is necessary to deny the fact that sometimes people do ask some pretty stupid questions.
Mike Adams also wrote on the subject the other day in an article called Who says there are no stupid questions? I especially liked this one: “What makes you think that all illegal aliens have broken the law?”
Then there’s Bill Engvall who has built a whole comedy routine around people’s stupid questions. “Here's your sign.”
I think there are lots of stupid questions out there. Here are a few categories of questions that I find particularly stupid:
- Questions that were just answered if the person had been listening – Grrr!
- Questions that the asker can answer themselves if they took a moment to look for the information. In some of my previous jobs this would happen to me a lot. People would call me and expect me to stop what I was doing and look up the information that was usually in a report or memo I had given them a week previous or, worse yet, really didn’t involve my department but because I actually kept good records they knew I could look it up for them.
- Questions that the asker answers even before they finish asking the question. While I have to include this in my list of stupid question categories, I’m not really bothered by this type of question. I understand that some people are just not capable of thinking before they start talking. If my listening to them ramble through their thought process verbally is what it takes for them to work it out, I’m usually glad to help.
Most everybody asks stupid questions from time to time. I know I do. I bet if you asked Gorgeous she would tell you that the majority of my stupid questions begin with something like, “do you know where….” or “have you seen…” Sometimes it comes out as, “where did you put your…”
You see I have this uncanny ability to get the object I am searching for directly into the center of my field of view and not be able to see it. It is not uncommon in our house for me to be looking for something, finally get to the question that I know is about to be shown as stupid, then have Gorgeous come to the rescue reach in on the shelf where I am looking, and pull out the item.
The cats usually ignore this exchange.
Unless it involves me opening a door to look for the object, that is. In that case Low-Rider will come scampering up and get as deeply into the closet as he can. And since he’s a black cat its even odds that I didn’t see him going in either. This will lead to a fun game of “Where Is That Noise Coming From?” later on (at feeding time).
I swear I didn’t have this problem (as much) before we were married. I was never organized at home mind you. But I could usually reach in through the strata of the pile and pull out exactly the item I wanted. Of course I don’t think Gorgeous really believes me about this. She thinks my memory about things pre-Gorgeous is pretty much suspect. As proof she’ll offer up the fact that I claim to want to move back to somewhere cold again. She says I romanticize the snow and don’t remember all the bad parts about winter.
I think she has some sort of hand held invisibility field generator which she can turn off right as she is reaching for the item. Or perhaps it is an SEP field generator, for those of you who remember the Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy books. Either that or she has some sort of mind control that directly affects my ocular system.
I also suspect that she reorganizes and moves things around just to make it more challenging for me to find them. If she does, it would certainly add to her job security around here.
Sometimes I even phrase my stupid question in the form of a statement, something like, “I can’t find…”
A classic example is “I can’t find the [insert item needed for home improvement project here]” It doesn’t matter the item. Because this is really code for, “I am running out of ways to procrastinate getting started on this particular project because I don’t have a clue how to really do it and I’m a little afraid I’ll screw it up and make it worse so now that I’m completely out of time to really get it done before this important deadline I’ve decided to finally get started but you see I can’t because the vital item I need just to get started is missing and now I’ll just have to go and watch the SCI-FI channel and leave the project to another time.”
Sometimes I’ll follow the statement up with a guttural exhaling, “hhhheeeehh” which means, “I’m so disgusted from not being able to find said item that even if it turns up now there is no way I’ll be able to get started on the project now. I think I’ll go look at some propaganda online.”
Has anyone seen my coffee cup?
Monday, September 19, 2005
NOTE: We experienced a hardware failure over the weekend, products are slowly re-populating, apologize for the interruption.
Apparently there is power in the blog. More than I ever had when I was actually in the Nav, that’s for sure!
Now having spent some time down on the street in the Big Easy back in the day I know first hand there are many things that went on there that God, as found in the Bible, would not approve of. And the Bible does say that God destroyed a couple of cities way back when because the people there were so evil, not to mention the whole flood thing in Noah’s day.
However there is no way I am willing to go out on a limb and say that the Gulf Coast brought their suffering on themselves. Jesus himself said that some local calamities in his day did not happen because the people who were killed deserved it more than anyone else. (Luke 13:1-5)
Doug Giles basically says the same thing, but in a much more colorful way.
The other thing I brought up is that if God were trying to “get” those cities then He did an awfully poor job of it. When you read about God punishing in the Bible you find He is pretty stinking thorough. Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped off the map. Permanently. The flood in Noah’s day killed everyone except those God wanted in the boat. Yet on the Gulf Coast there were certainly a lot of bad people who made it through. Just look at the stories about shooting at rescue workers or laying siege to hospitals and fire fighters. The people who did those things are obviously very far from God.
So there are lots of things we can learn from what happened. The first is that suffering is no respecter of persons. Bad things do happen to good people. And when it does, it is not their fault. That may not seem fair to us, but it is the way of the world. Just ask Job. Another thing we can learn is how to pitch in and help people in need. The needs are huge down there. This is an opportunity for us to show our charity and make a difference in the suffering around us.
Another big lesson, I think, is that the government cannot be relied on to save us. When the “big one” comes knocking on your door, you will be better off if you have alternatives other than relying on Uncle Sam. I don’t know why, but it seems that when government gets involved, problems tend to not get solved very quickly. And often government involvement just makes things worse. I’m not saying that the government shouldn’t rescue people after a disaster. I am saying, however, that people who plan on relying on the government to bail them out, for whatever reason, are likely to suffer more than those who can find someone else to help.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
“I’ll take ‘A little light theology’ for $400, Alex.”
And the answer is: The reason God made so much diversity among us.
OK. Here it is as a question. Why did God use so much diversity in His creation?
Too big? Then let’s set aside all the different species of life for a moment and focus in on us humans. (Like Robin Williams said, what was God thinking when He came up with the platypus?) Next set aside all the obvious physical differences like height, weight, skin color, etc. Just to make it easier to talk about, focus in on just the “intangible” things that make all of us, well, all of us. I’m talking about things like personalities, preferences, tastes, talents, skills and abilities. Why such a variety?
One example: I have a brother and a sister. In some ways my brother and I are a lot a like despite our 20 year age difference. But he inexplicably seems to like brussel sprouts. My sister and I are of the opinion that, when cooked just right, they are perfect for creating a powerful gag reflex. And I’ve shared that Gorgeous is a morning person and I am definitely not.
God could have made us all the same. It might have made for less conflict. But then, I’m pretty sure I’d get on my nerves after a while if I was all I saw my whole life. Where was I?
Oh, yes. He could have made us all the same, but He didn’t. Why?
Was it so that He’d look good for being so creative? I actually think that might be part of it.
But I heard a guy give a really interesting take on that recently. (Here's his blog). He’s our pastor. He’s pretty smart. Well, he’s actually not my pastor here in Savannah. He’s up in Charleston. But he is our Senior Pastor. It’s… Well, it’s a little complicated. Our church web site can explain.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Greg’s take on why we’re all so different. He thinks one big reason is so that we all need each other. It’s a good point. If we are all equally good at everything then we probably wouldn’t be as likely to reach out to others because we wouldn’t have to. When you think about how self centered we naturally are you can easily imagine us each isolating ourselves into our own little worlds. Then think about how the differences between us force us to interact with one another.
Gorgeous thinks I’m pretty good with these computer thingies. And I do muddle through well enough. But I still run into questions about once a month or so that make me reach out to the G-man, or to my dad. When it comes to home improvement, I’m like a drowning man. I’ll reach out for most anyone to throw me a rope. Car repair? I’m going to an expert. I’ll pay handsomely for it too.
Anyway, you get the idea. The fact that we all have different personalities, tastes, and interests naturally drive us to pursue different passions and develop different skills. Those different skills give us a way to reach out to help others in our area of expertise. And they force us to call out to others for help from time to time.
It is something to think about and thank God for today. We need each other. Not only do you need others to help you, there are others who need exactly what you bring to the table to help them get through.
I think that’s a pretty good system.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Do you think it’s time to replace the Windows 98, 233 MHz system we got as a wedding present from my parents all those years ago? I’m serious when I say that this is the only machine we have at the house. (Full disclosure: I can do some things on my laptop from work in a pinch. But I don’t want to clutter it up with a bunch of personal stuff.)
I mean we are to the point now that even the $299 teaser system on the front of the Dell catalogue is WAY better than what we’ve got. It should be a no-brainer.
But I’m cheap. Or more accurately I’m loathe to put any money on credit. And I don’t have the extra cash flow to buy even the $300 model. I keep putting it off every time we have a little extra cash. I’ve been dragging my heals for years on this. Any time we have some extra money it usually finds someplace to go before I get around to upgrading.
I’ve also been sort of waiting until I can afford what I really want. But what I want… Hooo Boy…
You see Gorgeous doesn’t share my refined taste for the finer gadgetry of this world. So somehow I feel like spending any money on computer stuff would be motivated by my own selfish craving for faster, better, more powerful. I know, I know. I’m a guy and things that go whoosh and BOOM! are cool. It just can’t be helped.
But at the same time, enough is enough. Isn’t it?
I just spent over an hour getting totally overwhelmed on the Dell web site. There are way too many options. The big one is new vs. refurbished. And if I go refurbished, how do I decide on which one? And do those refurbished systems come with monitors? I don’t see where it says anywhere one way or the other.
I want a cheap basic system to get me through for a year or so until we can afford to get something better.
It all got me thinking about the role of profit incentive (not to be confused with prophet incentive, by the way, which is something altogether different I think.) Not that I am making any money blogging here. But in my case I do want there to be someone out there who thinks what I say here is worth the effort to read. So I guess “readership” would be my measure of “profit.”
It’s weak, I know. But it is also early in the morning and I am dealing with cables in my coffee.
Anyway, take a moment to read this short speech by Walter E. Williams called The Entrepreneur as American Hero and let me know what you think.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
First cats are low maintenance. I’m in to that. I guess you could say that I am a lazy pet owner. But to take care of your cat, all you have to do is keep fresh water available, feed them regularly and clean out that litter pan from time to time. And if you’re even lazier than I am, I hear there are even some gadgets that can automate some of those tasks. I like the fact that if Gorgeous and I go out of town for an overnighter, we can just leave a little extra food out and know the boys will be just fine when we return.
Dogs on the other hand are so needy. To me that would seem to be a trait that would endear them more to women with their more nurturing tendencies than make them man’s best friend. You truly have to schedule your life around your dog. They’ve got to be walked three times a day. And if you live in town then you probably have to tote around a little baggie at the ready for the undignified task of “picking up” after Fido. Most towns don’t appreciate the extra lawn furniture left by pooches that just gotta go. And if something comes up that will keep you from getting back to the house right after work you’ve still got to find a way logistically to swing by the house and walk your dog. Otherwise you spend your evening in fear of having to wade through a puddle on the linoleum or finding some of that newly deposited lawn furniture in the living room. After all everyone knows lawn furniture doesn’t belong in the living room, it belongs in little baggies.
With cats you get the feeling that they can make it without you. Now there’s a basis for mutual respect. They tend to come by for a little rubbing on their terms. What guy wants his buddy to be at his beck and call? We hang with guys we respect, not guys we control. Yet the dog lobby would have us believe that dogs are our best friends.
Cat’s have a PR problem as far as guys are concerned, that's all. I’m pretty sure they don’t care though. They can make it without us…
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Usually it feels a little less hurtful if it goes off in the middle of a song so the first thing I hear is music. Somehow that brings me around a little more humanely than having someone talking at me even before I awake. I mean even if my work cell rings in the middle of the night, at least it has the courtesy to give me a heads up before someone is talking to me. (I won’t go into the years I had a Nextel and would get walky-talky calls in the dead of night. I’m glad that’s in the past!)
I’ve lost the option of the snooze alarm too. Smokey, our Low-Rider kitty, is always there to pounce on me the moment he hears that alarm go off. And then he plays the Jump-on, Jump-off game until I get up. It’s an effective tactic. I usually end up out of bed in about a minute. I still dream about the days when I could hit the snooze button and get a full 9 minutes in. Sometimes I even hit the snooze button so fast I wouldn’t actually wake up until 9 or (oh, yes) 18 minutes after actually I set the alarm. The beauty of that was it was an automatic extra snooze situation because I would think that it was earlier than it actually was. (I know, that's a lot of wases for one sentance first thing in the morning.)
Those days are gone, thanks to Low-Rider. And just to make the morning complete I should note that he has the uncanny ability to hit my bladder more times than not. (I’d give him a bladder accuracy ratio of about 65%.)
I used to resent those folks who wake up quickly and have a smile ready to go as soon as their eyes are open. Now I am just amazed by them. My Gorgeous wife is one of those weird morning people whose most productive time of the day is before lunch. I sometimes envy her ability to function so well so soon out of a sound sleep. I usually try to give myself an hour or two head start so that we’ll be somewhere near the same plane of civility when she gets up. Of course that approach means that by the end of a given week Gorgeous has about an extra whole night’s worth of sleep on me…
I mean why do we even have to sleep anyway? Wouldn’t it be a much more efficient system without sleep? How much more could we get done in our lives if we didn’t need sleep? Think about it. If the average person sleeps 8 hours a day (what the medical people recommend) then by the end of the year we’ve slept for about 4 months. By the time we’re 65 we’ve slept for nearly 21 years! How much could we accomplish if we didn’t need so much down time?
I don’t get it.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
You see I can relate to the whole current perception about cats. I know all the dog vs. cat arguments. After all, I am a converted dog guy. As I’ve said before, I used to think that the only thing cats were good for was drop kick toys. (No, I never actually kicked a cat. At least not that I remember…)
But that was before our stupid little Frosty, the Fat-Boy, adopted me. And I say stupid in the most loving way, but I’ll have to get to that later.
We were looking at renting a condo and as the landlord was showing me the back yard by the screen porch, the one overlooking the lake. (I miss that place sometimes…) This cat came up and started rubbing on my legs. Now at the time my cat paradigm told me I should start swinging my feet around and have some “fun.” However, I knew the landlord was an animal person so I behaved myself.
Later we were helping paint the place before we moved in. Lisa and our landlord had gotten together a bunch of girls from their work to help out. So here we are taking a break from painting the inside of this condo. We had the door opened to let out the fumes. It’s just me and a bunch of women, all animal people, by the way. And this cat walks in, ignores all the ladies, walks up to me like he’s in charge (as a good cat would) and plops himself down in my lap.
He knew which member of the household he had to suck up to. That was about the time that the landlord told us that Frosty belonged to Faye, the widow two doors down. Apparently Frosty belonged to Faye’s husband, who had died about a year before. Faye, being a very busy lady didn’t have time for a pet and threw him outside. She kept feeding him. But she was looking to find him another home. Right.
The day we moved in I went over to introduce myself to the two ladies talking on the sidewalk next door. When I heard Faye’s name I asked her if she owned Frosty. Without missing a beat she said, ‘Yeah, do you want him?” I told her that I wasn’t much into cats, but my wife thought he was cute. Faye, gave a good sales pitch by saying something like, “Just take him in for a while. If it doesn’t work just put him back out and let me know. I’ll start putting food out for him again.” How could I say no to that?
You see, I had this plan. To my mind I thought it through pretty well. My Gorgeous wife and I had only been married about a year, and being relative newlyweds we weren’t even sure we were up to the responsibility of having a pet. But since we had managed to keep a house plant alive for nearly a whole year, we thought we could up the commitment level and get a cat. If we didn’t kill it then perhaps we could eventually raise the bar to a dog. If the dog survived, perhaps we might actually have a chance of being responsible enough to have child or two that could hope to live past the potty training years. That was my plan anyway. Somehow 7 years later we have only gotten so far as getting a second cat.
Does that say something about us?...
Monday, September 12, 2005
For example, I’ve noticed that the older I get, the smarter my dad gets. When I was 16 I was sure my father was an idiot. But now, as I approach 40, I am finding he’s really a very smart guy. I even find myself thinking and saying some of the very same things I used to find so ridiculous. How can that be?
Another example, I used to have absolutely no use for cats. I was a die hard, vocal (perhaps even belligerent) dog person. I thought cats were only good for kicking, if you could get your boot on one. (Not that I ever did, mind you. But it seemed like it would have been OK at the time.) And now for the last 6+ years I’ve had a cat. Heck, I even think so highly of him that I talked my Gorgeous wife into getting him a pet kitten last year to keep him company. Weird, I know.
I used to think religion was for the weak minded. I used to think that corporations just existed to drain the earth of its resources. I used to think that the only ways to make money would prevent someone else from being able to earn their share. I used to think the Green Bay Packers were just another football team...
How can one person have been so wrong?
That's OK. The important part is that the step was taken. Where the walk goes from here is yet to be seen...