Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Monday is Memorial Day, a day that for a lot of people simply means a long weekend and a barbeque. And you know, that's fitting, in a way. That, in a nutshell, is what the people we remember on this day died fighting to protect. They died to protect our freedom. Often in combat. Sometimes after being shot down helplessly by a brutal, merciless enemy, like Flight 60528. Too many times did they die because of training mishaps or terrorist attacks in peacetime, as EagleSpeak points out. Occasionally, as Greyhawk shows us, they weren't even in the military. But today I'd like to highlight the story of one airman who made the ultimate sacrifice. Go here for some background on the story.

Col. Jack Lovell's RB-45C had been shot down over North Korea, and he had been captured. Like so many other airmen shot down and captured during the Cold War, he was not coming home. For the remainder of the story, I'm going to quote directly from the book, By Any Means Necessary.

"Lovell's chief interrogator was the commander of the North Korean air force. What set the general off, suddenly ending any possibility that Fironov (the Soviet interrogator) was going to leave the room with at least some scraps of decent information, was the fact that the defiant Lovell would not stand and show appropriate respect for his chief interrogator. The American colonel, the general barked shrilly, was a captured spy, an intruder on North Korean territory, and an officer of inferior rank. Lovell asked Fironov, who spoke excellent English, to ask the general to spare his life because he had a daughter, and also because executing him would violate the Geneva Convention. Had it not been so senselessly brutal, the scene could have come out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

But it was no operetta and Lovell was not to be spared. The general was far more concerned with losing face than with finding information. As Fironov looked on in disbelief, the stammering North Korean worked himself into an uncontrolled rage. Finally, shaking with fury, he ordered that a sign be made saying "War Criminal" and had it hung around Lovell's neck. The execution order was Lovell's forced march into town.

Jack Lovell stood in the center of a desolate village in a remote part of the world in the dead of winter. There, the former Olympic boxer who had kissed his daughter good-bye on Thanksgiving Day, less than two weeks before, as he headed for the Far East, was reviled by a crazed mob of villagers. They shouted at him and cursed him in a language that he did not understand. Then they beat to death the only American they had ever seen or could get their hands on, with fists and sticks, and left his broken, bloody body where it fell."

He died alone and undoubtedly afraid, beaten to death by an enraged mob in a strange country far from his home. Remember Col. Lovell this Memorial Day. Remember all those, who like him, died for our freedom.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Yet another meme

First, let me apologize for the lack of posting. In the past week I've graduated, helped my mom with a crapload of gardening stuff, started a summer job, and then had to work 12 hours straight putting in the sprinkler system from hell...on the second day of my said job. Anyway, lest you think all I'm posting about is memes, there will be more on the site over the weekend. But for now, I've been tagged by Robert with a literary meme, so here goes.

1. The number of books I've owned: Well, I'm going to subdivide this section a bit. I really haven't had to get rid of large numbers of books yet, since I still live at home, so these totals are going to be the number of books I currently own. I've got about 100 or so "adult" books; a lot of Clancy and Clancy-esque thrillers, with a smattering of military non-fiction, Vietnam memoirs or Blind Man's Bluff. I've also got around 60 "teenager" books, which are mainly novels. Finally, I've got around 40 larger historical or airplane reference type books. So, the grand total is around 200.

2. Last book I bought: The last book I actually bought was Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo, which I bought in the airport bookstore coming back from a cruise in the Bahamas last June. If you want to get more recent, I all but bought Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy last December (I actually received it as a gift, but it was one of those "do-it-yourself" gifts).

3. Last book I read: I'm currently in the process of reading High Calling, which is a faith-based biography about Columbia commander Rick Husband written by his wife. The last book I completed would either be By Any Means Necessary, which does for aerial reconnaissance what Blind Man's Bluff did for the submarine world, or Lost Moon, which is the story of Apollo 13. The reason I say 'either' is that I can't remember which one I finished last, as I was kind of reading them simultaneously...yeah, I'm weird like that.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A. This first one might sound stupid or nerdy, but the encyclopedia. When I was younger (9-10), I would read the encyclopedia. Not the whole thing, just the subjects that interested me; mainly aviation, the military, and history, particularly American. This provided me with an incredible base of knowledge, in part enabling me to skip the elementary level of reading for these subjects and jump up to more of a high school/college level when I was still in junior high.

B. 1984. Orwell's classic about totalitarianism is as relevant today as it was back in the dark days of the USSR. I read this book when I was in 8th grade and it still continues to influence me.

C. The Case for Democracy. This relatively short book has had a profound effect on me, as it crystallized my change in foreign policy views that had started to take place after 9/11. Prior to 9/11, I still wholly believed in realpolitik. Yes, I understood that there were some issues relating to the behavior of some of our more repressive allies, but I didn't see any other options, especially considering the growing threat posed by Islamic extremists. After 9/11, with the campaign to liberate Afghanistan, I started to come around to the way that W.'s foreign policy team (many of them, including the President, read this same book) sees things, in that democratiziation actually started to look like a real option to me. It's messy, but to paraphrase Churchill, democratization is the worst option we have, except for all the rest. This book finally brought together all the different thoughts regarding democratization that had been floating around my head.

D. Black Hawk Down. On one level, this is an incredible story of modern war, chock full of action, technology, and heroes. On another level, perhaps intertwined with the first, it offers a glimpse inside the mentality of the American fighting man. Honor and duty might be buzzwords to some, but they actually mean something to those in the armed services. While I did somewhat understand that before reading this book, it really hammered it home for me. Two stories, in particular. First, the sacrifice of Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon. Second, the fact that 'no man got left behind;' not even when they had to spend hours cutting the dead MH-60 pilots out of the wreckage.

E. The Jack Ryan series of Tom Clancy novels. Sure, they might be a bit hokey, but these were some of the first "adult" novels I read. Besides, its nice to read books where the good guys aren't afraid to kick some ass and usually manage to find a way to win.

5. As for passing it on, I think I'll pass on this particular subject. Feel free to take this and run with it on your own blog or in the comments, if you wish.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Well, as Brad has already so eloquently stated, it seems that I owe Robert a very swift kick in the gonads. Anyway, I've been tagged for a meme that states, "List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over."

So, without further ado, here goes.

1. Baseball. I live in a typical midwestern suburb...we have one soccer complex, with a total of 3 fields for high school aged kids to play on. We have 4 different baseball complexes, with a total of 7 fields for high school aged kids to play on, with another 3 or 4 smaller ones. Everyone here makes a big deal about the CWS; the baseball team is the second most popular team at school (see below for the first popular). I don't get it. What's the attraction to a supposed "sport" that involves good hand-eye coordination and the ability to run 90 feet at a time?

2. Wrestling. The wrestling team is the most popular at school. Everyone makes a big deal about making the trip down to watch state; I'd be willing to bet that the state wrestling tournament gets the most attendance from our school out of all the state tournaments. What's the attraction about dressing up in skimpy leotards and then rolling around on a mat with another scantily clad guy? To say nothing about cauliflower ear or staph infections. And yes, I know there's the obvious physical attraction for girls. But there's much more to it than that, at my school anyway. The wrestling team members are definitely the biggest "jocks," more so than the football and baseball teams, and MUCH more so than the basketball team.

3. The obsession with gansta rap noise so many people my age seem to have. How did this music get to be "cool?" Its not original, 90% of it doesn't require any talent, and most importantly, its not even music. Back in the day, R&B and rap used to be a much more expansive tent. Everything from Run-DMC to the Beastie Boys. Then, in between the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys, rap changed. What used to be an broad group that covered all kinds of topics, including social issues, turned into a gang driven no-talent group of guys who prance around on stage covered in gold chains, grabbing themselves and talking about how they're going to slap their bitches and pimp their "ho's."

4. Emo music. Music by groups like Dashboard Confessional, Keane, Coldplay (at times), and yes, even Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes (at times). All the girls I am friends with are absolutely wild and ga-ga about this style of music, but I don't understand. Any Joe Schmoe can sing with a warbled and falsetto voice that is filled with emotion, have some emotional piano riffs, and get the teeny-boppers to have the tears start streaming down their faces. What takes talent is to come up with something that is actually ORIGINAL. Something that hasn't been done before.

5. Well, since its 2:30 in the morning where I am, and I am getting kind of sleepy, #5 will have to wait...tune in next week for the exciting conclusion of: The Meme!!

Cue: fade-out music.

Anyway, I'll have that last one updated tomorrow or Monday; hate to leave you all in suspense, but I'm sure you'll at least be able to appreciate the first four.

And now, here are the unlucky 5 being tagged for the passing on of the meme. And yes, if you were wondering, I already do have my digital nutcup on.

High in the sky over dreary Oregon, on the wonderful wings of Marine Air, Major Mike!
Rockin' both the Free and Christian Worlds, The Banty Rooster!
Slaving away to blogofy the Air Force, one officer at a time, Air Force Voices!
Kickin' butt on the dance floor, Beth!
And last, but certainly not least, Bob, protecting our freedom in Afghanistan! Bob may not be able to respond to the meme, as he is currently deployed and has rather more important things to do than respond to a meme, but I figured hey, what the heck, invite him anyway!

Friday, May 20, 2005

I see London, I see France, I see Saddam's underpants

As you may already well know, the Sun and NY Post have published photos of a whitey tighty clad Saddam. (Go here for the news story.) So much to talk about, the least of which is all the blatant hypocrisy, ranging from al-Jazeera to Saddam's lawyers.

Anyway, first point is that its nice to see the U.S. military has apparently learned its lesson from the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Pentagon was very slow about getting its side of the story out and making it be known that the perpetrators were already under investigation and were going to be punished. Granted, the investigation had been going on for months before the story broke, but the Army was still slow in telling its side of the story. This lack of visible action was a major cause in the assertions that the whole investigation was a major cover-up. This time around, the Pentagon must have realized that this has the makings of another major scandal; as such, there are already public promises of an investigation and punishment for those responsible.

That said, what's the big deal? I understand that this is a violation of the Geneva Convention, and I understand that we must play by the rules, even if the other side never has and never will. But I was under the impression that Saddam was being held in U.S. custody for trial in an IRAQI court, which would make him a civil prisoner, not a POW. I know that its a technicality (if I'm even correct), but the law is all about technicalities. Anyway, for Christ's sake, someone, acting on their own without government consent or approval, took pictures of a guy in his UNDERWEAR. This isn't exactly a high level of pain we're talking about here. Besides, Saddam is just getting what has been coming to him for his behavior during the Gulf War. Numerous American and British pilots who had been captured were beaten and then paraded before television cameras to read coerced statements.

Now for the hypocrisy. First, we have Saddam's chief lawyer, who said that they would be suing the Sun because the photos represent "an insult to humanity, Arabs, and the Iraqi people."

Rather strong words coming from a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions. A man responsible for the gassing of tens of thousands of Kurds in a single day. A man whose sons got their rocks off of throwing people into woodchippers. A man who would walk down a line of Shi'ites and summarily execute them, just for kicks. Somehow I think a man like that is more of an insult to humanity, Arabs, and, most of all, the Iraqi people.

Then we have the interviews from "people on the street." First we have a Baghdad businessman, who had this to say: "This is an insult to show the former president in such a condition. Saddam is from the past now, so what is the reason for this?"

Spoken like a Sunni who never had a family member imprisoned in Saddam's Abu Ghraib. After all, for him, Saddam would truly be in the past. There would be no demons to haunt you as a result of his actions.

Next we have a civil servant from Kirkuk, who said that the pictures were a "humiliation for a man who in the near past was the leader of Iraq and a top Arab leader in the region."

Only a former Ba'ath Party member would say, with reverence, that Saddam used to be the "leader of Iraq." Only a Sunni crony of his would say that the Butcher of Baghdad was a "top Arab leader."

There was a voice of reason from a Kurd, who said, in short, that this is the "least that Saddam deserves." But the first two responses reveal a larger problem in our dealings with the Arab and Islamic world. We expect them to say things like this. We expect them to hero worship a mass murderer. We expect them to riot in the streets at the mere mention of anything "against Islam" (like defacing a Koran). Why do we, as a country, treat the Arab world like children? To digress for a moment, I was watching Tucker Carlson's show on PBS tonight. He had Peter Beinart and Jonah Goldberg on to discuss a variety of issues, one of which were the recent riots. Peter made some attacks on the White House, while Jonah criticized Newsweek. Tucker made the point that neither of them, and very few in the meda (Andy McCarthy being a notable exception) had made it a point to criticize Arab culture for being so condusive for this kind of emotional overreaction. It's a subtle type of racism similar to the push for affirmative action in this country. Blacks need help getting jobs and into college, ergo they must be too stupid to do it on their own. We expect Arabs to riot at the drop of a hat when their religion is insulted, ergo we assume they are no more sophisticated than an angst-ridden 14 year old. Until we, as a country and a society, expect the Arab world to grow up and start acting more like a modern, liberal society, there will be no chance for victory in the War against Islamic Extremism.

Now that I'm off my soapbox, time for one last example of hypocrisy from this story. Al-Jazeera did not run any coverage of the pictures, stating that "the photo is demeaning to Iraqis...from the professional side, it is not news."

So, I guess all those videos of Westerners getting their heads sawed off were not demeaning to the victim's country, and that the videos definitely were news. As were the videos, seemingly played non-stop, that detail attacks on Coalition forces in Iraq.

Forget Fox News, I know "fair and balanced" when I see it

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The next Russ Vaughn?

First, a little background. This poem was written by a friend of mine for our religion class. Three times every semester we are required to get up in front of the class and provide the prayer that will open the class. The first time the prayer is based from Scripture, the second time the prayer is based off of something contemporary (often some sort of music), and the third time it is supposed to be something that you wrote yourself. This friend of mine is joining the Marine Corps Reserves and ships out to San Diego MCRD at the end of the month. So, without further ado, here is For God and For Country, by Greg Mucia.

It is one of the toughest decisions that anyone can make
Knowing full well that their life is at stake
And still they go, with courage and with pride
In the footsteps of their ancestors, who have suffered and died

They know what the cost is, they know the price
To die defending others, is the ultimate sacrifice
Jesus said it before, and wants us to heed the call
"To lay down one's life for a friend, is the greatest love of all"

Yet I hear people saying, why do we even care?
We don't know them, why their burdens must we bear?
Jesus tells us why, and wants us to see
"What you do to the least of my people, you do unto me"

When did we see you helpless Lord and not bother to care?
When did we see you naked and not give you clothes to wear?
When did we see you oppressed and all alone?
Did we bother to listen or did we ignore your suffering groans?

Give ue the strength to respect all of your creation
Show us your love; open the eyes of our nation
That seems to have lost their direction and their way
And is suffering the consequences of going astray

But there is hope for us all, when these brave souls come out
Put on their tidy uniform, like one devout
Who give their life for you and for me
Defending freedom in the states and far across the sea

The price of freedom has never been free
Yet the benefits from it are easy to see
Lives are lost to ensure our rights
And enforce God's will, the dignity of life

When people are oppressed and rights stripped away
It is our duty as Christians to fight in this way
We must give to others, what is by their right
The beauty of freedom, the eternal light

In our country, so powerful and great
We have put it off so long, no more can we wait
I believe in this country and am honored to serve
To follow those past, who never lost their nerve

I know the risk, but I know I must go
For those who are suffering, I can not say no
Our freedom is precious, a gift from above
Serving for God and for country, is what I truly love

Monday, May 16, 2005


For most of you adults, this has a technological meaning. For those of you with middle or high school aged children, it may mean something else. Most schools across the country have a policy regarding Public Displays of Affection. A PDA is usually defined as any action that symbolizes a more than platonic relationship. In practice, it usually regards hands holding, hugging, and in occasional extreme instances, kissing. It is in the news again with this story, regarding the detention of a middle-schooler for hugging her boyfriend between classes.

Now, normally I'm very adamant about decrying the stupidity of zero-tolerance rules in schools. But this isn't a zero-tolerance case. As the article states, Cazz Altomare (who names their kid Cazz?) was given numerous warnings about her disobedience, but continued to engage in "lingering hugging" (read: they hung all over each other in the middle of the hallway). As such, she was given a detention. Not an expulsion, or even a suspension. Detention. EVERYONE gets a detention. If you don't at least come close to getting a detention, you aren't living a fun enough life. Even myself, Mr. Straight A 4.0 GPA High Honor Roll got a detention in junior high for pulling out a chair from someone during a spelling bee (the little bastard got what was coming to him). Anyway, the point is that getting a detention is not the end of the world like Cazz's mom thinks it is.

Now, the larger question: is the policy valid? I think so. Middle Schoolers need to be taught limits. Remember, these are 12-15 year olds we're talking about here; they are not mature by any measuring stick. As far as they are concerned, as long as its not "bad" (clothes being removed), its acceptable to do, wherever, whenever. And the spokeswoman for the school district hits the nail on the head: you make people uncomfortable by your behavior. I know I was always rather disgusted whenever I'd see some frosh couple walk down the hallway holding hands or spending 10 minutes hugging each other good-bye before every single stinking class. You don't see this kind of behavior in the workplace; there's no room for it in a school.

On an aside, there was an interesting, libertarian themed statement by the mom in regards to the so-called "hugging ban." The mom said that "people should not just accept these fundamental rights being taken away from them." Okay, Ms. Patrick Henry!! Since when has "hugging" (also known as hanging all over each other for the whole world to see) been an accepted fundamental right? Even if it was, its also considered a fundamental human right to get married, or to own a gun. Does Ms. Altomare think Cazz should be allowed to get married or own a handgun at 13? Maybe instead of concerning herself with her daughter's right to distract and disgust her classmates, Ms. Altomare should concern herself with real issues...things like the REAL ID Act, or our smothering gun control regulation. Issues that truly do affect our liberty.

Nah, that's too much to expect from a country where Wacko Jacko is front-page news, but a new offensive in Iraq is completely ignored.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Air Force SpecOps and "Accidents"

Finals week is kicking my butt right now, but just thought I would pass on a couple of stories I've come across. First is this story off the AP wire about Air Force Special Operations. FINALLY!!! I never thought I would see the day that the Air Force got its due in the media for its contributions to the GWOT. Outside of unspecified mentions of "air support," and of course, the absolutely kick-ASS AC-130, the Air Force has gotten zero coverage, as this article alludes to. So thanks, Robert Burns, for writing something on Air Force Special if we could just get them to recognize the REST of the force, we'd be sitting pretty good.

Keeping with the flying theme is this next article, about "hot-dog" pilots. First of all, I about vomited when I saw the "Top Gun" reference. If I see one more reference made to Top Gun in any way about military aviation, I'm going to hurt somebody. Any movie that features F-14s overloading their negative g limits, going into combat without their Phoenix missiles, and too many homo-erotic scenes to count doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. :-p Anyway, I can see both points of view in this issue. The fact that aircraft and crews are being lost in peacetime training due to recklessness is unacceptable. At the same time, military pilots, by nature and training, are aggressive. They're taught to be aggressive, to push the limit, but without breaking the rules. The problem comes in that grey area between the "safe" zone of flying and the "dangerous" edge of flying. Granted, some pilots are just stupid. Case in point, the Apache pilot who tried to fly between two trees. The gap was less than the width needed for the chopper to safely clear it. End result - over $1 million in damage. On the other hand, there are pilots who push the boundary, perhaps too far, get unlucky, and end up killing themselves and/or someone else. An example of this is the subject of the article. CWO3 Darrin Rogers was flying a UH-60 Blackhawk and engaged in some extreme acrobatics. A chock drifted forward into the cockpit, obstructing the controls, causing the Blackhawk to crash which resulted in the death of the crew chief, Daniel Galvan.

So, bottom line? Pilots are entrusted with multi-million dollar aircraft. They've gone through extensive, expensive training. They are expected to keep their aircraft and crew safe. The fact of the matter is that military aviation is inherently dangerous. Sometimes the line will be crossed. And regardless of what causes the accident, the pilot is ultimately responsible for what happens to the aircraft and the crew.

Unfair? Maybe. But there's no other way to have things.

Like the crew chief's widow says, someone has to be accountable. And that someone will always, ultimately, be the pilot. And if someone is seriously injured or killed because of actual or perceived negligence, that pilot can expect to face charges.

The end result is that there are no winners. Someone is seriously injured or killed. A pilot's career is ruined. He, most likely, will be convicted of a felony. More significantly (or tragically), the pilot will have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life. The rest of us live and learn.

Sometimes the only lesson to be learned is that Murphy's Law will kick in at the most inopportune time.

Such is life in military aviation.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

All kinds of exciting happenings!

The story I blogged on yesterday about evangelicals at the Air Force Academy, has exploded in the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, due to the constraints of schoolwork and athletics (district soccer match tomorrow...wish me luck!) I will be unable to join in that explosion until the weekend. But believe me, I have plenty to say. This appears to be shaping up to become an "us against them" battle, when I think, anyway, that the truth is somewhere in the middle. But like I said, more on that later.

For now, the latest chapter in Chinese-Japanese relations is unfolding. I wonder if the Chinese have seen the kettle, because they sure are calling it black. I'm not disputing that Unit 731 did awful, horrendous things. Believe me, I've read the magazine articles; these guys were just as bad, if not worse, than Dr. Menegle. I'm not even disputing the fact that this memorial should be on the U.N.'s list among such places as Auschwitz and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. What I am disputing are comments like this one: "We feel a growing sense of danger because you (Japan) do not understand history, you don't correctly understand history," Wang Peng said.

"We fear the militarism of that time could reappear, that the historic tragedy will be replayed."

That's all well and good, but here's something you forgot. The Japanese government responsible for these atrocities no longer exists. It was taken down during WWII and replaced with a parliamentary republic, with a new, pacifist Constitution and everything. On the other hand, there are no memorials in China to the millions killed during the Great Leap Forward, or to the destruction and murders of the Cultural Revolution, or to Tiananmen Square. And the government that is responsible for those massacres IS still in power, and has never apologized. Just something to consider.

Anyway, I like to leave you with one final absurdity in these potpourri posts. Here is today's. In Norway, a court has ruled that striptease is an "art," and as such, is exempt from a type of tax, along with other artistic performances, like theater and ballet.

Gotta love those Scandinavians, always forward thinking.

Although, I mean, if you were going to pick a country where striptease would be legally considered an art form, you would pick a Scandinavian country, wouldn't you?

That's what I thought.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Robert over at Libertopia has an interesting post up discussing education, and the division of responsbility between the schools and parents. Eric, of Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave (I'm going to have to start abbreviating that name), takes this point and runs with it a step further, saying that the schools are, by and large, the sole problem, through their progressivism and "teaching" of "morality." I guess it's now my turn to take all of this and take it a few more steps.

Eric says the problem with our schools is that "We allowed our education system to go from education to training, to preparing for the workplace, to instilling morals. Who the hell says that it is government's place to instill morals? We used to know better, but 5 generations of European paternalism and progressivism has changed that."

All that is true. I agree with it 100%. But this talk of "European paternalism and progressivism" seems to be indicitive of a deeper problem with the system. The education system in this country has been, for lack of a better phrase, "dumbed down." Let me explain. In this country, it is assumed that almost everyone will attend some type of college or university after graduation, with the only acceptible alternative being enlisting in the military. While this seems an admirable goal, shrouded in lofty speeches about providing a "college education for anyone who wants one," the reality is that many people who do not want to and do not need to go to college are being thrown down that path without any other options. The end result of this policy is that everyone, regardless of academic ability and drive, is thrown into a college prep cirriculum in high school. This causes the college prep cirriculum to become dumbed and watered down. For example, at my high school, there are basically two paths you can take: the "smart people" route, or the "stupid people" route. The "smart people" route involves taking a lot of AP/honors classes. This is the way the people who actually belong in college go. The "stupid people" route involves taking the regular equivalent for many of the AP/honors classes, with a severe de-emphasis on math and science (for example, global science instead of physics, or statistics instead of trigonometry or calculus). This results in students taking classes that will not help them in college or in life, wasting everyone's time and money. In addition, all students are forced to take classes that have no real relevance to what they want to do with their life. In my case, I was required to take at least two years of a foreign language. I am going to major in engineering; there really is no practical reason for me to learn Spanish, French, or German, yet I was forced to learn German in order to gain admission to a university. At most high schools, I would have been forced to take a foreign language just to graduate high school. Foreign language instruction is a joke; the classes are all regarded by the students as "easy A's." But if this is the case, why am I forced to take the class in the first place? Just one more class wasting my time and money.

So, how do we fix the problem? By changing the way we approach college in this country. This is one area I think Europe (Germany at least) is ahead of the U.S. education system in. In Germany, there are two separate high schools and high school cirriculums. One for college bound students, and one geared towards learning a trade and preparation for life. Of course, in true socialistic tradition, you aren't allowed to decide which high school you enter; it is all based off of one placement test. I'm not advocating going this far; I still think anyone who truly WANTS to go to college should have the opportunity. I'm simply saying that we, as a society, should change how we view college. Instead of viewing it as a requirement to being a success, we should understand that not everyone is cut out for college, and not everyone should be forced into attending. Like Judge Smails says, "the world needs ditchdiggers too." Those "ditchdiggers" shouldn't be forced to waste their time with a college prep cirriculum that has no relevance to their life, and then be forced to waste 4 years (and a lot of money) drifting through college, graduating with some useless information, a bunch of really good stories, and a greater appreciation for alcohol. At the same time, we should improve the college prep cirriculum for those that actually want to attend college by allowing them to tailor it to their specific interests and needs. If someone is absolutely in love with english, don't force them to take calculus in order to gain admission to a college. Instead let them take another english class, or at the very least, do some independent study in regards to english. The same applies to someone (like myself) interested in engineering. Don't make me take four years of generic honors and AP English classes, along with two years of a foreign language, just so I can get in to a college.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Air Force Academy under Investigation...again

First it was sex-scandals, now its charges of anti-semitism. I'll have more on it later (got to get that schoolwork done first!) but thought I would point you in the direction of this story. Evidently, the Air Force Academy is controlled by everyone's favorite bogeyman, evangelical Christians. However, in this case, it seems that at least some of the criticism is warranted. Multiple Jewish cadets have made charges that they were blamed for the death of Christ. This obviously needs to be investigated; if such slurs were made, the offending cadets should be kicked out, for no other reason than being ignorant and stupid. However, it is important to remember that such charges have been leveled in the past, and found to be baseless. (Mel Gibson comes to mind.)

In any case, definitely a story to follow.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hornets down

Blogging is going to be light over the next few weeks, as I've got finals coming up, after which I am DONE with High School. Anyway, much was made of Ralph Peters' comment in a recent article dissing the F/A-22 Raptor. The comment went that no one in the Air Force had been lost in Iraq. As most everyone knows, there was an F-15E shot down over Iraq, with the loss of both Capt. Eric Das, the pilot, and Lt. Col. Bill Watkins, the WSO.

Now it appears that we may have a similar situation. Two Hornets are down over Iraq, apparently as a result of a mid-air collision. I hate to speculate at this early of a stage, but the fact that the crews haven't been recovered yet is not a good sign.

Keep the pilots, the RIO, and their families in your prayers.