Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Two things

Posting will be light the next couple of days because it's crunch time for a research project. It involves a solar powered airplane, and Murphy's Law is alive and well on this one. Plane got put on backorder, solar cells were late, engine/battery wiring is kludged to hell...so yeah, this weekend isn't going to be very much fun.

Anyway, the first thing is a video you must watch. The title is "MySpace: the movie." It makes fun of everything that is wrong with the way today's average teenager uses the internet.


Cassie Johnson, skip for the U.S. women's curling team and new hottie among the guys of AFROTC Det. 250. A bit of background: a few Mondays ago I was up late finishing some homework when I realized that the Olympics were on. I turned on the TV, and to my surprise curling was on. This led to a two week addiction to the sport, which proceeded to take over both my dorm floor, and the Det. 250 wingroom. I had it on in the wingroom one day the first week of the Olympics, and by the time the gold medal game rolled around every day at 1600 the wingroom TV was tuned to CNBC to get our curling fix. While the men's team occupied a fair amount of our attention (because they're good; they won bronze) the women's team took the lion's share, basically because they're young; most of them are around our age. Anyway, one thing led to another and Cassie Johnson, the skip (aka- captain) of the team became the object of our fixation. And by fixation, I mean that myself and a couple of cadets are definitely going to form an intermural team next year, and are quite possibly going to take a little jaunt up to Bemidji, MN where the team is from. You really should look into curling; it is a blast.

Finally, even if you don't like curling, you should check out this calendar. While Cassie isn't featured, there are several other attractive female curlers from across the world who decided to pose to raise money for their respective programs. If you like curling, this is a must buy.

Hell, if you like attractive females, this is a must buy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I was reading an article this afternoon about how the military tribunals are going to start up at the camp at Guantanamo Bay. But that's not what I want to address. The photo that appeared next to this article was a typical "Gitmo" photo that shows detainees in orange jumpsuits made to kneel in what looks like an uncomfortable position outside in harsh conditions. It's all according to the media's image of a harsh camp where wrongfully accused Joe Schmoes (or Arab Achmeds) are held in nasty conditions, outside, with lots of barbed wire and probably a few Abu Ghraib guards thrown in. Unfortunately for them, the reality is considerably different. The reality, as shown by these two pictures, is of a camp with conditions similar to a standard jail in the United States.

I doubt many of you have seen such pictures. It shouldn't be surprising, though. The slideshow I saw the picture in only had one picture that did not portray the image of "big eeeeevil U.S. military holding innocent Arab men prisoner." That picture was a stark one of a hospital bay. You're probably thinking that I had to dig up these pictures on some website of the VRWC. Actually, they were available from an official DoD website. Took me about 5 seconds using a google image search.

So, why does the media keep using old file photos from Camp X-Ray when the reality of the situation is considerably different? I guess that, yet again, they've forgotten that their original mission was and is supposed to be to report the news, without shaping it.

Let me just say that this post shouldn't be taken to be giving unqualified support to the idea of the camps at Gitmo. I have problems with the base and the indefinite holding of so many prisoners. That's a post for another day. Neither am I completely opposed to what is going on down there, and either way, I'm committed to the truth. The "truth" that the media is peddling by portraying 4 year old photos as the present day isn't truth at all, and that's what I have a big problem with.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blogroll additions

First, make sure to check out my post below...I want to make P-day a big success.

Second, I just got done adding some links to my blogroll. Desert Odyssey is the blog of a USAF Major who just got back from a deployment to the Middle East and has a lot to say about both that particular area and the Air Force in general. Canada to Kandahar is a blog written by a Canadian soldier who just deployed into Afghanistan. Then there's in Defense, which is written by a guy going through Army basic training. Guidons, Guidons, Guidons is written by an Army helo pilot, so you know he's wacky. Also, he's just added a new feature..."Girl Friday." This week's feature was the 2004 Playmate of the year. Yummy. The Agitator is a blog with a decidedly libertarian bent written by Radley Balko. He's the one who broke the Corey Maye story. Finally, the less serious blogs. First, two of my college friends, Danny and Kush both have their own blogs. Danny lives in my dorm and writes about his various encounters/adventures at parties and such...if you've ever been to TuckerMax.com, that's kind of what Danny is shooting for. Kush is a fellow cadet who is a few years older than me; he writes about personal stuff with some political commentary interjected in.

Last, there's Blogs4Bauer, which got its own paragraph because Jack Bauer is, in fact, the most kick-ass tv persona to ever grace the screen (with the possible exception of Chuck Norris). I think we can all agree that if we had just one Jack Bauer in real life, the War on Terror would be over. Not because we would defeat the enemy, but because they would surrender in droves simply because we had Jack Bauer. The man can go 24 hours without using the toilet, can make it across the entire city of L.A. in under 3 minutes, has a hot daughter, and knows how to open a "socket" to access a "terminal" and view some "schematics."

Friday, February 17, 2006


I'm sure most of you have heard of the one-woman play by Eve Ensler entitled, "The Vagina Monologues." As across the rest of the country, the "Monologues" were performed here in Ames last night and are going to be performed again tonight. The Daily (our university newspaper), covered the performance here. I'd heard of this show before, but had never really grasped the reality of it. There are several choice quotes from the article, so let the feasting begin.

First up, "When you hear the word vagina, you think of something dirty," Halfacre said. This seems to me to be a common misperception among feminazis (haha, take that fools!! I'm going Limbaugh on your ass!) Anyway, the common misperception that in our "male-dominated society" anything to do with women and "women's empowerment" (which apparently, is what the repeated use of the word vagina is) is automatically shut down as dirty and vile. Speaking only for myself, I do not view anything about the word vagina as being dirty. It's simply part of the body, just as deserving of praise or scorn as say, an eye, or a penis (more on that later).

However, what I do view as dirty and vile is the glorification of underage rape. Which brings me to my next quote, "We have a conservative campus and we don't have these types of forums where we can talk about these issues," she said (in the interests of full disclosure, it is a different female than Ms. Halfacre that uttered the previous quote; the speaker's name is Ms. Smith). So by "issues," I extrapolate that Ms. Smith is referring to Ms. Ensler's inclusion in an earlier script of an extremely positive description of the rape of a 13 year old child by a 24 year old woman. Hey, it's lesbian, so it must be good right? Has nothing to do with those evil men!! Actually, I feel rather sorry for Ms. Smith (the speaker in the above quote), because she later mentions that she can identify with many of the issues that this play deals with, since her mother was raped as a child. This leaves me with two possible conclusions: either Ms. Smith believes that the use of such phrases as "...it if was rape, it was a good rape" has a positive impact on the victims of such an act, or, far more likely, Ms. Smith has no knowledge of Ms. Ensler's inclusion of this graphic description in earlier scripts and is in fact supporting a play that previously included material making light and looking favorably upon the same traumatic event that her mother went through as a child. Ah, to be young and brainless...to paraphrase and contradict Dean Wormer, apparently "liberal, clueless and stupid" is a way to go through life. Ms. Smith is living proof.

To bring me to my final point, there's this quote from one Kat Lundberg (who coincidentally enough, lives on the floor below me.) "I ask people 'have they gotten their vaginas yet,'" she said.

Huh??? Maybe one of my female readers could take the time to explain this to me in comments. Hell, if I get bored tomorrow, I might go downstairs and ask Kat myself, because that quote really did not make any sense to me. I mean, I don't go around asking fellow men if they've "found their penises yet." Half of them would probably call me gay and run away, the other half would just look at me really funny and back away slowly. I just really do not understand this, the apparent identification of oneself with one's bits and pieces. I mean, honestly, can you imagine ANYONE, straight, gay, young, old, white, black, asking a man if he's "found his penis" yet? It's completely absurd, which is why, in the interest of destroying an idea by mockery, I am now declaring President's Day as "P-day." For those of you who are unaware, President's Day is the third Monday in February when we nominally celebrate the birthday of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, along with all the other white males who have served as President.

Well, I think that if females get their V-day, it is only fair that males get our P-day. V-day stands for "victory, valentines, and vagina," and P-day will stand for "Power, presidents, and penis." While I think the categories of P-day speak for themselves, I'll briefly lay them out. Penis, since that it what identifies us as men and is the root of all of our power. Power, because as everyone knows, men hold all the power in the world. Nothing can get done unless a male, preferebly white, approves of it. And finally, presidents, because first, it was their day originally, and second, as I mentioned previously, P-day has to do with power, which comes from (white) males, and all of our presidents were white males.

Now, how to celebrate P-day...I suppose I could write a play. Hmm, okay, I'm going to call up NAMBLA and ask them to help me put together a story about a 24 year old man bending over and raping a 13 year old boy, who of course, will "like it". What, not okay??? I smell a double-standard...

Anyway, don't forget, Monday is P-day. Make sure to ask every male that you see if he has "found his penis yet."

"Power, Presidents, and Penis"!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Brain Pattern

Your Brain's Pattern

Your mind is an incubator for good ideas, it just takes a while for them to develop.
But when you think of something, watch out!
Your thoughts tend to be huge, and they come on quickly - like an explosion.
You tend to be quiet around others, unless you're inspired by your next big idea.

h/t to Robert and TF.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Brad Kasal

While watching the local news in the hellish 30 minutes in which there is absolutely no coverage of the Olympics on ANY station, I noticed an interesting story. The lead in was discussing a local Marine hero being honored at the Statehouse. Then they showed the famous "pistol Marine" picture of Brad Kasal being helped out of a house in Fallujah, severely wounded but still gripping his pistol ready for the fight. Turns out that Sgt. Kasal was given a standing ovation by all present and honored with a house resolution. Unknown to me, Sgt. Kasal is actually from a small town in Iowa. I missed that fact in all the internet material about Sgt. Kasal. Anyway, just thought I'd point out a way the local government in this country is taking time to honor a hero.

Need more info about Sgt. Kasal? Look here.

Thanks to Mudville's open post!

Friday, February 10, 2006

The NYTimes and their "reality"

It's nice to know that the "reality-based community" is alive and kicking over at the Times. If you needed any further proof to be glad that we have military professionals to make decisions instead of the editorial board of the Times, I offer this editorial as exhibit A. It's basically a screed against those damn greedy "military contractors" and the two services that we all know are doing absolutely nothing in the war on terror, the USAF and the Navy. The NYTimes would apparently rather us spend a very large chunk of our military budget on the Army, and not to buy equipment, but to increase the troop levels. Fine, they can have that viewpoint. But they really shouldn't use lies and revisionist history to support their ideas.

For example, the editorial makes reference to the fact that:

"The prospects for Iraq might be very different today if Mr. Rumsfeld had listened to some of his own senior generals and occupation officials and authorized significantly larger ground forces from the beginning."

That's true, to a point, but I was under the impression that the prospects for Iraq weren't too bad. I mean, all things considered, to have gone from a third-world dictatorship run by one of the worst thugs on the planet to a somewhat democratic open society with a Constitution in only 3 years is rather impressive, all things considered. But anyway, that isn't really a lie, just some creative extrapolating of the future. Regardless, I'll give the Times the fact that yes, more troops probably would have been nice. An easy button that lets us take out the terrorists magically with no collateral damage and some sort of Neo-like device to stop bullets in their tracks would be nice too. Anyway, on to the real lies...

"The early looting might have been contained before it shattered political confidence and vital infrastructure. The insurgency might never have gotten a head start. The incineration tactics of Falluja and the Abu Ghraib nightmare might have been avoided. And the Army's downward spiral of readiness, recruitment and morale might never have begun."

Looting wasn't a troops issue, it was a political/military decision making issue. If the decision had been made, the troops in-country would have been able to handle the situation. Granted, more civil-affairs troops would have helped, but raising the numbers in one particular MOS takes time, and as the Times references, the "generals and senior occupation officials" only raised the issue of more troops "at the beginning," not 5 years before the beginning. Bottom line is that I agree the decision to deal with looters was a mistake, but to pin the blame for that decision on troop levels is revisionist history (i.e.- SOP for the Times).

A similar case as above could be made for the insurgency. Civil-affairs troops would have helped, yes, but again, that was a decision that needed to be made years in advance, not something that could have been fixed at the "start." And now we get to the REALLY good stuff...the "incineration tactics of Falluja and the Abu Ghraib mess."

Oh, where to begin, where to begin...it appears the Times didn't get the memo about Willie Pete. It isn't a chemical weapon, and if we didn't use WP, we'd have to level houses instead of burning people out of them without damaging the house. In any case, it isn't "incineration," and the only possible way this relates to troop levels is that the Times wants use to use neither WP or HE and instead clear out every single house using infantry without any sort of artillery, tank, or air support. In that case, we would in fact need more troops, because we'd have taken many more casualties. But hey, why use a "chemical weapon" that might, in fact, kill our enemies when we can spend more money to get more troops so more troops can die. As for Abu Ghraib...I really, for the life of me, cannot figure out how troop levels are related to the actions of a few depraved individuals. I guess the only possible explanation is that we didn't have enough prison guards and that the soldiers who were guarding Abu Ghraib weren't properly trained....but wait, I thought that the orders for the torture came direct from the Neo-con cabal, in which case troop levels, in fact, would not matter. I dunno; like I said before, their arguments make little sense to me.

Finally, the Army is apparently in a "downward spiral of readiness, recruitment, and morale." Readiness, maybe. But that's what happens in wartime. Troops are going to be deployed, and they aren't going to have as much time to train. Recruitment is debatable. And morale...well, I guess the fact that soldiers are re-enlisting at record rates is a sign of low morale.

So, moving on, we get to the part of the article where the Times starts slamming on my lovely service (along with the squids):

"Instead of reallocating resources toward the real threats America faces, the military services continue to pour their money into fighting fictive superpowers in the wild blue yonder and on and below the seven seas."

For once, to a point, I agree with the editorial. It is rather pointless to keep acting like we're fighting the Cold War when we obviously are not, and in fact are fighting a completely different war. Also, I have an extreme problem with the culture of the Pentagon and the belief that all weapons systems should be funded. So the rest of this article should not be construed to mean that I completely support any and all defense expenditures, especially expensive high-tech ones. And I've blogged about this before(way before the NYTimes decided to write about it, by the way).

All that said, let's look at what the Times has to say:

"It (the Pentagon) also decided to splurge on a new nuclear attack submarine for $2.6 billion and to shell out $5.5 billion for separate Navy and Air Force versions of new stealth fighter jets, plus another $5.5 billion for yet a third version that either can use. In all, the Pentagon is asking for $84 billion to buy weapons systems (twice what it got in 1996) and $73 billion more for research and development."

Let's take them one at a time: first, the new nuke boat. It's the Virginia-class, and the simple fact of the matter (on both this, and the F-35 JSF which I'll get to in a moment) is that the military currently is using old equipment. There's no too ways about it. The Navy is currently using ships that were largely designed in the '60s and '70s and built in the '70s and '80s. They've been modernized, yes, but they are still ships pushing 20 years old. The Los Angeles class attack subs that the Virginia will be replacing are no exception. In fact, the Virginia-class will have extensive special operations capabilities, much better than the LA-class, which may seem inconsequential, but is just one more improvement over the current class.

Next up is the F-35 JSF. The main criticism here seems to be that the USAF and USN are buying separate versions of the airplane and then paying more to buy one that they both can use. While on the face of it this seems absurd, the two separate version are both CTOL (Conventional Takeoff or Landing), while the one that "both" can use is a V/STOL (Vertical/Short Takeoff or Landing) model. CTOL means the aircraft takes off and lands normally, with a take off and landing roll. V/STOL means that the aircraft can take off and land vertically, or with a significantly reduced take off roll. The Harrier is the best known example of a V/STOL fighter. The reason both models must be bought is that the V/STOL version, while still having supersonic capability, has slightly lower performance levels than the CTOL version. However, the V/STOL variant gives that extra capability and will also offer large performance gains over the current V/STOL fighter, the Harrier II. Also, if you were wondering, the reason the USAF and USN need separate CTOL models is that the USN model needs specialized equipment and a beefed up landing gear and arrester hook, meaning its performance is slightly less than the USAF model.

In any case, what the Times op-ed misses is that all 3 models are variants of the same aircraft. 20 years ago, the services would have bought completely different aircraft, costing even more money. Doesn't really surprise me that they leave out this fact, along with the facts regarding the three variants, since it is an op-ed, but a little intellectually honesty would be nice...even from the Times.

As referenced above, the military is using old equipment, which makes this paragraph particularly intellectually reprehensible:

"In all, the Pentagon is asking for $84 billion to buy weapons systems (twice what it got in 1996)"

First, we have an oblique reference to the Clinton years, when everything was hunky-dory and those nasty Islamic extremists simply didn't exist. Next, we're in the middle of a weapons replacement cycle. The Virginia class, the Raptor, and the JSF are all coming online. No major weapons systems were coming online in '96. I see no logical reason why the procurement budget might be a little higher this year than in 1996. Do you?

Finally, we have the wrap up:

"This budget would be wasteful even under a worst-case assumption that had a second superpower arising within the lifespan of these weapons, turning hostile to America and arming itself to the teeth with the most advanced weapons. There's still unnecessary spending that could be used to repair the Army, which has been ground down at least as much by Pentagon miserliness as by Iraqi insurgents."

I couldn't agree more with this paragraph. This is true of ANY military budget. However, the Times doesn't connect their two arguments. The first seems to be that any military expenditure to procure new weapons for the USN or USAF is bad. The second argument is that regardless of how you feel about the weapons programs they listed, we can all agree that there is unnecessary military spending. The second argument is fine; I agree with it. But if the Times agrees with it, why not take the time in this editorial to point out the weapons systems and procurement options that it would have a problem with regardless of who our enemy is? Why highlight the extremely necessary programs that are replacing old equipment?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Thanks to Mudville's open post.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Free Speech

You may be asking, why did I assemble 7 images that, in one way or another, are offensive to different groups of American society. The answer, of course, is that I can. I have the freedom to hold any ideas that I want, say anything about those ideas that I want, and draw any sort of images to support those ideas. Do I agree with the sentiments expressed by these drawings? No, of course not. Each drawing is, in some way, offensive and I dont particularly enjoy offending people, especially when it comes to the beliefs they hold most dear. But all that said, I still am willing to die for the right of anyone in this country to be able to create these "works of art." (Use of scare quotes intentional.)

Along with free speech comes freedom of choice, which is why, starting today, the two cartoons of Muhammed (GFAP)* will be added to my sidebar, along with a banner supporting Denmark. Why? Because Christians did not riot when Piss Christ came out, Jews did not burn Saudi flags when a Saudi state-run newspaper printed the image of a swastika imposed over a Star of David, and the military did not stage a coup when a cartoonist made light of wounded soldiers. No, only Middle-Eastern Muslims chose to stage a temper-tantrum, showing yet again their society's social retardation, and obliquely proving the point of the cartoonists.

Regardless, the most basic reason why I'm adding those cartoons is because I can. Which is what this is all about, of course.

*You may be wondering what exactly GFAP is about...as I was reading QandO's take on this cartoon situation and free speech, they made reference to the fact that whenever the BBC mentioned Muhammed, they feel it necessary to add (PBUH) like it is appearing in an Islamic holy text or something. For those of you that don't know, PBUH stands for "Peace be upon Him." I decided to add my own postscript...if you must know, it stands for "Go f**k a pig."