Monday, March 31, 2008

Bad Idea

Bad bad idea:
BAGHDAD - When American soldiers get off duty in Iraq, the men usually return to their quarters, the women to theirs. But Staff Sgt. Marvin Frazier gets to go back to a small trailer with two pushed-together single beds that he shares with his wife.

In a historic but little-noticed change in policy, the Army is allowing scores of husband-and-wife soldiers to live and sleep together in the war zone — a move aimed at preserving marriages, boosting morale and perhaps bolstering re-enlistment rates at a time when the military is struggling to fill its ranks five years into the fighting.
There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to start.
"It makes a lot of things easier," said Frazier, 33, a helicopter maintenance supervisor in the 3rd Infantry Division. "It really adds a lot of stress, being separated. Now you can sit face-to-face and try to work out things and comfort each other."


Still newlyweds, Sgt. Amanda Christopher, 25, and her husband, Sgt. Matthew Christopher, 22, said the change in rules has been a blessing for their nearly year-old marriage, four months of which has been spent in Iraq.

Both work at the military hospital in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where Amanda is a licensed practical nurse and Matthew is in patient administration, which can include mortuary duties.

"Some of the stuff I've seen, if she weren't here, I'd be a lot less cool about it," Matthew said as the pair sat inside their potpourri-scented living quarters — a mere 120 square feet, with a TV set atop two black lockboxes, an impressive collection of stuffed animals and a Chicago Bears plaque. "There was one night in particular, I saw something and I just thought, 'Oh, God.' I came in here, talked to her for a few minutes, went outside, took a deep breath and I was good to go."

Are we at war? If you seriously can't do your job without seeing your spouse daily, might I suggest a career other than the military?

Of course, it's not like these married couples are going to be sitting watching the paint dry:
The only downside of married soldiers sharing sleeping quarters, she said, would be an increased risk of pregnancies.
*Only* downside? No, that would be ONE downside.

Because of the prohibition on public displays of affection, the Christophers declined even to put their arms around each other for a photo.

"It's not like in the civilian world where if you see your boyfriend at work you can just go, 'Oh, hi, Babe,'" Amanda said. "We're in uniform, and we have to maintain a professional demeanor at work."

Fear not, they're professional. It's not about being professional. It's about being in the profession of arms, it's about unit cohesion, it's about caring for someone more than you should, to the point of it affecting the mission:

Living together, however, doesn't stop the Hegenbarts from worrying about each other's safety. Sometimes, it can make it harder.

"Because we're so close out here, we know to the hour when our loved one's supposed to be home from a mission," Jessica said. "So if they're late, our brains starts going to that place where you start to wonder what went wrong. That happens more often than I'd like to admit."

Like I said: bad BAD idea.

South Park Monday

What do these six things have to do with each other?

They were all featured on the newest episode of South Park, of course! I was quite impressed with the episode, as it was good old fashioned South Park in that it managed to reference in a major way the Holocaust, Eliot Spitzer, a retarded Fox News report, and the war on (some) drugs all while paying tribute to an obscure '80s cult classic.

Here's your video clip:

Worth noting that if you haven't heard by now, every single episode of South Park is now available for viewing for free at their website. Let me repeat that: Every. Single. Episode. For free.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Getting Old

How to tell you might be getting old: when your Friday night consists of perusing your collection of International Security issues in order to write a policy paper while (and here's the kicker) drinking Scotch. Black Label, of course. On the rocks, two cubes, no more, no less. Drinking Scotch mixed is a crime before God and all things that are holy, and using more than two cubes is almost as serious of an offense.

UPDATE: Thanks to Sass for pointing out that I bitch like a 40 year old during PT sessions. I think part of it is due to my leg joints still recovering from my lack of proper footwear during the first half of the semester and part of it is due to me just being ridiculously out of shape, but I have been hurting big time both during the past couple of PT sessions and for about a day and a half afterwards.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Useful Idiots

WASHINGTON - Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

An indictment unsealed in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michigan nonprofit group, of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam's regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.


The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. There was no indication the three lawmakers knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

"Obviously we didn't know it at the time," McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. "The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That's the only reason we went."

That's not an excuse. This is why *any* engagement with a totalitarian regime that is not of a strictly apolitical nature (such as the recent New York Philharmonic trip to North Korea) or is adversarial in nature is a bad idea, because you will be used as a propaganda tool. Claiming ignorance is no excuse.

Anyone see any parallels to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?

Oops, wrong link. Freudian slip I guess.

What's wrong with this picture?

Besides the ridiculousness of the haji-esque garb paired with some sort of tactical vest and a baseball cap, we have an AK, which, although rumors of its inaccuracy are probably overstated, is definitely no Dragunov, with a telescopic scope mounted on it. On top of that, the scope is mounted in such a way that as soon as Mr. Mahid Army fires the weapon the scope is going to impact with his eye socket, leaving him at the least with a nasty black eye.

Looks the Mahdi Army ranks right up there with the Monrovian Peoples Liberation Suicide Front in regard to their choice of weapon and weapon handling skills.

Form 53

Just got done filling out my Form 53. For those of you who don't know, the Form 53 is the form that AFROTC cadets use to list their preferred AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, same thing as an MOS; basically, your job in the military) and, after they get their AFSC, their preferred base assignment. Of course, all of this is quite subject to the "needs of the Air Force," so you may or may not get what you put on your sheet. This of course is also subject to your performance grades wise and other wise, which are reflected in your GPA, your commander's ranking, and your commander's endorsement (or lack thereof) of your first AFSC choice. Here's what I put down for AFSCs:

14NX – Intelligence

31PX – Security Forces

21RX – Logistics Readiness

35PX – Public Affairs

13MX – Air Traffic Control

21MX – Missile Maintenance

In my case, between a low GPA, a low commander's ranking (due to several reasons, not the least of which is the low GPA), and an almost certain lack of a commander's endorsement on my first AFSC choice due to low grades, my chances of getting anything on my sheet are slim to none. Intel is a relatively large number of accessions this year, but it also is the first or second choice of a lot of people. Security Forces does not have a large number of accessions, and Logistics Readiness is medium sized at best. The other three are extremely small and were put down because I wouldn't hate getting assigned to them and to maximize my chances of getting one of the top three.

The thing that, while not pissing me off, is somewhat galling is the fact that I'm being punished pretty heavily for changing majors so late. First, since the GPA for the Form 53 was cut off after last semester's grades, the GPA being used for classification actually will have more semesters as an engineering student than what I'm actually getting my degree in, political science. While there's nothing that anyone can do about that, it does just seem fundamentally wrong. Going along with that, my GPA overall is a 2.9. My GPA as a political science major is a 3.3. However, none of that will be taken into account. Like I said, I'm not pissed off because it's a result of choices I made and, while it may not be fair, life isn't fair.

What does piss me off is the AFROTC recalculation of GPAs. ISU has particular standards that they use to calculate what does and does not go on your GPA. Things like transfer credits and retakes are what this covers. For example, if you're like me and you retook a class, the old grade is wiped off your GPA and the new grade is put in place. However, AFROTC has its own standards, so to use the retake example, both grades are factored equally into the GPA. In my case, what this means is that a 2.9 GPA, that, while not stellar, is at least respectably close to the 3.0 informal cutoff used to determine "bad" GPAs from "good" ones, is instead for the purposes of AFROTC a 2.78, which is somewhere between "marginal" and "bad." (But at least not below minimums.)

On top of all that, my three semesters as an engineer gave me enough technical credits to be qualified for a Comm job, which I really do not want. Typically Comm is where people are sent who are qualified but who miss out (for whatever reason) on the jobs they wanted on the Form 53. Not to slam Comm officers, but I really don't want it and my chances of getting sent there are pretty high.

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, because there are a lot of people I know who aren't going to get to commission period, so I'm lucky to have made it this far. Still, it's always a little depressing to get the smack down that occurs when what you want and what is realistic start to rapidly diverge.

However, nothing is set in stone and even if something bad happens, it's not like I don't have a history of taking bad news from the Air Force, so that won't be anything new.

However, if I get personnel or *shudders*, services, otherwise known as the "here's your towel/would you like fries with that/how was your stay" AFSC...

Better Army Strong (and stupid) than a true (ch)Air Force job!

Mid-Week Rock

Some Heart for this week:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oops Part II, Electric Boogaloo

The USAF is having some trouble with that whole accountability thing:
Instead of sending helicopter batteries, the United States shipped four electrical fuses for Minuteman nuclear missile warheads to Taiwan, a mistake that was discovered only last week — a year and a half after the erroneous shipment, Pentagon officials disclosed on Tuesday.
There's more here, but really, that's all you need to know. The whole Minot thing was bad enough, but at least that was plausible. This just makes us look like the Keystone Kops. Not that it doesn't happen fairly often, but it's still ridiculous. I'm not sure I even want to know how this happened.

h/t: Lex


You're questioning the credibility of the ASCE? Really? Really??
NEW ORLEANS - The professional organization for engineers who build the nation's roads, dams and bridges has been accused by fellow engineers of covering up catastrophic design flaws while investigating national disasters.


After the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the levee failures caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the federal government paid the American Society of Civil Engineers to investigate what went wrong.

Critics now accuse the group of covering up engineering mistakes, downplaying the need to alter building standards, and using the investigations to protect engineers and government agencies from lawsuits.

Similar accusations arose after both disasters, but the most recent allegations have pressured the organization to convene an independent panel to investigate.


In the World Trade Center case, critics contend the engineering society wrongly concluded skyscrapers cannot withstand getting hit by airplanes. In the hurricane investigation, it was accused of suggesting that the power of the storm was as big a problem as the poorly designed levees.
The Katrina allegations are bad enough (it's just the Army Corps of friggin' Engineers that you're disputing here) but the WTC ones take the cake:

In 2002, the society's report on the World Trade Center praised the buildings for remaining standing long enough to allow tens thousands of people to flee.

But, the report said, skyscrapers are not typically designed to withstand airplane impacts. Instead of hardening buildings against such impacts, it recommended improving aviation security and fire protection.

Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a structural engineer and forensics expert, contends his computer simulations disprove the society's findings that skyscrapers could not be designed to withstand the impact of a jetliner.

Astaneh-Asl, who received money from the National Science Foundation to investigate the collapse, insisted most New York skyscrapers built with traditional designs would survive such an impact and prevent the kind of fires that brought down the twin towers.

He also questioned the makeup of the society's investigation team. On the team were the wife of the trade center's structural engineer and a representative of the buildings' original design team.

Yes, why would we want to have those people on the team?
Gene Corley, a forensics expert and team leader on the society's report, said employing people with ties to the original builders was necessary because they had access to information that was difficult to get any other way.

Corley said the society's study was peer-reviewed and its credibility was upheld by follow-up studies, including one by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Ah, right.

So, in one corner, we have the ASCE and NIST. In the other, we have a single engineer who got a grant from the National SCIENCE Foundation. As any scientist or engineer will tell you, science is not engineering and engineering is not science. People often conflate the two, but they are definitely not anywhere close to the same thing. Political Science and Literature both involve a lot of writing, but I don't think anyone would make the mistake of confusing the two.

Look, I understand that the design of the Towers had a large part to do with the collapse and that a differently designed building might have handled the strike better. I also understand that you can build almost anything to resist almost anything else. That's missing the point. Building skyscrapers capable of withstanding a hit from a 350,000 lbs. object (give or take) traveling between 390-470 knots with fireproofing capable of withstanding a hit from the same object isn't something designers should have to do.

We've been using this word a fair amount on the blog recently, and I think it fits in this situation.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't you feel like a jackass

Ever wonder what would actually happen if someone tried to cross the chains and rails and/or screw with the sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

Wonder no more:

And just because it's pretty damn sweet and this gives me an excuse to post it, video of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb:

South Park Monday Sunday

If you didn't catch it, be sure to scroll down for the early Easter edition of South Park Monday.

Citizen Soldiers

A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.

These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.

Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.

In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.

And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?

Good question. One I don't have an answer to.

There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.

"Green card soldiers," they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.

Since Bush's order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.

They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.

Among them:

• Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.

• Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.

• Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.

• Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec. 1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.

• Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O'Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.

"He left us in the most honorable way a man could," Shauna O'Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. "I'm proud to say my husband is a Marine. I'm proud to say my husband fought for our country. I'm proud to say he is a hero, my hero."

Tarnishing the service of these men, we have idiot #1:

Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.

"Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder," said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild. "It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it."

I'm completely at a loss for why anyone would be prepared to die for the country that has given them so much. Lord knows that I'm doing it for the free school and beer money.

And on the other hand, idiot #2:
Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won't do.
So there's a danger that, in addition to gardening, landscaping, meatpacking, and a host of other nasty jobs that Americans refuse to do have had "stolen from them," we can add soldiering to that list? G.I. Joe, they took yer job!! On a more serious note, what does Mr. Krikorian think our best source of linguists and regional specialists is?

I have a simple solution to the problem. Anyone who serves gets to go to the head of the immigration line. Anyone who deploys to a combat zone is a citizen as soon as their boots hit foreign soil. Period. No questions asked. If they're willing to risk life and limb in a foreign country, they're good enough to be my fellow citizen.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

The True History of Easter:

Look MORE closlier...

"Okay, I'm pretty sure killing Jesus isn't very Christian."

Eric Cartman can never know about this!

He is risen!

(If you want a bit more, um, serious look at Easter, be sure to check out SJS.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

USAF Comics

If you're in any way associated with the USAF and you aren't reading AF Blues and Crewdogs, what are you waiting for? Hilarity will ensue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Drunk College Students + Dynamite = Awesomeness

Three spring breakers were arrested after an explosion rocked two hotel guests from their bed and shattered the windows of their Daytona Beach Shores hotel room around 2:30am Friday.


When officers first arrived, they found three safety windows had been shattered, along with a metal light pole that had been destroyed. They also noticed metal and glass debris scattered across a 100-foot area."The wife, she grabbed the kids and took ‘em to the bathroom and I hit the deck and looked out the window to see where it was coming from," said vacationer Terry Morris.The Morris family, from Kansas, thought maybe someone was shooting at them as glass shattered inside their hotel room.
h/t: Instapundit, who says that "When your spring break partying involves dynamite, you're partying too hard."

I respectfully disagree. I think they weren't partying hard enough. Now, when your spring break partying involves C4 and maybe a Javelin or SMAW or two, then get back to me.

Ghost Ride, Iraq Edition

I've discussed Ghost Riding before, but now they're doing it with an MRAP:

h/t: Knoxville Talks via Instapundit

Weapon Handling Tips from the Monrovian Peoples Liberation Suicide Front - Liberia

If you haven't seen this yet, you need to. (PPT warning)

I think my favorites are either the classic "Glock Foh-Tay" with the Hawaiian shirt or the Uzi + feather duster.

h/t: Chairforce

Reason #472 why the USAF is better than the Navy

USN Liberty girlfriend:

USAF fraternization risk:
But hey, at least neither of us is this guy (who is probably a Soldier, or maybe a Marine):
Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, over?

h/t: Radley Balko for the last pic.

Two Weeks

h/t: Doug

See that big red button?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bad Ass Technology

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kosovo and Serbia

A discussion in the comments of this post over at The Ghost of Patrick Henry involved me referencing a paper I wrote last month about Kosovo's independence from Serbia. I've decided to put it up, but I warn you, it's not my best work (although I did get a good grade on it). Also, it's more about realism vs. liberalism so don't expect too much on Kosovo itself.

The declaration of independence by Kosovo has again brought the Balkans into the headlines. However, one cannot look at the current situation as a snapshot in time. Instead, one must look at U.S. policy in the region at least as far back as the 1990s in order to get a true understanding of the politics of the region. The support of the independence of Kosovo by the United States is due to the fact that the U.S. has painted itself into a corner through its unflinchingly liberal foreign policy in the region in the 1990s and as such is now forced to continue to support the independence regardless of whether or not it wishes to conduct a liberal or realist oriented policy in the region.

The United States policy in the Balkans since the 1990s has largely been of a liberal nature. Starting in the beginning of the decade, we have consistently intervened in the interest of ending the immediate conflict, which usually requires us to intervene on the side of whoever was being repressed. From a liberal perspective, this intervention is good as it has ended immediate suffering, including some of an extreme nature such as genocide. Also falling on the positive side of the balance sheet for a liberal is the fact that U.S. intervention has resulted in self determination for a people seen as repressed, which a liberal would almost always hold to be a good thing. The longer term repercussions of this intervention are of little importance to the liberal because they will certainly be less in magnitude than the genocide and repression that the U.S. ended through its intervention. Looking at the issue in terms of the larger international community, a liberal would like the fact that the international community cooperated together to put an end to something it, as a community, found abhorrent. While a liberal is not concerned as much with interests, they are concerned with gains. However, unlike a realist who only values relative gains, the liberal views things through the concept of absolute gains. To the liberal, the international community as a whole underwent an absolute gain as a result of the ending of genocide, even if individual actors within the community suffered a relative loss.

The realist would criticize U.S. policy in the region in the 1990s as pursuing ends that were outside the interests of the United States using means that were counterproductive to those same interests. As stated above, as a result of the nature of the intervention the U.S. had been forced to take the side of a nation, disregarding whatever interests the U.S. had in the region. The realist would say that the U.S. should never take the side of a nation but instead always take the side of the overriding interest of the United States. The ends that were pursued were, as stated above, ending suffering, including genocide, and eventual self determination for the repressed parties. A realist would say that the U.S. has no interest in ending genocide or advocating an independence movement except in the rare cases where doing so will help the standing interests of the United States. The situation in the Balkans would not have met these criteria.

Indeed, a realist might say that it would have been in the United States’ best interest to make a point of not taking action, because in doing so the U.S. would have gained possible influence with Russia at a time when that sort of thing would have been possible, unlike now. Looking at the intervention from an interests standpoint, all the U.S. got in terms of influence from its intervention were positive responses from a Western Europe it was already close with and the gratitude of a relatively backwards and unimportant independent province of Serbia. Balanced against that was the hardening of relations with Russia that at the time was dismissed as Russia was perceived as weak and on the decline. From a realist standpoint of relative gains, the U.S. gained little from allying itself with Western Europe but lost much in turning its back on Russia.

Fast forward to now: a resurgent and hostile Russia is apparently girding for a proxy fight with the West between Serbia, a state it is historically close to, and the now independent country of Kosovo. It is not a large assumption to think that both realists and liberals might like some maneuvering room in regard to this crisis. However, due to the before described policy in the 1990s, this is not a possibility for either party. From a liberal perspective, the demonization of Serbia and concurrent blind eye that was turned to atrocities committed by our “allies” in the conflict mean that there is no way for a liberal to reverse course now and take an even slightly opposing viewpoint. The realist who would have wanted very much to refuse to intervene and instead have wanted to extend an olive branch to Russia in the 1990s no longer has that option. The resurgence and hostility of Russia means that the olive branch is no longer a possibility and instead that the United States’ compelling interest lies in closing ranks with Western Europe, and, in doing so, adopting a relatively insignificant and increasingly violent protectorate in the Balkans.

This lack of foresight in U.S. policy provides a good case study in unintended consequences in foreign policy. It might be instructive to look at how the neo-realists and neo-liberals would look at the situation.

The neo-realists especially would find much to be troubled about in the paradigm shift regarding sovereignty that has taken place as a result of the intervention and subsequent declaration of independence. A transnational organization went to war against a sovereign state and then proceeded to occupy territory in the sovereign state. The transnational organization finally helped the occupied territory become independent without the permission of the parent sovereign state. All this goes against the neo-realist beliefs of sovereignty and the status quo as being the most important concepts in international relations.

The neo-liberal would view the events listed above through a slightly different prism than a neo-realist. To the neo-liberal, NATO was not a transnational organization usurping sovereignty but rather a benevolent international organization that was acting in a situation where the U.N. was paralyzed. The neo-liberal would have viewed Serbia’s actions as a violation of the norms inherent to the system and as such no longer worthy of having their sovereignty protected by the system. To the neo-liberal, a state forfeits its right to sovereignty when, like Serbia, it begins committing gross violations, like genocide, of the norms within the system.

It would appear that a desire to do good through ending what it called genocide led the United States down a road that ended with it reshaping a long held international norm and getting pigeonholed into supporting an insignificant new country against its best interests. The road to hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions.

Mid Week Rock, Deuce-Four Edition

You should recognize some most of the photos. If you don't...

What's On Tonight

First, a preview for a new series on PBS: "Carrier."

CARRIER is a character-driven, edge-of-your-seat, nonfiction drama and a once-in-a-lifetime total immersion in the high-stakes world of a nuclear aircraft carrier. CARRIER follows a core group of film participants aboard the USS Nimitz, from the admiral of the strike group to the fighter pilots to the youngest sailors, as they navigate personal conflicts around their jobs, families, faith, patriotism, love, the rites of passage and the war on terror.

The USS Nimitz is 24 stories high, three football fields long and carries more than 5,000 Navy personnel and 85 military aircraft. Filmed from May to November 2005, nearly 2,000 hours of high-definition video were captured aboard the ship during a full six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, of which three months were spent in combat in support of the ground troops. For the first time, a television series takes a raw and personal look at the Navy’s role in this controversial war.
It looks pretty good, especially because it looks like it's going to focus on the junior enlisted sailors running around the flight deck and doing the other numerous mundane jobs that it takes to make a carrier run as opposed to the officer and flight crew centric focus these things tend to have. It's a ten part series and it premieres 27 April. Link to the official site here.

Next up, this gem:

Finally, the new episode of South Park!

Monday, March 17, 2008

South Park Monday - Timmy Edition


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Funny TV

If you haven't been watching The Venture Brothers and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you're missing out. New seasons are starting in a few months, so now's the time to get caught up.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Season 4

Of what, you ask? Battlestar Galactica, of course!

Hawg Wild

Pretty sure I've put this video up before, but Chris' comment on this post about being willing to "fly even an A-10 Warthog" (emphasis mine) caused me to put it up in the hopes of inspiring people everywhere to go ugly early.

Also, worth noting that this video is what sparked the flurry of low flying YouTube videos below. Enjoy:

Get Low

For your Friday:

Hmm...try this instead?

A little taste of what Prince Harry was getting in Afghanistan

Crank your speakers for this one...


I'm sure you've already seen it, but it was too good not to put up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

USAF spends money to develop LEDs made from Salmon sperm

No, I'm not making that up. Apparently it makes them brighter or something. All I know is that it definitely makes them grosser.

USAF hand to hand combat

Shamelessly stolen from a fellow cadet's facebook....

The Air Force training is pretty short. This was the training prior to the last deployment to the desert:

1. Kill adversary before he can fight you hand to hand. If successful, skip to step 6.

2. If #1 fails, call for help. Consult with your base JAG prior to the call to ensure that it is "official business." Enter your 10 digit approval number (available from your CSS, on duty from 10-3 with 2 hour lunch and 1 hour gym break) prior to the call.

3. If #2 fails, attempt to impede adversary by using nearby items as weapons (iPod, laptop, PS3). Note: You should not remove the Plasma TV from the Day Room to use as a weapon, as it is a two-man lift. Besides, you might not unhook it properly. Though common and handy, golf clubs should only be used as a last resort as they may be damaged and would handicap your next game.

4. If #2 fails, turn A/C up to 73 degrees in order to sweat him out. In no case should A/C be turned off as personal injury may result.

5. If #1-4 fail, call Marines, Army, or Navy, in that order. The Marines will send a pounder in to snap adversary's neck. Army will send a platoon to riddle the area with bullets. Navy will show up in 3-4 months with 3, 000 people on a carrier. The Air Force will not reimburse you for meal expenses for the Navy if the Marines were available. Keep all receipts.

6. File after action report in triplicate, single space typed on #10 letter taupe paper, printed on an HP 2370. Failure to follow these instructions will result in administrative action.

56 Days of Hell in a Very Small Place

It begins today:
The whole French position looked, as so many observers had already stated, like a huge Boy Scout jamboree, with its tents, the rising smoke of the many cooking fires, and the laundry laid out to dry over the strands of barbed wire. For a few seconds the camera seemed to "zoom" in on the flapping laundry and on a jeep racing like a little toy on the dusty road between Claudine and Huguette.

And then this whole bucolic scene suddenly dissolved in what seemed to be a fantastic series of ferocious black tornadoes which completely covered the neat geometrical outlines of the French positions. The Communist bombardment of the French fortress of Dien Bien Phu had begun. It was March 13, 1954; the hour was 1700.
That's from Bernard Fall's classic history of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, Hell in a Very Small Place. If you are remotely interested in military history and haven't read it, you really ought to. I certainly won't be making fun of the French military anytime soon after reading it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mid-Week Rock

Little bit of (live) Bon Jovi for your Wednesday...

Commentary on Boeing's possible probable KC-X challenge, perhaps?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


If you haven't seen it already over at Lex's place, this video about VT-8 bears viewing. I especially like the choice of music: "Heat" and Moby's "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters," both from the motion picture "Heat."

I don't think I can beat Lex for commentary, so I'll just steal from him:
I can’t imagine what it felt like to be in that formation, watching your wingmen and squadron mates go down in flames one by one, cartwheeling into the sea. Seeing the nimble Zeros move from one to the next until - knowing that any other choice only delays the inevitable - they finally saddle at your six as you Stay. On. Target. What it felt like to hear their rounds strike home. To see the ocean loom up in the windscreen, the joyous dance of the sun sparkling on the wave tops, through the oil smoke and the pain.

I’ve often wondered what it felt like to be Ensign George Gay, fished out of the water at last and returned to the Hornet. Walking into that ready room; now an empty mausoleum. Personal things in suspense everywhere - a flight jacket draped over a chair. A necktie. A paperback novel left open to its place. Coffee cups hanging from their hooks. Letters from home that would never be read. Stern tactical guidance on the chalk board written in a dead man’s hand. The echoes of fled voices.

That "stern tactical guidance"?

“If there is only one plane left to make a final run-in,” he told his men, “I want that man to go in and get a hit. May God be with us all. Good luck, happy landings, and give ‘em hell.”
–LCDR John C. Waldron

311 Day

March 11th, aka 311, which means it's time for the Omaha boys.

Digg Fun

PoliMon: the Presidential Candidate version of Pokemon

Stoner Dash! (Best to have your audio turned down or off, as the camera man has an annoying hyena laugh.)

Silly Herk Pilots

So I was complaining the other day about how the USAF is getting its asses kicked on the YouTube video front. Looks like someone was listening:

h/t: Guidons, Guidons, Guidons, who says "Quite possibly 99% more gay than any USAF video ever posted before." I think he's just jealous that AirCav doesn't have half the mad dancing skillz of the USAF.

Monday, March 10, 2008

South Park Monday - Chef Edition

Hello there Children!

Hey Chef!

I'm gonna MAKE LOVE--even when I'm dead! My body might get cold, but it's always hot in my bed!

Someone should play that last song for Tom Cruise...maybe then we can finally have Chef back (and destroy that stupid cult while we're at it.)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

KQ Victory

Well, we won, repeating our domination of last year. Our "rivals" from Anders were 400 points behind while the next closest team was 1400 points behind. I personally spent most of my time in the Google room running the big board (computer hooked up to a projector that we use to display the questions, any possible answers, point value, and a clock), although I did get out a few times in the beginning to take part in the annual "find the emo in campustown" and "find Grizzly Adams in a bar" searches. The Emo was at Jimmy John's and Grizzly Adams was at Olde Main. I was a little upset that I missed the unintentional travel question to Nevada, IA. It was actually supposed to be a question on campus, but someone at KURE got their GPS coordinates crossed and ended up sending half the teams to Nevada. Oops.

Anyway, this year KURE put some of the videos of the event up on YouTube. Anything with the phrase "If God" in it is from the Harwood team from this year, while anything with the phrase "Flaccid with Rage" is from the Harwood team from last year. Two videos are especially worth watching. First, from this year, here's the finale effort. Basically, you had 2-3 hours to put together an '80s themed musical presentation. You had the option to use the video game Rock Band, but since Harwood rocks hardcore we did the music live with real instruments. The premise of our show was that a young Nikola Tesla traveled back in time to the '80s and created a Justice Robot to fight Fidel Castro and his gigantic TI-83+. Couple things to note: yes, we had a kid with a TI-83 costume, make sure to pay attention to the cards being held up in the background of the fight, and the keyboard/monitor that Tesla types at is from an honest to god Apple II.

Second, from last year, we have Team Harwood "ghost riding" the "danger cart" (basically a souped up golf cart.) I took part in this one...I'm in jeans and a brown Carhart. The vehicle isn't exactly street legal, hence the thanks at the beginning.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I will be temporarily unavailable for the next 27 hours due to the awesomeness that is Kaleidoquiz. What is Kaleidoquiz you ask? 26 hours of fun, silliness, and mayhem in and around the Ames area (and maybe elsewhere) run by the campus radio station 88.5 KURE. Every six minutes, for 26 hours, KURE broadcasts a completely random question. You have six minutes to find the answer and phone in. In between the six minute questions, there are scavenger hunts, montages (they piece together 20-30 1-2 second clips of songs and/or movies and you have to figure out what each individual movie/song is), other assorted craziness (like building huge snow forts on central campus) and everyone's favorite, travel questions! In the past, travel questions have ranged both anywhere in and outside of the state of Iowa.

I will be with Team Harwood, hoping to repeat our domination of last year.

See ya Sunday...

Start the clock! Thirty-three Six minutes!

Low Class

How to tell the bar you're at may not be the highest class...

1) When the beers that are on tap are: Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Busch Light, and PBR. Yeah, honest to god no shit PBR on tap. Disgusting. I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a beer snob. Sue me for not enjoying crappy ass beer that has rice in it and tastes like it came from a horse's urethra.

2) When the top shelf contains Johnnie Walker...RED LABEL. I've been at bars where Black Label is on the bottom shelf, Gold Label somewhere in the middle, and Blue Label on the top. I could buy several cases of Red Label for one bottle of Blue Label.

Suffice to say I won't be going back to Outlaws. I knew it was a hick bar, but PBR?? Seriously??

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How to start a riot

1. Host an event that draws a large number of 18-25 year olds to a relatively small area of a small college town.

2. Prevent most of those 18-25 year olds from attending the major entertainment venue at the event.

3. Introduce alcohol, sit back, and watch as a bunch of drunk students and poorly trained cops destroy part of Ames (again.)

That seems to be the idea the VEISHEA committee is going with this year. For those of you who don't know what VEISHEA is, check out the Wiki page. Basically a week long party on the ISU campus with a big festival/concert on the closing weekend. But it doesn't appear so this year.

Check out the great plan for yourself:

VEISHEA has worked very hard to build an entertainment package that will host a diverse set of performers and cater to the tastes of all members of the Cyclone Family. In order to ensure a safe and successful concert atmosphere, and to put on the best possible concerts for ISU students, faculty, staff and alumni, VEISHEA has implemented the following wristband policy for Live @ VEISHEA events:

Musical headliners will perform on the former marching band practice field near Howe Hall and the College of Design on the west side of campus. Admission to that outdoor venue will be limited to ISU students, alumni, faculty and staff who purchase wristbands.

A total of 7,000 wristbands will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Wristbands are $5 and will be on sale at the following times and locations while supplies last:


Students, faculty, and staff may each purchase one wristband with a valid ISU ID card. If any wristbands remain by Thursday, April 10, ISU students will have the option to purchase one additional wristband for a friend. Wristband prices will increase to $7 on Friday night and Saturday. Wristbands will be valid for concerts on both Friday and Saturday nights of VEISHEA weekend, April 11-12.

Alumni may purchase wristbands through the ISU Alumni Association.
For more information, visit or call 1-877-478-2586.

No one will be admitted to the band field without a wristband.

Couple things jump out of me that will be wrong with this. First, you're removing the concerts from where everything else VEISHEA related is going to be. There just isn't going to be space on the band practice field for much more than a stage or two and the people attending the concert. It's on the outskirts of campus. Not centralizing the entertainment and other venues on campus was one of the fundamental reasons behind the 2004 riots. The concerts on Saturday night are over at 1800. I'm not quite sure why that is, but the lack of late evening entertainment is another one of the fundamental reasons for the 2004 riots. Through restricting attendance to 7,000, you're preventing a sizable chunk of the ISU student body from attending. I would make a comment about how I expect to see a black market for wristbands spring up, but I doubt that considering the lackluster entertainment. An event that has hosted John Wayne, Billy Joel, and Ronald Reagan and the best we can do is Eve 6? (Although, honestly, Eve 6 is probably a step up from Mike Jones last year.) Finally, this is speculation, but there seems to be an emphasis on no alcohol at Live@VEISHEA events this year. While it's true that there has never been alcohol permitted at Live@VEISHEA events in the past, the police have generally taken a laissez-faire approach and only written up those who were causing a scene. If that changes, it'll do two things: one, people who are drinking will become unnecessarily alienated at the police, and two, most people will cease drinking on campus and move off campus. Again, two of the fundamental factors to the 2004 riots.

If the powers that be were trying to recreate the situation that led to the 2004 riots and/or make VEISHEA so unattractive as to kill it off, they would be off to a helluva start. Of course, I don't think that because powers that be are usually never that deviously clever. They're usually just massively incompetent.

I like where these people's heads are at, but unfortunately that option would require me to spend money, so that's a non-starter. However, speaking of facebook, it's worth noting that there are close to 7,000 people in a facebook group opposed to the decision.

In any case, don't be surprised if you hear some unpleasant news out of Ames come 11 or 12 April.

Mid Week Rock

An aviation theme again, but this time with The Who.

h/t: Guidons Guidons Guidons

Also make sure to check out this awesome video about Bob Hoover's energy management routine.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Open Letters

To the morons who walked in front of my car last week when there was several inches of ice/snow on the road: you, being a pedestrian, have the right of way. And this is a college town, where pedestrians, far from fighting for the right of way, rightfully assume that all wheeled modes of transportation will yield to them. However, my vehicle weighs considerably more than you, and it moves with much less agility than yourselves. When you run out in front of me you are taking your life into your own hands, not because I'm malicious (I am, but that's irrelevant) but because I will slam on the brakes (probably) and I will still slam into you going at a considerable rate of speed. You will probably damage my bumper, and maybe a headlight assembly if I am unlucky. I suspect you will come out in considerably worse condition.

To the (probably) design students who left cups in the bed of my truck: the bed of my truck is not a refuse container for your frappu-mocca-latte-cino. I think it's fair to say that we've been more than kind to your invasion of our building. Keep it up, and I will have no choice but to redeposit whatever you leave in the bed of my truck in one of your studios. Along with several bags of trash. And some buckets of paint. Massive retaliation, good enough for Eisenhower and Dulles, good enough for me.

To the jackass that walked into Beyer Gym during Leadlab week before last: is it really too much to ask that you show the proper respect for our National Anthem? Your weights couldn't wait another minute to get lifted? The song was already half over by the time you walked into the gym, all you had to do was wait from the Rockets' red glare until the home of the brave. Don't let the people in uniform in formation at attention rendering salutes give you any hints. By all means, go lift those weights.

Lest you think everyone in Ames is a clueless jackass litterbug, to the fine gentlemen who helped push my truck out of its parking stall Thursday night: THANK YOU. You stepped up where Ames' abysmal snow/ice removal service failed.

South Park Monday

Not quite sure I agree that these are the 10 funniest moments EVER (it doesn't include anything from Scott Tenorman Must Die, easily THE funniest episode), but they are pretty funny. Be sure to take notice of the enhanced interrogation technique Cartman employs. I think it's got promise.

Dude, he's farting fire!

Dude, did Cartman just crap treasure?

Fuck you Millie, fuck you Annie, fuck you Bebe, fuck you whatever your name is, and FUCK you, bitch!

...did he just inject himself with apple juice?

Jody Strikes Again

Jody has struck again for Gravediggers, and this time the victim is none other than LT G himself. Head on his direction and leave some nice thoughts. Or threats on Jody's well being. Whichever.

FbL has some nice thoughts as well.

How to tell you're a college student, part II

You drive three hours back to school from 2330 to 0230 because that's "when you're most awake." It's true, I'm much more awake from, say, 1800-0300 than I am from 0600-1200. In fact, if I ruled the world, I would decree that sleeping time be from ~0300-1000 or 1100.