Sign the petition to strip John Walker Lindh of his U.S. citizenship.
Virtual Sanity

NEW! My Basic Training Blog has it's own site. Click here to read a day-by-day account of the first 10 weeks of Army life.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

OK, Im done for a couple months. Will be back during the 2nd or 3rd week of April after I return and will transpose my written notes into basic training blog.

Thanks to all who offered their support in the comments below and through email. I am especially thankful to those who offered advice. Even though I was unable to email each of you individually, I wanted to let you know that I appreciate it.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

My sister has been having contractions 5-8 minuts apart for almost 48 hours now. I leave Monday. Our other sister goes back to school in California on Saturday. Her in-laws return to Oregon Wednesday. HURRY UP!

UPDATE: It's a girl! 8lbs 5oz Savannah Therese born today (1/24) 0424 hours

UPDATE II: This is probably a great way to finish things up before I shut down for 2 months. I'll write a quick entry before I go, but except for that, I'm done posting until after basic.

Welcome readers from Tim Blair and Instapundit! I didnt quite expect to wake up and have almost 500 hits today - I think my previous high was about 50.

Thank you to all of you who have lent me their support as I enter the Army, both in the comments and through private email. I tried to link my original post about enlisting but I am having trouble with publishing some of my archive, so I cut and paste it below (From October 5, 2002):
I'm 30 years old. Why the hell am I enlisting in the Army?

Believe me, this is a question I've asked myself many times before actually signing up and taking the oath a few weeks ago (Sept 12, 2002). Basically, it all comes down to what I saw with my own eyes last Sept 11, and what I think I can contribute to the cause of making this country safer for the people I love.

I took a long time thinking about what I wanted to do. Last winter, I sent in job applications to the CIA, NSA, FBI, and DIA. None of them offered me a position. It was readily apparent that some experience was necessary as they were being flooded with applications. The military seemed the best way of getting that experience. After figuring things out, I decided to take the language diagnostic test and found out I was very well suited for learning foreign languages (I knew this already as I am already fluent in French, and started picking up German very quickly after), but I needed the test to get the goverment to give me a chance. I am not guaranteed to get a specific language, but with my score on the test, I should get my first choice. After I start language school, I will determine which specific job I will persue.

I ran across an "argument" on Vodkapundit which basically said: "If you believe in war so much, why dont you go and join up to fight yourself?" The guy made the argument basically assuming that noone reading would have done such a thing. This "you're a hypocrite" argument pisses me off to no end - and not just because I actually *did* enlist. Some people serve the country better by staying at home and doing those things at which they are best suited. War is a depressing thing. Entertainers should stay home and entertain people, hopefully boosting morale. Engineers whose skills do not translate directly into a useful military manner are better off staying home and helping improve technology on the homefront.

Some people may actually contribute more to the fight by not picking up a rifle, but by doing something at which they are better suited.

If you ever hear the "chickenblogger" arguement, point them to me. If you ever hear the "hypocrite" argument, tell them they need to analyze their position and come up with some real points to their stand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

I was reading Little Green Footballs earlier today and was dismayed to learn that there is a Palestinian "film festival" about to take place at Columbia University, my alma mater. I put "film festival" in quotes, because judging from the poster of the event and the short descriptions of each film, "propaganda festival" or even "victims of Israel on film festival" would have been more appropriate. Here is a copy of the letter I am sending to the university president, Lee Bollinger:

President Bollinger,

I have recently come across some deeply troubling information that the Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures is hosting a Palistinian film festival entitled "Dreams of a Nation". While some may see this as a chance for the Palistinians to get their side of the debate heard, one only has to take a cursory look at the group's web page to see that it is simply going to be a vehicle for the usual propaganda. As an alum, I feel it my duty to express my disappointment and outrage.

Take, for example, the poster of the event. It shows what the organizers of this event think of the "Two-State Solution" to the problems in the Middle East: it is merely a first step toward total victory. The image is what they see when they look at a map of the area: a single combined entity made up of the country of Israel and the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Add to this the fact that the color they chose for this "nation" is blood red and one does not have to be a student of art to know that they are advocating turning the ground red with the blood of "martyrs", and whoever stands in the way of a single Palistian state stretching from the banks of the Jordan to the shores of the Mediterranean. Finally, the doves on the poster do not represent peace, as they would in the West; they symbolize the souls of those so-called "martyrs" ascending to heaven.

As for the content of the festival, one example of a film being promoted is, "Jenin, Jenin":
A few days after the April 2001 invasion of the Jenin refugee camp by the Israeli military, a camera crew shoots at the site: it captures the camp at a time when the people still have not fully understood what happened. The film is not an informational report about these events, but a description of the traces left by the events on the inhabitants. It depicts resistance, heroism and victory despite death, disasters, and destruction."

Even the description of this film admits that it is pure propaganda: "The film is not an informational report about these events". There is no way this could be an informational report because even the United Nations now admits that there was no massacre. In fact, an interview with a Palestinian engineer who was there shows which side really committed the war crimes. I will admit that I have not seen this film, and thus cannot truly make an informed critique, but I highly doubt they will mention how the Palistinians dug up their own municipal water supplies for the pipes needed to make the bombs with which they boobytrapped everything they possibly could. Nor have I much faith that they will discuss the strategy of using women and children to tell IDF soldiers that the coast was clear, only to have these men ambushed when their guard was down.

There is also a biographical film about Hanan Ashrawi. This is a woman who feels that America's actions are to blame for the attacks of 9/11. I will not even begin to discuss the moral depravity of this viewpoint, but it should not be lost upon anyone capable of critial reasoning, especially those in the employ of a center of "higher learning" whose official name includes the phrase in the City of New York.

One final curiosity I wish to question is why this event is not listed on Columbia's calendar of events? Nor have I heard about it from any other alumni outlet. Is this because the school knows what the content of most of these films is, and does not want to publicize something that would bring it bad publicity? If showing a differing viewpoint than convention is something to be proud of, why does Columbia seem to want to hide the fact that it is doing so?

President Bollinger, I believe in every American's freedom of speech and expression. However, I also understand that the 1st ammendment states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." There is nothing there about requiring private institutions to provide a forum for lies, deception, and outright incitement to murder. Fortunately, however, Columbia relies upon donations from its alumni to survive, and I am one of the few who can actually have his point heard by you in more ways than writing this letter. I have been demonstrating my displeasure with the school's continued employment of America haters such as Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi and Joseph Massad and since the day I graduated. This "film festival" will simply be added to the garbage heap of reasons for which I will continue to abstain from giving any of my personal financial resources to the school. I will consider changing my mind in the future if Columbia shows that it is actively trying to become a true center of critical thinking, logic, and reason, rather than a cesspool of Politically Correct equivocation and a tool for those who would destroy Western culture and thought.


I never did a followup on my celebrity spotting post, but the list got better. One busy Saturday night I was working the camera and turned around to see LL Cool J and his wife sitting in the chairs. Took their photos, and he shook my hand. Very nice guy.

Wayne Knight of Seinfeld and 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Robert Pine, Sgt Joe Getraer of CHiPs

Finally, Harry Connick, Jr. Photo of the two of us here. Funny story while taking the photos. It was done with a video camera and the zoom was apparently all the way in. I was trying to get my boss and Harry together and couldnt see anything. So I said, "Stan, I'm not getting anything." Without a beat, Harry comes back with "Maybe it's your mouthwash!" Pretty cool, got my balls busted by Harry Connick, Jr :)

Who the heck planned the halftime shows for the AFC and NFC conference championships? Both featured a black rapper, backed up by a popular female black rap/rnb singer, on similar stages. The only difference was Ja Rule, in the NFC game, had his accompanying music played by the Howard University marching band. I think, however, the NFC's plans were discovered by the AFC and copied (as is usually the case between networks/studios: what one does, the others must do as well, but better):
AFC exec #1: "The NFC is having Ja Rule do their halftime show, he's currently got the #1 single in the country."

AFC exec #2: "HMMM.. thats going to be tough to beat. We'll have to go old-school. Is LLCoolJ available?

AFC exec #1: "I'll check. By the way, the NFC is having the Howard University marching band do the backup music. Should I call someone at Grambling?"

AFC exec #2: "Marching band? Are you kidding? I said we're going *old school*

Anyway, Ja Rule sucked, and true to form, the Philly fans let them know it. I am an LL Cool J fan (even more since I met him), and unfortuantely, he didn't do much better, but his reaction was at least 50/50 boos/cheers. I just dont think one rapping voice can satisfactorily fill a 60-100,000 person stadium and sound good. You really need more amplification of multiple sounds to have something worth producing.

I think we've seen the last pure rap halftime shows. The only guys I see pulling it off would be Run DMC, and only if they were backed by Aerosmith again, or Kid Rock, whose lyrics do not make up the central part of his music.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I bought Oriana Fallaci's The Rage and The Pride yesterday. I started it last evening, and finished it a little after midnight. All I can say is read it. It is a very passionate sermon (her term, she doesnt consider it a book, story, essay, etc) about how the cult of Political Correctness has forced European leaders, particuarly in her home Italy, to turn a willful blind eye to an invasion which is comming ashore and threatening the very core values and existance Western Civilization. I will be changing my "teach a man to fish" quote with one of hers soon.

Wow. It took months, but I finally finished Robert Caro's The Power Broker. Great book about a great man with some great faults. Oddly enough, the day I finished, I saw a story in the Boston Globe with estimates of how many cars the new tunnel and artery will be able to hold. It will be curious to see if the estimates are as quickly exceeded as they were in New York City and instead of spreading the current saturation over all the combined roads, it simply allows for a higher saturation rate to fill all the new miles as well.

At the [Golden Globe] Awards onlookers, security forces, event organizers and participants crushed near the blue "Coconut Grove" awning of the hotel to see celebrities ooze, ease, launch, spill or leap from heavy, gas-gulping, stretched limousines or sophisticated black SUV's onto the red carpet murmuring its invitation to the festivities.

I wonder what George Clooney showed up in...


I noticed it reappear and then before I knew it, it was gone. Whoever generously purchased the banner ad off the top of my blog, I thank you.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I'll quote the entire thing, because its short, and the Daily Brickbat at Reason constantly changes.
When "At" Has Three Syllables (1/14)

The French government has given an official name to the "@" symbol used in Internet addresses. It's now to be referred to as the arobase.

Are they mocking L'Academie Francais for their usual protectionist practice of taking anglicisms and creating new words in French? According to the article, (at least what I got out of it), there was no word for the @ symbol. Now, I'm not one to give up a legitimate chance to show that Europeans are much more isolationist than they would like us to believe. The article doesn't say what was used by email users (maybe "at" or "eht"), but Reason seems to be pointing out the fact that something as simple as what we abbreviate as "at", would have a complex, 3-syllable word as it's name in French.

Have the people at Reason ever heard of the ampersand (am'-per-sand')?
Monday, January 06, 2003

I leave for Army basic combat training on Jan 28. Although I will not have access to update this blog, I will be keeping a short written log which I will then transfer a few days per day after graduation. I have no idea what form it will take, but I invite you back around the 2nd week of April to find out!

Yes, I have put up comments. Will see if the half-dozen or so of you who get here via random google searches actually read anything ;)
Saturday, January 04, 2003

A copy of the letter I just sent off to the Keene Sentinel. They currently don't have archives available online, but you can probably guess what they said.
Dear Editor,

It is always a sad thing to see when a newspaper turns to lies in its attempt to push an agenda, because that is exactly what your paper did a few days ago in it's editorial about how the US should immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

You say that President Bush came into office and decided that he was not going to allow Kyoto to pass. Well, guess what, the President didn't do any such thing. He didn't send Kyoto to the Senate not because he didn't want it, but because he knew it would be a futile exercise. In 1997, the Senate voted 98-0 to pass something called the Byrd-Hagel Resolution ( Basically what it stated was that the Senate would not ratify any treaty which would cause serious economic harm to the United States. Kyoto would do exactly that, so the President at that time, Bill Clinton, never bothered sending the treaty to the Senate because he knew it would not pass. He did not want to take all the international heat that he knew would be associated with saying no, so he sat on the news for the remainder of his term. All President Bush did was bite the bullet and send out the press release that the United States could not accept Kyoto as written because it would cripple our economony and violate the Constitution.

Also, I fail to understand why your editorial also neglected to discuss how Kyoto would violate the Constitution - specifically the 4th ammendment - by allowing multi-national institutions to conduct surprise inspections and searches, without a warrant or just cause, of any facility it sees fit. I guess since the only ammendment the press cares about these days is the one having to do with freedoms of the press, we would never hear about this issue from the Keene Sentinel.

Discussion about Kyoto and the environment is important, but hiding truth behind lies and cliches in a sorry attempt to discredit a man you do not like, only weakens the real arguments on the pro side of the debate.

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