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November 2007

Obscene Amenities

As a tribute to Billy Arkin, I thought I would share photos of some of the Obscene Amenities I found while in Iraq. Are there some plush rear areas, perhaps especially in the civilian administrative areas? I would not doubt it, based on some things I've heard about the State areas. The FOB's (or equivalent) I visited did have nice DFACs, yet some of the photos below were shot there. My take is that the troops on the sharp end deserve anything and everything they can get. That said, here we go...


Continue reading "Obscene Amenities" »

In the news

Andrew Lubin has a new blog with a very old school look, and a piece up about Marines helping out in Bangladesh.

Jules Crittenden is riding a mood surge.

And Herschel Smith wonders whether the State Dept. will take up the gauntlet thrown by Sec Def Gates.

Here is a LiveJournal where Rachel is discussing her PTSD, they linked my piece about Grim's piece in the comments for a look at what the "macho" mindset thinks on the issue, which I guess is a fair cop.

Five Years At The Parkway Rest Stop

It is hard to believe that Jim has been at this for five years. If you haven't read Parkway Rest Stop, you are missing some good stuff. Jim's time in the Army, as well as in law school, take a delightful twist in the MASTER SGT. JOHN “JACK” STEELE, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF LAW series. Jim was one of the first blogs I read, and I actually went to one of the Helen Blog Meets to meet him (and Rob). It was good to do so, even if I did have to put up with someone yodelling the Loch Tay Boat Song down by the creek at the time... *G* Jimbo (the original, that is) it's not just the hair -- it's five years of Farookin great posts and thoughts as well as the hair.

who thanks Tammi for the kick under the table to remind me I needed to read some blogs today...

Mormons are weird. Compared to who?

Since I am not known for my self-restaint, tolerance and moderation, I will point out that I have written this piece numerous times and not posted it out of respect for the faiths of many readers. I mean respect in a positive light and that their faith makes them better people. I am not arguing against that result or even what it takes to achieve it, simply questioning the rationale for all earthly religions, that's all.

Mitt Romney's candidacy along with some other odd things about the Mormon Church have brought religion into this Presidential election. But as someone without a God in this fight, Mitt's God isn't really any stranger than Jesus, or Mohammed, or Brahma, simply more recently canonized. I have seen quite a few leaders on the Christian team trying to exclude a discussion of Mormonism, as it opens the door to discussion of all religions. Well good idea, let's. Mitt maybe doubling down on no Muslims in Cabinet.

As I sit on this crappy rock in the East Goat Rope of our own galaxy and a miniscule bit in this universe, I have a problem with anyone who claims to know what God wants us to do. It seems the most profound arrogance to even assume that it is knowable, and the thought of a vulgar animal claiming to discern the intentions and desires of a being capable of creating it ex nihilo should remind us snakes don't eat their own tails. And yet we have billions of people all around the world who are convinced that their local guy has a line to the one true God(s). Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. I don’t have much else I agree with old Karl about, but to an extent I do on this. It is a darker quote than required though, as most religions offer a hope for better things and addiction is simply escape to oblivion. There has to be a reason religions flourish and it is obvious to all.

Why? That is what it all boils down to. Why? are we here? does it suck so much? did my best friend die? did that baby get molested? don't you smite Paris Hilton? WHY?

It is not possible to avoid the question, so an accommodation must be made. Accept this as the crappiest planet you have ever lived on and try to live your life as well as you are able, hoping that doing unto others outside of a formal God scheme is accepted by the final arbiter, mindful that there is no guarantee either way. OR

Create or join a group with answers to life's biggest mysteries, understanding that this will likely be passed down by tribal or familial ties and also that there are a large number of these belief systems. These disparate religions will have core beliefs about what comprises God and they will be completely irreconcilable.Let's just roll that idea around for a moment.

1.9 Billion Christians
1.1 Billion Muslims
800 Million Hindus

Each one of these groups believes a totally different entity or group of them is God, each has completely different methods and requirements for worship, they can't even agree on which parts of which animals God doesn't like to eat.

Continue reading "Mormons are weird. Compared to who?" »

Send a Pin Up Calender to a Hospitalized Vet

During WWII, more than 5 million copies of this poster of Betty Grable (left) were sent to GI's overseas. Now Gina Elise (right) is releasing her second calendar benefiting vets for 2008.

This post is categorized in the Caring for the Defenders index because this is one way you can help those in combat and those in VA hospitals, too.

Gina Elise is a model with a BA from UCLA.  She has spent 2006 and 2007 on her project that combines what she knows (modeling, photography, history) to help a cause dear to her heart (hospitalized veterans and soldiers in need).

So, she created a project called Pin Ups for Vets which is co-sponsored by American Legion Post 360 of Lake Arrowhead, California.  Her 2007 Pin Up Calendar sold out and now she has her 2008 Calendar available.  Gina Elise says this about her project:

Gallery20large Over the past year, I have heard and read incredible stories about the injured soldiers returning from military service. Their hardest battles have just begun, as they attempt to recover in Veterans Hospitals all across America . I was touched by each story, and knew that I had to try to do something to help our hospitalized Vets.

I came up with an idea to recreate a World War II style pin-up calendar that would have the dual purpose of raising money for programs that support hospitalized Veterans, and also serve as a GIFT for each and every Veteran, as they recover in a Veterans Hospital.

Img_1830I always loved the beautiful pin-up photos and paintings from the World War II era that American soldiers took overseas with them to boost their morale. The troops often carried these “cheesecake” pictures with them into war to help remind them of what they were fighting for back home. One of the most famous pinup shots was taken in the 1940’s of actress Betty Grable, in a bathing suit, looking back over her shoulder.

With these old glamorous pictures as inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the feeling of these nostalgic pin-ups in my own photo shoots, and then assemble my pictures in a calendar for a fund-raiser to benefit the programs that support the hospitalized Veterans, injured in ALL wars, past and present.Img_1570_1

Your calendar donation will go towards: eyeglasses for Veterans, the home health program, recreational therapy, spinal cord injury & amputee programs, substance abuse program, women’s Veterans’ program, chapel improvements, homeless program, reading materials and subscriptions for the Veterans, patio improvements, parking lot shuttle, courtesy cart, social relief fund, televisions, wheelchairs, and outreach programs for the visually impaired...

You can purchase a calendar for yourself, one to be sent to a soldier (any soldier or one you give the address for), or one for a hospitalized veteran. Gina will be visiting our Soldiers at Walter Reed in January and needs to bring (at least) 100 calendars with her.  Purchase a calendar to give to a Soldier at Walter Reed here (option #2).

Of course, military bloggers support Gina's efforts.  Here's Major Chuck Ziegenfuss with Gina:


And Major (ret) John Donovan ("The Donovan" is smiling, by the way.  That's his happy face):


And me (working slightly harder at smiling than John):


And one more photo Blackfive-approved photo of Gina from 2007:


Gina Elise's Pin Ups for Vets! (get your 2008 Calendar now and support our hospitalized vets and Soldiers!)

More photos of Gina Elise from the calendar shoots (but not the actual calendar photos) after the Jump:

Continue reading "Send a Pin Up Calender to a Hospitalized Vet" »

Anti-war films tank, left baffled

The American Prospect features an apologia for the craptastic results of the lefty agit-prop that passes for entertainment from Hollywood these days. Somehow all these portrayals of the evil Bush admin stand ins and their jack-booted thug, storm troopers prison raping the Constitution have failed to catch on. I have an idea why, but let's hear the spin first.

Are audiences suffering from war fatigue, as many have suggested? Do they have little interest in following a war on the big screen when they are surrounded by images and stories of it on the small screens in their home?

Maybe. But it's not like the American news media have been particularly effective at saturating the public with images from Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is tough to argue that the often critical stance these films take on U.S. foreign policy is keeping people away -- it's hardly considered unpatriotic these days to claim the war was a policy failure.

I take the position that the only people even willing to talk to pollsters these days are angry lefties. That and the inherent silliness of polling have led to the conventional wisdom that Americans are sick of the war. Of course they are, war is awful. But what the pollsters and the left leave unexplored is American's natural disgust at losing. They may be sick and tired of the war and the fact that our troops are still dying, but they aren't willing to raise the white flag. And what about this freakin' whopper of a line.

But it's not like the American news media have been particularly effective at saturating the public with images from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The_sign You can actually hear a whining that the media have not gotten the bad news out. I really wonder where in the world this clown has spent the last 4 years. We had the first calls of quagmire about 3 days into the invasion, and I can't recall a day since where the carnage, bloodshed, death & destruction hasn't led coverage. I can only assume that this maroon had his brain wiped in about July and he has only been watching coverage since then. Sad news for him and the rest of those who really could have used a US loss to prove that war has never solved anything.

Well sorry chumps you have some major narrative surgery to attempt because we are gonna win in Iraq and that is good news for Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Israelis, Palestinians and bad for dictators, petty tyrants, religious fanatics and the American left.

The folks who went all in for defeat just need to get used to the idea of a Victory in Iraq (VI Day) parade in DC this July 5. See ya' there.

More Good News for the GWOT...


Surprise Taliban Asshats!

The U.S. is shipping laser guided 120mm mortar rounds to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The XM395 Precision Guided Mortar Munition has been in development for twelve years, and was almost canceled at least once because of the delays. The 38 pound XM395 round has a range of seven kilometers, and will land within three feet of where the laser is pointed.

The picture above is of me, firing a charge 4 Illumination round from the 120mm Mortar system I signed for from some of the fellas from an ODA in Gardez.  I figured that since they weren't using it, I would put it to use on my fire-base.  I mean, it can't be that hard to shoot right?

Well, good thing they gave me that range book.  And it was also good that I studied mortar use and theory in training.  I put that knowledge to use in Afghanistan.  It was good to get a mortar team finally, right before I left. 

For those that remember the old four deuce mortar, this is it's replacement.  It works marvelously and is already accurate enough to hit a car at 7000 meters with that really cool computer.

The XM395 completed its testing over the Summer, and will begin arriving in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year.

Thanks Secretary Rumsfeld for not canceling this project on the eve of it being a success.

Quenching our enemy's thirst for vengeance with an inexhaustible rain of fire..... 

A Different Request

Two, actually:

1. If anyone knows of a good compendium of grants/grant-giving entities, please drop me a line at the e-mail you can find over there on the right in the sidebars. While online and free is preferred, moderately priced and offline (if well indexed) will do.

2. I know many of you have given to a number of good and worthy causes of late, so I wanted to inquire about the following: if there were a chance to send an embed to spend Christmas with the troops, would you be interested or willing to support such even if donations were not tax deductible? Would it make a difference if it were tax deductible?


Operation Good Shepherd

Major Dan sends this Top Secret un-redacted video capture of US Army forces conducting Operation Good Shepherd.  Three targets were selected, HVT intelligence was gathered, and exhaustive mission planning preceded the Op.

A lighting strike, our forces performed an expert snatch and grab mission.  Check it out.