Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Witness for the Defense?

In one of those bizarre twists of the legal system, Bunker Mulligan tells a story of a Cop on trial for being shot at. The cop, in this case, is his son - and he has been called by the defense to testify for (???) the man who tried to kill him.

Unfreaking believable...

Hostage School?

This article came to me from my friend MCart ...

Hostage School: What You Can Do To Save Your Life

"Hostage survival training used to be only for the military. Now, anyone who wants to learn it can attend special hostage survival classes."

I haven't watched the segment yet, although I am interested in the content. Some of the news is pretty common sense, and would serve to stay safe in any travel experience : Stay in the open, stay in safe areas, etc. In other words, avoid becoming a hostage.

But what if you get caught in an ugly situation like the Russian school hostage crisis last year? Should you submit, stay calm and "try to connect" as suggested in the training? Or should you fight to escape?

I suspect that your own answer to this may depend on several factors. Some that occur to me are gender, size, training, and past experiences. One thing I certainly recognize -- while there have been no major terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 in a few years -- there is still a danger, and we must prepare now for what we may have to deal with in the future.

I've never been unlucky enough to suffer an experience like this, and I would rather flee than fight as a general rule. If flight is not possible, though - would I fight? Especially now, when the likelihood is greater that one will die anyway? I'd like to think I would, but part of me admits that my first reactions would fit into the prey category, not that of predator.

MCart has no doubts about his own feelings ...
"I think people should kick, bite, claw, punch, grapple, take their weapons if possible, improvise weapons, and yes, be ready to die if necessary. No freakin way I'm taking the time to 'try and get in their heads'. You never can know what their objective is, and how close they are to achieving it."

I'm interested in your thoughts, and would love to hear if you have ever faced a situation like this yourself? How would you / did you handle it?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Remember The Fallen

Admin. note - I've dated this post to remain on top all weekend ... updates below

Monday the 30th is Memorial Day, set aside to honor the memories of fallen U.S. service men and women, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My friend Sgt B of the Gun Line has written a poetic piece on the meaning of the day, please go visit and read.

Blackfive reminds us of the purpose of playing Taps, and continues his Caring for the Defenders series. If you want to help the military and their families, there are some great service organizations who can use your help - time, money, donations are all needed.


AFSister of My Side of the Puddle asks us to Remember the past and aim for the future.

Cassandra of Villainous Company returns from hiatus to contemplate the origins of this day of remembrance, with In Memoriam.

John Donovan of Castle Argghhh illuminates what happens to a family when their loved one dies in the service of our country. Tied to this one, read the Final Roll Call of 2LT Cowherd as well.

Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette provides some poetry for the day, start at the top, and work down to review his current posts and revisit his older ones.

For more information about Memorial Day, I encourage you to visit these sites:

Lists all service members who have lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in Operation Enduring Freedom and at The Pentagon.

White House Commission on Remembrance web site has information on events, history, ways to get involved, and the new Moment of Remembrance, to be observed at 3 p.m. local time on Monday.

God rest the souls of the Fallen.

God Bless our military and their families.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tag ... I'm It

Sgt B of The Gun Line passed the popcorn to me for the movie blog-poll.
Here goes ...

Total number of films I own on DVD/video:
Counting the TV versions of Dune and Children of Dune as 1 each, I have 8 DVD's, but around 90 VHS tapes. My Mom had a big selection, and we three 'kids' split them up among ourselves after she died.

The last film I bought:
Das Boot (The Director's Cut)

The last film I watched:
Mona Lisa Smile

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
Beauty and the Beast (Special edition - first DVD I ever purchased*)
The Thomas Crown Affair (With Pierce Brosnan, like Sgt B)
The Hunt for Red October
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Quiet Man ...... I used to watch this with my Mom, it was her favorite John Wayne movie

* I kept telling the Hubster we should buy a DVD player, and he wasn't excited about the idea. We watch a lot of movies in the theaters, and others on cable, so he didn't see the need.

I love Disney movies, but of all the Disney films, he only really likes Beauty and the Beast. So, I bought the special edition on DVD, to force him to buy a player ... *grin*

Next players victims:
AFSister of My Side of the Puddle
Bunker of Bunker Mulligan
Snake Eater of Mistakes were Made
Katy of The Grass Isn't Greener
... Katy is excused, she played already (Bad Barb!)
Beth of She Who Will Be Obeyed (When she returns from her globe-trotting!)

Good news ... Closing in on Zarqawi

I heard on the radio that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been wounded, and thought briefly that he might be in the custody of U.S. or Iraqi forces. However, this report comes by way of an Iraqi reporter in Ramadi, reporting the story of a local doctor who treated Zarqawi.

As reported in The Times :

Bin Laden henchman ‘seriously wounded’
Hala Jaber and Ali Rifat, Baghdad

IRAQ’S most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been seriously wounded, according to a doctor who claims to have treated him last week.

The doctor told an Iraqi reporter in the western city of Ramadi that Zarqawi was bleeding heavily when he was brought into hospital on Wednesday. After treating his wounds the doctor tried to persuade him to remain, but the Jordanian-born terrorist’s minders drove him away.

This is good news on two fronts. First, we are getting closer, and this is fantastic. Second - the doctor told his story to the reporters after having been threatened with his life, and offered money (which he refused) for his silence. Wonderful for him that he was not killed outright, and wonderful for us, for the information he can provide!

Marc at USS Neverdock shares some links on other henchmen being tracked, and the important news that even bribes are not working in some places.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dealing with Media Slander

Matt at Blackfive has issued a Warning Order, to ready the net-troops in support of ...

The goal of Media Slander is to hold journalists and bloggers to high ethical standards regarding coverage of the War on Terror and other military-related issues. We plan to achieve this by highlighting bias, rumor and falsehoods that have been creeping into military coverage under the guise of objective news.

We by no means advocate censorship or the deliberate suppression of well-researched and relevant stories about the war and the military.

As much as journalists feel that they are the guardians of the First Amendment, its true protectors are standing watch in Iraq, Afghanistan and places no one will ever hear about. Journalists owe it to the true gatekeepers of our liberties to be fair, balanced, relevant and accurate in covering them.

The entire staff of MediaSlander.com

Bill Roggio
Brian Scott
Charles Goggin
Kevin Craver
LaShawn Barber
Mike Krempasky
Roger Morrow
Winds Of Change.NET

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them ...

The story of young Lizzy Lulu could have been one of a girl with cystic fibrosis, dealing with the frustrations of that ugly disease. Instead, Lizzy reminds us that we can make a difference in the world, if we set our goals properly ...

America Supports You:
Girl Collects Batteries for Troops

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2005 – Batteries are the lifeblood of many things electronic. Without them, most CD players, digital cameras and handheld games are essentially useless.

When 12-year-old Lizzy Lulu, of Lancaster, Calif., learned that American servicemembers in Iraq often use these electronic devices, she decided to launch a campaign to collect 1,000,000 "AA" batteries.

"I knew that they would not have enough batteries to keep them running, so I started to collect batteries to send to them," Lizzy said.

Lizzy's site, Lulu's Batteries for the Troops, asks that you donate "AA" batteries (only) for shipment to the troops. There are links on the site to various buying sources, so that you can easily buy in bulk for easier shipment.

The counter on her site shows that Lizzy has 1,888 batteries so far, quite an impressive number - but still quite a stretch to reach the 1,000,000 battery goal. I plan on hitting the store on the way home to pick up a bulk pack or two ...

For other ideas on showing your support, visit America Supports You.


The last time I checked my sitemeter, I was about 65 hits from cranking past 5,000. That's not a lot, in the scheme of things, but pretty darned kewl from my perspective.

Thanks to Masked Menace©, who logged in just before 9am (pacific time) to log the 5000th visit!

Of course, that pales in comparison to my Blog-Father, Graumagus of Frizzen Sparks. He's pushing past the 50,000 mark sometime in the next few days.

He also managed to find a silver lining in the crappy compromise reached in the Senate over the use of the filibuster for judicial nominees. Here I was, all upset, and he brightened my day -- Thanks, Grau!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Random Acts of Kindness

I get very frustrated with the tactics of the MSM every day, reporting on all of the dark and unhappy news they can find, or drum up - while ignoring the great stories of our men and women in uniform.

So it is great to have blogs like Michael Yon's for balance and faithful reporting from Iraq.

In his newest post, he talks about this problem :

...So, unless a reporter was embedded with that unit at that time--and decides to tell the story--no one will ever know this one small, but powerfully important detail. There are a thousand such details falling likes trees in a forest, but no one is listening for those kinds of sounds...

Today's post includes pictures of a medic treating a young girl hurt buy a car bomb, and a soldier who needs to find a home for a puppy.

Yeah, these guys don't care ... much.

Tuesday links

Fun from the Milblog world ...
(Updates at the bottom)

I found two new music videos over at Mistakes Were Made courtesy of Snake Eater! Armyrillo was made by British troops, and is a take off of a video called Amaryllo. The second video, Kosovo has Norwegian troops doing a spoof on the Beach Boys song, Kokomo.

SF AlphaGeek explores some advanced training, and tells a shocking tale.

Mustang23 gives us a gateway to some scary folks.

Subliminal Koolaid relates a tale from his "There I Was..." series : A Smear Campaign. Severe spew alert on this one, folks! Don't say I didn't warn you!!

What's the first round of Helicopter vs. Heat-seeking Missile like for a pilot? Bill survived his, and shares a new TINS (for non-Denizens, "This is no Sh*t!") with us.

Have you experienced slide overload in meetings? Of course you have! For a little humorous look at the abuse of PowerPoint in the military world, check out the 1000Hour patch. While you're there, scan the fine poetry and other fun as well! Hat tip to John Donovan / Castle Argghhh.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Seattle Recruiting Protest

The recent controversy over the alleged actions of a few military recruiters has had many side effects. As May 21st is/was Armed Forces Day, some groups planned protests at recruiting offices around the country, as a counter to the pro-military events found at various military bases. I personally find this distasteful, as our men and women in uniform deserve our respect and support. If there are individuals who have not been professional in their recruiting efforts, it should not be used to dismantle the recruiting process. This is rather like saying that because a small handful of stock traders broke rules, we should abolish Wall Street!

Thanks to Blackfive, I was tipped off that the S. Jackson Street recruiting office here in Seattle was one such targeted. So just before noon on Saturday, I parked near the office and wandered in to say hello. Sergeant First Class Due and the other recruiters were great to talk with, kindly pointing out that I wasn't too old to serve, just overqualified! Back outside, I met with Annette and Dan, two other Blackfive readers who I was very glad to have for company.

Here is the whole crowd, minus a couple who hung around to annoy me and my new friends Annette and Dan S. (read below) :

Note the large professional banner :

More on the signs :

Larger images of the pictures above are here ... one, two, three, four.

I will say that while I was there it was peaceful. The protestors did their chanting and circling in the parking lot, and no one tried to enter the Recruiting office, which is on the right hand side in the first picture.

The protest action seemed mostly to consist of several individuals giving their viewpoints on the need to abolish recruiting in schools. We stood back and watched/listened, and after a few minutes, found that several people had gathered close to us. It may have been the way we didn't join in with the general head-nodding, or the "Operation Iraqi Freedom" t-shirt I was wearing (since my Blackfive shirt had not yet arrived when I left in the morning), but we apparently stood out as different ... go figure!

These folks tried to get us to agree with their suggestions on ending the recruitment. When they found that we were in total support of the military in general, and the recruiters as a group, this became a challenge. One person actually told us that if they got the recruiters out of the schools, then the only way to get enough recruits would be to reinstitute a draft, and that would end the war in Iraq right away.

... We resisted the urge to laugh at that, barely. Then we pointed out that we were not present to debate the war, but hoped to observe and hear what people had to say. For some perverse reason, this seemed to bring out the worst in a couple of folks - who then made it their business to interrupt our conversations among ourselves! This stage didn't last too long, though, because Dan and I both had to leave, and so we three left the protest still going at about 12:40.

I had to take one last pic, though, because Dan's bumper sticker was such a nice counter to the signs we had been seeing waved around :

Local station KOMO-TV covered the even today, and while the web site may change, it currently lists this protest as the Top Story.

Here are a couple of DoD links related to the recruiting issue :
Army Recruiters Stand Down to Refocus on Values
Army Recruiting Commander Briefing


I want to thank Staff Sgt Darrell McAllister (the description was Perfect!) and Captain Boczar for their hospitality as well as SFC Due. SSG McAllister provided another pic of the event taken from the Recruiting office, which is posted in Blackfive's update today, along with commenter Janie's notes from the event.

Here are some links to others on the topic of recruiting in the schools...

The Unalienable Right with MSNBC viewers - the anti-military peacenik demographic

Check out the site Go Jack Army, a blog run by an active Army Recruiter.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Fun

I'm off to view Mr. Lucas' latest last installment in the Star Wars epic this morning. Yes, it's a work day, and I'll be back at work afterwards - this is actually a Team Event for my workgroup - Whoo Hooo!

In the meantime, here are some other ideas for your Friday ...

Check out the Carnival of the Recipes #40, by way of Beth at She Who Will Be Obeyed.

Bunker has a link to an intriguing Email Conference in ... Nigeria?? I'm still laughing!

Did you know the REAL meaning behind the naming of Thursday? I am so grateful to That 1 Guy for 'splaining it!

Take a moment to go over to ALa's and join the Caption party.

Snarkatron has posted her Evil Overlord To-Do List.

The Castle Armorer has a nice collection of Potpourri for review.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Anti-Recruiting efforts in Seattle all over

HatTip to Blackfive for the heads-up on this opportunity to Combat the Moonbats here in Seattle this weekend.

Back in February I blogged about the shameful treatment given to Army recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Due at a local community college. The students moonbats felt that they won that day, and are planning a rally this Saturday to disrupt the Seattle recruiting office directly.

The calendar for the group Peace and Justice Events Seattle indicates that they are planning to protest the "recruiters' manipulative, dishonest, high-pressure tactics" at the Central District Military Recruiting Station, Promenade Shopping Center, 2301 S. Jackson St. Saturday at Noon.

I presume that they chose this day to form their protest especially to counter the traditional observation of Armed Forces Day.

If you are a Seattle metro area resident, Blackfive has some thoughts on how to help, please go check them out.

* * * UPDATE * * *

You just never know what is out there until you look, do you? I was checking around a bit to see just how many areas were going to be seeing protests like the one planned here in Seattle. Well, it turns out that there are others planned on Saturday in Chicago, and pretty much all over the Northeast.

Then I found this group, and right away - I noticed a little confusion ... [emphasis added]

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization, launches a National Call to Action — a series of rallies, workshops and demonstrations across the country, Friday, May 20 to highlight what it calls the growing trend of recruiter misconduct.

Obviously they have an identity problem, since they can't figure out it they are U.S. or International. So if this group is somehow 'covering the globe', as it were - does that mean that they are protesting the military in other countries as well?

Oh, they only want to dismantle the recruiting efforts here in the U.S. ... I see. How patriotic American Moonbat of them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Prayer offensive?

A Tacoma woman was contacted recently with a complaint regarding her choice of words on her car's license plate. Apparently Jane Milhans has a custom plate which gave offense to an unnamed person, who then complained to the Washington Dept of Licensing.

The unnamed complainant said she was offended that she had to be 'prayed over' by a license plate. The Horror! That someone should offer a prayer for another person is just so ... unbelievable! I also heard on the radio that Ms. Milhans had owned this custom plate for 16 years, and wondered how many people might have been offended - but reluctant to come forward.

What offending words are we talking about here?

John 3:16

As reported by KOMO News, the complaint was reviewed and the license plate in question found not to be offensive.

I am so relieved that Ms. Milhans has been allowed to keep the custom plate that she has had for 16 years. It still boggles my mind that anyone found offense in this simple string of letters and numbers, and the verse which they represent.

In my search for the above link, I found a similar item in Vermont. In that case, a request a plate with any variation on the phrase was rejected because "Officials claim car tags property of state so can't endorse religion". After all, we all know that all the other custom plates represent that State government's position on the world, don't we?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


There has been quite a brouhaha over the story lies printed in Newsweek regarding the supposed flushing of a Qur'an during a prisoner interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Newsweek's editor tries to explain - on the one hand apologizing, while on the other laying off the blame ... no surprise here.

I found some interesting viewpoints on this around the Blogosphere :

Dusty, the Instapilot, provided a link to Michelle Malkin for the Quote of the Day :

"We're not saying it absolutely happened but we can't say that it absolutely didn't happen either."

-- Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker

Smash takes a close look at the poor journalism, and the timeline, showing that the eventual retraction is largely meaningless.

Blackfive has previous reasons for not reading Newsweek ... As usual, he is ahead of the curve.

ALa at Blonde Sagacity is concerned with the focus on the rights of the terrorist suspects.

Bunker Mulligan muses on hypocrisy, Sgt B rants, Jack talks fundamentals, and Red Guy in a Blue State has second thoughts.

While driving home tonight, I was listening to KVI talk radio. Host Bryan Suits (recently returned from Iraq) was covering the latest update - a retraction of the story from Newsweek. I was interested to hear his viewpoint on these latest events. Since I don't have a transcript of the show, I will try to give just a couple of highlights.

Bryan stated that the White House should not have pushed for a retraction from Newsweek. His take was that the average Muslim citizen in the Middle East isn't really concerned with what Newsweek does or does not write. Rather, those who wish to twist young, radical minds against the United States have already taken advantage of the opportunity. So a retraction means nothing - it will likely go unreported in the region, and will have little positive effect.

He suggested instead that the White House should issue a statement, which should apologize for the potential offense that the purported act represents, while maintaining the position that the investigation of said reports had not found evidence. Bryan's point was that the apology would reach the Islamic world in a way that a retraction has no hope of doing.

I'm still thinking about this...

Clarification -- I am thinking about the potential use for an Apology as Bryan suggests, not about whether Newsweek deserves to be castigated for their poor journalism - that is a given. And, to answer Greyhawk's question, I do NOT have Newsweek in my house.


Kat of TheMiddleGround weighs in with Newsweek: Flushing Credibility down the Toilet...

Over at The Universe and Other Things, AirborneVet points out that Rumors Cause Damage, and that there is a cultural factor to deal wth ...

RUMORS are taken very seriously in the Middle East. They are taken as fact! Repeating these in the media only helps the terrorists!

Monday, May 16, 2005


In my usual slow fashion, I finally worked my way over to Desultory Butterfly's lovely site. I met Desult over at ALa's site some time ago ... OK -- I said I was slow!! (You don't have to agree so fast, Bill!)

I was interested in the 'Bloginality' quiz, took it, and found to my surprise that Desult and I are both INFP's!!!

As an INFP, you are Introverted, iNtuative, Feeling , Perceiving.
This makes your primary focus on Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition.

This is defined as a NF personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Idealist (Identity Seeking) type, and more specifically the Healers or Idealist

As a weblogger, you have wonderful words to express your feelings because of your idealism. Because you don't like conflict, you may be likely to make one list of links and leave it for a long time without updating for fear of offending.

I plead guilty to the Idealism part, but I think the real reason for the lack of updates in my blogroll / sidebar has far more to do with inertia ... *grin*

Go ahead, try the Quiz yourself!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The latest evidence on PVS

So many times we listen to a doctor give a diagnosis, and accept it completely, because after all -- they are the experts. However, there are some areas of medical science that are still completely mysterious - and the functioning of the human brain has a lot of mysteries left to confound us.

This was part of my reasoning and concern during the fight for Terri Schiavo. How much did / do the doctors really know about what would have happened had Terri been receiving any kind of therapy over the last 10 years of her life? We will never know, but there are some recent stories of amazing recoveries to help us recall that we have much left to learn.

My friend Hanya at TheRight-Stuff has some thoughts on this as well, as well as links to the recent news stories that just convince me further of how little we know.

Quiz Time

ALa picked this quiz up from Cassandra, and it sounded interesting. I agree with them both that the questions seemed a bit odd, and I wasn't sure how they would relate to the topic "What are the Keys to your Heart?".

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.
In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.

You'd like your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage something you've always wanted... though you haven't really thought about it.

In this moment, you think of love as something you don't need. You just feel like flirting around and playing right now.

Not too bad, actually - considering the nature of the questions. Give it a try yourself to see what you get.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Seeing Double

What are the odds of twin brothers joining the Marines and both being deployed to Iraq? Pretty high, as it turns out - but what about the odds of a chance meeting between them ...

Lance Cpl. Scott Siska was in Kuwait on his way home to Camp Pendleton, Calif., with the Marine Corps' 1st Service Support Group after a seven-month tour in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Kevin Siska was headed into Iraq with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion's Company C, Weapons Platoon, from Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a similar tour.

The brothers' mother, Carol Siska of Mantua, Ohio, said she had hoped her 20-year-old sons would get a chance to see each other while they were in Kuwait, but she knew the chances were slim. And they got slimmer and slimmer as Scott's return date kept changing.

"On (Scott's) deployment schedule everyday there were two groups that were being sent from his base (in Iraq) into Kuwait. First it was going to be March 5, and then it was going to be (a later date). You know, it kept fluctuating back and forth and changing," Carol said. "We knew Kevin was leaving (Camp Lejeune) March 7 and that he'd go right to Kuwait."

Scott had left a message on his brother's cell phone saying he had good news and bad news. His unit was finally heading to Kuwait but wouldn't be there until March 8. He figured he would probably miss Kevin.

As Scott tells it, his unit had finally gotten into Kuwait and took the opportunity during the brief stop to eat. He struck up a conversation with another group of Marines at the table. When he found out they were from Lejeune and what unit they were with, he asked if they knew "Siska".

"They looked at me, and they're like, 'You are Siska,'" he said. "They thought they were already talking to (my brother). They had no clue."

When they put two and two together, one of the Lejeune Marines told Scott to stay put.

Scott didn't quite understand why, but he stayed put. Shortly he heard the sound of feet running up behind him and saw the expression of the Marines sitting across from him. The Marine had gone to find his brother.

"I couldn't say anything," Scott said. "I was just totally amazed that he was there."

You can read the rest of the story here.

As wonderful as the Siska brothers' story is, here is another twist on twins. I give you the Hanson brothers - Cpl. Dustin Hanson and Cpl. Kyle Hanson. The Hansons are serving together at Camp Fallujah with Engineer Platoon, C Company, 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, where they are heavy equipment operators.

Looks like good things come in pairs - Semper Fi, Marines!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Interesting Perspectives ...

Beth of She Who Will Be Obeyed muses on the problems of Illegal Immigration, while Jack at Random Fate drags the Real ID Act into the sunlight for dissection.

I have qualms about the measure - although I need more review time. The speed with which this was pushed through is partly why I have reservations, given the consequences of implementing the act. Please read Jack's piece completely, and consider his final suggestions seriously.

ALa at Blonde Sagacity discusses the new Odd Couple ... not Oscar and Felix, but Obama and Byrd. Almost as odd is classifying Bill Cosby as a terrorist, for speaking bluntly to the black community, as noted by Cass at Villainous Company.

Bunker Mulligan points to an insightful piece on Culture, while Kat of The Middle Ground ponders those who claim they represent the Reality Based community ... where is that exactly?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Things I found interesting...

Thanks to Blackfive for pointing to this wonderful combination of John Coltrane's music and visual imagery from Michael Levy.

Speaking of visual imagery, Jack at Random Fate points out that image processing is moving to a new level.

Hit and run drivers strike Mamamonteez (thanks Sgt B!) as well as Kermit of BubbasBog. Oh, and I like the sign Kermit has posted as well.

In addition to pointing out the item above, Sgt B also provides some thoughts on Discipline.

Meanwhile, Eric links to a different kind of wax job, Subliminal Koolaid gives a Silent Scream, and the Castle Armorer exhorts us to Get Back to Work. Make sure that you visit and read the whole thing - the eye candy at the end is great!

Thanks to Stefan Sharkansky at SoundPolitics.com for continuing to tickle my funny bone each time he refers to the governor as 'Former Attorney General Christine Gregoire' ... heh!

Finally ... Graumagus has his own unique way of proving that there is a higher power. Heh!

It doesn't take a Choir Boy...

Neptunus Lex starts with a follow-up story on last year's Blackhawk crash in Afghanistan, then expands into a discussion on training and regulations for pilots.

And yet we don't fill our ranks exclusively from the membership of the Vienna Boys' Choir. It takes a certain personality type to hurl himself at the earth at 500 knots and a 45 degree dive angle while the SAMs sing their songs in his radar warning receiver and the anti-aircraft artillery offers up its lethal blossoms both before and aft, and who in spite of that stays fixed upon the target like a bird dog trembling on point with a passionate intensity. Because he'd come too far just to jettison his bombs and bug the hell out.

Compare the results in the above story with Good news / Bad news, courtesy of non-choirboy Bill, the Castle's rotary-wing specialist.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Weekend report

As a birthday gift, the Hubster arranged for a nice getaway to Orcas Island in the San Juans this weekend. Here's a map to help with visualization ...

San Juan Islands

Our base for the weekend was the Rosario Resort, which has an interesting history. Robert Moran served as Seattle's Mayor in the late 1800's, and had a successful career building ships with his brothers. They manufactured several ships for the government, including the battleship Nebraska, launched in October 1904.

The stress of his working life was wearing him down, however, so he retired and built the mansion at Rosario for around $22 million (in 1909!). His retirement was good for him, and he lived 40 more years. Sadly, the financial burden eventually became too great, and he sold the mansion and property during the Depression for a mere $50,000. As the keystone of the Rosario Resort, it is beautifully restored, and a lovely place to visit.

Over the weekend we played golf at the Orcas Island Golf Club, encountering some of the local residents. We hiked in Moran State Park, saw waterfalls and visited the historic Watch Tower at the top of Mt. Constitution, which has a wonderful view.

We rode the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and returned back to our quiet waterfront room. We even managed to find something for the gun lovers while driving through town on our way to the ferry this morning.
** Update ** According to John Donovan, this is an M114 155mm howitzer, otherwise known as "The Pig".

The food was excellent, the relaxation total, and the scenery terrific. I think my favorite picture, however, is the one I captured of the Information board outside of a shop on Orcas, showing the picture of each person from the Island serving in the military. I think that this community gets it ...

San Juan Islands

Hi-Res here

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Road Trip

I'm going to be gone for a few days - traveling up the coast to Anacortes and taking the ferry out into the San Juans for some R&R.

If the weather cooperates, I shall have some nice pictures next week. In the meantime, here's a nice shot of Mount Rainier to enjoy...

Mt. Rainier

Click here for Hi-Res

Interesting links...

Thanks to Max for pointing out the Clinton Accountability Project site, which is tracking the story of possible fraud in Senator Clinton's campaign. This one could get interesting...

At the Castle, John provides some info on Military matters pertaining to Transformation, as well as some eye candy and great discussion on B-17's and other older airframes.

Thanks to Dusty for pointing out the heinous scams against military families. How low can people sink??

Checking in with the other Denizens, I see that Kat has her 6th episode in the Beverly Hillbilly Bikers series posted (and links to the first 5 episodes). Meanwhile Cassandra ponders occupations in If Only.

Jack wonders if he entered a time warp, Alan sees Summer coming on fast, Sgt B has pictures of his Motor Pool - and is hoping to get some Bagpipes some day - check out his sidebar !!

Oh - and sometime today, I will pass 3000 visitors -- small potatoes in the scheme of things, but a big step for me! Thanks for being part of it!!!

** UPDATE **

The 3,000th visitor came by at around 3:45 (eastern) today ...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Who's a fascist?

Go Jack Army is Out of Patience with someone who wants to call the current administration Fascists.

Go there, watch the video, join the fight discussion.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Protect that laptop!

As laptop computers get smaller and lighter, and even more so with newer Tablet PCs, the need to secure what is on them increases constantly. If a laptop is stolen, the data on it may be worth more that the device itself, if not properly secured.

Of course, many people ignore this, preferring speed of access over security, as in the case of this story from Forbes. Thanks to Max for pointing it out ...

Ten O'Clock Tech
From The Laptops Of Terrorists
Arik Hesseldahl, 04.29.05, 10:00 AM ET

If you can't catch terrorists, then the next best thing seems to be snatching their laptop computers. And as luck would have it, they're just as sloppy about protecting their sensitive personal information as the rest of us.

At least that appears to have been the case when U.S. military forces came surprisingly close to catching the terrorist mastermind of al Qaeda in Iraq, the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

On Feb. 20, the Pentagon says al-Zarqawi was in a truck heading from Fallujah to a meeting in Ramadi when U.S. forces pulled over one of the vehicles in his convoy. Another truck in the group turned around and sped away. When they finally caught up to that truck, Al-Zarqawi was gone, but he had left his laptop in the car. And what they found on it says some hopeful things about our chances of ultimately rooting out and capturing the bad guys.

It turns out that terrorists are just as lazy about protecting their data as your average PC owner. There were, according to news reports, recent digital pictures, apparently of al-Zarqawi, tucked away in the "My Pictures" folder common to PCs running Microsoft's Windows.

Reports have varied about the information found on the computer. Reportedly, among the nuggets are names and addresses of friendly contacts, information about al-Zarqawi's medical condition and, possibly, financial information. All of this is valuable, and reduces the number of rocks under which the lowlife can safely hide.

It's not the first time a computer used by a terrorist leader has wound up in official U.S. hands. In 2003, when Pakistani soldiers captured Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, they also found his laptop, which according to some reports contained a rather tantalizing array of information. That information included at least a dozen locations along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which had been used by the terrorist kingpin Osama bin-Laden himself.

Of course the intelligence analysts will have to consider the possibility that the laptop was intentionally left by who they think was al-Zarqawi to throw them off his scent. But if the machine proves to be one that belonged to an individual at or near the top of the U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists, then it should give us some hope about eventually bagging some of the biggest fish in the war on terror as the months and years unfold.

Bruce Hoffman, director of the Washington office of Rand and a terrorism expert, says terrorists have some of the same problems the rest of us do in trying to keep prying eyes from their data. "They tend not to have heavily encrypted computers, they're not using strong passwords. And just like business travelers, they lose their laptops."

Certainly there are ways to protect data. Several companies build software that encrypts sensitive files or that can create secure sections of a hard drive. I've played with scores of these programs over the years, but I generally use PGP Desktop, which among other operations allows you to encrypt your e-mail communication--provided that whomever you're sending the message to also uses the program--and locks sensitive files.

But for every step you take to ensure data security, there's an extra step required to get the information. This can become tiresome if you're impatient or need to use the information freely. It's just like having to lock and unlock a restroom door several times a day. It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see how a terrorist constantly on the move might find the need to constantly encrypt and de-crypt his files a pain in the neck.

The smart terrorists, Hoffman says, learn from these captures and adjust their habits accordingly. In the pre-Sept. 11, 2001, days, Osama bin-Laden was a regular user of a satellite phone, until he learned along with the rest of the world that the National Security Agency had been listening to his conversations and that officials there occasionally played a recording of him talking to his mother.

"The ones that survive do so through natural selection," Hoffman says. "They keep getting smarter, because they pay attention to the techniques used to capture the others."

Still, I find it strangely encouraging to think that the one bit of information that might one day lead us to the prize--Osama bin-Laden fitted for his own set of leg shackles--is just sitting somewhere on some lazy terrorist's laptop.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Almost total

For this quiz, I fully expected 100% ...

I am:
"You're the perfect sycophant of the Republican elite. Tom DeLay and Karl Rove would be utterly proud of you."

Are You A Republican?

Hat tip to Beth at She Who Will Be Obeyed!