Monday, October 31, 2005

Michael Yon and LTC Kurilla

If you don't already have Michael Yon's Gates of Fire post tattooed onto your consciousness, then hie yourself over to his blog and catch up to the rest of us. You'll understand the image below better after reading...

Michael Yon

I mention that amazing piece of front-line reporting to set the stage for an update on the activities of the 1st Battalion / 24th Infantry, AKA the Deuce Four. Since LTC Kurilla was wounded the unit has redeployed to Washington, and last week unfurled the unit flags at Fort Lewis.

When I saw this picture the other day, I wanted to cheer for joy at the site of the commander leading his men out onto the field, crutches and all!

I recently read a comment in another blog which posed a 'chicken or the egg' kind of query:
* Are there people like this because we are a great country?
- OR -
* Are we a great country because of people like this?

Right now I think the answer is obvious - great soldiers like LTC Erik Kurilla, and every one of his troops - many of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice - make us great.

So what's next for the Deuce Four? A visit from Michael Yon, who is spending the week in the Seattle area. Then there's the Ball this Saturday, to which Michael Yon and Bruce Willis have been invited as well.

Paying Respect to Those Who've Earned It

Bruce Willis is one of the finest and most successful actors in the world. Further introduction would be redundant. Mr. Willis has been to Iraq with his band and the USO, and has been following the events in Mosul through my dispatches. He has expressed his desire to support our troops to me on numerous occasions. One need only read his website to see how strongly he feels about this:

And so, Mr. Willis wanted to personally thank American soldiers for their successes and sacrifices in Iraq, and made plans to fly to the Fort Lewis area and thank soldiers who fought so well. Mr. Willis will attend the "Deuce Four" Ball near Fort Lewis, on November 5th, 2005.

The soldiers of the Deuce Four have earned the right to relax, to spend a night of pleasure with their friends and spouses. So has Mr. Yon - whose amazing blog has brought the war front directly to our desktops.

He is also taking the time to honor those who died, and I'll leave you with his thoughts ...
...Nearly 600 soldiers were killed or wounded from the 1st Brigade (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, while fighting in Iraq. I visited the newly built 1st Brigade Memorial, and as I read the names of the fallen etched in the granite face of the memorial, I was humbly reminded of the great price our soldiers continue to pay for my freedom to write and to speak.

(cross-posted at Random Nuclear Strikes)

Reason # 3,952 to hate the MSM

NOT just because this article in the USA Today starts with the withdrawal of Ms. Miers from consideration, NOT because of the use of the phrase 'botched nomination', and NOT because it proceeds to give a stale re-hash of Justice O'Connor's history.

Check out the chart of "Failed Nominations" at the bottom of the linked article. In what universe is the withdrawal of John Roberts as a nominee for Associate Justice (in order to submit him as a nominee for Chief Justice) to be considered a "Failed Nomination"?? Oh, sure, there is a note about the nomination to Chief Justice - but the fact is that this nomination never Failed.

This is exactly the kind of mis-use of terminology that prevents me from trusting what I read, and what I hear when I force myself to watch the news. Did the President withdraw Justice Roberts? Of course he did. Did he do so because the nomination was in trouble? Of course not.

Samuel AlitoThe good news is that no time is being wasted, and a new nominee has been announced. From what I've read so far, Samuel Alito has a strong record from his 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals. All of the conservative hard-liners who were dissatisfied with Ms. Miers should be very pleased, especially the base who have been aching for a fight.

Predictably, the battle of words has already begun. Michelle Malkin has more on the nomination and reaction. Hugh Hewitt provides background material links on Judge Alito's decisions and writings, and outlines the shape of the battle to come.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Who's your D20?

I rolled the dice, figuratively speaking, and discovered my inner Icosahedron ...

I am a d20

Take the quiz at

You are the large, round, friendly d20! You are the friendly, outgoing, outspoken, leader of friends. You are often looked up to, even though you don't normally deserve it. Most other types secretly wish they were you, and you'd give them tips on how, if only you had a clue yourself. Your charisma is often all you need, but you have your occasional moments of brilliance as well--just never when it's actually needed. You are the all-around good guy girl, a dependable chum, a respectable foe, and an inspiration to those who need one. Who says you can't get by on a smile and good looks alone?

Hmpf - Who says I don't deserve being looked up to? Anyways - check it out and tell me your type. If we get at least one of each, it's D&D time!!

H/T to Graumagus, the D8.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wounded Warfighters - How to Help

First, some great news for SFC Buzz Richardson, who I wrote about here and here. By way of Buzz's Mom and Aunt, we have this good news, and a new address to send him cards.

Buzz has been discharged from Walter Reed and flown to Augusta Georgia!!! They told him Wednesday night at 11:30 PM that he would be leaving DC for Georgia at 6:45AM Thursday morning!!! Sarah was up all night packing first her motel room and then Buzz's hospital room. They flew via military cargo .....not what you'd call first class. They were both pretty worn out by the time they reached Augusta. Sarah is staying in a Comfort Inn within walking distance of the hospital.
Buzz is in room 1134.

The address is :
Augusta VA Medical Center
Patient SFC Richard C. Robertson Rm# 1134
One Freedom Way
Downtown Division
Augusta, Georgia 30901

Buzz and his wife, Sarah, very much appreciate all of the kind attention. Send a note of thanks, or just keep them in your prayers.

You might remember that Buzz is one of the soldiers who has received a laptop through the Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT project. This project is so very important for providing a means of communication and independence for our wounded warfighters, so we are launching a new fundraising competition. The Fuzzilicious one has all the details here - please go visit her site, add your suggestions, and start thinking about how you'll plan to participate.

Blog ChallengeWe need to spread the word far and wide to ensure the success of the project - don't delay!!


New Flyers are available at Castle Argghhh! Print them up and post them to spread the word!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Blogoversary!

No - not mine! Blogfather Graumagus marked his second blogoversary yesterday, and I missed it. Argghhh!

As I pondered what to give him, Harvey's advice helped a bit. Since Grau is working crappy long hours, I figured the only practical thing he needs right now is More Time! But, you know, decorative is good also.

Happy Belated Blogoversary, Grau!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Call Mr. Toad ...

Rachel at Legless in Perpetuum found his Wild Ride!

She (Rachel, not the toad!) also has a nice little public awareness message to share.

The numbers game

We all know how much the MSM likes to use and abuse numbers to their own benefit, and the casualty toll in the war is their favorite number to use as a bludgeon. As always, they miss the real meaning behind the numbers they wield.

New York Post
October 20, 2005

Exploiting The Dead
By Ralph Peters

We'll soon reach a total of 2,000 dead American troops in Iraq. You won't miss the day it happens. The media will pound it into you.

But no one will tell you what that number really means — and what it doesn't.

Unable to convince the Bush administration or our troops to cut and run, the American left is waging its campaign of support for Islamist terror through our all-too-cooperative media. And you're the duck in the anti-war movement's shooting gallery.

Breathless anchors and voice-of-God columnists will suggest that 2,000 dead is an exorbitant price to pay in wartime, that reaching such a threshold means we've failed and that it's time to "support our troops and bring them home."

All lies. Certainly, the life of every American service member matters to us. But the left's attempt to exploit dead soldiers and Marines for partisan purposes is worse than grave-robbing: Ghouls only take gold rings and decaying flesh; the left wants to rob our war dead of their sacrifices and their achievements, their honor and their pride.

Those who died in Iraq have not died in vain. Even should Iraq fail itself in the end, our courageous effort to give one Middle-Eastern Muslim population a chance to create a rule-of-law democracy has been worth the cost — for their sake, but also for ours. Without a transformation of the Middle East, we shall see no end of terror.

As a former soldier whose friends still serve under our flag, I'm especially disgusted by the pretense on the part of those who never served and who wouldn't dream of letting their own children serve that they speak for the men and women in uniform.

Our troops speak for themselves. By re-enlisting. And returning to Iraq, to complete the mission for which their comrades gave their lives or suffered life-altering wounds.

Two generations of politicians and pundits suffer from their avoidance of military service. They speak of war in ignorance and view our troops — whom they quietly despise — as nothing more than tools of their own ambitions. After deploring body counts during their Vietnam-era protest years, today our leftists revel in the American body count in Iraq.

The left has been infuriated by its inability to incite an anti-war movement in our military — forgetting that this is an all-volunteer force whose members believe in service to our country. The best the Democrats can do is to trot out poor Wes Clark, an ethically challenged retired general who will say anything, anywhere, anytime in return for five more seconds in the spotlight.

As for that "unacceptable" number of casualties, let's put it in perspective:

Our current loss rate in Iraq from combat and non-combat deaths is 765 per year. That's painful for individual families, but we would have to remain in Iraq, taking casualties at the same rate, for 76 years to rival our loss of more than 58,000 Americans in Indochina.

And Vietnam wasn't remotely as important to our national security. The terrorists we face today are more implacable than any of the enemies from our past. Even the Germans didn't dream of eradicating our entire population. The Japanese hoped to master Asia, not to massacre every man, woman and child in America.

We would need to continue our efforts in Iraq and the greater War on Terror for 532 years to suffer the 407,000 dead we lost in less than four years in World War II.

And what about our greatest struggle, the American Civil War? We would have to maintain the status quo in Iraq for 470 years just to rival the number of Union dead and for 729 years to equal our total losses, North and South.

Even our Revolutionary War, in which fewer than 5,000 Americans died in combat (many more, unrecorded, fell to disease) has to be judged in terms of the population at the time — just over 2 million. Equivalent losses today would be over 500,000 dead Americans.

The point isn't to play hocus-pocus with statistics. That's what the pro-terrorist left is trying to do — betting that you know nothing of military history. Two thousand dead isn't a magic number. Our first loss was as important as the last. We must not make a mockery of our fallen by treating them as political rag-dolls to be tossed around the media playroom. Great causes incur great costs.

In historical terms, our losses in Iraq have been remarkably light, given the magnitude of what we seek to achieve. The low casualty rate is a tribute to the skill and professionalism of our troops and their battlefield leaders. None of us should breathe a word that undercuts them while they're fighting our war.

If the American left and its media sympathizers want someone to blame for our combat losses, they should begin with themselves. Their irresponsible demands for troop withdrawals provide powerful encouragement to Muslim fanatics to keep on killing as many American service members as possible. On the worst days the terrorists suffer in Iraq, our "anti-war" fellow citizens keep the cause of Islamist fascism alive. Their support is worth far more to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi than any amount of Saudi money.

It would be wonderful to live in a world in which war was never necessary. But we don't live in such a world. And there are no bloodless wars. We should honor every fallen American. But we also must recognize that, on this maddened earth, only the blood of patriots shed abroad allows us to live in safety here at home.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "New Glory, Expanding America's Global Supremacy."

Over at Fuzzilicious Thinking, the Lioness further ponders the intent of the MSM. Go read, and give her your thoughts.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Losing heart ... No Way!

I'm not referring to myself, as I support the war in Iraq ... the Mission *AND* the warfighters. But I hear it occasionally when listening to talk radio. I really love it when someone invokes Cindy Sheehan (for example) and then tries to prove that *Most* of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan want the President to bring them home now, based on some bogus extrapolation.

That's bullshit, of course, as bad math if nothing else. So to battle singularity with singularity, I give you Capt B of One Marine's View. (At least his blog title is honest about whom he represents)

By the way, the Captain still believes in You, the American public. Don't let him down. Go read, and show your Spirit.

Paying Attention?

It's coming down to the wire for this election season, with some important initiatives on the Washington State ballot for voter approval (or denial). The most important of these is I-912 - "No New Gas Tax". The purpose of I-912 is to repeal the gas tax hike legislation enacted by newly minted Governor Gregoire this January.

The core of this bill is a graduated 9.5 cent per gallon tax hike over 4 years. This year's installment raised the tax paid in Washington to 31 cents per gallon. Anyone remember the bit about how you boil a frog? Yup ... just turn the heat up gradually, and the frog stays in the water. Well, we're not frogs, and we're not sitting still.

The worst part isn't that this gas tax was passed so quickly, or even that the Dems in the state government forced it through under a special (and bogus) Emergency Clause (to avoid a people's vote). It is that the gas tax isn't aimed at doing what is needed to reduce congestion - with much of the money tagged for repairs and Ferry/Railway improvements, not for new lanes or other additions.

And then, there is the no-longer-amusing political battle over the free use of the airwaves. You might recall the kerfuffle about local KVI talk show hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson being forced to consider their radio-time as 'In-Kind contributions' to the petition drive in June. Thanks to Heartless Libertarian, we can see that the strangling of the First Amendment is taking place all over again.

Wake Up, Washington voters -- it's time to make your voice heard. If the PTB shut down the public voices, then the private ones need to keep the talk going!

Castle Birthday time!

Today is cause for celebration - two of my fellow Denizens are celebrating Natal Anniversaries. Both Jack of Random Fate and Keith of My Army Life were born on this day, and the Castle celebration is on!

Also celebrating a birthday on this date is the United Nations. There has been a lot of scrutiny applied to the UN recently, and at least one blogger has mused whether it was and is flawed on purpose. Sort of anti-Intelligent Design.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

For Real Geeks

Tired of looking at that tiny little 21" monitor?? Maybe you need the ultimate monitor!


Let's see ...

BillT has a reader challenge posted, be sure to form your response before reading the comments.

Also from the Castle, Cassandra takes a look at the tepid response of the MSM to the resounding success of the Iraq vote last weekend. Wherever you post, Cass - it's a good thing!

Jarred at Air Force Pundit shares some of the news from CENTCOM. Blackfive is following this as well.

Firepower 5 is headed to Pakistan to help with the relief efforts. So is Sgt Hook's old unit.

The Marines in Iraq know that the election is over, but Capt B reminds us there is no Holiday yet. Be sure to read the comments.
THIMBLE ... heh!!

Bubblehead at Subsunk points to discussions on women serving on submarines, head over to Chapomatic to follow the whole thing.

And while we're being Jointy, let's not forget that key service ... the Military families. They wear no uniforms, but serve nonetheless.

Also, check out the Holidays for Heroes info at Mudville Gazette, to see how you can help the Soldiers' Angels organization improve the spirits of all of the troops this season. Note that the window for sending packages to the troops deployed overseas is not very long -- so don't wait!

For fun - jump over to Snake Eater's and enjoy the dancing and paratrooper pr0n.

** UPDATE **

This item from Thunder6 warms the heart of at least one Apache Pilot - he says it feels good to be appreciated!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has a great post about the Anbar Campaign, including a Flash presentation of the campaign for those of us who need help visualizing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lessons to learn

What's the real learning to gain from Hurricane Katrina and the tragedy of New Orleans? I can think of one very prosaic one ... people with cars were able to leave. This is a lesson that the elected officials in my part of the world should heed - as they continue to try to get me out of my car and onto a Metro bus.

From a broader perspective, though, SF Says shares an article which points the finger at narcotics ... of the spirit.

And speaking of lessons, do you want to know how some of your donated money was really spent? H/T to Brian at Point Two Percent.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Letter to the Republic ...

Lieutenant K of Wordsmith at War has earned his blog name again, with A Letter to the Republic for Which We Stand.

Go read it. Now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Man's best friend(s)

I found this terrific picture over at It's a Matter of Opinion. I may be sappy, but it just makes me feel good!

Dolphin Experience

Fun things

First, the Desultory Girl tagged me with a Seven Things meme.

In no particular order, here are ...

Seven things I want to do before I die
1. Pilot an airplane or a helicopter (or both)
2. Summit Mount Rainier
3. Own a property where I can keep / ride my own horses
4. Break 100 (for 18 holes, not 9)
5. Bench press my own weight
6. Learn to operate the SLR camera
7. Visit all the continents

Seven things I can do
1. Explain technical issues to non-technical people
2. Grout tile
3. Bench press Desult's body weight
4. Talk frantic customers out of trees (figuratively speaking)
5. See 3-D 'Magic Eye' Pictures
6. Help other people see 3-D pictures (come to my house, I'll prove it!)
7. Ride a horse

Seven things I cannot do
1. Cook creatively
2. Whistle through my fingers
3. Turn down good food (okay, any food)
4. Write poetry (or prose, for that matter)
5. Organize myself
6. Be a jerk
7. Keep my weight down (see #3)

Seven things I say a lot
1. Bummer
2. Hi
3. Kewl
4. Ya Think?!
5. Sure
6. Not
7. Shoes, Stop that! (*ahem* - Shoes is my cat)

Seven things I find attractive in a male
1. Cooking ability
2. Sense of humor
3. Enjoys travel
4. Great smile
5. Intelligence
6. Self Confidence
7. Interested in current events

Seven celebrity crushes
1. Matthew McConaughey
2. Sean Connery
3. Hugh Jackman
4. Pierce Brosnan
5. Mel Gibson
6. Tommy Lee Jones
7. Liam Neeson

Seven people carry this meme forward? You tell me who you are -- If you want to tag yourself, leave me a comment!

Second, in response to John's query :

News and Updates

There are some great udpates out this morning around the Iraqi constitutional referendum. Here's a sampling ...

Capt B at One Marine's View :

Now as the country has made a milestone achievement they have democracy in motion. As Americans we want things done yesterday and have little patience for things not produced now. Patience is what is needed here and the coward left wing bed wetters won’t understand that. Iraq is where the US was 200 yrs ago. Will their constitution change? Yes of course as ours still changes to this day.

The Armorer of Castle Argghhh! :
Even the Sunnis voted in large numbers yesterday... even if, as the AP observes, to vote *against* something. Novel idea, that, eh? Not only can you vote (that's happened before in Iraq) but you can vote *against* something. Wonder how many Sunni's, walking away from the polls, had that little epiphany...

John's update had some other Great News as well ... Sgt Hook is blogging again! **Happy Dance!!!**

Sgt Hook has a question for the MSM - Where are the Purple Fingers??

Don't miss ...
Major K, DadManley, Fuzzilicious Thinking, and All Things Conservative (H/T to Jarred at Air Force Pundit).

Finally, in the spirit of saving the best for last - go visit Iraq the Model to hear the Iraqi viewpoint, including a video!

Iraqi Policeman near Basra

Friday, October 14, 2005

Front Row Seat

Capt B has a front row seat for the Big Show, as the Iraqi people prepare to vote up or down on their Constitution.

Are his Marines ready to help protect the Iraqis as they vote tomorrow?

Heh ... What do you think?

"It’s a nice night out. Jet fighters/bombers are swarming as you can hear the engine noise at high altitudes throughout. I walked about tonight to talk to the Marines and get a feel for how they are doing and feeling. Passing out a few stoags and shooting the bull they all are locked and loaded for whatever brings in the next few hours. Young studs trained, rehearsed confidant and ready. I don’t pity the scumbags who tread our area as they will get that one-way ticket to Allah. Regardless of how tomorrow turns out, it’s already a big step for us outa here. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers and thanks to everyone stopping by."

Keep those positive thoughts rollin', folks. Drop in at One Marine's View and show that you care.

Don't forget the other Milblogs of deployed military folks. If you need ideas - Blackfive has a great list.

General foolishness

Hmmm ... A quiz which ranks me as William Wallace, while the Armorer comes out as a Hippie?

Then again, hanging out with a band of naked, drunken Scotsmen has possibilities.

William Wallace
You scored 72 Wisdom, 62 Tactics, 62 Guts, and 46 Ruthlessness!
Like William Wallace, chances are you have no problem charging a larger, better trained, better equipped, better armed and armored English army with a band of naked drunken Scotsmen. I'm not contesting that you have balls. It's your brain function I'm worried about.

Scottish soldier and national hero. The first historical record of Wallace's activities concerns the burning of Lanark by Wallace and 30 men in May, 1297, and the slaying of the English sheriff, one of those whom Edward I of England had installed in his attempt to make good his claim to overlordship of Scotland. After the burning of Lanark many joined Wallace's forces, and under his leadership a disciplined army was evolved. Wallace marched on Scone and met an English force of more than 50,000 before Stirling Castle in Sept., 1297. The English, trying to cross a narrow bridge over the Forth River, were killed as they crossed, and their army was routed. Wallace crossed the border and laid waste several counties in the North of England. In December he returned to Scotland and for a short time acted as guardian of the realm for the imprisoned king, John de Baliol . In July, 1298, Edward defeated Wallace and his army at Falkirk, and forced him to retreat northward. His prestige lost, Wallace went to France in 1299 to seek the aid of King Philip IV, and he possibly went on to Rome. He is heard of again fighting in Scotland in 1304, but there was a price on his head, and in 1305 he was captured by Sir John de Menteith. He was taken to London in Aug., 1305, declared guilty of treason, and executed. The best-known source for the life of Wallace is a long romantic poem attributed to Blind Harry, written in the 15th century.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 59% on Unorthodox

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 21% on Tactics

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 85% on Guts

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 16% on Ruthlessness

Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Happy Birthday, Lady Thatcher

Thanks to the ever alert JMH, I have been reminded that today is the birthday of a great lady. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has always been a shining example of strength and conviction to me, as I came into my political views during the early 80's. Along with President Reagan, she had much to do with shaping the way I viewed the world and the position of our two countries on that stage.

Michael Howard, the outgoing Tory leader, placed her alongside Winston Churchill in the gallery of national leaders.

"What Churchill did in wartime, Margaret Thatcher did in peacetime. Her political will and her iron courage saw off the threats to our way of life that Britain faced in 1979. We all owe her an enormous debt. I wish her well for her birthday and for many years to come," Mr Howard said.

Today we wish Lady Thatcher a Happy 80th birthday!!

Three cheers for the 'Iron Lady'!


For comparison, see the lively discussion at Castle Argghhh! regarding the changes in law proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Yes, the times are changing - but is this the right way to deal with the current world situation??


The other day I posed a query - what was the odd gun-looking thing, and where was it located. The answer to part one was quickly provided (it only took two comments ... Sheesh!). The second part has eluded my faithful readers, so I wanted to end the suspense for the two or three people who paid attention ... *grin*

The sculpture depicting a revolver with its barrel twisted around itself, and labeled "Non-Violence", was found outside the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The grounds of the museum are lovely, and contain several sculptures depicting various sports, such as this :

Olympic Museum

The twisted gun was the only piece I saw that did not depict or relate to sports and the Olympic games, and the rest of the gardens were very enjoyable. But for me, the inclusion of this item tarnished the intent of the garden. Especially when you remember that there are events in the games where guns are used ... *Horrors!*

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Milblog!!

GunnNutt has uncovered a new kind of Muppet ... sort of!

Meet Capt B, of One Marine's View, currently serving in central Iraq, and having served a tour already in Afghanistan. Make sure to review the Basics ... they say a lot about the man, the Marine, and the Officer.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Capt B - And Thank You for your service, Sir!

Supporting the wounded

Mr. Completely has an update on the status of Buzz Robertson and his friend Chuck. The cards and emails have been highly appreciated - as are the prayers! However, due to likely moves for each of them, the family has asked that the cards and letters be stopped for now.

Please continue with your prayers and positive thoughts for both men!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Laugh ... or Cry?

Sometimes both...

Fuzzybear Lioness wants to know - Chocolate or ...

MSG Keith shares a few chuckles

SWWBO is firmly behind the Save Piglet movement

The Armorer provides distractions

AFSister has seen Elvis

Jack shares a quote about the other two percent

Kat points out that Piglet will have to be pried from her cold, dead hands

Erik has a tale of a shaved goat

Cassandra reminds us there are plenty of Manly Men

Alan is feeling just a bit bad (about the Yankees)

Neptunus Lex is celebrating his second blogiversary (as of Oct 07) ... wish him well, and ask for many more blog stories like the Rhythms series (part XXXII is up!).

Finally, check out what happens when Contagion of Miasmatic Review is forced to attend Sensitivity training ... and he's the only man in the class!!! I'm still laughing at this one :

After taking the personality test the instructors do not like when you enthusiastically shout out that you scored “perfect” for the “Dominant” personality.

Free Piglet!

All you chefs, and chef wanna-bes, take a minute to contemplate a fine recipe for pork, and take yourself off to Blonde Sagacity to submit it for a special Carnival of the Recipes.

Why? Because Pork Fat Rulez! Even the Armorer is waxing poetic!

Free Piglet!


A little quiz for the eyes. But what is it?

Feel free to leave guesses in comments. No prizes, just for fun!

Mystery gun


My commentors are quick! David thinks that this is the twisted gun barrel sculpture at the UN. He's half right - The one I photographed was not in New York.

Here is the original photo :

Click for hi-res
Does anyone want to venture a guess as to the location?

Hint ... I just returned from Europe ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Prisoner of Chillon

Chillon Castle

As a loyal Denizen, I looked for Castles as we toured Switzerland and Italy. Exploring the local areas of interest from Lausanne, we found the Castle of Chillon, just a short drive along the shore of Lake Geneva. Actually, to be precise, the structure's foundations are the rocks which are just offshore - so that the walls of the Castle rise straight out of the water.

Chillon also has a rich history. In 1350, a man named François Bonivard ran afoul of the current Duke of Savoy, and was imprisoned in the dungeons for 6 years - manacled to the 5 pillar. In 1816, Lord Byron visited the Castle, and on hearing the tale, was inspired to write 'The Prisoner of Chillon'. Note, however, that the poem does not recount a true tale, but is fiction.

The Armorer will find it interesting that Bonivard's release in 1356 apparently came "when the Bernese army swept down from the north, briefly bombarded the castle from above with their newfangled mobile artillery, and took control". (From the Chillon history site)

Chillon Castle has been wonderfully renovated, and is very interesting throughout. The tour is self-guided, and takes you through much of the structure, from the dungeons built onto the rock, and up the many steps to the top of the Keep! Some of the halls are filled with various implements of the day - including Pointy Things! (Attn: Neffi!!)

The renovated artworks are wonderful as well - and one hall is devoted to art which relates to the history of the lake, and the region. Many of the rooms were highly decorated, and these have been, or are being, renovated - including the Chapel. All in all, a wonderful visit, indeed!

No - the European tour is not complete yet, but I am now finished sorting the pictures, so hope to get some more posts up with pictures for the enjoyment of the few readers still left!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friends in Need

We all need friends, to share the good times, and to help us get through the bad times. Some of my blog friends could use some of that friendly encouragement.

Rammer of Blogoram lost his father this week. Having been where he now is, I know that all kind words are welcome.

Meanwhile, Bloodspite of Techography has been doing some soul searching, after some stressful months, and a weird week.

Leave some kind words for them, and then take some time to tell your family that you love them.

For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

News on SFC Buzz Robertson

I have an update to share with you from Buzz Robertson's Aunt. She is very proud of her nephew, as you can imagine, especially for his dedication and spirit. Here is the latest update :

The Buzz Report

Today, SFC Richard (Buzz) Robertson was supposed to have some skin graft operations before being shipped down to Augusta, GA for rehabilitation. However the operation was postponed. His high temperatures (103) have not abated. Last week it was thought that the fevers were caused by a fungus introduced into his system by a piece of shrapnel. However, after the wound was cleaned out again, and more antibiotics were given, the fever still came back. This week they discovered he has a urinary tract infection, but he has been on antibiotics for several days for that – yet still runs a high fever at night. (Mostly he runs a high fever at night or after he has had an especially active day.)

Now the doctors are going to check for malaria and possible other causes of the fevers.

THE GOOD NEWS. Today, when Buzz was told that the skin graft operation would be postponed, he said, “Well, help me dress so I can go to physical therapy.” However that was not to be. After he was dressed, he and several other wheel chair patients were told that a special guest was coming to present their purple hearts ribbons. They were wheeled down to a recreation room and waited. Buzz was grumbling to himself because he does not like to miss physical therapy. Then… in walked PRESIDENT AND LAURA BUSH!

President Bush took time with each man to speak briefly and shake hands and salute when he awarded the medals. When he came to Buzz, he said, “So SFC Robertson, what about those legs?”

Buzz replied, “Well sir, I started out as a paratrooper and now I’m a paraplegic.” They shared a laugh. Buzz was so elated, he could have floated back to his room without the wheel chair. What a distinct honor!

As for the skin grafts, we don’t know when those will be done. It all depends on when the fever subsides. So he will be at Walter Reed for at least another week. If you have lost his mailing address, it is:

SFC Richard Robertson,
Walter Reed Hospital, Room #5861
Washington, DC 20307-0004

His birthday was October 2 – but it’s not too late to send a birthday card. He is now 36 years old.

... Buzz's Aunt

(Previous updates here and here)

Send cards to let Buzz know you're thinking of him, and his family as well.

While you're at it, send a card to his friend Chuck Yerry, who I wrote about here as well. And send emails to both of them, while you're at it ...

Chuck Yerry
Walter Reed Hospital, Room #5734
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20307

You can send emails of support to either Chuck or Buzz at:

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Another interesting take on Ms. Miers

Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker takes a look at the dynamics at play with the President's nomination of Ms. Miers to SCOTUS.

I agree that watching the event is going to be interesting, on many levels, and I expect that a certain amount of Democratic tail-chasing will ensue. I don't buy completely into his take on the group dynamics, and Ms. Miers likely place in same - I fear his description sounds a bit like a resident Grandma. But the point is that each person in such a small group has his/her own contribution to the emotional as well as the intellectual balance - and every person in the small group cannot have the same personality characteristics for the group to mesh together well.

So go other to American Thinker and read the whole thing, then let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Whom do I trust?

I imagine that my first reaction to the President's nomination of Harriet Miers to succeed Justice O'Connor mirrored many other conservatives. I wondered whether someone with no judicial experience was the best choice, and I worried that the need for a strict constructionist to fill the spot would be left unfulfilled.

As with many things political, I was looking forward to listing to Hugh Hewitt on my drive home. When it comes to a nomination to SCOTUS, and anything involving legal discussions, I trust Hugh Hewitt. I've been listing to him off and on for 18 years, he's a lawyer, he's been in the White House, he teaches constitutional law, and I trust his instincts on many matters political.

His take on the nomination of Harriet Miers makes sense. No, she was not the person he (Hugh) hoped that the President would nominate. But he made some very good points on the show yesterday, and on his blog post.

President Bush has beaten the Dems like bongo drums for five plus years, and yet some conservatives are spooked by the fact that Harry Reid and Charles Schumer haven't taken to the Senate floor to announce a attempt at a filibuster. Shouldn't the presumption be --given the record of the past few election cycles-- that the president knows what he is doing?

The hearings will be very, very interesting, and Democrats have put themselves in a very small box. It will be unfortunate if conservative loyalists help them out of it by legitimizing attacks on a dedicated and very qualified public servant.

So, the fact that so many (on Both sides) were primed to do battle over this one may make the selection feel like a mis-step, but we need to pick our battles well. This seems to be a good example of doing just that.

Another key item that I overheard in conversation was that we need to keep the key Appellate level jurists where there can continue to be effective, rather than yanking them from their benches to move to a position where they will have less opportunity to hear and decide upon cases. Only a tiny fraction of the cases appealed make it to the Supremes, the Appellate level is Very, Very important to our system!

I'm with Hugh on this one - give the President credit for knowing how to outfox his opponents.


Cassandra at Villainous Company links to a most excellent essay from NRO on the topic, from the Honorable Ronald Cass.

Monday, October 03, 2005

There but for the grace of ...

Victor Davis Hanson gives us a taste of the way things would be, if Saddam were still in power in Iraq.

Saddam in 2005!
Just imagine a different Iraq ...

Saddam promises more bounties for suicide bombers in Rather interview

In a much publicized second interview with CBS’s Dan Rather, Iraqi’s President Saddam Hussein insisted that continual American pressure had little effect. “Look at Afghanistan. Here it is almost October 2005, and America is still fighting the Taliban, so I don’t think they will dare come to our Iraq. But we are ready to be martyred nonetheless.”

The Iraqi president who was hosting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also denied rumors that Iraqi agents had attempted to assassinate former President Bill Clinton. On recent disclosures of a plot against him, President Clinton left nearby Kuwait, where he had lectured his hosts on the dangers of WMD proliferation in Iraq.

It's both funny, and not funny - because the reality is there behind the sarcasm. Never so heavily, though, as in this segment :

Conservatives fault Bush wavering

The Project For The New American Century sent yet a third letter demanding the removal of Saddam Hussein. Spokesmen reminded President Bush that they had asked President Clinton for Saddam’s overthrow in 1998 (“The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.”)

Signers also pointed out to President George W. Bush that the group had written him as well, over four years ago and recited the key words of that September 20, 2001, warning, “…But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [9/11] attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.”

One prominent signer sighed, “We are Bush’s base. If the losses mount in Iraq, he can always count on us — everyone of us who signed these letters is rock solid and will stick by their Commander-in-Chief, thick or thin. There is not a single one of us who is the sort who would ask for a war, then bail when it gets hairy.”

Read it all of the way through - there's something for everyone, I promise.

Junfraujoch Revisited

My intentions to create a nicely ordered travel report have fallen under the wheels of getting back to work. (Sorry, Boq!)

In the interim, I want to add some visual imagery to my previous post about riding a train to the Top of Europe:

JungfrauThe valley below JungfrauView from Inside the Eiger

... And from the top :

The EigerGlacier river

Traveling to a snowcapped saddle between two Alps was definitely a great experience. The ride up on the Junfraujoch Railway is part of the whole experience :

The Jungfrau Railway, the highest railway in Europe and one of the most interesting of all mountain lines, was constructed in 1896-1912 from the designs of Adolph Guyer-Zeller of Zürich. It attains a height of over 11,000 ft., thus bringing the most unathletic into the upper regions of the expert climber. Most of the line is on the rack system (Strub's patent), with overhead trolleys (steepest gradient 1:4), but there is also a short section beyond Eismeer on the ordinary or 'adhesive' system (gradient 1:14). The power is generated in works near Lauterbrunnen and Burglauenen, whence it is transmitted by high-tension lines. The gauge is 3 ft. 4 in. The first section of the line is in the open air, but beyond Eigergletscher it runs through a great tunnel (4-3/4 m. long, 10 ft. high, and 10 ft. wide), piercing the limestone and gneiss rock of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. From the Jungfraujoch the intention was to carry up the line for 2000 ft. more, leaving the summit to be attained by an elevator 242 ft. high, but there does not seem any immediate prospect of completion of this scheme. Telescopes are provided at the stations for the use of visitors.
(Jungfraujoch Railway site)

Let me tell you, the height of the Sphinx, in the saddle between the peaks, was high enough to enjoy. You can see it at the upper right in the picture at this site. Oh - there's a lens cap up there, on the rocks under the platform. I waved bye-bye to it as it bounced over the edge away from me. I'm prolly lucky that the Hubster didn't make me go get it !!!