Archive for 2006

A Cultural Binary Observation

December 29th, 2006 by xformed

Last month, I was engaged in a serial posting “The Ratchet and the Governor – Tools for Today” and Part III discussed how our model of sports could help us see a manner in which we could fight the war on terror.

I attended another even a few nights back and the next day I realized something I have been around my entire life, yet it didn’t strike me as consciously as it has now, particularly in light of the political divisions, and it is tied in to sports, too.

I have never been one to watch sports much. I have played and competed in several, and even don’t prefer to sit and watch any of those, unless it’s a last resort type situation. You have to watch the Super Bowl, because it’s the Super Bowl, but other than that, I might, while channel surfing (which I don’t watch much TV, either), stop and watch downhill skiing. I think I’m attracted by the speed and adrenaline factor here.

This leads into sitting in an indoor setting, with maybe 15,000 fans. While there are great things to emulate from the experience, it also (to me) clearly points out our differences. Many there are very knowledgeable about the rules and the play, but, I’d venture wouldn’t dare to put on skates and pads to take up a hockey stick and get slammed into the boards.

So….they are relegated to observing the game. Completing this experience, many, sitting at higher angles, with a completely different, and much uncluttered view of the rink, are wont to yell out the “right way” things should be done. I’d be willing to bet, many of these people have never played hockey, or any sport at a professional level.

In any case, I feel inclined, on this end of the binary scale to place these sorts of people and call them “spectators.”

These “spectators” are the media reporters, demonstrators, politicians, and people on the sidewalks, and all seem to “know” the war is not being fought right, and is, at best, a questionable adventure at best.

The other category are those who have managed to understand there is more to life than sitting on the sidelines and offering uneducated advice. These are the competitors. It’s easy to recognize them. They are wearing a uniforms and are in, near, over, or supporting the War on Terror.

I know, it’s fairly apparent that we are becoming so clearly split into these two categories. I would note, however, the number in each category is markedly out of balance, with the spectators far outnumbering the competitors. This is the point of contention, made more striking by many who have come to believe that “self-esteem” is not just about feeling good about your self, but means you can tell everyone around you how to do things to suit you, so you can feel good. Huge difference in the two issues. One side if self satisfaction, the other is blatant selfishness, of which we have way too much of.

If we can correct the balance, and make it more equitable for getting into the future, it requires more people step up to the plate, and become competitors, which in turn requires a total attitude change and acceptance of a teamwork mentality, and that of the need to sacrifice some personal comfort, so others may also enjoy life. Required, also, is the need to submit to the leadership and wisdom of the coach, knowing they are in that position because of the very reason they have more experience, hand in hand with responsibility as well.

How to do that? Simply put (SU)3.

Teddy Roosevelt had much to say on this topic in at least two speeches, one of which I posted here, the other the one where the oft used quote about it’s the man in the arena trying greatly and failing greatly…..

Ok, I feel better now, having brought out a subconscious pattern into my conscious world view.

Category: Geo-Political, Leadership, Military, Political, Supporting the Troops | Comments Off on A Cultural Binary Observation

Not Sighted, But Thought Of: 12/29/2006

December 29th, 2006 by xformed

After my bumper sticker sighting post of a few days ago, I just wondered if the defeatists have managed to roll this one out:

“Stop Global Winning.”

It certainly could display an attitude that winning is not the thing to do, or so it would seem…

Category: Bumper Stickerisms, Humor | 1 Comment »

A Eulogy for Col Don Conroy, USMC

December 28th, 2006 by xformed

Found via chasing links on the Sitemeter hits, I got to SkyGod. Not sure how I got there, but the words spoken about his father by Pat Conroy are priceless and inspiring.

A few days ago, I posted links to an editorial by Pat, where he realized he had made a mistake in avoiding service to his country. While he may have done that, he certainly understands what happens in the service, as you will note in the remembrances of his father.

The Great Santini Book Cover

In case the name isn’t ringing any bells, Col Don Conroy was the real life father of Pat, who the character of “Bull” Meecham in the book (and movie) “The Great Santini” was modeled after. The real “Great Santini” sounds like a real man who was larger than life, and more like a dramatized character we wish would have lived. Maybe, just maybe, one man was in real life, what we have only come to expect in the movies.

Required reading for anyone who has a parent who flies combat aircraft. ‘Nuff said. Get to reading!

Colonel Don Conroy’s Eulogy by his son, Pat Conroy

The children of fighter pilots tell different stories than other kids do. None of our fathers can write a will or sell a life insurance policy or fill out a prescription or administer a flu shot or explain what a poet meant. We tell of fathers who land on aircraft carriers at pitch-black night with the wind howling out of the China Sea.

Our fathers wiped out aircraft batteries in the Philippines and set Japanese soldiers on fire when they made the mistake of trying to overwhelm our troops on the ground.

Your Dads ran the barber shops and worked at the post office and delivered the packages on time and sold the cars, while our Dads were blowing up fuel depots near Seoul, were providing extraordinarily courageous close air support to the beleaguered Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and who once turned the Naktong River red with blood of a retreating North Korean battalion.

We tell of men who made widows of the wives of our nations’ enemies and who made orphans out of all their children.

You don’t like war or violence? Or napalm? Or rockets? Or cannons or death rained down from the sky?

Then let’s talk about your fathers, not ours. When we talk about the aviators who raised us and the Marines who loved us, we can look you in the eye and say “you would not like to have been America’s enemies when our fathers passed overhead”.

We were raised by the men who made the United States of America the safest country on earth in the bloodiest century in all recorded history.

Our fathers made sacred those strange, singing names of battlefields across the Pacific: Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and a thousand more. We grew up attending the funerals of Marines slain in these battles.

Your fathers made communities like Beaufort decent and prosperous and functional; our fathers made the world safe for democracy.

We have gathered here today to celebrate the amazing and storied life of Col. Donald Conroy who modestly called himself by his nomdeguerre, The Great Santini.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: History, Marines, Military, Quotes, Speeches | 4 Comments »

Parallel Universes by Captain J

December 28th, 2006 by xformed

Once more, the discussion in comments at Neptunus Lex does not disappoint, it makes one sit back and marvel at the intelligent conversations that occur there.

From a post, “Holiday Update” on 12/26/2006, I quote “Capt J,” in comment #1, who seems to have a grasp on a concept of our society, that I think many comprehend, yet cannot put their finger on it. He does:

# CPT J Says:
December 26th, 2006 at 9:41 am

I sometimes think we are developing into two parallel universes. The first universe is made up of family and friends. Where the world intrudes unwanted upon us, we learn the hard way what it takes to protect our family and friends. Their safety is our feedback loop. This universe is both capable of learning and teachable. It demands action. We act and we learn.

The second universe is an artificial one, created by the Entertainment Industry, with its News wings and Amusement wings. This universe is a broken record. It is incapable of learning and has nothing of value to teach. It ignores the important and trumpets the trivial. It demands passivity, and claims our undivided attention by right. When it deigns to look at all, it burrows into personal pain and then bellows that calls to reporters WERE NOT IMMEDIATELY RETURNED. You’ll see this in every news article, every broadcast. This second universe is a petty little jealous god, resentful of the real One.

The first universe will quietly figure out what it needs to survive, and do it. The second universe will be the last to know.

I’d say, in this season, I’ve stumbled across the words of a wise man…

Trackbacked at:
Thrid World County

Category: Humor, Leadership, Political | 1 Comment »

President Gerald Ford – My Close Encounter

December 27th, 2006 by xformed

I can’t find the exact date, but it was in 1974 sometime. It was warm, so not the winter, and my sophomore year, so it was before summer.

Vice President Ford was scheduled to make a visit to The Citadel, and we, the Corps of Cadets, would put on a parade for him.

So, in the fragile years, when military service was looked down upon, a Cadet Corps of about 2000 men, had, in one way or another, volunteered to be in uniform, and about 50% were going into the military. Future leaders for the nation, in the halls of power, and the halls of the Pentagon and on the battlefields of our future.

The first event of the visit was VP Ford having lunch with us. We formed up and marched, in company formation, to Coward Mess Hall, where we were locked in the building while every single barracks room in four battalions, were checked for stragglers by some one, I assume the Secret Service. Once that hurdle was cleared, VP Ford arrived in the Mess Hall and sat at the table with the Regimental Commander, front and center. The word was out: No one was to try to “wipe out” the VP’s shoes (this consisted of taking a bottle of ketchup, crawling under the table of the “target” and dousing the victims shoes profusely with the red, citrus based liquid. Today was not to be such a day to exercise that form of warfare.

The VP ate, and then rose to leave. Once more, the doors were locked until the VP was safely wherever, at which time, we were released to head out to afternoon classes.

In preparation for the afternoon parade, the “Tac Officers” (the active duty ROTC instructors assigned to the campus, each with a collateral duty to mentor a company or a staff) had to personally inspect each M-14 rifle of the his assigned unit, to make sure the rifles were not equipped with firing pins. All cadets, except those with ranks requiring carrying a sword, were issued a fully function M-14 rifle, sans the vital firing pin, each year for use in drilling and inspections. The concern was possession of functional firearm near a national level leader…..

Down the peninsula, the College of Charleston held a civilian student body, with a different outlook on life. Rumor had it, someone was planning t “streak” the VP, during the parade, and we were told (but, it was coming via the rumor mill) that not only were there snipers on the roofs of the campus buildings, armed with “conventional” arms, but also with rifles that cold fire tranquilizer darts, in the event that a streaker made their way onto the parade grounds. I guess they figured there was no risk of concealed weapons, so they would only have to put the offender to sleep in that event.

Now, in addition to checking all the M-14 rifles for firing pins, initially, the guidon corporals were instructed to remove the spear tip from their guidons, so there wouldn’t be a chance of a crazy sophomore, the head of their respective class among their peers, deciding to skewer the VP during the “eyes right” portion of the parade, as they passed the reviewing location. I’m not sure who brought some sanity to the equation, but before we marched onto the field, calmer heads had prevailed, and the guidons for each of the 17 companies carried the ceremonial spear tip as we paid tribute to the Vice President of the United States.

So, there we were, showing we had a degree of loyalty to the Government of the United States, in our troubled times following the Vietnam war and the social upheavel it produced, and we were looked upon with significant suspicion.

The parade went well and that’s the story of the one time I came close to any top level leader of our nation.

Today, we fly our flags at half mast for one more President. Fair winds and following seas, President Ford.

Tracked back at:
Cdr Salamander, Third World County

Category: History, Military, Political | Comments Off on President Gerald Ford – My Close Encounter

The Chickens Coming Home to Roost….

December 27th, 2006 by xformed

jfk (who served in Vietnam) in the mess hall in Iraq:

jfk in the Mess Hall

From the post on Hot Talk with Scott Hennan:

A friend of mine serving in Iraq sent me this photo and note. I received it before Christmas, but was out of the office. Priceless story it tells….:

This is a true story….Check out this photo from our mess hall at the US Embassy yesterday morning. Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

What is amazing is Bill O’Reilly came to visit with us and the troops at the CSH the same day and the line for autographs extended through the palace and people waited for two hours to shake his hand. You decide who is more respected and loved by us servicemen and women!

Hmmm…Not only are you stupid and get stuck in Irak, you look really stupid sitting alone, jfk.

H/T: Little Green Footballs.

Category: Army, History, Humor, Military, Military History, Supporting the Troops | 2 Comments »

Rope Yarn Sunday “Sea Stories” and Open Trackbacks

December 27th, 2006 by xformed

It’s Wednesday again! Hope everyone had a great holiday season. Post your trackbacks, maybe someone will discover you here.

“Sea Story” of the day:

I had a “paper brain” that lived in my hands, being perused for the many items to be done and their status, or safely in my right seat pocket, with my wallet, which will further convey it’s relative importance. If was a 5″x8″ Day Timer with a leather cover and, believe me, it was well used in my XO days.

One day, somehow, I became “separated” from my separate memory. I believe it was after the end of a Planning Board for Training (PB4T) (held at 1300 on Thursdays weekly) while at sea on deployment. The anxiety level rose, but it was a busy day, and, after all, it couldn’t be over 453′ from me, unless it went for a swim…

It didn’t take long before an envelope was delivered to me by a watch messenger. It certainly didn’t appear that the wandering was enclosed, but, upon opening the message, I found two Polaroid pictures of said Day Timer. Both showed my almost sole source of recollection secured to a chair with the small nylon line used for the underway replenishment shot lines, and in one picture, a black gloved hand held a 1911A1 .45 caliber pistol, pointed at the Day Timer. Enclosed was a note, with some demand, beginning with “If you want to see your Day Timer alive again…”, yet, I had the Mater-at-Arms force on my side, so I chose to disregard any show of weakness.

Short moments later, the MA1 had dusted the pictures for fingerprints and, lo and behold, the miscreants had been careless, leaving their positive identification in my hands. The guilty parties were summoned to my stateroom and confronted, at which time, the leader of the pack handed over the missing collection of all tickler items to me. Chaos was fought back and the World restored to a right order.

You know, it gets boring at sea and the practical jokes sometimes get quite entertaining…..Somewhere, in a box in the attic is a set of Polaroid pictures, secured, after being used as evidence, for historical purposes.

Category: "Sea Stories", History, Humor, Military, Military History, Navy, Open Trackbacks | Comments Off on Rope Yarn Sunday “Sea Stories” and Open Trackbacks

Sighted: 12/24/2006

December 26th, 2006 by xformed

“Stop Global Whining”

That sentiment, I can get into…

Category: Bumper Stickerisms | 1 Comment »

Christmas 2006

December 25th, 2006 by xformed

Merry Christmas, everyone. Many will (or have already) write today on their blogs, wishing you that sentiment. I, too, join with them.

Today, which may not actually be the day of Jesus’ birth, nor may it actually have happened 2006 years ago, is nonetheless the day which we stop and celebrate a moment when God arrived on Earth in the form of one of us.

It is a day, chosen or actual, that marks the most significant days in all of human history. Even if they have decided (“they” being a bunch of historians) to redesignate the time annotation since then something other than “AD,” there will be references to the change in the major calendar for mankind to the birth of the Chirst child in many archived books, stories, reports and novels that, unless each offending part is tracked down by zealots, intent on erasing the event from the memory of mankind (which, would be ironic indeed, for the first Zealots were there with Jesus, Jewish and attempting to rid Israel of the Roman rulers.

Who else has so changed mankind, not only by recalibrating the passage of time, but the rules of living?

I had a Bible for as many years as I can remember, but I came to a new understanding of that ancient document 8 years and three months ago, as a man stood at the front of a church and spoke of the story of Jonah. I left a changed man.

The message of the second part of the Bible made me rethink my world views. In some ways, it has reaffirmed what I had been taught, but had no understanding of the original source. Other parts of my life view have transformed dramatically. I used to by into the “wisdom” of modern day psychology, but I have done a little reading and I find men such as Moses, David and Solomon (to name but a few), even before Jesus and Paul, understood how to have relationships with family, friends, co-workers, governments and other nations and laid out what works for how to govern one’s life. Much of “modern” understanding seems to draw from those stories, told not as professional reports to “peers,” but penned when there was no such title or field of study.

I often wonder, as people glibly toss around “fundamentalist” and, particularly “Fundamentalist” (almost all the time attached to the unsaid “Christian”) and have forgotten that that term is descriptive of any one who follows the foundational doctrine. Be it sports, religion, or writing, along with many other fields of endeavor. Yes, there are “Christian Fundamentalists.” I used to believe they had taken off on a tangent from the Bible, yet I know see there are those Christians who have gone off one a path that is “outside of the box,” but I would not refer to them as “fundamentalists,” for they have left the reservation. The Bible is a complex work, and consistent in it’s message, but, as with other lengthy works, you must take the time to read the entire work, most likely several times, to see that the “Fundamentalists” should have but one mission: To love everyone as themselves. Who among us does not want to be loved? If you are loved, then, subconsciously or not, those loving you are carrying out the mission.

I’m no scholar of the Bible, but I have read most of it. I’m glad I did. I encourage you to as well. It’s a book in one area of our lives that is easily, and in many cases, freely available to anyone, and it is there to be used to “fact check” the person at the front of the church, on the street corner, or here on the web, to make sure the message is not diluted, or misquoted. Find that sort of transparency in other arenas…I don’t recall professionals who actually urge you to study their documentation as throughly as they do, in order to be able to challenge them.

I’ll leave you with this, for those who may not yet have been transformed by a close encounter with a Living God, that the one letter “book review” I can come to provide for the Bible is “Love.” Nothing more, nothing less. If we all had that in us and shared it, just imagine how civilization would be reformed…

I once made an attempt to make sense out of how an ancient writing is useful to our society and I fell back to an analogy of something I understand. That story is here.

Merry Christmas to all and may there be peace on Earth in our time.

Category: Book Reports, History | 1 Comment »

Spoiled Brat Americans – One Man Speaks Out

December 24th, 2006 by xformed

Received via email, with originating author unknown, but it sure is well said…

Subject: Spoiled brats?

A recent Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change. So being the Die Hard American that I am, I starting thinking, ”What are we so unhappy about?” Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year? Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy. Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here. I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander-in-chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me? Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn’t have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ”general” discharge, an ”other than honorable” discharge or, worst case scenario, a ”dishonorable” discharge after a few days in the brig. So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn’t kill his wife. Insane! Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953: ”What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.’ Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.” I suggest we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don’t, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ”greediest and most ungrateful generation.” A far cry from the proud Americans of the ”greatest generation” who left us an untarnished legacy. God bless you and have a Merry Christmas every one

Category: History, Leadership, Political, Speeches | 3 Comments »

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