Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday beer and babes....plus a dose of media hypocrisy..

Today was an interesting day. We had a post mortem about the big bosses visit. Those are always fun.....(not!). The Chief of Staff was nervous since he was going to have to answer questions from our boss that arose from a conversation that he had with the big boss, that none of us were privy to. Oh well, let them pontificate I say, then deal with the problems at hand...........

Also, under the categories of big bosses. I watched a CNN interview with General Myers, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff. It was slanted and adversarial to say the least and in my opinion totally unfair to General Myers. Now mind you, I'm no supporter of the war in Iraq, quite the contrary. However, in my opinion its wrong to pillory the man whose job it is to obey the President of the United States. Furthermore there is an unwritten rule that on the day of one's retirement, one should honor the retiree, and any criticism of the Navy or any one else should only come from the retiree. ( That's how it worked for me on that day, and I did make criticisms of the current world...). Its unfair though and frankly disrespectful of the hard work General Myers put in , over 40 years of his life, just because the last four years had not gone as the media would have liked. Should they not be taking that up with the President? Silly me, I forgot that political leaders should not be held accountable for political decisions........Too bad most Americans believe other wise....................

I actually like General Myers. The two times I have heard him speak, his remarks have been very down to earth and direct. I truly believe he is a loyal soldier, probably to a fault. I think he knows he is stuck with the results of the Iraq war to date, does not necessarily like them, but is bound by the code of honor officers can and should learn (and do if they have a military college or academy background; despite what the critics may say.....). He supported his boss to the end. Sadly he will probably take the Tommy Franks route in publishing his memoirs, and in so doing will deny the rest of us insight into what Rummy is really doing to our military leadership. This, despite ample proof otherwise. That, is a virtue also, in the end.

I like to think, that he might have done things differently, had it been his choice to make. However, like the Vorta ( "The Vorta serve the Founders, in all things." ) and Jem Hadar in Star Trek, his life was not his to give........

Since we (and he) are stuck with this result, there is only one thing to do:

Drink these!



And then, go chase these:



Problem is: you can never find them!

Alas,

Skippy-san.....

P.S. Bonus points if you can answer the following question: Do you think the girl on the right is a "natural blonde"?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"I was used....." . Yea, I would say so!

Lynndie England has been sentenced to 3 years in jail. She says she was used by her boyfriend, Charles Graner:

Two former guards, testifying for the prosecution yesterday, both said England was naive and devoted to her soldier boyfriend, Charles Graner. They said Graner's strong personality trumped military rank to make him the de-facto leader of the prison section where the abuse occurred. Graner was convicted last winter and is serving a ten-year sentence but testified yesterday on England's behalf.

He described England as generally compliant and trusting and said she had no reason to believe he would do anything "illegal or inappropriate"


I would say that's a fairly accurate statement;used and abused and put away wet.......

Lets see:

She had his baby.
She was having sex with him before she got pregnant.
She did whatever he asked vis a vis the prisoners

She got 3 years, Graner got 10. So there is some justice in that; he is proving the old adage about there never being such a thing as a free ride! You always have to pay for it, either up front or later on.

Still, even though this chapter is closed, there are questions remaining:

(1) What happens to her baby? Wonder how much emotional scarring he will have when, in 10 years, folks find out about how his Mom and Dad met?

(2) There is still the question of supervisory error? Just today an Army Captain was on TV alledging that the abuse was a part of a systemic problem......

(3) BG Karpinski got a book deal. Think Lynndie might get one too? TV Mini-series?

(4) Its interesting how the media just glosses over the baggage issue. Namely soldiers dating soldiers.......Even if they were the same paygrade, some type of senior subordinate intimidation thing developed.......Know its not going to change but..........

The only good thing is that she is young, so she has, God willing, a lot of time to cut new a life for herself and her child.

" 'Wars and lechery', rails the frail Thursytes! 'A burning devil to take them!' "

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Top 10 Chinese songs!

Bitchbert has another cool song up on her blog. That's 3 in a row. 7 more and we can publish a Bitchbert's greatest hits album. Run on over and check it out. The song is in Chinese, but its still a cool song.........

If anyone knows the artist, please let me know!

Where does freedom of speech begin or end?

A recent event got me to thinking about this interconnected world of ours. A blogger I read daily and enjoy, who has a life experience similar to mine, got found out by a colleague. He debated stopping blogging all together. Fortunately for us all , he seems to be over that sentiment. He's got too much to say and I for one, want to hear it.

His experience though is worth noting, however. I've also been amazed at how folks can take some random data and piece it together to come up with an anonymous person's true identity. I've done it myself simply using the tools of my stat counter, Google and other search engines. I feel bound though by the unspoken, but hopefully enforced, code here in Bloggerville that says one must respect the privacy of others.

Yet, I wonder and I worry. Many of us have employers who can't or won't respect that rule and refuse to make the distinction between a person's work life and private life. Rather, they will take someone's idle rants and use the information to really hurt a person. Those same employers have a desire to mold everyone into a certain middle class persona and woe be unto you if you find that painfully confining. As I have noted before, the threat of reprisals is real. China is working hard to restrict access to information, one cannot get blogspot domains there. However that is China. The place I live in and the place I am from is supposed to be more enlightened than that. Recent events make me wonder.......

I started this as a way to have some fun and also channel some of my anger at the things I see around and just really do not like. I've found that in doing so, I've been able to look at things in different perspectives than I would have otherwise. Following links to others writings has been a real eye opener for me.

Big Brother is always out there though, lurking over my shoulder. I'm not going to stop blogging and I'm not going stop criticizing the institutional stupidity that is present in the military and in politics today. Nor am I going to give up boozing, golfing and all the other things that I like to do.
( I was going to add womanizing which I like to do, but then again you knew that already....). I do need to take special care to be careful how much I reveal about my "real" self I think. And I need to carefully write so as not to cross any legal lines.

With those two caveats however, Big Brother, you are going to remain squarely in my sights. Its either type or take up an Uzi and since I have an aversion to jail or worse, I'd rather just write.

If you are going to watch everything you say, one will get nothing said. I've got lots to say still and I hope you'll stick around and read it. That includes you Mr. Rumsfeld. Have a nice day!

A rambling post! Chalk it up to it being early and no coffee yet. A stream of consciousness moment. Every once in a while I need that.

Better work tomorrow! I promise.

Skippy-san.

Monday, September 26, 2005

When the bosses are on the phone...PRESSURE!

I like Billy Joel's music. I especially like his music from the 80's. We used to adapt it to our various situations in the ready room, as a kind of JO amusement. For example those of us who worked in the world famous Screwtops maintenance department ( This was my first tour there, not my second which can only be described as a journey through hell..........) we used to laugh about getting summoned by the MO:


When Gordy's on the phone............
That's when you know you are all alone............
Now here you are, you know you are the star........
And Gordy knows you cannot handle pressure!
( sung to the tune of Billy Joel's Pressure)

The brief with the big bosses went well. I do find, their inane habit of drilling down on absurd minutiae quite disgusting. As is typical of the Navy's flag officers these days, they cannot see the forest for the trees. Namely that while we are working hard to save pennies and nickels, the DOD as a whole is still pouring money down sinkholes like Missile defense, Naval Infantry, and JSF along other great ideas that suck in their execution . In particular, I find it appalling to see the number of folks who are still committed to manpower cuts in the middle of a war. That is simply appalling. The big dogs who are demanding this would be well advised to read less business books and more history books. If they would they would find that the British Navy went down the "better technology" road in the late 30's, only to find itself losing the Empire for lack of enough asset's in 1942..........

The current powers that be would be well advised to heed Flashman's advice:

Policies, they say, and the subtly laid schemes of statesmen, are what influence the destinies of nations; the opinions of intellectuals, the writings of philosophers, settle the fate of mankind.
Well, they may do their share, but in my experience the course of history is often settled by someone's having a belly-ache, or not sleeping well, or a sailor getting drunk, or some aristocratic harlot wagging her backside.



In other words, there is still a lot to chance in this world and where it goes. We would sometimes be well advised to remember that and go with the flow. Thank God the big dogs leave town on Wednesday and then we can get back to a controlled level of pain. Till then, I get to watch others do the butt sharking and thank the Lord above, its no longer me...... Ah the freedom of retirement. If I get a pink slip tomorrow, its all Kilroy's fault.........

Skippy-san

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Typhoon golf ...and some idle musings.

Note to self: There is a reason you don't smoke. You really should try and remember it. Cigars +beer make your mouth feel like a truck ran through it in the morning...........

Should not have smoked the big Cubans last night. They were good cigars, but I only smoke cigars when I am really drunk. Like last night. Waking up at 6 am when the booze wears off with cigar mouth is not my idea of a way to start the day.

Today was a half and half kind of day. I had agreed to go into work to help the Chief of Staff get ready for his brief for the big bosses. Filled in all of the speakers notes and we walked through the stupid potential questions the big bosses may ask. Having once been in his position, I know the stress he is feeling and it actually made me glad to be where I am in my position in life. I no longer have to grit my teeth, smile, and keep silence while boneheaded flags, espouse positions you know in your heart are flawed and try to make sense of them. At least having the (ret) behind my former rank allows me the freedom to say, " that really is not smart.....". There was a time when I was on active duty I could say that, then along came Vern Clark as CNO and his culture of psycophancy and his elevation of a whole breed of like minded automatons. I'm glad I served when I did.

Today Typhoon 17 made its closet approach to Tokyo. In another sign that Kami-sama (God) is looking out for us the typhoon veered out to sea and really only affected the beach front in Chiba. True to form there were some boneheaded surfers out there trying to catch the "big one".

However it gave us an opportunity. It did not rain, but it was very windy . Winds were over 25 miles per hour at times. My friend called and we said, "screw it, lets play golf". So out we went with the S.O. to play 18. So after calming the Chief of Staff with the advice that he was going to get hosed no matter what he did, ergo he might as well sit back and enjoy the ride, I went to the course. The wind made for some very interesting shots. When the wind was with you, boy there were some great drives to be had. However, teeing off into the wind was amazing. the ball would fly to the top of its arc and then just hang there for a second or too, before being pushed to one side or the other. Dropping down just one club was not enough in these circumstances, I needed a whole new strategy. Accordingly, my score suffered as a result.

Tonight I was watching the history channel. It usually airs programs here, about 3 weeks after they show in the states. Don't ask me why. I've been following their series about the Roman Empire pretty closely and have found it fascinating. Tonight's programs though, must have been aired on Sept 11, 2005. They had a series of programs that were riveting to watch. The S.O. kept complaining, as she finds the History Channel boring, just like I find NHK boring. But I had to see it. The first program was about the WTC, how it was built, why it collapsed and all the work that went into clearing the wreckage. I never truly realized how interconnected a city is and what chaos the fall of the towers created. I also gained a new appreciation of the science that firefighters and others have to put into their work to get out alive and be throrough in what they do. It was amazing to watch.

The next program was a "tick tock" of the hijackings with re-enactments and real tape of phone calls and radio transmissions. It was something I just could not walk away from even when the S.O. called me to dinner. ( It was on at 6). They had overlayed events with the writings of the Al Quaeda hijackers manual. I practically wept at the desperation of the flight attendants who were trying to get the word out, keep the passengers calm and try to get into to the cockpit with no success.

The final show was about the victims and survivors. Again full of tragedy and real heroism by the firefighters and first responders. It also, like the first program, tried to explain why the structure of the towers caused it to collapse and how people escaped and how some could not.

If you get a chance to watch these shows in re-runs or order them you should. They are truly fascinating and made all the more poignant because the recall events that we all watched live when it happened. I think the History Channel did a good job with the subject matter and they were not disrespectful of the memory at all. Well worth the time to watch. I'm in deep u-know-what with the S.O. now, because I kept her from Japanese TV for 3 hours, but its well worth it.

People want to thank soldiers serving and that is a great and noble sentiment. However , I think tonight, I would like to pay tribute to all the first responders out there: Firemen, utility workers, nurses, doctors, EMT's ( my son is training to become one), policemen, and EOD folks. Yes the military works hard and does thankless work, but many times we can choose the time and place of our engagement. First responders always have to take the hand they have been dealt. With 2 hurricanes in the US in a month, big typhoons here in Japan, and the normal business of life in a violent world, my hat is off to all of them. I could not do what they do every day. God bless all of them.

Here is to all the first responders! Great human beings all!

Skippy-san

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I did not ask for a cat, I did not want a cat.......

S.O. is furious tonight. The kitten will not remember where the litter box is, and thus decided the shag rug we have was the place to do her business. Now mind you I warned the S.O. that this was a young kitten and needed time, but I still got a lecture in Japanese about it. It was so fast and angry I had to REALLY concentrate to understand it.

Plus the return home was made doubly difficult because we had been to a "beer and cigars" party. ( Another reason the S.O. is pissed as I stayed and drank beer while smoking a Cuban cigar......). The party wqas awesome, but of course I got in trouble when I came back and let the cat out because I thought it was wrong to leave her locked up in the laundry place all night.....


So no post, just some hurricane humor:

I survived Katrina and all I got was this lousy 52" Plasma TV..................

Friday, September 23, 2005

By request----Friday Beer and Babes......with an extra babe!

Its been an incredibly busy week. Our big bosses are coming out next week and so everyone is in a dither. Have been crunching transportation numbers and AMC (Another Mission Cancelled) expenditure/ on time rates till the cows come home. Three conclusions are inescapable:

1) If AMC were a business, they would be bankrupt.

2) The system of having the various services "pay" for AMC's services is totally hosed up.

3) Figures lie and liars figure. AMC people do both.



"We're sorry, we had to bump your critical cargo for routine USAF items......"

Thank God for DHL.........

On other fronts, Bubblehead took me to task for not having enough pictures of good looking Japanese girls in my posts. So just for our special submarine reporter, here is a snap from Techbabes Asia and the recent Tokyo game show:


" If you ask nice, she might do windows!"

Maybe she could help me get engines delivered on time...........

On other fronts, I'm infamous. The USFSPA Lawsuit website has posted a link that links to blogs that post about the USFSPA and how unfair it is. 5 of those links are to your's truly. I think I'll write up another post on the USFSPA for the folks here in bloggerville.

The vermin cat is slowly but surely being house broken. It will be interesting to see if the S.O. remembers to get some one to feed her when we go away next month........

Arrgh, I need one of these:



Followed by some time with one of these:


"I'm gung-ho about being with Skippy...."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

4 years into the war-a reasoned assessment.

I received this STRATFOR piece from a friend of mine who works in the defense consulting field. It provides a really balanced account, coming to the conclusion that a) the US is ahead on points, but b)the "war" is not yet won by a long shot. However there has been a distinct failure to communicate objectives on the part of the Administration. As my friend says, "Personally it provides more common sense than most of what our military intel guys are spouting off"---I have to agree with him.

Read for yourself:

Four Years On:
Who is Winning the War, and How Can Anyone Tell? By George Friedman

Four years have passed since al Qaeda attacked the United States. It is difficult to remember a war of which the status has been more difficult to assess. Indeed, there are reasonable people who argue that the conflict between the United States and al Qaeda is not a war at all, and that thinking of it in those terms obscures reality. Other reasonable people argue that it is only in thinking in terms of war that the conflict makes sense -- and these people then divide into groups: those who believe the United States is winning and those who believe it is losing the war. Into this confusion we must add the question of whether the Iraq war is part of what U.S. President George W. Bush refers to as the "war on terrorism" and what others might call the war against al Qaeda. Even the issues are not clear. It is a war in which no one can agree even on the criteria for success or failure, or at times, who is on what side.

Part of this dilemma is simply the result of partisan politics. It is a myth that Americans unite in times of war: Anyone who believes they do must read the history of, for example, the Mexican War. Americans are a fractious people and, while they were united during World War II, the political recriminations were only delayed -- not suspended. The issue here is not partisanship, however, but rather that there is no clear framework against which to judge the current war.

Let us begin with what we all -- save for those who believe that the Sept. 11 attacks were a plot hatched by the U.S. government to justify the Patriot Act -- can agree on:

1. Al Qaeda attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, by hijacking aircraft and crashing or trying to crash them into well-known buildings.
2. Since Sept. 11, there have been al Qaeda attacks in Europe and several Muslim countries, but not in the United States.
3. The United States invaded Afghanistan a month after the strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- forcing the Taliban government out of the major cities, but not defeating them. The United States has failed to capture Osama bin Laden, although it captured other key al Qaeda operatives. The Taliban has regrouped and is now conducting an insurgency in Afghanistan.
4. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration claimed that this was part of the war against al Qaeda; critics have claimed it had nothing to do with the war.
5. The United States failed to win the war rapidly, as it had expected to do. Instead, U.S. forces encountered a difficult guerrilla war that, while confined generally to the Sunni regions, nevertheless posed serious military and political challenges.
6. Al Qaeda has failed to achieve its primary political goal -- that is, to trigger an uprising in at least one major Muslim country and create a jihadist regime. There has been no general rising in the Muslim world, and most governments are now cooperating with the United States.
7. There have been no follow-on attacks in the United States since Sept. 11.

Whether this is because al Qaeda had no plans for a second attack or because subsequent attacks were disrupted by U.S. intelligence is not clear.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather to provide what we would regard as a non-controversial base from which to proceed with an assessment.

From the beginning, then, it has been unclear whether the United States saw itself as fighting a war against al Qaeda or as carrying out a criminal investigation. The two are, of course, enormously different. This is a critical problem.

The administration's use of the term "war on terrorism" began the confusion.

Terrorism is a mode of warfare. Save for those instances when lunatics like Timothy McVeigh use it as an end in itself, terrorism is a method of intimidating the civilian population in order to drive a wedge between the public and their government. Al Qaeda, then, had a political purpose in using terrorism, as did the British in their nighttime bombing of Germany or the Germans in their air raids against London. The problem in the Bush administration's use of this term is that you do not wage a war against a method of warfare. A war is waged against an enemy force.

Now, there are those who argue that war is something that takes place between nation-states and that al Qaeda, not being a nation-state, is not waging war. We tend to disagree with this view. Al Qaeda is not a nation-state, but it is (or has been) a coherent, disciplined force using violence for political ends. The United States, by focusing on the "war on terror," confused the issue endlessly. But the critics of the war, who insisted that wartime measures were unnecessary because this was not a war, compounded the confusion. By the time we were done, the "war on terror" had extended itself to include campaigns against animal rights groups, and attempts to prevent terror attacks were seen as violations of human rights by the ACLU.

It is odd to raise these points at the beginning of an analysis of a war, but no war can be fought when there isn't even clarity about what it is you are doing, let alone who you are fighting. Yet that is precisely how this war evolved, and then degenerated into conceptual chaos. The whole issue also got bound up with internal name-calling, to the point that any assertion that Bush had some idea of what he was doing was seen as outrageous partisanship, and the assertion that Bush was failing in what he was doing was viewed the same way. Where there is no clarity, there can be no criteria for success or failure. That is the crisis today. No one agrees as to what is happening; therefore, no one can explain who is winning or losing.

Out of this situation came the deeper confusion: Iraq. From the beginning, it was not clear why the United States invaded Iraq. The Bush administration offered three explanations: First, that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; second, that Iraq was complicit with al Qaeda; and finally, that a democratic Iraq -- and creation of a democratic Muslim world -- would help to stop terrorism (or more precisely, al Qaeda).

The three explanations were untenable on their face. Contrary to myth, the Bush administration did not rush to go to war in Iraq. The administration had been talking about it for nearly a year before the invasion began. That would not have been the case if there truly was a fear that the Iraqis might be capable of building atomic bombs, since they might hurry up and build them. You don't give a heads-up in that situation. The United States did. Hence, it wasn't about WMD. Second, it wasn't about Iraq's terrorist ties. Saddam Hussein had no problem with the concept of terrorism, but he was an ideological enemy of everything bin Laden stood for. Hussein was a secular militarist; bin Laden, a religious ideologue. Cooperation between them wasn't likely, and pointing to obscure meetings that Mohammed Atta may or may not have had with an Iraqi in Prague didn't make the case. Finally, the democracy explanation came late in the game. Bush had campaigned against nation-building in places like Kosovo -- and if he now believed in nation-building as a justification for war, it meant he stood with Bill Clinton. He dodged that criticism, though, because the media couldn't remember Kosovo or spell it any more by the time Iraq rolled around.

Bush's enemies argued that he invaded Iraq in order to (a) avenge the fact that Hussein had tried to kill his father; (b) as part of a long-term strategy planned years before to dominate the Middle East; (c) to dominate all of the oil in Iraq; (d) because he was a bad man or (e) just because. The fact was that his critics had no idea why he did it and generated fantastic theories because they couldn't figure it out any more than Bush could explain it.

Stratfor readers know our view was that the invasion of Iraq was intended to serve three purposes:

1. To bring pressure on the Saudi government, which was allowing Saudis to funnel money to al Qaeda, to halt this enablement and to cooperate with U.S. intelligence. The presence of U.S. troops to the north of Saudi Arabia was intended to drive home the seriousness of the situation.
2. To take control of the most strategic country in the Middle East -- Iraq borders seven critical countries -- and to use it as a base of operations against other countries that were cooperating with al Qaeda.
3. To demonstrate in the Muslim world that the American reputation for weakness and indecisiveness -- well-earned in the two decades prior to the Sept. 11 attacks -- was no longer valid. The United States was aware that the invasion of Iraq would enrage the Muslim world, but banked on it also frightening them.

Let's put it this way: The key to understanding the situation was that Bush wanted to blackmail the Saudis, use Iraq as a military base and terrify Muslims. He wanted to do this, but he did not want to admit this was what he was doing. He therefore provided implausible justifications, operating under the theory that a rapid victory brushes aside troubling questions. Clinton had gotten out of Kosovo without explaining why signs of genocide were never found, because the war was over quickly and everyone was sick of it. Bush figured he would do the same thing in Iraq.

It was precisely at this point that the situation got out of control. The biggest intelligence failure of the United States was not 9-11 -- only Monday morning quarterbacks can claim that they would have spotted al Qaeda's plot and been able to block it. Nor was the failure to find WMD in Iraq. Not only was that not the point, but actually, everyone was certain that Hussein at least had chemical weapons. Even the French believed he did.

The biggest mistake was the intelligence that said that the Iraqis wouldn't fight, that U.S. forces would be welcomed or at least not greeted hostilely by the Iraqi public, and that the end of the conventional combat would end the war.

That was the really significant intelligence failure. Hussein, or at least some of his key commanders, had prepared for a protracted guerrilla war. They knew perfectly well that the United States would crush their conventional forces, so they created the material and financial basis for a protracted guerrilla war. U.S. intelligence did not see this coming, and thus had not prepared the U.S. force for fighting the guerrilla war. Indeed, if they had known this was coming, Bush might well have calculated differently on invading Iraq -- since he wasn't going to get the decisive victory he needed.

The intelligence failure was compounded by a command failure. By mid-April 2003, it was evident to Stratfor that a guerrilla war was starting. Donald Rumsfeld continued vigorously to deny that any such war was going on. It was not until July, when Gen. Tommy Franks was relieved by John Abizaid as Central Command chief, that the United States admitted the obvious. Thosewere the 45-60 critical days. Intelligence failures worse than this one happen in every war, but the delay in recognizing what was happening -- the extended denial in the Pentagon -- eliminated any chance of nipping it in the bud. By the summer of 2003, the war was raging, and foreign jihadists had begun joining in. Obviously this increased anti-American sentiment, but not necessarily effective anti-American sentiment. Hating the United States is not the same as being able to run secure covert operations in the United States.

The war did not and does not cover most of Iraq's territory. Only a relatively small portion is involved -- the Sunni regions. At this point, the administration has done a fairly good job in creating a political process and bringing the Sunni elders to the table, if not to an agreement that will end the insurgency. But the problem is that American expectations about the war have been so strangely set that whatever esoteric satisfaction experts might take in the evolution, it is clear that this war is not what the Bush administration expected, that it is not what the administration was prepared to fight, and that the administration is now in a position where it
has to make compromises rather than impose its will.

We believe that a war started on Sept. 11, 2001. We believe that from a strictly operational point of view, al Qaeda has gotten by far the worst of it. Having struck the first blow, al Qaeda has been crippled, with each succeeding attack weaker and weaker. We also think that the U.S. invasion of Iraq achieved at least one of Washington's goals: Saudi Arabia has behaved much differently since February 2003. But the ongoing war has undermined the ability of the United States to use Iraq as a base of operations in the region, and the psychological outcome Washington was hoping for obviously didn't materialize.

What progress there has been is invisible, for two reasons. First, the Bush administration had crafted an explanation for the entire war that was based on two premises -- first, that the American public would remain united on all measures necessary after Sept. 11, and second, that the United States would achieve a quick victory in Iraq, sparing the administration the need to explain itself. As a result, Bush has never articulated a coherent strategic position. Furthermore, as the second premise proved untrue, the failure to enunciate a coherent strategic vision began to undermine the first premise -- national unity. At this point, Bush is beginning to face criticism in his own party. Sen. Chuck Hagel's statement, that the promise to stay the course does not constitute a strategy, is indicative of Bush's major problem.

The president's dilemma, now, is this. He had a strategy. He failed to explain what it was because doing so would have carried a cost, and the president assumed it was unnecessary. It turned out to be necessary, but he still didn't enunciate a strategy because it would at that point have appeared contrived. Moreover, as time went on, the strategy had to evolve. It is hard to evolve an unarticulated strategy. Bush rigidified publicly even as his strategy in Iraq became more nimble.

Figuring out how the war is going four years after 9-11, then, is like a nightmare fighting ghosts. The preposterous defense of U.S. strategy meets the preposterous attack on U.S. strategy: Claims that the United States invaded Iraq to bring democracy to the people competes with the idea that it invaded in order to give contracts to Halliburton. Nothing is too preposterous to claim.

But even as U.S. politics seize up in one of these periodic spasms, these facts are still clear:

1. The United States has not been attacked in four years.
2. No Muslim government has fallen to supporters of al Qaeda.
3. The United States won in neither Iraq or Afghanistan.
4. Bin Laden is still free and ready to go extra rounds.

So far, neither side has won -- but on the whole, we'd say the United States
has the edge. The war is being fought outside the United States. And that is
not a trivial point. But it is not yet a solution to the president's problem.

Lays it out pretty clear for me---Skippy-san


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Watching political fantasy.

One of the neat things about living overseas, is that TV shows show up late and out of sync with the normal TV season, on AFN. In a world where our military leadership is able to micro manage military operations from the Pentagon via satellite communications, I still cannot see an American TV show on time, on AFN. I can on other networks though. Thank God for Japanese cable TV......

Anyway......

I've made it evident before that I love the show West Wing. Not really sure why. I'm not a Democrat, never could be one. I don't support feminism and I could care less about what gays want or think. I don't think abortion is right, but I don't think it should be illegal either. I used to think myself a Republican, then along came George W Bush, Tom Delay, Pat Robertson, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Helms and the rest of the crowd who hijacked the Republican party from its roots and its moderate Constituency. They replaced it with a culture of sycophancy, that also , sadly, spread to my employer. I'm no Johnny come lately Bush hater either, I've disliked the man since 1999 when it became very apparent to me and other individuals that he was every bit as political as the previous occupant of the oval office. He's , with some exceptions proven himself up to the description.

So why do I like the show, when I am so disgusted with politics in general? Because, I guess there are parts of it that represent what could be, if either party could run people who are worth a damn, and did not have to be crucified on the public altar for every little thing. In the fantasy world of West Wing, talent actually matters and so does telling the truth. That's why its just a TV show.

Consider tonight's episode: a convention that actually goes into extra innings ballots. How long ago has it been since that has happened? Such a convention would be a thing of beauty to watch, but I doubt that it would ever happen again in my lifetime. I sure wish it would.

Consider the results of this episode. Leo Magarity Vice President? Surely , Hannity and Bill O' Reilly would show restraint about his supposed alcoholism and his entrapment into the cult that is AA. Not a chance, his candidacy would have been subject to a late term abortion. He would never have been allowed to stay as Chief of Staff, such is the hypocrisy of our times.

A President with MS, who was censured by Congress being able to govern with authority? No way, the right and the left wing would have had a field day with it and the pressure to resign and or be impeached would have been too intense. Especially one who ordered a political assassination . ( You have to be familiar with series and I've been watching for a few years.) Politicians who refrain from smearing their opponents? No chance , paddles, can't happen.

Of course, any student of history knows, it was never ever this way, but there was a time when one's work life and private life were two separate things. If they were not, JFK would not have lasted till the Cuban missile crisis.

Which, I think is really what the writers of the show are trying to recreate, is another JFK or FDR or TR. However those giants of history did not have to be President on television. Today's presidents do.

So perhaps its therapeutic to watch through the TV a fantasy world where perhaps I could be President. Then come the credits, and I realize that there are not enough political skycaps to get all of my baggage to the curb-------so I will have to cut my mark someplace else. Still, for an hour, its nice to dream.



So professor, "President Skippy" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Monday, September 19, 2005

While I was away


The S.O. adopted a kitten.

Oh great, that's all we need.......... Little varmint can't be more than 8 weeks old. She found her homeless, and took her in. While cute and all, I laid down the law that she had to take her to a vet ASAP! Poor thing has a cold of some sort, as it sneezes some. The S.O. loves cats, but she has never had a pet before.......

I've got a bad feeling about this. Hope it does not turn me into a cat blogger.

Koizumi won, Gerhard Schroeder is doing his best Al Gore impersonation.

Hong Kong was nice, Bahrain was not.

Work got 15 times harder than before I left..........

North Korea gets it? Its a trick.........wonder how long it will be before the other shoe drops.

My son called me! This surely is a coming sign of the apocalypse. He never calls me, I have to call him. He did not even ask for money. Work and school have him down. See your future kid, your father has the same problem.........

My daughter still won't take my calls........if I even had a number to call.

I had forgotten to pay my bills before I left (2 of them anyway......) Been on the phone with the banks making them feel reassured.

I fell asleep right after dinner. Now I'm wide awake when I need to be sleeping.

Finally to add insult to injury I have not played golf in 2 weeks.

Sigh......its a wonderful life!



Sunday, September 18, 2005

Someday I'm going to learn how to keep my resolutions.

Dateline: Kowlwoon, Tsim Shau Sui, Hong Kong SAR.

Rumors of Skippy's demise are greatly exaggerated, although from the feeling in my head right now, the issue may still be in doubt. I swore to my self when I went out last night, that I was not going anywhere near Wanchai. Absolutely not!

When I go to Wanchai, I lose my resolve as I walk up Jaffa Road. Ergo, I had resolved just to go to Lann Kwai Fong, then when I got drunk enough head home to the hotel. However as it turned out, about 12:30 am, I stumbled into a cab, mumbling the words, "Wanchai, Joe Bananas." And off we went. It was all down hill from there.

Lots of folks, lots of "sales professionals". However, it seems to me that the caliber of the clubs in Wanchai seems to be less and less every time I go. Then again, it sure beats clubbing in the US.

Someday I'm going to find the Christian Science Reading room and stay there. I keep looking every trip to HK, somehow I never find it.

Watching the news now, still trying to figure out how George W is going to pay for 4 wars and massive relief of Katrina damage without raising taxes. Call me simple, but I'm not sure how the math works...........

Skippy-san

Saturday, September 17, 2005

When I grow up, I want to be like Flashman!

Sitting here in the lounge sucking down drinks in the hope it will help me sleep on the flight from hell to Riyadh and then on to Hong Kong. Out of Riyadh I expect to encounter a full flight of probably 200 Indonesians who are more than a little happy to be out of the Islamic paradise.



Have continued reading the Flashman papers, volume one. For the unknowing this great work by General Harry Paget Flashman is great. He was a witness and participant in many of the major events of the Victorian era. Yet he is rarely mentioned in the "authoritative" historical works about this period. He may very well have gone forgotten if not for the fortuitous discovery of his memoirs-- the famous "Flashman Papers"-- in 1965. According to their editor, George MacDonald Fraser:

"The papers, which had apparently lain untouched for fifty years, in a tea chest, until they were found in the Ashby saleroom, were carefully wrapped in oilskin covers. From correspondence found in the first packet, it is evident that their original discovery by [Flashman's] relatives in 1915 after the great soldier's death caused considerable consternation; they seem to have been unanimously against publication of their kinsman's autobiography-- one can readily understand why-- and the only wonder is that the manuscript was not destroyed."
As someone else has written:

There are two reasons why I enjoy the Flashman Papers:

First and foremost, the history. Flashman is center stage against a backdrop of the most significant military and political events of the 19th Century. The descriptions of places, people and situations are detailed and for the most part accurate. In addition, Flashman brings the past to life by sharing the insight and emotions invoked by experiencing these events first hand.

Secondly, the humor. No matter how debauched or deadly the situation, Flashman puts a comical spin to it. Flashman's humor is sarcastic, irreverent and witty. We can all use more humor in our lives. "
Plus it would seem Sir Harry shares a lot of my outlook about life and love. Flashman on learning foreign languages: ... "if you wish to learn a foreign tongue properly, study it in bed with a native girl - I'd have got more out of the classics from an hour's wrestling with a Greek wench than I did in four years from Arnold. "




Kind of looks a little like Skippy....eh what?

That sums it up pretty well. There is for me another reason I've bought this book and some other books about Imperial Britain, in the 19th century. I think that the history of the British Empire has applicability to understand what the United States has embarked upon with its current adventures in the Middle East and elsewhere.

During this trip I was able to make site visits to outposts of America's empire. Now the true believers in the party line will quickly point out that American is different and does not seek empire. Only to aid nations in a quest for democracy and defeat terrorism, the second which is perhaps and impossible task. My response to the former is, that America has an empire, only unlike the British its an empire with none of the perks. (Well maybe a few. I visited a guys apartment in Bahrain whose kitchen was bigger than my living room.....).

Also in reading Flashman I think I have been able to finally come up with an accurate description of what the folks in Iraq are fighting for. They are fighting for the honour (British spelling intentional) of the United States. That's a different concept than defense of the United States which for Americans is and should be the only acceptable reason to launch the nation into a global war. Sadly, I still have not changed my mind that the Iraq war is not contributing to the defense of the US. (See my earlier posts about the "flypaper theory" of fighting terrorism.) It is a more interesting when one sees it in the context of defense of the empire: regrettably an empire without territory, and as I said earlier, none of the perks.

Gotta run and catch the plane!

Friday, September 16, 2005

I'm still here!

This week has been amazing. Very , very busy and also frustrating trying to convince idiots who should know better to do what they should have been doing all along.

Today thankfully is the last day and then tonight I can get on a plane to Hong Kong and have a well deserved night of fun in Lan Kwai Fong.

My days have averaged 11+hours leaving time for only a beer or 4 and dinner, followed by some sleep. Clearly work is getting in the way of my blogging.

Thanks to all who posted about 9/11 in the post comments section. I'm going to try to recap them and put it into a future post.

I also have been reading the Flashman papers by George Mc Donald Frasier. For those who don't know this was a series of books written well over 100 years ago and make for fascinating reading about life in the British Empire at its height. More on that...too.

Got to run, its 7 am and already 94 degrees here......

Skippy-san

Monday, September 12, 2005

Where were you the day the world changed?

Did not post yesterday as I had to go out for a remote site visit. Also it was September 11, a day that used to be just a normal day, but now will never be just another day ever again. I was in Japan when the attacks happened and had been out at Japanese class and then had been making my circuit through Tokyo when decided to go back early for some unknown reason. When I got back to my apartment the S.O. called me ( we where not living together then and I had no plans to either......) and told me the that "The World Trade Center" had been "attacked". I thought this was an odd choice of words, feeling she must have meant a plane had crashed or some fire or natural disaster had occurred. In point of fact she was right. I turned the TV on just as the second plane was hitting the other tower. Right after that the phone rang and it was the duty officer telling me I needed to get into work as all key and essential personnel were being recalled and the base was going into lockdown. Nobody knew yet whent he next attacks were going to occur and we had visions of bombs being chucked over the walls to the gates. Nothing happened and as the events unfolded the true extent of the tragedy became apparent.

However because of the fanatical bastards, my nice little world was forever changed and the focus of military effort changed forever. Sitting here today 4 years later, in Bahrain makes me wonder what might have been if this day had never happened.
Never forget!




Where were you the day the world changed? Fill in the comments and let us all know!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Back on the wagon!!!!

Well, not really since, you can drink in Bahrain. Was pretty lucky today. Cathay Pacific upgraded me to business class so the ride out from Hong Kong was pretty good. I was able to put the seat back and actually get some sleep and cure my hangover jet lag. At least, I was able to make up for the sleep I did not get last night.

Went to Lan Kwai Fong last night and made the circuit of some of my favorite bars. For some reason , I always end up in Insomnia right about the time they play " Its my life" by Bon Jovi. That's fine with me, as being there in Hong Kong, drinking lots of beer doing the things I want to do, is my best revenge against the useless bastards who thought they had a right to interfere in my private life 8 years ago. The details I'm not prepared to go into here just yet, suffice it to say there are 2 useless excuses for medical / counseling professionals ( one of whom, sadly to say occupies a position of influence with Third Fleet) that I would be just as happy see them hit by a San Diego transit bus tomorrow. So as the band belts out the lyrics, I can take some smug satisfaction in the fact that despite their unethical and illegal actions (in concert with my ex which was the final straw), I survived and landed on my feet. Sucking down a cold beer and singing along with the crowd, is my symbolic way of letting them know, like Papillon, that, "I'm still here you greasy bastards!" :

This ain't a song for the broken-hearted
A silent prayer for the faith-departed
I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice When I shout it out loud

Chorus: It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive (It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow's getting harder make no mistake
Luck ain't even lucky Got to make your own breaks

Chorus: It's my life And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive (It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
I just want to live while I'm alive 'Cause it's my life
Better stand tall when they're calling you out
Don't bend, don't break, baby, don't back down

Chorus: It's my life And it's now or never '
Cause I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive (It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
I just want to live while I'm alive

Chorus: It's my life And it's now or never
'Cause I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive (It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
just want to live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life!


Of course after that, rather fired up, I decided go jump in the gene pool in Wanchai. Got home late (3 am!).....so I was sleepy on the plane and I'm sleepy now. More to follow as I can get it out around my work.

Ja ne!

Friday, September 09, 2005

A traveling man is a happy man!

Ah Narita airport. Site of unending construction, aircraft flying, lines in Immigration and dark gray skies. Back here again for a quick jaunt to Hong Kong then catch the express train plane to hell Bahrain. A week's worth of work there, then hope to be able to buy Spike a beer or 4 in Hong Kong on the way back. Maybe I should ask him to introduce me to Tu.....maybe that's not a good idea. But I'll be back through in a week and the offer for a beer still stands.

I've said before I love traveling and I do. The crowds at the airport, free beer in the lounge ( a concept unheard of in America.....) and then board the plane. Always gets me excited. I woke up an hour and a half early this am and could not go back to sleep. Kind of like the kid on Christmas morning. Especially knowing I get to visit the "fragrant harbor".

I have been watching the news coverage of Katrina. The blame game that is now being played out is interesting. It would be funny, if the whole thing were not so down right tragic. Was reading this morning that New Orleans actually had a plan to evacuate people but did not use it! Been trying to find the post I was reading this morning that had an actual link to the plan to use school busses but I cannot find it and there is a big guy standing behind me looking incredibly annoyed that I've over stayed my time typing this up. So trust me on this one and you can find links to the same story out there.

I'm not sure if this storm will be a blessing or a curse for Bush. Certainly I'm no fan the President and I think there are lots of things to criticize about him , but some of the charges that were made about Katrina are just moonshine. There is really only one thing I think you can criticize the President about here, and that is that he did make budget cuts to the Corps of Engineers to pay the cost of the war. The Army, like the other services had to sacrifice guns and butter to pay for George W's Iraq fiasco adventure. So maybe more construction could have been done to the levees. However in the end its clear that the State of Louisiana and the City, simply did not follow the old adage of safety. "If there is doubt, then there is no doubt". They should have been firing up the buses at the first sign of the storm coming any where near New Orleans. If they had, a lot more people could have been saved. Instead they opted for plan B: do nothing them blame everyone else. To blame Bush for the pace of the response is ludicrous. It takes time to assemble an effort like this and like it or not, when the military does these things they are "pick up" teams. Anybody who says," well the Tsunami effort was quicker" wasn't there watching the logistics effort spool up. It took 5 days to get sufficient aircraft to the region and longer to get the ships in position. (And the Navy was the first to get moving by the way, not the quiche eating service in light, pale blue---true story, no matter what the USAF says.). It will get better.

It is, however obscuring coverage of the war, which is something George Bush welcomes. He needs to be careful though, high fuel prices and bad war news coming in the run up to Christmas will put in back in the hot seat. Which is good. Its where he deserves to be. But blame the man for things he controls, not the things that are not his to influence. He did not get up one day and pray to God for a hurricane to strike New Orleans. I wish people would stop acting like he did.

Gotta run and go board the plane!

Skippy-san

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Art, like life, is all about perspective.

Pictures from my friend's trip to Canada. He says he loved seeing the CN tower:


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Damn work gets in the way!

Not much to say tonight, tomorrow is a work day up here. After going out to an Izikaya,(Japanese drinking restaurant) have had more than my fair share of beer and food. A good time, but now I'm sleepy.

Have been watching the Typhoon coverage down in Kyushu. Nagasaki and Kyushu are being hit hard. However, loss of life has been small:

Typhoon Nabi, whose name means "butterfly" in Korean, was traveling north-northwest at 15 kph (10 mph), heading directly for the densely populated southern island of Kyushu.

The Meteorological Agency expects Nabi to swerve to the east over the next 24 hours, putting it on course to batter much of Japan and southern and eastern parts of South Korea.

Television pictures showed coastal areas of Amami Oshima being engulfed by waves that national broadcaster NHK said were up to nine meters high.

At least four people were injured on Kyushu as the storm approached the island,
police said.

Japan's top government spokesman, Hiroyuki Hosoda, said the country's military, police, firefighters and coast guard were on standby.

Hundreds of flights in and out of Kyushu were canceled on Monday, NHK said. Trains were also canceled and expressways closed in southern parts of the island. Nearly 20,000 households were without electricity on Kyushu, NHK said.

South Korean airlines have canceled about two dozen domestic flights to its southern cities
due to high winds and airline officials said the number of cancellations would likely increase as the typhoon draws near.

South Korean weathermen said the worst of the typhoon would hit from about Tuesday afternoon
Comparisons with Katrina are invalid in my opinion because the populations are so different. Japan makes disaster preparedness a priority, and while it seems silly every year when they have "Disaster preparedness day", it pays dividends at a time like now. Also because of the earth quake danger, while smaller, the homes are built sturdier. Give it a week and Kyushu will be back in business. The terrain is different also with lots of mountains which help disperse the storm. Certainly there are no levees to break.

Also Japan spends a lot of money on Civil Engineering projects, and at times like these the government overspending pays dividends. That type of government pork would not be acceptable, even by the standards of the current US Congress.

Still, perhaps there is a lesson here for the future. Preparedness pays. Gotta work tomorrow so need to sign off now............

Monday, September 05, 2005

Has Bush lost his mind, or is he just that lazy?

Just read that Bush has nominated Roberts to be Chief Justice. How he could bypass, 7 sitting justices to promote a newcomer who has not even been confirmed for his previous nomination is beyond me. WTF?

Guess he never read about Abe Fortas while he was slouching his way through Yale...........

Dear Blogger, your product sucks the big one! New title to a nice post.

I had a nice little post typed up about a nice day today when Blogger ate the damn thing. There is nothing more frustrating than going to hit "Publish Post" and getting the white screen of death! "Cannot find server" my ass!! Tried to recover in the history file, no chance paddles, you're screwed!

Anyway, if I can remember it all, I had a nice day today. Thanks to the incompetence of the people at blogger, I lost my nice words about driving up to Aomori City today. Now its 3 beers later and I'm struggling to remember my brilliant prose. It was a nice drive through some pretty countryside. Ended up heading up to the city parallel to the coastline so got to see about all of the harbor. We walked around the central city and the S.O. dragged me to literally every pottery and China shop within walking distance. However when I tried to sneak away to a manga shop while she looked at Arita plates.....well that did not set well. GRRR!!! (Pictures to follow...and the Manga was good. Pretty risque stuff.)

I've found a new toy I have to buy. The rental car we have is equipped with a GPS car map system. It made life a lot easier when the S.O. could not remember the lousy directions here friend had given her. Add to that the fact that she has a TERRIBLE sense of direction and really cannot master maps. Had I left it to her we would probably still be on the road. However thanks to the Pioneer corporation and some unsung engineers we were back in business in no time:



When it became apparent that she did not know where we were going, I stopped the car and fell back on my Navy training. Read the instructions (which were in Japanese...a feat unto itself for me!) , programmed in some waypoints and then proceeded to fly drive on instruments. Arrived on time with no further delays. Wish I had access to one of these 28 years ago when I was in the training command trying to learn how to do point to points! And unlike the training command, there was no instructor yelling at me, "What the F**K are you doing?"; rather a cute female voice telling when to turn at the next waypoint. ( You could even pick one of 6 cartoon ladies to put on the screen, is this a great country or what!) Everything on the map was in Japanese, but fortunately I can read enough to figure things out. When I needed to I turned to the S.O. and said, "what's that?". Proves the 4 "ates" still work: aviate, navigate, communicate and radiate.

Despite it all we both had a good day.Ate ramen for lunch and went to some of the city's highlights. (there are not that many). Then this evening, a friend of mine who works at Misawa invited us to the fireworks they had on the beach on the north side of the base. It was great because of the water and the fact that it was in the country, you could see them very clearly. They even had music to go along, including one of my favorites at the end:

If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,

From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there's pride in every American heart,
and it's time to stand and say:

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.


Yea, I may loving living in Asia and intend to do so for a lot longer, there will always be a blue passport in my possession. That particular song still chokes me up. And today, Labor Day, it may be a fitting song to think about when so many Americans are overseas doing thankless jobs as well as those in the US doing their best to fix a mess they did not create. So tonight, lets remember them.

Hope I got this right. First time around the words flowed like butter off a knife. Anybody got any suggestions how to do better than Blogger?

Skippy-san

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I head north and look what happens!

Trip up on the Shin was great! I still have yet to understand why within 40 minutes of boarding any train, I am fast asleep. Both me and the S.O. heads on each others shoulders sawing logs while the country side went whizzing by. Got some good pix, but I have to get a cable for my digital camera.

However, the bad news is the Typhoon figured out I'm up here and has decided to chase me:



Great, so much for golf weather Wednesday!

It would seem God has weighed in on the Supreme Court debate.

Just found out that William Rehnquist has died. Sad news for America, because I always felt he did an excellent job navigating the judicial minefield that both parties had created by asking the courts to support their political agendas. A great man. May God give you rest and peace.

The drama of picking his replacement will now begin. There are some big shoes to fill:

Saturday night, Ruth Wedgwood, a constitutional lawyer and close friend of Rehnquist, said, "He was an interesting man. He had an interesting life. Over time, I think he became a much more unifying figure in the court."

His death, she said, puts a "great burden" on the Senate,which will be responsible for confirming a replacement.

This train keeps on a rolling!

I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin' on,
But that train keeps a-rollin',
On down to San Antone.--Johnny Cash

Thank God I'm not in Folsom prison , but I do like trains. So today I'm jumping on the Shinkansen (Bullet train) and heading up to Aomori Prefecture. Even taking the S.O. along.



I've always loved trains and while I could fly up there, I almost invariably take the train when I can. People always ask me why as its not an inexpensive proposition (13,000 yen one way....X 2 since I had to buy the S.O.'s ticket). It takes 3 hours which is about the same as a plane when you factor in check in and security.

For me, its just more fun! Why do I ride the train? Because I can. America will never have a rail service like Japan's and I don't like driving long distances.



So there may not so many posts for a while depending on internet access. I'll post some pictures when I get back though...before I leave for Hong Kong!

Skippy-san

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Good thing OJ was not tried in Hong Kong.

The Nancy Kissel case is over. The papers having wrung every bit of juicy newsprint out if they could, are now free to go back to their normal pursuits. As for Nancy, well she probably needs to take up reading and become friendly with the prison matron.....she is going to be there a long, long, time:

A Hong Kong jury Thursday convicted an American of murdering her wealthy investment banker husband by drugging him with a milkshake laced with sedatives
and beating him to death in the couple's luxury apartment.

Nancy Kissel -- dressed in black, as she has been throughout the trial -- was expressionless as the seven-member jury returned the verdict in the November 2003 death of her husband, Robert, of New York. The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. Defense lawyer Alexander King, who argued that his client killed her husband in self-defense and was the victim of abusive sex, refused to say whether she would appeal.

The verdict in what became known as the "Milkshake Murder" trial came after dozens of witnesses spent nearly three months testifying in one of Hong Kong's
longest and most high-profile murder trials. The often sensational testimony about abusive sex, adultery, cocaine and money gave the public a rare peek inside the private life of a wealthy foreign couple.

Robert Kissel's father, William, said he was thrilled by the verdict. "It's a 65-day trial and it's unanimous. That's justice," he said. "All the allegations made in the court (about Robert) are false, untrue," William Kissel added. "And Robert, I pray, can now rest in peace and his children can go on with their lives in peace knowing their father loved them and they are his dear children."

Nancy Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, said: "Right now, I'm just going to try and get by."The prosecution portrayed the 41-year-old defendant as a cold-blooded killer who murdered her husband -- a top investment banker at Merrill Lynch -- as he prepared to divorce her and seek custody of their three children. Robert Kissel, 40, was furious that his wife had an affair with a repairman who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in Vermont, the prosecution said.But the defense argued that the husband was an abusive workaholic who snorted cocaine and often forcefully sodomized his wife, driving her to seek comfort from a lover. It said Nancy Kissel, who was born in Adrian, Michigan, and also lived in Minneapolis, killed her husband in self-defense as he was attacking her with a baseball bat during an argument.The prosecution said she tried to cover up the crime by rolling up her husband's body in a rug and having it hauled away to a storage locker rented by thecouple.Nancy Kissel testified that she couldn't clearly remember what happened following her husband's death. Investigators found his body in the storage locker two days after the killing.



She definitely will not be playing golf in Florida...........

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday Beer and babes

Another week, another typhoon. That's right, Typhoon Nabi is bearing down on Okinawa and is disrupting our carefully planned effort to get stuff moved to the Philippines and Utapao. It's also putting a crimp in my plans to play some golf before going up to the Tohoku region for a change of scenery. Plus, like Katrina, this storm is a strong one:



If you have good eyesight you can read in the right hand table that winds are projected to be over 150 miles per hour. And it is bearing down on Kadena. Ergo most of my day was spent figuring out how to get people and cargo in and out of Kadena before the USAF pogues closed the field and began locking the hangar doors......

And if it should, as has happened before, turn Northeast.........Oh boy!

In other news, Stars and Stripes ran the following front page:

Its not the top headline I want you to read, its the bottom one!

This article is about married couples serving together in Iraq and unable to have sex. Call me old fashioned, but why in the F**K is this an issue?!?! Can anyone tell me why the Army is assigning married couples to the same unit?! I thought there were prohibitions against that in law, and service regulation?! WTF? It would seem to me the Army would be able to work around this by assigning couples to different units on different rotations.......That used to be the way it worked in the Navy. Or have all the services been watching too much Star Trek lately? Maybe in the Federation, it works ok, but in the real world, its full of unneeded complications...........

Sounds like its time to head for the refigerator:



Oh well, only a week to go and I'll be in Hong Kong, walking up through Lan Kwai Fong looking for these:



Have to wait to see how the hunting goes!

Wanted to post some good news today! For bad news, well, there is always time.

Skippy-san

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The trail of tears

I was rightly reprimanded for an extremely poor attempt at levity in a previous post. I rightfully deserved to get my head slapped and to anyone I offended I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology.

Waking up this morning is like reading a tale of biblical disaster. Consider if you will, that in the span of 36 hours close to 2000 people perished. It will take New Orleans years to recover from Hurricane Katrina and the Mayor is saying now that the Storm "probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans, the mayor said Wednesday - an estimate that, if accurate, would make the storm the nation's deadliest natural disaster since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake."

On the other side of the planet, over one thousand Iraqis are dead or injured for reasons I don't fully understand. :

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Trampled, crushed against barricades or plunging into
the Tigris River, more than 700 Shiite pilgrims died Wednesday when a procession
across a Baghdad bridge was engulfed in panic over rumors that a suicide bomber
was at large.
Most of the dead were women and children, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said. It was the single biggest confirmed loss of life in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. Dr. Swadi Karim of the Health Ministry operations section said 769 were killed and 307 injured.


Amazing.....The National Guard and law enforcement have their hands full trying to stop looting. Its clear a major call up of national guard will (or should be) required and perhaps they will have to shoot a few to make it clear that law and order will prevail.

We have to find a saner way to run this planet. While I am not a pacifist, I cannot help but think, if the resources that were being expended to fight the 30+ wars raging around the planet could be redirected.......

Herman Wouk is right. Either war is finished or we are.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my
name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Matthew 24:6-14

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