Monday, October 31, 2005

Let the whining begin.......

Thanks again to Mudville Gazette, Open Post.......

It has not even been 4 days and the anti-nuclear carrier protests are swinging into full gear.

Hiromichi Umebayashi, president of the nonprofit organization Peace Depot, said the report shows that the SDF, which has been a subordinate to the U.S. forces for 50 years, would share a more prominent role in the U.S. global military strategy from now on.

This enhanced role will have Tokyo bear greater responsibility for security in and around Japan and provide increased support to U.S. forces.

Although Washington argues that the reinforced bilateral alliance is aimed at maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, what the U.S. actually wants is to efficiently reorganize the troops of the two countries to uproot terrorists in the Middle East, including Iraq, Umebayashi alleged.

"Integrating the SDF with the U.S. forces on an operational level means that Japan will be deeply involved in the U.S. global strategy and become jointly responsible for (the latter's) actions around the world," Umebayashi said.

He also criticized the lack of thorough Diet debate on the items set forth in the interim report,despite the fact that the agreement will result in a dramatic change to Japan's security policy.

"The people of Japan have not been able to participate in the discussion," Umebayashi said. "The government should provide the public with accurate information and have the Diet debate the issue."

The Japan
Times: Oct. 31, 2005

Don't feel bad Umebayashi-san, the people who live here and have to make these bad ideas work, were not consulted very much either. And when they were, the answers that were given ( like it is a logistical nightmare to move the air wing back and forth from Iwakuni to Yokosuka every time the ship gets underway) were dismissed as "not getting it.....".

Of course "The Governor" is slightly annoyed:

Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara expressed his disappointment Sunday over a Japan-U.S. accord on the realignment of U.S. forces as it does not address his proposal on military-civilian use of the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

"We regard it as quite regrettable that the issue of joint military-civilian use has been put off. We will issue anew a strong demand to both the Japanese and U.S. governments for the early realization of joint use of the air base," Ishihara said of the accord reached at a ministerial meeting in Washington.

Not to be out done Okinawa's governor has weighed in:

Okinawa Gov Keiichi Inamine on Monday rejected the plan of the Japanese and U.S. governments for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Futemma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture, a senior Okinawa prefectural government official said.

Inamine rejected the plan during his talks with Defense Facilities Administration Agency Director General Iwao Kitahara at the prefectural government office in Naha. Japan and the United States agreed last week on a specific relocation site for the heliport functions of the Futemma base in Ginowan, central Okinawa Island, to Nago, in the northern part of the island.

The folks in Yokosuka have gotten into the act; today NHK showed a report of a petition opposing the carrier with 34,000 signatures on it being delievered to the mayors office in Yokosuka. 34,000!? In just a weekend? They must have camped out at every train station in the Kanto plain , convincing kids that CVN was not the name of a new J-pop band......

So does this mean the plan is in trouble before it even begins? Not at all. In Japan, as the late speaker of the house Tip O' Neill said, "all politics is local."

The Japanese government would never have agreed to this plan if they did not feel confident the opposition can be overcome, and especially now that the ruling party of Prime Minister Koizumi is in a very strong position. What this is about is making sure the communities get some sort of reward for their noise. The government knows it will get it's way, the cities know it, but they have to have something to show their people. Particularly at a time when a greater Japanese role overseas, particularly in Iraq, is very unpopular with the majority of the Japanese people. Koizumi and G.W. may have a "special relationship", but just like Bush's other "special relationship" with Tony Blair, there is a lot of skepticism about the President's real motives. That's partly why people are trying to find some other term than GWOT (global war on terror) because that term is identified with American objectives and not necessarily Japanese ones.

The local politicians know that after the recent elections, the Prime Minister is in a strong position and has been done to those who bolted LDP over the Postal Reform issue, they too can be exiled to the outer darkness. Since neither side wants that, it's better think of them as being "in negotiations." I suspect that the future of Japanese construction companies in Yamaguchi prefecture is very bright, as jobs projects are thrown their way. Same with Yokosuka. Such is the order of things over here.

As for the effect on US forces, namely making it harder to get things done.....well this is not the first time the guys who are out there have been ignored. Talk to Mark over in Korea...........

There is an upside to the protests though. They make for great entertainment value, particularly if they are like these protests against KFC here in Shibuya Tokyo:

You mean other than killing them and eating them?

Save Yokosuka, wear your bikini!!!!!!-Skippy-san

Coffee and wisdom

One of my everyday reads is Hemlock's diary. Written by an expat, living where I wish I could be, Hong Kong, he has unique and insightful revelations on life near the "Fragrant Harbor". Yesterday's contribution is a classic and sums up my romantic experiences to date:

Sun, 30 Oct-To Causeway Bay, in search of a large wooden chopping board on which to discipline the parsley in Perpetual Opulence Mansions. IKEA, to no great surprise, does not offer what I want – theirs are cheap and nasty. But I find the Swedish emporium is, as ever, a superlative spot for people watching. With glee, I observe self-conscious young couples walking around with tape measures choosing the contents of their very first shared apartment. They have gone beyond the stage of leaving toothbrushes in each other’s homes and are moving in together. The Scandinavian-designed furniture is surely a metaphor for their relationships – a bit awkward to put together, almost instantly disappointing personally and increasingly embarrassing to friends, and eventually dismantled with difficulty and looked back on as a learning experience, at best.

Sums my life up pretty well. Expensive learning too.........

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The number.

Warning! Rambling post follows with my feelings expressed, some of which are not rational, possibly racist, and definitely not definitive by any means.

This week marked a supposed "milestone" in the US war in Iraq. The 2000th American was killed in that Godforsaken country. And just as quickly, the milestone was suprassed as 4 more Americans were killed a couple of days later. The papers have talked about it, as has the TV, there are lots of posts on blogs up, and the news magazines will no doubt have their stories out this Monday when they publish. Lex has a particularly good post up, which as is always the case some of it I agree with, some of it I don't. Its very much worth the read however.

All of the punditry, all the blather, all of the analysis are about one thing: what does it all mean? And as an adjunct is this sacrifice some how "worth it"? To tell you the truth, I just do not know. I'm not sure anyone does for sure, although there are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle that think they do. Mostly I just have very mixed up feelings and beliefs.

I believe that first and foremost there is only one number that matters. Its not a 100, 500, 1000 or even 2000 or God forbid, 4000. Its the number 1. That the number 2000, is an aggregation of individual tragedies that have happened to families, husbands, wives, fathers and sons. Each of those folks was ONE special person to someone, or to many people. That these aforementioned families have had their lives irrevocably shattered. That the loss of each and every one is unfair and they are all worthy of honor, but also anger.

Anger that there are Islamic lunatics who think they have a right to use violence to impose their apostate religion on folks who know better.

Anger that after over 10,000 years man has still not figured out a way to rid himself of the foolishness of war.

Anger at the unfairness of it all that these folks , who had so much to live for and so much yet to do, are gone while fat cat rich bastards live in comfort and will never have to lift a finger to support the effort they gave their lives for.

Anger that the powers that be did not think this whole thing through before the invasion started. That they ignored the warnings that were given them, and more importantly did not use overwhelming force and strength if in fact it was necessary to invade. I believe that in the end Shinseki was right about troop numbers and that if this is going to go on for some years to come, ALL of the Armed Services need to be a lot bigger than they are now.

Anger that the leadership of the Department of Defense does not believe that.

Anger that the insurgents cannot see that they cannot win in the end, so why continue?

Anger that after 60 years of whining about Israel and the poor poor "Palestinians", the damn Arabs cannot get over it and just move on. That with all of the money they have available, their countries are still second rate in terms of standard of living and other indicators of civilization.

Anger that Arabs as a group are so wedded to their outdated and useless tribal ways that they could not take on this problem themselves and are too lazy to do so, but would rather leave it up to the United States and others to do a job that they should be able to do and are not, or won't.

Anger that Islam is still stuck around theirs and others necks like the millstone and apostate religion that it is.

I'm also confused about a lot of what has been accomplished and what is left to be done. I'm sure lots of folks of both sides will try to educate me, but I'll give you a hint: it won't change my mind.

Sure Saddam is gone and that is good. Iraqi's are starting to build the basics of a new government. They have voted and will vote again. Life is better their than before. All true. However when did it become America's vision to forcibly remake sovereign states into some replica of America? And if that is America's mission, why are we so selective about it? On every continent of the globe, except for North America, people are living in tyranny. If in 5 years, Iraq elects a Nasser, or an Ayatollah, will we have to go back and do it again? Maybe they might be better off with a King like is in Jordan. What if they end up with a one party state, that is a democracy in name only, then what?

Why Iraq? Why not Egypt which is the real center of gravity in the Arab world? Oh I forgot, they are an "ally" and we give them 3 billion per year. Can't very well invade them. They are far from a democracy though, "opposed presidential election" or not.

I believe that the US is committed to Iraq and has to continue to live up to that commitment. Its the surest way to show Iraq and other nations that the United States is different than the colonial powers that came before it. Then again at least with the colonial powers there was some sort of stability. When the US refused to support the colonial powers back in the 50's, we laid the ground work for the chaos we are trying to fix now.

I am proud of all the young Americans who serve and choose to serve, particularly now. It was easy for my generation, no one believed there would be a big war, and so service in the armed forces was about adventure, travel, excitement and camaraderie. The Cold War bounded everything and kept lunatics in their box. Fear of confrontation with the USSR kept things like this Iraq fracas from happening..(usually...). That's all gone now. It pains me to admit it, but the young person who raises his hand today and takes the oath is probably a braver and better person than I was at that age. Especially those who volunteer for the Army or the Marines. They know the war is out there, on their horizons; and still they volunteer. Their service is particularly special because they do not have to do it. Thousands of their fellow countrymen avoid their obligation of service every year. Not these men and women who have gone on to hopefully a special place in heaven. They could have taken the easy path, but they chose not to. They had hopes and dreams and all of them thought they would get back safely. However, they chose to serve.

Perhaps in the end that is what all this means. Lex said it better than I can:

These men and women, all two thousand of them: They are not a number. And they are emphatically none of them a symbol. They were of us and from us, each of them unique, each of them a window on the universe, now shuttered. They gave all they had, and all they ever would have because they believed in us.

I wish the neocons had understood that before they started us down this path. Do they? Some believe they did......I'm not so sure. I really wonder if they do. I'll never know the answer to the question, I suspect. However I will remember these young men and women who served. Each of you should too.

Now it is just getting plain silly.........

Japanese/ US Base realignment that is.

U.S. Marines in Japan to be slashed by half
-- Japan and the United States have agreed to reduce the number of U.S. Marine Corps troops in Okinawa Prefecture by about a half, visiting Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono told reporters Friday evening. As part of the ongoing efforts to reduce and integrate U.S. forces in Japan's southernmost prefecture, Tokyo and Washington agreed to shift some 7,000 of about 15,000 Marines to U.S.bases in Guam and other locations, Ono said in Washington. "We demanded that Okinawa's burden of hosting U.S. bases be reduced in a tangible way, and the two sides have recently agreed to reduce Marines by 7,000," he said.The accord is set to be incorporated in an interim report to be released at a Japan-U.S. security meeting to be attended by foreign and defense ministers of both countries this weekend. The 7,000 Marines set to be transferred are mostly office personnel and supply officials. Okinawa, which accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan's national land, is home to 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan in terms of land area. (Mainichi)
Click here for the original Japanese story
October 29, 2005

Statement by the Defense Minister or no, I'll believe this when I see it. Then again stranger things have happened. Anybody out there remember this little rogue nation called N. Korea? I guess not.........

Read the entire statement here. As I had suspected would happen, they have taken a great deal and just totally hosed it up.......

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I am an idiot!

Yesterday was the S.O.'s birthday.....

So I bought a card and flowers. I also, being the total damn fool that I am, bought her tickets to Germany............She wanted a trip so I gave her one. Jewelry would have worked just as well I think.............

I had wanted to go to Vietnam, but she wanted to go to Europe. So, instead of doing the manly thing, like a wuss, I gave in to what she wanted. Why, I have no idea......

As a result, I spent 1800 dollars on two tickets to the fatherland. So how does she repay me? By complaining about the mess I made in the kitchen........

Women, Can't live with them. Can't shoot them......(unless you are O.J......)

ja ne,


Friday, October 28, 2005

Harriet Miers crying in her beer...(and babes!).

Its Friday and you know what that means!

But first the news. Seen below is Thursday's front page from the Asahi Shimbum:

What all that Kanji is telling you is that the US and Japan have come to an agreement about closing Futenma Marine Corps station in Okinawa, long a sore point with Japan, by consolidating units into Camp Schwab. That is seen as a backdrop that will allow other movements of units in Japan to occur. Near and dear to my heart is the mention of moving all aircraft but the helicopters of CVW-5, from NAF Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni in 2009. It also discusses moves involving Yokota AB, Increasing the Army presence at Camp Zama and moving units from Kadena up to Kyushu and Atsugi. The CVW-5 move is the one that obviously concerns me, and means I'll need to dust off the old resume I think. Particularly because it is dumber than dirt, and does nothing to improve the readiness of the air wing. Reason #1 to cry in one's beer.

A major pillar of the planned realignment is that the
U.S. Army's I Corps headquarters in Fort Lewis, Washington state, will be reorganized and relocated to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture.
The Air Self-Defense Force's Air Defense Command, now based in Tokyo's Fuchu, will be
transferred to within the U.S. Air Force's Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.
In Okinawa Prefecture, the site in Ginowan that the Futenma air station now occupies will be returned to Japan. The Futenma heliport functions will relocate to Nago, while the Futenma air tankers will move to the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Kanoya Base in Kagoshima Prefecture.

A reduction in the number of U.S. Marines in Okinawa Prefecture is expected with the relocation of the Third Marine Division's command headquarters at Camp Courtney in Uruma in the prefecture to Guam, among other measures."The two sides have agreed to the reduction of several thousand (U.S. Marines in Okinawa)," Defense Agency Director-General Yoshinori Ono told reporters Wednesday. Some of the training drills of the F-15 fighters now conducted from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture will move to the ASDF's Tsuiki Base in Fukuoka Prefecture. This and other plans to move military functions out of Okinawa are expected to help ease the noise and other problems Okinawan residents have had to endure for years.
In Kanagawa Prefecture, about 70 carrier-based aircraft at the Atsugi Air Base will be transferred to the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Night-flight drills at Iwakuni will be conducted on Iwojima Island to help solve the noise problem.(IHT/Asahi: October 28,2005)

Meanwhile in Washington DC, it sucks to be George Bush this week. First, it seems as if Tom Delay is not the only prominent Republican who will be posing for mug shots.....but the Presidents "employee of the month" nominee just withdrew her name for nomination to the Supreme Court. Torpedo'ed by the liberals you say? Nope, she was submarined by wacko conservative members of the Presidents own party. Now I will grant you, I'm not sure George thought the whole nomination of Harriet Miers through, especially when the charges of cronyism seem to be gaining adherents......but her nomination had not even gone to the Senate, something I was actually hoping for. I wanted her to go in front of the Senate and then see the Senate vote her down, handing G.W. exactly the kind of embarrassing legislative defeat he needs to suffer. Sadly we will have to wait for that since: a) G.W. has forgotten where his veto stamp is...and b) he'll probably cave into James Dobson and the other right wing nutjobs and appoint one of their darlings. Meanwhile, back at the Executive Office building, hopefully Harriet is crying into one or 2 of these:

Probably the President would like a couple too, but First Lady Laura Bush won't let him have them anymore........

And always after a good cry, Ms Miers would probably retire to the ladies room to fix up the make-up:

THANKS AND A BIG HAT TIP TO LOST NOMAD! I keep going back to his blog just to look a this picture over and over again.........Woodrow shows up too!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Winning the Series.........

The Japan series that is.

Last night the Chiba Marines beat the Hanshin Tigers . The Marines swept the Tigers in four games to claim their first championship in 31 years. Valentine says his club has what it takes to compete against either of this year's World Series combatants, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros.

The 55-year-old manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines issued a challenge Wednesday to the winner of the World Series: "Let's do battle in a real World Series." According to him:
Valentine, who on Wednesday became the first foreigner to manage a team to a Japan Series title, says the level of play in Japan has risen to that in North America and the time has come for a best-of-seven series between the Japanese champions and the World Series champions. "I'm not talking about an All-Star game, I'm talking about two battle-proven teams who have played a season and know how to play baseball, "Valentine said. "If our owner was to put up a pot of money and challenge the owner of the World Series team, it could happen," he said. `"Hey, I bet you $50 million (5.5 billion yen), winner takes all.' I'd even bet my salary against theother manager's salary. And I bet I'm making more than they are."

He probably is. This is his second stint managing a Japanese team. From Japundit:
Nine years ago, the Marines hired Valentine in a desperate attempt to jump start their baseball club out of the second division of the six-team Japanese Pacific League and into contention. Valentine was hand-picked by then-Marines General Manager Tatsuro Hirooka, who took a chance with a gaijin (foreign) manager, even though Hirooka had a reputation as a strong proponent of the Japanese samurai-style of baseball.
Valentine applied American coaching techniques that were more laid back and otherwise quite different from the traditional Japanese play-til-you-die approach. For this he was often criticized here by purists (including Hirooka, it is reported) who thought the American way would make their players fat and lazy.

Why they hired an experienced American manager when they wanted the team managed in the “Japanese style” is one of the biggest mysteries of the whole saga. Though Valentine was second-guessed by the front office virtually every step of the way, he led his charges to a second-place finish, marking only the second time the Marines finished in the top three in theprevious 20 years. Despite all of Valentine’s success with the team, despite the fact that the fans loved his “Bobby Magic,” and despite the fact that home game attendance increased by 17 percent over the previous year — the Marines showed Bobby Valentine the door.

After 7 seasons with the non-Steinbrenner team (NY Mets). He came back to the Marines after they had spent 7 years in the cellar and realized that maybe the good Mr. Valentine did know a thing or two about baseball after all.

Valentine has become the first gaijin manager to win a Japan Series in the 70-year history of Japanese baseball.

So maybe he is right, its time for a Japan/USA World Series.......

One other side note about the Hanshin Tigers. They failed to reverse the curse of the Colonel. In 1985, the Tigers took the CL pennant and won the Japan Series. After they clinched the flag, a statue of Colonel Sanders was uprooted from its home in front of an Osaka KFC restaurant by celebrating fans and was joyously dumped in the river. The Colonel hasn't been seen since and Hanshin has never won another Japan Series.

Oh yea, over on the wrong side of the Pacific, the White Sox also won that other thing....... some no name baseball championship.

Tokyo Auto show

Of interest, here are some pictures from the Tokyo Auto show. Held out in Kaihin Makahari at Makahari Messe it had displays from everywhere. I think there were some cars there too, just can't really remember them:

There were some motocycles too I think:

I do recall needing some new tires:

And maybe a new CD player......

I'm sure they told me a thing or two about cars.......maybe, kinda, not really sure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Half a league onward......

Today in History, 25 October:

2005- US Military casualties in Iraq top the 2000 mark.

1994 -Susan Smith reports a false carjacking to cover her murder

1972- Nixon suspends bombing of North Vietnam.

1971 - The U.N. seats the People's Republic of China and expels Taiwan.

1944- First kamikaze attack of the war begins.

1861- Keel of the Monitor laid.

1415- Battle of Agincourt

And the subject we are going to talk about today, occurred in 1854: The (in) famous Charge of the Light Brigade.


"The war is popular beyond belief"
Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians

The proximate cause of the war was a dispute about over who had precedence at the holy Places in Jerusalem and Nazereth. Tempers frayed, violence resulted, and lives were lost. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia demanded the right to protect the Christian shrines in the Holy Land and to back up his claims moved troops into Wallachia and Moldavia (present day Rumania) then part of the Ottoman Turkish empire. His fleet then destroyed a Turkish flotilla off Sinope in the Black Sea. In an early instance of propaganda, British newspaper reports of the action said the Russians had fired at Turkish wounded in the water. According to one source, "Russian domination of Constantinople and the Straits was a perennial nightmare of the British and with the two powers already deeply suspicious of each others intentions in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the British felt unable to accept such Russian moves against the Turks. Louis Napoleon III, emperor of France, eager to emulate the military successes of his uncle Napoleon I and wishing to extend his protection to the French monks in Jerusalem allied himself with Britain." (Remember, Turkey controlled the holy land....).

So the war began in March 1854 and by the end of the summer, the Franco-British forces had driven the Russians out of Wallachia and Moldavia. The fighting should have ended there, but it was decided that the great Russian naval base at Sevastopol was a direct threat to the future security of the region and in September 1854 the French and British landed their armies on the Crimean peninsula. This set the stage for the battle of Balaklava, of which the Charge of the Light Brigade was a part.

The Charge itself:

1.Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward,All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred."Forward, the Light Brigade!"Charge for the guns!" he said:Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

2."Forward, the Light Brigade!"Was there a man dismay'd?Not tho' the soldier knew Someone had blunder'd:Their's not to make reply,Their's not to reason why,Their's but to do and die:Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

The light brigade consisted of the following units: The 13th Light Dragoons were placed on the right of the front line, the 17th Lancers in the centre, the 11th Hussars on the left but slightly behind the regiments to the right of them. The 4th Light Dragoons and the 8th Hussars formed the second line. Here is what the battlefield and the valley they rode up looks like today:

3.Cannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd;Storm'd at with shot and shell,Boldly they rode and well,Into the jaws of Death,Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.

4.Flash'd all their sabres bare,Flash'd as they turn'd in air,Sabring the gunners there,Charging an army, while All the world wonder'd:Plunged in the battery-smokeRight thro' the line they broke;Cossack and Russian Reel'd from the sabre stroke Shatter'd and sunder'd.Then they rode back, but not Not the six hundred.

If you expand the picture you can see the arrow pointing to the right shows the valley the Brigade rode through. From the history of the 13th Hussars:

The first line consisted of the 13th Light Dragoons on the right and the 17th Lancers on the left. Lord Cardigan placed himself alone in front of the line, a little on the left of the centre.The 13th and 17th then moved off, and when they had covered rather more than 100 yards the 11th Hussars, who were in the second line, moved off also. In due course, and at about the same interval, came the 4th and the 8th. During the day the 11th had been on the left of the first line, but the narrowing of the valley and the width of front occupied by the Cossack battery at the east end necessitated a contraction in the first line. As it was, the 17th Lancers overlapped the right of the battery, and the 11th Hussars, in support, just brushed the guns with their right flank. The 11th it will thus be seen, did not actually cover the 17th but charged down the valley nearer to the Fedioukine Hills. The 11th the 4th, and the 8th were in echelon. Consequently the 4th came into the battery full front, while the course of the 8th was as against the Russian left. Captain Nolan started to ride with the charge, and it is believed took up a position in the interval between the two squadrons of the 17th At any rate, it would appear that thence he darted out when he rode obliquely across the front of the advancing line.

You can see the set up on this map:

Not exactly an envelopment..........

The brigade lost over 400 men out of a starting figure of 673. Smal, l in comparison to the 16,000 that died of the cold and disease that came from the botch the British made of logistics in the Crimea during the following winter and summer.....

Nevertheless, what went wrong?

In a word, leadership...lack of it. A commander failing to take account of the fact that he was on a hill and could see what was going on and his troops could not! Add to that a whole lot of class and professional rivalry, coupled with some petty bickering and outright loathing, and you get a recipe for failure:
George Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan, in overall command of the cavalry and subsequently promoted to Field Marshal, was an imperious andover-bearing aristocrat who was promoted to high position over more proficient professional officers because of his social connections. He let a personal quarrel with his brother-in-law - Lord Cardigan, commander of the Light Brigade- reach such a point that their respective staffs refused to co-operate and an order from Lucan to Cardigan was misconstrued, leading to the charge. Thomas James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan was a "stupid, overbearing, arrogant, vindictive" general whose ancient title and great wealth overcame his inability to command in the eyes of the military leadership. To make matters worse, the 'galloper' who delivered the message, Captain Nolan, despised both of them.

This background lead to a fatal miscommunication:

It appeared that the Quartermaster-General, Brigadier Airey, thinking that the Light Cavalry had not gone far enough in front... when the enemy's horse had fled, gave an order in writing to Captain Nolan, 15th Hussars, to take to Lord Lucan, directing his Lordship 'to advance' his cavalry nearer the enemy.......When Lord Lucan received the order from Captain Nolan, and had read it, he asked, we are told, 'Where are we to advance to?' Captain Nolan pointed with his finger to the line of the Russians, and said, 'There are the enemy, and there are the guns', or words to that effect, according to statements made after his death...

There is an interesting picture of Lord Cardigan and Lord Luncan painted in the "Flashman" series of books. From another text though, it is clear neither were were well liked: "At the time, Lord Cardigan was known to be a "blockhead" and Lord Lucan was considered a "pedant""

5. Cannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon behind them Volley'd and thunder'd;Storm'd at with shot and shell,While horse and hero fell,They that had fought so wellCame thro' the jaws of DeathBack from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.

6.When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered.Honor the charge they made,Honor the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred.

Copied from Poems of Alfred Tennyson,J. E. Tilton and Company, Boston, 1870

I shall leave it to others to make any kind of a connection to this history and current events. However it is interesting to hear the rhetoric of the time. Anything here sound familar?

"I believe that if this barbarous nation(Russia) the enemy of all progress......should once succeed in stablishing itself in the heart of Europe,it would be the greatest calamity which could befall the human race"

Lord Lyndhurst in a speech to the House of Lords

Monday, October 24, 2005

More avoiding the truth about the USFSPA

A reader e-mailed me and tipped me off to the fact that Donald Rumsfeld had a chance to be a hero to victimized affected servicemen and women, but avoided the issue entirely. Evidently during his Town Hall meeting in Korea, a question was asked about the Former Spouse protection act and why DOD still refuses to do the right thing and stick up for the little guy. According to my source, " the question drew a thunderous applause from the crowd, but he dodged it. He[Rumsfeld] ended up saying Congess was not willing to revisit the issue yet". I tried to get a transcript on Defense Link , but it was not posted yet. Hopefully it will be. While he did not have time to get anything meaningful said, he did have time for a photo op though:

Jenifer talks about this event on her blog. She points out the issue:

My question? "Why is military retired pay being treated as a marital
?" Instead, another trooper from across the gym asked that question and
gave a complete monetary assessment of what he was giving to his ex-spouse. Mr.
Secretary's answer? I am aware of that issue, I have been informed about that concern. What I am referring to readers, is the U.S.F.S.P.A. enacted in 1982, by Congress; in essence it is simply this: If you marry somebody while you are in the military and stay married to them for ten years and get divorced, for whatever reason, that ex-spouse gets half of your retirement pay should you make the military a career and successfully retire. This applies even if they remarry. Is it fair? No it isn't.

Damn right its not fair! You will recall back in June when the SECDEF was cornered on this issue
he promised to have Dr Chu take a look at the issue. Anyone who is familar with Dr Chu's record and lack of compasssion knows that "having Dr Chu look at it" is the equivelant of saying, "I'll take your suggestion and stick it in the round file...........". It is the fox guarding the hen house.

Since then has anything been done by Dr Chu? The real answer is nothing. He would dispute that of course, however I will let you be the judge of that by asking you to read this statement by the lady who started the question ball rolling:

Written Statement Prepared for The Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS)On October 18th, 2005

By Lieutenant Colonel Patricia M. Larrabee,
U.S. Army

In two minutes, it is impossible to explain the intricacies of the issue I’d like to bring to your attention. I will use a scenario to at least help illustrate a portion of the issue. Two Army Officers marry. At the time of marriage, they both have 5 years of service behind them.After a year and a half of marriage the male decides he no longer wants to be in the military-- as it is not lucrative enough for him. They decide that he will get out of the military and complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science (that he has been working on part time for several years) and then pursue a Master of Science degree in Software Engineering. He attends school full time without employment for over three years. During those three years, the female officer commands a company, continues to work on her master’s degree after duty hours and has their first child. The male then enters the civilian workforce. Shortly after, he decides he wants to pursue an MBA and begins taking night courses. Upon reassignment to another state, the male spouse stays behind and takes another six months off from employment to finish his MBA, while the female officer makes the move to the new state alone with their two-year-old child. She again provides the only support for the family—but, this time in two different states. They soon have a second child. Although the male has gone from making approximately $32k per year to making $100k per year over the course of their 9 year marriage—largely due to the schooling and support he receives-- the male feels that the Army is “holding him back”. They agree to divorce. The marriage ends at nine years. In a routine divorce proceeding, the male spouse is granted 22.5% of her retirement; which she has to continue to work for another six years before earning. The female officer is ordered to begin payments at 20 years of service, whether she chooses to retire at that time or not and continue these payments until her death. This court order effectively ends her career as
she will not be able to afford to pay him out of her monthly military pay while supporting her two young children. The female officer was blind-sided in the courtroom. In her 14 years of service, there was never any information provided by the Army to educate her of such a possibility.

This is my story. The issue is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) that was passed by Congress in 1982.

As I began to research this issue, I found that there were already over 250,000 military members who suffered from this unfair law before me. These victims include: male, female; regular force, retirees, national guard and reserve military members.

But how can that be? It appears that only those of us who have gone through a divorce know the true affects that this unfair law can impose on us. Everyone else seems to believe certain “myths”about the law and its affects.

Is it possible that our senior leaders are unaware of the negative affects on our service members of this unfair law?

In the Defense Department World Wide Town Hall meeting on 29 June 2005, I used my personal example to illustrate to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and GEN Myers the unfairness of the USFSPA to military service members and to point out that it is causing retention issues.

Mr. Rumsfeld was unaware of this law and stated, “I’ve never heard of it.” However, GEN Myers was familiar with the law and stated that it was an “old” law put into place for “different times…when spouses were normally women…and when they probably did not work…” Mr. Rumsfeld’s public response to me on the 29th of June was that he would have “Dr. Chu look at it”. GEN Myers agreed that was necessary. Seven weeks later, I received a letter from one of Dr. Chu’s subordinates stating that the “Department of Defense is fully aware” of the issue and citing the USFSPA 2001 Report to Congress that his office prepared. This report was in response to a 1998 directive from Congress and took three years to complete—two years later than directed.

Who in DoD is aware of this issue and its affects on the military subordinates? If the report was dated in 2001, then why had Mr. Rumsfeld not heard of it in June of 2005? When reviewing the report, I realized that it contained no stated leadership position indicating that Mr.
Rumsfeld had no influence on its content. The report is completely devoid of any leadership concerns for the recruiting, retention, or welfare of the military members. In fact, the report reduced this very important issue to a “staff action.” The whole report appears to be an exercise in reaching a consensus on a list of issues. Since when do we lead our military by consensus?

Why was such an important report, which was specifically requested by Congress to be prepared and submitted by the Secretary of Defense, not endorsed by the Secretary of Defense himself? If Mr. Rumsfeld did not approve the final report, who in DoD approved it? How do we know that Mr. Rumsfeld, as our Secretary of Defense and senior Civilian Department of Defense leader, agrees with the consensus’ reached and final report prepared and submitted by the staff?

One of the very first and basic principals we learn as second lieutenants is to take care of our subordinates. In other words, look out for their personal welfare. How can our leaders look out for our welfare if they are not in touch with the issues that affect us?

Although many believe that USFSPA was originally well intentioned, it has turned into a discriminatory law working against military members and their families. This law is actually providing incentive for non-supportive spouses to abandon their marriages and take half of what the
military member has worked for toward retirement. GEN Myers is right. The USFSPA is outdated. Its original intent was to ensure that spouses who had no opportunities for careers of their own were not left with nothing in the event of a divorce. The times have changed. The military services have facilitated higher education opportunities for these spouses world-wide; families are stabilized for longer periods of time allowing spouses to get educations and jobs; and family members are given priority for filling government jobs all over the world. Women have come a long way in achieving their own career goals. It is time that we move into the 21st century and restore the rights of our military members to what they originally contracted for when they joined the military. Ex-spouses of military members have the same rights in divorce courts as those married to civilian members of this country. Why should these ex-spouses be “rewarded” with life time payments automatically for “calling it quits” on the service member? The service member must successfully serve 20 years to get these retirement payments for life. What does the ex-spouse have to do? He/she must simply marry a service member and then divorce the service member—no questions asked! It is time to stop forcing military men and women to support their ex-spouses until their deaths!

Many women have worked hard to gain career opportunities over the past 30 or so years. Why must those of us who actually work hard for a career have to pay the price for those who choose not to have a career? For those women, we have State laws that protect them in their divorces. As they get older, they can file on their ex-husband’s social security—just as every other civilian woman who chooses not to pursue a career.

I formally request that DACOWITS take this issue and fully study the affects on the service members and families. We have had 23 years of mistreatment in divorce court proceedings against service members
because of a bad law. In this time of War, the Department of Defense leadership owes it to those who fight for this nation to study this issue. We need the leadership to learn the issues, understand the issues, and then make decisions that are in the best interest of the National Security of this nation.

Let us not forget that famous quote by George Washington, “The willingness with which our young people are to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
Smart lady. I think this statement she says everything the SECDEF could and should say in a letter to the Congress urging them to scrap the law or at the least, reform its most heinous provisions. Congress not ready to take it on? Maybe, but no one has given them the opportunity in 3 years. Also if key figures in this administration would lend their weight to this effort, one might see better results. And it costs DOD nothing to do so, however it costs them everything in the respect of those of us who are victimized by the cruel and useless law.

Its a testament to the cynic in me that thinks, "maybe that is what this will take.....make this a woman's issue and someone in DOD will pay attention to it. God forbid we could do something to improve the lot of men in the service! " For 20 years men have been saying exactly the same thing as LT COL Larabee says. To deaf ears. Those of you who have read my writing for a while know that I am no friend of DACOWITS or its feminist agenda. But I am a pragmatist. If this will get the wheels turning, then OK I'll live with. After all, DOD never says no to anything DACOWITS proposes...........

This question in Korea though, does point out another thing that might help get this evil law undone. This should be a question that comes up at every Q&A forum the SECDEF does. Anyplace, anytime. Bloggers can help spread the word. Perhaps if the Secretary hears the same question and the tales of misery repeated often enough, he and the rest of the powers that be will become more and more convinced it is an issue they can no longer hide from.

There is one other thing that each and every one of us, active duty or retired can do and no one in DOD can stop us: Write your Congressman! It is the right of every serviceman or woman to write their elected representatives. It cannot be taken away. However your retirement can. So if Congress "is not ready" then lets all help them get ready!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Back in the saddle again!

I'm finally back on the correct side of the Pacific after a fairly busy week and some adventure in getting back. Almost missed my plane back to Nihon when the SFO airport was fogged in and I sat in an aircraft sitting at the hold short for almost 2 hours. Then I stood in a line to take the bus to the international terminal to just get on board before they shut the doors. Hectic to say the least.

Last day at my meetings they wrapped up early. So I took the opportunity to try out my new irons. Rented a rental set of clubs asked them if I could put my irons in the bag (they said yes), and off I went to prove that new equipment really improves your game. 4.2 hours later: new clubs, same bad golf..........

There is a moral there somewhere but I'm not sure what. Going to go today and try to prove the theory again, now that I have had a chance to get some decent sleep.

Going back to the United States is always a two edged experience for me. On the one had there is a certain level of comfort being in a place where I understand the language fluently, know the customs and courtesies ( or lack there of in many cases), and can get around in a less crowded environment. At the same time I find myself missing a lot of the things I love about being in Asia, particularly being able to get around with having to use a car. America is a great place to live all right, however it is a little bit boring too. The city I was staying in, did not have much to offer in terms of excitement. The bars and clubs I went to were all for a younger crowd and there was no place to go for "the sure thing", like there is in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and other cities over here. And of course because of the lack of public transportation, you really could not cut loose and enjoy yourself lest the 'road nazis' stop you and make you do a dance on the side of the road.

Other things seemed different too. House prices are a LOT higher than I remember. Reading the paper and the real estate adds was obscene....(I'm thinking about buying a rental property so I can have a tax break). 450,000 for 2000 square feet? Those are only slightly less than Tokyo prices......have folks lost their minds? Plus I would have to cut the grass and all of the other fol du rol I don't now do in Japan.

Americans dress far more casually when just going out than Japanese do. That takes a little getting used to after a prolonged absence. Maybe I am just getting older and more intolerant, but there were too many people with just T-shirts and hat backwards and even the girls were what I would call "dressed down". (I've commented before on this phenomena.) . In Tokyo you see a lot of girls in skirts and if they are in jeans, I'll guarantee you the top they are wearing is nice.

And what is it with girls and tattoos on the small of their backs? I saw several girls who, when they reached over a counter and their T-shirt rose up, one saw a tattoo of some sort just above the belt line. I guess its sexy and an attention getter, but whenever I see that I don't see bird or a butterfly or whatever. I just seen a sign that says:

Lots of other things that I wondered about too. Being back in the land of cable TV had me channel surfing and watching lots of news, none of it good.
I think about all of these things since we are all just a pink slip away from losing our ability to stay in Japan and Asia. I'm not sure I'm ready to go home yet. So I'll just work harder I think to keep that from happening.
More to follow on this subject.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stuck with a dial up.

Short posts only for a while, as I am in a room with no hi speed access and I am not an NMCI preferred customer.

This trip is not starting off so good. First the two "usual" resteraunts I have gone to have changed ownership. And with that the quality of the food went down hill ( we won't even begin to talk about the service.....).

Does anyone else besides me, think it is somewhat fitting that Michelle Wie got disqualified in her first pro tournament? Even though she did what we have all done at one point, drop a "little" closer to the hole.

I did it! Bought some new Callaway X-18 irons. Now I just have to figure out how to get them home. Anbody played with them and if so how do like them?

American resteraunt portions are too big! Come to think of it a lot of American stomachs are too big, especially on some of the girls I saw today......

Rained like hell today. Guess who did not pack an umbrella?

And finally, under the category of " It ain't over till it's over." Watched the wind get taken out of Houston's sails tonight. 2 outs, bottom of the 9th, 1 pitch to go.....As they say in the movies, "That ought shut these Houstonites people up!".

More later.....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Up, Up and away!

This is not a good sign, "Sir the only way you can upgrade is to try at the airport.........". Better stock up on 5 dollar bills so I can get the right amount of beer in me......

On the road again for a few days for meetings back in the big old U S of A. Blogging may or may not be part of the agenda.......

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Presidential theater........

CDR Salamander has a post and a link up from a member of the group of Soldiers that were part of the Presidential Video Tele Conference the previous evening. The Soldier bashes the Main Stream Media for calling the event "staged":

It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

Michelle Malkin ( You know her, she's the c**t!) has been pushing her agenda of ripping the MSM with 2 posts about this conference. Yet with all due respect to the Phibian, both she and he miss the point: The media is actually right, but not for the reason the event was staged. Of course it was staged. No self respecting commander is going to host an event involving the Commander in Chief with out mapping out every detail, checking it four times and making damn sure that all of the misfits have guard duty, are in restriction, or are on the flight schedule for that particular period of time. Every one remembers the Hornet XO talking about Clinton's visit on TR back in 1993.:

Maybe we can call this his military service," Cmdr. Bill Gortney
told Newsweek. "Three hours is more than he had before."

As I recall there was hell to pay about that statement. Did not hurt the good CDR Gortney in the end though, he's now a 1 star admiral........

Every Presidential interaction with the military is staged..........I was one of the props in the audience when Clinton spoke to the crew of the Eisenhower when it came back from Haiti in 1994. I even shook the man's hand. Had I been to Haiti? NO. I was with the rest of the air wing, which had been left ashore to make room for Army helos......

Repeat this again, every Presidential interaction with the media is staged.

Which leads me to my main point, why is the media right about this Presidential photo op? Because the armed services are not the audience that needs to be convinced. If the poll numbers are to be believed ( and I tend to doubt them myself) the military is 2-1 in favor of Bush over anyone else. He does not have to sell himself or his war to them. He's had their obedience since January 20, 2001. Just like Clinton had our obedience from January 20,1993 - January 20, 2001. That just goes with the territory.

He does not need to do things like this. If he remains steadfast in his commitment to what he has started, then resorting to photo-ops is the last thing he should do. The President would be better off taking on a group of doubting Thomas's like me and enunciating the themes he spoke in his speech of 2 weeks ago. That speech, by the way, did not change my mind; but at least he sounded more convincing. An event like this, makes it seem like he is worried about the fact that only 39% of the American public thinks he is doing a good job ( You can guess which percentage I lie in e.g. the other 61%...) , instead of pushing on despite the noise and "staying the course".

This thing is more important than poll numbers. However the President has been trying to dig himself out of a public relations hole since May 1, 2003. As I posted previously:

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).

He can do 10 more of these events and it will not change the poll numbers.......Bush needs to find a clear and coherent message and stick to it. And he needs to offer something more hopeful than "stay the course". The President has about 6 more months of public patience, after that....who knows what could happen. When he finds that right message, he better make sure he pitches it to the right audience.

Oh, and one more thing, when I googled this event, I found just as much positive coverage as negative, which proves my other theory: "You get the product you pay for....."


Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday beer and babes!

Its October and we all know what that means: Cooler weather and the Tokyo Auto Show! I'll be going this year and will provide you with a detailed play by play.

The cool weather means you can see Fuji in the mornings though, and that is always a good thing:

Any day you can see Fuji-san, just brings a spring to your step and reminds one of "reason number 467 why its great to live here!"

Of course this is another pretty good incentive:

And these fine specimens from the Osaka Auto Show clinch the deal for me!

Or maybe an evening with:

Works for me!

The wisdom of the Governor.......

I came across this article the other week in the Japan Times. Its a pretty good piece of satire about Tokyo's governor, Shintaro Ishihara. It is reprinted here for your enjoyment from the October 4 edition of the Japan Times:


Hidden wisdom of 'the guv' A re-assessment of Tokyo's controversial governor is overdue.

Adored by large sections of the Japanese public, reviled in equal measure by the foreign community and courted tirelessly by the domestic media: There are few more divisive figures in Japan today than Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. The septuagenerian populist can rarely open his mouth without offending at least one section of society. Over the course of his career, Ishihara has incurred the wrath of (among others) the Chinese, Koreans, the French and old women everywhere, and written a musical version of "Treasure Island." He has consistently used his position as a bully pulpit from which to unleash random tirades on issues encompassing reproductive science, history, crime, the U.N. and rocket science. But does the fact that the former novelist and keen sailor is always blunt necessarily mean that he is always wrong?
After all, history is full of examples of visionaries who were regarded as rather eccentric by their peers, only to have their uncanny prescience celebrated by future generations. Notable examples include Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci and B-movie director Russ Meyer. This week we examine a selection of well-publicized Ishihara-isms in an effort to shed some light on what the governor might really be trying to tell us.

* ON OLD WOMEN: Old women present the greatest obstacle to the progress of civilization.
The issue of Japan's aging population has been much discussed of late, though only Mr. Ishihara has had the vision to recognize the real threat it poses to the Japanese way of life. As the number of old women grows, so too does Japan's pension burden. This will leave less money to invest in the kinds of bold cultural projects Japan has become famous for, like TV antennas, motorways and statues of comic book characters. Moreover, as the number of hunchbacked old women roaming the streets with shopping carts increases, so too do the chances of getting stuck behind them. This will cause Japanese to be late for everything and thus no different from the slovenly foreign community.

* ON INFERTILE WOMEN: It's pointless for women who have lost the ability to reproduce to keep on living. Better child-care facilities, more generous corporate laws on parental leave and significant tax relief for married couples who have children; these are just three irresponsible measures that have been mooted as potential remedies for Japan's crippling birthrate problem.
But Mr. Ishihara may have paved the way for an ingenious alternative solution that carries few of the prohibitive cost burdens associated with the above. If all Japanese women who claim they "can't" (for many, read "won't") have kids are simply threatened with immediate extermination, we reckon they'll set aside their frivolous quest for parity in the boardroom soon enough, and start paying more attention to their true purpose on Earth: having lots of babies. And frankly they should be happy they're even allowed to do that.

* ON FOREIGN CRIME: The types of crimes committed by foreigners are something that in my opinion Japanese would absolutely not do. The foreign community was outraged by Mr. Ishihara's suggestion that foreign criminals were somehow more evil than their Japanese counterparts. But his logic is flawless. A look at the types of crimes committed by foreigners in Japan shows that the vast majority are those that no Japanese could or would do -- visa violations.

* ON THE WAR: If Japan hadn't fought the white people, we'd still be slaves of the white people. Sorry -- even we can't see what he's getting at here.

* ON THE WAR AGAIN: Japan and Korea agreed to the annexation of the Korean Peninsula according to the unanimous will of the Korean people.
Or here.

*ON IMMIGRATION: Japanese don't want to do the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs anymore. Why not have foreigners do them? We couldn't agree more -- and we think this initiative should start with the dirtiest, most dangerous and most difficult sector of all: politics.
Mr. Ishihara previously acknowledged the risks inherent in Japanese political life when he shrugged off the planting of a bomb at the home of Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka in September 2003 by suggesting he might have deserved it. Therefore, he is absolutely right that no Japanese person should have to risk life, limb and ignominy by being forced to run the country. We hereby declare that all of the top political positions in the land should be filled by foreigners, starting tomorrow. (Skippy-san comment: Where do I sign up?)

* ON THE U.N.: When real decisions have to be made, money crosses palms and people disappear to the toilet. Mr. Ishihara clearly knows more than we do about the curious internal workings of the U.N., though why events occur in that order continues to elude us.
Nevertheless, we must take him at his word, and insist that deliberations on issues of global import be moved from the lavatories to the debating chamber from this day forward. To be honest, we are surprised that this idea hasn't occurred to anyone before. As for the question of money crossing palms, we feel that Mr. Ishihara's fears are misplaced, at least as far as Japan is concerned. The Japanese government has taken great pains to stress that an ongoing debate in Japan over whether the nation should cut its annual contributions to the U.N. is entirely unconnected to its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. We feel, therefore, that Mr. Ishihara can rest easily at night: Japan, at the very least, knows that political favors cannot be bought and sold at this venerable institution.

* ON HISTORY: Japanese people know historical facts deeper than the media, so they are not clamoring against my remark. It is difficult to dispute this line of argument; few other countries spend as much time and energy discussing the content of their official school history textbooks.
It stands to reason, therefore, that the resulting printed matter must be of the highest educational quality and value, imbuing Japanese schoolchildren with a deep historical knowledge of events in the country's past. The media, on the other hand, is dominated by treacherous liberals who never went to school and whose filthy propaganda is designed to distort the truth, destabilize the government and erode national pride.

* ON THE NANJING MASSACRE: Nanjing is a story made up by the Chinese.
See above.

* ON THE FRENCH: It's no surprise that French is disqualified as an international language because it's a language that can't count numbers. But why stop at the language? French bread is a weird shape, French cheese smells funny, and the people can't even say the letter "r" properly. It's a wonder we let them join in anything at all -- and quite right that a French school in the capital was hit with a tax bill of 100 million yen by Tokyo a week after a French-language teacher sued Mr. Ishihara over his remark.

* ON THE SPACE RACE: The Chinese people are ignorant, so they get excited about (launching a manned rocket). We agree entirely with the assertion that it is absurd for an emerging industrial power to get overly excited about its first ever launch of a manned space rocket. It says a lot more for a nation's cultural sophistication that a story centering on the mystifying appearance of a charismatic sea lion in an urban river ends up dominating that nation's airwaves for weeks on end. (Skippy-san comment: That last bit is a true story. "Tama-chan" was a sea lion that somehow got way up the Tama river and it was on NHK everyday for a week.......And the Chinese did launch a rocket yesterday!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Buy high...sell low.

Can anyone tell me what is going on with the American Stock Market? Every time I turn on my computer lately, the market has dropped by another 50-100 points. Wasn't the Dow supposed be over 11,000 by now?

It matters because one of the biggest joys that the S.O. has educated me on, is the power of saving money. (She has it down to a science.........Ebeneezer was a spendthrift next to her). Back with my ex, all that would happen is that I would save it, she would find new and interesting ways to spend it. Now I have a regular program of "pay myself first".

So I have money automatically come out of my pay and go to my mutual fund(s). At the end of the month I go to the web site and see how much money I've gained. Lately however all I am seeing is:


Somehow, I don't think this is the way dollar cost averaging is supposed to work.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Compassion overload

Been a busy couple of days. As I had expected the first diversions of transportation have started in order to support Earthquake relief in Pakistan. While I understand the need, it could not have come at a worse possible time in terms of competing requirements. Earthquake relief will ( and should) win out, and we will flex as best as we can, but this little drill is starting to get old. More to follow I am sure.

Which got me to think a little bit. What a year this has been! First was the Tsunami, followed by floods and earthquakes in various countries, plus the London bombing now followed up by the (2nd) Bali bombing. Look at the toll in earthquakes alone:

Date Location Magnitude
Feb. 5 Celebes Sea 7.1
March 2 Banda Sea 7.1
March 28 Northern Sumatra, Indonesia 8.7
June 13 Tarapaca, Chile 7.8
June 15 Off coast of northern California 7.2
July 24 Nicobar Islands, India 7.3

And of course, now the earthquake in Pakistan.

Hurricanes, bombings, wars, earthquakes, pandemics. It just seems like it never lets up this year. By my inaccurate math at least 80,000 people have been killed due to the wrath of mother nature this year. That number is actually on the low side which makes the toll all the more troublesome. One can't pick up a paper these days without reading about a disaster somewhere and the monumental relief effort that is being organized to clean up the wreckage.

And then of course, there is the little matter of the war. By all accounts 20,000 Iraqis have died as well as 2000 brave Americans and 50 British. And it is still going.

Its just too much sometimes.

I do know that the pace of these types of things only seems accelerated. If you go back to the 1920's or 1930's they had an equal number of disasters then.

The difference being that you only read about them in the newspapers. Now in the age of instant information its always right in front of you.

Maybe someone needs to apoligize to Mother Nature. It would seem she is mad at mankind. Perhaps, for not yet finding a saner way to run this planet.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Writer's block..........

Today should have been a good day. And on the surface it was, even though the rain put a crimp on me playing golf again for the second time this holiday weekend. (Did get in 9 holes before the deluge started up again....but, I've played better.....). Took the S.O. to see "Valiant" as if a cartoon movie comes to town, there is no way I can get away without seeing it(S.O. drags me to every one). Ok movie, good mindless entertainment, but Shrek ( or even Shrek 2) its not. I'm in cranky mood and its going to be a few days before I snap out of it, more than a few if the S.O. keeps complaining about my trips back to the refrigerator for another beer to dull the pain.........

As an aside, John Daly lost. To Tiger Woods, the golfing machine. John Daly is for me, the face of the everyman golfer. He's my kind of golfer. Married four times, likes his beer, plays his own game, and makes the same mistakes "real" golfers make. Like missing a 3 foot putt that cost him the tournament. This was after shooting a 69, but missing two birdie putts that would have put it away. One of those putts just grazed the cup:

It was a titanic struggle that ended with a whimper.

Despite their 350-yard tee shots that soared majestically against the blue sky over Lake Merced, the American Express Championship came down to a putt that
would have been a gimme on most municipal golf courses.Daly, who seconds earlier had a 15-foot birdie putt to win, missed a 3-footer for par on the second extra hole to hand Woods his 10th title in the World Golf Championships.

"That's not how you're supposed to win a golf tournament," Woods said. "We're in a playoff, we're battling, and J.D. played beautifully all week. It shouldn't end like that." It was a somber conclusion to an otherwise spectacular
tournament at San Francisco's municipal gem.

I'm in a funk and have been for the last couple of days. The S.O. has tried to ascertain it, I've just blown her off. Its not something she can help with, much less solve. ( In fact, her presence simply aggravates my mood since the weight of having her involved in life decisions I need to make, is part of my ill humor......). If I had the time and the vacation, I would get on a plane to anyplace and go away for a while all by myself, but for the present at least that is not on the table.

I'm sure you have noticed its affected my blogging. I've tried to write something pithy and worthwhile, but I just don't have the words within me. Plus, surveying world events and the news, does not leave me any cause for good cheer either. Earthquake in Pakistan, the war ( pick any one of the four that America is involved in.....), being bombarded nightly by the prospect of Avian flu killing millions, possibly even me, and as a bonus until that happens, I get to read about more of the buffoonry that is politics in today's America.

I'm also frustrated with my writing. I can't write with same serious sense of self importance like Lex does, nor can I seem to find that irreverent sense of balance between the absurd and the important that Expat at Large seems to pull off effortlessly. I can't lower myself to the rabid partisan banter that so many of the right wing blogs stoop to, and I am not prepared to write the stirring " Look at all the good news in Iraq" stories that so many of other mil bloggers are able to do. The war in Iraq represents a running sore in the national security interests of the United States and to be honest the only good news for me from that Godforsaken country is anything that hastens the return of American troops for good. I'm sure a lot is being done to benefit ordinary Iraqis. In fact I know it is. However in this case, I cannot escape the conclusion that what is good for KBR GM is not necessarily good for America.

It does not mean I have shut down entirely however. I've been working on a long post about Japan / American relations that is intending to suggest that all is not as well as it appears to be. More research is required however and this kind of thing needs a long critical look over, before I punish you folks with my conclusions. Its going to come but, like good wine, I'll not serve it up before its time.

I've also been active in an e-mail discussion about the religious discrimination law suit that has been going on involving the United States Air Force Academy. It started with a member of our e-mail list being baffled as to why the USAFA, after 3 years of negative publicity is still the subject of lawsuits on the subject. My reply :

I have a slightly different take on the situation. There have been evangelical Christians on the campus of the USAF academy since its founding. The difference today, however, is that the evangelism has become more aggressive and also intolerant of other viewpoints. For that we have the evolution of the fundamentalist parts of the Christian church to blame and its misguided efforts to delve into partisan politics; with a lot more success than it deserves. The end result is that the folks who taught the young cadets where the proper boundaries of witnessing lay, mis-taught their young charges. So who is to blame? The teacher or the student who listened to the misguided lesson of the person telling him what the word of the Lord required..? I say the teachers of that type of intolerant theology are to blame, some of whom were no doubt on the chapel staff of the Academy and enabled by a Commandant who could not see the clear conflict between his deeply held beliefs and the requirements of the constitution and military law and custom.

That leads us to the second problem. Those who might have spoken up against this excursion into reactionaryville, were most probably afraid to do so. After all, those who spoke out against other misguided changes were pilloried including those who spoke out against the feminization of the academy life and the resultant dilution of the value of the experience. The inability to speak up and have meaningful dialogue, e.g. the "get on the bus or be run over by it syndrome" prevalent since Tailhook, I submit added to the ability for things to get out of hand.

I have a hard time believing it was anymore endemic than at say, Clemson or USC, BUT at either of those institutions the ability to avoid ranting lunatics is much easier. Not so at the USAFA.

Lets see, I've hit politics and religion, all that is left on the list of "do not discuss" subjects is women. Not to worry, I'll talk about them another time.

Hey Skippy! I'm only 15 and I'll make more money this year
than you will your entire life! What's not to be depressed about?

GRRRRRRRR!!!!! Wonder if I can take Prozac...................?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Even Dilbert sees the danger in blog censorship!

This needs no explanation:

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Interesting history question

Expat at Large (see link on the right......) posed an interesting history question. Can you guess the right answer?

Someone said this of a President of the United States of America:

Trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze on the exceeding brightness of military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood—that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy—he plunged into war.".
Name: a) the President, b) the writer, and the war.

One other point. if you cheat and go to E@L' s blog, please do not become incensed at the rampant anti Americanism over there........everyone is entitled to an opinion.

I still think the answer will surprise you. I guessed the war correctly, but not the author. (Shamelessly borrowed from E @ L's blog.......) .

About last night........

Lazy morning this morning. S.O. had to work and I woke up and took a look at the dark clouds the rain falling and said "Naw", I'll wait to play golf.

Been watching the non famous film, but nonetheless one of my favorites, "About Last Night". The film is a good commentary on how women overwhelm the life of a perfectly good single man and force change upon them that they are not comfortable with. ( This is a subject I know a lot about .........). And also the lengths that those same women will go to make things "work". So despite being ostensibly a "chick flick" , its a great guys movie too......Primarily for the lines Jim Belushi has. Elizabeth Perkins gets a few good ones in too:

Joan- (Elisabeth Perkins) "You are a schizophrenic, psychopathic, mal-adjusted social misfit, who is CLEARLY in the middle of a deep, homosexual panic."

Bernie- ( Jim Belushi)- "Yea, Yea, Yea...... So do you wanna dance or not?"

One of the great things I think the movie highlights is how your friends are often able to see things you cannot, blinded by the crippling mirage that is love, such as we are. The reactions of the main characters when this is pointed out to them are typical. People can really identify with what these characters are going through. Many individuals like me question their existence and what they want out of life, all while trying to find love and/or sex as a means of fulfillment. ( Given a choice, now, I'll just take sex, thank you very much.)As for the rest, well it just works better if I figure it out on my own.....les expensive too.

Some final useless trivia about the movie:

The original title of this film was "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (taken from the play it is based on). The title was changed after many newspapers and TV stations refused to run ads for a film with such a title.

Phoebe Cates auditioned for the role of Debbie, which eventually went to Demi Moore.

Originally this movie was to be made with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, but after John asked his brother 'Jim Belushi' , who had starred in the play previously, Jim said that he didn't want John to take the part because Jim didn't want to be compared with his brother.

Danny, you are going to do all right.
You'll meet a nice girl, settle down...
then she will divorce you and take all your money!
Have I got the plot about right?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Save PIGLET! Plus some things that will really offend Muslims.

What a week! First it has been a very busy week, filled with lots of work, a lot more than there should be for the start of a new fiscal year. Of course, just like me, Congress cannot do the one thing they have to every year on time: pass a budget. So we are spending transportation money with no idea of the final top line...........Come to think of it, that's just like Congress too!

Then I came across this little tidbit:

For those of you residents of bloggerville who have been on vacation or in a cave, let me bring you up to date. It seems that in West Midlands U.K., the British council there is mighty afraid of offending Muslims. So they banned:

NOVELTY pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office's in case they offend Muslim staff. Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.Bosses acted after a Muslim complained about pig-shaped stress relievers delivered to the council in the run-up to the Islamic festival of Ramadan. Muslims are barred from eating pork in the Koran and consider pigs unclean. Councillor Mahbubur Rahman, a practising Muslim, backed the ban. He said: It's a tolerance of people's beliefs.

Oh really?

What's next? Banning Charlie Brown comic signs, because they might offend losers? Not allowing me to post beer and babes because they might offend recovering alcoholics and fat women? Maybe we should remove all art work and "I love me" plaques off of office walls because it might offend unsuccessful people?

Only one response to that. It's just not fit for small ears......

There has been a body of thought that says , "well this is just a British phenomenon". Think again folks, Americans and other countries have been just as guilty of the same silly sort of foolishness. Consider in America:

In December 2001, in Kensington, Md., an annual firefighters Santa Claus festivity to light the Christmas tree was objected to by two families. The city council, in the name of Political Correctness, voted to ban Santa from the parade. Fortunately, due to citizen outcry, the decision was reversed in the end and many people protested by dressing up as Santa.
"A team of Indiana firefighters, volunteering to help rescue victims of Katrina, went to Atlanta, where Federal Emergency Management Agency staffers told them that their job was to hand out fliers and that their first task was to attend a multi-hour course on sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity."(From US News and World Report)

Stephanie Bell, a fourth-grade teacher at Williams Elementary School, taught the word "niggardly" to her class last week in an effort to improve her students' vocabularies. Now, a parent wants her fired.

There are plenty of other examples that show the lunacy is not just confined to Britain. Quite simply this is accommodation run amok. Were I the king of the world, immigrants would hear the following speech upon arrival in Britain:

" Ok folks, here is the deal . Because the United Kingdom is an enlightened nation, because we believe in opportunity, we are allowing you to enter the heart of what was formerly the seat of the greatest Empire that ever strode the earth. The English language, English measurement, English scientific method, British systems of justice, social justice, and law have become the gold standard by which the rest of the world is judged. Because of the prowess of our explorers and discipline of a great Army and Fleet that we built, we stole a march on humanity of over 200 years , that only now are the pitiful countries you emigrated from starting to even begin to walk towards.

So! If you want to come here and receive the benefits of being in a modern Western society which is far superior to the one of your birth, then, by God, you better understand a few things:

1) You can worship as you wish. However I too can worship as I wish and there are more of me than there are of you.

2) You cannot just choose to live apart. Assimilate into this great culture, Goddamn it! You want to hold on to the tired old values of the old country? Fine, but keep them at home. This is and will remain a Western country with Western values. Assimilation into this society, wearing real clothes and interaction with real people will serve you a hell of a lot better than wearing stupid caps and growing beards.

Don't like it? You know where Heathrow is.

3) English is the language of this country. LEARN IT! USE IT! Its not wrong to expect residents of England to learn English, anymore than it is unreasonable to expect residents of Japan to learn Japanese. We are through accomdating you, its you that need to accommodate us. Impossible you say? Well, the experience of 150 years of European, Indian and Chinese immigration proves you wrong.

4) Don't like it? Get over it.

This would be good advice for the INS to give people applying for green cards too.

Lets all join the cause.

Post a pig on your blog!

Accordingly I'm going to link you to a pig here.

Go drink a lot of these!

Then rip the Burkas off a couple of these:

Hey Skippy! Let me make you some pork chops!

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~ AA Milne

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