Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Haditha

I wanted to post about the war today, but the post in my mind still needs a lot of refinement. I'm struggling to find the right words to express my frustration that after 3 years of commitment to help an Arab nation, not helped by its Arab neighbors, and unable to put its petty tribal differences aside, unable to see the forest for the trees, the situation remains just as muddled as ever. Now mind you I acknowledge that Saddam is gone and that has made a big improvement, but rational people do not go around blowing each other up. And the only really good news I want to hear out of Iraq is that Americans no longer have to be serving in that godforsaken piece of real estate. However as I think those thoughts I have to struggle to maintain my composure and keep my thoughts in my head and not my heart.

Because as has been pointed out in several articles, its too easy too confuse emotion with rational thought and analysis. And as Owen West said in his column:

"Today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now."



He's right about that. Its way too easy to root for an initiative to fail, just because George Bush thought of it. He is a hate-able guy. He makes one furious when you hear him speak with his, " I know what I'm talking about and I'm tired of being patient with a fool who asks me questions I don't want to hear" tone of voice.

Problem is, the war and every thing involved with it is too important to allow one to give in to petty emotionalism. It's way too important than that...for the sake of the nation and for our soldiers.

Which brings me to Haditha. There are 2 sides to the debate. There is the atrocity side which has said that this is " Iraq's My Lai" and then there are those who say that perhaps we need to wait till all the facts are in. For this issue count me in the latter group...with a caveat.

The caveat is that I'm sympathetic with the emotionalism voiced by Fun with Hand Grenades:

After every bout of combat I've been in I realize that I've become increasingly angrier, and subsequently more violent. I have a friend I went to high school with who just returned from a year long tour in Iraq. One of the first pieces of advice he gave me upon my arrival in country was "Make sure Haji knows you're aggressive and pissed off. Demonstrate that often. If you're passive in any way they will eat you alive. It took being blown up numerous times and RPGs flying over my head before I became that way, but eventually I attained what I deem to be a necessary attitude for survival over here.


In other words, when it comes to Arabs, there is no such thing as too much retaliation. Which is a reprehensible sentiment. Totally disgusting. Not one I should have at all. Especially when it appears women and children were murdered.

Its especially hard for me, because for a complex series of reasons, I just don't like Arabs and believe that part of the reason it is taking so long to bring Iraq around is because it is populated by Arabs. Who screw up everything they touch. There was, after all, a reason they became the "White Man's burden". However that is my heart talking and it needs to be controlled by my head. Make no mistake though, I don't like them and I never will. Maybe when they get rid of the albatross that is Islam, I'll reconsider. However just because I am predjudiced against them, does not mean I should lose my objectivity.

So I say let the investigation press forward. Wait until it is complete. What my gut tells me is that the investigation will find is that the Marines involved felt threatened for reasons that they may have felt were quite valid at the time. Or maybe not. One of their members had been killed after all. However what makes us different from the other guys is that we will take the time to investigate it. And if they acted outside of ROE, the offenders will be punished. Does not bring back the dead, but this is war after all. War is a useless endeavor that brings tragedy and nothing good. I can't picture the Russian army investigating the massacre of some Chechnyan civilians, something I think happenend a few years ago. Gen Hagee says it will be dealt with and I believe him.

There is a another point though and I have nothing to prove this assertion with. If there is evidence found of a cover up, I suspect it came from somewhere else besides the Marines involved. And that those individuals involved with that, will not be punished as will the guys who were on the scene, the bureauracracy involved will cut the individuals loose. That part is wrong. However there is too much recent historical evidence to say that it won't happen. And if there was an attempt to cover it up, it was because we were afraid to let the truth win out and trust the people to make up their own minds. Which is also a product of the times we live in.

Which also points out what the US has to guard against, becoming like the French in Algeria:

At the same time, the French military ruthlessly applied the principle of collective responsibility to villages suspected of sheltering, supplying, or in any way cooperating with the guerrillas. Villages that could not be reached by mobile units were subject to aerial bombardment. The French also initiated a program of concentrating large segments of the rural population, including whole villages, in camps under military supervision to prevent them from aiding the rebels -- or, according to the official explanation, to protect them from FLN extortion. In the three years (1957-60) during which the regroupement program was followed, more than 2 million Algerians were removed from their villages, mostly in the mountainous areas, and resettled in the plains, where many found it impossible to reestablish their accustomed economic or social situations. Living conditions in the camps were poor.



Militarily, the French were winning, but politically they were losing in the long run. And so the present era gloomily dawned. Either way the longer the conflict went on the more violent it became.

And I'm troubled with my self because deep in my heart, I think if I had been a Frenchman at the time, I would have supported the French military program. Which is scary for a whole host of reasons. Then again, Algeria was, after all, a part of France. Despite what the Muslims thought.

This is not 1969. Let the system work and justice will be served..........unless the politicians get involved. Like 1959?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day

For me Memorial Day was pretty much a blur changing 17 time zones and then getting home from Narita. So this post comes a day late. However I would be remiss if I did not pay recognition to the brave souls who went forth from the nation, with full expectation of returning home but did not.

Sadly, the world still chooses to decide its political, economic, and religious conflicts with the continued sacrifice of its youth upon the field of battle. Its a stupid custom, one that in a supposedly civilized world should have been done away with centuries ago. Regrettably, the carnage continues and shows signs of increasing becoming like a leprosy, spreading from Islamic country to Islamic country around the globe.

I am not one of those who believes that it is somehow unpatriotic ask questions about the actions that got the nation invovled in these conflicts and brought men and women as far across the globe as they could be transported, to fight and die for things that are increasingly not linked to the concept of defending one's homeland, but have more to do with what is becoming an all out war to see who vision of the world will prevail. On the one side are the folks who, for all their faults and mistakes, believe in the dignity of the person and the growth and progresss of mankind vs the misguided followers of an apostate religion, deluded by misinterpreations of things that God did not really say.

I shall not live to see this conflict resolved, but I can take time to day to reflect and honor those whose lives were cut short, who did not take the easy way out, and did what their duty asked them to do, despite questions they may have had in their heads and hearts. They went forward and they served. I honor them to my very soul.

Ben Stein has a nice speech that mostly sums up the way I feel today and as is usual for him, says it far better than I could. Read here the whole thing. While I have very mixed feelings about the current events of the day and his comments on the media, I think his central point is quite correct:

Your loved ones' lives had what we all want: meaning. The knowledge you were doing something big for others. That is EVERYTHING.

Wall Street does not have it. Hollywood does not have it. They're just in it for the fame and the money. Your loved ones were in it for unselfishness, for kindness, for love of one's fellow man. There is no higher meaning on this earth.


And most importantly, take time from the holiday and REMEMBER!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Out of touch

Will be on planes and trains for the next few days. I'll have some things to say when I get back. I do however have a movie recommendation for you. If you have not seen Thank you for Smoking, you should. I had not seen it till, while packing, I watched the movie on the hotel TV. ( Yes , I do from time to time watch something else besides porn........). This has all the makings of great ready room flick as well as a being a funny, satiric, morality play. The quotes in the flick are awesome. My personal favorite:

" Everyone has a mortgage to pay. Also known as the Yuppee Nuremburg defense."



Of course the plot turns on the most addictive item on the planet:



Hurts your health, and your wallet! See you back on the other side.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Now its time to say goodbye to Nevada.

Been a busy couple of days. Up/down count was -200 but I made back 180 last night so the net coounts is down $85.00. Guess that officially makes me a loser.

I'm having a hard time making sense of the Congressional catfight between George Bush and the Congress of the raid on Rep Jefferson's files. Seems to me they had a search warrant and Congressional offices are not soverign territory. Anybody who wants to explain it me, please do.

One thing about being in Nevada, you get plenty of time on the road. Listened to an interesting story on NPR about the truck drivers who work for KBR in Iraq. Seems KBR does not want to spend the money to armor up the trucks these guys drive. As of the time of publication 63 guys had died while driving in convoys, 23 of the Americans, the rest were third country nationals. What was particularly galling to me was the way the company had reacted when the drivers tried to get the compamy to take action about providing armor. "500 guys are lined up to take yoour spot. So if you are afraid then go home........". The guys had a new meaning for the intials KBR. Kill em, bag em , replace em. The use of corporations in the Iraq theater is probably something that bears further exploration at some point.

Any way back to Nihon tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about going back, but its probably best if I leave here. Too many bad memories mixed with the good ones. I sure hope I get back here some day.........

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wasting away in deja vu ville..............

Up/Down count- Down $75.00 I hate it when the lady dealer leaves and gets replaced by a guy while I have a beer coming..........

In case you have not noticed I am a cheap gambler. I jumped in the poker pool last night, and played Texas Hold-em, but I bailed when it became apparent that things were not going my way.

Greetings from the sovereign state of Nevada. Just like a couple of weeks ago it has been an interesting trip down memory lane here as well. I have a wierd feeling in my heart. Went out to my old house, and also went by where I used to work when I was still in the Nav. It was a great place to work professionally and I really enjoyed my time there. However, since my personal life in my (former) marriage was going to shit, it cast a shadow on any thing I tried to accomplish. This effect was made worse by a worthless excuse for a human being who thought he had a right to meddle in what could and should have been my private life. May you be run over by a bus and die in your own vomit...........Screw you Dr. K.B. The only thing that would make this visit worthwhile would be the ability to personally tell you to go to hell.

I did get my revenge on the above mentioned individual, by hoisting a beer and telling my self and whoever else would listen that I am still here, you "greasy bastard".

I liked my time in Nevada. The state's 24 hour lifestyle agrees with me. Prostitution is legal and one can drink and gamble. This works for me.

No post yesterday as I had a long aday moving my "stuff" from one storage place to another. My wood working tools appear to still be in good shape and perhaps someday I will get to use them again. Not any time soon though, so I oiled up the table saw and some of the other ones. If the c**t of an ex wife had paid attention to this, I might not have to be here right now.

Off to see the attorney tomorrow in what I think will be a vain attempt to level the playing field. I hate lawyers!

Drank beer with former friends tonight. A lot of beer. accordingly its time to go to ber. However I commend you to read the article about USNA on CDR SALAMANDER. I want to know when those of us who were opposed to women at the Academy can say , " I told you so".
Charles Gittins comments about the leadership vacuum and cowardice of the superintendent are right on the mark.

Posting may be spotty for the next few days as I am working from a dial up. I'll try to keep the train running though so please bear with me.........


Ja ne.....Skippy-san

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Their parents must be so proud........

Up/Down report: Down $45.00.........All at the blackjack table. Probably has something to do with the fact that I choose Blackjack dealers based on breast size......

Made it Nevada and took my time getting to my hotel. Did a few stops in a couple of casinos and invested a few dollars. I like table games and don't like the slots. The whole time I was on the base over in Japan, I was always amazed about how folks could spend hours in front of the slot machines in the clubs, I prefer the interaction with a real human being. ( Especially if she has a nice smile and big breasts......).

John McCain spoke at the commencement of the New School. The New School is not exactly a bastion of conservatism..:

No sooner had Mr. Kerrey welcomed the audience to the university's 70th commencement than the hoots began to rise through the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Several graduates held up a banner aimed at Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican and likely 2008 presidential candidate, declaring:"Our commencement is not your platform." Other students and faculty members waved orange fliers with the same message.

Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, was unapologetic yesterday about inviting Mr.McCain, his friend and fellow Vietnam War veteran, to speak. He noted early in his welcoming remarks that there had been intense media coverage of Mr. McCain's graduation speech last week at Liberty University, headed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, in which Mr. McCain strongly defended the Iraq war.

"Many predicted that his speech today would not receive as friendly a reception," Mr.Kerrey said. "The expectation is that, and that expectation has already been
realized, that some of you in this audience will act up to protest the senator's appearance."


It got worse and I can only imagine what it was like in the car on the ride home after graduation for this lady:

The first student speaker, Jean Sara Rohe, 21, said she had
discarded her original remarks to talk about Mr. McCain.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," she said,to a roaring ovation. "This invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that
is supposed to honor us above all."

Noting that Mr. McCain had promised to give the same speech at all of his graduation appearances, Ms. Rohe, who was one of two students selected to speak by university deans, attacked his remarks even before he delivered them.

"Senator McCain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our civic and moral obligation in times of crisis, and I agree," she said. "I consider this a time of crisis, and I feel obligated to speak."

She continued, "Senator McCain will also tell us about his strong-headed self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others, and in so doing he will imply that those of us who are young are too naive to have valid opinions.

"I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong," she said.


Unlike Sen McCain's alma mater ( back when it actually cared about something other than being a bastion of feminism) its clear that the New School has failed in its primary obligation to to prepare students for the real world. I'll bet the parents of this young woman are so happy they spent $100,000 dollars over 4 years and she did not learn some basic truths about life.

So in the interest of saving you frustration in later years, here are some of the blank spots it seems your college neglected to tell you:

Jean, you ignorant slut,

Life is not fair. Get over it. Pull a stunt like you did at the graduation in a business meeting,you will be lucky if all you get is a scolding from the platform. Out here in the real world, its a lot different. THEY FIRE YOU.. Yea its not fair, but its legal and they will do it in a heart beat. Even if they don't, its clear to me that no one taught you this important concept: You only have so much credibiity to use up at any given time. Its important you use it carefully.

Secondly you will find that getting what you want, despite what Hollywood has taught you in the movies, does not come from direct frontal assaults. Generally you enact change by working through a variety of avenues to achieve the effect you want. That, by the way generally takes time, and requires making concessions along the way.

There are a lot of people who do not support the war in Iraq. I'm one of them. However like it or not your nation is committed there, and simply scolding a Senator does not help the situation. And by the way, it seems you forgot that there are a lot of 21 year olds who are not getting to walk the streets of Manhattan , thinking about the draft of their speech........but are out there getting shot at, trying to do what their duty requires of them. I'm quite sure they don't like it either, but they understand far better than it seems you do, what it means to make a commitment to one's country. I never saw the words , "Thank you" any where in your prepared remarks. These kids have not had your privledged upbringing, but they seemed to have learned something you did not. Your welcome.

I'd like to come back and see you in 15 years. When you weigh about 20 pounds more than you should, your husband is grousing about the money you spend, the food you cook, the sex you are not providing, and you have 2 kids that run around your house making a mess. And then pour your self a cup of coffee asking yourself "Is this all there is?"

In that moment, remember how good it felt to tell off a Senator in public. Either your roots will have prepared you for that or they won't have. My alma mater prepared me for that moment, by teaching me through getting shouted at and what some would call "hazed", that I have to make my my own happiness and understand my situation. I'm not sure your college taught you that. Trust me, the answer is not found in the works of Betty Freidan.................

Skippy-san

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sorting it all out.

I knew this was going too well. The boneheads at Delta airlines , when I called to make sure everything was set, not so politely informed me that if I did not get the S.O. back to RDU it would invalidate her whole intinerary back to Narita. I could however pay an additional 800 dollars and she could then start from Atlanta after flying up from Panama City on a full fare ticket. To make a long story short, they could not simply cancel her ATL-RDU leg and they offered no apology for the fact that a round trip ticket was some 500 dollars less than a multi city ticket.

So off I packed the S.O. today so she could spend the night at my sister's house and then turn around and do the reverse route to get back to Atlanta so as to finally get headed back in the right direction to Japan. The details are even more heinous, and suffice it to say Delta lived up to my already low opinion of them. She was supposed to have done the whole thing tomorrow.

So only one thing to do after a nap this am. Road trip.

Down to P-Cola with my bags and clubs and decided to visit the cradle of Naval Aviation, and play 18 holes of golf at A.C. Read golf course. Course was better than ever and I got on with a couple of young student Naval Flight Officers. As for my score, not too bad, but I've played better. Saw a lot more of the sand than I cared to.

Golf over, went to visit the Naval Aviation Museum for an hour before it closed. Made a quick tour through all the airplanes, then into the restored "Cubi Bar" a place I wanted to go to, but never got to go to. As a young pup in the Navy, I heard a lot of war stories about the place. It must have been something during its day.

Have not been doing a lot of reading of blogs but what I have been reading has been interesting. I've now become a regular lurker over at Wonkette, mostly because of the political humor there. They also never miss a chance to stick it to Michelle Malkin, every chance they get. I especially enjoyed their send up of the lovely lady and her video rants:
operative: Does she call Arianna an ignorant slut?
wonkette: GET A REAL JOB
wonkette: SHE SAID GET A REAL JOB
operative: AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!
operative: BECAUSE PEOPLE SHOULD GET REAL JOBS!
operative: ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!!!
wonkette: SHE IS A PROFESSIONAL INTERNET PUNDIT AND NOW SHE’S TELLING WHO
EXACTLY TO GET A REAL JOB?


I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks her rants are a complete waste of bandwidth that could better be used by porn someone smarter.

Now that S.O. is gone back to Nihon and me off to Nevada, I think I may have time for some serious gambling blogging. Including applauding the guys who took out a full page ad here calling for our boy, Donald Rumsfeld to clean out his desk. Yea!

Off to Nevada. Got spend a week cleaning up more of the wreckage that is my personal life with my ex. See the lawyer, get my stuff moved into new storage stuff, and generally take care business. If anyone knows some good golf in Reno, send the recommendations along.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I still hate Delta!

Long day......problems with guess who....not time to post. Waylaid for a lot more hours than I planned. More to follow this weekend......need beer, need babes. Post those tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Showing their true colors........

The S.O. and Dr. David Chu sure are showing theirs.

S.O. is watching Home Finders on HGTV about all these people with bucks who buy and remake houses. Like she needs to be watching that and getting ideas. Bad ideas.......

Then there is Mr Chu:

Oh Chu is such a stingy man,
The tighest man since time began.
Oh he's so tight so tight I say,
He wouldn't give a bride away.

It hurts him so to pay one cent,
He wouldn't pay a compliment.
He makes bases use lightning bugs at night,
to save the cash they'd pay for light!


Dr Chu has indicated that he supports the DACMC's (Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation ) recommendations which he intends to turn over to the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC). Chu has said he plans to send Congress at least one of the DACMC's recommendations separately extending the pay table to 40 years of service. Surprise, surprise, this has not yet been done.

Some of the other recommendations of the committee were:
- eliminating the immediate annuity upon retirement and delaying payment until age 60,
-providing additional retired pay credit (and basic pay increases) through 40 years of service,
-initiating government contributions to a Thrift Savings Plan or 401(k)-like plan of 5 percent to 10 percent of basic pay, vesting of members between 5 years and 10 years of service,
-creating a gate pay system to provide lump-sum payment incentives at specific points of service,
-vesting in the retirement health care benefit at completion of 20
years of service, and
-raising single housing allowances to the with dependents rates.


The key recommendation is the elimination of the 20 year retirement, without any mention of any way to make a military career a viable option for most serving military people till 40 years. What the good Mr Chu and his cohorts really want is for people to leave when they are used up as far as the military is concerned, but not get any money to offset the lost opportunities in other careers while they went to garden spots like Iraq and the Afghanistan over and over over again. After all "people are expensive".
And when his hearse goes rolling by,
No Soldier or Sailor is gonna cry,
But you can bet his ghost will curse,
because DOD is paying for the hearse.
After all Dr Chu s quoted as saying that young military people don't value a 20 year retirement, "all they want is a pickup truck". Maybe, but as they get the experience you value, Dr Chu, that retirement becomes pretty important pretty quick. Perhaps instead of butt sharking Duncan Hunter to screw veterans, you should get out and talk to those pickup driving, money saving young people. You would be surprised how much they know about money.

Like it or not the military is a young MAN's game. Its just the way it is. I learned that near the end when doing each PRT was an ordeal and I hated it with a passion. Plus DOD has shown no inclination to increastrengthstrengh so those old timers sticking around will simply make advancement opportunity even worse. Or perhaps not since the next shoe to drop after removing 20 year retirement will be forced exits and RIF's just like the USAF us doing this year ( and the Navy......). Just like corporate America. The only guys who will stay for 40 years will be the sycophants.....

The other tenant of the pay plan will be not paying people of the same paygrade the same money. Now that exists today through flawed programs like AIP and some of the bonus programs, but folks have some opportunity to choose their path. What the pay raise plan they propose ignores is that in death there is total equality and IBM and other companies don't have the right to ask you to die for the corporation. That one reality alone demands semi-equality among pay grades and points up why the current system of pay raises is a good one. Want to get rid of the dead wood? Make High Year tenure limits strict, increase advancement opportunity and have selective early retirement looks for senior pay grades after selection boards.

Or better yet, why not look at something like the British do. At the 18 year point all would have to apply for a transition to the career force. Get selected, you get to stay till 55 and retire with your full pay. Get told no and in less than 2 years, you are on Her Majesty's unemployment line ( with a pension of sorts....). Only about 20% of officers make that cut, and for those that don't well at least they are young enough to viably re-enter the job market with skills employers and society need. The US Navy could do a similar thing at the 18 year point, by which in most cases the tenor of you career is set any way, you are either one of the beautiful people or you are not. The percentage could vary based on end strength and there could be some room for negotiation for folks who agree to "take one for the team" by taking a raw deal. Non-selects would have 2 years to transition and then move on at 20. Selects would have to agree to serve overseas and other places and would, in all probability, end up as "professional" staff officers on a variety of staffs they way so many Brits I've met have done. ( And who out class their American counterparts in professionalism and military expertise....).

But then again, that might actually require Dr Chu to actually care about what happens to all those new veterans. He's already proven his inability to do that.

And when its time for him to go,
His soul will travel down below.
And when he gets there you can tell,
Because you'll hear old Satan yell,
YOU'LL HEAR OLD SATAN YELL!

"How can anybody be so stingy, so stingy. How can anybody be so stingy. He's the stingiest man in town!"

(Paraphrased from the musical of the same name.......Skippy-san)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The world is turning weird......

Short post tonight, S.O. and I had more than a few at dinner and we are both sleepy and..........

So since I got to run ;-). I'm taking a cheap way out: My first and I hope my only OPEN POST! Use this block for shameless self promotion of your blog. Or consider how wierd the world has gotten in the last 2 days. Here is some food to talk about:

-Ted Kennedy and George Bush are in agreement. Seeing Ted Kennedy defending GW on the Senate floor makes me want a drink.......

- Hearing that the Guard is not being overworked..........then again Arizona beats being in Iraq!

-Priests telling me not to go watch a movie! ( Hollywood loves free advertising from the pulpit....).

-Wondering if I will see campaign adds for this Guberatorial candidate when I go to Nevada next week:



She may have what it takes to run the state! Read here and here about her campaign!
From her resume, she may be the most honest politician there is.........




Maybe Michelle Malkin could learn a thing or two from her about truth in advertising! (Both are about self promotion.....).


She looks better and writes better!

Open post in the comments. Knock your self out!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The battle.....

Now that I am here in Panama City with the S.O. we are eating out in earnest at restaurants. Last week we were at my parents, so I cooked. This week finds me having to endure what I always do with her when we are in the US, the battle over the tip.

A word of explanation is in order. Tipping is not done in Japan. Oh you pay for the service all right, but the expense is rolled into the cost of your meal. Waiters and Waitresses are paid a flat salary that normally is somewhere between 850-1000 yen per hour ($7.75-9.50 per hour). When you leave the restaurant, there is no mental math, you just pay what's on the check, get your change and leave, with a cheery arigato gozaimashita from the staff.

Well of course it does not work that way here. And having to pay a tip, just bugs the s**t out of the S.O. She hates it. Why I am not sure since I'm the one paying for our meals out of MY money.

Nonetheless, she will grab the check when it comes and on at least one occasion I have seen her pull out her pocket calculator to figure out exactly what 10 and 15% are and given any choice at all, she will err to the low side when rounding to the nearest dollar. One time I had to slap her hands when she went back and tried to pull money off the table after I had left the tip and walked away.

Now as you might guess I have a different philosophy, which is tip your barmaid well, it will come in handy later in getting her to forget any indiscretions later in the evening. (Like asking her for her phone number or when does she get off.....).
I tend to value good service and / or large breasts in making my tip decision. (Gay waiters are at a disadvantage from the start). Especially when I am on travel and getting paid per diem, it just does not bother me to leave a little extra especially when the restaurant is packed and the girl is working hard.

I've tried to explain how waiters are paid here, and how its really not that big a deal, but it just does not matter. It just bothers her. She especially hates tipping in other circumstances, like tipping the bellboy in a hotel who has lugged her heavy bag into the room...........from her standpoint she paid for it when she checked in.

Its just one of those Mars/ Venus things that will never be resolved. And truth be told I like the Japanese system much better, since I've never had bad service in a Japanese restaurant. And its not considered rude to say "Sumimasen" even when the poor girl is running around at top speed. ( The S.O. has that down to a science too....). But it just does not bother me to tip so much.

Ought to be interesting tomorrow night, when we go to a really nice restaurant with some of the other folks in training here. She also does mental math when it comes to splitting the check..............but that's another story.

Maybe I should just let her pay her own meals....what do you think?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Friedman Article

As promised, here it is. Its worth reading and thinking about:
Thomas Friedman: The US Humbled

God, how depressing. Oil made us, and oil will break us.

The Post-Post-Cold War
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: May 10, 2006

Being in Eastern Europe in the wake of Dick Cheney's warning to Russia against using its oil and gas exports as "tools for intimidation and blackmail" has been revealing. The Financial Times noted that some Russian media presented Mr. Cheney's remarks as echoing Winston Churchill's 1946 speech in Fulton, Mo., warning that an "Iron Curtain" was descending on Europe.

I actually don't think we're going back to the cold war. I think we're going forward. We're leaving the world we've been in the post-cold-war world and entering the post-post-cold-war world. Americans won't like the post-post-cold-war world, unless they get serious about energy.

The cold-war world was a bipolar world, stabilized by a nuclear balance between two superpowers. The post-cold-war world was, for Americans, a unipolar belle poque, in which an American Hyperpower, as the French dubbed it, seemed to dominate the global scene, economically and strategically a scene characterized by a steady expansion of free markets and freely elected governments.

The post-post-cold war is a multipolar world, where U.S. power is being checked from every corner. China is rising as a power, thanks to hard work and high savings. Beyond China, though, other powers are rising thanks only to soaring oil prices, powers that were on the decline in the post-cold war.

These are: Vladimir Putin's Russia, which is countering the U.S. on a variety of fronts; Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, which is Castro's Cuba on steroids in the post-post-cold-war world, leading a new wave of nationalizations and anti-Americanism in Latin America; and, of course, Iran using its oil windfall to go nuclear. Yes, $70-a-barrel oil is making this post-post-cold-war world a multipolar world.

"It's the 'axis of oil,' " says Michael Mandelbaum, author of "The Case for Goliath." "It is more lasting and more important than terrorism and we don't have any policy for it."

Not only are others becoming more assertive: the U.S. has become less intimidating. With Americans bleeding in Iraq, with George Bush hugely unpopular in Europe, and with the U.S. two-party system so warped it can't even respond to a crisis like energy, America is not as feared as it was.

"In 2002 and 2003 everyone was talking about the American 'Hyperpower,' " said Eric Frey, editor of the Austrian daily Der Standard. "No one these days is talking about overwhelming American power, and that has even added to the anti-Americanism. Because before you had resentment and respect, and now you have resentment and scorn."

At the same time, the re-emergence of Russia has gotten the attention of Eastern Europe. Hungary gets more than half of its natural gas from Russia. Lately, some Hungarians have started to recall an old cold war joke: After the Hungarian soccer team beat the Soviet team, the Kremlin sent Hungary's leaders a brief telegram that read: "Congratulations on your victory. Stop. Oil stop. Gas stop."

"If you had asked me five years ago, I would have told you the whole story is finished no more Russian bear," said Pal Reti, editor of HVG, the Hungarian economic magazine. "They have so many problems themselves they would not have time to care about others' problems. But I've found that they have another set of priorities and they now have the muscle" to act on them. Yes, Russia no longer has much of an army or any ideology, but it still has a lot of brutish instincts, and now it has the oil money to push them.

In the post-cold-war world, European integration and economic reform seemed irreversible and certain to make Europe into a world democratic power. But in the post-post-cold war, Europe can't unite on anything — even on an energy policy — so it is being pushed around by Russia.

"I am very pessimistic about Western Europe and that is new," remarked Lajos Bokros, a professor of economics at the Central European University in Budapest. Too many Western Europeans "are not competitive enough" and "do not want to implement the reforms." Unless Europe chooses the high-growth Irish model, as opposed to the French, Italian and German models, Mr. Bokros added, "the whole European region will decline further and become insignificant and irrelevant for this global game."

For all these reasons, I don't miss the cold war, but I do miss the post-cold war. Because this post-post-cold-war world seems infinitely more messy, difficult to manage and full of way too many bad guys getting rich, not by building decent societies, but by simply drilling oil wells.

Out the door, hoping for more.........

Happy Mother's Day! Did you call your Mom?

Out of here this morning, thus no post yesterday. Heading to Panama City Florida for a week of training and hopefully some golf and beer drinking. Ergo this post must be short.

Sad to leave my Mom and Dad this morning. I know my Mom is frustrated because I am so far away, plus both my parents are at the age where one cannot take future visits just for granted, which is a frightening thing. I know too my sister feels stressed taking care of my folks and wishes she could have someone to share the burden here. However I guess it comes to how one can do right by the elders and also live one's own life. No good answer but I will have to struggle through me thinks. Good news is this new job will give me more opportunities to return to the US for short periods.

Being in the US for me is like wearing a an old jacket in the closet. It fits, its comfortable, but you know deep down in your heart it does not look right on you. It's out of place with the fashion style you keep.

Being on planes has allowed me to read a lot. Finished American Theocracy this weekm by Kevin Phillips. A guy on my e-mail list pilloried the book, saying "Why should I read a book that attacks Christianity?". My response is that Phillips book does not attack the belief of evangelical Christianity at all. Rather he attacks the uses and misuses that individuals have made of those beliefs and how the church has lost its way in focusing on governmental rather than individual salvation. His section about the US and its debt is right on the mark IMHO.

There is also a point he makes that Americans might want to take a hard look at: What if the US is not a chosen nation, on a special mission for God as many Americans believe, but rather just a another nation in the cycle of history who has reached its zenith and now slowly recedes into the annals of history? No answer for that yet, but perhaps some indicators of it are in this column my Friedman. The damn NY Times requires a subscription for it, but the thrust is that because of oil wealth and US dependence on it, the overall hegemony of the US is being impeded by competitors and that the realities of getting energy are getting in the way of democratic advances.........I'll publish it this evening-gotta run!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Beer and babes

Its two rounds of golf and a box of Krispy Kremes later. My mother has succeeded in driving me nuts and if I hear one more question about why I choose to live in Asia I'm going to blow a gasket. I could not tell the real reasons to my mother anyway..........

So I'm just going to drink these:



And wished the S.O was as willing as one of these:



Sanctuary!!!!

I love my mother dearly but........this is driving me nuts!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Memory Lane

Greetings from North Carolina.

Finally got here and got past my jet lag. The good news is that my father's high speed internet connection works with my lap top. The bad news is that it is supposed to rain today. This is going to put a crimp in our plans to play golf. Which is something I have been really looking forward to, given that I have not played a different course for months.

As for the trip here, the less said the better. Delta proved to me once again that setting low standards of service and then failing to meet them is the norm for american run airlines these days. No wonder they are in bankruptcy. Let me give you guys a tip, don't give me drink coupons......it insults my intelligence. Just serve me drinks-for free. If that means you have to add 25 dollars to the ticket price, then do so. But stop giving me that "look" just because I want an alcoholic beverage or 4 in a vain attempt to sleep in your hard back seats. What, of course, makes this trip even more disgusting is remembering back to my trip on Asiana just 6 short weeks ago when the stewardess actually had a rear end that did not require a shoe horn to get through the aisle, made return trips after dinner and even smiled -a lot. Not to worry there was none of that on Delta. "We have to fly and it shows!".

Having made our connection through the obstacle course that is Atlanta's airport, we arrived here in not so sunny North Carolina and made it up to my parents house. I have the S.O. with me which I know will be a mistake in the long run. She has met my parents before, but it's always been on neutral ground. Having her here, in the house as it were puts yours truly at a decided disadvantage. My mom actually likes the S.O. and it shows. I suppose that is a good thing considering she never liked my ex very much ( and in hindsight probably proves an axiom that one should listen to one's mother about affairs of the heart.......), so it makes her lecturing and belittling of her son even more interesting. The S.O. gives her a vehicle to contrast my failings with.

Then of course there is the walk into the bedroom where we are staying. Its up stairs and all of us kids have had to use it at various times in the past 20 something years. I have no emotional connection to this house as my father bought it after he retired and I do not consider N. Carolina in any way "home". My father has the house arranged so that him and mom can live on one floor if they have to meaning the upstairs remains kind of a museum for our family. In the upstairs bedroom are pictures of the family Skippy every where. Pictures of me as a boy, pictures of my father as a young man, my sisters, our families, our ex's ( Mom and Dad got a trifecta with us kids, my parents are the only ones of us who have not been divorced...at least once.).

As I walk into the room, its like a monument to everything that has gone right and wrong in my life. A testament as it were to my success and failures. My late sister Barbara put this collection together when she came home after getting divorced from her husband. She took the time to put all of the various memories on picture boards and albums, then she took the fatal trip to Panama and out of this life............ However the testimony of her work remains. The S.O. finds it interesting, I find it haunting. So many missed turns, opportunities not taken, mistakes made. In the room are pictures of my children during supposedly happier times. Even then you can see the look of resignation on my face. Like the picture taken at the zoo, walking with my son and my daughter who could not have been but one then. The look on my face says it all, " Is this all there is?". Happily I discovered it was not, but delayed realization of long held desire comes at a cost. That same small baby girl, I have not talked to for over 3 years............

The history that is in this room! Pictures of life before blogging and the internet. Before 100 channels on TV. My grandfather at work in the B&O railway office. No Blackberry or cell phone in his pocket! Just a pipe, and money for beer at the Eagles lodge after work.

My father standing next to the old Studebaker. Hell does anyone under 30 even know what a Studebaker was?

A slim, young version of my mother, standing with her sister, dressed up to go to a party. A pre-WWII, pre- US hegemony, pre-baby boom party. She must have felt like I did at that age. Everything was hers for the taking! How different she seems from the elderly lady lecturing me about how I don't visit enough and when the hell am I going to move back to the US and get a "real life". Trying to explain to her that what she calls "a real life" I find incredibly mind numbing and boring, is just impossible. When Durham gets its own version Jaffe Road, come talk to me, other wise it will always pale in comparison to what I have at my door step in Asia.

The longest I've ever visited here was for 2 weeks-twice. Once during my sisters funeral time and once when my Mom was in the hospital. Both times I felt so relieved when I was heading to the airport to board the plane. I don't know why because my folks live in a very beautiful and peaceful place. Problem is though.....its their place not mine.

A rambling ramshackle post! However it will have to do for now. We are off to Asheboro and some Golf followed by a stop at the outlet mall for the S.O. I'll be poorer when that's over to be sure.......plus my sisters husband tells me its a tough course. (Tot-Hill Farms...). That's the news from driftsville today. More and better news tomorrow, I promise.

Ja mata ne.........

Skippy-san

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen"- Mark Twain

Monday, May 08, 2006

Across the big pond......

Light blogging for the next couple of days as I return to the US for about 3 weeks. Thanks to having to use my return allowances, I'm stuck flying Delta, an airline I have no miles with and thus 0.0 chance to upgrade. Its going to be a long 12 hours to Atlanta.

Once I get some connectivity going, better posting to be sure. However till then, here is a question:

Why is General Hayden not being required to retire as part of the quid pro quo for taking over the CIA? It would seem to my small mind, that the President could defuse some of the criticism regarding this appointment ( who I think will be confirmed but not without a fight about Iraqi pre-war intelligence), especially from critics in his own party that have defended civilian control of the military during the Rumsfeld debate. Why add to the baggage that the Senate Republicans are going to have to carry? For Hayden, he's already topped out salary wise. Taking a senior political appointee position as a civilian has to be a pay raise when combined with his retirement. Or maybe not if he has an ex-wife laying in wait. ( See previous post on how to fix that.........). If the President wants this guy, fine, but why make the fight harder?

And while we are at it, why did Porter Goss resign? Does it really have to do with politics, or does it have to do with Watergate poker parties where they gave out more than pretzels and beer........? Lots of speculation about that you know.

Ja ne. See you on the other side.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Packing up..........

Short post as yesterday was quite busy. Squeezed in a round of golf with the S.O. a sure sign that she is feeling better, then she had me packing the rest of the day. Pain in the ass she sometimes can be, she sure is organized!

Speaking of packing, I've realized that Donald Rumsfeld is missing a golden opportunity in the controversy over the Generals. Now as you know if you have read here, I support the Generals speaking out and criticizing the Secretary of Defense for the planning regarding the decision to invade and the Phase IV planning afterwards. I consider it a good thing for the country in general and for the SECDEF in particular who has failed to resource his armed forces for the "long war". It's also clear, however, that Donald Rumsfeld is firmly in the saddle and short of a heart attack is not going anywhere anytime soon...........

So as long as he is going to be staying, he has a chance to do some real good for veterans and currently serving active duty personnel. Lex, Chap, Phibian and Yankee Sailor have argued that this criticism is inappropriate for retired officers to speak out against a serving Secretary of Defense. Many of the arguments center around the fact that retiree's are still receiving the "King's Shilling" . By that logic Yankee Sailor argues that the retirees may also still be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. By virtue of receiving retired pay they are still "part of the service".

Lets follow this logic all the way. If I am receiving retired pay for continued service, then it follows that this is income to me in return for: a) continued availability, b) conforming to the party line and c) supporting DOD endeavors. By that logic of receiving "the Kings Shilling" then the last couple of years of shilling packets are just a few shillings short. 39% to be exact.

Here is where Rumsfeld could finally make good on what he supposedly never knew about almost a year ago. At the time, he promised the Lt Col that he would have David Chu "look into it". Nothing was ever done since then except for a letter by DOD lawyer hacks that said the division of retirement is an accepted practice in property settlements...........

However that is the point. Retirement pay IS NOT PROPERTY. By tieing this in the with general's controversy, Rummy finally gets an issue of sufficient national visibility to establish a precedent once and for all that it's income. Therefore not subject to division. He could kill two birds with one stone. Silence criticism and score a victory for those of us who are truly, "unequally yoked". As a bonus, he could fire Dr Chu, for getting this issue wrong in the first place. Since Dr Chu is not guilty of planning for the war, simply being uncompassionate towards those who had to pay its bills, it would be a firing the Secretary could get away with.

After doing that, then sue one of the generals for libel. Or convene an Article 32 for the general with the best legal resources, based on the "King's Shilling" argument. Get it out there in legal precedent that retirement pay is income for continued service. That in turn, would give Congress a means to repeal, this incredibly wicked piece of legislation.

To deprive my ex-wife of money she does not deserve and did not earn.....yea, for that I can keep my mouth shut. So what are we waiting for?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de mayo........

Is a holiday that should be boycotted this year. Why do Americans celebrate a Mexican battle........? Enquiring minds want to know.

As a result, I will go to a party and drink too many of these:



Which in turn leads to thinking and chasing after these:


And that never leads any where good!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More about the Boo............

No post yesterday, the S.O. was really sick and I had to take her to the doctor. Talk about lousy timing, we are leaving for the US next week and the only place she feels like traveling is to the room with porcelain in it. Got her some medicine and tried to get her to eat some soup last night. Suffice it to say, it is one of the great mysteries of life how women throw up quietly........when it happens to me, trust me the whole house knows it :-).

I received the following eulogy, written by Pat Conroy (The Water is Wide, Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, Prince of Tides...to name just a few of his works) Class of 68. Now many Citadel grads have a love / hate relationship with Conroy which stems back to the early 90's when many folks feel that he deserted his alma mater at a time it needed a literate spokesperson. I feel that way for sure. However, Conroy seems to have returned back to the fold in recent years and either way, I've always admired the man's rich and descriptive writing style. Proof yet again of the value of single gender, liberal arts, military education ......(USNA are you listening?). Read for yourself this beautiful portrait of Thomas Nugent Courvoisie:




Pat Conroy's eulogy to Lt. Col. Thomas Nugent Courvoisie by Author and Citadel alumnus Pat Conroy, Class of 1968. Delivered at Lt. Col. Thomas Nugent Courvoisie's funeral May 3, 2006, in Summerall Chapel.

Today we gather together, in great joy and sorrow, to bid farewell to one of the most famous Citadel graduates who ever lived, Col. Thomas Nugent Courvoisie whose last name was a French cognac, but who claimed his whole life he was pure Irish. Because Citadel cadets cannot pronounce any French products, they nicknamed him 'The Boo.' Because The Boo could not remember any cadet's name, he referred to us as bubba, lambs and bums. It was a wonderful, distinguishing moment in a cadet's life to be called a bum by The Boo. It was a moment of arrival, a rite of passage, and the stamping of a visa attesting to the fact you were an official member of that strange, bright country we call The Citadel.


Here is what The Boo loved more than The Citadel - nothing, nothing on this Earth. The sun rose on Lesesne Gate and it set on the marshes of the Ashley River and its main job was to keep the parade grounds green. He once told me that a cadet was nothing but a bum, like you, Conroy. But a Corps of Cadets was the most beautiful thing in the world. In World War II, he led an artillery unit during the Battle of the Bulge and he once told me, 'The Germans hated to see me and my boys catch em in the open.' It is my own personal belief that The Boo's own voice was more frightening to the Germans than the artillery fire he was directing toward them.

The voice. There has never been a louder, gruffer, more stentorian or commanding voice ever to stir the airwaves of this campus. I speak now of The Boo in his prime, striding this campus like a colossus, all-powerful and omnipresent with his flashing, hawk-like glance that took in everything his purposeful and menacing stalk and that intimidating voice that seemed five times as loud as God's. I once saw him shout out the words, 'Halt, Bubba' on the steps of the Summerall Chapel. Coming out of the library, I halted on the third step and prayed he wasn't yelling at me. But the amazing thing was that the entire campus had halted, every cadet stood frozen in place like wildebeests on the Serengeti plains after a lion's roar. Cadets stood at perfect attention, in perfect stillness some walking into Mark Clark Hall, toward First Battalion, toward the field house, into Bond Hall and all the way to the toolshed. The Boo then charged across the parade ground, stopped a kid entering into Second Battalion and burnt him for his personal appearance. The cadet's shoeshine particularly offended The Boo, although as I approached the chapel I could not even tell the kid had feet. I heard every word of the cadet's bawling out and I was a hundred yards away. You have never been blessed out or bawled out or chewed out unless you got it from The Boo in his prime. Did I say he was five times louder than God? I'm sorry if that sounds sacrilegious and it certainly is not true. The Boo was at least ten times louder than God and I was scared of him my entire cadet career.

But he prowled this campus like a dark angel of discipline, and this guy was everywhere. He would be there before reveille in any of the four barracks catching seniors late to formation. He was all over the mess hall, wandered the stands during football games, roamed the barracks during parades. During evening study period, he patrolled the barracks breaking up card games, confiscating televisions and writing up cadets out of uniform.
Four times, he recommended my expulsion from The Citadel. Once I found my name on the DL list for 'Insulting Assistant Commandant's Wife.' My Tac officer recommended I be kicked out of school. I ran to The Boo's office and demanded an explanation. 'You stopped to talk to my wife about books on the parade ground.'

'She stopped me, Colonel,' I said.

'I noticed your brass was smudged, your shoes unshined and your shirt tuck a disgrace. I considered it an insult to my wife.''

I am a senior private, Colonel. That's how I'm supposed to look,' I said. The Boo roared with laughter.

Earlier, The Boo had pulled me for 'bringing disgrace, shame and dishonor to The Citadel.' The same Tac wanted me expelled from The Citadel. When I confronted The Boo again, he explained that I had played such a lousy basketball game against Furman that he thought I had brought disgrace and shame to The Citadel. Then again, the laughter.

The reason The Boo became the most beloved and honored figured on The Citadel campus and why his legend has continued is because of his sense of honor, his sense of justice and his sense of humor. And here is what a Citadel Corps of Cadets can do better than any other group alive: it can tell you who loves them, it can tell you who hates them and it can spot anyone else around who simply doesn't care about them. The Boo could not hide his love of the Corps of Cadets. He could scream at us, write us up for demerits, hand out tours like business cards, call us bums far into the night, threaten to send us to Clemson a hundred times, catch us heading to Big John's for a beer, deny us leave, bemoan the fact all day that bums were ruining the Corps he could do all of this but he could never stop loving us and we could never stop loving him back and it showed, and it became his final undoing. He was fired as assistant commandant and finished out his Citadel career at the warehouse. He was told not to talk to Citadel cadets. As always, The Boo carried out his duty.

In 1968, I began writing The Boo's biography and it was here I learned all the stories. I did not know he'd written out checks to help poor cadets pay their tuition. I did not know how many corsages he'd bought for dates at the hop or the money he paid to bail cadets out of jail. He bought two seniors their Citadel rings, but he wouldn't let me put that in the book. The Boo asked Citadel grad J.C. Hare to give free legal advice to cadets in trouble and J.C. never let him down. Every time he asked a senior for his ring as he was kicking him out of school, The Boo could not sleep that whole night. He wouldn't let me put that in the book, either. There was no act of generosity too large for The Boo to proffer to a Citadel cadet. It seemed like too large a job to love an entire Corps of Cadets, but The Boo said it was the easiest job he ever had.

'There was only one cadet I ever really hated. Just one name I can think of,' The Boo said.

'That'll make an interesting story for the book, Colonel. Who is the jerk?' I asked.

'It was you, Conroy. Just you. There was something about you that I hated when you first walked into fourth battalion, you worthless bum.'

By the time I finished writing 'The Boo,' I was head over heels, punch drunk in love with the man. By writing the book I got to know The Boo as well as anyone who ever lived. I came to know his demons, his insecurities, his failures. I think he was a better father to the Corps of Cadets than he was to his own children, Helen and Al, and I told him that many times and he always agreed with me. But our love for each other was irreproachable as it would be tested many times.

Before the book came out he asked me if there was anything he could do for me, and I said yes. 'Colonel, you always call me a bum. You've never called me one of your lambs. I'd like to be a lamb now that I've written this book.'

The Boo approached me and nearly put out my left eye with one of his nasueating cigars.'Conroy, you were born a bum, lived like a bum, and proved to be a bum every day of your sorry life as a cadet. You'll always be a bum to me. Never a lamb.'

When I was writing this eulogy last night, I pulled the copy of 'The Boo' that the Colonel had presented me on publication day 36 years ago. I was looking for a story that summed up The Boo's character and personality and charm. I did not know he had signed it for me that day and I did not know what he signed until last night. He signed my copy of 'The Boo' this way: 'To the lamb who made me. The Boo'

I come now to the last words I will ever write about The Boo in my career. I was lucky to have met him as a young man when I needed a father figure as much as I needed a college education. It is to my great sorrow that The Citadel grads present at The Boo's funeral today are some of the biggest lowlifes, scoundrels, alcoholics, philanderers, nose pickers and bums that ever made it through the long gray line, but I know that The Boo would have it no other way.

When I was writing 'The Lords of Discipline,' I went to The Boo for help.'

What makes The Citadel different from all other schools? What makes it different, special and unique? Why do I think it is the best college in the world when I hated it when I was here, Boo? Help me with this.'

The Boo held up his hand and said, 'It's the ring, Bubba. Always remember that. The ring, the ring, the ring.'

I thought about it for a moment then wrote the words, 'I wear the ring.' 'How about this for a first line?'

'Perfect, Bubba, just perfect.'

It is time to end this, Boo.

Farewell to the artillery man.

You'll always be our commandant.

Always our leader.

Always our role model.

Always the father our fathers could not be.

When you reach the pearly gates, Citadel man, remember your voice, Boo, and try not to scare the angels. When they asked you what you loved most in life, tell them what you told me. Tell them about The Citadel. Tell them, Colonel, tell them about the bums who loved you , but last of all tell them about the ring, the ring, the ring.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A sad day for military education

This morning I received the sad news that "The Boo" , Lt Col. T.N. Courvoisie passed from this world. Now to most of you that means very little, but to those of us who had a proper military education; before the forces of feminism and political correctness creeped in; before the urge to cave in to the feminazis' took hold; it means a lot. The Boo was a hero at The Citadel. A tough man, who believed fervently in what the college had to offer, even after the point that the college had ceased to believe in him. Pat Conroy wrote a book about this great man and inside it, are great examples of his compassion and love for cadets, coupled with his stern and loving discipline. His famous line was " You should have gone to Clemson, bubba".

The Boo was made famous in the movie and novel , "The Lords of Discipline", but those efforts never told the true story of the man. So it was with great sadness that those of us who were in the Corps from 1960-1990 received the following news:

Folks: It is with a very sad heart that I have to tell you that we have lost The Boo. I have just received a phone call from his Granddaughter, telling me that he passed away this evening. I visited with him just this afternoon, and he seemed to be doing well, we had a wonderful visit, I
showed him photos of the new West Stands at Johnson-Hagood, and told him about the Inauguration of LTG John Rosa '73 last week, all of which pleased him greatly. I have lost a friend of over 45 years, whom there is no replacement for. I know many of you have similar feelings toward him, there was only one like him, and those of us that were lucky enough to have him for a friend and mentor are better people for knowing and learning from him. The Citadel Family has lost The Boo, but we are all better for having him as a friend and mentor. Read here to learn more about this great man.



Here is a picture of the Boo the way I would like to remember him, gruff exterior, but with a heart of gold:


Courvoisie stands at one of the campus gates in this 1964 picture from The Sphinx yearbook.

My own personal interaction with the Boo was quite limited. After he was exiled in 1968 to the Supply and Property Warehouse ( an event described in Conroy's book) he served for many more years. I am suprised he stayed after the loathsome way the college administration treated him. He treated me with kindness when I happened in the warehouse looking for my father's trunk. ( Albeit, smoking a cigar....) . However I would march along with my fellow cadets every October 19th and we would sing "Happy Birthday" to the man and feel like we had paid tribute to the legend that is and was. The members of the classes from the 60's still worship the ground he walked on.

It's hard to explain about him today's terms. He would not have fit in well with today's neutered military colleges and academies ,which as the Phibian has noted, produce nothing but geldings. However, back when being a man counted, and knowing how to treat a lady properly also counted, he knew how to teach those values to generations of those of us who passed through the portals of Lecsene Gate. All cadets were his "lambs" and like a shepherd, he guarded all of them with care. Not that he could save them all, but he damn sure tried. May God grant him a place of glory in the heavens. There is only one tribute now that he would appreciate, so I'll repeat it here. If you are privileged as I am to wear the ring, sing along:

Oh Citadel we sing thy fame
For all the world to hear,
And in the paths our fathers showed us
Follow without fear.
Peace and Honor, God and Country,
We will fight for thee.
Oh Citadel, we praise thee now
And in Eternity.


Oh Citadel, though strife surrounds us,
We will ever be
Full conscious of the benefits
That we derive from thee.
Stand forever, yielding never
To the tyrant's Hell
We'll never cease our struggles for
Our mighty Citadel.


Cadet A. Preston Price, Class of 1943 .

God bless the BOO!

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Spanish Version of the Star Spangled Banner.......

Dear immigrant rights activists,

Are you guys out of your f**king minds? Who told you it was a good idea to advertise a non-English version of a song that even your supporters believe should be spoken and sung in English? This is like taking a can of gasoline and pouring it onto a blazing fire. All it does is blow back on you and burn you up. Its just plain stupid, that is what it is.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. I am no fan of George Bush and oppose a lot of his positions on many things. However, if he and I were in the same room together, and he turned and asked me to join him in the pledge of allegiance, I would rise to my feet, put my hand over my heart, and say the pledge:

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United
States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all


We might then go on to argue again, but on this one issue we agree. The national anthem of the United States was meant to be sung in English:

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English"


Duh, you think so?

Americans may be divided on many things, but real Americans- regardless of where they live- get stirred up over some things. They like hearing the drum roll before the song begins; they like to try to follow the tune even if their voice cracks at the high notes; they like saying "Play ball" when it ends. There are some things that you do not mess with and this is one.

Who gives you guys advice? If anybody was sitting on the fence about this issue, this is a sure fire way to push them over the edge, on the wrong side. Don't mess with the flag or any other symbols of the nation. It has never worked before and it won't work now. To borrow a line from Caddyshack: "You guys want to get replaced by golf carts? (Filipinos, robot lawn mowers). Just keep it up. You want get shipped off to a relocation camp? Keep screwing around with fundamental traditions, you'll be behind barbed wire in Nuevo Laredo before you know it."

Idiots. I've lived overseas for a good while now. There is nothing wrong with expecting me to learn the language of my host country. And so I did. As a result, when I lost my bag on the train one time, I took pride in the fact that I was able to get it back, talking to the station manager without using a SINGLE WORD OF ENGLISH. I slaughtered some of the grammar, but I got it done. That's accomplishment. That's assimilation. That's what immigration is about.....you fucking morons.

love,

Skippy

P.S. Here is the US National Anthem in Japanese. Does not prove a damn thing, but you guys can feel good the song can be translated into a different language. Idiots!:

さ! あれは良く見える、夜明けの明るさで
私たちは何が最後の薄明かりちらりと見る事で誇らしげに歓呼しました?
誰の大きなしまと明るいの星は殴り合いはまだあります。
私たちは要塞の上げにこれが勇敢な見せ方?
ロケトの赤いぎらぎら光で、ボモブの爆発で
証明をあげっていること、米国国旗はまだある事。
ほら!米国国旗はまだ揺れりますか?
自由の国で、勇敢な国にまだ上に揺れりますか?

(I did not copy that, but I took about 40 minutes to translate it myself, so if there are any Japanese experts out there who would like to correct my grammar or vocabulary, please do. Let me know where I got it wrong.......it was a great exercise for study, but all it did was prove my point again. Sing the song in English!)

What's next, Kimigayo in Chinese? I think not!

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