Thursday, November 30, 2006

Things that have to be seen........

This week has proven that this work thing just gets in the way of having fun. Have had two long days in a row and its not put me in a good mood to go out. I hate working these particular projects. They end up being nothing but work, done in unfamilar circumstances, with people I can no longer really tolerate. Especially if they wear the light blue suit and speak Air Force.............

The hotel I am staying at-not worth the price. It's only virtue is the ability to get to work in 8 minutes in the morning. But as for night life around it-nada.

I take that back. There is a little sports bar where it appears all the DHL and FEDEX employees go when they get off work. But that's about it unless one wants to get in his car and take the risk of meeting road nazi's or paying $25 for a taxicab one way. Last night a colleague drove so I had to do neither.

We went down to Waikiki since next week the odds of us getting down there are slim and slimmer. Work is going to be worse next week. We went to a pretty good steak place, right by the beach-where you grill your own steak.

Dinner and a couple beers finished we walked around. After stopping in one bar that was supposed to have a good ladies night crowd we entered a smaller establishment. Where we met the king.

Yes that's right-Elvis was in the building. Or at least someone who looked like him. Turns out our avid elvis wanna be had just gotten married. And so rather than dash off on the honeymoon, they did the logical thing (not!) and go to a bar and do shots.

His "bride" comes in wearing a wedding dress. Carrying more than her fair share of poundage she proved the old adage that fat women need loving too. My buddy and I were more interested in her friend in the short dress with nice legs.

We tried to wean the story out of them since there had to be one-it really was not much of one. They got married at the eagles and they had decided to make the groom look like Elvis. Second (or third) marriage for both of them-and they wanted to party with their friends. It got us a free beer from the Mr Presley though-Thank you, thank you very much.

Sadly we had to leave too soon. My friend had to be careful of the road nazis and the longer he stayed the more frustrating it got because he could not drink the way he should have been able to. Something to do with mad mothers and reactionary laws.

So home we went were I slowly channel surfed myself to sleep-and dread getting up to go to work:


Welcome to my world!

Friends don't let friends join the Air Force!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still here!!!

Its been a busy couple of days (but not too busy to keep from getting in 9 holes at Navy Marine Golf course....gotta love those twilight rates!)

Longer post to follow tomorrow but here is a teaser.......What would the world have been like if Mohammed had not been born? I've been thinking about that a lot since the news of the Pope's visit has been all over the TV. He led a significant portion of the earth's population down a spiritual rat hole. How different would the world have been had he not done so?

Food for thought.

Real work starts tomorrow with a very early start tomorrow. More later.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Minimal posting for a while

In Hawaii now, off to work tomorrow. Got in the early am here in Honolulu. Fortunately the hotel had a room available so I was able to get some sleep and then off to Kaneohe for some golf. Played with a young Marine who had gotten back from Iraq about 2 months ago. Said because of that he had only returned to playing about 2 weeks ago. It did not seem to affect his game , since he shot an even par for the round. ( MY score was SLIGHTLY higher.......).

Had a good opportunity to chat with him. He said he felt that things had not really changed since his first and second deployment. He's really hoping something will happen this coming year to keep him from having to make a 3rd. Interesting conversation to say the least. Great guy doing a hard job. And a great golfer.

More to follow tomorrow, I'm beat.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Unrequited love...........

I'm crushed. It seems that Norika is getting married. And I was (sort of) saving myself for her.

Who is Norika? This is Norika:



And so is this:



Norika was the first Japanese pop star I became familar with after I came to Japan. She was on TV a lot then and all over the magazines as well. She is practically her own industry-kind of like Paris Hilton but with a lot more class (and morals....). She even has her own web site.

So I am mystified why she is passing up a great thing like me just to be with this loser.

You never forget your first crush and I've been in lust love with her my entire time here. And this is the thanks I get........... Sigh.

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Speaking of rewards, or lack thereof, there was no evidence of gratitude present from the Nihonjin sharing my little world. And to add insult to injury, she decided that yes, she did want to play golf today-so the tree remains undecorated. And I played in a medicore fashion only finding a putting stroke on the last 4 holes. She almost beat me! Women just don't get it. Men are simple creatures. So ladies here is the lesson again: When men do something that costs a lot or rocks your world-its not asking so much to get a little something for the effort..............Wakatta?

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Meanwhile in Iraq, its the same headline-just a different day. Tell me again that we are making progress, I'm not sure the insurgents picked up on that message.

<----------------------------------------------------------------------->

Speaking of Iraq, I am suprised the recent speech of General Conway the new commandant of the Marine Corps has not created more of a stir. Basically, the General is reaffirming something that a lot of people have been saying and Rummy kept denying-this back to back deployment stuff is getting old:

The Marine Corps may have to grow to keep up a
tempo of operations that has caused individual and institutional stress in the
force, the service's commandant said here today.

At a roundtable discussion with the Pentagon press corps, Gen. James Conway said working to alleviate the individual and institutional strain on the Marine Corps is hismajor goal as commandant...........

If the current deployment trend continues, Conway said, Marines and their families may leave the service. "The young families, Marines (and) sailors may say it's more than they are willing to bear," he said.

The Marine Corps would like to see a seven-month deployment followed by 14 months at home station, the commandant said. In peacetime, the deployment tempo is six months deployed, 18 months at home.

In addition to the stress on individual Marines and their families, Conway said, the Marine Corps as an institution is also strained. "Progressively over time, our Marine Corps has become a good counterinsurgency-capable force, but we're not providing to the nation some of the other things we should be able to do," he said. "We are not sending battalions like we used to for mountain warfare training, the jungle training. We're not doing combined arms exercises that we used to do for the fire and maneuver. (These are) activities that we have to be prepared to do."

Conway said the Marine Corps mission includes these contingencies, but the training time is not available. He said the Corps could do whatever mission it is assigned, but there is an increased risk. "We may not deploy as quickly as we once did, we may not have quite the training that we once had, but we would be able to do the mission," he said.

The Corps can ease these stresses and strains two ways, Conway said. "One is reducing the requirement," he said. "The other is growing the force for what we call the Long War."


This is good-its about time a service chief banged on the table and pointed out the civilian masters that you don't do more with less-you do less with less and more with more. It would be nice if Admiral Mullen chimed in right behind him. At least someone in the USAF has:

It’s a problem, because I’m spending money to train my troops in skills I don’t maintain in the U.S. Air Force,” Gen. Ronald Keys, commander, Air Combat Command based at Langley Air Force Base, Va., told reporters at a Washington breakfast meeting.

Keys was referring to a phenomenon the military calls “in-lieu-of,” or ILO, taskings, which are duties servicemembers are assigned that fall outside their normal service specialties.

First in a trickle, then in larger numbers, both the Air Force and Navy have been sending ILO personnel to assist the Army.
-----------
“We are fine with doing that in order to give the Army the opportunity to reset their force,” Keys said. “They are in a situation where they are trying to modularize their Army in the midst of a fairly huge war …. They need to break loose some headroom.”

But it has been four years now, and there is no end in sight to the use of airmen in such unconventional roles, Keys said.

“We ought to discuss it, and decide where we’re going to draw the lines, so we can allocate that precious budget we have in the right places and not duplicate,” Keys said.
.

Can I have an amen brother?

<------------------------------------------------------------>

And finally this has to rank as one of the dumbest things a man can do on a date:

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) -- Dating experts agree: Using a coupon for a two-for-one meal on a first date is a surefire romance killer.

In the words of dating expert Laurie Graff, author of the upcoming book "Looking for Mr. Goodfrog" (Red Dress Ink), "Not the first time."

She says if you use a coupon early on, "You send a message about your finances."

There are exceptions. Graff knows of one guy who won a restaurant gift certificate in an auction who used it on a first date because he told his date, "I never would have bid on this thing if I didn't know I had you to take."

Meanwhile, love advice expert David Coleman, who calls himself the Dating Doctor, says a "two-fer" is a bad move on a first date, although there are ways around it.

He says it could be an ice breaker if you say, "Hey I have this coupon, would you like to use it together?"

After that, he says the Entertainment Guide can be an incentive to plan future dates.



When I think two-fer, I'm certainly not thinking about food.................

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ambushed!

Yesterday was Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi)here in Japan: A national holiday for honoring labour. Seems the Mayflower did not make to Yokohama....and had theydone so they would have been slaughtered. Ergo Japan has no tradition of stuffing one's self on this day-except for loads of booze the night before...........

So the S.O. and I were lucky enough to be invited to a friends house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes, Gravy and a healthy dosage of his teenage kids. Which reminded me again what I am not missing these days. Reminded me of "discussions" with my son when he used the arrival of company to decide it was time to check the "press to test" button on his father. Living of course, in the new age of sensitivity, I could not just do what my father did-namely wait till the company left and beat the stuffing out of me. My friend suffered from the same predicament-even though at times the oldest seemed to be asking for it. Actually it was not so bad, but he made it clear he did not seem inclined to assist......just as my son did on so many occasions. Some things never change.

Today was a free day for me so off it was to get dragged shopping. The S.O. had dodged my entreaties to play golf by telling me it was supposed to be bad weather today. Regrettably I believed her and so I was doubly incensed when I awoke to blazing sunshine, but too late to move on down the road. Damn!

So off we went shopping. Tried to convince her that this was the year to skip our fake tree and buy a real one, even though it would take some money. No chance paddles, all she could see was the vision of needles on the floor. So I knew what that meant, tonight I was going to be unpacking green plastic again for the "x" consecutive year. Lucky for me I am leaving for Hawaii on Sunday so she gets to decorate the tree and most of the house. Tomorrow, I'm playing golf.

I like thanksgiving, in my own way. I love turkey and every thing that goes with it, like the old man in Christmas Story I am a Turkeyholic. The best part of Thanksgiving for me is after stuffing my self at dinner-eating a turkey sandwich at 11:30, while drinking a beer and watching football highlights. Its the little things that count. Unfortunately, I have not made a turkey in a good while, the S.O. thinks they make too much of a mess in the kitchen. The down side of my Thanksgiving memories is that when I had "family" type Thansgiving holidays they usually turned into a repeat of "Home for the Holidays". In other words a nightmare-especially if I had to spend them up at my ex-inlaws. Or for that matter with the ex and my family. Either way the chemistry was not good. So this world is much, much, better.

So out we went shopping. We made the circuit of the department stores and also shopping on the base. With the help of the S.O. bought a tweed sports jacket at a good price as well as some pants and sweater. I do rely on the S.O. to help me with clothing decisions, her taste in clothes is good-mine is not. Especially today when she was wearing tight pants and boots-more on that later.

Speaking of using the feminine whiles to manipulate events, I bought a biography of Madame Chiang Kai Shek. . It will give me something to read on the plane and the former Mei Ling Soong has her own story to tell about using the power of the puss to get what she wanted....across 3 continents. Looking forward to reading the book:


Petite, elegant, and mighty, Madame Chiang Kai-shek lived to be 105, but when she died in 2003, many Americans had no idea of how powerful a woman she was or of how much she suffered. First-time biographer Li is the first to tell Madame Chiang's dramatic life story. Mayling Soong was one of three sisters in an ambitious Christian Chinese family who altered the course of Chinese history. Educated in the U.S and fiercely intelligent, Mayling married Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and became his interpreter and advisor. Besieged by the invading Japanese and embroiled in a horrific civil war with the Communists, Chiang Kai-shek depended on his glamorous, eloquent wife to petition the Allied leaders for aid. In 1943, Madame Chiang galvanized America as she became the first Asian and only the second woman to address the U.S. Congress. Sensational and indomitable, she infuriated Churchill; put Franklin Roosevelt on his guard; disappointed Eleanor Roosevelt with her narcissism, grandiosity, and insensitivity; and, Li theorizes, helped jump-start Washington's anti-Communist witch hunts. With access to newly opened files, fluent insights into China's convulsive transformation, and a phenomenal gift for elucidating intricate politics and complicated psyches, Li brilliantly analyzes a fearless and profoundly conflicted woman of extraordinary force.


So we made the circuit of the jewelry counter at one of the department stores. I should have been nervous when the S.O. dallied over a pearl necklace for some time-I had strolled off to girl watch the women looking at shoes, always a fun girl watching pastime-particularly in this particular store. Some sweethearts shop there. S.O. wants to keep shopping-I want to go home and get the tree up before I leave so I can be free and clear tomorrow. So I head for the train and promise to meet her at home.

I get the tree up and am just nicely contoured to the couch sleeping when she arrives at the genkan (front of the door, its the place you remove your shoes...). Seems she thinks I need to to return with her to the jewelry counter. Seems she has found a great set of 9mm pearls for just 50,000 yen. Oh boy, this cannot be good. Off we go.

Back at the counter I knew I was in trouble. The 50,000 yen necklace looked good, but not nearly as polished and smooth as the 84,000 yen one. It did not take long to see the trying on and discussion with the sales clerk in Japanese leading down the more expensive path. Now truth be told it was a nicer necklace and the normal retail price was over 50,000 yen more. However making a purchase of this type was not on my agenda. To make the long story short-84,000 yen poorer and my credit card crying, we left the store with her new necklace in hand.

To add insult to injury I had to go through the usual indignity of getting my card approved. Because my card is on a US bank they had to call it in. I had to take the phone and assure them that yes I really do live in Japan and it is me using my card and that it was not fraud. I've been through the same problem in Japan before, but never in Hong Kong or Singapore. Japan still has a pretty insulated banking system though and the smaller stores look at the foreign cards like they are poison. I later called my bank to remind them that they have my cell phone number on file-why not call me if there is doubt, since I was reminding them for the 15th time I live in Japan and not the United States!

The good news though is that now I am off the hook for the "big" Christmas gift. The bad news is that I now need to pay back the money to my credit card ASAP as I was not planning on spending that money. It did seem to make her happy though-although she did not like it when I told her that was it for jewelry for Christmas-and her birthday. However at the time, I could not take my mind off of how good she looked today-the pants and boots ruined my concentration to be sure. But hey, its only money...........

Tonight was putting lights on the tree and then leaving her to decorate the rest. She of course settled down to watch her favorite pet show-we'll see if the tree is done when I get back from golf tomorrow...............

We'll see if the reward matches the expenditure..........I tend to doubt it.

Happy Thanksgiving and have a good shopping day!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Speaking of bizarre protests.......

I recently came across a couple of them while surfing the net.

First of course is this little gem from Lost Nomad-seems Cindy Sheehan thinks her blue passport gives her free access to the exchange. Courtesy of Lost Nomad:

Finding the area around Camp Humphreys a little bit too urban for her liking, Cindy Sheehan decided to protest in front of Yongsan Garrison, where she probably (and erroneously) thought she could get on post to grab a quick Taco Bell lunch once her act was finished.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan and a handful of other Americans on Tuesday afternoon held their passports in front of South Korean riot police outside a main gate onto Yongsan Garrison, requesting a meeting with U.S. Forces Korea’s commanding general. Their blue booklets and their chants for the U.S. military to halt base expansion plans south of Seoul went unanswered during the 40-minute long protest. “My father served at this base,” Sheehan said as she stood in front of Gate 5 at Yongsan Garrison. “I have the right as an American to come onto this base.”

First of all, someone needs to check their spelling. Second of all, it doesn’t matter who served at what base or what passport you’re holding - neither give you the right to enter a military installation. Not in the USA, and certainly not overseas. Have a nice flight home, Cindy, and come again when you can’t stay so long.


The last paragraph sums things up nicely. What the hell does bases in Korea have to do with the war in Iraq? I think Cindy Sheehan needs psychicatric help-soon. This woman is anything but stable.

And who the hell is paying for her air fare? Flights to Incheon are not cheap.

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Now on the other side of the spectrum, a protest organization has come up with a better way to "fight the power" : by having sex.

That's right-I don't make this stuff up!

THE 1ST ANNUAL SYNCHRONIZED GLOBAL ORGASM FOR PEACE

WHO? All Men and Women, you and everyone you know.
WHERE? Everywhere in the world, but especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction.
WHEN? Winter Solstice Day - Friday, December 22nd, at the time of your choosing, in the place of your choosing and with as much privacy as you choose.

WHY? To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy ( a Synchronized Global Orgasm. There are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti-submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, so the time to change Earth's energy is NOW!

Our minds influence Matter and Energy fields, so by concentrating any thoughts during and after orgasm on peace and partnership, the combination of high orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention will reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear.

Orgasm is something just about everyone can do and enjoy. And you can orgasm by yourself or with someone else. You don't even have to tell anyone you're going to do it!


Hey this looks like something that everyone can try-regardless of one's feelings about the war. If nothing else it provides a new and novel reason to do it. "But honey, its for world peace! Don't you care about the world? I know I do-so sleep with me.........".

Hey, its a reason-as if any self respecting guy needs one.

However if you do, here is the reason they give on their blog:

Why orgasm - we know that you guys need MORE sex not less - so here's a chance to practice, practice, practice for Peace - - the big day is Winter Solstice December 22!!!&.and look forward to the day when women realize that all you need is more comfort and sex!



I'm sold. "Honey, come over here and read this!".

Remember to play safe however:


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How's my driving?

For at least one Japanese submarine captain, not so good apparently:


So I guess this means a promotion is out of the question?

This picture was on the front page of the Asahi Shimbun today. Read the story here.

Oops!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bait and switch

I watched an interesting special on TV tonight. It was about the big shift that has occurred in funding retirement and in particular how the 401K is not the be-all, end-all that many have made it out to be. For military people and military retirees, this discussion is particularly apt, since my favorite Pentagon dickhead bureaucrat is spearheading the charge to change the military retirement system from one of fairness and defined benefits to one of inequality and uncertainty. Its time for Congress to reject the proposals of the Defense Advisory Commission on Military Compensation once and for all.

Dr Chu wants to take the current retirement system and turn it into a 401K style contribution system-eliminating the ability to retire at 20 years and receive payments and require servicememebers to wait until they are 60 to receive anything for their service-regardless of when they leave the service. For the department of defense it means saving money and elimnating "entitlements"-which allows them to make the proper way of saying it, receiving what you have earned and risked your life for-sound like its a bad thing.

The problem is, the military is very ripe for a phenomenon noted in the program-what they called yield disparity:

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] I was curious. Why would Thibeau and Crabb have such wildly different results with the same 401(k) plan? In Dallas, I found the man with the answer, a corporate benefits consultant with 50 years of experience named Brooks Hamilton.

Originally, Hamilton had been a big believer in the magic of 401(k)s, but by the 1990s, he began to notice troubling differences among employees in the 15 corporate 401(k) plans that he was running.

BROOKS HAMILTON, Corporate Benefits Consultant: They were all large plans with $100 million, $200 million dollars in the plan, and 1,000, 2,000 participants or more, so these were big plans. And they were scattered around geographically, some up East and some on the West Coast.

HEDRICK SMITH: Hamilton dug deep into his 401(k) records, analyzing investment yields for every single worker in every single plan.

BROOKS HAMILTON: We saw the same thing over and over. Say the bottom 20 percent had an investment return for the year ­ for the year ­ of 4 percent. The top 20 percent would be anywhere between 5 and 7 times that number.

HEDRICK SMITH: [on camera] Like 30 percent.

BROOKS HAMILTON: Yeah, 30 percent. Right.

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] According to Hamilton, the huge differences between Thibeau and Crabb reflected a far larger problem.

BROOKS HAMILTON: In every case, the 20 percent at the top not only had the highest investment income ­ like 30 percent or whatever ­ they also had the highest average annual pay, whereas the bottom 20 percent not only had the lowest investment income, 4 percent, they had the lowest average annual pay.

HEDRICK SMITH: [on camera] So what you're saying is the best paid people, the richest people are getting richer, and the middle class workers are falling further behind.

BROOKS HAMILTON: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. I label this "yield disparity." I just coined the term. I thought­ we have a yield disparity that is a financial cancer in this ­ in our great, beautiful 401(k) movement. And I had never seen it before, but it was everywhere I looked.

HEDRICK SMITH: What do you mean, a financial cancer?

BROOKS HAMILTON: It would destroy the opportunity for ordinary workers to retire in dignity. They couldn't get there from here.

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] It's a huge problem. Half of America's workers are not covered by any retirement plan. Forty percent are enrolled in some 401(k)-style plans, and according to the latest report from the Federal Reserve, the average family's account balance is only $29,000.

And it's not just average Americans who have trouble making a 401(K) work well. Even the experts have trouble.


The military now has a TSP plan (a version of a 401K) but it does little training for its young people in how to manage that plan-if they even sign up. Guys like Dr Chu however have no such worries since they have been covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System for years and have considerable assets built up from their stints outside of governement when the Republicans lose the White House.

Kind of like this guy:

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] United's senior management got big bonuses to stay on during bankruptcy. Like everyone else, they took a hit on their pensions, but they more than made up for any losses by receiving a grant of $400 million in new stock.

But not everyone's pension was cut.

GREG DAVIDOWITCH: All United employee pensions have not taken a hit. One notable exception is Glenn Tilton, who negotiated as part of his employee contract that a secular pension trust would be established for him, for his retirement security.

HEDRICK SMITH: CEO Glenn Tilton got special protection for his personal retirement benefit, a benefit from his former employer that was bought out by United.

ROBIN GILINGER, Flight Attendant, United: Our current CEO has decided to keep his $4.5 million pension. It was unfair that he was keeping his in his contract and we were having to give ours up.

HEDRICK SMITH: [on camera] How about Glenn Tilton's retirement guarantee?

BILL REPKO: I'm not going there. [laughs] I don't want to go on the record with that one.

HEDRICK SMITH: Is that a good idea, when he's asking other people's pensions to be put on the chopping block?

BILL REPKO: You know, Glenn­ Glenn did a great job. I think Glenn's compensation was appropriate under the circumstances.

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] Glenn Tilton declined FRONTLINE's repeated requests to talk about United's bankruptcy. But the company says it is rehiring again, training 2,400 new flight attendants to replace some of the more than 5,000 who left during bankruptcy. United says it saved 55,000 jobs out of 83,000 pre-bankruptcy. Its financial advisers boast that United saved $7 billion a year in costs through bankruptcy. Five billion dollars in cuts came at the expense of employees and retirees. Unions report pension losses for more than 50,000 people because the government's payout formula from the PBGC is lower than United's contracts.

GREG DAVIDOWITCH: We're looking at the abandoning of corporate responsibilities. We're looking at changing the expectation of the middle class with regard to health care and retiree benefits. And it's just not United Airlines. It's happening all across the private sector in America today.

JAMES H.M. SPRAYREGEN, United Bankruptcy Attorney: The restructuring business or the Chapter 11 business is just part and parcel of the American economy. I call it the efficient working of American capitalism.

HEDRICK SMITH: That efficiency took a heavy personal toll on rank-and-file employees, people like 42-year-old flight attendant Robin Gilinger. Gilinger says she lost pay, some benefits and 30 percent of her pension.

ROBIN GILINGER: Because of the bankruptcy, I have gone through great changes in the time I'm away from my family and the time that I have


Tilton is not the only one who has gotten rich on the backs of his employees. Its a cautionary tale of what Lou Dobbs hammers on every day-the war on the Middle Class. Get rich and life is good. Be in the middle or below, well you get to see your buying power reduced every year. But hey, not worry, the economy is doing great.
And those United Employees don't have the added extra bonus of being shipped off to a place where they might get killed or lose a limb.

One of the things people forget is that the 401K system was never intended to be a primary source of retirement income. It was always meant to be a supplemental way to add to the base retirement plan of many companies. However, thanks to some obscure changes to the tax code, corporate greed and increased pressure to cut costs-companies quickly found that they could shift the burden to their employees and save 50% in retirement funding costs. Which increased the value of the stock options the executives held.

Remember that the next time some SES-2 or Flag officer tells you that we need to change the compensation system. They have their money-will you have yours?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Remembering Iris Chang.......

One of the problems with my given nome de guerre is that its pretty common among those of us who seek to travel the path less followed. I earned mine about 20 years ago when it became apparent to all who knew me that I had an evil twin brother who seemed to come out in the presence of copious amounts of alcohol. That son of a bitch still gets me in more trouble. Me, I'm just a quiet mild mannered man. My evil twin on the other hand loves beer, dancing, live music and doing anything of any kind with women. He adores women, wants to see them again and again (naked). Bastard.

Anyway..........

Come to find out he (and I) are not the only Skippy in the world. There is a Canadian Skippy who writes much better than me, sadly. Lost Nomad pointed me to it, but he has written a very eloquent post remembering Iris Chang. Who was Iris Chang? She wrote the book "Rape of Nanking" which as Skippy points out is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why all of the different nationalities over here loath each other so much:

The late Iris Chang taught the West why that loathing exists, and why it is so deeply ingrained in their cultures. Her contribution to Western understanding of Asian history and attitudes are invaluable and should never be forgotten.

In the sixty years following the end of World War Two, North America and Europe remember the German aspect of the conflict most strongly. The obsession with Nazi Germany and its horrific crimes - while certainly justified - has been at the expense of learning about the reign of terror imposed on Asia by the Japanese. When westerners think of the Japanese war at all, they often consider only what happened after Pearl Harbor.

Iris Chang changed that forever with her 1997 book, The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. From the moment of its publication on, that history was available to anyone with the inclination to learn it. No longer could anyone claim ignorance about the scope of the brutality that the Japanese government has denied with impunity for nearly seventy years. For that reason, people of goodwill everywhere - and perhaps even history itself - owes the memory of Iris Chang a huge debt.

To be sure, her publisher, Penguin/Basic Books, did not have much faith in the project. The initial publication run was a mere 2,000 hardcover copies, and a promotional budget was pointedly refused. It was left to a private group, the Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA,) to fund the book tour that made the book the success it ultimately was.


I've read the book and it is a pretty good history. What I did not know was the history of the author. A beautiful woman, the work she did on this history and a subsequent work she was planning on the Bataan Death march cost her her stability as a human being:

On November 9, 2004 Iris Chang parked her car on a road outside of Los Gatos, California, put a revolver in her mouth, and pulled the trigger. She was 36 years old and left behind her loving husband, Bretton Douglas, and two-year-old son, Christopher.


Which is just a tragedy:
left
IRIS CHANG 1968-2004

What all of this points out however is that memories out here in Asia are long and forgiveness is short. Especially between China, Korea and Japan. I encounter some of that every day when I deal with the S.O. She has a sublimal racist streak inside of her, one she would never admit. However never doubt which nationality she thinks is superior-and it ain't mine.

I strongly recommend this article to you. Its, as Lost Nomad says, a must read. Especially for those who wish to understand Asia. I also recommend the book if you have never read it. Disturbing, but nonetheless interesting. It shows all of us what we are capable of when either nationalism or religion starts driving the national bus.

You know, as melancholy as I might get, I have never been able to fathom the thought of committing suicide. What demon was it that drove such a beautiful woman, who had so much to live for, to the point of ultimate desperation? I've had low points in my life, but even when I was at the end of my rope professionally, that thought never crossed my mind. The other thing that intrigues me here is how many writers seem to take their own lives. Is it an occupational risk with profession?

Perhaps it is best to close as my fellow Skippy did:

Iris Chang's alma mater, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has established The Iris Chang Scholarship Fund to which you may contribute by mailing University of Illinois Foundation .


Attn.:
Jeff Roley
1305 West Green Street
Urbana, IL 61801-2962

Make checks payable to: University of Illinois Foundation In the memo field: Iris
Chang Scholarship Fund.

Perhaps the best way to honor her work is to help someone with her talent, dedication and passion with their education. If this stupid blog can help the University of Illinois produce someone as great as Iris Chang, I will do everything in my power to do so. I'll do this because I love to read far more than I love to write.


Amen and amen!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Irony.......

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I did not take a header off Roppongi Towers- I went to a golf tournament and today I tried to get caught up on the on-line course I am taking. Contrary to popular belief I do try to better myself from time to time.

I've been watching news of the APEC summit with considerable interest. For one thing, coming on the heels of the election in which one of the principles was repudiated, I find it interesting and ironic that the meeting is being held in Vietnam, with the President of the US going there through Singapore (probably to ask Lee Kwan Yew how he was able to create and keep a one party government-giving only the appearance of a real democracy with none of the substance.). Then at the summit, Bush sits down with talks with the leader of a nation that: 1) routinely executes significant numbers of its citizens, 2) rules an non indigenous population by force, and 3) does not allow religious freedom. They do make great clothes for Wal-mart however.

As you can guess I am talking about China. Which despite its pretenses at greater economic opportunity, is still a repressive police state. Not quite on the scale of this guy, but not exactly an open place for discussion either. China's crimes are well documented, go to any of my Hong Kong blogs or over to the Peking Duck and nose around a little bit. You can also check here.

Now mind you I'm not saying that we should not deal with China, but its a little hypocritical to get up on our high horse about not talking to repressive regimes in one part of the world, and then turn around and talk with the very nation who is financing their adventures. However, they are still Ok to trade with. When Mr Bush says that, he needs to remember the Chinese mind set:

Americans [need to] think the Chinese lie and steal.
China's morality is not the same as ours. Ours is based on Judeo-Christian
values. China's is not.
Key to dealing with China is to get into a network. Real Guanxi.
Chinese mindset is the following:
Tomorrow never comes.
When it does, you can start all over anyway.
Never tell anyone what you are
doing unless you know what will be done with that information.
Take the opportunity, even if that means breaking a contract.
Nobody operates independently. Survival depends on a network.
Do not trust anyone and respect only those in your network.
Teamwork and transparency are a drain on the system .


That little tidbit provides great insight into why getting them to play ball on North Korea is so hard. However it is probably good advice for the Middle East as well. Question is: will Mr Bush listen?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Who stole it?

My passion for work that is.

Today was a most interesting day. In the middle of discussing the subject of a project that is going to occupy most of my work for the next month, it was like a a light bulb being switched off in my head. It just did not matter. I really had no interest in what was being said.

Now mind you, I still paid attention and gave all the right responses and made mental notes of things I had to do, but frankly Scarlett I just could not follow them down the path of involvement. The subject had switched from being something of interest to be just one more thing that wanted a piece of me.

And of which there was no piece to give back.

Now for me that is a very new and troubling experience. For the bulk of my working career, I've always been involved and emotional about my work, even if I did not always like the things I had to do. And I've been lucky in that I have generally gotten to do things that I wanted to do and for the most part enjoyed.

Today, however was like a radio receiver that was tuned just a couple of Mhz high or low. The signal was there, but it was not being well recieved. In fact, my mind could not help wandering and wondering why these guys were so serious about something that is not going to matter one bit anyway. When I got back to my desk all I could think about was how desperately I wanted to get away to Bangkok, or Hong Kong or anyplace but where I was now. Even taking the train up into Tokyo would have sufficed.

This is wierd for me. Even when I was at my lowest point in life, when worthless and self important bastards thought they had to the right to violate my rights and tell me how to live my personal life, I never stopped being interested in the work that I was doing.(Hopefully those same pompous, self important bastards are dead now-if not they should be).

I think its offical...today the career train officially passed me by and left me standing by the side of the tracks wondering where to go now.

I have to keep working, I need to pay my bills. However I sincerely doubt that my heart will be in it. Which is really bad when you will be dealing with folks whose heart and ego are totally wrapped up in the work that they are doing.

If I had full access to the money that I deserve, I think I could be persuaded to pack it up, move my stuff and just walk off into the sunset. Can't quite do that just yet and normally such decisions are never well advised. However I know this feeling is not just a temporary one.....its going to stick around for a good while to come.

Which is not good.................

Suspect that these will not cure it:



And these will not distract me from it:


Although I could sure try!

If you see the thief let me know........there is some kind of reward.

Its going to be along winter................

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The apologists.............

It is interesting to read the papers and the internets (to quote the President) these days. Now that Donald Rumsfeld has been sacked, all sorts of people are crawling out of the woodwork to write about how great his reforms were and how he was just misunderstood.

Late last week, there appeared an article by Douglas Feith claiming:

I know that Don Rumsfeld is not an ideologue. He did not refuse to have his views challenged. He did not ignore the advice of his military advisers. And he did not push single-mindedly for war in Iraq. He was motivated to serve the national interest by transforming the military, though it irritated people throughout the Pentagon. Rumsfeld's drive to modernize created a revealing contrast between his Pentagon and the State Department, where Colin Powell was highly popular among the staff. After four years of Powell's tenure at State, the organization chart there would hardly tip anyone off that 9/11 had occurred -- or even that the Cold War was over.

Rumsfeld is a bundle of paradoxes, like a fascinating character in a work of epic literature. And as my high school teachers drummed into my head, the best literature reveals that humans are complex. They are not the all-good or all-bad, all-brilliant or all-dumb figures that inhabit trashy novels and news stories. Fine literature teaches us the difference between appearance and reality.

Because of his complexity, Rumsfeld is often misread. His politics are deeply conservative, but he was radical in his drive to force change in every area he oversaw. He is trong-willed and hard-driving, but he built his defense strategies and Quadrennial Defense Reviews on calls for intellectual humility.

Those of us in his inner circle heard him say, over and over again: Our intelligence, in all senses of the term, is limited. We cannot predict the future. We must continually question our preconceptions and theories. If events contradict them, don't suppress the bad news; rather, change your preconceptions and theories.


Righttttttttt............

This from a man whose work at a subsequent Congressional hearing was described as : " Wrong, inaccurate, and misleading. That is a pretty good description
of the Feith shop's prewar intelligence analysis. It is an indictment
of the administration's use of that intelligence to make the case for
war." -[Congressional Record: May 25, 2006 (Senate)]
[Page S5298-S5301]

Then along comes Dov Zakeim, former Pentagon budget hatchet man who claims:

He does not get enough credit for dragging the DOD, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. He modernized our command structure beyond recognition: a new Northern Command to address threats to the United States; a new Joint Forces Command to combine tactics, training and experimentation with our most modern technical wizardry; a revitalized Special Operations Command that was the key to our rapid initial success in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld restructured our 40-year-old budget process to focus on how money was spent, not just on how we planned to spend it. He laid special emphasis on key weapons such as unmanned aerial vehicles, which had been stifled by the services for decades. And he initiated the forced merger of thousands of Defense business systems to bring coherence to a chaotic and wasteful enterprise.


I get sick and tired of hearing that phrase, because it ignores some very real mitigating circumstances. For one thing, may of these changes were already on the table by the services themselves. Second, the smart people saw that many of these so called changes were simply trading one bureauracy for another-father away from understanding the needs of the working Soldier and Sailor-the Navy's Fleet Forces Command is an excellent example of this type of empire building. And finally, even in the case where the changes were indeed necessary the way they were made totally ignored the input of the operator who had to make it work-or the logistics shortages that still exist in real time. So when all was said and done they saved money and people-but did not deliver the real improvements promised.

What is next? Paul Wolfowitz offering an impassioned defense?

The real verdict on Rumsfeld's tenure was given to Congress today by a man he appointed, Gen Paul Abazaid when he said:

“We can put in 20,000 more Americans tomorrow and achieve a temporary effect,” he said. “But when you look at the overall American force pool that’s available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.”

General Abizaid also publicly said for the first time that the American position in Iraq had been undermined by the Bush administration’s decision not to deploy a larger force to stabilize the country in 2003. That decision was made after Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff at the time, told Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed. His testimony was derided by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and the general was ostracized at the Pentagon before his retirement a few months later.

“General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations,” General Abizaid said. “I think you can look back and say that more American troops would have been advisable in the early stages of May, June, July.”


In other words the CENTCOM commander and I are in agreement-the armed forces are not big enough to sustain an effort that will go on and has gone on for a long time-not without really hurting security some place else.

That was Rummy's #1 job as Secretary of Defense. We are where we are now partly because the services are not big enough to handle all the commitments on their plate and have continued to grow since 9-11. To the contrary, DOD has resisted over and over again expanding the Army, its cutting the Navy and the Air Force and it cannot afford even what it is buying. You don't have to take my word for it, ask Gen Shoomaker about the Army's budget this year. You don't do more with less, you do less with less, you do more with more.

Perhaps we should ask the Washington Times if the Navy has enough anti-submarine warfare ships?

We are what we repeatedly do. ~ Aristotle.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A promise is a promise.....

First-a news update.

Sitting here at my computer desk, quietly drinking beer when all of sudden the TV emits a loud shreik, over and over again. Then the news comes on announcing in Japanese that this was a Tsunami warning and it would follow in English. And it did. over and over again. As I am typing this, there are loudspeakers telling people on the streets about it over and over again in Japanese. Cause of the Tsunami, an 8.1 Earthquake up in the Kuril Islands. Wave heights are expected to be 2M in Hokkaido , .35m down the rest of the north Honshu coast. In almost 7 years of living here, I have never heard or seen that.

Makes me think of the movie poster I saw by Shaw Place last week while I was in Singapore:


This flick will probably be a big hit in China and North Korea!

So if I'm not here in about 30 minutes, you'll know why. However in exchange for Sourrain showing me her new haircut, here are few pictures of what gets washed away in the movie. (Sourrain here are your Japanese pix I promised!)


Tokyo Tower


Imperial Palace


Mt Fuji


Himeji Castle

And sadly, if you watched the movie trailer a whole lot of these:



Guess I better drink a few more beers!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BRAC for Iraq...................

WARNING-LANGUAGE ALERT!
Watching Fred Barnes on Fox News this evening got me thinking about this. His standard reply of "You either win or you lose." Got my head spinning.

Easy for you to say Fred. You fucking don't have the threat of getting shipped off to that hell hole hanging over your head. Plenty of people I really care about ( of which you are not one) have that problem looming in their lives. Yes you did your two years in the Army, but then you moved on to other pursuits. Its easy for you to be gung ho about this war-you don't have to fight in it. Dickhead.

You are probably surprised to hear me say it, but I am more than slightly concerned about all the hype being given to the Baker study commission on Iraq. It makes me very concerned that because of the recent elections and the bull-headedness of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, people will rely on it to solve all of the problems just like people want the BRAC process to solve military infrastructure problems-without closing bases in anyone's districts.

BRAC by the way may be face saving for politicians, but it hardly makes intelligent decisions. They did not in 1995 and they did not in 2005. As a result the services are left making some pretty silly consolidations and massing people in just a few areas of the country, while the majority of the population does not get to see or deal with "real" military people.

Iraq, in the same way could be like BRAC. It will offer a face saving way to get out, allowing the commission to be blamed-but it won't bring Iraq any closer to solution.

I mean, what can they really offer?

If they give a phased withdrawal time table, then of course the insurgents will simply wait us out. Personally, if I were them, that is what I would do now. Take a vacation, go train in Somalia, take a trip to Mecca, go gambling in Macau. Go see all your buddies in the protected state of Waziristan, and let the violence subside. Just keep the burner lit at a high enough level to make sure the Iraqis and the US know they are out there, and wait for the illusion that Iraq is becoming more stable to kick in.

That's right I said illusion. Because the idea that Iraq is somehow going to become a nice stable democracy is just that. These people are not, and were never ready for that, and it will be at least 50 years before they are. More if they do not jettison their useless religion that enslaves them. Democracy in an Arab country means who can steal the most.

One of the great fallacies of thought today is that democracy is somehow made for every population on the planet. One would have thought, that after watching the abortion the former colonies in Africa and the Middle East had made of it, we would have know better. Democracy requires the people to be at a certain level and the Iraqis are not there yet............Surprise, surprise. I'll say it again, the really stable countries in the region are not true democracies. Same thing could be said for most of Southeast Asia.

So even if we train the Iraqi Army to an acceptable level of proficiency, all we are really doing is giving them the tools not lose a coup de etat, and put a benevolent strongman in place. Which might not be such a bad thing in the short term, provide he is our strongman. There are examples of that in the world.

As I see it, there are really only a couple of options:

1) Go all in. Mobilize all of our reserves, commit more brigades and dramatically up the combat power in the region. Very publicly make it clear to the Iraqis that if they don't get their act together we are going to show them what it really means to anger the United States. If need be, impose a "Dresden solution" on Mugtada al Sadr and his slum in Sadr city.

Of course we cannot do that-now. The only opportunity to do that was during the invasion when with enough force, we could have done what occupying Armies do. Subdue the population and conquer them. Then rule the territory.

Now having told the Iraqis we really care about them and their worthless ways, it would probably be bad form. And don't forget, who ever survives would remember-and seek revenge.

2) Keep going as we have? The insurgents have already demonstrated a remarkable ability to wait us out. Further more unless you stop the resuply of arms and other materials by effectively closing the Iranian and Syrian borders they can keep it up. Plenty of historical precedent for this, by the way.

3) Pack up and leave? Well that has been tried before too. With less than optimum results. The Shiites and Sunnis will turn upon one another quicker than you can say Mohammed was a goat fucking apostate. And lest you think the Kurds would get a free pass on that one, remember if they get two big for their pants, Turkey would swoop in and cut them down. And well they should-since Turkey's interests are far more important to the United States than the Kurds.

Furthermore, it would give Iran an open invitation to come in and try to save the day. Since, because they are Persian and not Arab, it would lead to ANOTHER insurgency, but it might finally unite the Iraqi people because I hope and pray they hate the Iranians more than they hate us.........

4) Partition the country? E.G. Return to a colonial solution, so much in disfavor these days. Namely creating a Sunni State, a Shiite state and a Kurd state. I think it would only work if one can return to the idea of a mandate or protectorate a la the League of Nations. And lets look at the choices, shall we? Iran is the only nation capable of being the guarantor of the Shiite state, Saudi Arabia or Syria the Sunni one and there is no one to guarantee the Kurdish state save Turkey. The Kurds would never accept that, and the Turks would want guarantees the Kurds would stay inside their borders. Which would put the Kurdish region at the mercy of idiots inside Turkey. Then again 400,000 Turkish troops in Iraq would go along way towards providing stability without getting Americans shot at. The Turks don't fuck around.

Now here is where I let the cat out of the bag. None of these solutions are good, although the Turks invading and re-conquering Iraq is starting to sound pretty good.
The real issue here for me, is that if outside forces are needed to keep peace in Iraq besides the United States, why doesn't Egypt, as the leading nation of the Arab League-as well as other nations pony up forces. THAT is in their long term interest, because it reduces the total number of US forces in the region which in turn gives them more of a free hand in dealing with their own wackos. Problem is 40 years of oil wealth, and out sourcing their wars and conflicts to the United States has made them lazy. Ask your self this, why is it not one of the Arab nations has forces in Iraq? The little fuckers speak the language, they understand the culture and they hated Saddam as much as us.

The reason is they don't have to. They get a free ride off of the US so long as they play ball on oil. And as is typical for Arabs, they like being lazy-so long as the money is rolling in.

So don't get your hopes up about the Baker commission. If you do you will just be disappointed.

My solution? Split the country. Let Syria guarantee the Sunni piece. Let Russia and Iran be part of a joint occupation force in Shiite land, relying on the Russians to spank the Iranians if they get out of line. Keep a US presence in the Russo-Iranian region of about 50K. Ergo there is a trip wire if either side gets out of line and if anything happens we will just assume the Iranians started it. As for the Kurds- tell Turkey they will be autonomous and make it clear to them that if they don't stay in their box, the roof will cave in. Make Turkey guarantee their sovereignty with a back up of a US promise to intervene if the Turks break that. Make Baghdad the equivalent of Danzig.

Sometime the old ways are the best ways. Colonialism was not so bad when it came to Africa or the Middle East and the US made a serious mistake by not supporting its European allies in their attempts to keep it that way.

Since we did not, I'm a total pessimist about the ability to find a way forward. None of these options will work, I fear, so what will really happen is the region will continue in its same manner till, like the British we grow disgusted with it. Then, as in India, the Muslims will make other rivers besides the Ganges grow red with blood. Its what they do. God forbid they might actually make something of the opportunities given them.

Churchill had me pegged.........

Sir Winston understood my life very well. Actually we probably had something in common. We both liked the British Empire and a good drink or four...........




H/T to HK Macs!

Monday, November 13, 2006

60 years on.........

The Blue Angels are 60 years old this year. I admit it, I am a sucker for Air Shows.

It also means it's been 20 years since this video was produced, which is still-by my book-one of the coolest Naval Avation videos ever............



I still get pumped up when I see it or hear the song!

And the best part? Not one Hornet in it.

Can these things really be true?

Its amazing what 9 hours of beer free sleep can do for a person..........

Back at work now, and all I can say is, I'm ready to go back to Singapore! Of course, I need to save some money to make up for all that I spent last week, but every one has his cross to bear.

Speaking of money its still not too late to give to the Valour IT charity. Details here.
<--------------------------------------------------------------------------->

The Countervailing Force has published a link to this, which examines the case of Major Jill Metzger who was alledegly kidnapped in Kyrgystan. I say alledgedly because the alternative version of the story has all the elements of a great ready room movie: sex, fraternization, a cover-up and even an abortion (possibly bothched) thrown in. Holy Freaking Zoomies Batman! That would not happen in today's gender neutral, woman friendly, macho denying Air Force would it? Surely not, because we know when boys and girls are deployed together they never have sex right? If this is true, then it has best selling book written all over it. It can sit next to another book coming out soon: "Great Naval Academy quarterbacks I have 'known' " by Midshipman "X". Coming to a Court Martial near you.

<------------------------------------------------------------------->

According to Wonkette, some drunk gamblers put new meaning into the words, "Vote Early and Vote Often".

<------------------------------------------------------------------->

According to Japundit, here is another good reason to go to a Japanese University:

A survey of Japanese students found that 62% of Japanese university coeds are not virgins, a rise of 10 percentage points since the last survey six years ago. This compares with only 11% of female university students in 1974 who admitted to having sex.


<------------------------------------------------------------------->

Check out the latest cover of Newsweek:



I'm not sure that's what it really looks like!

<------------------------------------------------------------------->

Speaking of things that are going to be painful to watch, according to Billmon :

It looks like the folks at Halliburton better get ready to bend over and drop them:

Rep. Ike Skelton knows what he will do in one of his first acts as chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the Democratic-led House: resurrect the subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
The panel was disbanded by the Republicans after they won control of Congress in 1994. Now, Skelton (D-Mo.) intends to use it as a forum to probe Pentagon spending and the Bush administration's conduct of the Iraq war.

Skelton: (pulls on rubber glove) This is going to hurt -- a lot.


<--------------------------------------------------------------------->

Finally, with something I KNOW is true, and happens to me every time I visit the Lion City, is quite expertly described by Expat at Large. The video on "How to blow up an MRT train" is true by the way, I must have watched it 15 times while waiting for the MRT-with a shitload of coins in my pocket. They are now back in a jar, waiting for the day I can finally take them and turn them in some place........

Sigh.........

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Washed away........

My plans for today that is.

After finally gathering strength and sustenance I set out on an ambitious plan. Go up and down Orchard Road and search for a Swatch store. Got to Paragon shopping mall and decided to head down to the Starbucks for some java.

While I was down there sipping my coffee, reading the Straits Times, the heavens opened up. My first clue should have been the increase in the number of people in Starbucks, hovering like vultures, eyeing my seat and wondering when it would be vacated by this ang moh.

So I headed up the stairs and out the door only to find that it was raining. I mean REALLY raining-sheets of rain in fact. It was so dark out side I was wondering if the street lites would come on. That's not supposed to happen at noon!

Now as luck would have it, your's truly did not have an umbrella with him. No worry, I thought, since tropical rain showers don't last very long. I'll just wait it out here or buy an umbrella.

And therein lies the problem. The rain was not stopping. (Its still raining now some 4 hours later). Being at the Paragon Mall meant the prospect of finding an umbrella was non-existent. Unless you want a Prada umbrella. All of the shops are high end fashion type places. Not my speed at all.

I walk around some more,buy a newspaper, try to get another cup of coffee. No seats to be had. Finally, in desperation, I decide to make the dash between the Paragon and Lucky Plaza. Its STILL pouring mind you. However I steel myself and dash up the side walk, dodging people with umbrellas and girls with soaked blouses. (Which actually is kind of nice........).

At Lucky Plaza the entrepenurial spirit is alive and well. Street front merchants are scrambling to get racks of umbrellas out to the front of their stores. Found one with a S$6 price tag. Stand in line behind a whole bunch of people with the same idea.

Now properly armed, I set off on up the road. Finally gave up on the rain quitting and making it down to the Boat Quay to see the Speedboat regatta and settled into my favorite little bar for some beers and then work my way here to an internet shop.

Which is full of kids playing interactive games with each others on the banks of game computers. These kids are serious about it, saddling in for 2 hours or more-at least if what they are paying the clerk gives any indication.

I did also make it to Borders Books and bought some books for the trip back. Bought 2 books: Once a Fighter Pilot by Jerry Cook, and a George Orwell anthology with Animal Farm and 1984. I've read both Orwell books before, but in the current circumstances it seemed just the thing to read on the plane heading back to Nippon tomorrow.

I also read another book this week that has me eyeing a new career. It's called Confessions of a Bangkok Private Eye:


This looks like a job for me!

It's a pretty easy read. Sadly the majority of his stories are the same. Western guy goes to Thailand. Goes nuts with all the nookie around him. Finds a bargirl that he thinks is the "one". Tries to do a Pretty Woman kind of thing and save her from being a sex worker. Pays her a salary, goes back home, expects her not to hook till she can get a visa to enter (fill in the blank). She simply pockets the money and keeps on fuckingtrucking.

A familar drama. Still it is written in a very conversational style and the descriptions are familar to anyone who has been to Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket. He also offers some insights into Thai culture and life. (Warren Olson is fluent in Thai and Khmer). It is portrayed as fiction based on fact.

I'm really bummed, I wanted to get around a lot today. The rain just made it slightly too hard. Did meet some cool Scottish folks in the bar though. So when you have to change your plans, you can find other things to do.

And besides, it gives me a reason to have to come back. That's a great thing!

Time to pack, prepare and then head out for a few final hours of fun!

Skippy-san

A lazy day.......

Got back into Singapore early yesterday evening. Raining cats and dogs when I got to the hotel. That put a little damper on the evening but not much. Just the day here then back to Japan and back to normal life. Which is good because I spent too much money on this trip.

Enough politics for the week. I've been sitting here in the room OD'ing on CNN since its really the only channel to watch. None of the movies on the TV are any good.

Soon it will be out on a mission-searching for a watch for the S.O.

Last night was interesting. I made the full circuit Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Orchard Road.........being Friday night every place was packed. Lots of beer to be had.

Reading the paper this morining I came across this little tidbit from a Muslim Cleric in Australia:

In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

The sheik then said: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

He said women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men.

"It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa)."


Most Australians were not amused...................

Got to go!

Friday, November 10, 2006

In the sober light of day......

Before I jump into politics, I would just like to point out a couple of things.................

1) Looking up at the sky from this little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is simply amazing. Its just like being at sea because you see so many stars. I still have not found the Southern Cross though I spent a lot of time looking for it on my way home from the bar. I would have thought that one and a half degrees below the equator I would see it.

2) Seeing the lights of ships in the lagoon is equally enchanting.

3) The girl who sold me my T- shirts had a nice ass.

Anyway..................

Has GWB had an epiphany? I've now watched him in two different press conferences and he sounded very different, than he has sounded in recent weeks. It means either one of two things:
a) He truly realizes that he should sent Donald Rumsfeld packing earlier-and that the now former SECDEF mislead him about what limited land power could accomplish. Or b) he is playing a very cynical game in that he wants to suck the opposition in by throwing them a bone.

What is clear is that Bush had decided to do this before the election. So why not, as some conservative bloggers have argued, do it back in August so you could then go through the campaign showing willingness to change. Lying at the 11th hour makes very little sense. Either he really thought he could pull a rabbit out of is hat or he had to bludgeoned into realizing reality. Either one is not a good reflection on Bush's Presidency.

Now many of you may be wondering why I have been down on Rumsfeld for so long and why I am so estactic that he finally go out and apply for Social Security. I've disliked Rummy since 2001 for one reason. He said one thing, and always did another. And what he did was never in the interest of the working Soldier or Sailor.

Deny it if you wish, but it is true. Consider if you will what would have happened if 9-11 had not happened. The reliable data has it that the Army and the Navy and the Air Force would have been raped in the QDR. The fact that Rummy would even consider such cuts, when his boss had promised to restore American military resources is troubling.

Second, when it came to pay and benefits, he never ever stepped up to the plate. In fact he did just the opposite, while he said he supported the troops his personnel chief, Dr Chu, went out of his way to screw them over.Look at this years defense budget. Senior flag officers get a 8.9% pay raise, the working Soldier got 2.2%. And he endorsed proposals that decided that since the Army was strained, he felt it was more important to sacrifice personnel from other services , while simeltaneoously pushing plans to cut their numbers-exacerbating the burden.

Rummy was in love with a stupid idea called transformation:

In his classic study of the Korean Conflict, "This Kind of War," T.R.
Fehrenbach expressed the conventional wisdom on land power's importance: "You
can fly over a land forever; you may bomb it and wipe it clean of life . . . but
if you desire to defend it; protect it; and keep it for civilization, you must
do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did . . . by putting your young
men into the mud."

But that view came into question in 1991, after the U.S.-led coalition
crushed Saddam Hussein's forces in Desert Storm with what seemed a combination
of air power and information technology. Influential observers argued that this
proved that a "revolution in military affairs" was underway, with information
technology diminishing the importance of land power.

Some went so far as to suggest that traditional ground combat had become a thing of the past, that future U.S. military power would be based on precision strikes delivered by air or space assets, perhaps coordinated and directed by a handful of special operations soldiers.

There was no question that the Army needed to undergo a substantial transformation to remain strategically relevant.(However as will be seen they already knew that.....) Then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki pushed hard to replace difficult-to-deploy heavy forces with medium-weight, wheel-mobile combat brigades supported by an advanced gunsystem.

As Donald Rumsfeld became secretary of defense in 2001, the Pentagon
embraced a more radical understanding of this "transformation," aiming at an
"information-age military force" that "will be less platform-centric and more
network-centric." Unfortunately, as military historian Fred Kagan has observed,
Rumsfeld's understanding of transformation is vague and confused. It is based on
false premises and lies at the heart of our problems in Iraq.
Rumsfeld'sattitude toward land power illustrates this. Early on, the secretary actuallysought to go far beyond the Army's plan and reduce the Army's force structure
from a mix of 10 heavy and light active-duty divisions to eight or fewer light
divisions. He wanted to move all the Army's heavy forces - armored and
mechanized infantry - to the National Guard. As thinly stretched as our forces
are today in Iraq and Afghanistan, imagine how things would be if the Army were
20 percent smaller and lacking in regular heavy forces.


He could have been a hero. All he had to do was embrace the end strength numbers that were in Colin Powell's "Base force": 14 Army Divisions, 33 Wings, 12 CVBG's and a 3 Division Marine Corps. Imagine how much better off the Army would be if it had more troops to rotate sooner, a year in country is ridiculous.

Rummy thought like a CEO. Except there was no stock in the company being sold to enhance shareholder value. Like a good corporate CEO, he felt if he could lay off enough employees, he could reap profit. Problem is public and military service is not about profit. It is about readiness to respond.

Then, when it came to easy things like supporting cancellation of the USPFSPA. adequae body armor, better support for the troops he lashed out.

Add all of these together......he should have been on a differnt A/C longt ago.........

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ding dong the witch is dead!

Ding dong the witch is dead!
The wicked old witch of the E-ring is dead!
Ding dong the wicked witch is dead!

Hi Ho the merry o! Hopefully, Dr Chu will go!
Vote a fairer pay raise next year!

RUMSFELD IS GONE!

I guess it was that or go hunting with Dick Cheney. I'm listening to Torie Clarke try to defend his worthless record as I write this.

Dear Ms Clarke- Go f**k yourself! Rumsfeld failed in his major mission as the SECDEF, namely resourcing the armed forces properly for the level of effort required of them. He apppointed senior DOD leadership who were more properly dedicated to screwing the troops when it came to end strength, pay and benefits, veterans entitlements, and his bullshit ideas about "transformation" .

Now, if the President is serious about the "long war", the new SECDEF can get on with banging on desks about why, if we are so committed to staying in Iraq, the nation is not making its armed forces big enough to meet its commitments.

This makes me happy!

I am suprised however, that Bush did this so soon. Makes me wonder if this was already on the table well before the election, in case the Republicans lost- which means that Bush and others lied when they said no changes were anticipated in leadership in DOD. Tell me again the man is not political.

Maybe Rummy did it on his own.........I doubt it.

John Lehman was the guy to appoint, but for now, have to wait and see how this guy Gates will do. At least he is portrayed as being different.

So Dr. Chu, when are you heading for the exit ramp........? The sooner the better , you stingy bastard, you.


BIGGER ARMY!
BIGGER NAVY!
BIGGER AIR FORCE!

REPEAL OF THE USFSPA!


HOO! HOO!. Who says voting does not get results!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If the vote of last night accomplished nothing more than this----it was worth it.

Now for the new SECDEF and Congress: SHUT UP AND PAY THE BILL!

Time for a beer.

This is the best day the US has had in years!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Its not the end of the world............

What's the best thing about the election last night? Getting to hear all the sanctimonious pundits and bloggers from the Bush side of the aisle whine...........

Because like their idol from Texas, they are more comfortable categorizing everything into short ideological sound bites that are all black or all white; cleverly ignoring the details- especially when it comes to the Bush adminstration's economic policy, foreign policy, or resourcing of the military. There the boy from Crawford and his pals are experts at saying one thing and doing another.

And now finally at long last, they may be have to faced with the reality that the American people may have finally seen through it. And they are tired of hearing it-especially when it comes the little fracas over in Iraq. 60+ percent of Americans agree with me-they are tired of seeing American names appear bordered in black on their TV screens , for a band of people who have not proven themselves worthy of the investment.

Instead the White House (and others) will portray it as the fault of the voter. "Surely you must see by giving the Democrats power in the legistlature, that you letting forth the forces of doom and liberalism". They want you to believe that America will be like this Doonesbury cartoon that appeared in 1984 (which I cannot seem to find in a visual format right now):

"Morning in Mondale's America---

Mom, I can't find my marijuana! Five bucks for a carton of milk! Honey- I'm off for my abortion!"

I think you get the drift. I always thought it was a pretty funny parody of Reagan's "Morning in America" commercials. And to read some bloggers and pundits is that is the world America is going to descend into.

Here is the problem with that line of thinking. It ignores the new realities and facts.

Lets look at them shall we?

First, Americans are not as blind as some would have you think. They have Nancy Pelosi and others sized up. However they also realize that slowly, but surely, a new breed of Democrat is being born. One that is helping the party to free itself from the chains of the two "F's"-fags and feminism. The problem was they had sent signal after signal that they were tired of hearing "Stay the course." And "Full Steam Ahead on Iraq"-as well as "I love Rumsfeld!"

So they had to yield the only baseball bat they had. At least I had to.

Second, despite what the Democrats are saying, they are not going to be able to effect radical changes in the national agenda. Now if they do increase the minimum wage, help the middle class who have been ignored by Bush's tax cuts, and do something about health care access and cost-well that would be something.

However that ignores a couple of things. One, George Bush is still president. And now he will be able to veto at will, because it will be their bills, not his, that he will have on his desk. I predict that after 6 years of no veto-even when it was needed-you will see the veto pen run out of ink.

Which points out reality number 2, which as pointed out to Phibian Even if the Dems win the remaining two Senate seats-which is not guaranteed-any margin of control in the Senate is razor thin and all it takes is one homosexual affair, bribery scandal, or puppy molestation to change the math. Speaking of molesting puppies, since Lieberman won, he can finally come out of the closet as a Republican-you can bet the Rove phones are busy trying to convince him to do just that.

With Leiberman firmly in the President's back pocket, its the same as having a majority on issues that count-like the war in Iraq.

Bush gets to direct foreign policy and has control over the military. The Congress may yell and hopefully hold him better to account, but in the end Bush will still call the shots which means that 2 years from now there will still be 144,000 US hostages in Iraq. The Congress people know they cannot cut off funding for the troops-this is not 1975. The American public won't stand for it at all. They want their troops well paid, protected, and most important of all, home. However if the polls proved anything, we as a nation are confused about how to do that.

Now, if Bush were smart he would sacrifice Rumsfeld- but that assumes he's smart.

Now if the Democrats were smart, which a lot of them are not, they have to read between the lines carefully and not assume this gives Hillary a red carpet to the White House. This is about that "new breed " I talked about earlier. If they don't pick up on that-well have fun shivering in the audience at the inauguration in 2009.

In the meantime- real problems will fester in between: Iran, KJI, that "real" threat from China-both military and economic-just to name a few.

And finally, you can all say a prayer for the poor guy who becomes Joe Sestak's lead staffer. He'll be working for a known psycopath. (Ask anyone of the poor bastards who had to work for him in the Navy!)

Still, for me its a good day. Its nice here where I am, the beer is cold, and George Bush just got told no.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Minimal blogging ahead

Packing up this morning heading for a place where connectivity is limited.

So I doubt I will be able to comment on the election for good or ill for abbout 4 days.

If you are in the US go vote! I, of course, would prefer you vote against the President and his lackeys, but that is your choice. Regardless of how the election comes out, the US is still in for a long slog in the Arab world. One it chose to undertake. So when you vote remember these folks: The members of the armed forces who have to make it work.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It is all a blur........

Or at least it seems that way sometimes.

The last 48 hours have been rather interesting to say the least. Let's see, where to begin?

Saddam got the death penalty. There is a big surprise. What is probably the bigger issue is how long it took to get to that foregone conclusion. That in a way is a good analogy for the whole American adventure in Iraq. Something that takes way too long to get accomplished. Now the case goes to appeal which could last equally as long. People will crow about how it is justice served. That may be true, but it hardly represents a watershed for the Iraqi government. Normal nations don't have death squads walking around Sadr city working for some bonehead cleric. From an Iraqi standpoint however it will probably be a catharsis. From an American stanpoint, our objective was accomplished back in 2003.

Meanwhile back here on the small island I learned a few things. Lesson 1)-don't drink a lot of beer while watching rugby. That's right, Singapore had its sevens this weekend. Silly me, I thought it would be a big thing like I had always imagined the Hong Kong sevens. So I was very surpised when I went to the matches on Saturday and discovered it was not national teams playing it was clubs. One of the games I watched was between Papua New Guinea and a Japanese club. The Japanese guys got crushed. But the beer was cold.

Back to the hotel after dinner, where I promptly fell asleep for a good 3 hours. Finally got myself up, cleaned up and out the door again to Chijmes. Opened the door to Father Flanigans only to find the place full of folks in costumes. Funny I did not see a sign saying there was a private party. I went back out the door to check. No sign. Back in, buy a beer and settle down to watch the festivities. Turns out it was the party of the Gaelic association of Singapore. They were having a charity auction and had a projector showing slides of the Gaelic games in Shanghai. I was more interested in the really cute girl in the Red Dress talking to her Australian friend dressed up as Wonder Woman. No luck though and finally had to move on.

Up to Insomnia and a few more beers. Place was packed. Finally at about 1 am I realized I needed to go home. Which I did. Did not even jump in the gene pool for a swim

Sunday was a struggle to get up. However I did finally get moving a headed on up to Kranji and went to the War Memorial there. Its really something to see. Very sobering to say the least.

On to work tomorrow!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I had to pass this on......

Getting ready to head out the door.........

But I wanted you guys to see this. Thomas Friedman captures my rage better than I can. I just drink it away. He writes it. READ!

Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: November 3, 2006

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.
They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry —a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.
They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?
What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they’re fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation — to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.
Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

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