Friday, February 7, 2003
This is a plea for help for all out there who use Movable Type software (the software that I use to publish this blog, for those who don't know and are curious).
Am I the only person out there having problems with MT munging my blog on a regular basis? It seems that just about every time I add a new entry, I need to rebuild the site, or else risk having a portion of my site truncated. Most often, the entire sidebar disappears; sometimes, it is just a portion of the site near the bottom. I find it terribly frustrating to have to rebuild the site in order for what I have written to appear the way I intend. And yes, I have to rebuild the ENTIRE site; partial rebuilds don't seem to work.
posted at 09:41 PM | permalink | Comments (9)
ICCJust say no
For anyone who still believes that the ICC is a good idea, read this article about the plans of a group of leftist British lawyers.
Remember that Great Britain is a signatory to the ICC treaty, and would be required to submit to the will of the body. Also recall that Britain is nowhere near as despised by most of the rest of the world; anything planned for them would be doubled or trebled were the United States a valid target.
(Link courtesy of Hoystory.)
posted at 09:24 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
More stupid letters
I don't know if it's a slow letters week, or if there is something in the water, but this week Stars and Stripes has been running a lot of stupid letters. This one, however, is egregiously offensive, rather than just manifestly subliterate and self-involved. (Letter will not be online until Monday, so no link. The newspaper's main page can be found HERE.)
After reading stories and letters in Stars and Stripes about inadequate government housing (especially those describing mold and mildew), I'm convinced that servicemembers must be nuts to maintain their undying pledge to serve a country that does not want to equally provide for them.
It is true that we have a lot of military housing (barracks and family residences) that are substandard. However, mold and mildew (while unpleasant) are not a reason to break the oath one gives when joining the military. Some of us feel that our word actually means something, you see.
Don't servicemembers see that the Department of Defense doesn't give a hoot about them or their families because it knows that servicemembers can be easily replaced?
I see the emphasis the DoD has placed on upgrading housing, adding and renovating facilities for servicemembers on base, and addressing quality of life issues in an effort to improve retention. If they truly didn't care, one would assume that no money would be spent on QOL programs, or on the (sometimes significant) reenlistment bonuses offered to military personnel in an effort to retain them. The training they receive and the experience they accrue is not something that can be easily replaced, especially in fields such as the navy's nuclear power program or the various services' electronics maintenance fields.
It's quite evident to me that many servicemembers joined the military to escape economic, racial, and social pressures. Also, many government civilians stay on the payroll to accumulate high salaries and benefits. I won't excuse the gouging government contractors who profit from the blood of naive troops.
In other words, people who leave the military (for any reason) should not be allowed to take jobs in the industry for which they trained? That they should not receive compensation commensurate with their experience? That seems to be what the letter writer is saying here. They either work for the government (in which case their pay is based on their years of experience, similar the seniority systems common in the civilian world) or they work for a private company, whose payscales are their concern alone, not the concern of some outraged lunatic from the fringes.
Soldies of all ranks and military specialties are controlled by forces other than themselves, but they could break from those forces by seeking within themselves intellectual reasoning. Some of them will proclaim, "I came into the military for discipline." Their lack of discipline is due to their parents' lack of instilling discipline in them. Or, "I joined the military to serve my country." How bitterly sweet that statement is: Serving their country is the last thing on their minds when live ammunition is heading in their direction.
Wow, he sounds almost conservative there for a second, castigating parents for failing to instill a sense of discipline in their children. Then he goes and ruins it surrounding his most intelligent statement with a thick coating of drivel.
I'm not a communist or a socialist. I'm a human being who embraces intellectualism and not militarism, although as a scholar I must admit that militarism exists. Servicemembers should drop their weapons and go to prison, for honorable human beings would spend their days and nights as prisoners of nonaggression in a prison rather than participate in a war.
What a load of pretentious, condescending horseshit. He notes that he is not a communist or a socialist, but his aims are clearly those of the far reaches of the left, with those who oppose the United States for the simple reason that it is the United States, as if that alone is justification. He implicitly claims that militarism and intellectualism are mutually exclusive terms, a position with which I vociferously disagree. He advocates mutiny or desertion as a noble alternative to military service, once again ignoring the oath we take when we begin our service. He also appears to believe that war is always wrong; I wonder if he had family in Europe prior to World War II, or if one of his relatives lived in China or Southeast Asia in the 1930's. I doubt he did, else he would not make such a fatuous assertion. Perhaps he feels that the U. S. civil war should not have been fought, the whole slavery issue notwithstanding. After all, war is always a bad thing.
In fact, my father fought against the draft and served one year in prison for refusing to participate in the Vietnam war. What my father did was the highest display of honesty. He refused to buy into the government's propaganda, Even today, he stands as his own man.
...with all of the other aging hippies who were against our involvement in Vietnam. His father's history may explain his political views, but they are hardly relevant to today's all-volunteer force, who joined of their own free will. Strangely enough, one can stand as his own man and make choices with which the writer does not agree.
Servicemembers should remember that their government, their Uncle Sam, their Uncle Sugar, doesn't care about them despite the sacrifices they've made. Simplisitically, when their government offers them and their families substandard housing and denials, that should speak volumes.
How did the writer feel about the deep cuts in the defense budget during the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations? During the period from 1986 to 1998, the defense budget dropped every year (in absolute terms, not just inflation-adjusted), despite the Gulf War and peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, Macedonia, and other areas. Given a choice between buying and maintaining the hardware required to perform their missions, and upgrading the housing and other quality of life issues, the hardware neccessarily won out. Perhaps if Bush and Clinton had listened to their generals, instead of anti-war activists like him, we wouldn't have the problems we currently face. Again, by implying that we are blind to governmental creulty is condescending and offensive.
And don't forget the many war veterans who are being denied medical disability from Uncle Sam. Serving in the military is an intellectual and physical waste.
Once again, he pairs a statement with which I agree (the new rules on eligibility for medical treatment are a travesty) with insufferably sanctimonious tripe. What an ass.
Dr. Barnes Palmerson, Ph.D
I wonder in which discipline Dr. Palmerson received his doctorate. Anthropology, perhaps, or maybe Philosophy? I find it tremendously grating for people to ostentatiously parade their Ph.D when discussing subjects in which they have no expertise. There was no reason for him to mention the degree, except to feed his ego.
posted at 07:06 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
Tuesday, February 4, 2003
Britain ousts Abu Hamza
It a move that defines "it's about time", the British government has removed rabble-rouser and terrorist sycophant Abu Hamza from his post as cleric of a London mosque with strong ties to Al Qaeda.
The final straw was his reference to the seven astronauts on the Columbia as "thugs of space" who deserved to die. Making reference to the three religions represented by the crewChristianity, Judaism, and Hinduismhe stated the the "trinity of evil" was punished by Allah.
Hamza is best known for his extremist brand of Islam, his support of Al Qaeda, and his links to "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and "20th bomber" Zacarias Moussaoui, both of whom had attended services in his mosque.
Read the whole story in this CNN Europe piece.
posted at 06:34 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
I have to admit that I am surprised by this account of homeless Europeans in Time magazine. I never really thought about homelessness in Europe; after all, it's a socialist paradise where the governments take care of everyone </sarcasm>. However, it's apparent that Europe has a homeless problem that is equal to that of the United States (proportionately). A quote from the article:
That Europe's homelessness problem is roughly the same as America's — and that one of the fastest-growing segments of Europe's homeless population is families — is a shock. After all, Europe sees itself as kinder, gentler and more socially responsible than the U.S., with an extensive, expensive social safety net that's designed to nurture and protect the most vulnerable sections of the populace — the kind of people who are thrown to the wolves in winner-take-all America. But that might just be the point: it's easier to be homeless in Europe, where even the down-and-out get social-welfare checks.
What's even more scary is that 3 million is almost certainly an underestimate: most European countries simply don't know where to look or how to count the homeless. Government data are as confusing, and about as reliable, as Big Sid's stories. Austria and Spain have no official statistics at all. Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. have what are best described as estimates, many of them regarded with skepticism by voluntary organizations that work with the homeless. INSEE, France's national statistics agency, admits that its official count of 86,500 is only based on the number of adults that went at least once to a soup kitchen or an accommodation service. FEANTSA estimates that the real number of French homeless is closer to 200,000, but many aid organizations claim that even this figure is too low. The British government claims there are just 596 rough sleepers across the country, but those who work in London's shelters say there are more than 1,000 in the capital alone.
And despite the hostility of the European elite to the notion of the American Dream, it's a dream that still resonates among the forgotten Europeans. A quote from a French homeless woman is highlighted:
Christelle says what she'd really like to do is live in the U.S. "I dream of Los Angeles," she says. "Things just seem better there."
The article discusses the typical European solution to a problemthrow money at itand notes that a solution is going to require more than just money, although it is certainly part of the equation.
Check the whole piece out; it is an interesting take on a subject that is seldom discussed outside the frame of the United States or the third world.
posted at 06:23 PM | permalink | Comments (2)
I normally don't mention blogiversaries of OPB's, but I'll make an exception for Page, proprietress of The Last Page (yes, the "The" is capitalized). Her posts are sometimes insightful, sometimes intriguing, and often hilarious. Make sure you read her exchanges with her boyfriend (the Media Minder) for the full effect. And while you're there, wish her a Happy Blogiversary!
posted at 06:04 PM | permalink | Comments (2)
Monday, February 3, 2003
I normally don't post stupid letters from Stars and Stripes, the Military paper published in Europe, because there is a different type of stupidity exhibited by most of the letters with which I disagree. However, there were two today that spun me up. One was a boilerplate anti-Bush screed, accusing Bush of being another "war-hungry Republican". The other one, however, really irritated me. Here it is (letter is not online yet; the Stripes website updates the letters once per week):
I'm writing about the big controversy over servicemembers wearing earrings. I'm an active-duty member of the Army. I also wear earrings and will continue to wear them. I've been wearing earrings for almost 18 years. That's three times as long as I've been in the Army.
The Army preaches that everyone should be their own person, but you can't do this, you can't do that. You need permission to go here or there. You can't wear this or you can't wear that. I'm a grown man. When I'm on my own time, I do what I want. I've been stopped numerous times on my own time and [been] told to take my earrings out, which I don't. I don't need someone to tell me what I can and cannot wear.
All the higher-ups obviously think that wearing earrings is wrong or bad. They're out of touch with reality, because more than 80 percent of U.S. men wear earrings or have a body piercing of some sort. It's common in this day and age.
And what is this double standard? Women can wear earrings, but men can't. That sounds like discrimination toward men. If one looks at the past, one sees that men have been wearing earrings or body piercings for hundreds of years, a lot longer than women have been wearing them.
The higher-ups need to either abolish this regulation or change it so that it's equal all around. That would mean no one in the military, men or women, would be able to wear earrings or body piercings at all, on or off duty.
Benjamin L. Anderson
Oh, where to begin, where to begin? There's so many points to tackle.
First off, the fact that you have worn earrings three times as long as you have been in the Army is irrelevant. Army regulations prohibit earrings among male servicemembers on base, or while in uniform or on duty, and prohibit any other type of body piercing under any circumstances. The navy's policy is essentially the same. (I am not sure of the policies for the Air Force or Marine Corps, but I doubt they differ much). He knew about the regulations (and agreed to them) before he joined. If the regulations are too much of a burden for him to bear, he should get out of the Army. He's been in for six years, so he must have reenlisted or extended at least once, so it's obviously not an unbearable burden.
He states "I don't need someone to tell me what I can or cannot wear". Obviously, he is mistaken, because he habitually violates the Army's established policies and standards. He notes that it is on "his own time"; sorry, one is a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine 24/7. When it comes to obeying regulations, you are always on duty. (I'd like to see someone try to use such a defense against a positive urinalysis result"I smoked the joint off-duty, so I can't get busted...").
Anderson then goes on to say that the senior leadership is "out of touch with reality" because they don't share his views of piercing. Whether it's common in the civilian world or not is irrelevant; longish hair and nail polish are not uncommon amongst men in the civilian world, yet are prohibited by military regulations.
The "double standard" squawk is trotted forth whenever there is a disparity in the regulations between men and women, but it's usually the men who snivel the loudest (despite high profile lawsuits by women who have sought equal access). It applies to regulations regarding earrings, hairstyles, fingernail length, and so forth. The women have their own issues to worry aboutmore expensive clothes (and more uniform styles to maintain), career fields and duty stations that are totally closed to them, and the chauvinistic attitude held by many men who resent having to work with women. Yet the women in the military seldom complain about those issues, while the men cry about not being allowed to wear earrings *ON BASE* or *ON DUTY*.
If one wants to talk about real double standards, I could bring up the different housing allowances for single servicemembers and married, but that is another topic altogether...
posted at 06:10 PM | permalink | Comments (4)
Sunday, February 2, 2003
Rest in Peace
COL Rick Husband, USAF
CDR William McCool, USN
LCOL Michael Anderson, USAF
CAPT David Brown, USN
CAPT (SEL) Laurel Clark, USN
COL Ilan Ramon, IDF
My condolences to their families and friends.
posted at 12:23 PM | permalink | Comments (0)