Friday, October 17, 2003
It's been a while since I posted the result of one of these...
posted at 07:34 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
What the troops REALLY think
We have been hearing from the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in Iraq through second-hand information and occassionally through a military blogger, but most of the reporting on Iraq is through the prism of civilian reporters, who (in some cases) cannot relate to what the troops are really thinking.
Stars and Stripes, the quasi-official paper of the military, decided to cut out the middlemen and talk directly to the troops. They had a lengthy questionnaire which was distributed to troops serving in Iraq. Over 2000 people responded, and S&S is running a week-long series on the results of the questionnaire. Today's installment is day three, detailing life in Iraq. The previous segments were entitled "The Troops Speak" and "What Defines Morale". I'm not going to tell you any of the stats; I'll let the articles do that instead.
A caveat: a majority of the responses are from army personnel; the Air Force limited access to the questionnaire, although they did allow face-to-face interviews with the troops. (Which is odd, because most people agree that the Air Force has the better facilities, especially compared to the spartan conditions of the smallest Army facilities). They are few marines and sailors in Iraq, so they are thinly represented. This article has more background on the demographics and methodology of the survey.
UPDATE: This is *not* the story to which Instapundit linked; it is the original poll, on the Stripes website. The article does not note something that is pointed out in the original seriesa majority of the seriously disgruntled troops are reservists, rather than active duty. This is not to denigrate the contributions of the reservists, but it does highlight that they are not happy with the long deployments and the family separation that they were not expecting. It is another reason to strongly consider increasing the size and scope of the military, should we ever find ourselves in the same position again.
posted at 05:45 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Real Iraq roundup
Citizen Smash, recently returned from Iraq, is very displeased with the news media's portrayal of Iraq. He has a nice summary of the good news, which the media are either unwilling or unable to include on a consistent basis. It's long, but it's well worth the time. Check it out.
posted at 07:28 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
I'm back. What a great trip I had.
Due to some issues with my computer not wanting to talk to my camera, I will need a few more days to post pics. However, I am setting up a subdomain where all my pics will be available, for those who are interested.
A few impressions of the cities that I visited:
PisaThe leaning tower was interesting, and the adjacent church was pretty. It's a shame that the surrounding neighborhood was so run-down. Pisa is a nice stop if you plan to visit Florence, but it's not something to make plans to see all by itself.
FlorenceI REALLY wish I had more than a few hours in Florence; the museums alone could have occupied me for several days. The historical district is fascinating, and there are many churches of historical impact. Since Florence was Michaelangelo's home (as well as that of his patrons, the Medici dynasty), many of his works can be found there, including David, which has to be seen to be appreciated.
Vatican CityAnother place that needs several days to fully explore. We only had a brief glimpse of the massive Vatican art collection, as we were there primarily to see St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is magnificent, and the rude people who insisted on talking despite the repeated requests for silence only slightly diminished the experience for me. St. Peter's was very busy because next weekend Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) will be beatified, the first step on the road to sainthood in Catholicism.
RomeThe sense of awe one will feel approaching the Colosseum is intensified when one realizes that this enormous structure has been in place for over 2000 years. The nearby Arches (Constantine and Titus) and the ruins of the Central Forum and the Marketplace, the Pantheon, the Vittorio Emmanuel Monument, and Trevi Fountain are just a few of the sights to see, all within walking distance and all worth seeing.
PompeiiI only got to see a very small section of Pompeii during our brief visit, and when I visit Italy again (and I *will* visit again) I will make sure that I have more time to explore the site. Just looking at Mount Vesuvius, looming over the ruins of the Temple, gives one the eerie feeling that it could blow again at any moment.
SorrentoA short train ride away, the picturesque seaside town of Sorrento is a totally different experience than the sadness of Pompeii. I only took a few pictures during the hour I was there, but the ride down from the town center to the harbor was amazing; many of the foundations of the buildings are carved directly from the rocky cliffs. Sorrento is lush and green, with lovely boutiques offering some of the local crafts, such as inlaid wood, cameos, and mosaic tile pieces.
CapriThe Isle of Capri is a quintessential Mediterranean resort, with small homes hugging the steep cliffs of the island, and amazingly clear blue beaches. Capri is beautiful and very expensive; make sure you have everything you need except for souvenirs, as the prices the vendors ask (and receive) are positively extortionary.
NaplesI only was in Naples for an hour or so, at night, during which time I had to get something to eat, so my perceptions are probably not fair. Naples did not impress me. It was dark, dirty, oppresive, and filled with terrifying drivers. (Like many Italian cities, Naples didn't have crosswalks with crossing lights at many of the intersections. Unlike the other cities, Naples has well over a million people, so the traffic is intense and very scary. Crossing the street is a matter of walking out in front of traffic and hoping they stop...)
VeniceAnother fascinating city, with a history dating back further than any other city I visited save Rome (and Pompeii). Saint Mark's Cathedral (on the Piazza de San Marco) dates back to the ninth century AD, although much of the facade is newer (thirteenth century). I want to spend more time in Venice, and I will probably stop there for two or three days the next time I go to Italy.
(UPDATE:16 OctoberFor some reason, the last three cities disappeared when I saved the entry. Sorry about that.)
posted at 07:03 AM | permalink | Comments (3)