23 November 2004

A letter from a Marine officer in Fallujah, posted on the Internet (thegreenside.com), borrowed with much gratitude from Wes Pruden...I just thought these were worth sharing. Think twice before you condemn a Marine quick to defend himself and his fellow Marines.

"As the Marines cleared an apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. [Another Marine] tossed a grenade into the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, [the] grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and [a Marine] threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood, and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them 'cook off' for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds."

A second example: "A squad leader was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. [The squad leader] told the doctor that he had actually been shot 'a couple of days ago' and had given himself self-aid on the wound ... He firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines. It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near-dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense, and the Marines delivered. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead, but they are eager to continue to attack. Not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are."

19 November 2004

Well, I haven't posted in a while, and much has happened in the meantime, and many thoughts I have intended to document here, but alas, time is not on my side. So many issues I have at various times desired to expound upon, but I just don't always have the opportunity. Not that this is some repository of intellectual brilliance by any generous stretch of the imagination, but I feel like I've let many ideas slip through my fingers in the last week, and that is somewhat of an unhappy thought. More commonly though, I read something utterly brilliant by someone else and neglected to link it here, which isn't so bad.

The marine in Fallujah who capped the dying terrorist. Oorah for that guy. In all seriousness, he was scared. He'd been shot in the face the previous day (so I read). His unit had lost one man and had five wounded by booby-trapped corpses the previous day (or days, don't recall). How much movement does it take to pull a pin on a grenade? Not much, I'd have shot just about anything that moved too. Shoot first, ask questions afterwards. War is not about fairness or justice, it is about winning, because until you win, there will be no fairness or justice. Our boys should play it safe. The terrorists have already demonstrated their fondness for suicide attacks so a fatally wounded man attempting to blow himself up with a few infidels is a plausible and likely scenario. Do I think this was necessarily the case? No. The odds are decently in favour of this guy just groining or moving because of the pain. But take no chances. If you pull a gun on a cop, does he wait until he has determined that, oh, its just a non-functional replica? No he does not, he puts a bullet in you post-haste. Take down the threats...even potential unverified threats. Much truer in wartime than in police activity.

Again, this is all so frighteningly reminiscent of Breaker Morant. Great movie...please do yourself the favour of watching it.

The atrocities of war are not committed by normal men...they are committed by normal men under abnormal circumstances.

How foreboding of me. I'm really not feeling so serious. Oorah to our boys, carry on, and let's end this post.

12 November 2004

Sayonara to Yasser "That's My Baby" Arafat!

No tears of remorse for yet another terrorist sent on to his eternal "reward". A man of peace? He died in peace, at least, a slow death in a hospital bed surrounded by skilled doctors and close family and friends. Contrast that to his victims. Innocent children, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, aunts, uncles, all sorts of people who left for work or school without their loved ones having the opportunity to say goodbye, to express their love one final time. This is a "freedom fighter"? We call a man who refused peace at every turn in favour of murdering Jews a "man of peace"? What twisted thinking. In a world where we are all so careful to "remember the Holocaust" we seem quick to forget the wanton murder of Jewish innocents in Israel.

We give credence to terrorists when we eulogize this thug, this brutal murdering monster. Can't you see? When we speak effusive praise for this slimeball, we authenticate and legitimize his methods. A terrorist is now a hero? What a message that sends! I don't care whether the cause was just or not. That isn't the question. No cause warrants terrorism. Goodbye Yasser, enjoy your stay, you'll be there a while.

10 November 2004

Here is another digression...

I've been interested in how exactly to jump back into the music world, so to speak...and I've been considering opportunities and talking with a few people on the matter. One thing I was thinking about is some Christian musicians' mindset that secular music is *inherently* bad, as is playing such music. While I applaud the sentiment of wanting to dedicate one's talents to ministry, and share the sentiment myself, I find a kind of hypocrisy there. Should Christians who have skill as painters only paint nativity scenes? Should Christians who have skill as writers only write about theology? Should Christians who have skill as plumbers only service toilets in Christian homes? I'm a fan of jazz music, and I've played in a couple jazz groups. The music we played was improvisational and instrumental. No lyrics, no message, nothing. It was just music, perhaps not edifying in any way more than being pleasing to the ears of jazzers in the audience, but it was a great experience. Like I said, if a man wants to paint for a living, he'll have a hard time finding enough work if he obstinately adheres to a dogma where he will only paint religious subjects. While I'm not advocating at all an embrace of "sex drugs and rocknroll", I'm just saying we as Christians should examine this stuff objectively and honestly. Some Christian musicians get so caught up in using their music as a tool to deliver the Gospel in an easy to swallow package. They concentrate so much on the practical effect, on the message to get across through lyrics, that they lose sight of why someone would want to listen to music in the first place. (Caveat, I'm not one of those people who has ever gotten much from lyrics, I'm definately more a music guy.) If you concentrate on aping popular styles of music and injecting a Christian message into it, it seems more like marketing than music. Keep in mind the composers centuries ago who would dedicate wordless symphonies to God. Their works were designed to reflect the beauty and awe of God and His creation. All without words. As far as I know none of them ever rhymed "strife" with "life". Yes, I know some of you Christian songwriters know exactly what I am talking about. But that is what motivates me. I detest marketing and never want to use music that way. I want it first and foremost to be excellent. I, again, detest the notion that we as Christians should accept wimpy, watered down, lame caricatures of what secular musicians are doing, Christian remixes if you will. It's like low-fat ice cream. It tastes bad but its good for you. Why eat it then? What is the point of ice cream if it tastes bad? What is the point of music if it sounds bad? If you just want to deliver a message, write it down into a book and have it published, don't layer on a cheesy pop soundtrack over it and call it contemporary Christian music. I'm all riled up, I admit, as I find it agregiously irritating for a lot of the mindless tripe that is recorded out there to be labelled "Christian". Remember what and who we represent!!! Strive for excellence, Brothers, and above all do not allow yourself to settle for tepid, mediocre mock-music if you dare do it in His name!

That said, I suppose there are a lot of people out there who are very genuinely aspiring to glorify Him, not just in a strategic marketing sort of way, and maybe they just haven't developed as songwriters. What can I say, I'm a picky elitist, that is a flaw of mine. However, He isn't, and that sort of joyful noise isn't impeded by what I might consider to be pathetic writing.

Rant over. Have a wonderful day.

09 November 2004

In Honour of the Dubious Death or Non-Death of the Leader of Palestinian Terrorism, we proudly present:

The Parrot Sketch:

A customer enters a pet shop.
Mr. Praline: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The owner does not respond.)
Mr. Praline: 'Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean "miss"?
Mr. Praline: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
Owner: We're closin' for lunch.
Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?
Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.
Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
Mr. Praline: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...
(owner hits the cage)
Owner: There, he moved!
Mr. Praline: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!
Owner: I never!!
Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!
Owner: I never, never did anything...
Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!
(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)
Mr. Praline: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.
Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!
Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
Mr. Praline: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.
Mr. Praline: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?
Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!
Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
Owner: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!
Mr. Praline: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!
Owner: No no! 'E's pining!
Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
Owner: Well, I'd better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of parrots.
Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.
Owner: I got a slug.
Mr. Praline: Pray, does it talk?
Owner: Nnnnot really.
Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)
Mr. Praline: Well.
Owner: (quietly) D'you.... d'you want to come back to my place?
Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

07 November 2004

The All-Important Update:

Yes, I know scores of you were sitting around wondering what became of my runny salsa. To put your collective minds at ease, I was able to reduce it it down to a very thick, potent salsa. Extremely hot. Like salsa concentrate, basically. I'm finishing off a bowl of it right now, as the Irish Stew that is finishing up in the slow cooker is not smelling too wonderful. Who likes turnips? Oh well, its food, and it kept Irishmen from starving at least.

Team America is the year's funniest movie, bar none.

Enough of this unimportant jibberjabber. Goodnight.

06 November 2004


Sorry my lads and lassies, but for Blogger's burps and indigestions I would have posted sooner. I daresay listening to "Glamour Profession" by Steely Dan is forcing me to fight off a growing temptation to lapse into Eustace mode, my babies. But I shall refrain to let the funk ebb and flow so freely. AGH! There, you see!!!

Anyway, guys, the last week has been quite a wonderful time. Hard work (little of it mine) paid off, and a sweeping victory and mandate for the conservative platform. I stayed up quite late on Tuesday night, until around 3AM when I decided to do what the pantywaist networks were afraid to do, and call the race for Bush. I celebrated with the 50ml bottle of Hine Triomphe cognac I had saved for months for the victory. The grapes used to make that finest of spirits were picked from the vine when Eisenhower (or perhaps Truman?) was president, and its age showed well, it is worth every penny of its exorbitant price which I will be unable to pay again for a good long while. Anyway, it was a glorious win. Bush of course swept with 51% and a nice electoral majority. He got more votes than any president in history. The electoral map was a swath of red, with only blue pockets on the Left Coast, the Northeast, and a few industrial states (unions) to the North. And Tom Daschle was tossed out of the Senate, decapitating their power there and sending a message that we don't care for obstructionism as a status quo method of doing business on Capitol Hill. We increased our majority in the House, and more importantly, got up to 55 in the Senate, giving us a better ability to defeat ill-used filibusters. And while we lost a couple Congressional races in Kansas City (to Cleaver and Moore), I expected that, and the defeat of McCaskill was much more important to me. Glad to have Blunty Boy in the Governor's Mansion.

This all spells great news for the Supreme Court. Hopefully we can replace the aging Supremes with a less aggressive, more constructionist Court that will simply do its job and enforce the Constitution. I don't want an "active" Supreme Court, I just want one that will stick to the letter of the law, and make decisions on what the Constitution says, not what they think is "right". Let's get them back to doing their appointed job...nothing else.

Well, the Dems are depressed and rightly so. It's difficult to understate the gravity of this election. It represented so much more than whether we have President Bush or President Kerry. It represents a defeat of an active liberal press doing everything it could to influence the election, within and without the bounds of ethics (Dan Rather!). It represents a defeat of the liberal elites who said that Bush was a numbskull and would be promptly tossed out (these same liberal elites now think the election represents the stupidity of Americans...there's just no losing gracefully for them, is there?). It represents an endorsement by the majority of Americans of conservative policies, foreign and domestic (and I might remind you "Democrats" that we live in a "democracy", like it or not). It represents an immense victory for conservative ideals.

Kerry deserves a mention...I respect him now more than ever. Whatever his faults, he was well-bred and brought up with some sense of honour it seems. His concession in the face of obviously insurmountable odds spared the nation a lot of headache. Thanks for calling off the lawyers, John. His concession speech was moving and noble, and his words of encouragement for Democrats to not let this embitter them, but to strive to unite and work together, were quite refreshing. No, I don't regret my vote by any stretch, but I am thoroughly grateful for his gracious and honourable conduct after defeat was obvious.

Although here's one funny thing to note...after the President won big, the next major question posed by liberal politicians and the press corps was "what will you do to heal the divide?" Bush is going to try, as he did in his first time, to make sacrifices and offer Democrats what they've been after (education bill, energy bill, health care bill). But the more important thing to realize is that they are the losing Party. It is up to them to get on board with the winners selected by America. You want the divide healed? Step a few feet in our direction...its your responsibility, not ours. If John Kerry was the one selected by America, would the Democrats have to adopt a conservative agenda to "heal the divide"? No, Bush has a mandate. The American people have spoken, so he has the responsibility to govern as he campaigned. Truth in advertising, you know.

I'm eating salsa I made, which is far too runny. I'll have to cook it down next time. Or use drier tomatoes. "Yes, I'd like some reduced-water tomatoes please." I'm worried I'm going to spill it into my keyboard. Oh well, keyboards are cheap. Here's a strange idea. They have things called Grapples at the store, pronounced "grape"-les. They are apples that are somehow injected with artificial grape flavour. Looks like an apple, tastes like a grape Jolly Rancher. If that don't beat all. I almost succumbed to the temptation to purchase them but the price (a whopping six bucks for four Grapples) kept me from giving in. What has the world come to, when we have to use inject artificial fruit flavour into FRUIT.

Ahhh, Bootsy Collins...your music brings out the funkiest in me. Groovytown.

Yes, the ambling randomness of this post has deteriorated into jumbled babblings on whatever passes the not-too-strictly-guarded doors of my brain.

Why does Hyvee not carry lamb? I wanted to make Irish Stew tomorrow. Now I've got to make some silly beef version. Oh well, it'll be good. I assume it will at least, because it has carrots, potatoes, and turnips in it. I don't know what turnips are and have never had them before. We'll see tomorrow. A natural pairing for such a meal would be Irish stout, but all I have on hand is Boulevard's Dry Stout, which is a reasonably nice brew but a overly thin lightweight compared to some of the better, heartier Irish/English ones (Guinness Extra and anything by Samuel Smith or Young's). The Boulevard is designed for American lager drinkers who don't like a thicker, wine-like mouthfeel...they want thin, crisp, and bubbly. Oh I could go on for you-don't-want-to-know-how-long but the pretentious meter just turned yellow (high alert, as yet uncritical) so I'd better shut up.

All in all, what a week for Republicans. Something to savour no doubt, but no time to slack off or get comfortable. To liberals, I'm sure your dismay is profound and painful, as long as your denial isn't insanely deep-rooted. I'd caution you, for your sake, against bitterly labelling Americans as idiots. You only show yourself the idiot, and manifest what liberals have believed all along, that Americans are dumb sheep that don't what is best for them, and it takes the guiding hand of a liberal government to run their lives for them. If you haven't sunk to that depressing level, then we'll see you on the field of ideas...the rematch will come soon enough!

One other note...Ann Coulter wrote a scathing criticism of Karl Rove this week that I found thoroughly unwarranted. She claimed in the wake of our victory that it should have been a much broader win but for Karl Rove. She wanted the campaign to focus on gay marriage and social conservatism instead of terrorism, and that that would have made our victory even larger. Bullca-ca. As one who enjoys reading her columns and agrees most of the time, this was a slipup in my opinion. The whole crux of the conservative view on gay marriage is that it is not a federal government issue. It is not a crucial issue to the country. Sure, in light of strong support for gay marriage bans across the country, it looks like a winning political issue, but those bans that were passed were state bans. It is a state level issue...irrelevant to the Presidency. Most people don't care about gay marriage like they care about terrorism. So Ann Coulter, you're usually pretty on target, but this week, well, maybe you had celebrated a bit too much and weren't thinking quite straight. It's happened before, when I disagreed strongly with my favorite columnist, Charles Krauthammer. So far Jonah Goldberg hasn't triggered an angry disagreement from me yet, though. Good job, Jonah.

OK, I'm getting terribly ranty and this is too long.

Have a good night ladies and gents.

02 November 2004

"Let us to it pell-mell, if not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell" - Shakepeare's Richard III

And so the beginning of the end arrives, this political cycle winds to its climax. My lovely wife and I spent the morning standing in line at a local church to cast our ballots. Not surprisingly (given election board incompetence) our names weren't in the book, so we thought we might not get to vote. They got it straightened out with a phone call, but I was about ready to scream "Voter suppression!!! Get me Jesse Jackson!!!" Thankfully I didn't have to resort to that. On a side issue, there is a somewhat funny, somewhat poignant comparison to be made...our names were blotted out and not found in the Book of Voting, and we were nearly cast out into outer darkness. Alright, not quite appropriate analogy.

But this is it, my friends, the final poll, the one that counts. My stomach sinks with that eager feeling of anxiety before the start of an important contest. Oh well, my ballot is cast, my voice was heard. Let the people (no, not the lawyers) make their decision. Want a UN lapdog whose campaign talking points are parroted by the number one terrorist in the world? Well, it's your choice, America. I hope you make the right one.

Rush had an interesting point. Osama Bin Laden once attacked us with jetliners, and now, all he can do is attack us with a tape. This is what he has been reduced to. I'm by no means saying he is no longer a threat or that we can breathe easier, but look at it...we've been promised over the past three years countless attacks on our soil by the terrorists, and we've kept them so much on the run that in three years they haven't pulled off even one. All he can do is issue threats via Al-Jazeera. He is on the run, an insipid coward fleeing for his life into dirty little mudpits just like Uncle Saddam. Stand and fight, you worthless worm. We'll get him, and his dishonoured corpse will be welcomed into eternity where the 72 virgins he is expecting will be nowhere to be found.

This is a side issue, but I've been thinking about AIDS. We are spending more on AIDS research than on research of heart disease, which kills vastly larger amounts of people. It is an easily preventable disease. We could eradicate it permanently if people would modify their behavior. Sure, there are innocent victims of AIDS, the children who contract it from their parents, and the odd blood transfusion victim, but those are far less common. Most people get it from promiscuity. So here's my solution. Take the billions upon billions we are spending on AIDS research, and use it to have mandatory screenings of all adults every year or two. Then, criminalize the knowing transmission of AIDS. You'll have mandatory screenings for AIDS, so ignorance will be no excuse. You could have a contract to fill out and sign for a partner to give consent if you have AIDS, but if you have been tested positive for HIV, and you sleep with someone without them having signed a release form of some kind, you should be guilty of a felony, in my opinion. We need to stop the SPREAD of AIDS. Get at the source. The problem is, the Left doesn't want to give up a promiscuous lifestyle, so it insists we spend billions upon billions in search of a cure, so we can all get back to the business of "free love" and whatnot. You think AIDS is a problem? Well, then, keep your pants on and most likely you won't be at risk. They used to require STD screenings as a prerequisite for a marriage license. It isn't a bad idea...it would promote the public health. It's admittedly not sensitive and could be very cruel, but certainly less cruel than the transmission of such an STD to an innocent person without their knowledge.

What a tangent. Anyway, vote for Bush today. If you are registered to vote and support Bush, and you don't get out and vote today, then I jes' might haffa come open up a can a' whoop-ass on you. Get out the vote! Man, sloganeering is fun, I should become a Democrat...