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Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

I got %94.954128440367 on the

Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse Survival Quiz!

I frankly expected to do better.



I just finished reading John Ringo and Tom Kratman's book Yellow Eyes. It's a sci-fi book, part of the Posleen War series. The afterward of this book was fascinating and fortunately, is available on the Internet.

What made this timely and interesting for me is a discussion I recently had with my wife about the United Nations.  It actually had to do with the Model UN and the geeks who are "Model UN types".  Yep, that's me.  I was in the Model UN for three years in High School.  So she asked me, if that were true, why do I have such disdain for the real UN?

The answer is simple, really.  Most high school kids approach Model UN with some kind of starry-eyed idealism about the UN, or at least use it as a forum to hone their public speaking skills.  The more alert student realize fairly quickly, having experienced how the UN works just how dangerous but thankfully mostly impotent they really are and have I feel a better understanding of the world we really live in.  A few sadly, come away from the experience with the misguided beliefs that the UN is actually an effective body, capable and effective on the world stage.

Anyway, this Ringo and Kratman's essay speaks to this issue as well, and I thought I would share it with you.  I’d appreciate your comments:

Read more...Collapse )

Better Weather for Everyone!

I am once again filled with despair and dread at the upcoming list of Presidential candidates.  From the incumbent to all the hopefuls, they are all a bunch of clueless, dangerous, craven and twisted political creatures, none of whom deserve to be elected to any office higher than county dog-catcher.

So once again, I will throw my hat into the ring.  I figure I can’t be any worse than any of the other yahoos who are running, and who knows?  I might even be better!  

I realized that with all the other impossible to fulfill campaign promises; more jobs, fix the economy, $2.00 a gallon gas, etc., I have to promise something that everyone wants, that seems practical, and yet be something that I can’t really be expected to deliver, or be blamed for when I don’t.  If I can integrate my military experience into it, so much the better!

So I present as my sole plank on my Presidential Platform; Better Weather for Everyone!  "Better" weather is a relative thing, of course.  Some people like cold weather.  Some like hot.  Some like sunny, some cloudy, some like windy, etc., etc.  By the same token, having been to some of the finest places in the world where we are fighting wars, it occurs to me that, in the same sense that democracies do not fight democracies, we also don’t seem to fight wars in places where the weather is good.  When is the last time we had a war in say, Fiji?  No, we always seem to fight wars where the weather is complete shit most of the time.  At the same time, Better Weather for Everyone! seems to speak to the Global Warming / Climate Change discussion.  I could be the environmental President!

The United States is a big country.  We have everything from arctic tundra to tropical rainforests and everything in between.  It seems a trivial matter to relocate people to regions of the country where the weather is more agreeable to them.  If you live on a barrier island in the Carolinas and your house gets blown away, the government will no longer subsidize you to rebuild, but will help you move!  If you hate the winters in Buffalo, stop shoveling.  We’ll help you move to Arizona!  In most cases it will be cheaper to help someone move to where they want to be rather than continue to pay for levees on the Red River, beach reclamation in Florida and snow removal in Colorado.  People will be happier, won’t whine so much about stupid shit, and it will, in most likelihood, be cheaper in the long run.

Finally, rather than attempting to “export democracy” to every crappy two-horse country on the planet, we can encourage the global community adopt these practices and move people to where they want to be.  Thus, since more people will be living in places where they enjoy the weather, fewer wars will be fought.  I am looking forward to winning the Nobel Peace Prize for this concept alone.  We all know it's been given away for much less!

As with any political platform, I fully recognize that this one also will not stand up to more than casual examination.  But I, like all politicians, intend to rely on the apathy, ignorance, not to mention the famously short attention span of the average American voter.  I am hoping that my platform will survive just long enough to get me elected.  After that, who cares?

I look forward to having your vote in 2012!

Military Adventurism

Okay, so this probably seems weird for me to talk about.  Recently a good friend of mine could not understand how I could agree with the invasion of Iraq and yet not agree military intervention in Libya.  To be clear about that point, first and foremost, just because a President decides to use military force does not mean I unilaterally agree with it.  Secondly, I didn’t actually agree with the invasion of Iraq, but once the decision was made, I supported it.  But of course there is more to it than that.

It is my firm belief that we should have finished the job back in 1991.  But such was not our mandate.  We don’t actually fight wars any more.  We need “exit strategies” and “clear and decisive goals” which of course must be communicated to the oh-so-well-informed public so that everyone from the NY Times to the guy in a ball cap they interview after the tornado can armchair general the war.

Taking a look at Iraq, its strategic importance at least geographically is immediately apparent.  It is situated in a neighborhood which is rather unfriendly to US interests.  The only power in the region we can even nominally call an ally is Israel.  And the best that can be said of that relationship is that Israel will act in Israel’s best interest and those interests may, from time to time, coincide with US interests.  The best way to ensure our own interests are monitored is to have a presence in the region.  The best way to justify presence in a region is by occupying a country.

Anyway, without going into too much detail, I think what disturbed me the most from his comments was the notion that he was saying either that; a.) Since I am in the military, I must therefore always be in favor of use of the military.  Or, b.) Since my friends is a liberal and he figures me to be a conservative (!!) he is saying that I favored the invasion of Iraq since it happened on Bush’s watch but don’t favor Libya because it is on Obama’s watch.

I don’t favor military action for its own sake, obviously.  Civilians (my friend has never served) will tell you how terrible war is and so on.  But once again, to paraphrase Douglas MacArthur; No one hates war more than a soldier is absolutely true.  We are the ones who have to go to them.  We know first hand how much they suck.

I was not a huge Bush supporter, and am not conservative.  I am also not a huge Obama supporter and am not a liberal.  I am libertarian.  I would like to see a Commander-in-Chief who at least has some experience with the military, and would love to see that as a requirement to get elected. 

So.  While I was not enthusiastic about the Iraq invasion, I understood it and saw its necessity.  Once the decision was made, I supported it, and when ordered, I went with the enthusiasm and professionalism befitting a senior non-commissioned officer in the United States Army.  I do not see the necessity of the Libya tour and do not understand why we are there.  However, my Commander-in-Chief has made that decision and while, as a private citizen I disagree with it, as a professional soldier, I support my President and if ordered will go.


Charts and Graphs

Coworker A was talking about the Led Zeppelin song being about LotR.  I told him pretty much the entire album was about LotR, and the influence they had on Led Zep...

Coworker B is almost totally unfamiliar with Led Zeppelin and - true to form, intrepidly gets fully into the conversation anyway.  So while he is talking, Coworker A is calmly drawing something on a piece of paper. 

He then holds it up to Coworker B.  It's a chart with Friend, Acquaintance, and I Don't Even Know You on the x-axis, time on the y-axis.  The line plummets off past the I Don't Even Know You line.  

Coworker A: Dude, between never having seen Band of Brothers, and now this, you've gone from "Friend" to "I Don't Even Know You".  It doesn't get much lower than "I Don't Even Know You".

Graphs and visual aids are important.


The Declaration of Independence

 In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. — The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
Geo. Walton

Wm. Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
Edward Rutledge
Thos. Heyward, Junr.
Thomas Lynch, Junr.
Arthur Middleton

Samuel Chase
Wm. Paca
Thos. Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Th. Jefferson
Benja. Harrison
Thos. Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Robt. Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benja. Franklin
John Morton
Geo. Clymer
Jas. Smith
Geo. Taylor
James Wilson
Geo. Ross
Caesar Rodney
Geo. Read
Tho. Mckean

Wm. Floyd
Phil. Livingston
Frans. Lewis
Lewis Morris
Richd. Stockton
Jno. Witherspoon
Fras. Hopkinson
John Hart
Abra. Clark

Josiah Bartlett
Wm. Whipple
Saml. Adams
John Adams
Robt. Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Step. Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
Wm. Williams
Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton


Independence Day Thoughts


It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

©Copyright 1970, 2005 by Charles M. Province


Thoughts on Retirement

I made the decision earlier this year to retire from the Army.  I've been active duty and reserve for over 30 years now.  Yeah, I enlisted during the Carter Administration.  I've been a part of the Cold War, have deployed for Desert Storm, Operation Joint Guard/Joint Endeavor, and three tours in the GWOT in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I've got plenty of t-shirts.

Someone asked me recently if I had any thoughts about retirement.  How can I not have any thoughts about it?  I've been there, done that, and have nothing really to prove anymore.  I am almost 50 years old, my hearing is toast, my back is hosed and my knees are fucked-up.  I have really fun dreams about some of the things I have seen over the years and although I don't dive under things when I hear a loud noise anymore, I still don't do well in large, crowded rooms.  I've gained weight I can't seem to lose, and it is getting harder to maintain the standards.  I don't want to be "that guy".

We've been told that deployments for the reserve aren't going to get better any time soon.  Even at that, I loved being in Iraq and Afghanistan and know I would go back in a heartbeat if asked.  I never felt more alive than when I was deployed.  It was some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  

Though I am in the reserve, I am still getting jealous of the time I am away from home.  Even though I am going quite grey, I still have my hair, and I'd like to see what it looks like long again.  I want to grow a beard.  
I am grateful for the years I have had the opportunity to serve, and have served with some of the best people in the world.   I will miss putting on the uniform, but I am just not feeling it any more.  Someone once told me that you'll "just know" when it is time to retire.  I know.  It's time.

Memories and Good Times

Was reminiscing with the War Wife over dinner last weekend.  I hadn't seen her in a couple of months even though we only live a couple of hours away from each other.  It's always good to be able to sit and talk awhile. 

We typically only carried our M9's on the FOB in Jalalabad, leaving our M4's locked up in our hooches.  One night we were walking back to home after our shift.  It was pitch black out and we were just enjoying the quiet.  As we passed the main gate area we heard two significant explosions and sustained AK-47 fire (which makes a distinctive sound when fired at you).  We're standing there and our hands go to our M9's and we both had the same thought at the same time; "We need bigger guns.  I wonder if we can make it to our hooches and our M4's before the Bad Guys get here or are we going to be forced to engage with 9's."

Funny how it never occurred to either of us to do anything else.

Turns out the ANA were having a little unannounced night time live-fire exercise.  We laughed about it later.

Good times.

Memorial Day 2011

As you go into this Memorial Day holiday with the cookouts and concerts and such, remember to raise a glass to absent friends.

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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