30 May 2006

We ARE Winning

I was watching the news a couple days ago and saw a lady, I can't remember her qualifications, look into the camera and say, "The American public is unhappy with the war because we're losing." My first reaction was to put my fist through the screen and it took me a bit to calm down, but once I did I realized how foolish it was of me to let myself get so angry since what she was saying was so rediculous. I really hope people don't believe her.

We're winning the war. Every day Iraq moves closer to being able to operate independently of Coalition support. I think British Prime Minister Tony Blair put it beautifully when he made the comment that the terrorists understand what's at stake and they know why they're fighting, do we? We're fighting so that Iraq can be a strong, democratic, and self-governing nation. President Bush has said it repeatedly, democracies do not war with eachother, and he's right too.

What this woman's comments tell me about her and those who share her point of view is that they put concern for their personal politics ahead of their concern for troops. What would be a person's motivation for saying that we're losing the war? Certainly not the truth because the truth is that we're winning. If we weren't then how is it possible that Iraq held democratic elections and now have a government? Some people may try to use the lack of WMDs or the US death count as evidence that we're losing the war. It's a fact that these are unfortunate aspects of the conflict, no argument from me there, but they're not proof that we're losing. So why would a person make a blatantly false and wrong statement? Unlike many people from both sides of politics, I believe that believe in the reasonable person standard or common sense and keeping this in mind, I'll let the reader make up their own mind about why people say we're losing the war. I only ask that the reader make an effort to dispute the rediculous claims that are in my opinion the result of petty politics.

Once extremists take Iraq by force we will have lost. Losing is the path to lost and I'd have to say that we're not losing since extremists are not taking Iraq by force. We are NOT losing.

Once Iraq's elected government says that they're ready to handle their own security and don't need the Coalition any more we will have won. Winning is the path to won and I'd have to say that we're winning since Iraq has an elected government and is in the process of standing up their own security forces. We ARE winning.

Prove me wrong.

26 May 2006


Man, Google is rocking on! Check this stuff out (link), Google partnered with Dell to set their desktop software and search engine as defaults for Dell consumer machines. Watch out Microsoft!

(not so secretly hoping Google kicks the stuffing out of M$)

As long as Google continues offering the same services they do now for free, then I'll happily proclaim my self a Googler. I'm not sure how Google makes its money, but I know I'm very happy with the services they provide.

Happy Half-Way Day!

I can finally say it's official, I'm past half-way into my deployment.

The "Projected Leave Date" and "Total Length of Tour" are both high-side SWAGs (Scientific Wild @$$ Guesses). Really we should be out of here before I reach either of those numbers, but it's nice to predict longer and get shorter, kinda like going all day thinking it's Thursday and finding out at the end of the day that it's really Friday.

Only minutes after posting my last entry my Z800 arrived and now I've had it strapped to my head for hours at a time for the last three or four days. Unfortunately, I don't get the 3D effect yet because the computer I play on doesn't have an nVidia graphics card, but I still get the effect of having a huge screen in front of me. The head-tracking feature is also something to be admired. I fired up Battlefield 1942 with the Desert Combat 0.7 mod and jumped into HMMWV on the passenger side and as I turned my head around in real life I got a view of the inside of the cab as though I were really sitting in it. (Despite the obvious attention to detail that the developers put into the game, the inside of a HMMWV is really not that spacious.) The sore eyes and headaches passed as I played around with the settings of the goggles to get them aligned just so. All in all, I'd say that these things are a great buy and would recommend that any serious gamer get a pair ... of the goggles. There are only three improvements that I would make; 1) enable 3D on all cards, 2) get different ear-buds, 3) increase the resolution for desktop work (800x600 works ok in games, but not so much outside games).

More importantly, Katie and I are only a couple weeks away from being parents (by any definition)! I've been trying to get myself in the mindset that I'm going to have a son a little bit every day by taking a minute or two to repeat to myself "My son." Try as I might, I don't think it will set in until I see the little guy.

Also, I'm going to tap-dance a bit here because I don't know how much info the person who is the subject here would want me to make public knowledge, but someone very close to me just got word back from the doctors that things are getting better. Needless to say it's a great relief to me to hear this.

22 May 2006



I still have yet to hear any logical explanations detailing how we're losing the war, and now that the Iraqis have a government in place I really doubt that anyone will be able to.

We won the war. We are winning the peace.


I found a really cool website a few days ago and have added it to my Google homepage. It's the Defense Industry Daily, a website that tracks major governmental contracts for defense equipment. Everything from RFID inventory tracking to purchases of warplanes and new military technology. It gives some really awesome insight into military research and development.


I get to see my family in a few weeks now! I'm really looking forward to meeting my son. In a previous post I talked about going driving in Germany with my wife where we just got on the road and went for a drive. When we came to an intersection we'd pick a direction and go. After hours of driving we were ready to head home so I fired up the GPS and it pointed the way. On a recent phone call, Katie, my beautiful wife, suggested that we do that again with our son while I'm back on R&R. I'm really looking forward to it! I've been collecting things around here that I think a young boy/man would like to have as a keepsake. One of the things I got is a knife, an authentic Iraqi immitation CCCP AK-47 bayonet and I inscribed my son's name on it along with the Arabic word for "son",( ابن ).

ME -

I got my tooth fixed... again. This time the doc used a different type of whatsit to form the rest of the tooth than he used last time. This stuff is supposed to be stronger, but it doesn't quite match the rest of the tooth. That doesn't bother me any though, as long as I can chew with it and I don't look like a snaggletooth I'm a happy camper.

20 May 2006

B36 Banners

18 May 2006

Playing Catchup

Well I guess a bunch has happened since my last post. A couple days ago the unit shirts arrived and I'm really happy with them. All of the troops who have picked up their shirts have been really pleased with them. We have a policy in the unit that a troop can wear the unit shirt instead of the standard Army PT shirt while doing PT and I imagine that a bunch of them ordered one just to be able to wear something else. I'll put up a pic of one when I manage to get a camera and a shirt together.

I also rebroke my tooth. This time I was just chewing away and suddenly the piece that the docs had plastered on just kind of slid off. I think this was back on Monday and I still haven't gotten it fixed yet. Work's been kinda crazy lately and I haven't had the time to get out to the hospital to get it fixed.

I've noticed lately that I'm getting more easily irritable. In situations where I used to have a lot of patience I find that now I'm snapping and being more abrupt. I think I'm just getting tired, but the good news is that it's only about a month until I go on R&R and get to meet my boy! I'm really looking forward to that.

I'd also like to take this moment to attempt to reclaim a long lost symbol of American strength. What has become commonly known as the "peace sign", holding up the index and middle finger while keeping the other digits balled in the palm, was once known as the "V for victory". When people were parading in the streets holding up the "V" they weren't celebrating peace, they were celebrating victory. People were carrying America's war-fighters on their shoulders and showering them with ticker-tape and kisses to congratulate them on the victory that had been achieved. In light of this, I'd like to make the first step towards putting the "peace sign" out of business.

14 May 2006

Looking Back

Before I begin, let me first say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my beautiful wife! She's about 8 months pregnant right now with our first child and in my opinion qualifies to be celebrated this Mother's Day.
I love you babe!
I just got off the phone with my sweetie and guess what! I am the first person EVAR to wish her 'Happy Mother's Day!' w00t!
*end edit*

So I know I said that I wouldn't be getting the Z800 for a while until I had that kind of money to spend, but things have changed. When I wrote that it cost about $900, several days later the price dropped by $350! That kind of money I have, or had I guess. I put in my order over the weekend and it should be on the way by about Tuesday of next week. My best SWAG is that it will show up here about the end of the month.

Also on the technology front, I nuked my computer. Nothing is quite as refreshing as wiping your hard drive and starting over with a clean slate. Thanks to all the crap that I had installed to act as a band-aid fix for various problems that had cropped up I couldn't go for more than a couple minutes without my computer coughing up a hair-ball on me.

On the war front, today is also the 6 month mark for my deployment. That is not to be confused with the half-way point though. Since I deployed ahead of my unit I get an extra couple weeks downrange. It's not a point of bitterness, it just comes with the job of being the leader. Based on a 365 day deployment, today would be the half-way mark, but based on a more realistic 385 day deployment to accommodate my early deployment, 24 May 2006 will be my half-way point.

I also wanted to post this picture of the Crossed Swords at sunset.
At the base of the eastern pair of the Swords is a souvenir stand that is run by a couple Iraqi Security Force guards. They sell an assortment of knives, rugs, pictures, and trinkets. Since everyone who visits the IZ wants to see the swords I've played tour guide to a great number of people and have become something of a regular at this shop. Over the course of my visits I've come to know the two guards, Ali and Salmun, pretty well and on one recent visit I sat and talked with them both while the other Soldiers browsed the shop. It turns out that Ali's wife is due to give birth at about the same time as Katie is. We laughed about it and decided that we should exchange pictures of our kids. As soon as I come back from R&R with pictures I'm going to head straight down there and show them off.

I'm really looking forward to the day when I can come back here with my family and give them the tour. That day is about 20 years away though.

I've also done some geocaching over the last week. A while back I got in touch with the folks at GeocacheArmy.com and offered my services in helping them deploy their Army Men in Iraq. Last week a package arrived in the mail and I didn't recognize the from address. I made a big show of it, pretending that it might explode at any second, I delicately used my knife to make a slit in the side of the package where no sensible person would think to put a trigger so that I could get a better look at what was inside. One of my troops, curious about what was inside, had crept up carefully behind me to look over my shoulder. I knew he was there and when I knew that I couldn't shield the package from his view any more I threw my hands up and yelled 'BOOM!' Ahh, nothing like seeing a someone under constant threat of a mortar or rocket get suprised by loud noises.

Anyway, back to the story. After I opened up the package I found three little plastic Army men each with a serial number attached. I posted the full details of the first cache on the GeocacheArmy.com website. If you have something you'd like me to geocache while I'm over here just let me know =)


11 May 2006

Trendy Searches

I was hit the Google website today to search something and noticed that they were advertising a new service. So far I've been very impressed with Google, it seems they're able to create solutions to problems and questions I didn't know I had, so I figured I'd check out Google Trends. I had no idea what it was, it was just something new from Google.

When the page loaded I was presented with an interface that was very similar to the regular Google search website and didn't really give an indication for what this part of the Google universe did that made it special. After entering "Baghdad" as a generic search term to see what resulted I was suprised to see a graph and no links to websites that had anything to do with Baghdad. It was then that I realized that I was looking at data representing how often "Baghdad" was Googled.

After grasping what it was that Google Trends did I figured I should really test it out. I though, "What is the one thing that would probably top the list for most searches?" I decided that "sex" would be an interesting word to research. The results were shocking!

Link to Google Trends search for "sex"

What's so shocking isn't how often the word is searched, it's who's doing the searching. Have a look at the link and draw your own conclusions about which regions, cities, and language groups do the most searching for "sex".

06 May 2006

Media Mismanagement

(This started out as a response to a comment by Blogging One's Own Trinkets, but it grew into what I felt was worthy of a post)

Given the nature of the Green Zone and the city surrounding it, most journalists rarely travel outside the wire and as a result they're only exposed to this small patch of "Little America" and they never get to figure out why things are the way they are inside the wire. This journalist in particular talks about State Department people who serve 3 month tours and compares it to people like me in the military who server 1 year tours. My question to this guy is, how long do you plan to stay and where do you plan to go?

The people who make the best "war correspondents" are those who have served in the military because they have a better understanding for what it is that a Soldier faces on a daily basis. I understand how someone could percieve the things that this guy wrote about. I wasn't born here, I showed up one day and stood mouth-agape as troops played volley ball in the pool and sang bad karaoke wondering if I was really in a war-zone. What he doesn't realize, and in all fairness he couldn't unless he knew how the military worked, is that the troops that you see playing in the pool today are back on guard duty the next day and that you just happened to catch them on their half-day off for that month.

Generally, we in the military don't let biased or false reporting get to us. We're able to see the truth and know that what we're doing is for the greater good. It's unfortunate that the media focus is on the negative things, but people want to hear about body counts and drama, not building schools, hospitals, and police stations.

What get's to me is watching people stand at a podium and screech about "quagmire" and how we're losing the war. They couldn't be any more wrong and it's very disappointing to me to hear that people are believing them. Let's try and turn the tables on these knuckleheads; we're winning the war and it's up to the nay-sayers to prove me wrong. Iraq has a democratically elected government. Zarqawi, arguably the 'Ho Chi Minh' of this fight, commented that this was "a poisoned dagger in the heart of the Muslim nation." He's saying this because he knows that it signals another step towards his defeat. If he's losing then, wait a second, that must mean that we're winning. I'm sorry to be offering factual support to my wild claim, but I was beginning to feel a little dirty for a second there.

I challenge anyone to offer a logical, factual explanation for why we're losing this war.

The News

I think I've mentioned before that I have an alert set up with Google News (linked on the right) so that whenever there's an article that mentions the Green Zone (aka International Zone) in Baghdad, I'll get an email with a link to the story.

It's really interesting to see what people are saying about the place I live in. Sometimes I'll read a story about several mortars or rockets "bombarding the Green Zone", but me and everyone I talk to can't remember hearing any booms.

Recently I read an article that a journalist wrote who had just arrived in the Zone and I can only assume he was still gritting his teeth and holding his camera in a death grip, waiting for the first explosion. The whole article is sublty critical of us Americans here in the Zone, but I get the feeling that once this guy spends a couple months in and around Baghdad and other US bases that his perspective will change. If he ever works up the intestinal fortitude to step outside the protection of those he's criticizing I can guarantee you that he'll appreciate karaoke night poolside. Anyway, read the article, if you can avoid his interpretation of the situation and focus on the situation it's still an interesting account of the place where I live.

Green Zone Article

Also in the news, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi can't shoot straight! If you haven't been watching or reading Fox News lately, then I'm extremely proud to break this bit of news. It would seem that Zarqawi's boys edited the video that was released that showed him firing an M249 machine gun (a captured American weapon) in order to make him look like more of a bad@$$. Unfortunately for 'ol Zarqawi, we managed to put our hands on the original, unedited tape and found the outtakes. You should have seen how we all giggled like little girls while watching him fire single shot until one of his henchmen showed him how to use it. Then, once the M249 got the better of him he handed it off to one his boys who grabbed it by the barrel (more giggling). For those who don't know why we giggle, don't worry, neither did this "battle-hardened" terrorist who has "broken the American's back", but he learned really fast that when you fire a gun the barrel gets hot. It was like watching the Keystone Cops. This guy has a $25 million bounty on his head.

Zarqawi Article

*edit* (I forgot to add this piece to the post)
I was unlucky enough to be watching the news when Pat Kennedy stood in front of the cameras and claimed that it was the drugs' fault for him crashing and that he had a "disease", a "chronic addiction". I just wanted to slap him. He took the drugs. He got in the car. He crashed it. Good for him for getting treatment, but let's not wave the magic "rehab" wand and pretend all is ok. How many times now has he gone into rehab? Take some personal responsibility for your decision to take the drugs and for your addiction. The addiction didn't just sneak up on you and force the pills down your throat against your will. I don't mean to poke just at Mr. Kennedy, he just provides me the platform from which to speak about something that has been bothering me for a while now. TAKE SOME PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AMERICA!!! I chose to join the Army. I chose to get married. It's unfortunate that my wife is going through this pregnancy by herself and that I'm not able to be there to experience it with her and support her, but it's a result of choices that both she and I made.
*end edit*

Also, not in the news, but something that I would like to add to my wishlist for my "Welcome-Home-Me" gift is the eMagin Z800 visor. It's basically a video visor that you can plug into your computer and it puts a picture on two screens just inches from your eyeballs creating the illusion of a really big screen at a couple yards. I've read a lot of good reviews about it and really look forward to getting it, but I'm probably going to add this to the list of stuff that I'll buy once I get done supporting my family (aka, a long, long time). Anyway, I'll enjoy it from a distance at the moment.

Z800 Video Visor

02 May 2006

Hyphenated America

I’ve tried for a long time to accurately put into words what I thought about hyphenated America. I struggled to encapsulate my thoughts into easily digestible pill form that even the most casual reader could understand. And I still do.

I decided to start doing some research to find out what had already been written on the topic rather than thrash about blindly in the darkness hoping I come up with a stroke of brilliance that becomes a point of reference for other interested parties.

I don’t recall where I heard the term “hyphenated American”, but I found out that there was actually quite a lot of writing already done on the topic. After doing a Google search I found that the term went all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt in 1915. Noticeably absent from his text is African-American, Mexican-American, or Asian-American. Based on my casual search of history, I’d guess that this was done in much the same context as when Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal” despite being a slave owner himself. Through the magic of interpretation civil rights leaders have been able to use that same line as a rally cry for their cause even though that wasn’t the original intention.

Unfortunately, the cause stopped at winning the same legal rights as Americans who were white. Now that legal barriers have been overcome, let’s take a big step towards overcoming cultural barriers. Rather than focus on what comes before the hyphen, why don’t we focus on what comes afterward. American.

A person doesn’t need to scorn their heritage in order to do this. Many people are proud to be associated with the country or continent preceding the hyphen and to try and compel them to ignore or be ashamed of this would be wrong. There is a difference, however, between being proud of where your heritage lies, and using that heritage to separate yourself from the society that you’re now a part of.

What does it mean to be American? How can someone come to call themselves American? I did some quick research on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) webpage and found that there are four primary criteria that need to be satisfied in order for someone to become an American.
1. Be or intend to live in America

2. Not be a criminal

3. Survive in American culture

4. Pledge allegiance to the Constitution
Steps 1 through 3 are obvious, logical requirements for a person to meet in order to become an American. Without these, a person would fall flat on their face. It could easily be argued that having these requirements is done in the immigrant’s best interest making sure that he or she is set up for success. These three requirements, whether or not it’s written down on paper, apply regardless of which country a person would be immigrating to.

It’s the fourth requirement that makes the difference. Pledge allegiance to the Constitution. This step has three parts to it; 1) renounce foreign alliances, 2) support the constitution, and 3) agree to serve the US (in case of a draft just like a native born American). These three steps are accomplished when the oath is read:
I hereby declare, on oath,

1) that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

2) that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

3) that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

People don’t have to scorn their heritage in order to be an American. They just need to agree to abide by the Constitution like every other American.

Next question; what’s so bad about hyphenated America? It divides America along cultural and racial lines. It creates barriers where none should exist. If all a person hears is "whatever-American," every time they interact with a whatever-American they'll think, “He’s a whatever-American, I’m a thiskindof-American so we must not be equals.” This is just a small example of one symptom of the larger problem though. The larger problem is that these divisions result in a segregated and weakened America, exactly what the civil rights movement was trying to prevent.

My urgent cry is not that people renounce their past, but that they embrace their future. If you’re a person who agrees to live in a country governed by the Constitution, then let’s all be Americans.

Department of Homeland Security

Pres. Roosevelt's Hyphenated American
Google search "Hyphenated American"