When Bureaucracy Kills

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I’m currently reading a book titled Curveball: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War by Bob Drogin which is making me even more angry than the NYT piece about Afghanistan I posted about yesterday. I cannot believe that America went to war with Iraq over such totally and utter bullshit – in case you were wondering, 3973 Americans have died thus far. Don’t even get me started on the civilian fallout.
I would like to quote page 160 where the author refers to the grand UN dog and pony show that our lovely senior government officials (we pay their salary keep in mind) put on in 2002:

[Sr. BND (German Federal Intelligence Service) official Werner] Kappel had expected to see photographs, hard evidence. [U.S. Secretary of State Colin] Powell’s illustrations weren’t proof. They were hearsay. Kappel couldn’t get over it. Powell had used artists’ conjectures based on analysts’ interpretations of Arabic-to-German-to-English translations of debriefings reports of a manic-depressive defector the Americans had never talked to.

Please re-read that passage and tell me you feel good about paying taxes right now. The book details all the people who knew the intelligence being used to go to war in Iraq was bullshit but no one really did anything to stop it. Some people covered their asses but for the most part no one did anything.
If you pay taxes like I do you are culpable – you pay into this system like I do. You pay for the government, which includes petty people who would rather protect their pension than admit a mistake. I’m embarrassed, again.


Battle Company's Battle

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There is a forgotten war being fought in Afghanistan that has been ongoing for six and a half years – I remember watching BBC World footage of B-52’s dropping bombs while on vacation in Mexico in October, 2001 – but the Iraq Debacle (FYI – it is now 1732 days since “Mission Accomplished”) has almost completed pushed it into the background. It is almost never mentioned and for the troops that are fighting and dying over there, that is a outright shame.
Therefore, I thank the heavens that reporter Elizabeth Rubin went to the rugged and scary Korengal Valley to spend time with Battle Company and then wrote about her experiences. For me this war was once again pushed to the forefront of my thoughts.
Her report was shocking – we have fellow citizens there who are literally losing their minds trying to win the “hearts and minds” of people who flat out do not care and do not want us there. Villagers who are friends in the morning are enemies shooting at them at night and lying about it the next day. Militants multiply and watch Battle Company’s every move. This list just goes on and on.
The passage below is lifted directly from the article. It is regarding a conversation Rubin had with Capt. Dan Kearney, the leader of Battle Company:

Just before I left, Kearney told me his biggest struggle would be holding his guys in check. “I’ve got too many geeking out, wanting to go off the deep end and kill people,” he said. One of his lieutenants wanted to shoot every Afghan in the face. Kearney shook his head. He wished he could buy 20 goats and let the boys beat and burn them and let loose their rage. He tried to tell them the restraints were a product of their success — that there was an Afghan government with its own rules. “I’m balancing plates on my goddamn nose is what I’m doing,” he said. “All it’s gonna take is for one of these guys to snap.”

I was so moved by the article that I am trying to donate money directly to these guys – not to the USO itself, not to the Afghan war effort, but to Battle Company. These guys have it rougher than almost any American in the world right now – if you don’t believe me, read the article. Some of them are stop-lossed – their contract is up but they are not allowed to go home (because we have 160k troops in, you guessed it, Iraq and are super short on resources). It’s utter and total bullshit and I’m embarrassed that it is happening, that I am a citizen and that I pay taxes that finance this whole shenanigan.
The NYT also has a good Korengal Valley slide show which shows the terrain and the brave men and women who are halfway around the world, doing the unthinkable each and every day.


Thoughts On Small Screen Movies

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David Lynch and I are on the same page regarding watching things made for the big screen on a small screen:

Forget about movies, I think that watching TV on a small screen (phone, portable DVD player, etc) sucks too. If its made for the visual medium, it should be seen in a way that you don’t have to squint.


Look Up Tonight!

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Oh what a night if you are into star gazing. Not only will there be a total lunar eclipse (something that will not occur again until Dec, 2010) but the U.S. Navy very well might try to shoot down that failing and falling “toxic” spy satellite.
All of this occurs after the Atlantis lands back on Terra Firma at 9:07 am. Fingers crossed.
The eclipse will occur on the east coast from 8:43 pm through 12:09 am Thu, 2/21. It should be red and glorious. Enjoy. The satellite is being shot down over the Pacific and I’m sure our friends in the Orient will be paying close attention.


Low Tech Trumps High Tech

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Wally Wallington has demonstrated that he can lift a Stonehenge-sized pillar weighing 22,000 lbs and moved a barn over 300 ft. What makes this so special is that he does it using only himself, gravity, and his incredible ingenuity. It will make you think thrice about how the ancients were able to build what they built.

Via J-Walk


One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

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The other night, certain disaster was only narrowly avoided. Check out the two Duane Reade generic pill bottles below:


Why the hell do these two bottles have matching yellow fonts and typefaces along with the same sort of blue / teal background?! I went for some medicine because my back was sore. If I happened to take the wrong pill, not only would my back still have been sore but my ass would have joined it on the list. Luckily for me, my wife’s keen eye sight, along with her utter disbelief that I needed help in the turd procurement department, saved me from some unhappy times. Then again, maybe I would have caught up on some reading.
Note to DR – change your look!

meeting ramblings

Super "Two for Tuesday" in NY

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I love New York, especially when especially big things happen and today it’s “Two for Tuesday!” here in the Big Apple:
1. The NY Football Giants celebrated the aftermath of the catch (aka an improbable super bowl victory) with a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes. The last time a parade was held there was pre-9-11 when the Yanks won the World Series. I was there, just like I was in ’99. Everyone loves a parade, especially if Boston is miserable as a result.
2. The Democratic Primary in New York was held today – I voted before 8:00 am and the woman who handled my registration remarked, “I remember you – you vote in every election.” It’s true, I do. I firmly believe that if you do not vote, you are not truly a citizen and therefore you do not have the right to complain about whatever you find lacking in your society (and you know how much I love to complain). While I didn’t create the world I live in, I can help to alter it as much as possible. Voting is one concrete way you can help affect change. Each vote matters, whether you think it does or not.
Let’s save for another post the ludicrous fact that before I even had a chance to vote, my democratic choices were winnowed down to two ( I would liked to have voted for Joe Biden). The great fact of the day is that I had the singular pleasure of actually voting for a great friend of mine – he was on the ballot in my district as a delegate for Barack Obama. While I have friends and family who are elected officials, I never got to pull a lever for them. The only downside was that I couldn’t bring Bingham in with me – they were cracking down this year.
As an aside, did you know the Dead got back together to rock out for Obama? I think that is pretty cool.