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But there are days when I actually _do_ feel nostalgic for the Army. Don't get me wrong, the job was frequently mind-numbing, if not soul-destroying, and I would never go back to it. But there was something reassuring about knowing that the guy/gal next to you, even if they absolutely hated your guts as a human being, would still watch your back when (insert derogatory nickname for whoever we're fighting at the moment) tried to stick a knife in it. Oh, sure, they'd hate you even more afterward, and they'd never ever let you live it down, but they would risk their life to protect yours, if that's what duty demanded.

Of course, duty might also demand letting you die. Very few enlisted grunts would willingly make _that_ call, though, which is why officers exist. That's also why there's a persistent, low-level, never-entirely-joking animosity for those officers: The knowledge that, no matter how great Lieutenant/Captain/Colonel Whatsisface might be as a person, for the sake of the mission, he could potentially decide not only to let you die, but that you had to let your buddies die instead. And for the sake of the mission, you'd have to say "Yes Sir", and soldier on.
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One of the ways I combated boredom in Iraq was contemplating how I would use my inevitable maiming as an opportunity for self expression and personal adornment. "Let's see, if I lose a hand AND a hand AND an eye, I'll have the best pirate costume EVER!" That sort of thing.

I think I was starting to run short of actual good ideas, when it occurred to me that if I lost a leg far up enough to require a partial hip prosthesis, I'd be able to get it chromed, and tell people to "Bite my shiny metal ass!" While this wouldn't have really made up for losing a whole leg (and probably some genitals in the process), it would have been funny, for a while at least. And even after it had _stopped_ being funny, I could still keep saying it, because who's going to tell a one-legged eunuch that his jokes are wearing thin?


Aug. 22nd, 2008 10:12 am
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I miss my woobie. It was the most comfortable blanket EVER. :-(
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It seems silly that we even need such a day, but, whatever.

So, torture is bad, see? It's completely ineffective as a means of intelligence gathering, since the victim will say whatever he thinks the torturer wants to hear, and that torturer will have no way of knowing weather the information gathered is accurate. Even in the much ballyhooed "ticking bomb" scenario, your much likelier to get inaccurate information which will result in you wasting manpower running after non-existent threats, while the real bomb continues ticking.

On the other hand, torture can be very effective as a means of ensuring compliance to authority by spreading fear. So if you think the US is really made safer by the rest of the world thinking of us as evil Ogres who rape babies while their parents are forced to watch, then I guess torture could be said to "work" after all.:-P
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Why the heck is this Iraqi:

Wearing a DLI pin? I somehow doubt that either A) He's affiliated with that fine institution, or B) That crest means something else in some other context. Apparently, Iraqi officers just get to make up their own damned uniforms. :-P

Edit: For comparison purposes, here's a picture of the crest by itself:
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... Is going to have the most motivated, hard-core crew EVER:
Ship built with WTC steel christened. The USS New York, an amphibious assault ship built with scrap steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center, was christened Saturday as a source of strength and inspiration for the nation.

Other news: This is both fucked-up as Hell, and perversely awesome: A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe.

This, on the other hand, is just fucked up: Judge jailed for refusing to sit in court with crucifix. An Italian judge was sentenced to a year in prison for refusing to sit in a courtroom with a crucifix on the wall, his lawyer said. Sad that stupidity like this should take place, but at least it's not happening _here_...

While I find the whole concept of "aristocracy" deeply abhorrent, even I have to admit that Prince Harry's one of the "good ones".

Random thoughts: I wonder how long it will be before the purveyers of the "Black Confederates" meme notice that Nazi Germany's military had a small number of ethnically "Jewish" soldiers in their ranks, and therefore conclude that the Nazi's weren't really anti-semitic?

Also, peoples should read Ctrl+Alt+Del, Divalicious, and Sketchies.

update I am a bad boyfriend, as I did not credit the wonderful and awesometastic [ profile] nanimo for Ctrl+Alt+Del. Forgive, Mistress! Forgive! (sob)
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Not putting an Autobot Insignia on my Humvee when I had the chance. During OIF 1, I could _totally_ have gotten away with it.
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Man who keyed car gets day in court; so do Marines Jay Grodner, the Chicago lawyer who keyed a Marine's car in anger because the car had military plates and a Marine insignia, finally got his day in court last week.

Grodner pleaded guilty in a Chicago courtroom packed with former Marines. Some had Marine pins on their coats, or baseball jackets with the Marine insignia. They didn't yell or call him names. They came to support Marine Sgt. Michael McNulty, whose car Grodner defaced in December, but who couldn't attend because he's preparing for his second tour in Iraq.

Now, I mock and scorn Jarheads as much as the next Grunt, but it warms my soul that this weasel lawyer got a nice dose of public humiliation to go with his slap on the wrist. Still, this part of the article bugs me: Judge O'Malley has also traveled, but in his youth. He was a police officer on the West Side during the riots before law school. And before that, he performed another public service. Judge O'Malley served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1961-1964.

He probably should have recused himself. If the jackass vandal in question has gonads of greater than microscopic size, he could have plausibly claimed that the judge's past service made impartiality impossible. Still, some justice was done.
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So, the other day, I pulled on a pair of BDU pants that have been washed once since Iraq, and have been sitting in a duffle bag or a dresser drawer since. You know what I found in the pockets. Sand. _Middle_Eastern_ sand. Do you realize what this means? IRAQ FOLLOWED ME HOME! Can the Terrorists be far behind? Maybe Faux News was RIGHT... :-P
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Fox News' attack on the honor and integrity of our war generals... And the text of the article -- by Fox News Contributor and frequent O'Reilly guest David Hunt -- is even more Despicable, as it repeatedly attacks the honor and integrity of members of the United States Armed Forces in one smearing paragraph after the next, beginning with this first sentence:

Our generals are betraying our soldiers . . . again.

Quiet, crickets, how can I hear the thunderous sound of outrage with you chirping like that?
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... Then will someone remind me when the last time was that a _pro-war_ demonstrator got physically assaulted by his counterparts? Oh, wait, though, all those guys on Little Green Fascists and the like who claim that their "Dubya" bumper stickers got ripped off their hummers, why, that's at _least_ as bad as this. Silly me. Once again my opinion that the standard 'Liberal' position on gun control is stupid is re-enforced, because their may come a time when the right to Keep and Bear arms is all that stands between us "America-hating traitors" and the death camps that these wanna-be brownshirts would love to set up.
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... But Petraeus is a DAMNED cool name. It sounds positively _heroic_. Could you possibly come up with a more martial-sounding-yet-noble name for a general? Come to think of it, the way this administration operates, it's entirely possible he was appointed to his current post solely because of that name. And it's also possible he had to spend long hours talking Shrubya out of having him appear before Congress in full Centurion regalia, but still, it's an awesome name.

Also, me added link to Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It funny.
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Alas, poor Kurt Vonnegut. We knew him well, kinda. Personally, I didn't much enjoy his writing, as it was way too depressing. I read "Slaughter-house Five" and was slightly amused, but not enough to bother seeking out the rest of his work. Perhaps this makes me a bad person. But anyway, hearing about Kurt's death got me thinking of other depressing authors, which got me thinking about the time when I came closer to suicide than any other.

So not shit, there I was, in Fallujah in August 2003. I was still motivated and convinced that we were Fighting The Good Fight To Save Civilization. The stress was starting to get to me, but I was still ready to kick ass, take names, and sign autographs for the adoring Iraqi children. I was bored, though. I had already read through every book in the TOC at least once. Then, one day, one of my fellow grunts got a care package from home. In addition to a bunch of Oprah's Book Club CRAP, there was a copy of Joseph Heller's "Catch-22". I had heard of that book, and that it was suppossed to be funny, so I started to read it...

About half way through, I was seriously considering the merits of bayonet vs. 5.56 bullet. It wasn't a _bad_ book, oh no, it was very well written and evocative, full of dark humor both subtle and absurd. But it was DEPRESSING AS HELL. Definitely the wrong book to read in a war zone, when your own personal doubts have already started to surface. I haven't been able to pick up that book since, the mere though of doing so fills me with dread.

There, now everyone else should chime in!
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"U.S. soldier sentenced to 100 years for rape, murder". On the other hand, this being the military justice system, he'll never be paroled, and his testimony against his fellow criminals will ensure that _they_ hang. In a better world, he would too, but then again, in a better world their victim would never have been raped and murdered in the first place.

Update: I stand corrected. According to This article, the waste of skin could be paroled in ten years. We can hope that he "accidentally" dies in prison first, but that's not too likely. I guess this is the downside of military prisons being more professionally run than their civilian counterparts; Every so often, a prisoner really _does_ deserve to be brutalized by the guards and/or raped to death by his fellow prisoners.
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By way of analogy: Suppose that you were a person who, despite general opposition from all experts in a given field, engaged in an action that was not really necessary, but that you insisted was an absolutely wonderful idea. In the course of this action, you accidentally run over a guy's dog, burn down his house, and drop a load of bricks on his wife and kids. It's worth noting that lots of other people warned you that your Glorious Undertaking was a bad idea from the very beginning, but you ignored them.

Now, if you're not a total shitbag, you would feel obliged to make amends. But would you really invite your victim to live in your own home? He might just decide that the best "amends" possible would be to tie you up in your sleep and pour drano down your throat. Especially if you keep insisting to him that you never did anything _wrong_, that his suffering was a completely unforeseeable consequence of your well intentioned and absolutely necessary, nay, HEROIC plan.

Yes, we owe Iraqi refugees restitution, probably more than we'll ever be able to pay. We don't have to put ourselves at risk trying.

Now, the translators are another story. Their lives are in particular danger because of the services they did us. We should take in as many of them as we can, if only to encourage others to cooperate with us in the future.
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Firstly, Fiona has linked to me, so I return the favor.

Next, matters scientifical: Darwinian Pickup lines, The rea; story behind Haekel's embryos, Whale Evolution explained, and Scientists visit Creationist "Museum" so you don't have to

Nextly, religious stuff: I've joined the Evil Atheist Conspiracy, to avenge the Murder of Larry Hooper. I may ally myself with The Funkiest Atheist. Also, Mr. Deity makes a disturbing amount of sense.

In the political/social sphere:

What Bush hears, Still MORE republican sex scandals, Porn popups ruin lives,Wingnuts misquote Lincoln, Gay Foster Parents Loss Child, Wingnuts Rejoice, and The Swiftboating of Jesus.

I have to weigh in on the notion that the US should Take in thousands of Iraqi refugees. IMO, it's a VERY BAD IDEA. We really don't want aa bunch of people who have strong and compelling reasons to want revenge on us living within our borders. No doubt, we are obligated to make restitution, but we don't have to do it _here_. Let's just pay France to take them. The translators, though, are a different story. Their lives are in danger because they worked for us, so we sort of owe them. Plus, they're less likely to snap and take a shotgun to the denizens of the local mall.

Finally, humor... Or is it? I hope everyone celebrated Saint Skeletor's Day, The Best Movie Review Site EVER, and Real Life Vs The Internet.
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If Shrubya really _is_ dumb enough to attack Iran, the security situation in Iraq will immediately... "explode" might not be the most accurate word, but it wouldn't be far off. Most of the Iraqi factions that aren't currently shooting at us would start, and all the ones that are would redouble their efforts. They might even stop shooting at each other.

The Iraqi government would lose most of the popular support that it still has, if it didn't immediately disassociate itself from the US, and announce that our troops were no longer welcome. Being no longer welcome, we'd have to leave, or else admit that all our rhetoric about Iraq now being a free, sovereign country was complete bullshit. If we did stay, we'd have to start all over again, in a country where the population was now explitly hostile. Even the wingiest of wingnuts would think twice about staying in that situation.

So, with all that in mind, is it possible that _that's_ Bush's plan for unifying Iraq and Bringing The Troops Home, Mission Accomplished?... What's that, you say? "Stupid"? Stupid like a FOX!
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Be grateful for your opposable thumbs, while the bacteria give thanks for their antibiotic resistance. Meanwhile, the nascent super-squid make their own plans...

Elsewhere, Congress wants to read your email, Iran is arming the same Iraqis we are, William Donohue's a jackass, 10 reasons to hate America (courtesy of [ profile] curt_holman), Anders ponders the meaning of truth (kinda), Truth in Advertising, and finally a "Christian" defends the logic of genocide. That logic is impeccable too. If there really is a God, and he/she/it has no constraints upon his/her/its actions, than might _must_ make right, and if God tells you to kill a toddler, a Good Believer should have no qualms. See, that is why all irrational, supernatural belief systems are dangerous. Maybe not equally dangerous, but the seeds of Abraham's psychosis lie within them all. As Voltaire said: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". (BTW, for all intents and purposes, Marxism is a religion too. Just replace the Great Sky God with Historical Inevitability, but require the same adherence to unquestionable dogma. Stupid commies. :-P )
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"The troops don't need heavier armor, it will just slow them down and get them killed." There is some truth to this argument, eventually you'll get past the point of diminishing returns. I just don't think we're there yet. Specifically, the extra ten pounds added by side mounted SAPI plates is almost guaranteed to save more grunts than it kills.

Why am I so sure? Because I remember when people made the EXACT SAME CLAIMS about the front and back SAPIs when the Interceptor vest was first issued. Is there anyone left who still thinks the extra 7 pounds wasn't worth it?

If the added weight really does turn out to be an issue when troops are on foot, it should be trivially easy to rig up a quick-release system. Wear the side protection while riding in a humvee and be safer from IED explosions (which usually come from the side), spend ten seconds taking them off before you go out on foot. Best of both worlds, right? Which is why, of course, the Powers What Is will never even consider it. :-P


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February 2013



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