Archive for March, 2010

Go me.I have to say, the timing was actually perfect. Thank you, Sonic Innovations.  I’ve got the time to finish my book, and get a huge start if not a completion on the collaboration that’s in the works. I’ve got the time to get ready for Ranger School. This is the bomb.

It’s still scary because I’m leaping headlong after the dream of being a writer, but hey, I’d be an idiot not to with all these opportunities staring me in the face.

Bullies are filth.

Thanks to stacylwhitman for linking to this:

Interesting and tragic article reporting on the suicide of a bullied girl. Best line in the article:

“These indictments tell us that middle school and high school kids are not immune from criminal laws,” he said. “If they violate them in the course of bullying someone, they’ll be held accountable. We don’t need to create a new crime.”

Smart and tough.

Had my share of problems with bullies growing up. I have very little patience with those who practice that vile art. May they practice it in front of me often in the future.

…has begun.

I’ve been sporadically working out for the past several months, going two or three weeks at a stretch usually, toying with things like P90X and long grueling ruck marches in the middle of the night, for lack of time elsewhen.

All that has changed now. My ATL is a fitness and nutrition guru with a vested interest in getting me into good shape. I might have to drag him out of the line of fire after all.  He’s also a genuinely nice guy willing to put some effort into helping me out. You rock dude.

Today was the first day of the program he’s designed/designing for me. Nothing too complicated but I definitely did some work today.

Oh, and I got fired today too. My company could no longer afford to employ me. They are outsourcing whatever the hell it was I did for them. I suspect it also has something to do with the fact that they know I’m due to deploy pretty soon. They’ve bent over so far backward to accomodate my military requirements to date that I can hardly blame them, though their timing stinks. For me. For them, it’s pretty good.

Nice severance package at least. Gives me 2.5 months to grind out the end of my novel and get a massive start on the collaboration I’m doing with Brandon.Terrified

Bloody terrifying, choosing to finish writing projects instead of searching frantically for another 9-5er. I have faith that it will all work out in the end though. I’ve been handed some pretty incredible opportunities on the fiction front, I’d be a fool not to take them.

Public Service Ad

Absolutely incredible.

Some people write poetry, some people make TV ads.

So, I re-watched the first three quarters of this film last night.  I did this for two reasons.

First: It’s up for an Oscar and people are both bitching about it and howling its praises to the moon.  I wanted to see how it bore a second watching and if the good things I remembered were actually that good and so forth. I didn’t finish it.  Admittedly it was getting a little late, 11:30 or so but I was not, at all, sucked into the conflict. I knew how it ended and that was enough, I didn’t need to see it again. It wasn’t compelling a second time. Any conclusions I draw from this must, of course, be informed by how often I watch films more than once. It happens. I’ve seen quite a few films more than once and enjoyed them immensely: Soldier, Equilibrium, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, The Kingdom, the list goes on. Wasn’t happening with The Hurt Locker.

I suppose my perspective is a little different from most folks though by no means unique. I’ve been in combat, in the Middle East. They got quite a few things right in the film. But when they got things wrong, they really got them wrong and I didn’t care to see the ending again.

Which brings me to my Second reason for watching it twice. There’s a scene where an insurgent, who is undoubtedly the guy who shot and tried to blow up the heroes, is lying bloody on the ground under the care of a US Army medic. The medic tells his Colonel that the insurgent has a survivable wound if he can be picked up in 15 minutes.  The Colonel tells the medic in his crazy voice, “He didn’t make it.” The Colonel then repeats the phrase, with a significant nod, to another soldier, not the medic, standing nearby. Then he walks away and the camera follows him.

My friends have cast some doubt on whether or not a gunshot rings out as the Colonel walks away. I watched the film a second time to find out for sure. It most definitely does.

The film makers tried very very hard to give the impression that an American soldier, under orders from his Colonel shot and killed -murdered- an unarmed and wounded enemy combatant. And they did it casually, in front of quite a few other soldiers, a crowd even, not one of whom raised an objection.  To that I say, screw you mister film-maker. That is complete crap and it betrays your underlying motives for making the film and your opinions of the American fighting man, both of which are wrong and nasty if not downright evil.

Such acts have happened, I’ll not deny it. They don’t happen like that. They don’t happen easily. They don’t happen casually. They don’t happen without objection, especially in front of a medic or a crowd of soldiers. They don’t happen without charges of murder being brought and prosecuted.

None of which, of course, will or should have the slightest bearing on whether the film wins a Best Picture Oscar. An Oscar isn’t about political opinion or truth in film-making.  I don’t think it merits the award as a work of art, but that’s just me. Now, Jeremy Renner, he deserves an Oscar. I thought his performance was brilliant as were those of the rest of the cast, including the crazy Colonel.

It being hailed as the best Iraq war film ever made? Well, last I checked the field wasn’t very deep yet. I suspect holding that opinion may have more to do with The Hurt Locker bearing out, subtly and well, the opinions about war and soldiers the mainstream media has been inculcating into the population for the last 60 years.

Business Becomes Government

Author and thinker Jerry Pournelle muses on some interesting topics today.

In a nutshell, business, if allowed to, will use government to restrict its competition, to secure its place in the market.  And as it does so it concentrates more and more economic power into the hands of fewer and fewer people. This, in turn, allows those powerful few to manipulate the political process in ways that give them more power. A corollary of that manipulation is the concentration of political power into the hands of those politicians who will bow to business, or, looked at another way, use the powerful business interests to collect and increase their own political power.

Things quickly devolve from that point into a struggle between the powerful few in business and the powerful few in government, both trying to increase said power. There’s only so much of it to go around after all.

We’re watching such a struggle take place right now, over healthcare. Something has gone wrong in the republic.

Normally, I’m all for business being left alone to do pretty much anything it wants as long as the government has the power to enforce a certain limited set of laws designed to prevent criminal abuse. And we already have those laws on the books: libel, homicide, negligent homicide, personal injury, theft, anti-trust, etc…

It’s when business starts using the government to enforce its advantage that we have a problem. But then, at that point, the problem isn’t really business anymore is it? It’s become government again.

The answer always seems to be less government nowadays.

Of course, there is a point where less government becomes bad, as we slide toward anarchy. But we can deal with that when we get back into the same galaxy as that end of the sliding scale, hmmm?

Unfortunately this is not the kind of early warning system you can put in place on any kind of official basis.

I’m pretty sure I’m related by marriage to President and Sister Laycock, serving as mission presidents in Chile.  They had an interesting experience prior to the earthquake there in 2010.

President Larry Laycock and his wife, Sister Lisa Laycock head the Santiago Chile East Mission and had spent the two weeks prior to the 8.8 earthquake visiting each missionary apartment and preparing them for an earthquake.

Article about it from Meridian Magazine here.

As I write this my wife and mother-in-law are bouncing up and down on garbage bags into which they have stuck the sucking end of a vacuum cleaner.

About a week and a half ago Kristina, my wife, received an email from a friend of ours, Cameo.  Cameo has a friend who is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force at an air base in Kyrgyzstan.  This friend has the opportunity to get outside the wire at least occasionally and he discovered that children in a nearby orphanage, as well as in the surrounding countryside, were actually succumbing to the cold, dying, for want of blankets and warm clothing. He put the word out through Cameo and others.

I remembered very well, from my own time in Afghanistan, watching in disbelief as the locals walked around the country-side in freezing weather, often through the snow, in nothing but a long shirt and flip-flops, if not barefoot. Kyrgyzstan is north of Afghanistan.

Kris put the word out through her contacts at our children’s elementary and middle schools.  Thus was born Operation Warm Babies Kyrgyzstan. She’s spent the last three mornings collecting a mountain of warm clothing donated by families dropping off and picking up their kids from school. At the same time she’s selling cookies donated and baked by volunteers for cash.  This money will ship the donated clothing and blankets to the air base.


FYI: The vacuum cleaner reduces the size of the trash bag filled with snivel gear to about a third the original size. At a later date I’ll post exactly how many pounds of snivel gear was collected and shipped.

The Hurt Locker

The thrust of The Hurt Locker story is the character.  The team sergeant who is reckless and who goes back to the war again and again when he doesn’t have to. That’s compelling, it’s a true character trait. I could relate. It let me examine things about myself and about soldiers in general that do need examining.

But while pursuing this central story, the writer tossed in either lie after lie, or mistake after mistake, that betrays a basic perception on his part that soldiers generally are casual murderers and liars. (Also that AK47s can hit accurately at more than 300 yards, EOD guys are all sniper qualified, EOD guys regularly run around the countryside completely alone and so forth.) He’s in good company. Hollywood has been promulgating this line of propaganda since at least VietNam.

On the whole, I liked The Hurt Locker.  The good part of the story, the character arc, could easily have been told without the lies and/or mistakes though.