30 September, 2005


Speaking of supporting the troops, I will be at Luke Airforce Base in Phoenix this Saturday (Oct 1). If you are in the central Arizona, come join us.

I'll be down there for several days, staying with friends, so I don't know what my Internet access will be; I may be offline until Tuesday. "See" you then!

Read More......

Captain Fishback

I am no expert on military matters of any stripe, but I count among my friends those who definitely are. So, I'd like to share with you something that one of those friends sent me recently.

For those who may not know the whole story, an Army Captain of the 82nd Airborne has gone public with his concerns that he was not given adequate guidelines for how to treat prisoners or detainees during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says he spent 17 months asking internally for advice and clarification and that this lack of direction created situations that lead to what he fears was abuse or torture. CPT Fishback was apparently interviewed by Human Rights Watch over the last several months, and his ethical concerns clearly come through in his words. He seems very credible and earnest, but of course he's taking a lot of heat from both his army peers and the Pentagon types.

Because of CPT Fishback's apparent credibility, I am extremely disturbed and disappointed to think that there may have been a such a huge (systemic) failure of leadership in this case, and that there could be horrendous cases of abuse associated with this failure. I brought this up with a friend who is a rather high-ranking military officer. I found his reply so insightful and thought-provoking that I asked (and received) permission to share it here. I'll let him simply speak for himself:

Nothing rises or falls on one man's opinion, no matter how passionately held. We do a better job of most at staying on top of the core values: Duty, Honor, Country for the Army. Honor, Courage, Commitment for the Navy. The Corps, for the Corps. But none of us are perfect, and as institutions, sometimes we are very far from that we ought to be.

The Captain has launched his volley - the [military/DoD] will respond. Somewhere between the two the truth will be found. I'm sure he would have gotten someone's attention if he had said, "Look, I feel really seriously about this issue and it's not being answered to my satisfaction. If I can't get a square response from someone, I'm going to the people via the press - I'm going over everyone's head." If he did so and was still shut down, then everyone in his chain of command deserves what's coming to them. If he did so and they answered but he still wasn't satisfied, well that's something different, and we'll have to look at the facts.

It's never all of one thing, or all of another. I'm sure the captain had his guidance - I'm not sure he agreed with it. At some point, an officer is supposed to use his judgement - not everything can be spelled out. That's why we pay them the leadership bucks. Ultimately, he is responsible to the Army (and to the country) for doing what he thought was right.

[snip] No one should be surprised when people on the other side of the issue (all of whom believe they're doing the right thing for the country) look for a way to discredit the author of what will end up being a very damaging letter.

Is the captain's moral quandary more important than winning the war? ...Does he relish the opportunity to be the One Brave Man while everyone else goes grimly about the task at hand? I guess we'll find out soon.

Knowing the author of the above, those last questions are asked with great sincerity. He closed his letter with the famous line by General Sherman (Civil War): "All war is cruelty - there is no use trying to reform it."

He certainly left me with a new perspective and a lot to think about...

See Neptunus Lex and Castle Argghhh! for additional informed discussion of this topic from a military officer's perspective (be sure to read the comments).

Read More......

Support the Troops?

[I've rewritten/amplified this just slightly, though I think the message is the same]

Holly Aho, Valour-IT's webmistress and a great blogger, has written one of the best dissections I've seen of what it means to "support the troops." She points out that support is an action, not a feeling. As she says, there are few people actually opposed to the troops and wishing them ill. However, it's hard to say that the rest of the U.S. population is actually supporting the troops. "Support" is a verb--an action.

Holly discusses the intense disagreements between the various types of people who say that they support the troops. Then she writes:

I think the obvious has yet to be stated. When you support our troops you are aiding their mission. How so? Well, a letter to a soldier that boosts his morale will enable him to better perform his job (ie. accomplish his mission). [snip]

Something else - trying to do what you think is best for someone is not the same as supporting that person. Trying to bring the troops home now (if that's what you believe to be right), is doing what you think is best for them. Now perhaps there are those soldiers who might agree with you on what is best, but not all of them, and not most of them. So in effect you are putting what you believe to be best above what they believe. Kind of like forcing someone to get married who chooses to remain single, or forcing them to be a doctor when they'd rather be a lawyer because you think you know the best choices for them, regardless of what they want (or pushing a minority position on a majority public? Can we say democracy?).

So what am I saying? That you must be for the war in Iraq? [...] No. What I am saying is this - if you are supporting our troops with actions such as letter writing, carepackages or whatever, you have to realize you are aiding the mission you oppose.
Holly goes on (read it all) to theorize that there are three types of people who say they support the troops: 1) Cheerleaders--those who wish them the best, but do not demonstrate active "support" for the troops, 2) Those who try to do what they think is best for everyone ("bring them home!"), and 3) Those for whom support is a verb--those who are actively building the troops' morale and providing for their needs before/during/after deployment (this can encompass far more than just letters and packages). I'll add one more 4) The extreme leftists who appear to want them to lose, and whose actions (such as picketing Walter Reed) actively reduce troop morale. This last category attempts to use "We support the troops," as a shield against criticism.

This reminded me of a conversation at Villainous Company in response to a post about what it would mean if the U.S. pulled out of Iraq too soon. A commenter wrote:

I try to put myself in their shoes. If I were in the military, would I want to be used as a mercenary, or in a just cause that actually made my country safer?

Yes, our soldiers should all be proud of the honorable work they do. They are all loyal to whatever cause they are told to support, as our armed forces need to be. It is the people who sent them there, to do their personal bidding, that are committing an unforgivable crime.

My reply was (in part): "It is not honorable to simply support a cause because you are told to support it. Ah, yes... let us laud the honor of the mindless automotons that simply do the evil leadership's bidding. And you call that supporting the troops?!"

Another commenter replied, "Yep. Not very supportive, is it? More like the kind of support you give an abuse victim. Which might work with someone who's actually suffered abuse, but with military personnel, it probably pisses them off." I'll add that the reason it "pisses them off" probably has a lot to do with honor, a word that gets thrown around a lot, but with little understanding of what it actually means. Because as near as I can figure, there's no honor in being used as a tool for evil.

I share all of this because it seems to be excellent food for thought the next time we say we "support the troops."

Btw, if you are looking for a non-politcal way to support the troops, consider donating to Valour-IT. Valour-IT provides voice-activated laptops to warfighters who suffer hand and arm wounds. It's a great way to support the troops after they return from the battlefield.

UPDATE II: Holly cross-posted at Mudville Gazette, sparking a throught-provoking comment thread.

Read More......

29 September, 2005

Back to Our Regular Programming...

We now temporarily return to our regularly-scheduled programming of ignoring politics.

I like the concept of this quiz (in best Homer voice: uhhh.... pizza!), so I thought I'd share it. Enjoy! (Mmm... I think it's pizza for supper tonight...)

Cheese Pizza

Traditional and comforting.You focus on living a quality life.You're not easily impressed with novelty.Yet, you easily impress others.

Read More......

We Took it Back!!!

Yes, the title of this post was shamelessly stolen from Blackfive. But it captures the joy and relief of those who were deeply disturbed by the plans of the "International Freedom Center" for the WTC site memorial in New York. From the Take Back the Memorial website:

Governor George Pataki has cancelled plans to build the controversial International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center site - and representatives of the center say the location change has forced the entire project to be scrapped.

The center had drawn criticism from some 9/11 victims’ family members because it would not focus exclusively on the terror attacks. Family members also said the IFC could potentially contain exhibits that were anti-American.

Pataki said Wednesday that he’s given the center a chance to clarify its intentions, but there’s just too much opposition.

In a statement, Pataki said: “The creation of an institution that would show the world our unity and our resolve to preserve freedom in the wake of the horrific attacks is a noble pursuit. But freedom should unify us. This center has not.”

The governor asked the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to work with the IFC to explore other locations for the center, but representatives of the center have decided to scrap the idea completely.

In a statement, the IFC said: “We are deeply disappointed that the will could not be found to continue the development of the International Freedom Center at this hallowed site. We do not believe there is a viable alternative place for the IFC at the World Trade Center site. We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end.”
Background on this issue here, and Washington Post details of the IFC withdrawal here.

Read More......

28 September, 2005

I'm Pro-Victory

Those who want to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq have long claimed the title "Anti-war." The logical antonym would seem to be "Pro-war." But as I've said before, I am not "for war." So, people who oppose "Anti-war" types struggle to label themselves. "Pro-troop is somewhat satisfactory, but some people are pro-troop but truly believe the war is hopeless and we should withdraw, so that doesn't fit. Other labels are even less satisfactory.

But Jay Tea at Whizbang has come up with the correct label for those opposing the "anti-war" position:

Let the other side be "anti-war." If they choose not to recognize that the war started a long time ago, and we've only recently started fighting back, that's their stupidity. We have more important things to worry about than their whining and kvetching.

We're pro-VICTORY.

It's a good word. It says exactly what our goal is: to win, to defeat the enemy, to stop those out to destroy us and our way of life and impose their tyrannical vision on people.
I like it! A North American Patriot agrees, and has given it a logo. If you are Pro-Victory, get your logo here and display it proudly.

H/T Mudville Gazette / Holly Aho

Read More......

27 September, 2005

The Politics Quiz

I thought this quiz was very interesting because it illustrated what I said about my political values a few days ago. I found it at Grim's, and he does a great analysis of the quiz itself.

You are a
Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...
Economic Conservative
(66% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Read More......

26 September, 2005

Well, We're Movin' On Uh-up...

I'd seen some slight sagging recently, but hadn't noticed the pouch until this morning... I'm a Marauding Marsupial!! *Happy Hoppity Dance*

Less than two months of blogging, and I'm already a Marauding Marsupial! Wish I could take credit for it, but I started out with a couple of unfair advantages--Status as a Castle Denizenne, and the visibility of being Team Leader for Valour-IT. Still fun, though.

Speaking of Valour-IT, keep your eyes open. Things will be picking up soon.

Read More......

Attack of the Killer Meme

The day I dreaded has arrived... I've been tagged with my first meme (since I started blogging). I saw this one developing (ick!) and prayed it wouldn't land on my doorstep. Thanks a lot, AFSis! :P

1. Do you try to look hot when you go to the grocery store just in case someone recognizes you from your blog? Nope. In fact, I don't even clean up as much as I should, considering I'm likely to run into some of my students and their parents.

2. Are the photos you post Photoshopped or otherwise altered? What photos?

3. Do you like it when creeps or dorks email you? Yes, I like Neffi just fine. ;)

4. Do you lie in your blog? No, though I have used subterfuge to conceal various peoples' identities at times.

5. Are you passive-aggressive in your blog? What do you think?

6. Do you ever threaten to quit writing so people will tell you not to stop? No. Is it just me, or is this meme just a little...pathetic?

7. Are you in therapy? If not, should you be? If so, is it helping? No. Probably, haha!

8. Do you delete mean comments? Do you fake nice ones?The only comments I've ever deleted were removed because they were XXX-rated. I've never faked a nice comment...that's so pathetic!

9. Have you ever rubbed one out while reading a blog? How about after? What would I need an eraser for when reading a blog? You asking if I killed someone?! Because I hated their blog or something?!

10. If your readers knew you in person, would they like you more or like you less? Who knows...ask them after we've met!

11. Do you have a job? Yes. See Question 1.

12. If someone offered you a decent salary to blog full-time without restrictions, would you do it? Probably not. I'm still trying to figure out why I started blogging in the first place, and what I really want to do with it.

13. Which blogger do you want to meet in real life? A long list of them. Most of the bloggers I read would be on that list, but lately Sgt. B, Lex, BillT and Kat (put us in the same city and watch what happens!) have been hanging out near the top. [AFSis, I would have included you, not after you gave me this meme! Pbbbppbbbt!]

14. Which bloggers have you made out with? None

15. Do you usually act like you have more money or less money than you really have? Probably slightly less. I tend to really stress about money, and I hate spending it on myself.

16. Does your family read your blog? Yes, a couple family members do. Most don't even know I blog.

17. How old is your blog? Look at the archives on the sidebar. Duh! ;)

18. Do you get more than 1000 page views per day? Do you care? Definitely not 1000! On a good day it's about 50 visitors and 75 page views. I guess I care because it's fun to see that people are interested in what I say. But ultimately it's more like a game than anything else.

19. Do you have another secret blog in which you write about being depressed, slutty, or a liar? No way, LOL! I felt bad enough about creating FbL at the Castle!

20. Have you ever given another blogger money for his/her writing? Yes. I've hit the tipjar for some of my friends.

21. Do you report the money you earn from your blog on your taxes? What money?

22. Is blogging narcissistic? I think partially, yes. I think that's especially true for more personal (non-informational/non-discussion) blogs. But then again, as a professional musician, I don't have much room to talk, haha! How much more narcissistic can it get than thinking people want to sit and listen to you play 200-year-old music?

23. Do you feel guilty when you don't post for a long time? Yes, but only because this is a way for me to publicize Valour-IT. So, I feel like I can't let the blog die or lose any of my meager readership.

24. Do you like John Mayer? Who?

25. Do you have enemies? Probably, but no idea who they might be.

26. Are you lonely? Considering that I just moved by myself to an overgrown small town in the middle of nowhere... yes.

27. Why bother? I hate questions like this. I have no idea what they mean. If it's some kinda nihlistic thing, I guess my answer would be: because. Because life is strange and interesting, and sometimes wonderful... and what we choose to do in this world always matters to somebody.

Now... [rubbing hands together evilly] who shall I tag with this nasty little meme? John, SWWBO, and Sgt. B... You're it! Don't you dare wimp out on these questions. I suffered through them; you can too. :D

Update: John reports for duty, hairy eyeball in tow. Sgt. B checks in.

Read More......

25 September, 2005

What "Get Out of Iraq" Really Means

In another of her amazing essays, Cassandra articulates one of the many reasons why the "anti-war" pressure to leave Iraq prematurely is so repugnant, and bereft of fundamental human decency. [For those who may not know, Cassandra is a Marine officer's wife, veteran of many deployments of family and friends]. The entire thing is excellent, but her closing paragraphs are powerful:

The anti-war Left has told us over and over that Iraq is a quagmire: another Vietnam. It is not, of course. The differences are numerous and striking, but the unpalatable truth is that they long to make it one. And the old adage, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it" may well come true once again; for if we withdraw too soon from Iraq, we betray not only the Iraqis, but 150,000 men and women who have served bravely, believing that their service actually stood for something.

Believing that America meant what she said.

How sad for them to find out that the country they believed in with all their hearts is but a paper tiger: a nation of videots whose attention span lasts no longer than the next episode of Survivor Vanuatu?

That we sent them into danger and bloodshed and toil on a fool's errand and then, losing interest, said, "Oh... nevermind. This isn't really all that important after all."

Perhaps you can look that young graduate stepping off the parade ground in the eye after we make it clear what he has just signed up to serve: a nation that doesn't honor its commitments. A nation that will ask him and his friends to die for causes it does not really believe in.

I know I can't.
And here is a Marine of 3 deployments to Iraq (commenter "USMC in Iraq" at Indepundit) who says the same thing his own way in response to a the commenter I quoted in yesterday's post:

How many Iraqis have you had to look in the eye and promise that you would not desert them...then have to worry that your own countrymen would be the cause of you breaking your promise? I know the answer to the last question -you and those who espouse your belief are telling them, "you're days are numbered...we're going to do everything we can so that you suffer the same fate as the Vietnamese and Cambodians" Why? God knows...I sure can't figure it out. [...] Despite your best efforts, I am betting my life, as so many Iraqis are betting their lives and the lives and future of their children, that Iraq will succeed as a democratic nation. I know why I am here and what my efforts are worth. Go look yourselves in the mirror and tell me what you are....and what it's worth..then tell me how you can live with yourselves.
These two say it better than my feeble attempts of yesterday. I'll give a nod of respect to genuine pacifists, and I'll pity those too unintelligent to comprehend the meaning of their actions...but this is why I find the majority of "anti-war" protestors so disturbing and disgraceful.

Read More......

24 September, 2005

"Anti-war" and the War

A warm welcome to Mudville Gazette and Free Republic readers (thanks, bnelson44)! As long as I've got your kind attention, please check out Valour-IT, a Soldiers' Angels effort to provide voice-activated laptops to troops with hand/arm injuries. More info is on the sidebar. Thanks so much for dropping by my humble little blog! Oh, and don't be afraid to comment. I don't bite... though I've been known to scratch! ;)

Okay, the gloves are off. I'm out of the closet. Whatever you want to call it. Let's talk politics...

I could probably be classified as a philosophical Conservative, with Libertarian tendencies (my thoughts on social issues run the gamut from typical "liberal" views right through libertarian leanings). I also am a Christian, something that colors my attitudes in ways most people don't expect; I believe that we have the God-given right to choose our spiritual and physical paths, including rejecting God completely and doing things that will cause us personal or spiritual harm. Besides, who knows if my beliefs are correct, anyway? So, on an individual level, short of interfering with someone else's choices/life, we can do what we want; we'll all answer for it in the end. My particular brand of religion also encourages a strong separation between church and state.

Until 3 years ago, I was a registered Independent. When I moved at that time, I said I'd been lying to myself and I might as well register as a Republican. I did, and after seeing Sen. Kerry running for President, I called up my local party office and put in hours helping to make sure he wasn't elected. In those hours, I met some great people, and I met a lot of people that scared the you-know-what out of me: single-issue voters and those who thought George W. Bush was the herald of the Second Coming. Their political discussions consisted of slogans from talk radio shows and showed a level of ignorance of basic history, logic, etc., that was startling. I was embarrassed to be associated with three-fourths of them (Interesting sideline: many of the employees and local party officials quietly told me they were Libertarians). I haven't gotten around to changing my registration back, but since I've moved again, I'll be registering as an Independent. I'm no Bush Worshipper, but I have had the opportunity to interact with him very briefly, and while I don't agree with all his policies, I found I greatly admired and respected him as a human being.

Why am I telling you this now? Because I read something at Smash's that compelled me to speak out, and I want you to know where I'm coming from.

I support our fighting men and women and I support their mission. One. Hundred. Percent. That shouldn't be a surprise to most people who already know me, but let me make sure it's clear. I believe that what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is vital to the future of this country and possibly the world. They should be out there as absolutely long as they need to be in order to leave stable and non-threating countries behind them when they go. I'm not saying that it's been conducted with anything close to perfection, or even by people with pure motives, behaviors, etc. I'm just saying that it matters and it must be done, as terrible as it is to see.

My heart literally aches at the news of each death, both Coalition and Iraqi. War is hideous for what it does to those who must carry it out, those who die, those on the sidelines, and those who love them all (civilian and military, on all sides). But this world is a messed-up place (my religion says that humans will never make the whole world perfect or even "good"), and so we have to muddle along as best we can. Sometimes that means war is necessary. I despise its necessity, but I see the world as it is, not as I wish it to be.

So, when I read the post I linked above, I was in complete agreement with the Marine in Iraq who wrote:

They [enemy in Iraq] absolutely cannot defeat us militarily and have no strategic vision except the destruction of all who oppose them. A strategy based on such a negative is doomed to fail, unless we cut and run. That is the enemy's only chance to win. The biggest threat we face is a determined enemy who will not quit because, like the Vietnamese they see the possibility of victory because of a perceived willingness to quit at home. [break]

I've said it several times before: this war will be won or lost on the homefront, and the fact that there are so many of our so-called fellow citizens determined to defeat us scares me. You are the ones who can keep history from being repeated and you can help us by not allowing the anti-American crowd to help the enemy snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. [break]

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his retirement, [North Vietnamese] Col. Tin explicitly credited leaders of the U.S. anti-war movement, saying they were "essential to our strategy."

"Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9AM to follow the growth of the antiwar movement," Col. Tin told the Journal. [break]

"Through dissent and protest [America] lost the ability to mobilize a will to win," Col. Tin concluded. "

Thanks for taking the time to help us out. You are the ones who clearly support the troops... because you support our mission. You may not appreciate the role you will play in helping to win this fight. But I do.

Thanks again.

A commenter replied simply, "I guess Iraq is Vietnam, then."

And another commenter responded:

You bet it is.. and it's going to end the same way, not because of the anti-war movement, that is simply an effect, not a cause, but rather because both wars were started for the wrong reasons, with false goals, naive bravado and arrogance. [break]

...This weekends protest will hopefully mark the beginning of the real rise of public dissent against the Iraq war across the American population. Polls are showing that Americans are finally starting to realise their Administration has no plan to win this war and is just betting aimlessly on the lives of thousands of American men and women and an untold number of Iraqis... and THAT simply isn't American.

I had just finished breakfast, and when read that I honestly had to swallow hard because I thought I was going to throw up. Truly. As I said in the comment thread at Smash's, "May whatever god you believe in forgive you for what you are trying to do."

I'm too young to remember the Vietnam war, but I am increasingly frightened and angered by the ignorance, self-centeredness and almost suicidal tendencies of so many who call themselves "anti-war" protestors (Btw, we're all anti-war, you idiots! Get off your high horses!). Whether we win or lose IS all about our homefront staying power. I have respect for tender souls who are philosophical pacifists (a very rare breed). But whether they know it or not, in our multimedia, interconnected world "anti-war" activists are acting to make us lose, with all the disastrous results that implies. And they DO have the power to do it if we let them.

So, get off your butts and get out there to counter those who (largely due to ignorance and lack of thought) want America to lose. You heard it from one of our fighting men: you have the power to help our warfighters win.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments on Smash's post to see the Marine in Iraq's response to people like the commenter quoted above. Very powerful.

UPDATE II: See my follow-up post here.

[H/T to BCR at Snark Patrol for the Smash post. Thanks to Mudville Gazette and Stop the ACLU for "open post" opportunities.]

Read More......

23 September, 2005

Calling all Computer Geeks...

Ahh, don't take offense, guys. One of my best friends in college was a Computer Science Ph.D. ;) I need your help...

I consider myself moderately computer savvy. Maybe another way to say it is that I know just enough to be dangerous!

I know my way around the basic insides and outsides of a desktop computer, and can install and unistall hardware and software in just about any configuration. I can (with occassional major brain cramps), make everything from BIOS and Windows to music notation software sit up and do what I want it to. In the past I've shorted a brand new motherboard, stuck my fingers in a CPU fan, and rewired a power switch. My first modem was a 9600 (in 2000!). My last desktop was self-constructed (with a little help from my computer science friend).

But I have a confession... I'm a complete Luddite when it comes to Internet access. I'm still on dialup [*hides face in utter shame*]. But I recently discovered that with the limited number of ISPs available in my new hometown, an additional phone line plus ISP comes out to the same price as DSL or cable Internet.

However, what I like about dialup right now is that I've got a 35-foot phone cord. I can move my laptop all over, even out to the patio. This is important, as I get very poor radio reception, so most of my listening is via computer. And I'm expecting a small windfall soon, so maybe wireless would be nice...

So, the tech-savvy me goes searching for information on home wireless (and cable/DSL) and soon is lost in discussions of routers and multiple access points, security, and even cordless phones! Argghhh!! Every article I read seems to be either written for computer geeks, or leaves out ALL technical discussions because it's written for someone who thinks windows are what you look through. Not helpful to marginally-educated me.

So, to make a very long and tedious story short(er):

What kind of Internet should I get (DSL or cable)? Why? (btw, I don't have cable TV--or any TV, for that matter)

Do I need to purchase extra security software?

What hardware do I need in order to set up wireless access for a single-computer home? (new laptop is WiFi-ready, but no local access)

Since I don't want to set up an entire home network, do I still need a router if I go wireless?

How much can I expect to spend on equipment/software, either way?

Thanks in advance to any wonderful, awesome, sexy computer geeks who can help me. ;)

Read More......

21 September, 2005

Simon Wiesenthal, R.I.P.

Kat, at The Middle Ground, has the best writing on the death of Simon Wiesenthal that I have seen anywhere.

The world has lost a spirit of tremendous fire.

"Maybe it's my craziness," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "Because I will never stop. I tell my wife, 'The great things in life are never done by normal people. They're done by crazy people.'."

Read More......

19 September, 2005

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Well, that that was no surprise

You are The Cabin Boy/Galley Wench

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!

Read More......

The Return of Valour-IT?

Despite what you may have heard, the demise of Valour-IT has been greatly exaggerated. We're still plugging away, albeit very, very slowly. The needs of Hurricane Katrina victims pretty much wiped us off people's charitable-giving map. And with such gargantuan time-sensitive needs, it wouldn't have been right to push something (Valour-it) that is not about life-threatening concerns, of course.

But the question now is, when do we start increasing Valour-IT visibility once again? We don't plan to push it online until the fundraising competition in October, but there are opportunities for local community organizations, businesses, media, etc. We now have a lot of materials available for everything from motivational presentations for a club that may like to do a fundraiser for Valour-IT, to materials for approaching corporations and media outlets.

So, what sense are you getting of the lay of the land where you are? Do you think people are almost ready to listen to non-hurricane charity requests? What might be a good way to frame this? Let's pool our info/perceptions and see if we can answer these questions...

Read More......

18 September, 2005

Caption Contest!

Neffi kindly offers up the following photo for comic relief...

Note: Castle rules apply (the PG-17 is on patrol).

And speaking of caption contests, check out the hilarious one Greyhawk hosted, if you didn't see it a couple days ago.

On a totally unrelated note... I was rifling through the site meter stats and discovered the following:

"We're number one!" Well, I am, that is. Go to MSN Search and enter "why 'september 17' 'united states' birthday," and Fuzzilicious Thinking is first in line. Whoot, whoot! ...still trying to figure out why someone would use that as a search string, though. Hey, I'm still number one!

Read More......

17 September, 2005

Consuming Fires (addendum)

The reason for this post is found below.

Reading a poem, book or essay is always a collaboration between the reader and the author. The author has tried his best to communicate his ideas (with varying degrees of skill), but the reception of those ideas is always colored by who is receiving. We all bring our individual experiences, or lack thereof, and mental or emotional biases to every text we encounter. In fact, that's one of the fundamental conflicts in any religion--the question of what the holy book(s) really mean.

As to the specific question of whether or not Lex is romanticizing war and killing in his short essay, he can defend himself. I however, do not believe he is. If I did, I would not have linked to it and praised it. I know many of my friends have come to different conclusions on that question. If anybody wants to know how I've come to my conclusion, I'd be happy to discuss the details via email.

As a civilian and a sheltered American who has never had the battlefield come to my front door, I'm a prime candidate for the accusation that I am ignorant of and insensitive to the horrors of war. There is some truth in that, of course (and it is the American warfighter himself who allows me the luxury of that ignorance). But I am also unusually empathetic when at my best, and I believe I have been the recipient of a great deal of education at the hands many military friends and contacts. And so, I would be horrified to think that I was seen as some starry-eyed idiot who thinks war is just a video game with dashing pilots, big strong infantryman, and lots of glorious equipment that makes things go "boom." As Lex wrote in the essay in question, "We can wrap it up in the cloth of duty, honor and country (which are no less true even for our having thus used them) but we cannot escape the naked truth beneath, that all war is a kind of savagery." It's still all about killing. And that is never romantic. It's a tragedy. A tragedy for all involved, and a tragedy that we live in a world where at times it is necessary.

And on a very personal note, it hurts my heart to see my friends talking past each other. Almost as much as it hurts to think that I have alienated some of my friends by endorsing a text that we read with such different eyes.

Read More......

16 September, 2005

Direction? (aka navel-gazing)

I've written two posts this morning that I have since taken down. They were both highly political, though one also contained what I discovered to be a significant error only minutes after I posted it. But today is not the only time I have started a political post and then abandoned it.

I think I've been dancing around this for awhile now. I didn't set out to do a political blog. I'm not even sure why I started blogging. Beyond the friendly encouragement to do so, I think I saw it as a fun way to interact with my online friends--most of whom seemed to be bloggers. And it's been kind of fun to be able to link to something important myself, rather than try and shop it around to a blogging friend. Additionally, once Valour-IT became a part of my online presence, I found myself worrying about the impact of strong political statements in this blog on my attempts to run a charity project free of strong political association or entanglements.

Among certain close family and friends I do not hesitate to discuss politics and I vigorously and fearlessly defend my views. I feel comfortable because we understand each other and trust the values and heart of all who are assembled and debating their views; we are free to disagree without being slandered or attacked or labeled narrowly. But debating in a public forum means opening oneself up to the possibility of divisive misunderstandings, stereotyping of character and personality (because of lack of personal interactions), and worst of all, the trollish types so common in such forums.

No, I don't shirk from standing up for my beliefs for fear that I will be rejected. I believe (and think) what I do, and you can take or leave it. But I think the ugly blowblack that can come from such a stance is probably not something I really want to deal with. It's dark and depressing, and rarely productive. Yes, I suppose that's kinda wimpy...

But yet, the more personal writing I have done recently, like Friends? and It's That Date Again... seem self-indulgent and are almost more revealing than I'm comfortable with.

But then, where to go with this? Should I let this become a substantially political blog? It could certainly make things interesting around here, haha! The alternative seems to be simply a personal diary and linkfest (both of which are perfectly fine in and of themselves, but feel self-serving for me). So, what direction shall I take? Where from here?

Read More......

Consuming Fires: Eros and Bombing

Inspired by an email from a reader, Lex has written a short but very profound essay on love and war, and where the two intersect. It's definitely one of his most thought-provoking and eloquent offerings, worthy of the widest distribution.

Go read it! And be sure to take your brain with you. :)

UPDATE: I did not elaborate on what I found profound about Lex's post becuase I felt I couldn't say it any better than he had. However, I find than several online friends have come to very different conclusions about the meaning of his essay than I did. That concerns me because I do not wish to be seen as endorsing what they think Lex meant.

Yes, I'm being vague. I will tackle it tomorrow and explain what *I* think he meant.

Read More......

15 September, 2005

Quiz Time!

A a bit of a brainy one this time...


You tend to notice the big things in life...
But the details aren't exactly your forte

Ha! Ain't that the truth!

I'd be very interested to see how various blog buddies would rate on this. Please do try it. It's interesting to stop and realize how often we don't notice everyday details...

Read More......

12 September, 2005


I've tried to write this post for days, but I just can't make it come out right. Here goes...

Though I have been an active user of the Internet since sometime before 1996, and have read blogs since at least 2003, I never did the chatroom thing, and I only jumped into commenting in the blog world about one year ago. I think my introduction to it coincided with my discovery of Anysoldier.com, as I began looking for information that would help me understand the experiences and needs of the personnel I was "supporting." So naturally, it was the milblogs I gravitated to, and it was milbloggers with whom I first made personal contacts. And it was among the milbloggers that I found people I would like to consider my friends. I enjoy and value their company, and a couple of them have had a profound effect on my intellectual and/or emotional life. I've met one of them in person and spoken to three others on the phone. But are they really my friends?

Merriam Webster OnLine says:

Main Entry: friend
Pronunciation: frend
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English freond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English freon to love, freo free

1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem

4 : a favored companion

What parameters signify a relationship among more than acquaintances? Which leads to the question, can people who only interact via online text be considered truly friends? Can you honestly know a person when you've never seen the body language, heard inflections of voice, or seen how they treat others? Does the distance of electronic text give people the confidence to be themselves, or does it allow them space enough to construct a facade?

This is not a new topic in the blogosphere. ALa wrote, a number of months ago:

Am I who I present here? (I think I am) Are you? Are we friends even though we have never met? Can we be friends if we've never met? Many of you I speak with more than people in my 'real' life...so what's 'real'? [...] And what about when this world crosses over...on the phone, on IM or over dinner...or a Blogger's Ball? Does it become 'real' then or was it 'real' all along?

Barb thinks she knows the answer...

First of all, friends are friends - whether we met first through the internet or in person matters not. Secondly, I think that not only can we form true friendships without meeting one another, it may lead to a purer form of friendship.

We didn't form these friendships because we happened to work together, live next to one another, etc. [...] As long as we have been honest, then the bonds between us are not based on age or physical parameters, or on other accidents of location. Instead the bonds are based on how we think - and that is a better, stronger bond to me.

I am a naturally intuitive person; intuition is my preferred way of operating in the world. Interacting via bytes and pixels short-circuits a lot of that. So, I'm not going to rush into believing a couple of long chat sessions make for an emotionally-intimate relationship and demonstrate a person's trustworthiness (or lack thereof).

But over time, I think one can see a lot of a person's character through their comments around the 'sphere, their postings, how they deal with conflicts that may develop, etc. As in any extended interaction, character will "out." That's certainly been my experience (both positive and negative).

I had noticed my first "online-friend-to-be" around the blogosphere for quite awhile before he made a particularly beautiful comment on a deployed soldier's blog. I emailed him without introduction and asked if I could "steal" his quote and send it to the deployed guys I was writing to. He turned out to be a combat veteran himself. That started a long conversation about military psychology, combat, the social contract between soldier and civilian, etc. Much to my shock and embarrassment, he seemed to think I was worth corresponding with on these subjects. After several months, it branched into more general discussions of psychology and sociology, along with a bit of teasing and friendly banter.

But it was still a very intellectual and impersonal interaction. Then one day he sensed something was wrong. It was. He did not push, but offered himself as a brother to lean on, a shoulder to cry on, and a coach for the future. He said I had been supporting his brother warfighters and now it was time for him to support me. I was shocked. But he meant what he said. He waded in, offered me his arm, and dragged me back out of the mess.

I know today I could trust this friend with my very life. Does it matter that though we speak on the phone and know what each other looks like we've never met face-to-face? Is it less real? Is what I've learned from him any less a part of my daily life?

He's just an example of several fine people I've gotten to know online, to varying depths. Yes, I've met my share of people online I wouldn't trust further than I can throw them. It's been interesting that most of those people I had a bad feeling about from day one, but had managed to talk myself out of it (which I lived to regret).

Another online correspondent wrote the following to me when I took a chance and shared some (at that time) recent re-evaluations of my life:

The world has shrunken, it has been cramped into a crowded city street. We "meet" people, and come to know them in virtual space, but are now nearly assured that we will never meet in life. We can take chances, we can open ourselves. We can suspend fear, offer hope. We can share, we can become (almost) intimate. Perhaps in some respects more truly intimate than in the "real" world. Here there are no warts, here we are all beautiful.

I think maybe the anonymity of the Internet may encourage people to be more "open" online than they would be in person. But if we are smart and cautious about our interactions, real friendships can develop. We may even discover our online correspondents have warts!

I think I've found some "real" friends online (warts and all, haha!). Recently, for the first time in my life, I was able to move and take my friends with me; our interactions are no less than they were before I moved. It's been a joy to still have my online community, even out here in the boonies.

And as I look back on what is nearing a year's worth of online interactions, I feel incredibly blessed to count some members of the online community among my friends--people I am attached to "by affection or esteem," people who are among my "favored companion[s]." I've met people who by their very background or career (or simply their extraordinary intelligence) would never have crossed my path were it not for blogs. And from them I've learned a bit about what it's like to serve your country in wartime, a bit more about myself and my values and chosen role in this world, how the human spirit can maintain sanity in the most insane circumstances, a bit more about this wonderful country I live in, and that I'm not the only marginally-sane, never-married 30-something woman around.

W, you were my lifeline and my pivot point. I am deeply honored to have been welcomed into the brotherhood; T, your intuitive gentleness touches me and your courage inspires me (no, no pity there); CLL, I've learned so much from reading and conversing with you--about living the life I want, about what I have to offer, and about things I had never fully appreciated; K, we'll just be two spinsters, growing old together; And J, one of these days I'll figure out how to talk to you without driving you up the wall! ;) And how could I forget to include S?--for shared laughter is one of the greatest joys of friendship.

And if you don't recognize yourself above, know that if you have helped untangle my blog, listened to me rant and rave (and cry), or opened the door to a world I didn't see before, I count you as real (or more so) a friend as any other.

I am constantly amazed at the diversity of experience, skill, knowledge, and background that I've found online. But the consistent thread is people of great intelligence and courage who have deigned to give me a peek into their lives... and sometimes even their hearts. I count it all a humbling privilege.

UPDATE: An interesting discussion on friendship and levels of intimacy is developing in the comments.

Read More......

11 September, 2005

Thoughts on 9-11

Many of my favorite bloggers have written wonderful posts on this 9-11 anniversary. Please go and read them, if you haven't yet. They're so good that I'm glad I finished my own thoughts before I was humbled by reading their remarkable writing.

In a must-read, Lex puts the last four years in perspective with"Four Years." If you click on only one link, make it this one.

Cassandra shares her heart-felt wish for 9-11-05 in "Just for One Day." It's mine, too.

Sgt. B lights candles of remembrance and reminds us of American heroes.

BCR fearlessly discusses the anger.

Kat explains why it's personal.

John ties past and present together.

Barb offers her memories and a roundup of big and small bloggers' 9-11 posts.

Read More......

It's That Date Again...

So much has been said and written about what happened in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on that awful day. I have no great insights to add or new information to share. But I offer this: I did not forget what I knew and understood by the end of that day. And I will never forget. I will remember the heroes, mourn the victims, and ponder the lessons. I will never forget.

I wrote the following essay a couple days after the first anniversary of the attacks on 9-11-01. On the actual anniversary I had participated in the Rolling Requiem, a world-wide chain of performances of Mozart's Requiem, in memory of those who had died that day. Each performer in the event wore a tag with the name of someone who had died in the attacks. Afterwards, we wrote a note on our tag, and the tags were collected for distribution to surviving family members.

Participation in the Rolling Requiem was emotionally much harder than I had expected. It also packed a physical punch. When I started to sing, I found that getting a deep breath was difficult, as it seemed that the tag over my heart was pressing down on me. I wanted to rip it off; it was suffocating. I told myself I must be losing my mind, and tried to believe it was just melodrama on my part. But I couldn't convince myself I did not feel that weight. I finally said to myself, "The families of these people are carrying a lifelong burden, you can bear that burden for an hour." And so I did. But I was so relieved to take it off when we were done.

I wish I could share with you the name I wore. I have it written down and I would know it the instant I heard it, but I can't come up with it off the top of my head, and the paper it's on is still packed away from my recent move. But after the Requiem, I remember that I looked up his name and learned that he worked for WTC security and was last seen helping evacuate children from a childcare center.

I was safe and sound that day, and I lost no one I knew in the attacks. But in a split second my view of the world shifted to a new axis. Here's what I wrote a couple days after the Rolling Requiem, in response to a question about my memories of 9-11...

Unlike someone who either watched the news as it unfolded, or awoke on the West Coast and pieced together the news bit-by-bit, I received almost the whole news in the span of about 30 seconds.

Though a student at a Midwestern music school, I have more in common with a typical absent-minded professor. On that infamous day, I got confused about the starting time of my first class, which involved learning the trumpet. I had left home before 9:00 eastern time and arrived via public transportation early for my class, so I had heard no news.

I settled down for a little practice before classtime. I had no watch, but after a while I sensed that class should have started already. I stuck my head out the door and asked someone what time it was. Suddenly a professor came running down the hall very agitated because her computer was down and her radio was broken. She said something about hoping to find information in the library. I thought this was a little strange, but I was still very focused on practicing. I returned to the classroom.

When my teacher arrived, she apologized for being late (as was the only other student attending) by saying, "It's been a strange morning." I said it had been the same for me (referring to my time confusion). She said, "It's unbelievable, isn't it." Neither I nor the other student (who had been in a 9:00 eastern-time class) knew what she was talking about. She then told us a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. We were both horrified and said, "What an awful accident!" She said, "Wait, there's more." She had seen the second plane hit live. As we were attempting to wrap our brains around that, she said, "There's still more," and told us about the Pentagon. Then she told us about the rumor of a bomb at the State Department, and of the several planes that were at that time still unaccounted for. My classmate and I were literally speechless. We couldn't form coherent sentences. We just babbled and stuttered and stared at each other.

None of us knew what to do other than to somehow keep moving. So we picked up our instruments and started to play. Concentration was almost impossible, but we plodded ahead, stopping occasionally for incoherent exclamations of shock.

It was over an hour later before I had access to a campus computer to find more information. The first headline I saw said, "WTC Tower collapses." I stared at it trying to understand what that meant. The picture of it in mid-crumble did not make it more real. As I clicked on various stories and began to read, I kept going back to that picture to make sure I hadn't imagined or misunderstood it. As I read, the story of the other tower's collapse was posted. At first I thought it was another story about the first tower. It was all more than I could comprehend. I printed out several articles to take with me so that I could find a quiet place to try to read.

Professors in the rest of my classes either gave us time to talk or cancelled classes compeletely, knowing our minds were elsewhere. By midafternoon I could no longer bear to keep my attention on anything other than the attacks. I went home and sat in front of the TV.

That evening I worked as a personal aide to a naturalized American citizen from Germany who has clear memories of being a child in Germany during WWII. I walked through her door and just dropped my backpack on the floor. I did not say hello--that somehow seemed trite. We just looked at each other. "What an awful day," I said. She agreed. I went through the motions of preparing her meal and caring for her needs, but I felt disconnected from my body and my surroundings. Neither of us said much. As I prepared her for bed later that night, she began to talk. She said that it reminded her of the bombings of her town in WWII. She said that she couldn't bear to watch anymore. "I know what those rescue workers are experiencing", she said. "I remember what powdered buildings and dead bodies smell like. I didn't know I remembered the smell, but I can smell it as I lay here." (In the weeks ahead, she began to have nightmares and found that she had never dealt with the trauma of the war.--"I just stuffed it away, like all the Germans did." Many times over the next year, she would talk about the war).

That night I watched TV until my eyes wouldn't stay open. The next weeks were one long blur. I know I attended classes, but nearly every other waking moment was spent sitting cross-legged in front of the TV. I don't remember there being Halloween that fall, and I don't remember the change of the seasons. I would sit in front of the TV to watch the news and lose track of hours at a time. When I would become aware of myself and surroundings, I would find I was rocking back and forth with silent tears falling down my cheeks. I cried for those who died. I cried for those who survived. I cried for our national loss of innocence (or ignorance?). I cried because in order to protect me, soldiers were leaving their families and doing things that I myself did not have the courage to do.

Though I no longer have as intense feelings today, I still mourn and still worry, and I still feel the ground of our country shifting under my feet. The status quo no longer exists, and what we will become is still unknown.

I will forget neither the losses nor the lessons of 9-11-01. I will teach them to others and I will forever honor the sacrifices of those who work to keep it from happening again.

UPDATE: Kat writes about the part I left out in describing my experience: the thoughts and feelings that began that day, and continue to resonate.

UPDATE II: The name I wore.

Read More......

08 September, 2005

Art for Soldiers

Are you a lover of the visual arts? Do you know someone who is? Holly Aho has something for you!

Holly Aho is a professional visual artist whose paintings normally sell for $150 to $2000. She is offering steep discounts on original, specifically-commissioned paintings in exchange for donations to Soldiers' Angels General Fund, Project Valour-IT, and SA's Operation Hurricane Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund. The paintings will be part of a gallery showing to raise more money for these Soldiers' Angels funds, then shipped to their new owners.

Visit her site and a gallery website for samples of her work.

Holly is a Soldiers' Angel (volunteer), and has done great work for Valour-IT (among many other activities as an Angel), while facing some serious challenges of her own. So, please go check her out and help get out the word on this artistic way to Support Our Troops.

Read More......

07 September, 2005

American Character

Soldiers' Angel Holly Aho has a wonderful letter from an Air National Guard pilot (and Iraq veteran) helping to evacuate the injured and ill in the aftermath of Katrina. He describes the pace of air evacuations on Friday and the action at the New Orleans Int'l Airport, which was open only to relief/evacuation flights:

...These pilots were practically landing and taxiing on top of each other. They came in fully loaded with sick personnel. Many right from the rooftops....The helos would unload and then take right back off. It was not uncommon for a helicopter to be on the ground less than two to three minutes and then blast back off...These helicopters were immediately met by ground personnel who helped the people off the helos and if they couldn't walk, they put them on a stretcher or just flat carried them.

What makes it so extraordinary is when I realize that these ground personnel were just the airport workers, airline employees, cart drivers, fireman, and then the staff of all the emergency teams...They just stepped up to the plate and did it.There were literally so many helicopters coming in and out of the triage area that I do not understand how the tower guy could see through them all to control the planes once they landed. The little baggage trailers and tugs that you normally see zipping around the airport were being used to move survivors out to the airplanes. They can best be described as mini ambulances. The terminals at the airport were triage and staging areas. The airport vehicles that are usually operated by airport managers and security were leading airplanes and helicopters to newly created parking spaces. Then the huge thunderstorm hit to make matters even worse. Thunder, lightening, and driving rain pounded the airport and surrounding area for over 1.5 hours.

The helicopter pilots and crews never stopped. Everyone was so determined and working with such purpose.

It just was incredible. Absolutely incredible. There is no way the helos should have been flying in this weather. If this was just some regular mission or training flight, you can bet your kids Super Play Station that they would not have been flying. It would have been easier and probably safer to floss a shark's teeth them to have gotten these guys to stop flying. The same thing went for everyone working to organize and evacuate the sick, hurt, and elderly inside the airport.

As he wrote in his introduction, "[What I saw] filled me with pride and reminded me again why we are such an amazing and successful country." Well, what I read did the same for me. Read the rest here.

Read More......

06 September, 2005

"Call to the Nation"

Soldiers' Angels and American Young Heroes have a big idea for showing our military how much we support them...

Call to the Nation: Support the Troops

We invite ALL Americans who Support Our Troops to Publicly demonstrate that Support in small or large gatherings in hundreds of cities and towns across America at 11:00am on September 17, 2005...

..All of our Troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, in the Gulf Coast of America, and around the world deserve and need to hear loud and clear from the "silent majority" that we in fact do support them.

It is time for our troops overseas to be able to talk about how their families, friends and fellow Americans back home all got together to show their support and appreciation. It is time that we do something together to build up their spirits.

Let's do it, people. We've vowed, "never again..." Let's be part of making sure that vow is kept.

[Soldiers' Angels is the organization managing Valour-IT, and I found this on Holly's website. I imagine she's very involved with this...]

Read More......

Administrative Note

Yes, I've deleted some recent posts. Yes, I know they are available via Google if you want to bother. I was just tired of looking at them.

Read More......

05 September, 2005

Sheepdogs, Part Deux

A few months ago, Blackfive and his commenters had some great stuff about sheep and sheepdogs vs. wolves. This is even better. Go read it. Now!

Update: The link to Blackfive now goes directly to the relevant post.

Read More......

04 September, 2005

Katrina and Valour-IT

I'm torn between helping those with immediate need, and those who will need help for the long haul... I hope we can help both...
-Sgt. B, on The Gun Line

I've been pretty quiet about Katrina, both from feelings of helplessness, and the conflict I felt between the needs of my Southern fellow citizens and the Valour-IT program that is so near and dear to my heart.

With the great need in the South, I expected literally zero donations to Valour-IT this week. It seemed almost obscene to raise money for anything other than hurricane relief, so we hadn't vied for attention. The last time more than one or two people posted on Valour-IT was Monday. Since then, it's been mentioned by bloggers only in passing (if at all).

But something surprising (to me) happened... people gave to Valour-IT anyway. Not many--only about 10, and the donations were smaller than average--almost all under $20. But that was with no project visibility. Of course, this is just speculation, but I envisioned a donor giving a healthy chunk of change to disaster relief (maybe $50?), then thinking, "Hmmm... I bet Valour-IT is going to have trouble getting donations. I'll send them a little something, too." And so they sent five or ten or even fifteen dollars to Valour-IT.

Those donations added up, bit by bit. But the impact was more than that. It showed that people hadn't forgotten the wounded warriors Valour-IT is helping; they'd found a way to help both.

I hadn't expected it, but the desire to support Valour-IT was obviously still out there.

And then I discovered something else. A blogger (I can't remember whom) pointed out how much could be raised for relief efforts and Valour-IT both, if every reader gave just five dollars to both. Imagine how many laptops (and components) we could buy if every person who gave a significant donation via a blog link to the Red Cross or other charity for hurricane relief also gave just three to five dollars to Valour-IT...

It's an old cliche, but oh so true; It's amazing what we can accomplish when we work together. When we look into our wallets and see that we can't give large amounts to every organization we want to help at times like these, we tend to forget that a single dollar given is one more dollar a charitable organization didn't have before, that each dollar combines with other gifts until together they have the power to make something happen.

Well, how about it? Three five-dollar donations would be more than enough for one more laptop bag; 12 would buy one copy of Office XP... Some of the bloggers on the Valour-IT blogroll get a thousand hits a day; at only $3 each, their readers alone could supply four more wounded warriors with the computer access that can have such an impact on their recovery!

So, let's not let Valour-IT fall by the wayside. We can continue to accomplish great things if we work together, a couple of dollars at a time...

I've got links to both donation opportunities set up on the sidebar to help you get started. Pick your charity for hurricane relief and then send a couple dollars Valour-IT's way, too.

Read More......

02 September, 2005

A Different Kind of Relief

With apologies to my three readers for not posting...

I haven't felt like I had anything to offer on the issue that is foremost in everyone's mind. I trust that anyone reading this has already done (and will continue to do) what they can to help in this terrible situation. My heart hurts when I think of the hell so many people are going through. And the pessimist in me rises up and demands time and energy in contemplation of how far-reaching and negative the impact of this could be on our country. And at the same time I (like others) feel torn between different groups who have such need of our help.

So, I've done what I can on both counts, but feel rather helpless about it all. My readership is too small to be an effective clearinghouse for information or a source of assistance. And I don't have the ability to pull together a heart-rending post that will send everyone to the nearest charity to donate all their worldy goods; I don't have a meaningful role in this. So instead, here's my small (and largely insignificant) contribution to all this:

I think we all need to laugh. So, I'd like to collect the funniest PG-13 (max) jokes or stories* you've stumbled across lately (put them in the comments). Sometimes all we can do is laugh in order not to cry...

*John of Argghhh! has kindly lent me the latest version of the PG-17 to patrol the comments, so keep it nice...

Read More......