Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

Reading

I’m a bibliophile. I think it’s because books were my refuge when I was young. Escapism. I remember, as an early teenager, closing the door to my room, and in the dim light presented by a single, cheap lamp, reading my favorite fantasy novels–The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock. To this day I consider those books to be the exemplary way to present an anti-hero. And the hero dies at the end– groundbreaking in the day of Tolkien’esque fantasy.

I managed to bring with me to Germany, about 45 of the books from my library and there will be more on the way. The library here on the base is very good, and I’ll make pleanty of use of it.

Reading through Random House’s top 100 books of all time (English language), it was interesting how many of those books I’ve actually read.

Here’s what I remember reading from the list:

Animal Farm
The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe
The Catcher in the Rye
1984
Watchmen
Neuromancer
Slaughter-House-Five
The Secret Agent
The Magus

I’m embarassed of course at how many books on the list I have not read. I’m sure I wouldn’t like most of them, as I feel that while many of the older writers that make up this list were great artists, most of their techniques and language doesn’t apply now. There are exceptions of course. Leo Tolstoy comes to mind. This list is only of books originally composed in the English language, so the great Russian writers aren’t listed. You can never have a complete list of great novels without Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Anna Karenina.

I own several other books on the list that I’ve not gotten to, but will eventually. I, Claudius (the Public Broadcasting mini-series was awesome, though), Catch-22, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Nostromo. Also, take note that the lsit was the board’s list. There was also a reader’s list which included more science-fiction, a genre always undercut by “experts”. To me an expert on books is anyone who reads them. I find most literary critics to be pompus, pipe-smoking libs who think a great book is one they can’t understand. Of course, I’m suspicious of the reader’s list too, because it contains far to many novels from Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard, lending more of a cult-following and notoriety factor than you’d want if you were seeking objective critique ( I almost said Objectivism). And the board loses some credibility by forgetting, To Kill a Mockingbird and Middlemarch. Laughable…

There are many great books that will never make any lists. Feel free to list some in your comments. Like I said, great books don’t have to be on literary lists.

30
Nov
08

Veganism

The other day while I was in the corner store, I was flipping through a mixed martial arts magazine. An article profiled a UFC fighter who was a vegan, that is, he eats only vegetables–no dairy or eggs etc. In the article, the fighter was interviewed. He stated that when he first came into the UFC, the fighters were given a bench press test, probably similar to what is given to college football players at a combine. He practically boasted that he could only do two or so repetitions, while all of the other fighters did about twenty. This fighter bore all of the hallmarks of a vegan-athlete: Sallow and pale skin, overly thin. To make matters worse, he seemed to have taken up a rather odd ritual prior to his fights: Drinking his own urine. He stated that in order to ensure his system was clear of any foods, he would begin drinking his own urine until he defecated nothing but urine….

With more wins than losses in this fighter’s short career, I applaud the fact that he’s managed to do what he’s done, despite the fact that everything he’s doing with his diet is counter-productive and downright lunacy. To me, this fighter is acting like the bearded lady at a circus. People want to watch him, not because he’s a great at something, but because he’s an oddity.

A fighter can always make use of strength. Let’s not be too romantic about technique and all of that garbage. Punching hard and fast or being able to lift another fighter from the ground and slam him onto the ground before taking a mount position is all the technique some need. It’s called ground-and-pound, and it’s worked very well for many. And even if a fighter is a master of submissions or a great technical striker, having great strength and knowing how to use it can only help. Strength need not be divorced from technique. When we did New Army Combatives in my training, (It’s basically Brazillian Ju-Jitsu), I found that I was stronger than every person I faced. All of the techniques they had been shown didn’t much matter. I’d lay them in my guard, clamp their head against my chest with an interlocking grip, and arch my back hard. Most would tap in less than thirty seconds. One guy told me he could feel his vertebrae seperating. Now, as the week bore on, each day starting with almost two hours of grappling, I found my strength waning. Fatigue was setting in. I had to rely on technique more and more and there was not the instant domination of before. This proves that strength is an important factor. Though I was never beaten in training, there were two people that I was unable to force to “tap out” in our three minutes of alloted grappling time.

Getting back on track–veganism is a horrible choice for any athlete, and for most other people. It’s yet another way people try to make the world be as they think it should be, not as it is. The human body cannot digest most plant matter. Most of the digestable portions of a plant are encapsulated within walls of cellulose,and since we’re not cows, our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down those walls. Chewing and cooking can release some of the nutrients however. That’s why raw veganism is even worse than the ordinary sort of veganism.

The USDA recommends about .75 grams of protien intake for every kg (2.2 lbs) of your body weight, per day. For athletes, the requirement is much higher: from 1.2 grams to 2 grams per kg of bodyweight. It’s very difficult to acheive this with a vegan diet, and people will see a significant decline in strength and sense of well-being if those levels are not met, particularly if they are training hard. I’ve experimented myself with vegetarianism. I’ve also gone high protein. There’s no comparison. I need protein and lots of it.

Tony Gonzalez, the All-Pro tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, went vegetarian last year. Look at his performance now. I never see a highlight with him in it, while before, he was probably the best at his position, in the game. In an interview, he said that when he first started his new diet, he could barely lift any weight in the weightroom; he’d experienced a significant decline in strength since becoming a vegetarian. Only after adding lots of beans to his diet did he regain his strength. That seems like a circuitous route to his goal.

Some want to talk about veganism being a moral choice. I don’t think it’s moral to go against nature. There may be arguments as to what nature actually constitues, but here the message is clear: Vegans are physically weaker, thinner, have weaker bones and their diet lacks important B vitamins obtainable only through meat products. The long term effects of B vitamin deficiency are psycological problems ( I could get further into the mental make up of most vegans that I’ve met, but i’ll spare you), vision problems and nerve damage. How is this moral?

26
Nov
08

Applaud Obama where it’s due…but Russia looms.

Let’s be happy about recent appointments by Obama. He’s decided to keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Gates did an outstanding job in a position that garners no sympathy and is always a prime target for wacky far-lefters. Sweeping out the rubble that Rumsfeld left on the Iraqi battlefield, Gates calmly went about turning a disaster into a clear victory. He has bi-partisan support, too.

Obama also decided to bring on retired Gen. James Jones as a national security advisor. It was Gates, acting as NATO supreme commander, who appointed Gen. David Patraeus to lead the surge effort in Iraq. Quite honestly, I’m shocked. Instead of appointing hacks and demogogues to these important and decidedly un-leftist positions, Obama brought in men proven in battle. Jones represents the first military man to serve as top security advisor since Colin Powell served 20 years ago under Reagan.

Bush’s appointment of Rumsfeld is probably the single biggest reason that the Democrats now hold power. He arrogance is legendary. No military man of any regard was immune from Rumsfeld’s attempts to put powerful men in uniform, “in their place.” Instead of listening to men who knew and had experience, such as Gen Shinseki, Rumsfeld blazed ahead in a world of his own making–and killed our soldiers and national morale in doing so.

Russia, after brokering some new deals with Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez, sent a flotilla of warships to the coast of Venezuela. Russian President Medvedev has been visiting the country after Russia sold Venezuela over $4 Billion in arms. Chavez is attempting to have constitutional ammendments made that will ensure he remains president for life. However, his popularity is waning. His people are starving while he makes riduiculous statements, wastes money on weapons he’ll never use (if he loves his life and his county’s infrastructure) and cosy’s up to evil geniuses Medvedev and Putin.

It’s gonna be an interesting eight years…

Slowly and surely, Russia is attempting to undermine the United States. They’ll continue for the next eight years, or more.

22
Nov
08

No Sprechen

I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday. Because of the changes that are going on in Europe with US military bases, (we’re finally going to make the Europeans pay for their own defense), there was some confusion as to which base I would be stationed at; my assigned unit had changed bases.

Adjusting to the problems of living in a new country, and carrying the mother-load of jet lag, I was finally assigned a room here at the Sheraton Hotel in Frankfurt. My stay so far has been great. It’s a big change being “permanent party” army and “TRADOC” army. TRADOC can burn for all I care….

The weather and atmosphere in Germany are very agreeable to me. Everything that you’ve heard about Germans is true; they’re timely and the hotel and airport are immaculately clean. I went to the very bottom floor of the airport, where the supermarket is located. The long subterranean hallway struck me as amazingly clean–no gum wrappers, no dirt in the corners.

I’ll be enrolling in German classes that the army offers. I do know a bit of German, and for whatever reason it came to me much easier than Spanish did.

The army also offers weekly travelling arrangements that reach all across Europe. They have busses that pick soldiers and their families up, and bring them on tour rides to all the great historical spots in Europe. The train here in Germany also spans Europe, and I plan to make good use of it.

As of now, according to what I know while I’m sitting here writing this, I’ll be assigned to the 66th Military Intelligence Battalion, in Wiesbaden.

In the near future, I’ll be posting some pics of my ventures in Europe.

Gutten Tag.

16
Nov
08

America’s enemies clamor to Obama

Be suspicious when your ideological enemies suddenly want to meet you for lunch. Go to dinner and sit, like Han Solo talking to Greedo at the cantina– with your blaster under the table and pointed at his guts.

Russia, Iran, Venezuela and some in the new Iraqi regime want to talk with Obama. They smell weakness. The Left’s belief, that if only we would change, they will change will be exploited here. Putin stands as a titan amongst the world’s politicians. Astute, cruel, nationalistic and certainly no coward, he knows how far the West can be pushed, at every angle. We should all hope that Obama does not trust Putin.

Our enemies are probing for new soft spots. They smile for the sycophantic journalists. They dress nicely. The Russians wear silk ties.

This is what I feared most. Not some overt military strike, but a mind war waged on a plane on which Obama does not exist. President elect Obama must be careful. He needs to surround himself with astute people, maintaining strength even in the “soft” areas of government, such as the State Department.

Mr. Obama, surely you have read Sun Zsu’s Art of War.

Our enemies have too, and understand it better than we. Know thy enemy…

This is not paranoia. This is reality. The world, mostly, is not like us, though it wants to be. But the price in blood, sweat and tears is too great for many other nations. They want what we have, and having been denied it because their religions, ideologies and political systems are archaic or rendered meaningless, they settle for jealousy.

Russia insists that we not deploy our new missile defense system. Iran wants to talk at the table–yet again– about its nuclear program. Neither of these countries wants to give an inch. They’re hoping Obama will give them miles though.

Some say that Obama will be strong when facing the myriad of international problems that are springing up. He will face down Iran and Russia. I thought that was cowboy politics. If Obama will do the same things the Bush administration has done, where is the change? My guess is that Obama doesn’t really know what he will do, and neither do most who voted for him.

Audacious as Hope may be, Mr. President, it is no substitute for knowledge, wisdom and strength.

15
Nov
08

Think this can’t happen?

Abu Hakim removed a photo from the glove compartment. He looked at the photo; it was himself, astride a bicycle, the Washington Monument rising in the background. Abu Hakim’s hair was jelled and he smiled widely and genuinely in that photo. That was two years ago, when he had come to America to study at Cambridge.

The smell of car exhaust crept into Hakim’s car, as it sat idling in the Seattle drizzle, the gray sky matching Hakim’s mood. It had come to this. In Hamminayah, his mother worked and sent him money to help with his classes. The part-time job at the gas station could not pay for all of his expenses and he was so busy with his studies. He remembered the exuberance he had felt for the American way. But then there was the American invasion of Iraq. His country had been torn apart by unbelievers, and to make matters worse, his brother, Raham, had been kidnapped by Shia death-squads, his body found in a ditch near lake Habbinayah. The Shia heretics had used a power-drill as a torture device, drilling holes in Raham’s legs, making special targets of his kneecaps. His eyes were gone too. And all because of America. Because of oil. That is what the Imam told him and Hakim felt in his bones to be true. When he had received news of his brother’s death, he flew home to grieve with his family. His city lay in ruins. Most of the buildings around his neighborhood were dusty shells, amongst which insurgent snipers crept, day and night, killing everything that moved across the empty streets. Even women.

Islam, which had never before been that important in the mind of a younger Abu Hakim, now became a fire in his soul. Allah had lit that fire and it would burn until this city of Seattle was but ashes. Almost, so close had Abu come to living an American dream. He shoved the transmission into drive and motored in between two cars stopped in the heavy Seattle traffic, thinking about someone that had almost kept him from the fate he was about to face. A year ago, he met Sarah in class. He became like a child around her, her blonde hair reaching to her waste down her back. That blonde hair fascinated him. An angel must have hair like that… But then she had left him. After his brother had died, he became withdrawn and brooding. He had no time to grieve! She didn’t let him grieve… She wanted him to be happy all of the time, but that was not possible. Now someone else could feel and smell Sarah’s hair. Abu’s sinuses tingled and he pounded the steering wheel with his palm. He whimpered, cried a bit at the thought, then noticed that someone in a car next to him was staring. What a fool he was being! Letting the world’s pleasures come between he and his operation.

The Space Needle sought to pierce the sky. Traffic became ever more tangled, but Abu had much patience. Finally, he pulled to a spot under the Needle, leaving the engine to sputter in the damp air. The Al-Qaeda operatives had given him everything he needed. His consort, whom he’d met with months earlier had explained to him how the Uranium would be smuggled into the US: Hidden amongst stacks of wall clocks with Tritium arms, to fool the customs officers and their radiation detectors. All of it shipped into port in huge crates. Russia had provided the know-how. Jealous Russia… The trunk of the car was packed with a carefully constructed sphere of explosives. At the sphere’s core, the small amount of Uranium, holding all of the magical and invisible power, waiting for destructive release. Abu reached under the front seat and pulled to his lap a plunger with wires leading to the car’s engine, the bomb’s power source. He rocked to and fro. Alla Akbar, Alla Akbar, Alla Akbar…

Robert Jenkins jogged, painfully along the sidewalk, dodging puddles, dodging people. He’d forced himself to run after two months of inactivity. His wife, Jessica, had wanted some potatoes for tonight’s dinner, but the traffic was too horrendous to drive. So he ran. With potatoes. It was always interesting, all of the things you noticed while jogging that you never noticed at other times. He saw the leg of a child’s stuffed animal, laying along the curb, in the road, the water rushing over it. He could hear people talking too, their voices carrying despite the rain, bouncing off the high walls of businesses.

His back hurt. His right knee hurt. But what he’d seen in the mirror hurt more, so it was time to start exercising again. No more excuses. Yes he’d been busy at work, but… He wanted to get back home now though. Take a shower and watch a movie. Kiss his little girl good-night. Ahead, he could see the Space Needle. From where he was , he needed to take a right, then just a another mile or so.

Shadows. Then a blooming and bright lotus. So bright Robert became blind and fell. Could he have seen, could his scorched retinas have registered reality, Robert would have seen that lotus form a mushroom cloud, the Needle crumple like a straw, its customers and benefactors smashed on the street. The power of a broken atom swept out and away, carrying a vicious wind, which shattered windows and as he wind retracted, pulled people and everything else out into the street, only to burn in a hellstorm.

Shiva walked the Earth.

Robert’s mouth tasted metallic. Blind and confused he moved to where he remembered the sidewalk to be. The whole city had become silent. But no. A rushing wave of destruction. First only a little warmth, for a second, then the heat of a small star. The water in his body evaporated and mingled with the ether of a now-clearing sky… Alla Akbar Think this can’t happen? http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1274179818?bctid=2132859001

13
Nov
08

Every damn artist thinks he’s Voltaire, or: Why I no longer want to live in Maine.

This is the land I was born in. Sadly…. I welcome you to–The Moonbat Capital of the World

Man, these college students need some good hard work. Breaking rocks, filling sand bags or something. I wonder who they voted for?




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