Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Anti-War Protests Get Ugly

The anti-war movement is staging some really ugly protests. I'll give you a link to one demonstration. But be forewarned. This is not for the fainthearted. If you object to this, don’t blame me. You have been warned. Here’s the link.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 9:13 PM | Link

From the Front Lines at the Disaster Site

Read this post from a doctor on the front lines - so to speak.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 9:00 PM | Link

Iraq: It's All About Money

Another Strategypage post.

The invasion of 2003 was welcomed by the Kurds and Shia Arabs, but not by many Sunni Arabs. While there have been attacks, by Sunni Arabs, on the foreign troops since 2003, there has been far more violence directed against Shia Arabs, and Sunni Arabs who reject the return of the Baath Party to power. The civil war is already here, and won’t go away until it has been settled. The war is kept going by millions in cash held by former Baath Party officials, and contributions by wealth Sunni Arabs in neighboring countries. Young Sunni Arabs are urged to join the fight to protect Sunni dominance in the Islamic world. But money is a major force in the violence. The greater violence in Sunni Arab areas means higher unemployment, and easier recruitment for the terrorists. The objective of the war is control of the oil money. For decades, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs controlled the oil money, and they want to control it again. But the Iraqi Kurds and Shia Arabs are growing stronger militarily every month. The civil war is getting uglier as Shia and Kurdish death squads increasingly go into Sunni Arab neighborhoods and murder men from tribes known to be backing the terrorism, both before and after 2003. On top of that, Kurdish and Shia Arab police commandoes make more raids, arresting more terrorists, and suspects. The strategy here is to put more and more pressure on the Sunni Arab tribes, until the tribal leaders decide to limit the damage being done to them, and make peace with the central government. Many Sunni Arab tribes have already done this, but they expect a share of the oil wealth for their trouble.
Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 8:54 PM | Link

How We Are Training The Iraqi Military

This from Strategypage about training the Iraqi troops.

The new Iraqi army is going through a generational shift, with a new package of tactics and techniques being taught to a new generation of recruits. Previously, the Iraqis had used what they learned from Russian advisors. The Russian techniques, derived from Russian traditions, and experience during World War II, were based on tight control from the top, and troops going through simple, and well rehearsed, drills and maneuvers. Improvisation and initiative were not encouraged. Naturally, Saddam, and many other Middle Easter despots, liked this Russian approach. However, these tactics proved ineffective, time after time, when they went up against troops, usually the Israelis, who were trained in the more flexible Western style. Arabs did not like to dwell on this string of defeats at the hands of the hated Israelis. But then the Americans did it to the Iraqis in 1991, and 2003, beliefs began to change. Russian military techniques are out, American techniques are in.

[. . .]

Many Iraqis, especially Sunni Arabs, still adhere to the old Iraqi style of warfare (“whoop and holler, and charge forward shooting at everything in sight”). That approach is proving consistently fatal when it goes up against Iraqis trained in the American style. The Iraqis operating like this have plenty of live examples to copy, and copy they do. Many Iraqi troops carefully watch U.S. troops they are operating with, and copy their moves and gestures. Iraq gets a lot of media coverage as the people try to adopt the American style or government. Unnoticed is how quickly Iraqis are adapting the American style of fighting as well.

I think the whole article is worth reading.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 8:45 PM | Link

The Vampires Got Me Today

Those blood-sucking parasites that call themselves the Red Cross came around today. The local co-coordinator caught me at a weak moment and I signed up.

It was my first second time. The first time I nearly passed out and they had to abort. That was many years ago. Needles and I just don’t go together well.

But the last few times I have had blood drawn or gotten an injection, they haven’t had the traditional physical effect on me. I thought I would be fine.

I did pretty well, until they were done. When I got up to leave, they asked me how I felt. I told them I felt a little woozy, but that I would be fine. They requested I lie back down.

Eventually I recovered sufficiently to go back into the office and resume normal operation.

One thing that struck me was all the questions they ask. One stuck in my mind, “Have you had sex with another man since 1977?” That’s an easy one, as I have NEVER had sex with another man! Perish the thought!

But, it made me wonder. They don’t want the blood from homosexuals. With today’s political correctness, it is obviously from a public safety concern.

Perhaps someone could tell me why the homosexual lifestyle is considered safe.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 8:03 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

The International Space Station

I was perusing StrategyPage and came across this photo of the International Space Station. I have never seen a photo of it before. It’s a pretty good size. If this thing comes down, it’s going to make a big hole when it lands.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/31/05 8:39 AM | Link

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Maybe My Last Comment on Cindy Sheehan

This may be my last comment on Cindy Sheehan and her anti-war enthusiasts. I think that Cindy Sheehan and her handlers are endangering American Troops in Iraq. The terrorists in Iraq have very good access to all the media outlets and they have seen Ms. Sheehan’s protest.

What are they to conclude from this? “Praise be to Allah, we are winning. Those infidel Americans are loosing heart and will soon quit the battlefield. Bush cannot long stand against them. He will be forced to retreat just like Clinton did in Somalia. If we redouble our efforts victory will soon be ours.”

In 1996, Bin Laden himself, penned this Fatwa against us.

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.

So, are we to prove Bin Laden’s assessment of American resolve as correct?

I also find that Ms. Sheehan is becoming a bit full of herself. She says, “When you read about the Camp Casey movement in the history books, you can say, I met Casey's mom."


I think her 15 minutes of fame is about up.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/30/05 9:05 PM | Link

A Yellow Swallowtail

The Vorlon Wife planted a Butterfly Bush last year. It did OK. This year it grew like the proverbial weed. I happened to see this Yellow Swallowtail on it over the weekend. I ran in, got the camera and snapped some quick photos. Unfortunately, butterflies don’t sit still for very long. This seems to be about the best I could do under the circumstances.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/30/05 8:42 AM | Link

Monday, August 29, 2005

US Marine Corp Rules for Gunfighting

1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a "4."
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.

HT: Resistance is Futile

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/29/05 7:54 PM | Link

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Should We Wire the Whole Country for Broadband?

Being a free market type I normally would be against having the government fund wiring up the whole country for broadband. That said there might be a case to be made that such expenditure could put economic growth like building the interstate highway system did.

The only problem with a government sponsored broadband initiative is they would probably screw it up. Broadband technology is still evolving and it might be beneficial to see what shakes out in the market. That, however, could be offset for having a high-speed technology now.

I guess you could say that I am undecided.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/28/05 8:58 PM | Link

Friday, August 26, 2005

Gates Of Fire

Michael Yon has posted his latest dispatch from Mosul, Iraq - Gates of Fire. Here's just a snippet.

I saw Prosser's M4 on the ground, Where did that come from?

I picked up Prosser's M4. It was empty. I saw only Prosser's bloody leg lying still, just inside the darkened doorway, because most of his body was hidden behind a stack of sheet metal.

"Give me some ammo! Give me a magazine!" I yelled, and the young 2nd lieutenant handed over a full 30-round magazine. I jacked it in, released the bolt and hit the forward assist. I had only one magazine, so checked that the selector was on semi-automatic.

I ran back to the corner of the shop and looked at LTC Kurilla who was bleeding, and saw CSM Prosser's extremely bloody leg inside the shop, the rest of him was still obscured from view. I was going to run into the shop and shoot every man with a gun. And I was scared to death.

When you're done, please send him a donation to keep him going.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/26/05 2:52 PM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

This is the Vorlon Wife’s lily. I changed the look of the photo to look like it was painted. I think I rather like the look. It’s a little different from a regular photo. It’s something different.

As you can see, I still haven't figured how to use my edges.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/26/05 5:51 AM | Link

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Ulitmate Response to Cindy Sheehan

Scott Ott of ScrappleFace says what Bush should say.

Dear Mrs. Sheehan,

You have asked me to identify the noble cause for which your son died. I have not answered you personally out of respect for the nobility of your son's sacrifice.

Being president forces me into the spotlight, but I would rather stand in the shadows of men like Casey Sheehan.

Directing national attention on my response to your protest creates a distraction from what matters. The focus of our attention, and our admiration, should rest on people like Casey Sheehan, who stand in the breach when evil threatens to break out and consume a helpless people.

The running story on the news networks should be the valiant efforts of our troops -- the merchants of mercy who export freedom and import honor. They trade their own lives for the sake of others.

As a result, we live in a nation where a woman can camp outside of the president's house and verbally attack the president for weeks on end without fear of prison, torture or death. And the number of nations where such protest is possible has multiplied thanks to the work of our military.

You ask for what noble cause your son died?

In a sense he died so that people like you, who passionately oppose government policies, can freely express that opposition. As you camp in Crawford, you should take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground. This land was bought with the blood of men like your son.

Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.

The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.

Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.

Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.

To paraphrase President Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what you and I say here. But it can never forget what Casey Sheehan did during his brief turn on earth. If we are wise, we will take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the last full measure of devotion.

Our brave warriors have blazed a trail. They have entrusted the completion of the task to those of us they left behind. Let's, you and I, resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

Let's finish the work that they have thus far so nobly advanced.

George W. Bush

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/25/05 1:40 PM | Link

The President's Plan in Iraq

In the President's recent speech he said . . .

The stakes in Iraq could not be higher. The brutal violence in Iraq today is a clear sign of the terrorists' determination to stop democracy from taking root in the Middle East. They know that the success of a free Iraq, who can be a key ally in the war on terror and a symbol of success for others, will be a crushing blow to their strategy to dominate the region, and threaten America and the free world. They know that when their hateful ideology is defeated in Iraq, the Middle East will have a clear example of freedom and prosperity and hope. And the terrorists will begin to lose their sponsors and lose their recruits and lose the sanctuaries they need to plan new attacks.

[. . .]

The battle lines in Iraq are now clearly drawn for the world to see, and there is no middle ground. Transforming a country that was ruled by an oppressive dictator who sponsored terror into a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror will take more time, more sacrifice, and continued resolve. Terrorists will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated. Every nation -- every free nation -- has a stake in the success of the Iraqi people. If the terrorists were to win in Iraq, the free world would be more vulnerable to attacks on innocent civilians. And that is why, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, the terrorists will be defeated.

President Bush

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/25/05 12:51 PM | Link

The Surf in Ocean City, New Jersey

This is just a photo of the surf foam on the rock jetty in Ocean City. I was rather intrigue with the sight and hoped I could get a good photo of it. I’ve pushed the contrast quite a bit to give the photo more drama and impact.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/25/05 9:05 AM | Link

A Lake in South Jersey

When we went to Ocean City last Saturday night, we stopped by a small lake. For those who know the location, it is at the corner of Union Road and Route 49. I thought it might make for a nice photo with a reflection in the water. This is another one of those three photos stitched together.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/25/05 8:18 AM | Link

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

F-18's Launch from the Kittyhawk

I pirated this photo from I liked the photo for a number of reasons.

    1 – I’m an aircraft enthusiast, particular military ones.

    2 – I didn’t know the Navy could launch two aircraft at the same time. I find that impressive.

    3 – I always thought that carrier aircraft got just enough shot in the back to just clear the flight deck. As you can see in the photo, both are clearing the flight deck with much room to spare.

Of course, I had to tweak the photo a bit to enhance the colors. It really made the clouds much more dramatic.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/24/05 9:20 PM | Link

Does Violence Beget More Violence?

I have heard it many times that violence never solves anything. I have heard that violence begets more violence.

My response to that argument has been that the violence we did to Germany and Japan during World War II DID solve something. It stopped the war and we won. I have maintained that if you do sufficient violence, your opponent will call for mercy.

Now I have another example that makes my point. The violence the terrorists in Iraq are doing is causing some Americans to loose their support of the war. It appears that some Americans can be intimidated by violence. This again refutes the argument that violence doesn’t solve anything.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/24/05 7:53 PM | Link

The Big Meadow on the Skyline Drive

This is a photo taken during our trip on the Skyline Drive. It’s called the Big Meadow. It is three photos stitched together. I have been frustrated in the paste in that I could not properly stitch them together properly. Photoshop elements allowed me to do that and this is the result.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/24/05 8:41 AM | Link

A Revised Photo of Our Trip to Ocean City

I took the photo from yesterday and applied what Elements calls “dry brush”. It’s an attempt to make the photo look like a painting. I could have used a finer brush and more detail, but I felt that would not be realist. Instead I’ve used big blotches of color, which the kind of painting I would likely do, if I were painting.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/24/05 8:18 AM | Link

The Iraqi Constitution


We the people of Iraq, newly arisen from our disasters and looking with confidence to the future through a democratic, federal, republican system, are determined -- men and women, old and young -- to respect the rule of law, reject the policy of aggression, pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their cares, the children and their affairs, spread the culture of diversity and defuse terrorism.

We are the people of Iraq, who in all our forms and groupings undertake to establish our union freely and by choice, to learn yesterday's lessons for tomorrow, and to write down this permanent constitution from the high values and ideals of the heavenly messages and the developments of science and human civilization, and to adhere to this constitution, which shall preserve for Iraq its free union of people, land and sovereignty.


CHAPTER ONE: Basic Principles

Article (1): The Republic of Iraq is an independent, sovereign nation, and the system of rule in it is a democratic, federal, representative (parliamentary) republic.

Article (2): First, Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:

a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.

b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy.

c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.

Second, this constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people, and the full religious rights for all individuals, and the freedom of creed and religious practices.

Thus spake the Iraqi constitution. Read the whole thing here. The thing about Islam has been worded sufficiently vague to satisify those from both sides. That what democracies do. The are sufficiently mealy-mouthed that both sides feel they have made their points. The Iraqi's can iron out the details down the road.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/24/05 6:49 AM | Link

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One Reason Why the Iraqi Insurgency Lives

StrategyPage has an interesting post on one reason why it's being so difficult to tame Iraq. We're too nice!

Defeating the Sunni Arab rulers of Iraq has proved harder than anticipated. Like Germany and Japan during World War II, Iraq was run by a militaristic dictatorship. Unlike Germany and Japan, defeating the Iraqi government did not eliminate the militaristic faction that supported the dictatorship. The reason was simple. In Iraq, the dictator was backed by a religious faction; the Sunni Arabs. In Germany and Japan, the dictators were backed by supporters united by class and politics. The Sunni Arabs are also united by blood, as the Sunni Arabs are organized as clans and tribes, and feel a unity from that, as well as their common religious beliefs.

But there's another reason why there was no continued fighting in Germany and Japan. The fighting in World War II was brutal, with much of the pain being inflicted on civilians. Germany lost over five million dead, Japan over three million. The bombing and ground fighting destroyed the homes of civilians, 255,000 in Germany and 2.2 million (because of their more flammable construction) in Japan. At the end of World War II, the civilians, who supported the dictatorships, had been hammered. They were beaten, and willing to accept new political arrangements.

Such was not the case in Iraq in 2003. Smart bombs and a short war kept the civilian casualties low. The Sunni Arabs did not appreciate their good fortune, and, instead, saw an opportunity to continue fighting, to terrorize their conquerors and regain power. It's not working, and the Sunni Arab population is getting the pain they were spared during the invasion. The Sunni Arabs are being threatened with worse.

Some say that violence begets more violence. Not necessarily so. If you apply enough violence, the other side will say uncle and give in. Maybe that’s what we should have done in Iraq.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/23/05 9:27 PM | Link

Iraq Really is Just Like Vietnam

I was thinking just how much like Vietnam the Iraq war is. I fully remember when our troops first invaded Vietnam. From a staging point near Saigon, our troop rolled north. In tactics that would have made George Patton proud, they swept north. They rolled up the Vietnamese resistance like a steamroller ironing out asphalt.

Then as they neared Hanoi, our Navy delivered the Marines in one of their finest landings since Iwo Jima. They met the 3rd Infantry Division in the middle of the city and quickly eliminated all resistance. General Vo Nguyen Giap surrendered to U.S. forces. Ho Chi Minh went into hiding while U.S. troops completed their conquest of then North Vietnam.

In four weeks time we had conquered all of Vietnam. A month later, we had capture Ho Chi Minh and had him safely ensconced in jail.

Er, no. That’s not what happened. We never captured North Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/23/05 8:38 PM | Link

Almost at the Shore

When the Vorlon wife and I went to the shore last Saturday night, we went in via the 34th street bridge. Those familiar with Ocean City, New Jersey know of which I speak. My reason for taking that route was to see what photographic areas might be available. We came across this bay are just short of Ocean City. While taking this photo we met some people “crabbing” off the bank.

This is catching crabs. They had a chicken leg on a string with a lead weight to weight it down. Then they wait for a crab to find it and start eating. The crabs hold on the bait very tightly. They then just pull the bait up and grab the crab before he realizes what’s going on. The stinkier the bait the better the crabs like it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/23/05 8:34 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

National Geographic Airs 9/11 Special

The National Geographic is airing a special on 9/11 tonight. Actually it’s the second part of a two parter. From what I read, you may want to take it in. You’ll need to check your local listing for time and channel.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/23/05 6:17 AM | Link

Monday, August 22, 2005

New Comment Spam

I found eight comment spams this morning. They all had the email address They all referenced Google. It seemed very strange. This is the first comment spam I’ve gotten in who knows how long. MT-Blacklist does an excellent job of keeping the comment spam at bay.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/22/05 6:50 AM | Link

Sunday, August 21, 2005

New Photo Software

I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 today. Staples had it on sale for $59.59. That’s a really great price. I’ve been playing with it and it’s not too bad. It has a graphic compression that can really reduce the size of a jpg for the web with very little sacrifice in quality.

I also like the panorama function. That’s the one that allows me to stitch together multiple images into one panorama. Since my camera doesn’t have a very wide-angle lens, I am frequently forced to use that function to get the whole scene in.

I have gotten my LightMachine to work as a plugin without any difficulty. I’m still working on getting my edges to work, however.

This picture was taken last night during our trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. I thought the electric palm trees made an interesting picture. I’m going to have to take my monopod so I can better hold the camera still.

The shutter speed on this was 1/25th of a second at f/2.8 and an ASA of 400.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/21/05 7:35 PM | Link

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Trip to Ocean City, New Jersey

The Vorlon Wife and I went to Ocean City, New Jersey tonight. It was a pleasant time. We ate on the Boardwalk and walk up and down for a while and came home. This photo was taken about 8:30 tonight.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/20/05 9:56 PM | Link

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cindy Sheehan is Helping Bush

Cindy Sheehan had many Bush supporters worried. I think their time of worry is over. Aside from her leaving the scene of the battle her rhetoric has passed the point of making a difference. She is quoted in a speech she gave as calling Bush the biggest terrorist in the world and that the United States is not worth dying for.

I know a little something about human persuasion. One of the things I know is how hard it is to get anyone to change their mind. It’s not impossible, but it’s nearly so.

I view the U.S. population into three groups. The president’s supporters, his detractors, and those that aren’t certain if he’s doing the right thing or not. When she says the president is the biggest terrorist in the world, the president’s detractors all stand up and cheer. However, they’ve already decided that in the first place. All she’s doing is re-enforcing their firmly held beliefs.

When the presidents defenders here that, they get angry. She makes no converts there.

When those in the middle hear her words, she sounds like a kook. They may know she’s lost her son to the war and she has a right to grieve. But they don’t believe the president is a terrorist and certainly not the biggest in the world.

When she might have had a chance to sway these people with an emotional reasonable plea, she has elected to go for the extremist position and thus discredit herself.

She reminds me of the quote from Shakespeare, “a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/19/05 9:30 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Friday Flowerblogging

This is the Vorlon Wife’s Hollyhock. She got the seeds somewhere and now they come up every year. This photo was taken late in the season.

I boosted the contrast and saturation. Then I made a copy, blurred and darken it. I took the original, applied one of my edges to it and pasted on top of the dark blurred version.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/19/05 8:07 AM | Link

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Israeli Sacrifice

The Israelis are withdrawing from Gaza. Many people are saying this is good. To my thinking Sharon did this as a military maneuver. He is withdrawing to defensible borders.

I don’t expect the Palestinians to become passive. I expect just the opposite. I expect the Palestinians to become encouraged by this. They will feel all their suicide killers will have been effective.

I expect them to take over Gaza and attack Israel with even more enthusiasm than in the past. I don’t expect them to stop until Israel no longer exists.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/18/05 9:37 PM | Link

Now These are Long Gas Lines

Take a look at this link and see how bad the gasoline situation is in China. If this happened in the U.S. I think there would be riots.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/18/05 8:41 AM | Link

Able Danger Thickens

Now one of the Able Danger team members has gone public with what they found about terrorists in the U.S. before 9/11. Colonel Anthony Shaffer has given his take on what happened.

It is suspicious the commission did not investigate the matter. What makes it more suspicious is that every response from the 9/11 commission has changed. They have not been consistent. Why not? Are then in “Cover You’re a***” mode?

Colonel Shaffer has said they did not likely look at all the files as they only took two brief cases when he said there were 2.5 terabytes! I don’t know exactly how many sheets of paper that would be, but it would probably fill a medium size room from floor to ceiling.

I suspect there will be a large effort to quash this. There is just too much to loose if this is right.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/18/05 8:13 AM | Link

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Does Bush Really Care About the Losses in Iraq?

Here's an article about Bush meeting with families of those killed in Iraq. This doesn’t get much press because the press is banned from the meetings – as they should be. So far, Bush has met with the families of 270 of those killed in during the war.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/17/05 9:27 AM | Link

An Interview with Michael Yon

Michael Yon had a telephone radio interview on WKRO in Boston. Click on this link to listen to it.

Michael Yon is a write embedded with U.S. troop in Mosul, Iraq. He is a former special forces warrior.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/17/05 8:55 AM | Link

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Over There" is Out There

It seems U.S. troops have seen episodes of the TV show “Over There” and are not impressed. The show goes about as far away from reality as one can get. StrategyPage has a post on some of the grittier details of just how bad the show is.

The troops are not impressed. Some are appalled, although rather saltier language is used to express their reactions.

[ . . .]

But what’s really annoying to a lot of the troops is that many family and friends will believe “Over There” is an accurate portrayal of operations in Iraq. The troops will have to spend lots of time and effort repairing that damage.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/16/05 9:35 PM | Link

The Israelis Help the Americans in Iraq

Occasionally I read about how the American military has gone to school in Israel. The type of war we are fighting in Iraq is the same type the Israelis have fought for several years. The Israelis have not been shy about sharing their expertise. Now I read this in on StrategyPage.

The speed and effectiveness with which American military trucks were armored in Iraq had a lot to do with Israel’s war with Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists. For over a decade, Israeli troops have had to drive trucks through areas containing Islamic terrorists. The ambush methods of these terrorists were similar to those encountered in Iraq, and it was from this experience that Israeli firms developed kits for armoring trucks. These kits included 10mm steel plates, cut and shaped to fit a particular type of truck, plus bulletproof glass for the windshield and windows, and brackets and other hardware needed to attach the armor. Thus when thousands of American military trucks had to get armored in 2003, the Israeli firms had kits already designed. Thus many, if not most, of the American armored trucks in Iraq got that way because of Israeli designed, and often Israeli manufactured, armor kits.
Posted by The Vorlon on 08/16/05 8:27 AM | Link

Iraqi News You Won't Find in the MSM

Arthur Chrenkoff has a bi-weekly post of the good news from Iraq. It is very long. But you should at least scan through it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/16/05 6:52 AM | Link

Monday, August 15, 2005

Did We Know About Mohammad Atta Before 9/11?

Congressman Curt Weldon is carrying on his fight. He says he is in contact with the people that were part of the Able Danger intelligence operation that fingered Mohammad Atta and some of his cohorts. He repeats that the Able Danger people were prevented from taking their information to the FBI.

Part of what prevented that was a memo written by Jamie Gorelick – one of the 9/11 commissioners. The 9/11 commission has fired back at Weldon, but he is not backing down. He claims he will shortly have these guys testify in public as well as the person that told them they could not contact the FBI.

This could be a political nuclear bomb ticking. Jamie Gorelick was part of the Clinton administration. If it can be shown that her memo prevented this alleged communication and if Mohammad Atta and his friends had be picked up, there is a chance the whole attack could have been prevented.

Now if the 9/11 commission missed this, they will be properly hammered very hard.

What’s interesting is I don’t hear this on the MSM or see much in the Blogosphere. But I do hear it on talk radio.

It will be interesting to see where this story goes. Only time will tell.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/15/05 9:10 PM | Link

The Japanese Obon Festival in Seabrook, New Jersey

Saturday night the Vorlon Wife and I went to the Japanese Obon festival in Seabrook, New Jersey. There is a large number of Japanese living the Seabrook area.

As I understand it, the Obon festival is where they honor their ancestors. There are processional dances, such as you see here. Mostly the dancers are women, but there are a few men.

The “main event” is the Soh Daiko drummers. They are always fun to watch and listen to. It was very warm and humid that night so I’ll bet they really worked up a sweat. When you click on the thumbnail of the drummers, wait for the sound to come on. I’ve attached an mp3 file to the page. It runs about 37 seconds.

I originally took some videos with my little Canon PowerShot A60 camera. The only problem with this is a 30-second clip eats about 4MB of memory.

As a compromise, I stripped the audio from the video and attached it to the web page that pops up, when you click the thumbnail.

I would make a nicer presentation if I could figure out how to have several photos of the drummers and have each photo dissolve into the next – but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

One of the challenges of this was I could not get really close enough to get a good shot and the fading light meant I had to crank my little 2MP up to an ASA of 200 and then 400. The picture qaulity suffers as a result.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/15/05 10:29 AM | Link

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Goes Off the Deep End

According to Drudge, Cindy Sheehan is now saying not only should the U.S. get out of Iraq, but that Israel should get out of Palestine. She says that if that happens, all terrorism will stop. I wonder if she also thinks we should get out of Afghanistan.

Oh, and she says she’s not paying her taxes either. That’s a clever move.

At one time, she was a sympathetic figure. However, she seems to have been taken in by the anti-war left and has become what Lenin called a “useful idiot”.

I think Mohammad has the best answer to her questions about her son’s death.

I know how you feel Cindy, I lived among the same pains for 35 years but worse than that was the fear from losing our loved ones at any moment. Even while I'm writing these words to you there are feelings of fear, stress, and sadness that interrupt our lives all the time but in spite of all that I'm sticking hard to hope which if I didn't have I would have died years ago.

Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.

Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.

Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

She could read Mohammad’s thoughts, but I don’t think it would make any difference. It appears that all she has left is her hate. I think this famous quote likely sums up her mental state, “From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/14/05 7:12 PM | Link

Do They Surf in Ocean City?


A while back, my mother asked if they surf in Ocean City. The answer is, they do and here’s the proof. The waves, however, leave a lot to be desired. Most rides last 10 seconds or less.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/14/05 12:19 PM | Link

Two Ways to View the Skyline Drive

This is a panorama I took during our trip to the Skyline Drive last May. In the color one, I used LightMachine to pump up the color and the contrast. Then I made a copy applied my orange “filter” to it and converted it to black and white. After the conversion, I played some more with the brightness and the contrast. I think I rather like both

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/14/05 8:29 AM | Link

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Big Meadow on the Skyline Drive

This is the Big Meadow on the Skyline Drive. As you can tell, I’m still working on my black and white techniques to see if I can make a nice photo. Although it looks almost like a lake, it really grass. They do controlled burns throughout this area to keep the environment grass and not let it go back to forest. The Indians did this to let blueberries to grow.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/13/05 11:37 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

An Old Tractor at Sunset

I had some slides scanned a few months ago and this is one of them. It is a very old tractor silhouetted against the sunset. This was taken about 1965. I should have waited for the sun to get lower and produce more color.

I have a fascination for machinery in general and old machinery in particular. Not that I would want to own such a machine, but I’m just fascinated by them.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/13/05 8:18 AM | Link

Friday, August 12, 2005

Beware the Robots

StrategyPage has a worriesome post.

On August 10th, two American X-45A UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) were sent out into a test range that had a “hostile” anti-aircraft system on it. The X-45As successfully detected the potential attack, avoided took evasive action, then planned and carried out their own attack, destroying the enemy anti-aircraft system. While a human pilot on the ground monitored all of this, and could have interrupted the operation at any time, the X-45As were allowed to operate on their own. This included talking off, returning and landing.

This is good, but what will things look like in 20 years? Will we stay in control of all this?

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/12/05 10:00 PM | Link

What Weapons are We in the Process of Creating?

The Belmont Club, always worth your time to read, brings a troubling thought to mind.

He talks about how hard the U.S. military is working to defeat the IED. He talks about X-Ray backscatter technology that can actually look right through cars and see what weapons are hidden inside. However, he goes on to worry about the consequences of such a race for weapons to defeat our enemies.

The principal problem following the Second World War was how men could coexist with their own creations. Not until a half century from Hiroshima was there was some sense of coming to grips with the monumental forces unleashed in 1945. And then came September 11. Osama Bin Laden and Zaraqawi may feel that they have nothing to fear from X-ray backscatter technology. Perhaps not; but it is what comes after, and after, and after that will be truly terrifying.
Posted by The Vorlon on 08/12/05 9:22 PM | Link

An Iraqi Blogger Speaks

Ali, an Iraqi blogger living in Iraq has a great post. To wit:

It's amazing how the terrorists themselves keep showing us in words and actions how vital the war in Iraq is for them and at the same time we have westerns and Americans saying that this war has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and that it's only increasing the danger of terrorism!

Another thing that this message and previous ones show is what other bloggers have already noted in that the Jihadis are following the western media and using the arguments of the far left to feed the fears of westerns and Americans, like the note about Vietnam and the use of the "no blood for oil". That's why I think that people like George Galloway and Michael Moor are doing a great service to the terrorists.

Another point that I have argued about before and that seems to be showing clearer in this message is that Al Qaeda cannot attack American soil, not in the short term at least and not until the fate of Iraq is sealed beyond doubt as far as the terrorists and their supporters are concerned.

It's interesting to see how bold Al Zawahiri was in threatening to launch more attacks against London but settled with the threat of killing more American soldiers in Iraq when talking about America. He has lost the initiative when it comes to attacking America in America so he's looking for the "next best thing", a big target that he still can safely attack without having to worry about a massive counter attack on all his bases and supportive regimes. He knows very well that if he attacks America the tyrannies that help him and his organization in attacking Iraq would not only stop offering him any help but will also do all they can to save their necks, like turning in any Al Qaeda men they have on their lands or if they can't then they would cooperate fully with the US in security field giving her access to all the info they have on Al Qaeda which I guess they have a lot to tell after their lands where used as a passage for the terrorists to Iraq with them turning a blind eye or even facilitating the process.

I expect that no big or small attacks on America would happen at all, not within a year at least but I think the UK is still a target for some attacks. Those attacks would most likely be of limited nature too because the terrorists have seen the reaction the London attacks have left and they know it would be safer for them to avoid pushing things too far.

I really recommend you read his whole post.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/12/05 10:41 AM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

This is one of the Vorlon Wife’s Dahlias. In contrast to some of my other work, I’m made the peripheral of the photo darker rather than lighter.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/12/05 8:50 AM | Link

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sky and Rock

I took this photo during our trip on the Skyline Drive. It’s OK, but I’m not thrilled with it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/11/05 9:32 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Why Didn't NASA Do This Before?

From the day of the first Space Shuttle launch I wondered why they didn’t have a small remotely operated camera they could fly around the shuttle and photograph the exterior.

I have seen may TV programs where they have these little remotely operated cameras that are sent down to photograph object of interest on the ocean bottom. Since the Shuttle’s exterior, is so critical to its re-entry why didn’t they have the same thing since day one?

Am I missing something here?

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/11/05 9:13 PM | Link

The Suffering that goes on in Abu Ghraib

Michael Yon notes in his recent post . . .

The most serious terrorists do not fear prison here. Captain Jeff VanAntwerp, who commands Alpha Company, recently told me that Iraqis joke among themselves that they would pay 5,000 Dinar per night to stay at Abu Ghraib prison. It's air conditioned, the showers are good, the food is good, and the water is good.
Posted by The Vorlon on 08/11/05 2:03 PM | Link

Rush's Club Gitmo Gear

Rush Limbaugh is now selling a line of clothing called “Club Gitmo”. He is asking people that buy this clothing line to go where they'll find liberals send him photos of them in the Club Gitmo clothes. Here’s a link to some of those photos.

I think this I pretty funny.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/11/05 12:58 PM | Link

Did We Really Know About Mohammed Atta Before 9/11?

A recent report has it that we DID know about Mohammed Atta by a military intelligence operation called “Able Danger”. According to the report the intelligence operation was PREVENTED from contacting the FBI.

If true, it is damning. Could it be this is one of the reasons that Sandy Berger pilfered classified documents from the National Archives?

We need to wait and see how this plays out.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/11/05 8:48 AM | Link

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Look at The War in Iraq - Close Up and Personal

Michael Yon is writing from Mosul, Iraq. He is not in the military but he is chronicling the war going on there. I will tell you, what goes on in Mosul scares the bejeepers out of me. I don’t know how our guys do it – but they do.

It turns out our guys have their own ambushes

In the Yarmuk neighborhood, only terrorists openly carry AK-47s. The lawyers call this Hostile Intent. The soldiers call this Dead Men Walking.

Deuce Four is an overwhelmingly aggressive and effective unit, and they believe the best defense is a dead enemy. They are constantly thinking up innovative, unique, and effective ways to kill or capture the enemy; proactive not reactive. They planned an operation with snipers, making it appear that an ISF vehicle had been attacked, complete with explosives and flash-bang grenades to simulate the IED. The simulated casualty evacuation of sand dummies completed the ruse.

The Deuce Four soldiers left quickly with the "casualties," "abandoning" the burning truck in the traffic circle. The enemy took the bait. Terrorists came out and started with the AK-rifle-monkey-pump, shooting into the truck, their own video crews capturing the moment of glory. That's when the American snipers opened fire and killed everybody with a weapon. Until now, only insiders knew about the AK-monkey-pumpers smack-down.

Later he does a cell phone interview and sums up the session as follows.

I walked back through the dark and did the radio interview by cell phone. During such interviews, I get the impression that people at home are losing faith in the effort, though we are winning. But at home they cannot see it, and when I said goodbye that time, I sat in the dark.

The birds began singing and twilight broke to sunrise; another day was born. I watched Strykers coming in, and Strykers going out: the missions rolled on and I wanted to go. But I was falling behind on the writing.

Read his posts, but I warn you, they are riveting.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/10/05 7:51 PM | Link

Quite a Beer Ad

Take a look at this beer ad. It's pretty incredible. I wonder if they really used all th people it looks like they used.

Hat tip to Dean's World.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/10/05 5:31 PM | Link

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Gulls Eating "Natural" Food

While at the shore last weekend, I observed these gulls foraging for food from the ocean. I almost didn’t realize they could find food in the ocean. Most times they seem beg or steal from people. They can be very bold thieves.

These are Laughing Gulls. If you’ve ever heard them, you would know why. They are easily identifiable by their black heads. In the fall they heads turn white. I think they migrate south for the winter. I noticed that some of them are starting to turn color. I saw a few with gray heads.

I consider that a sad sign. The summer’s almost over. Sigh.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/09/05 9:11 PM | Link

Why It's Taking So Long to Train the Iraqis

StrategyPage has a very good post on why it's taking so long to train the Iraqi's. I highly recommend you read it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/09/05 8:45 PM | Link

The Few, the Brave, the Proud

After the Maine deaths last week, Captain John A. Kasparian writes this letter.

In summary:

We will always keep our honor and avoid hurting the Iraqi people. When Gunnery Sergeant Charles Hurely IV's platoon from Company L became engaged by heavy machine guns, he ordered his Marines not to fire back because the insurgents hid among innocent Iraqis.

We have had heroes like Lance Corporal Todd Corbin and Corporal Jeffery Schuller Jr from Weapons Company who saved the lives of 11 Marines during an ambush when the enemy used a hospital from which to attack.

The Marines who gave their lives in the last week had courageously cleared a town in Operation Matador, going house to house, so they would not inflict injuries to the many civilians who lived there. We have had instance after instance of Marines going above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant John Howarth, a scout sniper, ran out into a hail of enemy small arms fire in New Ubaydi to pull an Iraqi to safety.

Many times Marines have looked after their own. With a supporting M1A1 tank main gun firing, Captain Billy Brown from Company L calmly walked in front of the fire power to a fallen Marine. With rocket propelled grenades firing point blank at him, he scooped the warrior up and moved him away from the enemy. 3/25 has continued to clear the roads and the insurgents. We have been the focus of main effort for the Regimental Combat Team 2 and 2d Marine Division during major operations, recently during the clearing of the city of Hit.

A U.S. Marine, no worse enemy, no better friend.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/09/05 8:10 AM | Link

Monday, August 8, 2005

The War on Terror You DON'T Hear About

StrategyPage has an excellent post on how the Pentagon is reshaping the War on Terror.

The new American strategy in the war on terror is arguably the most comprehensive since the attacks of September 11, 2001. This strategy had its start when U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld sent a memo to his staff in October 2003, wanting to know whether the war on terrorism was being won, and if they were killing more terrorists than were being recruited.

[. . .]

So, the planners went to work identifying what terrorists needed. There were eight items in the list: Ideological support, funds, safe havens, communications and movement, foot soldiers, leadership, weapons, and access to targets. Each of these are needed to sustain a terrorist organization over the long haul.

[. . .]

Ultimately, the Pentagon is shifting gears – getting ready for a long, generation conflict more akin to the Cold War as opposed to World War II. The Pentagon will be using every tool in its toolbox, from training the forces of friendly nations (as is being done in Iraq and Afghanistan), to public diplomacy, to military force in fighting the war on terror.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/08/05 7:54 PM | Link

Black and White from the Weekend

This is a photo from Saturday night in Ocean City. I applied my “yellow filter” effect, converted it to black and white, used LightMachine to play with the lighting and contrast, applied one of my edges and then sharpened the photo.

I thought the swirly edge went well with a water picture.

Something to keep in mind, I understand that the human eye can only detect 15 shades of gray. That may be one of the reasons black and white photo’s look so different from color one.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/08/05 8:02 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Yummy Roasted Potatoes

potatoes.jpgI came across this in the grocery store and I highly recommend it. I just wash and chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Then I mix this with a little cooking oil and mix it through all the potatoe pieces.

I spread them all on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

The potatoes come out very tasty.

I found this packet of spices on a display in the produce section of the market.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/07/05 9:22 PM | Link

The View at Ocean City, NJ

The Vorlon Wife and I went to Ocean City last night. This is a photo of some of the wave action – after I enhanced the picture some. They have built these rock outcroppings, called jetties, to prevent beach erosion. They don’t seem to do a very good job. One good Nor’easter and they lose a big chunk of beach.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/07/05 8:19 AM | Link

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Around and Around and Around We Go

I took this photo last weekend at Ocean City, NJ. I used LightMachine to enhance the colors and then applied one of my many edges. This is another of those I’m not 100% satisfied, but the effect is not too bad. What do YOU think?

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/06/05 11:19 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

How Many Different Ways Can One Do A Photo?

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may know that I like to play with photos from my digital camera and post them here. In this post, I will show two variations from the original. The original, just as I downloaded it from the camera is shown on the left here. I’ve done nothing to enhance it.

In the one on the right, I have used LightMacine to boost the photo. I really like LightMachine. It runs as a Plugin in my PaintShop Pro. It’s almost like magic. With LightMachine, I can boost the brightness in only the shadow areas and reduce the brightness in the light areas. I can also change the contrast and color saturation. I did just that to this photo and boosted the sharpness.

When I was driving around the yesterday, I remembered that for black and white photography, photographers use a yellow filter for outdoor photos. I wondered if I could duplicate that effect in PaintShop Pro. I took the photo and reduced the amount of blue, green and some read. The photo then looked like I had place a yellow film over it. Then I converted the photo to black and white and boosted the sharpness. You can see the effect.

UPDATE: I’ve taken the color photo and FIRST did my LightMachine work on it. THEN I did my "yellow filter" effect on it and converted it to black and white. As you can see, the effect is different. I think I like the other B&W one better.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/06/05 8:07 AM | Link

Friday, August 5, 2005

Straight Talk From Someone in the Sandbox

Steven Vincent, reporting in his Blog In the Red Zone, wrote . . .

Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word “guerillas.” As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms “insurgents” or “guerillas” to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement. But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase “paramilitary death squads.” Same murderers, different designations. Yet of the two, “insurgents”—and especially “guerillas”—has a claim on our sympathies that “paramilitaries” lacks.

This is not semantics: imagine if the media routinely called the Sunni Triangle gunmen “right wing paramilitary death squads.” Not only would the description be more accurate, but it would offer the American public a clear idea of the enemy in Iraq. And that, in turn, would bolster public attitudes toward the war.

Supporters of the conflict in Iraq bear much blame for allowing the terminology—and, by extension, the narrative—of events to slip from our grasp and into the hands of the anti-war camp. Words and ideas matter. Instead of saying that the Coalition “invaded” Iraq and “occupies” it today, we could more precisely claim that the allies liberated the country and are currently reconstructing it. More than cosmetic changes, these definitions reflect the nobility of our effort in Iraq and steal rhetorical ammunition from the left.

The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists “the resistance.” What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers--the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour—they are the “resistance.” They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.

Steven and his Iraqi interpreter were found dead August 3, 2005. When asked why he went to Iraq he responded . . .

"I stood that morning on the roof of my building in lower Manhattan and watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, I realized my country was at war -- because of the 1993 attack on the Trade Center, I figured our enemy was Islamic terrorism -- and I wanted to do my part in the conflict. I'm too old to enlist in the armed services, so I decided to put my writing talents to use."

Fade to black.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/05/05 8:27 PM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

This is the Vorlon Wife’s Hibiscus. We refer to them as pie plates as that’s about what they look like. Like Day Lilies, they only last one day, but the plant comes up and flowers every year. In this case, it looks like some bugs are eating the leaves.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/05/05 9:05 AM | Link

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Commander Eileen Collins - The Right Stuff?

I’ve not been paying detail attention to the recent shuttle mission. I figure the NASA people run this thing 24/7 and I don’t. They are intimately involved and I’m not. I have delegated responsibility to them.

But two recent utterances from Commander Eileen Collins have breached my sensitivity threshold.

The first was a couple of days ago, when they were discussing some of the unexpected events of the lift-off with the foam and all. I was surprised to hear her complaining about the situation. I found it unseemly for the commanding officer to whine, in public.

I’m old enough to remember the original seven astronauts. Given the same situation, I can guarantee they would not have publicly voiced any concerns. They would have expressed complete confidence in NASA and the whole team.

Now, once they had hung up on the public discussion and they were back to a private conversation with NASA they may very well have ripped someone a new one. But they would have done that in private.

A man of honor does not complain or whine about his circumstances. He does everything within his power to alter his circumstances and never quits, even if he dies in the attempt.

Leadership and honor demand you criticize in private and give accolades in public.

Now she’s complaining about the environment. Sheesh. What does that have to do with the mission? Doesn’t she have any other work to do up there?

The first seven astronauts completly personified the right stuff. I don’t think Collins does. To me, she sounds so stereotypical female.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/04/05 9:33 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (4)

New Weapons Enter the Iraq War

I thought this post at StrategyPage was an intersting one. I'll be very interested in the results.

After several years of talking about it, the U.S. Department of Defense is finally sending it’s Sheriff ADS (Active Defense System) to Iraq. The system uses three non-lethal weapons. These include a “sound searchlight” (called the Long Range Acoustic Device), that can project sound long distances, and also pump out really loud sound and direct it like a searchlight against people. Then there’s the Lazzer Dazzler, which sends very bright, pulsating, light at crowds. This light will disorient most people, and can also reveal any optics in the crowd, especially the scope of a sniper rifle. Finally there’s the microwave device, which creates a burning sensation on the skin of its victims, causing them to want to leave the area, or at least distract them. The microwave weapon has a range of about 500 meters. ADS is carried on a hummer or Stryker, along with a machine-gun. The most important new development is the establishment of ROE (Rules of Engagement) for Sheriff systems. Put simply, anyone who keeps coming after getting hit with the sound, light and microwave is assumed to have evil intent, and will be killed. Sheriff will be particularly useful for terrorists who hide in crowds of women and children, using the human shields to get close enough to make an attack. This has been encountered in Somalia and Iraq. The army and marines want 14 Sheriff vehicles (eight for the army, six for the marines.) Each will cost about $1.1 million. The Department of Defense has been reluctant to send ADS to a combat zone for fear of bad publicity from the mass media, who are sure to dub use of the non-lethal weapon a war crime.

So how is not killing people a war crime?

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/04/05 10:07 AM | Link

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

This is the Bay Side of Ocean City

When the Vorlon Wife and I went to Ocean City last Saturday night, I stopped on the causeway to take some photos from the bay side. Ocean City is really, what is called a barrier island. The bay side, seen here with Ocean City on the horizon is populated with this tall green grass. It was high tide when I took this photo and the ground under the grass was muddy and slippery. Fortunately, I did not slip and get dirty, but my shoes and pants were soiled.

I’m not totally pleased with this, but it’s the best I can do for now.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/03/05 9:46 AM | Link

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Photos by a Real Photographer

I came across this site by someone that really does know what they are doing with a camera and software. Although as beautiful as her photos are, they’re not my style. I think she also has a better camera than I do. Certainly, her wide angle is wider than mine. Take a look and see what you think.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/02/05 9:29 PM | Link

Why It's so Hot at the Center of the Earth

My Science News tonight had a very interesting article. It seems someone had installed a special device to detect radioactive decay from inside the earth. According to the author there is enough Uranium and Thorium going through radioactive decay in the earth’s core that it produces the equivalent energy of 10,000 nuclear (nukler?) power plants.

It would make sense that Thorium and Uranium would be at the center of the earth. Since Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element (12% heavier than lead) and Thorium very close, they would sink to the center of the earth, when it was molten and setup a naturally occurring nuclear reactor.

This radioactive decay contributes about half the heat that is found in the earth’s core. I always rather wondered how the earth’s core could stay so hot for, as Carl Sagan would say, billions and billions and billions of years. The nuclear decay taking place puts a piece in the puzzle for me. That also tells me the earth’s core is like loosing very little heat.

It appears the earth’s core will remain very hot for more billions and billions of years. That said I understand the sun is the one to die first. I understand that it won’t last much more that another 30 million years when it will become a super nova and engulf the earth.

Much as the distresses me, I’m a pretty laid back kind of guy. I still sleep well at night.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/02/05 8:24 PM | Link

Monday, August 1, 2005

John Bolton Finally Goes to the U.N.

Bush did what everyone expected and appointed John Bolton to be ambassador to the U.N. while congress is in recess. The Democrats are crying foul just as the Republicans cried foul when Clinton did the same thing.

One newscaster tonight noted that recess appointments are constitutional while filibusters are not. Filibusters are an invention by the Senate sometime in the 1800’s.

I expect Bolton to do well for the same reason the Rice is doing so well. When people speak with Bolton, they will know he has the President’s backing. They will feel confident that when Bolton makes a promise, there is a good chance he can back it up. In the case of Colin Powell, it was well known that he and the President disagreed on some issues. Thus, they could not be confident Powell could fulfill his promises.

In the end, I’m not really sure it matters. I suspect the U.N. is a lost cause. The fact that Bush fought so hard for this appointee means he gives more weight to the U.N. than I do.

Time will tell.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/01/05 9:38 PM | Link

A Conversation Between Usama and His Boys

Citizen Smash has the transcript of a conversation between Usama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists. Click here to read it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/01/05 9:35 PM | Link

Finally! Someone Learns Arabic.

A military blogger has this interesting post.

FALLUJAH, Iraq-An interesting experiment is going on in the northeast corner of this city. Members of the Iraqi Army and the U.S. Marine Corps are sharing living quarters on a small base. The intent of the experiment is to help the Iraqi soldiers learn more. But it has had an unanticipated side effect: Some marines are picking up new skills. Pfc. Mark Britton has learned Arabic.

I recommend you read the whole post. It's not that long.

Posted by The Vorlon on 08/01/05 8:38 PM | Link