Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

I took this photo while down to the shore a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what kind of flowers they are, but they look like daisies.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/30/05 8:41 AM | Link

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Glorious Skies at the Shore

I took this photo earlier this summer at the shore. It was a great evening for photography as the sky gave a dramatic backdrop to everything. This is another of those stitched together photos.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/29/05 8:00 AM | Link

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Bitter Lesson in Logistics

Jason van Steenwyk has a great post on just what it takes to move an army. He posts a letter from a Marine that did logistics.

I tried to explain what a massive undertaking it is to move the National Guard into the Katrina affected area to my wife. I had very little success until I broke it down to one number. 8 pounds. It is a magic number. The planning weight for a gallon of water. Times two gallons per person per day minimum. Times 40,000 personnel for the National Guard to support itself. The number gets pretty staggering really quick. 320 tons a day. And that is just for the water.

I don't know what the Guard uses for hauling general cargo these days so I'll use the good old 5 ton truck as my vehicle of choice. A five ton truck carries, well, not five tons. Not after you take out of its total people, fuel, equipment, spares and all the other "stuff" your average driver/A driver pair need to survive. But assuming you can get 5 tons of water on the truck that is 64 trucks (big trucks, not Ford F150 trucks) just to haul water for the relief forces. Still not a drop to drink for the survivors. Now double that number to add in one days worth of water for the 40,000 people in the Superdome. Now we are 128 water trucks.

Assuming that each truck is approximately 27 ft in length (w/wench) and that equals approx 3500 ft. of truck, bumper to bumper. At road march speed and distance, in a non-tactical environment, you are at approx 13,000 ft of trucks or about 2.5 miles of water for a single days supply of water for the relief force and the Superdome. There is nothing to eat, sleep on, or wipe your ass with in this convoy. Just one days worth of water. Pretty impressive number? It's worse even than that. This does not include any packaging, bracing, tiedowns, etc. to hold the water. Just 128 perfectly sealed water haulers.

Now multiply times 25 for the 1,000,000 people displaced by Katrina. And then do it all over tomorrow.

Amateurs think about tactics, but professionals think about logistics.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/28/05 9:07 PM | Link

What Terrorists in Iraq Fear

The Belmont Club has an excellent post and the challenges the terrorists in Iraq face.

Analysts who talk about the 'unstoppable IED' should consider the problems posed to the enemy by the American precision strike, which is in its way the rival "weapon from hell". If a modified cell phone represents a detonator to a triggerman lying in wait for an American target, a regular cell phone in the hands of an Iraqi working for American intelligence is a means to rain down certain destruction on any safehouse, hideout or enemy installation. The defense against IEDs, while difficult, is a known quantity: route surveillance, snipers scanning the roads, the "96 hour" patrols of Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile, electronic countermeasures, vehicle armor, etc. But difficult as these are, the defense against precision strikes is far harder because it requires preventing any unvetted person from viewing your movements. Abu Nasir, the late Emir of the Qaim region, may have had twenty or more bodyguards or companions with him; but they simply perished with him because his security measures failed to prevent some person, perhaps a man in the employ of America, perhaps someone with a grudge against him, perhaps even a rival in his own organization from making a cell phone call which brought down a guided weapon on his head.

I think his point is well taken. Yes IED’s are nasty weapons, but we do have some defenses against them. But what defense do the terrorists have against a 500 pound precision guided bomb? None. All it takes is for one Iraqi to drop a dime on them and they’re toast.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. had enough bomb carrying aircraft in the air 24/7 so that ground troops could get a 500 Lb bomb within 10 minutes of asking for one.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/28/05 8:48 PM | Link

View of the Shore from a Couple of Weeks Ago

This is from a trip the Vorlon Wife and I took to the shore a couple of weeks ago. Nothing special and certainly not the most beautiful photo in the world, but perhaps a bit relaxing. Maybe I should record the surf and attach it to the photo. Would that be cool or what?

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/28/05 8:52 AM | Link

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The MSM Strikes Again

Congress held a show trial today in an effort to flog publicly, so to speak, former FEMA directory Mike Brown. To Brown’s credit, he didn’t knuckle under and gave nearly as good as he got.

He indicated that he didn’t send his people into the Superdome as he saw on TV that the place was a war zone. His people are volunteers and not armed. He was not going to risk their safety.

It now turns out the Superdome was NOT a war zone. It was all rumor hyped by the media. This is the same media that complains that bloggers have no checks on what they report. Yet they went ahead and reported rumors and never bothered to see if they were true or not. They also reported that over 10,000 people had died and at one point reported that people had turned to cannibalism.

Why would they act in such an irresponsible manner?

The answer, because it made George Bush look bad. This was their opportunity to show just how inept George Bush was – certainly not the Mayor Nagin or Governor Blanco.

They were wrong, terribly wrong. Their false reporting affected FEMA’s decision and needlessly increase the suffering of those affected.

This is the same media that is doing all they can to make Iraq look like a no win situation.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/27/05 9:24 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Mary Mapes Still Won't Admit She was Wrong

I see that Mary Mapes, of the CBS Rathergate fame has published a book, Duty and Truth. You can read Chapter One on Amazon's web site.

It was another day of exhausted exultation. I got congratulatory e-mails, phone calls, and pats on the back. Other reporters called repeatedly as they worked to catch up to my story. I was thrilled.

All that changed about 11:00 a.m., when I first started hearing rumbles from some producers at CBS News that a handful of far right Web sites were saying that the documents had been forged.

I was incredulous. That couldn’t be possible. Even on the morning the story aired, when we showed the president’s people the memos, the White House hadn’t attempted to deny the truth of the documents. In fact, the president’s spokesman, Dan Bartlett, had claimed that the documents supported their version of events: that then-lieutenant Bush had asked for permission to leave the unit.

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS. Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators---or whatever they were---were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

Peripheral spacing? It’s was proportional spacing. Has she learned so little?

I was told that the first posting claiming the documents were fakes had gone up on Free Republic before our broadcast was even off the air! How had the Web site even gotten copies of the documents? We hadn’t put them online until later. That first entry, posted by a longtime Republican political activist lawyer who used the name “Buckhead,” set the tone for what was to come.

There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough.

This is the incredulous part. She complains that no one took seriously what the documents said. Mary, if they’re fake, what difference does it make what they say? If someone tries to pass a forged check, who cares how much the check is for. It’s bogus. You might only check the amount for ha-ha’s.

People from around the country, especially those with a harsh political bent, began chiming in on the sites with accounts of their own experience with typewriters in the 1970s. Someone claimed to remember that electric typewriters at the time did not do “superscripts,” a small “th” or “st” or some such abbreviation that was lifted higher on the line than the other letters. This was important, because in the Killian memos, the 111th was sometime typed as the 111th, something that drove the bloggers wild. Another person claimed there was no peripheral spacing on old typewriters, even though there had been on some of the old official documents.

I remember staring, disheartened and angry, at one posting. “60 Minutes is going down,” the writer crowed exultantly.

My heart started to pound. There is nothing more frightening for a reporter than the possibility of being wrong, seriously wrong. That is the reason that we checked and rechecked, argued about wording, took care to be certain that the video that accompanied the words didn’t create a new and unintended nuance. Being right, being sure, was everything. And right now, on the Internet, it appeared everything was falling apart.

I had a real physical reaction as I read the angry online accounts. It was something between a panic attack, a heart attack, and a nervous breakdown. My palms were sweaty; I gulped and tried to breathe. My heart was pounding like I had become a cartoon character whose heart outline pushes out the front of her shirt with each beat. The little girl in me wanted to crouch and hide behind the door and cry my eyes out.

I thought today’s women were men and they didn’t cry. This is not a good line for women’s liberation. The little girl in you wanted to crouch and hide behind the door and cry your eyes out?

The longtime reporter in me was p***d off ... and I hung on to her strength and certainty for dear life. I had never been fundamentally wrong, never been fooled, never been under this kind of attack. I resolved to fight back.

In my world I tend to lump people into winners and losers. It’s not
that winners don’t make mistakes. They certainly do. But winners will admit they screwed up and vow not to make those mistakes again. They learn and move forward

Losers, when the screw up, blame someone else. They don’t learn from mistakes because the mistakes are never their fault. I think Mary needs to move herself into the winner group, but she first needs to admit she screwed up.

I’m not holding my breath.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/27/05 7:41 PM | Link

The Moon Over the Water

When we were down to the shore, a couple of weeks ago a full moon came out. I was intrigue with the reflection of the moon in the ocean. Unfortunately, my little camera that can only go to ASA 400 didn’t do that well in capturing the moment. You can also see a lot of noise in this photo.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/27/05 8:38 AM | Link

Monday, September 26, 2005

Should We Use the Military More for Disasters

Suddenly, after Louisiana’s fiasco at disaster relief, everyone wants to make the military the 911 call. I’m not terribly enthusiastic about that. That kind of power in the wrong hands could be bad.

I was watching Fox News tonight and Charles Krauthammer offered a suggestion that might work. His idea is, the President can authorize the military to take over disaster relief only in extreme circumstances, yet to be defined, and that authority would only last two weeks. He says it could only be extended by congress approving of same.

I find that a little more encouraging, but I’m still uneasy about it. I rather think the military should be defending the country rather than tracking hurricanes.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/26/05 8:31 PM | Link

Another One Bites the Dust

Good news! Another one bites the dust. According to Fox News, al-Zarqawi's second in command has assumed ambient temperature. If memory serves me right, al-Zarqawi keeps replacing these guys and we keep taking them out. It doesn’t sound to me like becoming number two to al-Zarqawi is a good career move.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/26/05 8:00 PM | Link

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dueling World Views

I was watching a bit of the pro U.S. mission demonstrations and speeches today on CSPAN. I saw some of the photo’s on the web from yesterday’s anti U.S. demonstrations.

After giving the opposing viewpoints, I think I can summarize them. Although I may mischaracterize the anti U.S. position. If I do, I’d like a correction.

Is the U.S. a Force for Good?
The pro U.S. position is that the U.S. is a force for good in the world. It doesn’t mean we always live up to our billing. But if the U.S. did not exist, then, as Yoda might say, “Matters would be worse.”

The anti U.S. position is the U.S. is not a force for good in the world and in fact is a force for evil. If the U.S. did not exist, the world would be much better off and everyone would live in peace.

The Cost of Freedom
The pro U.S. position is that freedom is worth more than life itself. This position does not minimize the casualties we have taken in Afghanistan and Iraq. It embraces them, cries bitter tears over them, and then goes forward into the battle. The take Lincoln’s words to hear, “…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”

The anti U.S. position is that life is worth more than freedom. One casualty fighting for liberty for not just someone else, but even for the U.S. is one too many. It is better to live as a slave and than to die a in the cause of freedom.

The pro U.S. position is that we should stay in Iraq, until the Iraqi’s can fend for themselves. If we can successfully plant democracy in Iraq, that flower will grow to envelop the entire Middle East someday. Every terrorist we kill in Iraq is one less terrorists that could threaten the U.S. homeland.

The anti U.S. position is our presence in Iraq is creating more terrorists. The terrorists in Iraq are not terrorists but freedom fighters that are only trying to remove the yoke of U.S. oppression. We should immediately withdraw from Iraq and let the Iraqi’s sort it out for themselves.

George Bush
The pro U.S. position is that George Bush has done the right thing in invading both Afghanistan and Iraq. That doesn’t mean they agree with everything Bush has done. But on his foreign policy, they find agreement.

The anti U.S. position is George Bush is a war criminal as well as every member of his cabinet. All of them should be brought before the World Court and tried for crimes against humanity. They believe that assassination of the president would remove a great force for evil in the world. Should Bush die, they would celebrate for 40 days and 40 nights.

As I say, I may be mischaracterizing some of their positions as I’m a pro U.S. person and thus don’t total understand my opponents.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/25/05 7:07 PM | Link

Light and Dark Leaves against the Sky

The Vorlon Wife and I were walking through a cemetery only a few blocks from out house, when I noticed this view through the tree. I rather liked the contrasting leaves on the same tree.

I have bumped the color and contrast on this and then applied “Dry Brush” to the photo. I think I like the effect.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/25/05 6:45 PM | Link

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Photo from the Shore from Last Weekend

Due to the Vorlon Wife being under the weather having a different commitment, we did not go to the shore this weekend. I do have some photo’s I took previously. This is the Vorlon Wife with the sand dune and a first aide station as a backdrop.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/24/05 5:19 PM | Link

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

This is a close up of the Vorlon Wife’s Impatiens. I had just finished watering the lawn near them and they were pretty well soaked. However, Impatiens rather like that.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/23/05 8:06 AM | Link

A Tree from a Hard Life

There is a graveyard a few blocks from our house. The Vorlon Wife and I frequently go for walks there. I rather liked the bark on this tree and thought it might make an interesting photo.

By the way, there are many people buried in the graveyard and I never hear anyone complaining. I must presume they are all happy there.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/23/05 8:05 AM | Link

Spooky Doings in New Orleans

It seems the soldiers are encountering being from the spirit world in New Orleands. Here's a video clip.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/23/05 7:01 AM | Link

A Dispatch from Michael Yon

Michael has posted his latest dispatch from the war. For the moment he is leaving Iraq, but appears to be planning to return. He notes . . .

More than eight months of embed with American combat soldiers ended. I already missed them, but I sure was happy to be out of that war.

He also notest the progress on helping a little Iraqi girl. It's not promising.

Sadly, due to a snag in paperwork with US Immigration, a very sick child is stuck in Jordan. Her well being, possibly her life, is on hold over some trivial forms. It was as if she had been found and lifted by angels, only to be stopped and left to sit outside the gates while nameless guards check her ID card against the roster. The only thing certain is that without treatment Rhma will die.
Posted by The Vorlon on 09/23/05 6:12 AM | Link

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It'll Soon be Fall

In the gutter next to our house, we’d had some leaves collect and water had accumulated from me watering the lawn. Into this melee had fallen some blooms from the Vorlon Wife’s Impatiens. I rather liked the look and too a photo. I just missed the really good light, however.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/22/05 8:46 PM | Link

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Vorlon Wife Under the Weather

The Vorlon Wife is under the weather these days. She's been diagnosed with Shingles.

Looking back the first symptoms appears on Saturday. By Tuesday, she was feeling very poorly and went to the doctor this morning. He said it was a classic case of Shingles. Hopefully the medication will lead to a speedy recovery.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/21/05 9:48 PM | Link

Empty Benches

The summer is about over and the benches on the Boardwalk are empty.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/21/05 8:46 AM | Link

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

DGSOS - Don't Get Stuck On Stupid

Don't you just love it when Gen. Honore talks to reporters. Listen to this sound bite hosted by Radio Blogger.

Listen carefully for when he says, "Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters."

And then a little later in response to another stupid question, "You are stuck on stupid."

I'm going to get me one of those wrist bands with DGSOS written on it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/20/05 7:54 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (3)

The Shore From the Boardwalk

This is from the boardwalk at Ocean City. They have created sand dunes to keep the ocean at bay. A little play on words there. Actually, the sand dunes are to keep the ocean from overrunning the boardwalk. But the dunes do block the view of the ocean, as you can see in this photo. They do, however, have intermittent passes through the dunes to the ocean.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/20/05 8:06 AM | Link

Monday, September 19, 2005

More Encouraging News from Iraq

In a recent press conference by Colonel H R Brown, he spells out the progress made in Iraq.

Q How is the state of the insurgency different today than when you arrived to start your mission?

COL. BROWN: There's a significant difference from when we got here last October. Last October, we faced a foreign fighter that was very well-trained. I remember watching attacks out -- we had an attack that involved about 60 foreign fighters in a pretty complex ambush. By complex I mean three or four forms of engagement. They'll hit you with an IED, small arms, mortars -- a very complex attack. We saw that regularly in November and December. We also defeated -- in one of those fights, we killed 40 terrorists, and we did not lose anybody, and we defeated them every time they tried to do that against us. We really worked hard and aggressively at getting out. I mean, we conducted some 2,100 cordon and searches, and thousands of aggressive offensive operations -- 18 attacks a day against the insurgents back in that time period. I remember watching an attack and seeing the insurgents move against us, and I had to look and say, gee, are those our guys or their guys because they're moving very well around buildings. Now, that was November and December. What we saw is that that's faded away very quickly, as we captured and killed. And we killed some 550 enemy and captured over 3,000.

And as we got to February and March, we saw a completely different foreign fighter. We've captured Libyans. We've captured Saudi, Yemenis, Algerians. And many of these -- one Libyan that we captured about a month and a half ago -- he was clearly brainwashed. And he was told that, you know, what was going on here and brainwashed to come and be a -- what he thought was -- he was going to be a foreign fighter against this crusade against the Muslim religion. He got here. He saw that was not correct. They told he was going to be a suicide martyr. He said he didn't want to do that. When we happened to capture him, several other foreign fighters and the cell leader that was orchestrating them, he was very happy to talk to us about what he had seen and what they had done.

And very interesting that younger foreign fighter that we're seeing now -- very poorly trained. We would call them more like RPGs for hire. And we believe it's the -- we know that the leadership is severely disrupted. Again, from -- about 25 percent of the attacks were very complex prior to elections, as I described. Now we're down to five percent are complex. And we're at the lowest number of attacks by far over the last three months. And that is -- clearly the foreign network is disrupted. The leadership is severely disrupted. We captured Abu Talha, the number-two al Qaeda leader in the north of Iraq. And right after that we got Abu Bara, Madhi Musa (sp), Abu Zab (sp), the next six leaders that would step up and take over. Nobody's taken over now. It's not a very popular position because if they step up, they get captured or killed. And so they're really disrupted, totally different.

The other thing -- the other huge change is the population. And in a counterinsurgency, of course, the terrorists don't have to -- the people don't have to love them; they just have to remain neutral and not turn them in. And when we got here, the people were intimidated, and they were neutral. Now they are turning them in. We'd like to call it, you know, the terrorists swim in a sea of anonymity, and that sea has been taken away from them.

And for example, when we got here, they could fire mortars, and they did that. Three hundred mortar attacks a month was the average for the six months prior to us getting here. As we got the population more and more on the side of their government and their security forces, as they saw how the terrorists offered no hope for the future and their government did, they started turning these guys in. And in the beginning, a guy would fire a mortar; in a city of 2 million, it's pretty hard to track him down. Well, we've captured over 142 mortar systems, and now the average is six attacks a month in the entire province, from 300 to six.

And just a couple of weeks ago, when they did fire a mortar, the people told what they looked like, what their license plate was. In one case, they knew one of the individuals. The Iraqi army went out, tracked them right down, arrested them, and there you have it -- much different from that prior to elections, when, you know, they wouldn't say anything. It was -- we didn't see anything, and it was very hard to stop this.

So it just shows -- and again, I talked about the number of call- ins, the number of tips on the street, the cooperation of the people. The people have -- are fed up with the terrorist acts. I mean, I -- you know, I was -- witnessed one suicide VBIED that killed innocent women and children, and I've never seen evil like that. And the people -- Iraqi people saw that, and they know -- it's very clear to them that their government wants a brighter future for them, the Iraqi security forces want a brighter future, and the terrorists offer nothing but fear and intimidation and a very poor future.

Hat tip to The Belmont Club

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/19/05 8:03 PM | Link

Half of a Stand of Trees

Along the road on the way to the shore, I pass this stand of trees. Recently about half have been cleared for some construction project. I don’t know what they’re building, but I was interested in all those now exposed bare trunks. Although this shot is somewhat interesting, I’m not entirely happy with the results. This is actually five photo’s merged into one. If you look closely, you can see where the merge was not perfect. See if you can find it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/19/05 8:31 AM | Link

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Vorlon Wife at the Shore

This is the Vorlon Wife at the Shore last night. I’m getting a little frustrated with my digicam. For evening shots I need to crank up the ASA to 200 and many photo’s don’t come out as sharp as I would like. This is an example.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/18/05 9:28 PM | Link

A Lady With Spunk

The Vorlon Wife and I were listening to the radio on the way home last night. On Saturday night, a lady comes on the air. People call in and give her their story and she picks a song to play for them. It’s low-key relaxing music.

One lady called in and she was a trip. She wanted to dedicate a song to her husband of 20 years. She said that she had about given up on finding the right guy for her. This lady had a rather strong southern accent. Then she said that out of frustration she prayed out to God. She said, “God. Please send me a man that doesn’t drink or smoke or do drugs or stay out all night or run around and likes to fish.”

Many years ago, she was working as a cashier and the man, now her husband frequently came through her line. He came through her line, even when her line was the longest one in the store.

She said he always paid by check. So one time took his check and got the phone number from it. Later she called his home and asked for the missus. The daughter, who had answered, replied there was not missus. The lady explained to the disk jockey lady that she had learned to be careful.

A few weeks after that the fellow asked her out and she discovered the man met all of her criteria. In addition, he loved to fish. They were eventually married. It wasn’t to a few years after they were married that she owned up to what she had done with the phone call.

I think there are a couple of lessons from this little story we can all take to heart.

1) Know what you want in very specific detail. This lady had it laid out in pretty good detail.

2) Don’t be afraid to ask God for help. But when you do, be specific. This lady did that in spades.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/18/05 7:07 PM | Link

Saturday, September 17, 2005

An Evening in Ocean City, NJ

The Vorlon Wife and I spent the evening in Ocean City tonight. Here’s a photo of the beach. The waves were pretty good tonight and the surfers were doing well.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/17/05 9:49 PM | Link

The Marines Take a Rest

U.S. Marines from 2nd Squadron, 3rd Platoon, I Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, and Iraqi Security Forces take a break during a patrol through the streets of Hit, Iraq. This is from

Man, they look beat.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/17/05 10:50 AM | Link

Sunset at the Shore

This is a sunset photo I took in Ocean City a couple of weeks ago. I have obviously smooshed it around to make it look more like a painting. Hey, what are computers for, anyway?

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/17/05 8:39 AM | Link

Friday, September 16, 2005

An Iraq Progress Report - of Sorts

This post from sounds an encouraging note.

The U.S./Iraqi offensive in Tal Afar has been more effective than anticipated, and terrorists are abandoning the area. It is unclear as to whether the dispersal of terrorist forces, who seem mostly to be local Sunni Arab tribal fighters and al Qaeda “Foreigners”, is a planned response in the event of defeat or a spontaneous development. Whichever the case, the insurgents have abandoned large stocks of arms as well as some important infrastructure, including bomb factories and underground installations. The damage to al Qaeda was serious enough to elicit a public announcement from the terrorist organization, where it announced a new wave of suicide bombings, as revenge for the success of the Tal Afar, and related, operations. Apparently it was a case of “use it or lose it,” with al Qaeda fearing that the continuing operations along the Syrian border and in western Iraq, would lead to more bomb workshops, and completed car bombs, being captured.

[. . .]

The government is using a similar tactic that is weakening the terrorist organizations. Thousands of local civilians are being hired for reconstruction jobs. American civil affairs units have been most aggressive with this tactic, developed and honed over the last two years. Even while the fighting is going on, civil affairs teams are noting what infrastructure is in need of rebuilding, or is getting damaged. As soon as Iraqi police declare a neighborhood pacified, hiring begins to help unload and distribute relief supplies, rebuild roads and electrical systems, and do any other jobs that need being done. Workers are paid daily, and given one more reason to stay away from the terrorist organizations. Not that a lot of unemployed Sunni Arabs need much encouragement there. By now, it’s almost impossible to get volunteers to attack the Americans, and prices to hire people for that work keep going up. Shooting at Americans is seen as suicide, because not only do the Americans promptly shoot back very accurately, but they then come after you. The Americans have those damn little planes in the sky, the ones with cameras, making it difficult for attackers to hide or get away. It’s much easier to attack Iraqi police or soldiers. But these guys are now wearing body armor, and will counter-attack as well. Worse, the Iraqi police will start questioning people in the area, put up roadblocks, and hunt you down. It’s getting so hard to be a bad guy in Iraq.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/16/05 8:55 PM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

I took one of my previous Friday Flowerblogging photos and applied Photoshop Elements Rough Pastels to it. I rather like this effect. When I get to liking something, I usually beat it into the ground – so bear with me while I overdose.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/16/05 8:09 AM | Link

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Not All Bombs Go Boom

StrategyPage has a post on concrete filled bombs. It turns out they are quite useful.

One of the strangest, and most useful, bombs employed in Iraq has been the concrete filled JDAM. Why deliver a 500 pound bomb filled with concrete instead of explosives? You do that if you want to do some damage, but not a lot. Concrete JDAMs were first used in the 1990s to destroy anti-aircraft guns, radars and missiles that Saddam Hussein placed in residential areas. He believed that the Americans would not attack these weapons, for fear of hurting nearby civilians. But it turned out that a laser, or satellite (JDAM) guided concrete smart bomb could take out the air-defense weapons without hurting nearby civilians. The concrete bombs come in various sizes (500, 1,000 and 2,000 pounds), but the new 500 pound JDAM has become a favorite when a concrete version is required. Recently, for example, two small bridges near the Syrian border were seen being used by terrorists to bring in people and weapons. There was no need to completely destroy the bridges (which might take months, or longer, to replace), because the terrorists were slowly being chased from the area. But a concrete bomb on each bridge damaged the structures enough so that they could not be used, but not so much that they could not be repaired in a week or two. Concrete bombs are still used against terrorist targets in residential areas, where the bomb can reach the terrorists before police or ground troops can. It’s all a case of a seemingly off-the-wall weapon idea being, not a joke, but actually quite useful.
Posted by The Vorlon on 09/15/05 9:36 PM | Link

From the Shore Last Year

I took this photo last year in Ocean City, New Jersey. I wanted to make the photo look more like a painting. I over saturated to really boost the color. When you paint, you don’t use the exact correct colors. So I over-emphasized the colors. Then I used something Photoshop Elements calls Sponge to make the color into blobs of color. Then I applied the Rough Pastels to give the effect of painting on a rough surface. The yellow flowers are Goldenrod.

I’m not sure I think this is particularly good, but I do find it interesting.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/15/05 8:14 AM | Link

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

You Want the Truth About Vietnam?

As Jack Nicholson said in “A Few Good Men”, “You want the truth, you can’t handle the truth.”

FrontPage Magazine has an interview with Vietnam veteran R.J. Del Vecchio. He has written a booklet called, “Myths of Vietnam/Lessons for Iraq”

The interview makes for some interesting reading from someone who lived through that time and saw what happened.

The terrible tragedy was that after '72 the flow of supplies from the US to SVN went to a trickle while the flow of supplies to NVN from China and the Soviet Bloc swelled to a torrent. Once Congress removed the President's power to even offer air support to the South if the North invaded again, the North knew they had the edge. They prepared very carefully for almost two years and then sent 20 full divisions into the South in a blitzkrieg that would have made Rommel proud. There were some valiant stands by SVN units, but in the end, the lack of supplies and absence of US air power doomed them.

The shame of it was that all we had to do was keep up supplies to SVN and promise the North that any invasion of the South would precipitate massive US bombing both of the invading forces and critical targets in the North, and very likely today Vietnam would be like Korea, with a communist North and a free and prosperous democratic South.

I recommend you read the whole interview.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/14/05 8:50 PM | Link

The Defense Department is Holding a Race

StrategyPage has a great post about a contest somewhat like the prize to go into outer space.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is holding it’s second “Grand Challenge” race, on October 8th, for developers of UGV (unmanned ground vehicles.) DARPA is offering a two million dollar prize for the first UGV to complete the 280 kilometer course, in less than ten hours. The race, first held last year, has not yet been won.

[. . .]

In the first race last year, no vehicle completed the course. In fact, the best any vehicle could do was 23 kilometers (about ten percent of the entire course.) This year, several participants feel they can not only finish, but do it quickly enough to win the prize.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/14/05 8:44 PM | Link

Good News in Today's Tragedy

The Iraqi division of al Qaeda went on a spree today. Last I heard over 160 people had died in the terrorist attacks. As bad as it was, there is also some good news from Iraq. al Qaeda says it was revenge for the Iraqi and American attacks on the town of Tal-Afar. Those Iraqi led attacks have killed or captured over 500 terrorists.

So what is significant about this you might ask? The terrorists being killed and captured in Tal Afar are young and inexperienced. Why? Because the older and more experienced terrorists have been taken out of the fight - one way or another.

Donald Rumsfeld once wondered if we are killing and capturing terrorists faster than we are creating them. I think we can now make a tentative answer to that question.


Posted by The Vorlon on 09/14/05 8:02 PM | Link

A Photo from the Shore

Here’s another photo from our trip to the shore this last weekend. This one has a young lady standing on a rock and looking at the camera. It’s the Vorlon Wife!

From the long shadows you can tell it evening.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/14/05 8:53 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Usual Suspects are After Bush Again

I think Bush has gotten a bum rap in the recent hurricane aftermath. Before the Hurricane, struck Bush declared a disaster so that Governor Blanco could mobilize the National Guard. From all I read, both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin failed their duty.

But trued to their species, that refused to accept their responsibility and accused the FEMA in general and Bush in particular and failing to react quickly enough. But Blanco refused to authorize the federal government to take over.

Let the record show that FEMA responded even more quickly in the NOLA disaster than they have in previous hurricanes in Florida. FEMA always tells all local officials, “Don’t expect us to arrive before 72 to 96 hours after the disaster ends.”

I think the Bush’s problem was, he was used to how Florida handles hurricanes and expected the same response from NOLA officials. The NOLA officials proved to be incompetent.

What could Bush do at that point? He could have declared an insurrection and sent in the NG under his own authority. Given the looting going on, he might well have been justified in doing so. But had he done so, there would have been political h*** to pay.

Now former FEMA director Ron Brown has been roundly criticized. He was removed from the field of battle and has since committed professional seppuku. But this was not Brown’s first disaster. He has been FEMA director for some time and had been through several disasters. He was not a green troop.

Should Bush have fired him? FEMA is under the DHS, which is run by Michael Chertoff. Chertoff was Brown’s boss. If Brown was not performing up to snuff, what the h*** was Chertoff doing? As Brown’s boss, isn’t he supposed to making sure Brown was performing adequately?

I happen to think that Bush’s enemies have been waiting for just the right event to attack him and they have chosen this moment. The MSM, which I think hates Bush almost as much as "I Hate Bush Coalition" was more than happy to carry the meme. I think that getting the truth of the situation through the MSM is like trying to get the truth to the Arabs through al Jazeera.

Bush has virtually refused to defend himself.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/13/05 8:33 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (4)

Last Saturday Night in Ocean City, NJ

The shore was less crowded Saturday night, as you can see hear. There are a few people on the jetty, but object of interest in the photo is a lone gull. Actually, there were many gulls, as there always are, at the shore.

I'm finding that I can't seem to hold the camera straight and almost all of my photos list to the starboard.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/13/05 8:33 AM | Link

Monday, September 12, 2005

Senator Mary Landrieu Denigrates City Workers

Mary Landrieu said some nasty things about city (civil service) employees on Sunday. She said, “Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane.”

According to the Senator, the employees of most cities are lazy and mayors can’t get them to work.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/12/05 7:49 PM | Link

I'm Missing My Talking Points

It turns out the Karl Rove sends out talking point faxes to right-wing bloggers. At last one blogger has come clean about the whole sordid mess. I’m disappointed. I never received a single fax.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/12/05 3:11 PM | Link

Another Variation on Saturday's Posted Photo

This is an effect Photoshop Elements calls Smudge Stick. I think I like the Rough Pastels effect better, but I think this is interesting too.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/12/05 8:21 AM | Link

More on the Battle In Mosul

Michael Yon has an update on the war that rages in Mosul. He conveyes the troops' concern.

When you get the news back here in the states, it’s all doom and body counts. I only wish the American public could see the incredible progress that is being made every day in Iraq, particularly in places like Mosul.

I recommend you read his whole dispatch. It's a short one this time.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/12/05 6:51 AM | Link

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Never Forget


UPDATE: Here's another photo memorial.

UPDATE II: Hugh Hewitt has a fitting post for this anniversary.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

UPDATE IV: If you haven't read about Rick Rescorla I highly recommend you do. He was just an incredible individual that perished on 9/11 trying to help others. It is both a sad and inspiring story.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/11/05 11:49 PM | Link

Some Progress in Iraq

Wretchard of The Belmont Club has a post about the retaking of Tel-Afar. It is a small town in Iraq near the Syrian border. It seems Al Qaeda and other terrorists have taken over the town. A military operation is in play to retake the town from the terrorists. What is significant about his operation is the Iraqis are taking the lead. Coalition forces, both air and ground are backing them up, but the Iraqis are at the tip of the spear.

It has seemed like a long time coming, but it’s finally starting. It has taken a while to stand up the Iraqi army. You don’t build an army overnight. Any US strategy is not announced to the press. You have to deduce it from events. As Wretchard says . . .

First up the rivers, now the border. The pattern of campaigning against the insurgents began with an attempt to control the Euphrates and Tigris river lines moving northward from Baghdad. The current emphasis has been upon controlling the Syrian border, on which both the river lines are anchored. Over the last several months, US forces have laid down the logistical infrastructure for moving men and equipment rapidly into the space north of the Euphrates going eastward to the Tigris, a process described in the post Battle for the Border.

Apart from the military effect of the current operation, it sends the message to insurgents that these may be the first of the post-occupation crackdowns by the Iraqi government. Because the Iraqi government is dominated by Shi'ites and Kurds, not only for demographic reasons but because of the insurgency's policy of nonparticipation in the political process started by the US, there are fears that sectarian fighting in Iraq may degenerate into a civil war leading to the breakup of the country. Mounting Iraqi-led operations while there are still very large numbers of American forces in- country restrains sectarian elements from going on a rampage. It also has the advantage of putting the Syrians on notice that the new Iraqi government, which the Ba'athists are increasingly unlikely to recapture, is taking steps to maintain its territorial integrity. Given another year the new Iraqi government may come to regard the Syrian-supported infiltration as a cassus belli -- not necessarily, but the threat is there.

I recommend you read his whole post.

With the hurricane making daily front-page news, the Iraq war has lapsed to the back pages. This is a defeat for the terrorist. US service men and women were never the real terrorists’ targets. The American public was. The terrorists’ only hope for survival was to convince the American public the war was too expensive in blood. That’s why they video taped their beheadings. They were trying to make the American public afraid. They were successful with some. The sheer viciousness of the terrorists frightening many Americans and they have call for a unilateral US withdrawal.

Now Americans are too busy trying to make the hurricane someone’s fault to worry about Iraq. Cindy Sheehan would walk naked down the streets of Crawford and she wouldn’t be able to get a single news organization to report it.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/11/05 8:41 PM | Link

Yesterday's Shore Photo with an Added Twist

This is the same photo I posted yesterday except I’ve applied what Adobe Photoshop Elements calls “Rough Pastels”. It gives the effect of having been painted on to rough canvas. I rather like the effect.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/11/05 8:54 AM | Link

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Iraq Donates to the Katrina Relief Effort

Here's something that seems to have gotten little attention.

Iraqi soldiers serving at Taji military base collected 1,000,000 Iraqi dinars for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Iraqi Col. Abbas Fadhil, Iraqi base commander, presented the money to U.S. Col. Paul D. Linkenhoker, Taji Coalition base commander, at a Sept. 5 staff meeting.

"We are all brothers. When one suffers tragedy, we all suffer their pain."

Iraqi Col. Abbas Fadhil

“We are all brothers,” said Abbas. “When one suffers tragedy, we all suffer their pain.”

The amount of money is small in American dollars - roughly $680 - but it represents a huge act of compassion from Iraqi soldiers to their American counterparts, said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Goyne.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of their generosity,” Goyne said. “I was proud and happy to know Col. Abbas, his officers, NCOs and fellow soldiers. That amount represents a month’s salary for most of those soldiers.”

Abbas read a letter he wrote after giving the envelope to Linkenhoker.

"I am Colonel Abbas Fadhil; Tadji Military Base Commander,” Abbas wrote. “On behalf of myself and all the People of Tadji Military Base; I would like to console the American People and Government for getting this horrible disaster. So we would like to donate 1.000.000 Iraqi Dinars to help the government and the People also I would like to console all the ASTs who helped us rebuilding our country and our Army. We appreciate the American's help and support. Thank you."

Although that's not a lot of money, it's about one year's salary in Iraq.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/10/05 3:44 PM | Link

From Boots on the Ground in NOLA

An Army Reservist serving in NOLA writes this letter.

Having just completed twelve days of active duty in support of “Joint Task Force Katrina”, six days on the ground in NOLA and six days in assisting with pre-positioning of Federal assets, I would like to offer the following predictions:

1. Mayor Ray Nagin (D) estimated that fatalities would be as high as 10,000. While it is conceivable that area wide fatalities could in theory approach 3,000, I strongly believe that fatalities in NOLA, directly attributed to Katrina will be less than one thousand, (1,000).

2. Pat O’Brien’s will be serving “Hurricanes” again before Thanksgiving of this year.

3. The Mardi Gras Carnival Parade will go on “as scheduled” for February 28, 2006.

4. Within thirty days, electricity will be restored to a majority of NOLA.

5. Within thirty days, 90% of the city will by dry enough to access by civilian SUV.

6. Dependent on the restoration of water/sewer service, of which I have no first hand knowledge to comment, large numbers of NOLA residents will be going home by Thanksgiving.

7. Ninety percent, or more, of the residents that were displaced in NOLA will eventually return to the city in search of the now greatly expanded employment prospects in construction. However, the small percentage that does not return will change Louisiana politics permanently. Louisiana will join the rest of the “South” as a solid Republican State.

8. The funds allocated by Congress will not be completely used.

While not of a predictive nature, I would like to offer a few more thoughts. The unofficial motto of the Infantry is “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.” The elected local politicians in Louisiana are not “leaders” and should have stepped aside. You do not elect a “leader”, a “leader” is developed over time and experience.

In spite of herself, Gov. Blanco had significant military assets available to her, of which she had little knowledge to effectively utilize. The people of Louisiana would have been better served had the Governor ceded control to one of the many Platoon Sergeants in the Louisiana Army National Guard that she commands.

In six days in NOLA I have seen ignorance, paralysis and blatant/shameless corruption, ALL at the “local” level of government. Should the Congress pursue an “investigation” or appoint a Commission, I would pray that the members are not current/former Louisiana politicians or family members. The military term FUBAR is an apt description of the “emergency management plan execution” by the NOLA Mayor, the NOLA Police Department, the LA Governor and all of their emergency management appointees.

I look forward to getting home this weekend.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/10/05 8:49 AM | Link

A Photo from the Shore

I took this photo at the shore last Saturday night. It was a great night for photos in that I had a dramatic sky to use as a backdrop. In the next couple of days, I’ll be posting some variations on this photo that I did in PhotoShop Elements. Stay tuned.

If you want to make this your desktop background, after you open the thumbnail, just right-click on the photo and click on Save as Background.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/10/05 8:39 AM | Link

Friday, September 9, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

On our trip to Ocean City last Saturday night, we stopped at a lake to take some photos. Out of the water were growing these small flowers. I cranked the telephone as long as I could and this is the best I could do. To get a better shot I would have needed to either wade out to them or use a boat. Neither was a good alternative at that time.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/09/05 8:26 AM | Link

Terrorists in Iraq Are on the Run

Here's a post from StrategyPage about how wonderfully the terrorists in Iraq are succeeding.

There’s an elaborate chess game going on in central Iraq, and along the Syrian border. Actually, it’s more of a “chase game,” as the al Qaeda and Sunni Arab terrorist groups attempt to maintain control of the shrinking number of areas where they can establish their safe houses and bomb making workshops. This process began last fall, with the battle for Fallujah. While this left several thousand terrorists killed or captured, at least two thousand, including most of the terrorist leaders, fled Fallujah before the city fell. Over the next few months, the terrorists tried to take over another town, or portion of a city, like Mosul. This didn’t work, although it generated some great headlines about a terrorist "comeback". If the terrorists tried to hold ground, American troops came in and killed or captured them. Increasingly, the Americans arrived with Iraqi police or soldiers along, who were able to quickly canvass the liberated area to find out who might be pro-government. There were always a few. Names were taken and phone numbers given out. Sometimes, cell phones were given out as well.

The enemy became like nomads, with their caravans of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks moving at night from one sort-of-safe area to another. Increasingly, the caravans of gunmen roll into areas containing a higher proportion of people hostile to them. The Sunni Arabs have become anti-terrorist for very pragmatic reasons; money. When the caravan of gunmen shows up, they bring with them bullies, religious fanatics and, eventually, American smart bombs. But the terrorists, and their attacks on reconstruction efforts, have also brought over two years of poverty. The Sunni Arabs used to get most of the oil revenue, now they get practically nothing, because the terrorists won’t let any goodies in. Sunnis Arabs note that when the Americans come, they bring goodies. If the Americans stay, they bring in Iraqi cops and money for jobs and building things. This is another case of money as a weapon.

[. . .]

The tips have led to more reports of smart bombs hitting safe houses in towns where there are no American troops or Iraqi troops. These 500 pound bombs often arrive unexpectedly at night (to limit civilian casualties), and set off secondary explosions, as terrorist munitions explode. Another recent tip, from an arrested suspect, led to a hiding place for two kidnap victims, including an American contractor who had been held for ten months. Most of the kidnap victims freed are Iraqis, and these rarely get reported in the American media. But kidnapping rescues are big news in Iraq, because most of the victims are Iraqis.

Terrorists are spending more of their time running, and less time planting roadside bombs or attacking Iraqi police and government officials. In the last two weeks, attacks are down by about half. Some believe that the terrorists are massing their strength to try and disrupt next months voting. But on the ground, there are more and more towns are patrolled by Iraqi police, or pro-government tribal militia, and not al Qaeda or Sunni Arab terrorists. It's becoming more and more difficult for the terrorists to hold ground, much less build and use roadside or car bombs. The objective here is to turn central Iraq into an area where the terrorists are constantly on the run, and eventually run right into the ground and out of business.

Doesn't it sound like they have a great future?

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/09/05 6:52 AM | Link

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Vietnam Veterans on Parade

When the Vorlon Wife and I were in Ocean City last Saturday night, they had a parade for the Vietnam Veterans. It was a small parade, but the people on the boardwalk clapped enthusiastically as they passed by. I found it quite moving.

I wondered what it must have been like when the came back from Vietnam. When people spit in their faces and called them “baby killers”. Their accolades have been a long time coming. It was a small parade, but I would guess it meant a lot to the old soldiers.

This photo was severely backlit, but I was able to salvage it anyway.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/08/05 8:18 AM | Link

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Now This is Distrubing

Somebody at FEMA needs to get their head out of their a***. This shows just how dumb some agencies can be.

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

[. . .]

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them
came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/07/05 9:46 PM | Link

Do You Need New Glasses?

I have always been fond of Monet’s paintings. I tried to make that effect here. I don’t think I achieved it. All this does is make me think I need to have my eyes checked.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/07/05 8:41 AM | Link

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

I Really Hope This Proves False

I found this link today. It's pretty nasty.

Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.

"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.

"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."

He moved on, walking quickly through the darkness, pulling his camouflage shirt to his face to screen out the overwhelming odor.
"There's an old woman," he said, pointing to a wheelchair covered by a sheet. "I escorted her in myself. And that old man got bludgeoned to death," he said of the body lying on the floor next to the wheelchair.

[. . .]

Brooks and his unit came to New Orleans not long after serving a year of combat duty in Iraq, taking on gunfire and bombs, while losing comrades with regularity. Still, the scene at the Convention Center, where they conducted an evacuation this week, left him shell-shocked.

"I ain't got the stomach for it, even after what I saw in Iraq," said Brooks, referring to the freezer where the bulk of the bodies sat decomposing. "In Iraq, it's one-on-one. It's war. It's fair. Here, it's just crazy. It's anarchy. When you get down to killing and raping people in the streets for food and water … And this is America. This is just 300 miles south of where I live."

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/06/05 9:39 PM | Link

Lily Pads, Lily Pads

I’m not sure what I expect to accomplish with this photo and I don’t think this is it. In looking at this photo, I happen to noted that the lily pads all look like green Pac Men. I used to enjoy Pac Man. I see I could get Pac Man for my Palm, but I don’t need any more time wasters than I already have.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/06/05 8:36 AM | Link

Monday, September 5, 2005

The Lake at Union Rd and Route 49

On our way to Ocean City Saturday night, we stopped at the lake on the corner of Union Road and Route 49. This photo is the stitching together of three or four photos. In the top, right you can see where the software had some trouble getting everything to match up cleanly.

In doing these types of shots, I’m learning some lessons.

1) I should use either a tripod or, my case, my monopod. I need something to help me keep the camera straight and level.

2) I need to “freeze” the exposure for all the photos in my panorama. Since the camera will automatically adjust the expose for different lighting situations for each shot, it makes it very difficult for the software to smoothly transition from one photo to another.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/05/05 11:30 AM | Link

Lead, follow or get out of the way

A friend sends me this link with this quote.

Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1345th Transportation Company. He said the biggest difference he sees is that the people in Afghanistan wanted to help themselves, while many of the evacuees just want others to help them.
Posted by The Vorlon on 09/05/05 11:19 AM | Link

Is Our Next President Coming from Mississippi?

Chrenkoff posts a great letter he received from a reader. I highly recommned reading it. The letter writter points out how much better the Governor of Mississippi in handling the situation when Mississippi was hit harder than NO.

I read Gov. Blanco's (D-LA) statement too with some weird bemusement. Free tip - contrast the Louisiana situation with the one next door in Mississippi - Gov. Barbour (R-MS). What's been lost in all the blather over New Orleans is that it was really Mississippi that took the big hit. The buildings in New Orleans are still standing; the Gulf Coast of Mississippi basically has been scrubbed, like God took out a pencil eraser and just erased it. (Up in the northern hemisphere, since storms spin counterclockwise, the worst part of a hurricane is the "right-front" quadrant - because the wind is going with the momentum of the storm's movement, plus the wind pushes the storm surge along. The center hit basically at the MS/LA state line, so MS was on the bad side.)

I really don't like to find fault at times like this, but one thing that was missing was a quick recognition that in such a situation the potential for civil collapse is nearly 100%. Once the weather settles, you need to immediately declare marshal law and send in the MPs. That's basically what Haley Barbour did in Mississippi - there were a few early problems but very quickly the MPs were patrolling what was left of Biloxi and Gulfport and keeping a lid on things. Back on Tuesday when I put on the news and we all saw Kathleen Blanco bursting into tears, I knew that was the wrong message and would bring trouble. Louisiana and New Orleans basically have those touchy-feely, "I'm okay, you're okay" soft-leftie types in charge. Their education took a few days and has been expensive.

So I hope you're Watching Mississippi. Highly recommended - we may have found our next President out of this (you heard it here first).

Amidst all the hyperventilating that's going on, it's actually a good time for a civics lesson, particularly watching the competence of the people in Mississippi and the gross incompetence of almost all concerned in Louisiana. Who was responsible for what?

- The mayor of NO has been a good hyperventilator, but one thing became obvious quickly. NO is below sea level and it was inevitable that someday The Worst was going to happen. NO didn't even take the worse possible hit (MS did), but it was clear that no one in NO had ever planned for The Worst. Last weekend, the mayor said, "Everyone get out of town." It's obvious that lots of people weren't able to just load up the car and go - folks with no transportation like that, the incapacitated, patients in hospitals, etc. There was no plan to really evacuate the city, and it's the local officials (over decades) who were responsible for that.

- Why wasn't the National Guard called out sooner to maintain order? Responsibility with each state's National Guard contingent in situations like this (where they operate within state boundaries) is the responsibility of each state's governor. To put it bluntly, the responsibility for calling out the NG in LA rested with the governor. If it didn't happen on time, that's HER failing.

Mississippi got hammered much worse than Louisiana but is barely in the news because the leadership has been much more competent. Ms. Blanco is clearly way out of her league in this situation.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/05/05 11:14 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Suppose Mayor Nagin was a White Republican

I get the feeling that if Mayor Nagin were a white republican, images like these would cause reporters to ask him hard questions. Like why weren’t these buses used to evacuate people? But the mayor is neither white nor republican, so those kinds of questions will not be asked.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/04/05 9:23 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

How to Get the Skinny on Disaster Relief

I recommend you read COUNTERCOLUMN. He is an Army reservist in Florida that has not only served in Iraq, but has also been in on his share of hurricane disaster relief. He is been posting how what it takes to do what’s being done in LA.

He posts an entry from someone on the front lines doing the work.

I went in Jason. Hauled a half dozen generators and five 50 gal fuel drums to run them. Plus two drums I needed to increase my range in order to make the end destination. No fuel was available closer than Tuscaloosa coming in from the east (Atlanta area). I run a short truck and am normally an expediter. My niche is delivering to job sites. I run 26,000# although weight restrictions were removed for disaster relief. When I went in I was hitting about 34,000#. Six wheels at 24' vs eighteen at 48/53' and 34k vs 80k. It took me 42 hours to run just south of Baton Rouge coming in from Meridian, MS to the north. I had nothing left to give at the completion of one run and was asked repeatedly to run again. A human body can only do so much.

Short trucks are the answer though. This is the tenth disaster aid run I've made in only the last two years. Going in with a road crew with chainsaws takes time and a whole lot of labor. There are just simply not many rigs like mine around. You can forget trying to pull a trailer into some of those areas. It won't happen. You have to pipe out your exhaust and run two granny gears just to poke through. It's a nightmare but one desperately worth facing. Command posts and comm run on power. It is critical to supply that power and you never know where it's going to be needed.

We had quite a few short trucks running. Rollbacks (car haulers/tow trucks) couldn't make the run unless they were full size (13 ton FL 70s, KW T-300s, etc.). Plus there is a problem with securing loads on slick aluminum beds. Two tried to run with me and had to turn back. They were simply too low to the ground. Two others in the 33k 26' class made it through. One of my cousins came over from the west side of Baton Rouge in his rig like mine and ran in my stead for a second run. The sheer logistics of the situation was a nightmare!

It'd be nice to have a fleet of short trucks just sitting around waiting on disasters to strike like I hear some idiots wanting to have. Shoot, I'll take that gig if the pay is equal to what I make now. Think the taxpayers would pay me to sit around and wait on Cat 4 storms to roll through? heh! All of a sudden we've got all these logistics experts in the media and in Congress. Sounds like the MSM and their ability to cover the military properly huh? Yep! Lots of brand new experts out there in the press and general populace! :-o

I would like to take one of these experts in one time though. Nothing like A 23 Stihl to give them a real education! :-)

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/04/05 9:14 PM | Link

Reuters Hates Bush

Little Green Footballs has this post where the reference Reuters. So much for the idea the press doesn't have an agenda. This is in the first paragraph of the Reuters story.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - New Orleans began the gruesome task of collecting its thousands of dead on Sunday as the Bush administration tried to save face after its botched rescue plans left the city at the mercy of Hurricane Katrina.
Posted by The Vorlon on 09/04/05 7:50 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (4)

Last Night in Ocean City, NJ

The skies were great last night and I had the feeling I was going to get some great sunset shots. I was right. Although I did many that were multiple shots together, this is not one of them. Of course, I’ve bumped the color and contrast.

This is a view of the Boardwalk from the beach. It's about 12th street.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/04/05 7:45 PM | Link

Saturday, September 3, 2005

An Evening In Ocean City, New Jersey

The Vorlon Wife and I went to Ocean City tonight. It was a very nice day today. The weather was clear and bright. The skies were spectacular. I thought this one didn’t come out to badly. I’ve bumped up the color and increased the contrast and sharpness.

Those "bodies" you see in the water are surfers. There were a lot of surfers tonight.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/03/05 9:29 PM | Link

Blog Roll Set Up

I have wanted to set up a “Blog Roll” as they call it. I downloaded in install MT Blogroll, but couldn’t get it to work. It turns out there was a bug in it for my version of MT.

Now that MT 3.2 has been released, the new version of Blogroll is supposed to work fine. But it’s not backward compatible. I’m just not quite ready to upgrade, partly because MT Blacklist does not appear to be supported for MT 3.2.

I finally bit the bullet and have started doing it the manual way. What you will see as a heading called “Sites I like to Read.” It is in alphabetical order. I don’t want to make it too long, as it then becomes just too much. I want to keep it to just those site I monitor through my RSS feed.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/03/05 3:05 PM | Link

A Humorous Blog Commenting Incident

I monitor this sight in my RSS feed. It’s a photo blog sight. Although her style is not mine, she has some skill at transforming the photos into something quite colorful.

Today she posted a photo and in her commentary about the photo, she also spoke about the disaster in NO. I was surprised as all her other posts were strictly related to the photos she posts. The general gist of her post was that the Feds are not doing enough for N.O.

I have been following the posts on COUNTERCOLUMN as he’s been through this sort of thing before he speaks with some knowledge about what is and what is not possible.

I indirectly quoted him and referred her to his blog.

It’s seems this sight is a stealth Bush hate sight. One commenter has taken to emailing me.

My initial response was, “The Vorlon said, ‘Understanding is the three-edged sword.’” But the signature on my email has the phrase “Peach through superior firepower.”

I guess that rather incensed him more as he responded with “I rest my case, YOU ARE A REDNECK”

After I picked myself up from rolling on the floor laughing, I responded with “Let me just say this to you: The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you can give you peace.” That’s my standard response to intended insults, at least I THINK he was trying to insult me.

Poor fellow. He doesn’t realize that it is impossible to insult me.

To my further surprise he again responded with, “Peace through superior firepower. Contradicts your sentiments. I hope you had many lovely (three legged) children with your sister.”

I don’t quite understand the psychology. I mean, what is he attempting to accomplish?

My last response was, “You’re too funny!”

I think he’ll eventually give up in disgust. It’s hard to fight when you’re the only one throwing punches.

UPDATE: I did a little tracking on my pen pal. It appears he's out of Rousham in Oxfordshire England. That would explain his strange responses. But my analysis could be flawed on that. I would also guess his age at well under 30 and likely under 20.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/03/05 2:36 PM | Link

A Disclocated Shoulder?

For the past several weeks my left should has been experiencing some pain when I put my hand behind my back. I have been rather hoping that it would eventually subside. I have no recollections of any trauma to the shoulder.

Last night I remember rolling over to lie on my left side and I heard a “click” in my left shoulder. Suddenly there seemed to be less pain in my shoulder.

This morning I seem to have greater range of motion with less pain. My current hypothesis is that I had a partially dislocated should and last night it popped back into place. I’ll see if it improves with time.

Sometime sh** just happens.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/03/05 10:27 AM | Link

Did We Really Loose Vietnam

Strategypage has as post on if we really lost Vietnam and the lessons and tactics that are coming from the War in Iraq.

It’s difficult to determine who is winning the war on terror, partly because we still don’t agree who won wars and battles in the past. Take Vietnam. The U.S. didn’t lose the war. When American forces withdrew in 1972, the South Vietnamese government was still in power. The north eventually won, not via a guerilla war (American and South Vietnamese efforts had destroyed the guerilla force in the south) but via an invasion with conventional forces (including lots of tanks), right across the border. The north tried it first in 1972, right after U.S. troops were just about gone, and failed. So they built up their forces for three years, tried again, and succeeded.

[. . .]

We can see this struggle between reality and “conventional wisdom” being played out in Iraq right now. The media needs excitement, and a touch of scandal, to attract eyeballs, and stay in business. As a result, many dramatic events are being buried by what passes for “exciting news” from the combat zone. Examples abound. Casualty rates are at an all time low for this kind of war. While the news spotlights casualties as another sign of failure, the many casualties that should occur, but don’t, get little or no coverage.

Another spectacular change that gets little notice is the extent to which robots and networking are becoming commonplace on the battlefield. This is as dramatic as any of the major innovations developed during World War I. But all this probably won’t get the attention it’s due, by civilians anyway, for another decade or more.

An even less noticed innovation is the application of modern policing and investigation methods to Iraq operations. The troops involved often refer to “CSI: Baghdad,” in recognition of the thorough investigations of enemy attacks and battle scenes. What gets even less attention (and the “geeks with guns” prefer it that way), is the many types of analyses that information is subjected to, and the insights that produces for American commanders. While the terrorists in Iraq are making a mighty effort, they are losing. You wouldn’t know that from reading the news. But someday you will, after you read about it in a history book.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/03/05 8:20 AM | Link

Friday, September 2, 2005

How to Help the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Victims

FLOOD AID UPDATE: Here are some places you can donate to hurricane Katrina relief: American Red Cross

Catholic Charities is involved, and probably has lots of resources to draw on in the heavily Catholic New Orleans area.

Austin Bay is recommending Episcopal Relief and Development.

Liz at Rightalk suggests that animal lovers donate to the Humane Society.

Here's a link to Mennonite Disaster Services. The Sanity Inspector says they're highly efficient.

Reader Peter Viditto recommends The Mercy Corps

Here's the link for Methodist Relief.

Lisa Larkin recommends Operation Blessing.

The Salvation Army does good work. (WalMart just gave them a million dollars, but that's just the barest beginning of what's needed.)

Hugh Hewitt recommends Samaritan's Purse

Scott Ott recommends Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

Here's the link for N.Z. Bear's Katrina relief aggregator page.

Here's FEMA's list of recommended charities.

From Instapundit

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 11:58 PM | Link

I think I'm in the Middle of This Story

I remembered bits of this story so I searched the net until I found the whole thing.

A certain Southern gentleman was returning home after recuperating in the mountains for three months. His friend, George, met him on the platform at the station.

"George, has there been any news while I've been away?"

"Oh no, there hasn't been any news."

"No news? Surely, something must have occurred in my absence. I've been gone for most nearly three months, and I'm anxious for any little bit of news you may have."

"Well, since you mention it ...'course, it don't amount to much, but since you been away, your dog died."

"My dog ...died?"

"See, he went in to eat up some of the burnt horseflesh, and that's what killed the dog."

"Burnt ...horseflesh?"

"See, after the fire cooled off, the dog went in to eat up some of the burnt horseflesh, and that's what killed the dog."

"After ...the fire cooled off?"

"See the barn burned down, burned all the cows and horses. When the fire cooled off, the dog went in and ate up some of the horseflesh, and that's what killed the dog."

"My barn burned down! Well, how did my barn burn down?"

"It was a spark from the house. See, it flew over onto the roof of the barn, burned down the barn, burned all the cows and horses, and when the fire cooled off, the dog went in to eat up some of the burnt horseflesh, and that's what killed the dog. "

"A spark ...from the house?!”

"Oh yes, now that's completely burned down."

"Well, how did my house burn down?"

"See, it was the candles. They were under those curtains. That flame just shot up the wall, burned down that house, a spark went over to the barn, burned down the barn burned all the cows and horses and when the fire cooled off the dog went in to eat up some of the burnt horseflesh ...and that's what killed the dog."

"Candles! Why, I never have candles in the house. I don't even allow candles in the house. How did candles get in the house?"

"They was around the coffin."

‘...the coffin? Who died?"

"You needn't worry about that. Since you've been away your mother- in-law died."

"Oh, my mother-in-law. What a pity. How in the world did she die?"

"Well, some folks say it was from the shock of hearing that your wife run away with the chauffeur. But other than that, there ain't been no news."

I recently received an Email that my niece was having some marital problems. I have responded back and forth a bit and every time I do, it seems to get a little deeper. At the moment I feel like the fellow in the story above that has just found out his barn burned down. I'm wondering where my current tale will take me next.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 8:56 PM | Link

Why are these buses here?

no_buses.jpgI see this photo and wonder, why are these buses sitting here. Why weren’t they used to evacuate those people out of New Orleans that had no transportation? They would seem to be unusable at this point. Perhaps someone should ask the mayor why they weren’t used.

I know, it’s Bush’s fault.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 8:22 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

I'm Glad I'm Not in Louisiana

From what I read it appears the state and local officials in Louisiana have badly dropped the ball. And now they’re crying that all the help in inadequate. They seem to have had no plan and made no provision for this emergency.

If the people of Louisiana re-elect these people, they deserve what they get.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 1:40 PM | Link

Why Don't People Help Themselves?

I happen to be watching the news this morning and I see that Houston is calling for volunteers to help at the Astro Dome. It occurred to me the Astro Dome is already filled with people. Many of them able bodied. What the heck are they doing? Sitting around waiting for someone to server them?

If was one of the evacuees I know one of the first things I would do is to ask, “How can I help? What can I do?”

If nothing more, it makes one feel not so helpless.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 8:22 AM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

It’s getting a little tough to find some current flower photos. Most of the perennial flowers are done. This is the Vorlon Wife’s Impatiens. She has them planted in long rows around many of the foliage plants. These are around the base of the Rhododendrons.

Posted by The Vorlon on 09/02/05 6:48 AM | Link

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Why Isn't the Military Moving Faster in LA?

Countercolumn, an army reservist, has an excellent post on why the military is not moving faster in the New Orleans disaster.

You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military suddenly appear somewhere.
Posted by The Vorlon on 09/01/05 9:23 PM | Link