Thursday, March 31, 2005
An Old Blog, and A New one...
Congratulations to Arthur Chrenkoff on his bloggiversary today. His site is a daily read for me, and still one of the best sites out there. If you haven't seen it before, go now. You'll especially enjoy the Good News from Iraq and Afghanistan columns that he updates.
I happened to come across this blog on Blackfive's site, from a Special Forces Computer Geek currently out in Afghanistan. Nothing To See Here. This guy is good, so check out the site. If your sense of humor is as sick as mine, you'll enjoy his most recent post. I'll never look at another Gatorade bottle the same way. Makes me long for those 'Cadilac' portable bathrooms.
This Vietnam-like Quagmire....
Thanks to Arthur Chrenkoff for posting this survey. I don't know where you get this stuff, but keep it coming. It means a lot to us military guys.
Survey of Political Science students at a University in Najaf, Iraq. Published in yesterday's edition of "Almendhar":
"62% of those polled said they wanted Islam to be one of the sources of the constitution.
"38% wanted Islam to be the only source for the Iraqi constitution.
"49% support a federal government.
"50% support allowing those who boycotted the election to have input in writing the constitution.
"63% support the multi national forces staying in Iraq for the current time.
"85% expect the new transitional government to succeed in its goals.
"78% expect the new national assembly to successfully write a constitution by the dead line.
"1% said they expect civil war to break out."
Wow, we're losing the war....??? (Scratching my head, I drink another shot... still confused... Must... have... more... alcohol... to... comprehend....)
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
A Voice In Kyrgyzstan…
My friend who lives in Kyrgyzstan and works for a U.S. NGO emailed me to discuss the revolution taking place in her country. After nearly a week her optimism seems to be fading, and I don’t blame her. She’s on the ground, and it is her country. No matter how optimistic I may be for her plight, I’m not Kyrgyz and I’m not there. For comparison I’ve tried to imagine something like that happening in the US, but I can’t… thankfully it’s unimaginable.
Here's what she wrote:
Nothing is that seriously democratic yet. I think it is just fight for power. I don't think that a real opposition existed in KG. I don't think that Bakiev's views or values will make much of difference. Simply another 'politician' who will try to have all the property and make his own family rich the same as Akaev...
All parliamentarians and other government officials don't know what to do. Every hour decisions are changing.
Do you think people went to riot for true democracy? No one here doesn't go just for their will. People went because some different forces funded them, at least they were promised to be given some money. All of those were the people who had some financial interest coming. But then after storming the White House those people were not even mentioned. Mostly they were from southern regions. So they were frauded by false promises.
I can't be confident that the situation will be better if not worse. Though we all hope it will be better at some point. Akaev was not bad, and is friendly with other nations. He just was not honest and altered the elections. That's my point of view.
I am more or less good. Just a little nervous and I am fed up of all the gossips and rumors. All like to talk without reliable news.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers. They’re just like you and me… wanting nothing more than a good job, opportunity, and the ability to raise their children in a safe and stable country.
If you want to pass any messages of encouragement to people in Kyrgyzstan, please email them to me and I’ll forward them to people who need it the most. Or you can leave a comment here and I’ll just cut and paste to email.
I'm Published in GQ... Sort Of.
Got an email from an Airman I was stationed with in Kirkuk, Iraq this fall. She wrote that a picture I had taken of her and another friend sitting in the cockpit of an old, 1950’s era Soviet Mig, was published in GQ Magazine. These two ladies were by far the craziest and most fun to hang out with, so you never knew when they were pulling a fast one on you.
I didn’t believe her until I ran to the bookstore and checked. She wasn't kidding… page 215 in April’s GQ. (It has the awe-inspiring Jessica Alba on the cover). If you look at the bottom of the page, center, you’ll see a picture of two women sitting in a cockpit. Of course, the photo is credited to an ‘Unknown Photographer’, taken on an ‘Unknown Date’, and ‘Unknown Location’. (Sigh…. C’est La Vi)
Oh well, at least I know who took it. It should read Taken by Captain ‘El Capitan’, Kirkuk Iraq, September 2004.
It’s okay… I hear that fame and fortune aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
If you want to know more about the two in the picture, send $19.95 cash to.... kidding.
Now on to more important things…. the magazine cover!
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Is This Really News Worthy?
We already knew about this..
Most American Adults Sleep Poorly
And did we really need to see this? Leave the poor guy alone...
Meet the Tuminator
This hasn't changed in 30 years, so how is it news?
College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds
Wow, this must be important to make the headlines...
Professor to Test Stun Guns on Pigs
Last but not least... an true 'Emmy' worthy news report....
Tankless toilet makes a fashion statement
The point in showing all of this is simple... there are so many more important and news worthy things going on around the world, yet the media focuses on what they think you'll be interested in. What's the use of the media when all they do is shovel crap onto your computer screen, TV, or front porch every morning.
Even worse, what's wrong with those who actually find that crap interesting?
Yes, it's a pessimistic day. The only thing that'll pull me out of this mid-west, grey sky rut is a beach with some sunny weather. Only 3.7 months left until I move to LA.... can I survive?
Monday, March 28, 2005
WTF??!! Please Tell Me This Isn't So...
How a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden :
WASHINGTON - A lone U.S. ambassador compromised America's hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan for more than two years, The New York Sun has learned.
Ambassador Nancy Powell, America's representative in Pakistan, refused to allow the distribution in Pakistan of wanted posters, matchbooks, and other items advertising America's $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.
Instead, thousands of matchbooks, posters, and other material - printed at taxpayer expense and translated into Urdu, Pashto, and other local languages - remained "impounded" on American Embassy grounds from 2002 to 2004, according to Rep. Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois.
If this story is accurate, Ms. Powell has much to answer for. What a joke, but then again most school teachers turned diplomats usually are. Don't get me wrong, school teachers are great... I just don't think they should be riding the 'Tip fo the Spear' in the War on Terror.
What are they going to do, paddle the terrorists? Better yet, send them to the corner?
Chrenkoff's Good News Update
Every two weeks Arthur Chrenkoff publishes the latest roundup of good news from Iraq. Here's the latest installment, published via the WSJ. As always, please help get the word out. It's hard for most to get any good news coming from the frontlines.
Also, if you scroll far enough down Chrenkoff's website you'll find his 'Good News from Afghanistan' archives as well. It's on the bottom right. (And well worth the search)
New Blog on Immigration Issues
Michelle Malkin, who is one of the best investigative journalists around, has launched her second blog. The Immigration Blog. It's a roundup of the latest happenings on immigration issues and border security in the United States. Please check it out, and if you like it... link it.
If you're not from the United States, you'll find it very interesting to note that we have the loosest, most open, unsecure borders in the world. So open, that millions pour across it from Mexico and Canada every year.
If you're a terrorist, 1) Go screw yourself. 2) You've known about our border situation for decades.
Malkin and her contributors to her new blog are on the frontlines in the War on Terror. Please give them the support they deserve. After all, somebody's gotta do it. If not our government, then us.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Rest In Peace...
Specialist Francisco G. Martinez. A man of honor, and of sacrifice. Blackfive has a touching post you should not miss. (Link) Make sure to keep scrolling down the list.
More on the Kyrgz People...
I arrived in Kyrgyzstan in January 2003 for an assignment at Ganci Air Base, which was a U.S./European/Multi-national air base established months after Sept. 11 to support air operations over Afghanistan. Having researched Russian and Central Asian history for my graduate work a few years prior, I thought I was at least slightly prepared for what I was getting into. Of course I wasn't.
Since Kyrgyzstan sits in the middle of Asia, and was ruled by a quasi-European country for several generations, things look different there. The South is mostly nomadic and tribal, yet they still have medium sized cities. The North is more Western and developed, and is a main cog in the Asian trade system. The people are either Chinese-looking, or white-European looking. The national languages are Russian and Kyrgyz.
The Kyrgyz people were more Western, more modern, and more outgoing than I ever imagined they would be. The air base, which is located within the confines of the Manas International Airport, hired local Kyrgyz nationals for contract work and translation services. All of the translators I met quickly became my best friends over there... especially the Air Traffic Controllers. There's always time to chat while sitting in the control tower or airfield ops office at 1am.
These people were well educated, and most were younger than me (27 at the time). The oldest gentleman I worked with , Yuri, had been retired from the Soviet/Russian Air Force years prior, and baked pies and breads for a hobby. He would usually bring in fresh pies once or twice a week as a gift for everyone, but we managed to find ways to pay him back, either in money or opportunities. My favorite moments with him were the late nights sitting in the control tower, watching the snow fall as we all talked about the 'Good old days' of the Cold War and our distinct historical perspectives on it. Yes, it may sound boring to most, but to a history nerd like me, it was better than any class I had ever taken.
Many of the military personnel stationed there would frequent the shops and restaurants at the Airport when allowed. The coffee and cigar shops got the most business, but the barbershop was a close second. The ladies at the barbershop, as with all Kyrgyz citizens, either spoke English, Spanish, or French on top of their Russian and Kyrgyz languages. I actually spoke more Spanish in Kyrgyzstan than I ever did living in California, mainly because it was always a pleasure talking to these people and finding out about their lives.
A few of us had the ability to travel to Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, located about 20Km from the base. I would typically meet some of my translator friends there and we would eat at various restaurants, such as the Russian Room, the German Hause, or my favorite, La Dolce Vita. It's an italian restaurant that rivaled some of the best in the states.
Bishkek is a very modern city, filled with the architecture of the Soviet regime that ruled it for half a century. The opera house, the parliament building, and the University complexes still had remnants of Soviet sculptures and icons. Matter of fact Bishkek is still one of only two places left where you can find a statue to Lenin. They kept it around for nostalgic reasons I presume.
When we weren't going to restaurants we frequented the mall called 'Zum'. They had everything you could think of at a multi-level mall. Teenie-boppers, nice stores, cheap items, and shop owners that loved to bargain. One observation about the young ladies in Kyrgyzstan. Whenever most of the younger girls walked around in public they walked in pairs and always held on to each other. I found it odd at first, but a friend informed me that it's for security reasons. Kyrgyzstan may be semi-western, but their Central-Asian traditions still remain.
One very bad tradition was the kidnapping and forced marriage of women. Basically a woman can be kidnapped and 'raped' by a man, and then she's forced to marry him because she is now pregnant with his child. To this day it's still a problem, but not nearly as frequent as it used to be thanks to an ongoing national campaign to stop it.
On the flip side, women seemed to be the trend setters in terms of the modernization of the country. They demand the latest fashions and accessories, they sit in government positions, and fill the universities. They have all of the rights and abilities as do most Eastern European women. Of course only if they can avoid the occasional moron looking for a wife who's still living in the past.
The point of sharing all of this with you is that on 23 March, 2005, these proud and hopeful people overthrew their not-so-democratic government. They did this because they wanted a government uncorrupted by the old Soviet ways. They want elections that are meaningful and just. Most of all, they want to progress. In 1993 Kyrgzstan became the first of the Central Asian republics to become a democracy. Since then they've stagnated under a leader who, similar to Putin, saw democracy as an impediment to his ambitions of power and wealth.
Days before the opposition toppled the government and kicked President Akeyev out, one of my best friends emailed me to fill me in on what was going on. She works for a sub-contractor to the USAID organization, and through her work has fought for Kyrgyz women's rights. She, like many Kyrgyz women, are proud, determined, and confident in their ability to change their nation. When I emailed her I was the one with fear and doubt for her and her nation. I was concerned for her and her family. When she responded, she was the one filled with confidence, determination, and the will to join the protesters because it was the right thing to do.
I guess this is why I have a soft spot for Kyrgzstan and it's people. Kyrgyzstan has always been referred to as the 'Alps of Central Asia'... full of beauty, strength and purity. The people truly reflect their nation.
Congratulations to my friend and her fellow Kyrgyz freedom fighters. They did what was right for their nation. They demanded freedom and democracy, and it looks as though they may just get it (as long as Russia and China stay out of course). Please pray for them. If their country becomes a strong democracy, it will be yet another beacon of hope for that region, further stabilizing the furnace of islamofascism, giving those people hope instead of hatred.
The Domino Effect continues. Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan. Let's keep it going.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Freedom for Kyrgyzstan!!!!
At last, freedom for Kyrgyzstan. I spent a few months out there in 2003, so I've always had a soft spot for them. I'm still in contact with friends who work for USAID in the capital, Bishkek. I'm really concerned for everyone because President Akeyev isn't a good guy, and as it looks now, he's fled to Russia. We all know how Russia handles things, so please pray for the opposition. I'm so proud of these people... they deserve only the best, and are finally demanding it. Viva la Freedom!
UPDATE: 25 March 2005 Update on the Kyrgyz People
AP News Wire
Report: Kyrgyzstan President Resigns 24 Mar. 07:44:01
Kyrgyzstan Court Invalidates Elections 24 Mar. 07:41:24
Kyrgyzstan Leader Said to Flee to Russia 24 Mar. 06:31:51
The Big Heart of Little Miss Attila
I was wrong about something....
Sometime in early February I came across a weblog called 'Little Miss Attila'. It's quite an impressive blog, and the custom graphics and unfettered dedication to my exiled homeland (California) really peaked my interest. One of the first posts of hers that I read was about the efforts of Jane at Armies of Liberation to free an imprisoned journalist, Al-Khaiwani, from a Yemeni prison. He was jailed for doing what we all take for granted... Criticizing his government.
In her blog, Little Miss Attila was calling on all of her readers to help Jane by signing a petition to free Al-Khaiwani. My first thought on this was, 'Wow, someone's actually going to help this guy sitting in some prison in the middle of nowhere... Cool.' Sadly though, my second thought was, 'This will never work, so why even try.' Every subsequent post on Attila's website got the same reaction... utter pessimism on my part.
I was wrong.
To make a long story short, I caught an online article yesterday stating that Al-Khaiwani was freed by President Saleh of Yemen. Of course I first thought of Attila's blog, and her constant reminder of Jane's attempts at getting this man freed. My second thought.... what have I become?
At what point over these last few years did I go from someone who was proactive and optimistic to my present state of perpetual pessimism? Am I just too lazy to care about anyone other than myself now? Am I so self-absorbed that I'm more concerned with reading the comic section of my local paper rather than spend 2 minutes signing an online petition that just may work?
While I begin this process of reassessing myself and what's important to me, I would like to apologize to Little Miss Attila, Jane, and last but not least, Al-Khaiwani... for turning my head and ignoring what was right.
Yes, I'm just one little blip in the blogosphere, but so was Al-Khaiwani, yet through the efforts of many other small blips (online journalists), those small blips made a difference.
Congratulations for proving this pessimist wrong. I hope Al-Khaiwani can find the freedom to continue his fight for truth.
I hope I can find it in myself as well.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Where to go next?
I might have an opportunity to travel to London on business next month, but for some ungodly reason my coworkers are telling me I'll be bored and will hate it. Can this be? All I have ever wanted to do there was find a good Pub and throw a few back while singing along to drinking songs. How could that be boring?
So now I'm curious. If I ever get to Spain, what could I do for fun there? I've never associated pubs with Spain. There's gotta be something to do out there other than make a fool out of myself with my poor grammar. (Tengo un gato en mis pantelones)
How could London be boring? I'm shocked. Every time I've flown over England I swear I could see people having a blast down there. Have my hopes and dreams fooled me?
Hey, I know... I'll go rent a few Austin Power flicks to see what England is really like.
Yea Baby, that sounds smashing.
Favorite Protest Experience of the Weekend
"Strolling down Piccadilly toward Hyde Park, we saw the disappointed protesters straggling home, their signs as slack as their spirits. They came in three sad flavors: Dreary kids of the sort who blame "the system" when they can't get a date; aging Lefties struggling to believe that the Soviet collapse was a hallucination, and Middle Eastern expats outraged that Coalition soldiers
had done what they lacked the courage to do themselves.
I don't recall a single protester calling for more democracy in the Middle East. Nobody protested Syria's occupation of Lebanon or the Damascus regime's program of assassinations and terror. Not a single earnest undergraduate demanded free elections in Iran. No one criticized that great human-rights advocate, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The protesters represented a forlorn hope that the new Middle East would fail. They found little sympathy among a population that had been promised an American defeat, only to find Washington winning again. There was more interest in the tale of the young British soldier who won a Victoria Cross in Iraq than there was in the demonstration."
One Link Says It All...
Sharp Drop In Insurgent Attacks (A must read)
Oh, the agony of this horrible quagmire we're in. How could those pesky insurgents be losing strength and numbers? C'mon, they're our freedom fighters against the evil Halliburton, right?
In reality, this is just one of a hundred stories that show a steady downturn in insurgent effectiveness, and an even more solid upswing in Iraqi military prowness and civilian unity.
Damn you Halliburton! Damn you!!!!!!!
(James Tiberius Kirk impression ladies and gentleman... thank you, thank you very much)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Two Years On.. A Toast.
March 19th was the 2nd anniversary of the kick-off to the largest and longest war the United States has been in since Vietnam. In two years, the United States Government has accomplished more in Iraq and the Middle East than any nation ever dreamed of. (Yes, some say the Brits might have one over on us regarding this statement, but I'll save that for another history lesson.)
Two years ago I had just returned from my deployment in Kyrgyzstan and spent every waking hour watching the coverage of the columns of tanks and amored personnel vehicles pouring into Iraq from the South. If you watched the late-night coverage and didn't have feelings of pride and hope, then something was truly wrong with you. (Either that, or you were rooting for the wrong side.)
My basic point in all of this is that we've accomplished so much in so little time. If you don't believe we've done anything right over there, you haven't been reading Arthur Chrenkoff's 'Good News from Iraq' column, which is updated every two weeks. (link here) I used to say give Iraq 10 years and you'll see. Now I'm confident that it'll be just a few more years before most war detractors will look and see a thriving nation and people. Yes, I know you'll still have morons who would rather have Iraqi's under Saddam then under a democracy, but all you can do with them is buy 'em a one way ticket to Iran and watch how quickly their opinions change.
Having been to Iraq last year I was impressed by its people and culture. It's an amazing country of very proud and hopeful people. Their confidence in their own future made me more confident in our mission in Iraq.
So, two years on... two years of success, freedom, and hope. Yes, bad stuff happens, but if anyone with half a brain were to report on the good stuff, the evening news would have nothing else to gripe about.
So, in the time-honored tradition of the military...
To all of those who backed your sons, daughters, countrymen and allies when they fought and won the war... Here Here!
To all of those who drove the tanks, flew the planes, and ruled the day so that others may live... Here Here!
To all the Iraqis who fought against Saddam, knew who the real enemy of Iraq was, and who welcomed us as liberators... Here Here!
And last but not least, to all of those brave men and women, American, British, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, El Salvadorian, Australian, Korean, Japanese, Fillipino, and Iraqi, who gave their lives to the cause of freedom and liberty for the oppressed... Here Here!
Here's to a long life and a merry one.
A quick death and an easy one.
A pretty girl and an honest one.
A cold beer—and another one!
Monday, March 21, 2005
Anyone know how to sell a screenplay? How about selling a screenplay without selling my soul? (Yep, that's going to be the tough one I'm guessing)
I heard something that is totally true today. I know... rare, but it happened. I was listening to a conversation on the definition of luck. Here's how one person defined it, and I totaly agree with this:
'Luck is the result of preparation meeting opportunity'
All of my life I made every effort to open as many doors, or opportunities. I told people that by doing this I made sure I always had options in life. What I was actually doing was making preparations for any upcoming opportunities. In other words, the more I did to prepare myself (i.e. training, certificates, education, etc), the better set up I was for opportunities that popped up. I was making my own luck. People who don't prepare themselves tend to watch opportunity pass the by.
Okay, enough of the Zen stuff... it was just a thought.
Now, I'm back from Wichita and ready to rumble. I finally started a screenplay based on some amazing experiences I had while in Iraq and Australia this past year. I'm 30% complete with it, meaning I have 30 pages written, and according the books I need to write about 100 pages to make it filmworthy.
Wish me luck.
Attack in Doha City, Qatar
When I was in Qatar this Fall I was amazed at how 'western' it was. In one block I saw an Applebees, a TGI Fridays, and an Arbys. Actually, if you look at my posts from Oct/Nov you'll find my description of Qatar as being very similar to Southern California. The only difference was that the signs were in Arabic and English, as opposed to LA's Spanish/English or Korean/English signs.
Anyways, I was shocked to hear that there was a suicide bombing in Doha City this weekend. Actually, I'm not really shocked in that it's in the middle of the Persian Gulf and is crawling with Westnerners. It's also the location of the U.S. Central Command's HQ, at Al Udied Air Base. I guess I'm troubled in that whatever sleeper cell(s) activated and assigned to conduct this suicide mission, there's undoubtedly a dozen more waiting to repeat it.
I met some great people... locals... who wanted nothing more than a good job and a safe environment to raise a family. Qatar provides such opportunities. It's a progressive country, similar to Kuwait and U.A.E. I hope the Qatari government is able to find the other cells and stop them before more damage occurs to their predominantly peaceful environment.
I hate it when bad people hurt good people. Yes, that was in fact a naive and dumb statement, but it's that simple. How to avoid it... Qatar needs to pound some sleeper-cell ass and let the others know that Allah may forgive them, but the Qatari security forces will make the journey to Allah a long and extremely painful one.
Monday, March 14, 2005
My Next Commuter-Mobile....
Since I'm headed to Los Angeles this summer I've placed an order for a great vehicle that will help me survive the infamous commute across Southern Cali.
The gas mileage sucks, but the special options make it worth every penny.
It'll especially come in handy when those little So-Cal rice racers fly by at 100mph in their Hondas and Mitsubishis. Reminds me of Spy Hunter.
Not sure on the color yet. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Leaving On a Jet Plane.....
I'll be 'Audi' all next week. No, it's not Paris... London... nope, it's not Rome. It's wonderful Wichita Kansas once again. Wooo Hooo, can't wait. Hopefully I'll be able to post more while I'm out there.
Oh, and in honor of Michael Jackson, we all showed up at the office an hour late wearing pajama bottoms.
I hope he enjoys prison. He's almost certain to do time in the Pokey for his Jesus Juice drinking, little boy playing, pajama wearing, car roof dancing, baby dangling, llama owning, crotch grabbing... the list goes on and on. I can see it now, midnight in some prison... the lights are out, the cells are closed, and the only sound heard is a random, high-pitched 'Hee Hee' from Michael Jackson echoing through the halls. I hear Martha Steward decorated a cell for him. Mauve walls, pink shelving with her signature curtains to mimick a window.
Okay, time to shut up.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
March Randomness (Possibly Madness)
I now have a favorite Old School slow jam. I first heard it on a late night drive to St. Louis in January. Last night I finally 'procured' it online, and I stand by my statement that it is my new favorite Old School slow jam. It's called 'Love TKO', and it's by my man Teddy Pendergrass, who I like to refer to as Teddy P. I know, your probably saying so what... but you have to take my word for it. I know music... I know music like Einstein knew physics. I know music like Bill Gates knows computers. This song is good. So make it a mission... track it down and listen to it. Or in the famous words of Starsky and Hutch in disguise, 'Do it!' Do it!'..... 'Do it!'
Other songs that are on my Old School slow jams list:
The Manhattans - Kiss and Say Goodbye
The Chi-Lites - Have You Seen Her
Zap & Roger - I Wanna Be Your Man
Gladys Knight & The Pips - Midnight Train To Georgia
(I always wanted to be a Pip)
The list could go on and on, but that's a start for now.
Next up, my adventures in Wichita Kansas described in one word: