30 August 2009

Time on the Heavy Bag

Last night I made use of the FOB gym's two heavy punching bags. Two others worked also routines on the 70 lb bags and it became apparent that one was a boxer, and I was a martial artist, and the third was a total novice. How we approached the bag made it very evident.

The boxer was working on speed, rapid firing jabs, working on his footwork. He worked the bag as long as he could to improve his endurance. I started off working on form and technique, the boxer complemented me on the power of my handwork, said I had "heavy hands" and wouldn't want to get hit by me. I don't want to get hit by anyone, but it is still good to spend time training.

Like training with a firearm, punching a bag is a way to work your technique. When I throw a punch I aim for the very center of the bag, doing my best to power through all the resistance, using my hips and legs to ground myself. Speed work is all in the arms, there is very little power in jabs, but a flyweights take down punches feel like a heavyweights jabs, so it is important to train them.

Today my arm and shoulder muscles are sore, in a good and honest way. It has been a long time since I spent time in a dojo conditioning my mind and body to the discipline of training. There are some classes offered here, maybe some of my downtime will coincide and allow me to attend a few. Working the bag was a good workout, but to improve I really need to work with a partner.

29 August 2009

Town Hall Meeting

Since I am not able to attend, being in Iraq and all, please pass the word to other Olympia/Lacey area folks about at Town Hall meeting with Brian Baird.

Here are all the details:
Town Hall Meeting
Monday, August 31, 2009
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St SE
Olympia, WA 98501
7:00 - 9:00pm

I am very unhappy with socialized medicine (even here where we have Army Medicine a fellow officer had to wait over three hours to be seen today FOR A SCHEDULED FOLLOW UP), nor am I happy with "cap and tax" unscientific BS, nor am I happy with the "stimulus that wasn't" which needs to be cancelled as fast as possible.

If any of you could relay these sentiments for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Security Agreement

Iraqi's want their country back. They hate the "Heavy American Presence" and yet are happy to accept payment in American Dollars.

Just like Germany and South Korea. Never happy while we had bases there, but when the bases close and the money stops flowing they regret asking us to leave. It is what it is.

The "Security Agreement" (some folks don't like us calling it a Status of Forces Agreement) gives the Iraqi Security Forces a lot of power to limit the movements of US Troops. In fact they didn't show for so many missions that the district Governor gave the unit escorting the Provincial Reconstruction Team permanent authority to travel without ISF escort so that the money could continue to flow from the FOB to the Iraqi Government.

The Iraqi Forces have made loads of progress. Unless they make more progress, especially in the area of security, then everything is for nothing. The latest round of bombs in Baghdad are proof that the ISF are not yet up to the task of providing top notch security.

Even the best security will let something through every once in a while, but so far ISF have been unwilling to accept assistance even with proactive intelligence and targeted interdiction. It is frustrating, but I accept that there is no way to change their culture. After all, a Democracy is all about getting the government you deserve.

28 August 2009

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy is still dead.

Hopefully the CIA will reveal all sorts of juicy torture details to bring the country back away from all the Kennedy love fest that the Dems are using to push a health care bill.

It may say poor things about my character that I felt a sense of relief to know that Senator Kennedy had passed away, but that is what I feel.

26 August 2009

Second Night In Iraq

Last night was spent in Balad, tonight I'm outside Baquba.

Outgoing mortar fire boomed through the night, reminding me that I really am in a "war zone" even if the unit we are relieving spent an entire year here without a single soldier qualifying for the Combat Infantryman's Badge. For the soldiers who have honed their natural aggressiveness with countless hours of training, it is kind of a let down.

On the other hand, for us leaders who want all our men to come home safely, it is worrying. When things get calm people get complacent, and complacency kills. In every war except Korea, we lose more combat power to accidents than enemy action. But still, even with the relative quiet of our AO my first night here the mortar fire lets me know that something bad, somewhere close, is happening now.

Internet access is much more expensive here than it was in Kuwait, there has been talk of pooling resources to purchase our own unit satellite plan. We'll see.

24 August 2009

Iraq Security

The biggest problem with Iraq is loyalty. Tribal and religious ties are stronger than the loyalty to the country.

It makes sense when you haven't had a consistent form of government for any length of time that you would be more loyal to your family and religion.

But it also allowed bombs to make it through checkpoints in Baghdad which killed 101 and injured over 500 more. This isn't rocket science, this is just how it is. And unless there is a fundamental change in Iraqi culture that shames disloyalty to the state then the Iraqi Security Forces will continue to let bombs park close to government buildings.

There are successful versions of democracy in the Turkey and Kuwait, but for now they are the exception instead of the rule, and Turkey has it's own problems with Kurdish separatists. Kuwait isn't an active supporter of terrorism, but a number of Kuwaiti terrorists have been caught elsewhere.

It is a problem. And it is a problem that America cannot solve. And it is a problem that Iraq is unwilling to solve. Iraqi politicians understand how to manipulate tribal and religious loyalties, so why should they work to change the system? It is frustrating at times. The question "can I even do any good in this situation" has been coming up in my thoughts more frequently.

I'm sure I can do some good, but I'm not sure that it will matter.

23 August 2009

Heart Transplants

What do "Crank High Voltage", "Terminator Salvation" and "Smokin' Aces" have in common?

They are all movies with a heart transplant as part of the plot. The magic pixie dust wand of Hollywood totally forgets the part about tissue typing and organ rejection. Kinda pisses me off.

Heart transplants aren't something that happens in a sticky basement surgery scenario. Nor do they happen under a camo net in the middle of the desert. The only movie that was remotely plausible was "Smokin' Aces" and even then it was just a plot device for the predictable twist at the end.

Go to the desert, read a bunch of books, watch a few movies. Hollywood is really putting out a bunch of crap lately, no wonder I didn't watch any of these movies in the theater.

Internet access went from "spotty" to "none"

For the last two days the contract internet company providing wifi hotspots to the Camp has been offline. I'm posting this from an MWR computer that has a different satellite link.

The humidity turned dang near 100% for a few days, and it felt like Wisconsin in July or Georgia in August it was so bad. 121 degrees with dry heat is so much more bearable than 110 with 99% humidity. We saw clouds, but no rain.

If you haven't been following the saga of the Special Forces Sergeant First Class Kelly Stewart who went on the lam in Germany for being railroaded through a court martial, he gave himself up. I was hoping that he would have made it to France to join the Foreign Legion or to Russia to work for the Mob. A chick he has a one night stand with calls rape several months later (she didn't run from the room when he was in the shower, and she left him her number) and the prosecutors throw a book of charges at him in the hope that one or two will stick. And they did, two charges stuck so he's reduced to E1, dishonorable discharge, and 8 years prison.

All based on the woman's testimony and ZERO forensic evidence. Railroaded.

Remember kiddies, presumption of innocence doesn't mean much anymore. Then again, maybe he is getting his just deserts, but I don't think so. If the genders were reversed and a female Sergeant First Class had tried to pull some BS like this, the German police would have laughed her out of the station.

Presumption of innocence may let a few bad guys go, but it is also there to protect everyone else from rabid prosecution. The take home lesson here? Don't sleep with crazy chicks who will call "rape" because you don't call after a one night stand, German's hate Americans, and you aren't going to get a fair shake at trial.

19 August 2009

Updates from Kuwait

Yesterday my wife purchased a webcam allowing us to have our very first video chat. In the background I watched my son play with the energy and abandon of a baby still learning to control his body. I watched my dog bark at perceived intruders and I saw my beautiful wife smile at me.

In the end we both teared up a little. But it was good.

Last night the generator powering the AC for all the tents for my unit went down, just as a hot humid air mass moved in. For hours in the dark the air was oppressively hot, sticky, and still. Sleep didn't come easily. Sometime during the night the generator came back online, but the humidity remains. It felt like Georgia in the very middle of summer, in the middle of the day, but at night.

I've been married for six years and life is getting better. It is amazing how my life has changed. So many career choice changes, so many different priorities. Being a husband and a father can be a demanding job at times, but without a doubt it has been worth it.

17 August 2009

Movie Review: Defiance

The saga of the Bielski's has been done very well by Doubletapper (link in the blogroll), so I'm not going to go into all the history of the Bielski Partizans, but rather into a critique of the movie.

I liked it, the movie told a story that moved me. The human conditions of pain, love, loss, and rage were palpable to me. Daniel Craig and Liev Shreiber gave much better performances than their other work in "007" and "Wolverine" respectively. This is not surprising because those characters are much more two dimensional than non-fictional historical heroes, give an actor more to work with an he delivers a better performance.

On a different note, those who are survivalists can glean a lot from the movie. The number one problem faced by the Bielski's was that of food. Forests do not produce enough food to feed even a small group of people for any length of time. All the guns and ammo in the world will do you no good if you are starving.

The second major lesson to be gleaned is that of infectious disease. Something like pneumonia or influenza can run rampant through cramped quarters.

Having only seen the movie once now I am not in a hurry to watch it again. Not because the movie was bad, but because the movie was good. I don't enjoy feeling helpless and full of rage, so when it is time to re-watch "Defiance" it will be when my passions have cooled.

16 August 2009

The 4 types of Soldiers/Cops

In any profession that deals in lethal force there are 4 types of people.

1. People who just needed a job. This is the largest category of Soldier, I don't know about Cops.
2. People who are joining the family business. Do what Dad did.
3. People who are idealists and believe their effort makes the world a better place.
4. People who want power over other people, either to bully or kill without consequences.

The first three types are pretty harmless, they want to go about their business and do their job. The fourth type is dangerous as they have a need to interact with people from a position of power. These people cause the vast majority of negative PR for the Army and Police departments.

But these sociopaths are protected as long as they can keep the loyalty of the other three types. Ever wonder why so many "internal investigations" clear an officer of all charges and return him to duty? It is because the "thin blue line" closes ranks and protects their own, because everyone else feels that maybe next time they'll need that protection.

And that is wrong. In the Army we have the same problems keeping all the bad apples from ending up in the same basket, and good leaders are always looking at HOW their Soldiers do their jobs, not just the results.

But we have to break apart those that close ranks, and remove the bad apples. Because if we don't then we lose authority and people actively resist us. The criminal who killed 4 police officers in Oakland was hailed as a hero of the people by some. The Oakland Police Department does not have the support of the people because of the 4th type of cop. I don't need to remind anyone what the effect of Mai Lai or Abu Gharaib was on the reputation of the US military.

So watch out for the 4th types, and show them no loyalty because they will destroy your organization if you don't get rid of them.

15 August 2009

God's constant need for praise?

It is tough to write about matters of faith without sounding preachy. So please do not read this in a preachy tone, but in the tone of someone logically trying to dissect two sides of an argument.

The phrase "God's constant need for praise" has been rolling around in my head since I heard it spouted in indignation from the script of some Hollywood production or other. The framework for this is phrase the existence or non-existence of the Judeo-Christian God.

The question is this, "Why does an all powerful, all knowing, being who exists everywhere, require something as trivial as validation that it is in fact mighty and powerful?" And the answer to that question is, that there is no god, and that any being so obviously flawed could only be the product of the mind of man, and that "God's constant need for praise" is a proof that god does not exist.

But that is the wrong question to ask. Obviously an all powerful, all knowing, everywhere being does NOT need constant praise from weak, ignorant, and localized humans. But then the question becomes WHY God teaches believers to constantly praise him.

Now I don't know WHY God does what God does. But I do know that by praising God my relationship with God comes into proper focus. Praising God isn't for God's benefit, it is for my benefit.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.", according to the KJV. Because of the problems with translation, it is better interpreted as "the proper respect for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Or even better, "The proper respect of the Lord is the beginning of seeing truth."

When I acknowledge the ultimate power beyond the limits of the universe, I also recognize the opposite of that, my own existence. The weak man and the strong man, the rich and the poor, all end in the grave. Death is the great equalizer, turning us all into worm fodder. To acknowledge the infinite, always, and forever as such makes it a sobering comparison to myself with my obvious short existence with an abrupt end.

Now a logical atheist would counter that my reasoning is simply justifications for what I choose to believe. I cannot disprove that counter, but have to point out that an atheist simply chooses to believe what they choose to believe as well. I am not going to try to force someone to believe that God requires praise from believers in order to establish the proper relationship any more than an atheist is going to have any luck convincing me that god does not exist.

14 August 2009

Lactic Acid Threshold

There are quite a few ways to define "fitness". A pro football player may be overweight, but very "fit" in terms of muscular strength. A soccer player doesn't need huge amounts of strength, but lots of speed and the ability to recover from sprinting quickly. A marathoner needs endurance to keep going and stamina to keep the pace.

In my job being "fit" means that you are physically able to accomplish the mission and recover quickly enough to conduct more missions. Trying to find the right blend of strength, stamina, endurance, and speed can be a challenge but if this were easy then everybody would do it.

When you run, or engage in any strenuous cardiovascular exercise lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles as they run out of oxygen to finish the metabolism of sugar to carbon dioxide. Your body can sustain a certain level of activity for a long time without crossing the threshold, but once you cross the threshold it becomes a race against time before your muscles become dead weight, rubbery, and you just cannot push any harder and have to begin recovery.

There are lab tests that can test you by putting you on a progressively harder treadmill and drawing a blood sample every four minutes for an hour, but I don't have that option. What I do have are cardio machines in the gym. The one I use the most is the elliptical machine because it keeps my arms in motion where the stationary bike does not. But either way you need a machine that can measure your caloric output.

Get on a machine for at least 25 minutes and monitor your calories burned. My first few sessions on the elliptical hovered around 16 kc a minute, but I pushed to raise that number until yesterday I broke 20 kc a minute. As my body became accustomed to the exercise my heart and lungs began to deliver more oxygen to my muscles, allowing me to push harder which allowed me to burn more calories.

As you push yourself, you will raise your lactic acid threshold because your body will get better at exercising. The proof of the pudding was today I manage to sprint longer than any point since Ranger school, the burning feeling in my legs came on slower, and when I stopped my legs recovered faster.

I know that this isn't a major revelation to anyone, the more you push yourself the more fit you get. But the ability to measure your progress using a cardio machine is new technique to me, and I look forward to future gains. One side note is that not all machines are equally calibrated, so if you can use the same machine to measure your progress.

13 August 2009

Movie Review: Watchmen

One of the benefits of an all expenses paid vacation to the deserts of Arabia is that you get to catch up on all those movies that you just couldn't pay to see in the theater.

"Watchmen" always intrigued me as an interesting film, and having watched it I've found that while it is visually stunning and a triumph of cinematography, it is still just a comic scribbled from a mind that sees simplicity in human behavior.

For those conservatives who didn't like the end of "V for Vendetta" because it toppled the fascists and opened way for the communists, the same logical flaw exists in "Watchmen". The idea is that if there were unlimited free clean energy, then we would not be fighting over "dirty" coal, oil, and natural gas.

The history of humanity shows that we fight over a lot of things and are not limited to fighting over finite resources. We fight because of religion, culture, habit, and position in society. Imagine the warfare we could wage with unlimited free clean energy.

The Utopian society shown at the end of the film is a lie. Taking away one justification for conflict does not take away human nature. And human nature is the nature of conflict. When a liberal wants a total ban on guns, it isn't because guns are any different from a hammer or icepick, they are simply trying to make you less powerful to even the playing field.

So I recommend watching "Watchmen" for the escapist mental field trip, but there are no lessons to be learned from the movie.

12 August 2009

Kuwait ain't Ranger school

Kuwait is an interesting country, it is really just one big city built on a harbor surrounded by desert. As far as countries in the middle east go, I have nothing yet to compare it with, but there are plenty of English radio stations and the road signs are bilingual so it isn't too foreign.

The additional armor that has been placed on our Strykers makes maintenance more difficult but not horribly so. The extra weight means more wear and tear on tires and drive components, but from my limited experience in the loose sand here the extra mass doesn't adversely affect the performance of the vehicle.

The strangest sight I've seen yet is a flock of sheep chewing their cud happy and content in the middle of sand dune country, not a blade of grass to be seen for miles in any direction. Their shepherd sitting out in the hot sun as if he hadn't a care in the world. Camels I understood, but sheep? I have a lot to learn about how things work in this corner of the world.

I've been playing GNU chess quite a bit, and getting my ass handed to me by my laptop. It is frustrating, but you can't get better unless you get beat. But being bested by a machine, even one so complex that it relies on quantum functions of electrons to operate, is galling.

When the wind blows and the sand flies through the air this place can get pretty miserable. So far though I prefer Kuwait to Ranger school. I get to eat more, sleep more, exercise on my schedule, and the tents have air conditioning. Internet access is spotty, but I can live with that for a while.
I got a response from Senator Patty Murray. Not only has she bought hook line and sinker into the "man made global warming" religion, she thinks cap and trade might fix it. That is pure stupidity at it's finest.

Here is her response.

Dear Mr. Merc:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the cap-and-trade proposal in President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2010 budget. It was good to hear from you.

The President's budget set a goal of reducing our nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent by the year 2020. To reach this goal, the President has suggested a cap-and-trade system to help develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program.

As you may know, a cap-and-trade system would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the system, each carbon dioxide-emitting company would be allocated a certain level of emission "allowances." For any further emissions, the company would need to purchase more allowances through an auction process. The President's proposal is estimated to raise $150 billion over 10 years. This money would be returned to communities and businesses to further aid in the transition to a clean energy economy.

Most scientists now agree that climate change is a real phenomenon and that greenhouse emissions have contributed to climate change. The Pacific Northwest stands to lose much from climate change, from increasingly severe storms, to rising sea levels, to impacts to our agricultural sector, to negative impacts on human health. I believe by increasing research, using market-oriented strategies, and relying on new technologies, American ingenuity can find ways to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy.

Rest assured, should legislation regarding cap-and-trade emissions policies come before the Senate during the 111th Congress I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please sign up for my weekly update at http://murray.senate.gov/updates. Once again, thank you for contacting me and please stay in touch.

I hope all is well in Olympia

All is not well in Olympia because no one is safe from green fascism.

06 August 2009

M4 stoppage

Before I left the states I had a stoppage at the range that took three of us over five minutes to clear. I snapped a pic with my cell, sorry about the image quality.
As you can see, the spent brass didn't eject properly and was forced over the bolt and got jammed between the bolt carrier/bolt and the charging handle/receiver.

This is called a "catastrophic failure" because it takes the weapon out of the fight. Conducting "SPORTS" does not clear this malfunction. Those of you who practice transitioning to a sidearm, this is why.


All the data conducted shows that an active resident father figure is beneficial to the development of children. I cannot find a study where single parents produce children who do as well as those from a two parent household.

The part that concerns me is the "resident" part as I am a few thousand miles short of "resident". But I do what I can. I instant message my wife as often as possible, send emails every day that I can, and try to call at least once a week. Compared to previous generations who have gone to war, I have it very good.

In fact I was quite surprised at the lack of suffering here in the desert. Our biggest hardship is the intermittent sandstorms that whip up with no notice, making walking between structures painful at times.

My 1SG is a former Ranger Instructor, and he and I have talked about how this place is good and bad. He insists that it is the gateway to hell, I counter that it sure beats a recycle back through Ranger school. I'm not starving, I'm not intentionally being sleep deprived (although being on the night shift means everyone else is active when you are trying to sleep), and I get plenty of books to read, a well provisioned gym to exercise in, and even internet access (more or less random as it goes down without notice).

The hardest part of this whole thing is knowing that my wife is home filling double duty, and noticing the strain when we talk. She is an amazing woman, but my heart breaks that I am not there to raise our son. When it was just her and I being separated wasn't a horrible ordeal, absence does make the heart grow fonder. But now that we have a child, absence just makes an absent father, and that is not good for our son. Oddly enough having our son has made my absence easier for my wife, and harder for me.

03 August 2009


Thanks to Brigid's thoughtful post http://mausersandmuffins.blogspot.com/2009/08/sunday-morning-musings.html about what happens when all the accessories are stripped from our life, I want to write about leadership. There are three aspects that affect leadership, who is leading, who is following, and what is the situation.

Leadership is the ability to make people do something that they don't naturally want to do. Whether you accomplish that by example, coersion, force, terror, or consensus is really up to you. Great leaders accomplish great things, sometimes even monstrous things.

Let us compare and contrast George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama. W was able to convince democrats in congress to vote yes to the Iraq war, his leadership forged a coalition of the willing, and his vision for a free and democratic Iraq is almost a reality. BHO has been in office six months and all his major plans have stalled as his own party infights, Barney Frank may be lowlife scum, but even he is balking at the Obama reins.

Now let us consider other "great" leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Each imposed his own personal will over massive populations. They lead by strength and terror, crushing the opposition without mercy or remorse. They destroyed old systems recklessly and replaced them with new ones. Jim Jones convinced hundreds to drink the koolaid.

Leadership is something that can be learned as well.

First off you have to have a vision to sell. A mission. Something people can believe in. Follow me and all will be well. Read my lips, no new taxes. Hope and Change. Yes We Can!

Second you have to convince your followers that what you want them to do is in their own best interest (or else). You can do this by logical or moral persuasion, intimidation by threat of force, or physical violence. Some leaders have such charisma that it is easy for them to persuade people to follow them, examples include Hitler, Chavez, and Castro.

Third, if you want your followers to stay your followers, you have to deliver on your vision. This is why the Soviet government collapsed, the "socialist paradise" never materialized and therefore "the revolution" could never end. This is why Obama is having trouble with a Democrat controlled congress, "Hope and Change" turned out to be "politics as usual but with a bigger price tag".

Now let us consider quiet leadership in action. A group becomes seperated from their guide and main party on a wilderness hike through the mountains. Nobody has a radio, nobody has cell service, and nobody has a map, all supplies were on pack mules, nothing but what they are carrying on them to survive. A debate breaks out, do we stay and wait to be found? Do we try to find the main group? Do we try to backtrack to the nearest ranger station? Do we try to make our own way ahead to the end point?

Instead of weighing the pros and cons of each course of action bickering ensues as people panic, claiming that action is needed now, that each minute spent debating is another minute that the group heads further and further away, decreasing chances for survival.

Then one guy who has been relatively quiet says. "I have made a decision." If the group quiets and listens he will explain it. If not he will just stand up and start walking. For the sake of argument let's assume that the group is willing to listen. "We crossed a stream not too long ago. Water flows down hill and streams meet. Eventually they form rivers. If we follow the stream downhill, we'll get to a river. If we follow the river we are likely to come across a bridge or town."

Now that we've covered political leaders, and situational leaders we need to cover one last issue about leadership. The leader that has a pathological need to lead. You know the person, the person who has to be in charge no matter what. You find them on church committees, school boards, you find them in entrenched bureaucracies. These people are more concerned about staying in power than being an effective leader. A pathological need to lead, like Stalin or Hitler, is best categorized as megalomania.

It is time to examine the followers. It is amazing how many people simply cannot do what they are told to do, when you find someone who can execute your directives and accomplish the mission by all means do everything you can to keep that individual happy with you and your organization. Some followers are quiet, dedicated workers. Some are true believers who are lazy. Some follow reluctantly, looking everywhere for an alternative.

Some followers are technical experts who support the leader. Imagine a deep sea fishing trip where the captain of the ship experienced a medical emergency. The one who takes charge may not be the person who takes over the captains duties. The leader doesn't have to drive the boat, just be the one who gets everybody moving so that the boat gets driven and arrives back safely.

To sum it up, the old expression "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." really does hold true when the situation requires someone to rise to leadership. People who panic and flounder don't help.

Pass the tinfoil Beenies to California...

So the Peoples Republic of California has got their panties in a bunch with the latest climate change histeria and is warning people to brace for sea level rise. You can read the press release here.


I guess when even wikipedia, the most trusted and honest broker in science today backs the claim that man made global warming is causing the sea level to rise then we ARE in serious trouble. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise (sorry guys, I'm not good at this snark business)

You want to know if someone is cherry picking their data? Take a look at the scales on their graphs. It is easy to make a graph look terribly interesting by taking a portion of the plot that is rising or falling in a predictable manner and then just show that portion of the data. Kinda like this one right here:

The graph starts at the year 1880 and assigns an origin value of 0 to it. Why the year 1880? Humans have been burning fossil fuels and deforesting the planet since 7,000 BC. Also note that the Y scale is graduated in centimeters. If this graph were graduated in meters the line would be almost flat showing no change over time. So remember kids, if you want drama in your powerpoint graphs, pick the data you want, then pick a scale that makes it dramatic.

The reason why they only started from 1880 is that the longer the time scale, the less dramatic the data becomes. In fact the data starts looking like any other line that rises and falls with generally smooth curves with a few peaks and valleys. Kinda like this graph here:

What we see here is that the Y scale is in Meters, and the X scale is in millions of years. So over the course of our planets history it looks like we have been in one of the historic lows of sea level. Gee, since sea level is ALWAYS changing (the same way that Climate is ALWAYS changing) it only makes sense that we would be on a rising trend for a while.

Remember kids, SUV's caused the Ice Age, Al Gore lives in a mansion because it has the least impact on the environment, and his private jet is ok because he is the Pope of Global Warming and can give himself indulgences carbon credits.

02 August 2009

Gear Review

SpecOps brand "T.H.E. Mamba" sling.
Belleville 390 boots.
NiteIze 1 watt LED and IQ switch upgrade for Maglite MiniMag.

First off the Mamba sling. Hands down it is a better sling than the GI sling, but is it 30 dollars worth of better? I don't think so, but it sure is tacticool. http://www.specopsbrand.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductID=62

Belleville 390 boots http://www.workbootsusa.com/be390deshotw.html These boots are awesome. They are not as fancy as 5.11's (of which I also have a pair) but they are very comfortable and breath much better. They offer better ankle support than issue hot weather boots (which also breath better than 5.11's).

Last but not least, the simple NiteIze upgrade for the MiniMag. This thing rocks. I've used it over and over and over and three months ago had to put in fresh AA batteries. The IQ switch has a little red flash that lets you find the flashlight in the dark, but I turn the focal ring to "off" so that it doesn't drain the batteries. For normal work the IQ switch is fine, but I think the regular on/off button NiteIze offers is the better choice. http://www.niteize.com/productdetail.php?category_id=28&product_id=108 I've written about this before, but I can't get over how useful a minimag become with the push button switch and LED light. I love this flashlight.

And there you have it, a review of some of the gear I use on a daily basis.

Feminists and Porn

I was reading Dr. Amy Tueter's blog, The Skeptical OB, and came across this article http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2009/06/your-orgasm-face-cosmo-and.html and found myself nodding in agreement at most of what she writes.

However I kept getting a nagging "tone" about how men view women as sexual objects (we do) and how women are increasingly enabling that behavior (some women are). I don't think the type of woman who gets her relationship advice from Cosmo is going to be able to take Dr. Amy's advice and wisdom to heart, but I think that she comes off just a little hard on men.

Men are visual creatures, that is why porn sells. We like to look at beautiful women, and we like to look at not so beautiful women (call them "cute" if you will), some of us are into fat women, some into tattooed women, some into pierced women, some into interracial.

When women dress to be seen, they are exploiting the very basic brain function of men. And men are expected to NOT be affected by it. Feminists claim that a woman should be able to wear what she wants and men should have the self control to behave themselves. I agree, but for the record I want the feminists to know exactly how much self control that requires. When a woman dresses to be seen, you can't stare (rude, harrassment), you can't compliment her on her looks or figure (harrassment, verbal assault), you can't touch (harrassment, physical assault). The very thing that you want most in the world and the only thing that the feminists want you to do is ignore it. Ignore someone who is displaying her goods to that you will look. Does that sound insane to anyone else?

Women are not usually considered visual creatures (but women are attracted to physical appearance, chippendale dancers, and firemen calendars). I honestly have no clue what sort of attention women are craving that would cause them to dress in a provocative manner. Does she want an approving look? Does she want a compliment? Is she dressing to attract Larry the single accountant from billing? Is she dressing to try to meet new men?

We don't know, we can't tell about WHY a woman dresses to be looked at any more than a woman can read a mans mind. Honestly when you are talking we really are probably thinking about something else, your breasts are a likely topic.

Now is where I confess that I have bought clothes for my wife to wear SIMPLY FOR MY OWN PLEASURE. Does that make me an insensitive chauvinist pig? Maybe. But my wife knows how much I LIKE LOOKING AT HER and is happy to accomadate my desire. When we go out, she dresses me so that I look presentable as her mate, when we stay home, sometimes she'll slip into a tight black dress that drives me crazy with desire. Evidently the attention that she gets from me by wearing certain clothes is not only just fine, but it is necessary for us to meet each others physical and emotional needs.

Is it any wonder that my wife likes MY body better when I'm in shape, clean shaven, and with a tight haircut?

And as for Cosmo, men DON'T judge women by their orgasm face. So girls, stop judging yourselves, because men aren't. When a woman gets naked, we feel gratitude. The display of a womans body is such an intimate thing that it is wonderful to be allowed the priviledge. Some boys may want to use a woman's body for selfish reasons, others see a temple and consider themselves lucky to pay tribute to a goddess in the flesh.

I guess Dr. Amy's point is that women are getting "nothing" for dressing to attract men. I think that women know exactly what they are doing, and are actively seeking some sort of attention and receiving it. This reinforcing feedback validates their behavior. This isn't about women degrading themselves for men, this is about women trying to manipulate men.

01 August 2009

The economy, the very basics

There are three functions that people fill in the economy. Producers, processors, and consumers.

Producers are those that input raw material such as oil, ore, food, and wood.

Processors are those that turn the raw goods into a finished product. For something like iron or into cutlery, there may be more than one processor. For something like frozen vegetables, only one processor may be needed.

Consumers are those that are the end user for items prepared by processors. Everyone is a consumer.

Now people can fall into multiple categories, for example a farmer is a producer who may also be a beekeeper who sells honey and beeswax candles at his produce stand.

"Well Merc, where do people who produce with their brain fit into this?" Someone will ask. Computer programmers, artists, authors, etc, are all processors. What they do is add value to computers, paper, or media. Their work is valueable, but it is not producing anything, only adding value to an existing feedstock into the economy. There may be some quibbling about "live performances" but very few GOOD artists perform without using an instrument or utinsel.

There is one segment of society that is ONLY a consumer. That is government. Government does not produce any raw material, nor does it manufacture or process vital food or fuel. All government does is consume.

"But wait Merc, doesn't Government provide all sorts of benefits?" No, the Government provides nothing. What the Government does is take a portion of peoples work, and redistribute it to other people. A doctor is forced to pay taxes AND see patients who can't pay at any other rate than the government controlled reimbursement. A factory owner is required to pay taxes on his payroll that pay for the healthcare of people who are not his employees.

When we let the EPA dictate that the steel industry close down, it closed down. The Dragon is dead, and nobody won.

"But wait Merc, doesn't the Government provide security?" No, the government provides a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. The government at all levels is under NO legal obligation to protect YOU the citizen only the ethereal "public in general".

Now Government is a necessary evil (anarchy has never been a viable answer) and there are legitimate functions of government. But right now we are being sold a pile of crap.

It is NOT the governments job to educate children. Since the NEA came into existence the quality of education as measured by literacy scores has only gone in one direction, DOWN.

It is NOT the government job to protect you, and you can bet that the Dems will continue to do their best to disarm you and make it a crime to protect yourself.

It IS the job of government to deal with OTHER GOVERNMENTS, to recognize set STANDARDS of weight and measure, to COIN currency (required by our Constitution to be silver or gold), and provide "for the common defense" (which means have an Army and Navy to DEAL WITH OTHER GOVERNMENTS).

Government is not a replacement for a parent who couldn't give you everything you wanted. Nor is Government supposed to be the final authority for moral living.

Now back to the VERY basics of the economy. The more that GOVERNMENT takes OUT of the economy (and it DOESN'T matter if it takes it from a few rich or the many poor) the MORE IT TAKES OUT OF THE ECONOMY. It is a very simple concept.

Another very simple concept is that there is never a 100% return, you always lose a little to waste here and there. When Government takes something out of the economy, THERE IS WASTE. It is impossible for Government to PUT BACK into the economy even the same amount that it took out.

Notice that I'm not talking about paper money, I'm talking about work. The money that the FedGov printed off to pay for the "stimulus" package will NOT be paid back in dollars, it will be paid back in WORK.

I am a government employee. I truly believe that I serve a legitimate function of Government (that whole "for the common defense" part). I put NOTHING into the economy. Yes I consume, and I work, but my labor is not producing anything nor is it processing anything. My labor is NOT adding to the economy. NOR IS ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE.

If every dollar in the world disappeared today, there would still be farmers and miners putting INTO the economy. There would still be processors turning ore into metal and wheat into flour. But teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, cops, firemen, etc, we all add NOTHING. Our jobs are simply being paid to do for other people what they don't want to do.