31 May 2006

Tragedy Distorted

The latest “outrage” in Iraq being reported by the media contains is, at face value, a true tragedy, but also, in its reporting, an egregious misrepresentation by the media of the incident.

The facts:
-There are multiple observation posts and checkpoints in Samarra, and access towards them is strictly controlled.  The one in question has existed for two weeks – it is nothing too new.
-A vehicle was driven at high speed towards this checkpoint.
-Despite repeated visual and auditory warnings, the car continued to speed through the checkpoint.
-US service members fired at the car to disable to vehicle.
-Regrettably, two passengers in the car were killed.  More regrettably, one of them was pregnant.

However, the article does not stop there.  Oh no, first, we have to mention Haditha:

He [the pregnant woman's brother] said the killings, like those in Haditha, were examples of random killings faced by Iraqis every day.

Abu Ghraib also gets mentioned.  This is of course because the US troops here obviously took inappropriate action.  Car bombs are simply not a problem in Iraq (2nd and 3rd items; 3rd item; respectively).  Especially suicide car bombs near US checkpoints.

The article goes on to allow our troops to be painted as ravening savages:

"There must be a level of discipline imposed on the American troops and change of mentality which seems to think that Iraqi lives are expendable," said Pachachi, a member of parliament.

Strangely, this lady might disagree with that assessment, as a quick, recent example.  We all know where many, many other examples to the contrary can be found.

The most element of this sad tale that is really supposed to draw us in is the dead lady’s pregnancy.  While it is a tragedy that this happened, especially to a woman in her condition, there are two points that have to be addressed here, as well:
  1. The troops did not know she was pregnant – she was in a car.  As for the reasoning behind shooting at a car speeding at you, see the links above.

  2. Even if they had been able to see her condition, that would not and should not change their actions.  Pregnant women, and those that appear to be so, can and have still attacked innocents.

Overall, this is sad all around.  Sad that the woman and her child are dead.  Sad that the soldiers are undoubtedly being harder on themselves than most anyone else will ever be.  Sad that the media continues to try and misrepresent our troops.

30 May 2006

Warriors On Screen

If you happened to peruse the CNN homepage this weekend, and saw the link to the Entertainment Weekly story concerning their pick for the 10 best movies about the veteran's experience, I am sorry.  If you didn’t stumble across the aforementioned link, don’t bother.  Suffice it to say, only movies about broken, bitter men made the list.  I am not saying that these movies are without merit, and indeed, in many ways we need movies like Born on the Fourth of July, but to compile a list of all of them, and portray them as the best compilation of a veteran’s experience is insulting.

Instead, I will point you, friends, towards Greyhawks’ post about The 300, and his ruminations about the warrior ethos, and with these thoughts in mind, ask you what movies you would place on that worthy list?  The movies he mentions specifically are all excellent examples, to which I would add Braveheart (Mel Gibson often seems to get it).

So, friends, what movies would you add to this estimable list?

29 May 2006

Memorial Day

I was going to write something concerning Memorial Day, but nothing I can write will compare to what you can read over at Castle Argghhh! Go read it, and the following posts he is planning on posting throughout the weekend.

25 May 2006

It pays to read the comments

Bo has bestowed upon us a classic submariner story. It is in the comments here. I would give it its own post, but it is slightly, ahhh, salty ;-) Oh, just go read it!

Expanding My Horizons

I will never understand art. But, in an attempt to be a more modern, sensitive man, I will at least try and actively appreciate it. With the Cannes film festival in the news, I have decided to try and expand my decidedly plebeian tastes with exposure to the artsier side of the cinema.

The film that seems to be mentioned the most is “Shortbus” – a film that uses “radical images” to “challenge the mainstream.” Sounds sufficiently artsy. So what part of the mainstream is it challenging? De-mystifying pornography by filming real on-screen sex! YES! I can get into this artsy-fartsy stuff after all!

So, to delve a little deeper, the most reported scene in the movie is the “particularly provocative scene” in which the participants in an orgy sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Mmmm-kay. As the director said, ““I really believe our country specifically needs to take a look at that stuff.”

So, in the interest of expanding my horizons, and because certainly a movie director is well informed on how to help our country advance culturally, I have decided to no only take a look at that stuff, as he suggested, but to do so publicly, as he did. So here goes:

Sometimes I sing, “I Am Woman” during … wait, what do you mean that is not what he intended? Whoops, I just shared too much, didn’t I?

24 May 2006

Milblogger TV??

I assume plenty of others got this email, but I will pass it on anyway, with relevant details redacted. I would caution, however, that anyone considering it should take care with what you submit. I know nothing about this guy, and who knows what type of spin he will try and put on our brave servicemen and women.

From: Jake Klim <xxxxxx@yyyyy.com>
To: PigBoatSlr@hotmail.com
Subject: Milblogger TV
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 11:16:07 -0700 (PDT)

I am a television producer who just finished working on a documentary series for the (Discovery) Military Channel called BATTLEFIELD DIARIES. Three of the 10 hours have highlighted various aspects of the Iraq War � a Kiowa crash rescue in September 2004, the USMC drive towards Baghdad in April 2003 and the 724th Transportation Company Ambush of April 2004.
I am currently developing an exciting new television project for another major cable network that will utilize images personally shot by the troops and some text from various MilBlogs. So I am looking for personal videos and stills of our servicemen & women in Iraq, shot by those same servicemen & women. I'm especially looking for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines talking INTO the camera...video diaries, having fun, being creative, interviewing one another, explaining what life is like in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, down time, training, explaining what happened to them that day, music videos, etc. Nothing is out of bounds! The good, the bad, or the ugly. Action, down time, fun time, helping Iraqi communities, interacting with Iraqi civilians/children/police/military...anything that has little a story to it or is visually interesting. If you know of anyone that kept a video diary while deployed; or did some "interviews" with his comrades in arms, please ask them to contact me. Any format is probably workable. (CD, DVD, cassette, etc.) All originals will be returned at my expense. If you have some ideas about how I should go about trying to get some footage together, I'm open to suggestions? Are there a couple of websites I should post my footage request on? Also, can you help me by passing the word around to other units? I need to act quickly as I must show the network some sample footage in 8 weeks. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Please pass this email to ANYONE you think might be able to assist with either footage or their experiences as a MilBlogger!

D.o.T. Exclusive!

Recently, there has been significant noise made about a certain Democratic Legislator who apparently accepted bribes in exchange for official influence. In fact, this corruption can seemingly be traced back to highly placed people in Nigeria.

It is with great pride that I share with you all an intercepted email which kicked this whole scandal off. Yes, here is the opening exchange in this dirty relationship:

From: "Omar El-Dagash"
To: William Jefferson
Subject: Confidential Investment Proposal

First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction, this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL and TOP SECRET. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. We have decided to contact you by e-mail due to the urgency of this transaction.
Let me start by first introdusing myself properly to you. I am Mr. Omar El-Dagash, a Manager at the Union Bank Nigeria PLC, Lagos. I came to know of you in my private search for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential transaction which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money to a foreign account requiring maximum confidence...

19 May 2006

Travel Log

So, after completing my third trip in as many weeks to DC, I offer the following short missives for your perusal:

-First Class is verrrrr nice. I finally was able to schedule flights that were on something other than a puddle jumper, and such I was able to take advantage of my frequent flyer miles. Dude, they even get better snacks up there!

-I know that we sailors are now allowed to (gasp) carry a pack or briefcase over our shoulder now (left shoulder only, only if black) and to wear a gadget on our belt (only one, take your pick, cell, blackberry, pager), but I must have missed the part in the regs that allows us to wear a FANNY PACK in uniform. It looks particularly silly if you happen to wear this insignia on your chest. Imposing warrior indeed…

-Whilst in Union Station for lunch this Thursday (only place I know of in DC to get fast food Tikka Masala) I noticed a fellow wearing a USS BARBEL ship’s ballcap. Then someone wearing one from the BONEFISH (that sub’s name still makes me shudder with fear of fire). And suddenly, it was if the floodgates had opened, and there were bedecked bubbleheads everywhere. Upon asking one of these veteran steely-eyed killers of the deep why they had suddenly all descended on Union Station, I was told they were there as part of a tour, and that a Sub Memorial was getting dedicated. So I attempted to find out when and where, as I felt it to be a good opportunity and, frankly, duty, to attend such an event, seeing as how it would be occurring, according to my informant, that afternoon, and my flight was not until the evening. However, I researched to no avail. Anyone hear anything about such an event?

-Since I had an unexpected afternoon free in DC (less the time it took me to discover nothing about the aforementioned memorial service), I thought I might look up some deck logs in the National Archives – specifically, those of the ship my Grandfather served on. Now, if any of you want to consider doing something similar, let me offer a few suggestions in “The Full Post,” but, the most important being, “Plan ahead! This is not something you can do on a whim!” Sigh.

So, for those of you intrepid enough to read the full thing, I will assume you are genuinely interested in researching some deck logs. Here is the procedure I found to conduct such research at the National Archives (very helpfully NOT on the National Archives website):

Deck Logs: Location
Held by The National Archives

Deck logs of commissioned U.S. Navy ships from the earliest times through 1940 are in the Old Military and Civil Records Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20408 [telephone (202) 357-5444. Logs from 1941 through those that are 30 years old or older are in the Modern Military Branch, National Archives, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park MD 20740-6001 [telephone (301) 837-3510]. These logs are open for research. Requests for research appointments, and inquiries concerning log information, should go to the National Archives office holding logs from the time period of interest.

Research in Deck Logs at the Ships History Branch
The Ships History Deck Logs Section staff consists of one person. Given the number of inquiries received, the staff cannot read hundreds of pages in response to any one inquiry. Thus the Ships History Deck Logs Section is unable to do extensive research in response to queries. Questions must be specific, and must be narrowed down to a particular time and/or place.
If a requestor wishes to search a log, this can be done at the Naval Historical Center (microfiched logs) or at the Washington National Records Center (paper logs). To arrange this, write to the Ships Deck Logs Section, at the address given above, at least two weeks in advance. Specify the ship(s) and time periods (month/year to month/year) involved and the date of the proposed visit.

Duplication of Deck Logs
Researchers using logs at the National Archives, or at the Washington National Records Center, can arrange to have pages copied there at the time they do their research.
The Naval Historical Center has no in-house capacity to do extensive copying. Small numbers of microfiche can be duplicated, and limited numbers of paper log pages can be copied on an office copier which is also used for other work. The "Fee Schedule" for the duplication of a large number of deck logs is 30 cents a page. Deck logs will scanned and placed on CD-ROM in Adobe Acrobat format. A copy of the CD-ROM will be made available to the requestor. The cost to duplicate deck logs on microfiche is $1.20 per fiche. Most of the deck logs for the period 1979 to 1993 are on microfiche and the paper copy of the deck logs do not exist. The Ships History Branch will provide a price quote upon request.

Read the Full Post

US Navy Whale Site

I am slack, I know. I have about three long posts waiting in the wings. However, until I get them pumped out, check out this site:
US Navy - Whales and SONAR
At first blush, it looks to be pretty straightforward. I will dig through it (mostly because, well, I have to) and let y’all know if I find any BS.