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Monday, October 31, 2005

Sgt Muniz Falls Down a Hole
Here's another movie from Iraq. No battles, no attacks, just a story of how dangerous it can be even without an enemy. Without OSHA requirements, there are lots of industrial hazards around. The movie is about 23MB, so be patient during the down load.

Click on the "drivel" link to see it.

Addendum, Jan 4, 2009:  I decided that this wasn't worth 23MB of bandwidth, so I've deleted it.
Per special request, here's some more background information. Sgt Muniz and Sgt Francis were working on laying some phone lines from our switchboard to the sections working down below the dam. These wires had to be replaced frequently because it seemed like if a mortar landed within ten square miles of us, somehow the phone lines would get cut. Scientists should investigate this phenomenon.

As I note in the running commentary, Sgt Muniz stepped back when pulling the wire from the tenth deck (I erroneously said it was from the seventh deck at the time), tripped on a rock, and fell down the hole.

He was rescued quickly by the amtrac dudes after Sgt Francis yelled down to them. They jumped up and ran, dragging with them some rope that they always carry in their vehicles. They lowered a man down, who tied the rope to Sgt Muniz and then they pulled him up, followed by the rescuer shortly thereafter.

I wrote more about the story in Fishing for Rifles .

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Mortar Attack on Haditha Dam
On 16 May, we had another mortar attack. These were quite common, and usually did no harm at all. But once in a while the enemy had a good mortarman and were able to hit their target with tight groups. The Marines who worked below the dam in Motor Transport, supply, amphibious tractors, and tanks suffered from these attacks.

We fortified most of the working areas after this attack, and eventually we moved the tanks to the top of the dam and the amtracs inside the dam. Injuries were virtually eliminated after that.

Click the "drivel" link to see the video. Be patient with the down load, it's about 8MB.

Invading Kubaysa
In April 3d Battalion, 25th Marines invaded the little pseudo-industrial city of Kubaysa. It is located about 20 miles west of Hit. I took pictures and movies of my experience. Click on the "drivel" link below to see it. It's about 16MB, so be patient during the download.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Over There?
I just finished watching the FX TV show, "Over There." There is almost nothing worth watching about this show. I can imagine that there are several things I would expect to be interesting such as:

Plot, or story line
Depiction of the military in Iraq
Demonstration of some aspect of TTP, Tactics, Techniques, Procedures
Showing what the US is doing in the war

But none of these things were worth it.
The story line for the episode I watched was pathetic. An orphanage is being turned into a police station and the army is being asked by the Iraqi government to move the poor kids out. That's it. That's the plot. Oh, except that the Staff Sergeant sleeps with the French orphanage woman.

Oh, and it's such a tragedy and no one can stop it from happening until the Staff Sergeant finally agrees to re-enlist. At that point, suddenly a way is found to save the orphanage. What a stupid plot, but the smelly, stinky soldier beds the smelly stinky Frenchwoman, or is that redundant to call a Frenchwoman stinky?

So, the story line wasn't worth it.

The soldiers in this show got to sleep with women. That ain't the Iraq I was in. There are no women worth seeing, let alone sleeping with, but then maybe the cushy spots in Baghdad, if there are any, has some. The soldiers get into discussions of blacks versus whites. So deep, you know.

Okay, so maybe there is some effort to show the actions of soldiers while on missions. Nope. They leave a Staff Sergeant in mujville, right after a bomb goes off, and no one seems the wiser until they decide to go pick him up the next day. They move around with only one, sometimes two vehicles. Now, I can easily forgive that these are not armored properly, and I can even forgive that they move around with only two hummers instead of four, That's a petty point. But no one leaves anyone behind. Absurd!

They show a small boy, injured by the bomb attack, dying as they wait for a helicopter. They're all angry that it will take more than 30 minutes to get a bird to them. Well, what the heck were they sitting around for? Why didn't they drive the kid to the firm base? Why didn't they have a medic with them?

The same little boy carried a chess set with timers on it. They thought it might be a bomb, so after they got him to set in on the ground, they decided to shoot it with one round of 5.56mm. There are good reasons why this would never happen. You don't disable bombs, or suspected bombs, by shooting at them. It's more likely to make it harder to disarm the bomb than make it blow up.

But the real reason I hated the show was its blatant anti-American attitude. The primary message, beyond that the French chick puts out, is that the US will throw orphans into the street simply because the Iraqi government told them to do so. In a war that is mostly centered on public relations and maintaining the will of our nation to fight, there could be no stupider thing for the US to do, yet we're expected to believe that little children are thrown into the streets regularly because we're puppets of the Iraqis, who in reality would never do this either. Yet at the same time, suddenly we can ignore the Iraqi government simply because some guy re-enlists.

This is the purpose of the show, to tell Americans that we're throwing orphans into the street for no reason, and that America shouldn't be supporting the war.

The makers of this show should be tried for treason. It's not that they're anti-war, it's that they're on the other side.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Einstein and Basic Math. and Lawyers and Law
President Bush has nominated Meirs to the Supreme Court. This is cause for alarm, Bush like his father has a terrible track record for these things. I think she will be horrible, but the moonbat ravings against her have me thinking twice. The strongest arguments against her have been focused not on her ideology but on the fact that she went to SMU for law school. In fact both Ann Coulter and Virginia Postrel have revealed themselves to be nakedly snobbish and tell us that only someone who went to an Ivy League school should be on the Supreme Court. For some reason this is now part of the job description in their minds.

A friend of mine had a similar argument when discussing her merits as a justice. He told me that being a Supreme Court justice requires an intelligence well beyond what he, or even I possess. Of course he mistakenly believes he's smarter than me, so I had to take a bit of a liberty in how I said that.

Both these arguments suffer from what I call the Einstein's math fallacy. Einstein is often called a brilliant man and I don't doubt his intellectual abilities. But Einstein was a dunce about many things. Just because he was good at math doesn't mean he was right about everything, or that his thinking was infallible. You don't need to be Albert Einstein to know that 2 plus 2 is four, and had Einstein argued that it was five wouldn't make it true.

The same goes with the law.
Law is not complex. Efforts to complicate it serve only one interest group, lawyers. There are a lot of complex issues in law and a certain amount of sense is needed to argue cases, and determine how to bill your client, but for the most part the challenges of becoming a lawyer are a result of law schools creating an elitist system to become a lawyer. You can't practice law until the law schools and the Bar say you can. Lawyers have a vested interest in keeping the law complicated, convoluted, and easily manipulated. Lawyers create a system that allow OJ Simpson to be acquitted, silicon breast implants banned, and tobacco growers enslaved.

In this malconstructed world of legal arguments, the truth is that the issues are rarely that complex. As a judge, you don't need to know how to create arguments to confuse and muddle justice, you only need to know right from wrong and cut to the heart of the matter.

Law schools don't teach wisdom. Ivy league law schools don't teach right and wrong. They teach how to create and maintain labyrinths of logic so that either side in a legal dispute can win. To a lawyer, justice goes to the best arguer, not the best argument. And seemingly to Coulter and Postrel, only those attending an Ivy League law school are clever enough to argue well.

But what have Ivy Leaguers given us? People who think that free speech is sacrosanct for pornography but punishable for political speech. People who think that property rights extend only to those who convince city governments to give them other people's land. People who think that equal opportunity means that companies should be forced to hire less qualified minorities, and that "minorities" really mean only those who aren't truly minorities, but includes only the largest distinguishable groups (Hipanics benefit as a minority while smaller groups like the almost otherwise indistinguishable Portuguese are not).

The main requirement to be a Supreme Court Justice is not to go to an Ivy League school, it is to be able to know right from wrong and have the moral backbone, the dedication to truth, and the ability to understand that freedom means less government intrusion, not more.

I don't know if Meirs will be a good Justice, but only an Ivy League snob can put forth the absurd argument that only an Ivy Leaguer is possibly qualified for the job.