November 18, 2009

WWIIIHD - Update

I mentioned below that I had tapped into the History Channel's "World War II in HD" series and found it interesting because of the new, color footage available.

Well, I watched it again this evening. Granted, the film itself is still interesting, but I've gone right off the series.

You see, the History Channel has chosen to present its take on WWII in what's known as a bottom-up historical analysis. You know, "world events as seen from the eyes of the Little Guy."

Now that's all well and good up to a point. But without some kind of larger view? Not just worthless, but dangerous.

To wit.

One of the stories featured this evening had to do with one of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen", the segregated fighter squadrons that served in the European theatre. There was the usual emphasis on the whole racial divide which, I suppose, was inevitable, and perhaps was even justified.

But what got my goat was the story of this particular fighter pilot. He was hit by enemy fire while escorting a bomber raid deep into Germany and had to crash land behind enemy lines somewhere in the Balkans. Fortunately for him, he was picked up by a group of Tito's partisans and eventually delivered back to his own unit.

That's all well and good. And seen from this fellah's eyes, perhaps there's nothing much more to tell. But what irked me was the softball treatment of the partisans by the program. Those people, to put it kindly, were utter Communist rat-bastards, who didn't give a pair of fetid dingoe's kidneys about anything but their own cause. They delivered this fellah back to his friends not because they were noble and believed in doing the Right Thing, but because they knew they had to make nice with the Allies in order to keep receiving necessary supplies long enough to crush all opposition (domestic as well as foreign). Under any other circumstances, given both the rampant racism of Eastern Europe and the partisans' own explicit political ideology, they'd no doubt have slitted his throat on the spot.

Goddam partisans.

Goddam Tito.

Goddam Communists.

Anyhoo, the History Channel sails right over all of this, even though it has extensive time on its hands to pooh-pooh Japanese detainment camps on the American west coast and the aforementioned segregation of black soldiers.

Posted by Robert at 10:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit!

Eric Felten has a good piece up over at OpinionJournal arguing that one reason for Christmas Creep is the demise of Thanksgiving:

Lydia Maria Child's ode to going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house is a good place to start in decoding Thanksgiving's decline. First, there is the anachronistic attention given to grandmother. Thanksgiving is one of the few occasions left, in our fanatically kinder-centric culture, to honor the elderly. Picture the famous Norman Rockwell illustration "Freedom From Want"—at the Thanksgiving table grandpa and grandma have pride of place. No wonder the day gets short shrift.

And then there is all that over-the-river-and-through-the-woods business, which in our day means a choice between stripping for the nice TSA agent or creeping along I-95. Thanksgiving is the official holiday of planes, trains and automobiles. What the modern travel experience lacks in charm it makes up for with sheer ordeal. And what's the payoff for all this effort? A chance to make small talk with in-laws.

The Food Network may be the only institution in America unapologetically boosting the holiday. For weeks, the cable channel's programming is packed with turkey tutorials, stuffing suggestions and investigations into the mysteries of cranberry sauce. But Food Network's programming is less an indication of popular enthusiasm for Thanksgiving than a measure of the fear the holiday engenders. Hostesses know that they will be judged on the juiciness of their turkey, the cooking of which is an exotic undertaking chanced but once a year. And the result must be achieved while juggling a half-dozen side dishes, all the while making the above-mentioned small talk.

None of which would be so daunting if the day meant more to us. Could it be we've lost our capacity for gratitude? A successful harvest occasioned thanks back when it was all that stood between us and a long, cold, hungry winter. But now we're divorced from the seasonal rhythms of the farm, where the harvest is celebrated as the payoff of all the year's labors. Even in the midst of this Great Repression we enjoy perpetual plenty. What resonance does a cornucopia have to people who have come to expect ripe blackberries in February? If anything, we should be more grateful, but that's not our nature. Anything we struggle for, we hold dear; anything that comes easy, we take for granted.

Not only don't we celebrate the astonishing abundance that is our good fortune, we whine and moan about how it makes us fat. Lydia Maria Child's poem ends, appropriately enough, with dessert: "Is the pudding done? / Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!" A version for our time would read, "Is the pudding sugar-free?" And if that weren't enough to squeeze the pleasure from the day, no modern Thanksgiving is complete without a college student home from school, lecturing the family on the cruelty of meat. (To which the only appropriate response is: "Does that mean you don't want the drumstick?") That same sophomore is also likely to bemoan the grim fate of the Native Americans who made the strategic mistake of helping the Pilgrims avoid starvation. In some circles, Thanksgiving is second only to Columbus Day as an occasion for grieving.

Read the rest. I think there's actually quite a bit to it. Thanksgiving really is a very grown up holiday. And in our continued cultural slide into permanent adolescence, we find its symbolism increasingly unappealing.

Posted by Robert at 03:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

N'Yar! Foiled Again!

Three cheers to the crew of the Maersk Alabama for successfully fighting off a second pirate attack:

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.

A U.S. surveillance plane was monitoring the ship as it continued to its destination on the Kenyan coast, while a pirate said that the captain of a ship hijacked Monday with 28 North Korean crew members on board had died of wounds.

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama last April and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.

Four suspected pirates in a skiff attacked the ship again on Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. local time, firing on the ship with automatic weapons from about 300 yards (meters) away, a statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said.

An on-board security team repelled the attack by using evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, which can beam earsplitting alarm tones, the fleet said.

Apparently, this was no accident, as the U.S.-flagged fleet seems to be arming up:

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the Maersk Alabama had followed the maritime industry's "best practices" in having a security team on board.

"This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they're in high-risk areas," Gortney said in a statement.

* * * * *

A Massachusetts Maritime Academy professor, who is also the father of a sailor who was on the Maersk Alabama during the first pirate attack in April, said about 20 percent of the ships off East Africa are armed.

The owners of the Maersk Alabama have spent a considerable amount of money since the April hijacking to make the vessel pirate-proof, Murphy said, including structural features and safety equipment. The most dramatic change is what he called a security force of "highly trained ex-military personnel."

"Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that's force," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, who teaches maritime security at the school. "They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves."

The wife of the Maersk Alabama's captain, Paul Rochford, told WBZ-AM radio in Boston that she was "really happy" there were weapons on board for this attack.

"It probably surprised the pirates. They were probably shocked," Kimberly Rochford. "I'm really happy at least it didn't turn out like the last time."

Damned right. I've been solidly behind the idea of arming the fleet and issuing letters of marque for some time now.

Of course, there's always a bed-wetter in the crowd:

However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community.

"Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards," Middleton said. "Lots of private security companies employee people who don't have maritime experience. Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."

Yes, it is a step backwards, but not in the way you suggest. When the trade has to arm itself, this is a reflection of the fact that the states are failing in their duty to protect it. And the reason the navies can't protect the fleet is that their hands are largely tied by the states' own misguided rules of engagement, which only allow the navies to open up on the pirates once the situation has already got completely out of hand. This is another example of a war against a non-uniformed enemy that we seem hell-bent on treating like a law enforcement exercise.

Oh, and as for the band that attacked the Alabama?

"They told us that they got in trouble with an American ship, then we lost them. We have been trying to locate them since," said a self-described pirate who gave his name as Abdi Nor.

Let's hope they're in Davy Jones' Locker.

Posted by Robert at 02:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Observation

Because Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog - even with the bonus features -is only an hour or so (and excellent, btw), I caught some of the History Channel's "World War II in High Definition" on the teevee last evening before dropping off.

I've been a fan of WWII documentaries since I was a kid and reckon I'd seen most of the stock footage any number of times. It was fascinating to watch so many clips I had not seen before. Also, the coloring - whether original or grafted on - really makes the war all that more......imaginable.

Personally, I've long thought this "Greatest Generation" stuff was a lot of bunkum churned out by the twisted psychosis of the Baby Boomers to explain away their own vague sense of slacker worthlessness. The men and women who served in WWII were ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. And I would sincerely hope that any generation of Americans facing a similar crisis would step up to the task in exactly the same way.

UPDATE: Maybe making myself a bit clearer, I believe that any generation of Americans could step up to a similar crisis and achieve the same results. Whether they choose to do so is another matter.

Posted by Robert at 11:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2009

Fear The Llama

FEAR the Llama!

One Texas man learned the hard way that not all llamas are completely peace-loving.

The incident happened in a field a few miles from James Steele's home in Blum, Texas.

Steele said he and a friend were attending to his goats with a llama nearby. Steele said when the llama got in the way he shooed the normally gentle, eight foot tall animal away.

For some reason, the llama named Spanky snapped.

"When he come back up through there he came wide open on his hind legs, had them front legs up, he hit me, knocked me down and after that the lights went out. They say he grabbed me by the leg, shook me and [threw] me about 10 [feet]," said Steele.

Steele's friend, Terry Flowers, reached for a nearby pipe to try and get the animal off Steele.

"I just grabbed that pipe, jumped the fence and just started hitting on him, just to get him off him," said Flowers.

It took 700 stitches to repair Steele's muscles and close the wound. It was a close call for Steele, because the 59-year-old is on blood thinner medication and awaiting a heart transplant.

"I knew they'd spit on you, run into you. I never had one physically try to hurt me, bite me. That sucker intended to hurt me," said Steele.

Ha, ha, ha! Mr. Steele, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Yips! to long-time Llama friend Ed of Monkey Watch.

Posted by Robert at 09:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 16, 2009

R.I.P. The Equalizer

Edward Woodward dies at age 79.

Actually, as much as I liked "The Equalizer", my favorite Woodward part probably still is his title role in Breaker Morant.

Posted by Robert at 10:58 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Open, Sesame!

I'm Robbo the Llama and I'm an idjit.

Sitting down to serve up a helping of inspired Llama insanity over the weekend, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't have the faintest idea what my MooKnoo password might be. I've had the thing for, what, four years now? But it was completely gone.



No, not for my day job.


Well, yeah, but I've had the password longer than I've had my hatred of the Phils.


Patience, grasshopper.


Well, a nice thought but too wordy.


Actually, that's probably Gary's. (And if you're in to Tolkien, it's really a pretty durn good one.)

Well, as you can see, after some feverish brainstorming, I finally re-remembered the blasted thing. And no, it's not "AndersonCooperIsSatan'sTeabag."

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 15, 2009

Throw the Sergeant of the Guard in the Stockade

Google Street View managed to penetrate the perimeter defenses of the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC and snap a shot of the post headquarters.

Yips! from Robbo: Orgle Manor got similarly tagged. I present it to you in all of its glory:


Mind that first step. We have to fish Mrs. LMC out on a regular basis. Steve-O fell in a few years ago carrying a jumbo bag of Tostitos and a case of Dos Equis, and we haven't heard from him since, although we do find a constant stream of beached piranhas muttering, "No mas....No mas....."

Posted by LMC at 09:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Because I Have A Thing For Brunettes

The latest from On Demand, starring LMC fav Sandra Bullock:

Aging gracefully:

Flixster - Share Movies

Definitely worth the $4.95.

Posted by LMC at 09:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 14, 2009

Change of Venue

Hasan's lawyer is already making noise about not being able to get a fair trial at Fort Hood. I have just the place: Fort Monroe, Virginia. The post has two road entrances and is surrounded by water. The stone fort itself is surrounded by a moat with one or two entrances. Fort Monroe is easily accessible by road or helicopter to Langley Air Force Base and the Norfolk Naval Station as well as the Newport News airport and Norfolk International Airport. There should be sufficient accomodations on post for the court, the members of the board of officers who will hear the case. Major Hasan can stay inside the moat and enjoy the same view that Jefferson Davis did, in fact from the same cell in what is now the Casemate Museum. Hasan may be paralyzed from the waist down, but have no fear! The Museum is handicapped-accessible.

Posted by LMC at 02:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 13, 2009

Required Case Study For Every Parent

Levi Johnson whose claim to fame is he knocked up Sarah Palin's daughter. I plan on using him when discussing choices and consequences with my daughters.

Posted by LMC at 06:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Guns or Butter

Dr. Zero over at Hot Air offers this:

Some 15,000 Americans died last year because they didn’t have it. As many as five million more experienced a significant reduction in their quality of life, including mental and emotional trauma as well as diminished health, without it. Although large majorities of those Americans fortunate enough to have it are satisfied with what they have, many of the poor who need it most desperately simply cannot afford it. The government already exercises a great deal of control over it. Lives could be saved if we made its purchase mandatory, and subsidized those of limited means, to make ownership universal.
No, not health care. Guns.

Legal gun ownership by law-abiding citizens brings a dramatic reduction in violent crime. The city of Kennesaw, Georgia, took the novel step of passing an ordinance requiring heads of household to keep at least one firearm in their homes, as reported in this article by Chuck Baldwin of Campaign for Liberty. The law went into effect in 1982, and produced 74% and 45% reductions in violent crime over the next two years, respectively. Despite its population roughly tripling over the course of fifteen years, Kennesaw only had three murders during that time, and two of them were committed with knives.
Of course, extrapolating from little Kennesaw to the entire country is impossible, but studies have repeatedly shown that shall-issue and concealed-carry laws bring reductions in violent crime, while draconian gun control laws cause such crimes to skyrocket. For example, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley recently blamed the Fort Hood shootings on “America’s love affair with guns.” As Madison Conservative pointed out in a Twitter exchange, Chicago experienced 32 shootings in a single weekend, back in April, although it has draconian handgun laws. Similar examples are plentiful. Just about every high-crime area has tough gun control laws.
Approached with simple common sense, the effect of carefully trained, law-abiding gun owners on violent crime is not complicated. Decent people with proper firearms training are not magically transformed into wild-eyed homicidal maniacs by the ownership of a gun. They gain the ability to defend themselves against violent assault, and criminals logically respond by launching such attacks less frequently, since they can no longer be assured of finding easy prey.
The contrary liberal position, that absolute gun confiscation would reduce violent crime, is reasonable on its surface… but it disintegrates completely when confronted with the simple fact that disarming criminals is virtually impossible. Even if it could be done, the will to violence gives criminals a pronounced advantage over lawful citizens, when only primitive weapons are involved.
The atrocity at Fort Hood demonstrates, with horrible clarity, what happens when evil men with guns can act with confidence that no one will be shooting back at them. Arming and training the law-abiding citizens of high-crime areas would make them into hard targets, and improve their quality of life at least as much as socialized medicine. It would also be much cheaper – guns and ammunition cost far less than medical equipment and life-saving drugs, and firearms training requires far less education than a medical degree. Unlike socialized medicine, gun ownership is actually authorized – in fact, guaranteed – by the Constitution. Also, unlike medicine, guns are something the government has expertise with. The federal and state governments employ a great many people who know what they’re talking about, when it comes to firearms.
Of course, universal gun ownership and training wouldn’t bring a whole lot of power to the socialists. In fact, it’s just about their worst nightmare. Nothing makes them more nervous than the thought of a few million liberty-loving souls with pistols in one hand, and tea bags in the other. The government would get to spend some money distributing subsidized guns to the poor, but unlike health care, there would be no long-term dependency and control – none of that exhilarating sense that the State owns its citizens, body and soul.
Since guns are probably a non-starter with the Left, how about butter?
All this shrieking about an ever-changing number of uninsured Americans, creeping nervously through their miserable lives in the shadow of the Grim Reaper, is ridiculous when compared to the more serious threat of starvation. Healthy people usually go for years without needing health care, especially when they’re young… but even the most vivacious teenager will die in a matter of days without food.
Food production and distribution are governed by huge agriculture and grocery companies, including the hellish Wal-Mart, the corporate Mordor of the frenzied Left. Americans spend about $500 billion a year on food, including products like milk and soda that cost almost as much per gallon as gasoline does. We’re notoriously sloppy about the kind of food we consume, resulting in obesity, hypertension, and other health issues that place an enormous strain on our health care system. Surely it’s time to confiscate the obscene profits of Big Food, and strictly regulate the diets of Americans, to “promote the general welfare.” The same people liberals count to produce the scary numbers of uninsured Americans they need to sell socialized medicine – the young, the poor, illegal aliens – need “access” to healthy food!
You might object that no one seems to be starving in America. Well, no one is dying for want of medical care, either – hospitals are required to treat the indigent. That doesn’t stop the Left from dancing around the smoking embers of the Constitution and demanding the power to control the health insurance industry. If the government can force you to buy health insurance, why can’t it force you to eat salad instead of bacon burgers? Forcing Americans to eat properly and exercise, under threat of fines and imprisonment, would reduce our national health care expenditures considerably. Reduced demand means reduced prices. It makes a lot more fiscal sense than pouring two or three trillion dollars we don’t have into a bloated national health care system.
The reason there is no significant starvation in America is because the production and delivery of food is highly efficient and innovative. The shelves of grocery stores are bursting with constantly new-and-improved products. Competition is fierce, bringing reduced prices and increased quality. In our grandparents’ day, food was much more expensive – the average family in 1901 spent half its income on food, compared to just over 13% today… and 42% of our food expenses are incurred while eating out. Food is even more important to life than medicine, it is consumed in far greater volume, and its production and distribution are quite complex… but it’s cheap and plentiful, precisely because it is not produced and distributed by Big Government.
Everything we currently do wrong with health care, and will do even worse if the Democrats have their way, is done right with food. It is vastly better to feed the desperately poor by giving them food stamps to spend in a capitalist grocery store, than to shuffle them off to some kind of State-controlled supply dump. It’s not as if no one ever tried to control food production with collectivist politics. The primary result was mass starvation, every single place on Earth it has been tried. Why is anyone foolish enough to think those collectivist policies will work better when applied to health care?
We should embrace our heritage of limited government, show our fellow citizens the respect due to all free men and women, and reserve those fines and jail terms for politicians who betray their oaths of office by proposing ridiculously unconstitutional socialist power grabs. The choice between guns and butter should be yours.

Posted by LMC at 06:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 12, 2009

Gratuitous Nats Posting (TM)


Looks like the Nats are going with Riggs:

No more interim tag for Jim Riggleman: He is going to be the Washington Nationals' full-fledged manager in 2010.

The Nationals are sticking with Riggleman after promoting him from bench coach midway through last season, two people in baseball familiar with the team's plans told The Associated Press.

Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. The team said Thursday it would hold an afternoon news conference to announce its manager.

Riggleman replaced fired manager Manny Acta in July on an interim basis. The Nationals were 26-61 (a .299 winning percentage) at the time and went 33-42 (.440) under Riggleman, finishing with a major league-worst record of 59-103.

I'm pleased with this decision. Riggs is a back-to-basics kind of guy and also much more of a disciplinarian than Acta - and it's evident from the stats that this was just what the Nats needed this year. I also think the continuity is important.

BTW, I never got the chance to mention it earlier because I was on the road when I read about it, but congrats to Manny Acta for landing the skippership of the Indians. For all the humiliation, I still really like Manny. It's beyond obvious that he and the Nats were a bad mismatch, but he's still a good guy and, in the right circumstances, I believe can do well. I certainly hope so. Best of luck!


Posted by Robert at 02:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Perfect Storm of the Century of the Week*

A coastal low has formed on the Carolina coast, combining the remmants of Hurricane Ida and two other systems to create a truly nasty event. The coastal areas of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and the Other Banks of North Carolina are getting pounded with rain, high winds, and tidal flooding. This has all the trappings of a hurricane without the tropical weather: states of emergency, travel restrictions, school closings, increasing numbers of power outages, and a name (the "November Nor'easter").

I had a bad feeling about this one Tuesday evening and brought in deck furniture, checked the generator, filled up my wife's ride, and fueled spare gas cans--drawing some snickers about disaster prep paranoia. No one is laughing now.

*A shameless ripoff of one of Robbo's signature post titles and a mediocre George Clooney flick.

YIPS! from Robbo: It's just a very soggy day farther up the coast in Your Nation's Capital, but it's also a perfect excuse for lighting a fire.

I'll tell you something about that George Clooney flick, too. The Weather Channel decided to run it in prime time on the anniversary of the Perfect Storm (known then as the Halloween Storm) a couple weeks ago. Being stuck in a hotel room in the midwest, I found myself watching it, and I must say that the editing and placement of commercial breaks in the thing by TWC was so amateurish as to be down-right jaw-dropping. I've got no brief for this movie, but I was positively outraged when TWC went to commercial just as the Andrea Gale was starting up that final, monstrous wave.

I've only seen hack-work that bad once before, in college, while watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly on a local Hartford CT station. (Steve-O might have been there, too.) They went to break right in the middle of the final showdown among Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes.

I mean, come on, guys! Pay attention!


155,000 people without power and I am not one of them, dammit! All that effort fueling the generator and hooking it up for nothin!

Posted by LMC at 07:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 11, 2009


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- LTC John McCrae, MC, USA

Posted by LMC at 04:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What Is A Vet?

From The Richmond Times Dispatch, via NRO:

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg -- or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudia Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the Nebraska farmer who worries every year that this time the bank really will foreclose.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 39th Parallel.

She -- or he -- is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another -- or didn't come back at all.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who never has seen combat -- but who has saved countless lives by turning slouchy no-'counts into soldiers, and teaching them to watch each others' backs.

He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the anonymous hero in the Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the other anonymous heroes whose valor died unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket -- palsied now and aggravatingly slow -- who helped liberate a Nazi death camp, and who wishes all day long his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being -- a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. This editorial first appeared in 1995.

I would add a vet is someone who appreciates the expressions of support made by friends, family, and complete strangers, and is okay with the fact his fellow countrymen live in blissful ignorance of how crappy and dangerous the world really is.

Posted by LMC at 03:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

This Long Distance Dedication Goes Out to Kathy the Cake-eater

Because yesterday was the anniversary of the sinking of Edmund Fitzgerald:

Gordon Lightfoot - The Edmund Fitzgerald - Dedication Video
Uploaded by kevinmd85008. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Posted by LMC at 03:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 10, 2009

D.C. Sniper Goes To His Reward


JARRATT, Va. – John Allen Muhammad, the mastermind of the sniper attacks that terrorized the nation's capital region for three weeks in October 2002, was executed Tuesday. Muhammad died by injection at 9:11 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, prison spokesman Larry Traylor said.

He said Muhammad had no final statement and that Traylor didn't hear him utter any words during the execution.

Muhammad was executed for killing Dean Harold Meyers, who was shot in the head at a Manassas gas station during a spree that left 10 dead across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

"We extend our condolences not only to the families and loved ones of the victims, but also to the family and loved ones of John Allen Muhammad," said J. Wyndal Gordon, one of Muhammad's attorneys. "It's just a tragic situation all around."

Earlier, Gordon had described Muhammad as fearless and insisted he was innocent.

"He is absolutely unafraid and he will die with dignity — dignity to the point of defiance," Gordon said.

The shootings terrorized the region, as victim after victim was shot down while doing everyday chores: going shopping, pumping gas, mowing the lawn. One child was shot while walking into his middle school.

People stayed indoors. Those who did go outside weaved as they walked or bobbed their heads to make themselves a less easy target.

The reign of terror ended on Oct. 24, 2002, when police captured Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, as they slept at a Maryland rest stop in a car they had outfitted for a shooter to perch in its trunk without being detected.

Muhammad and Malvo also were suspected of fatal shootings in other states, including Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona. Malvo was sentenced to life in prison.

I mentioned to the Mothe the other day that although in recent years I have begun to feel more uncertainty about the concept of the death penalty, try as I might I can come up with no genuine compunction with regards to its application in this case.

Maybe that's because I (and my family) were, if not actually in the line of fire, at least in the line of where it had been, being semi-regular visitors to some of the gas stations, restaurant parking lots and other locales where the killings had occured.

Maybe that's because for several months I found myself casting wary glances around the perimeter every time I ventured forth from Orgle Manor to the metro, the gas station or the grocery store, and getting the creeps every time I saw a white van. (And by the way, big yips! to the Guardian Angels who stood about holding up bedsheets to screen gas station customers from the sniper's gaze.)

Maybe that's because of the utterly clinical senselessness of the killings. The article mentions the little kid who was gunned down. All the other deaths were equally heinous in their random strikes against the innocent. I remember in particular the Home Despot customer walking out to their car, and the metro bus driver, shot as he stood on the steps of his own bus.

Ah, paraphrase Captain Jack Aubrey, may the Lord have mercy on his soul, for the law will have none.

Posted by Robert at 10:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps


Posted by LMC at 08:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 09, 2009

Just Out Of Curiosity...

Why on this 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is Google decorating its masthead with Sesame Street characters?

UPDATE: Well, never mind about Google. How's about a nice, hot mug of the Gipper?

Posted by Robert at 03:55 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


Here we go again:

Cartoons should be given movie-style age ratings to protect children from the violence shown in programmes such as Scooby Doo and Batman, a child safety expert has warned.

Dr Karen Pfeffer, a senior lecturer at Lincoln University, said that risky behaviour which would normally lead to injury is rarely shown to have negative consequences in cartoons.

She claims to have found evidence that there children who watch violent programmes are more likely to engage in risky behaviour and injure themselves.

Dr Pfeffer, who is also an international mentor for the World Health Organisation, will address the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents this week and call for children's television programmes, particularly live action programmes, to carry ratings for parents to make informed choices for their children.

Among the programmes she deemed to contain the most risky behaviour were Scooby-Doo, Batman, X-Men and Ben 10.

"I have looked at whether television's portrayal of risky behaviour affects children and have found evidence of children imitating dangerous TV behaviours, evidence of a positive correlation between amount of TV viewing and injury rates and evidence that TV viewing can affect children's perceptions of risk," she said.

"The problem is that these characters engage in risky behaviours and experience great violence but the negative consequences of dangerous behaviour are usually not portrayed.

I am old enough to remember the wave of cartoon panic that swept across this country in the late 70's, when "behavioral researchers" suddenly started warning us that too much exposure to Bugs Bunny and the Road-Runner were causing tots to plunge off cliffs like Wile E. Coyote or run amok blowing things to smivverweens like Elmer Fudd. As a result, the networks yanked some Looney Tune cartoons and started heavily editing others. I still vividly recall what happened to the classic Bugs/Daffy episode where Daffy is trying to convince Fudd that it's rabbit season but keeps getting his own beak blown off. So much of it was cut out as to make the rest virtually incomprehensible.

But Scooby-Doo? I don't remember anything particularly dangerous or risky about that unless it was the contents of some of the sandwiches Shaggy put together. And as Lisa Simpson once said, Scooby taught me that I have nothing to fear in the world except unscrupulous real-estate developers.

Posted by Robert at 09:58 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 08, 2009

Fly the Colors at Half-Mast

For the fallen at Fort Hood. The wire reports indicate the shooter was some kind of a nut and reportedly refused to be photographed with women. It is no small irony that the police officer who dropped him (while taking three rounds herself) was a diminitive woman whose nickname from her first job as a cop was "Mighty Mouse", according to the AP.

Yips! from Robbo: Y'know, I had been mulling a joke post in which the White House announces that this year Veteran's Day will be changed to Hug A Muslim Day in order to dispel any notion that the massacre was at all religiously motivated and, more importantly, to protect Muslim-Americans - the real victims of this tragedy - from the backlash vengeance of all those knuckle-dragging Red State Neanderthals out there. (You remember how the redneck posses rampaged through the land after 9/11, turning honorable Islamists out of their homes, razing them to the ground and sowing the land with salt.) The punchline was going to be that if we weren't careful, we would quickly starting treating our Muslim population like......Jews.

But I decided to drop it because it was so damn close to the spin being put on things that I reckoned most readers wouldn't realize it was meant to be parody.

Posted by LMC at 08:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 06, 2009

Because I Am The World's Shallowest Moviegoer

Via Special Agent Bedhead

Posted by LMC at 07:07 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 05, 2009

Leaf Me Alone

I've come to the conclusion that trees purposely don't drop all their leaves at once because they enjoy making us slog out with the ol' rake as often as possible.

I'd swear that as I glanced at the half-clad maples out front this morning, contemplating the work I'd have to do this weekend and knowing that like Der Ahnold, I'd be back later, I saw them smirking at me.

Posted by Robert at 11:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Post-World Series Observation

Message to the Phillies and their fans (yeah, I'm looking at you, Monica!):

UPDATE: Monica writes -

Crow tastes like chicken
POSTSEASON crow, however...
well, you wouldn't know.

Hey, I can tell you that there's no crow in Natstown. Lawd knows we've got plenty of problems, but hubris isn't one of them.


Posted by Robert at 08:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 04, 2009

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

And was reminded of this....

Posted by Robert at 12:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Cyber-Blegging

Yesterday afternoon a minor brush war erupted among the Llama-ettes over who was going to get to use the computer in the basement of Orgle Manor to finish her homework first. This wasn't the first such scrap and Lawd knows it won't be the last.

As much of a Luddite as I am, I freely admit that in this day and age it is virtually impossible to keep up with either work or study without the proper electronics. My question is: What is the best way to wire in the entire family? Should it be laptops for birthday presents? Do I need to rig up Orgle Manor for WiFi? And how the hell much is all this gonna cost, anyway?

Any thoughts, ideas or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Robert at 10:48 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

I Am The Llama. Hear Me Orgle

Don't say we never get results! After my rant yesterday about the early advent of their red holiday cups, the Starbucks at 7th and E NW was back to the standard white ones this morning.

Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by Robert at 08:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Robbo Is Currently Listening To....

Good times, good times. NPR was spinning so hard this morning, you could have hooked a generator up to it and powered a fairly large city.

Posted by Robert at 08:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 03, 2009

Election Return Music

A few selections from back in the day:

Posted by LMC at 07:42 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tempus Fugit

I just renewed my driver's license. (The great Commonwealth of Virginny has gone to an online renewal format for most licenses.) On printing off the confirmation, I noticed that my new license will expire on my birthday in 2018.

A quick burst of mental arithmetic revealed that as of that date, I will be 53.

Great heavens.

Posted by Robert at 12:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit

First Starbucks holiday cup this morning.

In the words of Aniken Skywalker, "Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!"

Get this for wisdom:

"When you wish, the world becomes brighter. So wish. It's what makes the holidays the holidays."

Um, apart from replying "No, it isn't", I couldn't help thinking that surely what one wishes might make a difference in that calculation?

Posted by Robert at 10:23 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Crooked Straight And The Rough Places Plain

I love articles like this:

A 35-mile rift in the desert of Ethiopia will likely become a new ocean eventually, researchers now confirm.

The crack, 20 feet wide in spots, opened in 2005 and some geologists believed then that it would spawn a new ocean. But that view was controversial, and the rift had not been well studied.

A new study involving an international team of scientists and reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds the processes creating the rift are nearly identical to what goes on at the bottom of oceans, further indication a sea is in the region's future.

The same rift activity is slowly parting the Red Sea, too.

Using newly gathered seismic data from 2005, researchers reconstructed the event to show the rift tore open along its entire 35-mile length in just days. Dabbahu, a volcano at the northern end of the rift, erupted first, then magma pushed up through the middle of the rift area and began "unzipping" the rift in both directions, the researchers explained in a statement today.

"We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this," said Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study.

The result shows that highly active volcanic boundaries along the edges of tectonic ocean plates may suddenly break apart in large sections, instead of in bits, as the leading theory held. And such sudden large-scale events on land pose a much more serious hazard to populations living near the rift than would several smaller events, Ebinger said.

"The whole point of this study is to learn whether what is happening in Ethiopia is like what is happening at the bottom of the ocean where it's almost impossible for us to go," says Ebinger. "We knew that if we could establish that, then Ethiopia would essentially be a unique and superb ocean-ridge laboratory for us. Because of the unprecedented cross-border collaboration behind this research, we now know that the answer is yes, it is analogous."

The African and Arabian plates meet in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia and have been spreading apart in a rifting process - at a speed of less than 1 inch per year - for the past 30 million years. This rifting formed the 186-mile Afar depression and the Red Sea. The thinking is that the Red Sea will eventually pour into the new sea in a million years or so. The new ocean would connect to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, an arm of the Arabian Sea between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in eastern Africa.

You may call me very strange - well, you probably do already - but I can sit and stare at a topographical map for hours, just dreaming about all the forces at work shaping the landscape. Indeed, especially when I start considering the vast amounts of time involved as well, I often make myself quite dizzy thinking about it all.

Posted by Robert at 10:14 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Robbo Is Currently Listening To....

"Hey, Johnnie Cope, Are Ye Wakin' Yet?" is a traditional Scots tune that tells the tale of the Battle of Prestonpans during the '45, in which the Jacobites fell on an inexperienced Hanovarian army at dawn and, as they would say, "tore at 'em".

I was rereading a very funny story by George MacDonald Fraser last evening about his torture as a young officer in a Highland regiment in '46 who had to endure a full-scale pipe and drum corp rendition of the tune for reveille immediately outside his window every Friday morning. (Of course, because Fraser loved the army, once the practice had been stopped by the regiment's Colonel under hy-larious circumstances, he missed it.)

I tried to find a pipe and drum rendition of the tune to get a sense of the unholy noise they must produce, but had to settle for the folk version.

UPDATE: I happen to have the book still to hand. Says Fraser:

Now, "Johnnie Cope" is one of the most magnificent sounds ever to issue from musical instruments. It is the Highlanders' war clarion, the tune that is played before battle, the wild music that is supposed to quicken the blood of the mountain man and freeze the foe in his tracks. It commemorates the day two and a half centuries ago when the broadswords came whirling out of the mist at Prestonpans to fall on Major-General John Cope's redcoats and cut them to ribbons in something under five minutes. I once watched the Seaforths go in behind it against a Japanese-held village, and saw for the first time that phenomenon which you can't really appreciate until you have seen it - the unbelievable speed with which Highland troops can accelerate a slow, almost leisurely advance into an all-out charge....Well played, it is a savage, wonderful sound, unlike any other pipe march - this, probably, because it doesn't truly belong to the Army, but to the fighting tails of the old clansmen before the government had the sense to get them into uniforms.

Scots Wha Hae!

Posted by Robert at 09:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mo Do Watch

Kathryn Lopez over at NR reviews Maureen Dowd's latest column. I was not aware of anyone who reads Mo Do anymore but I am glad to see that someone is keeping an eye on Maureen's slide. No one wants to watch a talented woman become a bitter, middle-aged spinster but someone has to do it.

Yips! from Robbo: Someone else is keeping an eye on her as well. Take it away, Archbishop Dolan!

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan has condemned The New York Times -- blasting the Gray Lady and its columnist Maureen Dowd for what he says are examples of unfair, prejudicial and just downright mean anti-Catholicism.

Dolan used his blog last Thursday on the Archdiocese of New York's Web site to rail against the Times a day after the paper refused to print his critique as an op-ed piece.

He singled out Dowd -- a poison-penned, Pulitzer winner and former Catholic-school girl -- for "the most combustible," "intemperate and scurrilous" "diatribe" she wrote on Oct. 25, which "rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish or African-American religious issue."

"She digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans."

Dowd's column, which zinged the Vatican for "two inquisitions" into nuns who eschew "old-fashioned habits and convents," was only the latest Times piece to spin Dolan's skullcap.

"It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime," Dolan wrote. "

I was recently traveling with a colleague, a very p.c. person who wasted no time in telling me of all the things and people out there she found offensive for a variety of reasons. I couldn't help thinking to myself that until she has tried to live as an orthodox Christian in this day and age - and even worse, as a Catholic - she can't begin to understand cultural offensiveness.

Of course, if I had brought up the point, she certainly would not have sympathized, but instead would have branded me as a nut, a nazi, a close-minded bigot and probably a closet pedophile as well. Instead, I simply smiled and, as it were, turned the other cheek.

Posted by LMC at 06:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 02, 2009

The Llama Returns To His Corral

Greetings, camelidophiles! Sorry about the lack of posting of late. First, the Butcher's Shop suffered from another Moo Knew bandwidth kerchoo. And before that business was sorted out, Robbo left town for a week of depositionpalooza, only returning to Orgle Manor on Saturday afternoon.

Here's a little bit o' random for you: As we were waiting about in the terminal to fly out a week ago Sunday, the desk attendant came on the intercom to inform us that the plane that was to take us to Chicago - a 737 - was on her final flight and, as soon as she had done her run on to the West Coast that day, she was off to the bone yard. Furthermore, ours was the very last United 737 flight out of National, as United's entire fleet of these planes has now been permanently retired. To mark the occasion, there were a couple fire trucks pulled up on the tarmac that sprayed us with their water cannons as we taxied by. I also saw some ground crew taking pictures.

Memo to Airline Personnel: Please don't use the expression "final flight" about a given plane until after she's touched down at the other end. Ditto to pilots who come on the air in mid-flight and start yapping about the plane's 40 year career. It gives the passengers the creeps.

Posted by Robert at 09:48 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 01, 2009

Apropo Of The Day After Halloween

Comes this Eighties blast from the past on rainy Sunday afternoon here at the post headquarters, located amidst the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC:

Courtesy of the fine folks at You Tube.

Posted by LMC at 04:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


RINO endorses the Dem, not the Conservative, in NY-23. Via Hot Air.

Posted by LMC at 04:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


at least between the hours of ten in the evening to six in the morning as Baby Ellie starts sleeping through the night. It is amazing how seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can change your outlook on life.

Posted by LMC at 12:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


The local fishwrapper is reporting Bob McDonnell's double digit lead on the front page, albeit below the fold. Until now, it's approach to McDonnell's months of double-digit lead has been to ignore it and for its editorial board to (predictably) endorse Creigh Deeds. Now there is little doubt that McDonnell will win in a landslide with the only debate being how far down the ballot his coattails will extend. The late-breaking news from NY-23 is the RINO candidate has bowed out and the Conservative Party nominee is leading his Dem opponent and the conventional wisdom is that Doug Hoffman will win. Chris Christie is leading in New Jersey. The size of conservative victories will do much to send a message to Madame Speaker's followers who are wondering what fate will befall them next November.

Posted by LMC at 12:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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