Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama taps veteran senator Biden as running mate -

Obama taps veteran senator Biden as running mate - "Barack Obama has selected Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware to be his vice presidential running mate, choosing a veteran senator with a strong foreign policy background, Obama's campaign announced early Saturday."

Here's where it's going to get ironic.

Senator Biden is known for sometimes letting his mouth get ahead of his brain. Personally, I like the guy. From time to time, Senator Biden opens his mouth before he has thought things through and the results vary from coarse to (unintentionally) hilarious. I respect him for his willingness to stray off of prepared remarks and answer important questions.

This is very different from someone else who we won't name, (but whose last name rhymes with "Bush") whose malapropisms come from his inability to remember his prepared remarks.

This won't stop the Republican party from making a big deal about Senator Biden's speaking style.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sheriff goes to jail for an education | Oddly Enough | Reuters

Sheriff goes to jail for an education | Oddly Enough | Reuters: "Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County Illinois walked into his own jail on Wednesday to spend a week as a prisoner saying he was divinely inspired to learn what it was like to be confined and to sample jail programs designed to reduce recidivism. 'The biblical adage that we reap what we sow is very true in criminal justice ' said Curran 45 before exchanging his business suit for a prison jumpsuit at the Waukegan Illinois facility near Chicago."

Hopefully, he's an elected official and this kind of ridiculousness will be remembered come election time. Honestly, if he doesn't already know what the conditions are in his facilities than he doesn't need to be the sheriff.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Me and the Veteran's Administration Part Deux

Last week I got a letter from the VA telling me that I'd been approved for vocational rehabilitation. That was the first paragraph. The rest of the letter went to tell me about my right to appeal the VA's decision to give me what I'd asked for.

Here's the thing, I still have hoops to jump through for the qualification process. So a "yes" isn't possible, only a "no" is possible. I did 26 years in the military and I know how bureaucracies work. You have a bunch of steps where you can get disqualified and if, after dutifully completing all those steps you aren't disqualified then you're approved.

Since I'm only partway through the process and the letter went on and on about my appeal rights, I figured I misunderstood the letter and I had been denied. So I reread the letter over and over and the first paragraph really said "you have been approved" and the rest of the letter really said "you can appeal this decision." I finally put the letter in the "this may be important someday" box and moved on.

Today I got a call from the counselor that's supposed to administer a bunch of tests as part of the approval process. She said: 1) I have been approved and 2) I have to finish the screening process. I wasn't going to argue with her. If the VA's really going to pick up the tab for finishing my degree I will jump through, over or around any hoops they want jumped in the order they want them jumped.

But yeah, it's a little strange.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Me and the Veteran's Administration

I'm 40% service-connected disabled. The disabilities are not that big a deal. One example: 10% of that rating is for ringing in my ears. I would prefer that I not have ringing in my ears, but some hearing damage is part and parcel of going to wars.

My disability rating is high enough (over 20%) that I'm eligible for job training. One way that the VA can provide job training is by footing the bill for college. I would like to be a high school science teacher which requires a degree that I don't have. The VA's help could go a long way toward getting me into the classroom.

Well, dork that I am, I didn't apply for benefits until this month. Today, I just got tentatively approved for my education goal. There are tests to take, advisors and counselors to meet and stacks of forms complete but my objective has been conditionally approved.

The process is far from over, but it's off to a good start. What a huge load off my mind.

Friday, May 2, 2008

About damn time....

Military Stressing Veterans' Counseling - "Applicants for government security clearances will no longer have to declare whether they sought mental health counseling after serving in combat zones, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced yesterday."

Well, it's a baby step in the right direction.

The wording is still lame "strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment" is not going to reassure many folks who are still on active duty. I'll give you an example: Airman Wingwiper deploys to the sandbox for 180 days and his marriage self-destructs when he comes home. Why is he seeking counseling? Does that meet the criteria? Will everyone think that? I'll tell you why that's important. The one absolute sure-fire way to get your clearance denied to to get caught in a lie on your SF86.

The effect of the current policy on security clearances and other special-access programs is that it drives folks to the chaplains. Some chaplains are excellent counselors. Some chaplains are not up to the challenge. (And some chaplains are rapists.)

I have a friend who took a bad shot in a war zone. He did not join the military and did not make the sacrifices he has made in order to kill innocent civilians. He went were he was sent, he did what he was told to do and the results were tragic. The USAF moved on and he didn't. He was saddled with nightmares and anger issues. He went to a chaplain for help because a chaplain's help was the best he could get without risking his career.

My personal take is that chaplains should stick to their area of expertise: religion. I would no sooner see a chaplain about battlestress issues than I would a fry cook.

I appreciate Secretary Gates' intentions, but he's still way short of the mark.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego and Nationalism?

What Motivates a Spy to Betray His Country? Add Nationalism to the Equation - New York Times

Interesting piece in the NYT about a shift in the motivations for traitors.

First off, I want to be picky here about word use. Spying is a profession. Sure, spies tell lies and violate other countries' laws but spies are professionals who are serving their own nation. Traitors, on the other hand, are betraying their own country. I can respect a spy, I cannot respect a traitor.

The trend amongst traitors seems to be shifting away from money. According to the NYT article, approximately half of the new batch of traitors are motivated by ideology to their native country.

I disagree with the article on the importance of sexual compromise. It's always been part of the game. It's not new.

I recommend reading article.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Re-entry system parts shipped to Taiwan

Pentagon Admits Mistaken Arms Shipment - "The nose cones, designed for a missile system that dates to the 1960s, were declared excess in March 2005 and shipped to a warehouse on an Air Force base in Wyoming, officials said. It is unclear whether they were placed in a classified storage area or how they were eventually mistaken for crates of batteries."

Honestly, if someone had asked me if this was possible I would have said "Hell no." So I guess I have revise (and lower) my opinion of my former co-workers. I am betting that these were time change items that had gone past service life and were returned to Hill AFB for the depot weenies to do whatever they do with them. How they got tagged at UH-1 batteries beats the hell out of me.

How the heck could anyone not notice we were missing forward sections to Mark 12 re-entry vehicles? (The Mark 12 is the assembly the contains the part that goes boom as well as support electronics.) It would seem to me that Mark 12 forward sections are accountable items.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The new sins are out!

Vatican Announces Seven New Deadly Sins | March 10, 2008 | AHN: "Mgr Girotti named the new mortal sins to be (1)genetic modification; (2) human experimentations, (3) polluting the environment; (4) social injustice; (5) causing poverty; (6) financial gluttony; and (7) taking drugs."

Maybe they're trying to drum up confessional business.

I am unclear as to why I am supposed to care what a Bronze Age myth (updated or not) says about how I live my life.

And while we're at it:

8) voting for anyone who voted in favor of the Patriot Act


10) being a Yankee fan


Bad law to go with bad problem

Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Make Anonymous Internet Posting Illegal - Video - WTVQ 36 - Lexington, Kentucky: "Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lawyers Rally Against Musharaff Government - New York Times

Lawyers Rally Against Musharaff Government - New York Times: "“Our struggle is to make Pakistan a state where the judiciary is independent, and what Musharraf did to the chief justice is an example of how under him no judge is ever independent,” Mr. Ahsan said to a crowd of lawyers who chanted for Mr. Musharraf’s resignation. The rally here on Saturday was part of a series of marketplace demonstrations between the capital, Islamabad, and this nearby city to show support for the lawyers movement. The lawyers are planning a week of anti-Musharraf demonstrations, called Black Flag Week after the protesters’ flags and armbands."

These are brave men and women. I hope they get a free country to live in.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aromatherapy has no physical effects

Aromatherapy Effectiveness Questioned, Study: It Has No Physical Impact, But Lemon Scent Improved Mood - CBS News: "(CBS) Believers swear by aromatherapy, in which certain scents are supposed to have a positive effect on a person's mood or health.

But a recent investigation found that aromatherapy has no physiological effect on people at all."

This will in no way affect sales of aromatherapy products. It has never been about the evidence anyway. Aromatherapy is another pseudoscience with a legion of fact-resistant followers.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election - New York Times

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election - New York Times: "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States."

Funny how that works... arrest a few judges... declare marshal law... monkey with the constitution and suddenly people want a new government.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The word still isn't out

One of my classmates, M, has a brother in the USMC who just returned from Iraq. I believe his tour was 18 months but honestly, for anything over 7 months what I hear is "way too long." So I don't remember exactly what M said.

So when M mentioned this to me in the hallway outside class I switched into sergeant mode for a few minutes. I gave M a quick list of reintegration issues that most returnees face. I could see M's eyes glaze as I prattled on. I kept going because I believe that even a little forewarning is better than no forewarning. M's a smart kid. I figured if her brother did have reintegration issues she'd be able to dust off my pocket sermon and apply it.

Well M's brother is in town. We were waiting for class to start the other day and she related how her brother had blown a fuse talking to some kid at a McDonald's drive-thru. M is beginning to understand what I was talking about.

Put your seat backs a tray tables in the upright position. It's gonna get bumpy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What the heck???

My Kaspersky antivirus software is showing my own blog as a phishing site. What the heck?

Makes me wonder about what else is wrong with Kaspersky...

Monday, February 4, 2008

History of Combat Trauma Bibliography (SWJ Blog)

History of Combat Trauma Bibliography (SWJ Blog): "The history of combat trauma is one which draws fire every time. It is a topic wrapped in politics, both conventional and those internal to both the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and history. I hope this brief annotated bibliography will help some come to understand the foundations, the arguments, and the various issues in play on this topic. This list is rank-ordered in what I believe is their utility to those interested in the study of war, particularly my fellow historians and journalists, but also my peers in the military."

I don't believe we're actually going to find a fix for combat trauma/PTSD/Jungle Jitters/Shell Shock or whatever the next generation of warriors chooses to call it. There are things that cannot be done without paying a psychological price and going to war is one of those things. I do believe that if the military changes its attitude toward combat trauma then more folks will get the help they need and end up leading happier lives.

It would be a huge cultural change for the military and it may not even be possible, but education is a good first step.

Monday, January 28, 2008

In From the Cold: What Happened at Minot--an In From the Cold Special Report

In From the Cold: What Happened at Minot--an In From the Cold Special Report: "A “perfect storm” of failed leadership, lax supervision, ineffective internal communication, inexperienced personnel and poor career field management led to last year’s nuclear incident at Minot AFB, North Dakota, resulting in the unauthorized transfer of six-nuclear tipped missiles to an installation in Louisiana."

A decent post that fills in some of the holes in the mishandling of six nuclear warheads.

My little rant on this is here.