Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Smaller World
With the emergence of more and more newspapers and news sites easily reached on the internet, I've often wondered if this is the catalyst that finally makes more and more people aware of the globe they live on. Perhaps we can finally think of where we live not only as our local neighborhood, but world trends as well. Specifically, weather (and even more specifically, fire trends). Since I work in the field of prescribed and wild fire, I'm able to track global fire occurences much easier nowadays. Yes, sometimes this is too much information, and do these trends (more fire, larger "mega-fires") really mean anything? All good questions, and I guess this rambling post really boils down to the fact that future generations will be able to track global impacts much easier.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Can I Add Another Salad Shooter to That Order?"
Ever wondered if the Chinese workers think about the stupid crap that their factories churn out for us Americans to buy? Here's an exclusive from "The Onion":

Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the "sheer amount of shit Americans will buy."

"Often, when we're assigned a new order for, say, 'salad shooters,' I will say to myself, 'There's no way that anyone will ever buy these,'" Chen said during his lunch break in an open-air courtyard. "One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless shit?"

Go read the entire article......ya gotta love The Onion....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On Wings of.....Doves?
Holy crap, there are just some sights that make you shake your head. After the "not guilty" verdict was announced for the Jackson trial, a woman outside released white doves! We live in a world consumed by the worship of the popular and wealthy. Why else would anyone wait outside a courtroom with a box of doves for someone they don't know? Of course, according to Jon Stewart tonight on TDS, the doves were immediately decapitated by the tv helicopters overhead!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Here's Your Iraq Update....
From Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief:

"Two years ago I went to Iraq as an unabashed believer in toppling Saddam Hussein. I knew his regime well from previous visits; WMDs or no, ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America's good intentions would carry the day. What went wrong? A lot, but the biggest turning point was the Abu Ghraib scandal. Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. There is no evidence that all the mistreatment and humiliation saved a single American life or led to the capture of any major terrorist, despite claims by the military that the prison produced "actionable intelligence."


"Living and working in Iraq, it's hard not to succumb to despair. At last count America has pumped at least $7 billion into reconstruction projects, with little to show for it but the hostility of ordinary Iraqis, who still have an 18 percent unemployment rate. Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security. Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.

The most powerful army in human history can't even protect a two-mile stretch of road. The Airport Highway connects both the international airport and Baghdad's main American military base, Camp Victory, to the city center. At night U.S. troops secure the road for the use of dignitaries; they close it to traffic and shoot at any unauthorized vehicles. More troops and more helicopters could help make the whole country safer. Instead the Pentagon has been drawing down the number of helicopters. And America never deployed nearly enough soldiers. They couldn't stop the orgy of looting that followed Saddam's fall. Now their primary mission is self-defense at any cost—which only deepens Iraqis' resentment.

The four-square-mile Green Zone, the one place in Baghdad where foreigners are reasonably safe, could be a showcase of American values and abilities. Instead the American enclave is a trash-strewn wasteland of Mad Max-style fortifications. The traffic lights don't work because no one has bothered to fix them. The garbage rarely gets collected. Some of the worst ambassadors in U.S. history are the GIs at the Green Zone's checkpoints. They've repeatedly punched Iraqi ministers, accidentally shot at visiting dignitaries and behave (even on good days) with all the courtesy of nightclub bouncers—to Americans and Iraqis alike. Not that U.S. soldiers in Iraq have much to smile about. They're overworked, much ignored on the home front and widely despised in Iraq, with little to look forward to but the distant end of their tours—and in most cases, another tour soon to follow. Many are reservists who, when they get home, often face the wreckage of careers and family.

I can't say how it will end. Iraq now has an elected government, popular at least among Shiites and Kurds, who give it strong approval ratings. There's even some hope that the Sunni minority will join the constitutional process. Iraqi security forces continue to get better trained and equipped. But Iraqis have such a long way to go, and there are so many ways for things to get even worse. I'm not one of those who think America should pull out immediately. There's no real choice but to stay, probably for many years to come. The question isn't "When will America pull out?"; it's "How bad a mess can we afford to leave behind?" All I can say is this: last one out, please turn on the lights."

Sigh.....what will happen, and how is this a drain on the current troop level? Families all around the Country are now advising their sons and daughters to not enlist in what they now are thinking is a bottomless pit of death and despair....

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