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July 08, 2005


*Now you're in trouble, Laddies.* The Pipes alone are gonna get ya.

H/T, Ry.

West Pointers, Baseball Players, heck, anybody who cares.

[N.B. I pulled this bit from the "Morning Reads" post below - for returning visitors, this *is* new stuff. JofA]

Greetings, Castle Regulars and those just passing through,

Things like this pop into my inbox with a sad regularity:

No. 671-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 2, 2005


DoD Identifies Army and Navy Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of eight soldiers and eight sailors who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Soldiers killed were:

Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.

Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.

Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.

Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.

Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.

Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Goare, Goodnature, Jacoby, Muralles, Reich, Russell, and Scherkenbach were assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.

Ponder was assigned to the Army's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Sailors killed were:

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.

Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.

Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.

Healy, Patton and Suh were assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Fontan, Kristensen, Lucas, McGreevy and Taylor were assigned to SEAL Team Ten, Virginia Beach, Va.

All 16 were killed while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province on June 28.

From that list above: Major Steve Reich, someone you should know (hat tip, Jim C.) Don't just skim on by - go read that. Pat Tillman isn't the only soldier to pass up fame and fortune for Service. I don't hold Major Reich above any of the other dead, in this mission or others... but we should note those who sacrificed the easy life for one of service above self. Like Stephen Reich.

There is this, from USASOC (U.S. Army Special Operations Command) - Major Reich's official bio.

But, most importantly, there is this, from Major Reich's friends and classmates (where you are most likely to get the true measure of the man and warrior). I should note I am *not* one of these people, I'm not a graduate of West Point, even, but people near to me are, and this is me doing my bit with my little pulpit.

Subject: Steve Reich Killed in Afghanistan

A good friend of mine was killed in Afghanistan last week. His name was Steve Reich and we graduated from West Point together from the same company. We started Beast Barracks together, were in the same company, and graduated together. Attached is an article written and published on ESPN a couple days ago about Steve – he is one of the greatest baseball pitchers to ever play at West Point (he still holds the record for most wins at the school) and was heavily recruited to play major league ball. He turned them all down and eventually became a Special Operations helicopter pilot. He was on his fourth tour in the Stan when his bird was shot down. He leaves behind a wife, {snipped for privacy considerations}l, and, unfortunately, they were only married about 4 months ago.

I an honestly say that I knew of no one with more honor and courage than Steve Reich. Without a doubt, he was one of the finest soldiers and human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know on this Earth. He will be sorely missed from our ranks.

All my company mates from West Point are getting together to try to form some kind of special memorial for him at West Point – I don’t know all the details of it yet, but I will let you know when I get them.

{snipped for privacy considerations]

The family has also set up a memorial fund in Stephen's honor. The fund will support both the MWR fund of his unit and the Steep Rock Association - a local nature preserve that was special to Stephen. If you would like to make a donation to the fund, you may send a check to the following address:

First National Bank of Litchfield
ATTN: Stephen Reich Memorial Fund
PO Box 391
Washington Depot, CT 06794
If you have any questions on the fund, please call Debbie Swift at 860-868-7386

I did not know his wife {name snipped for privacy considerations] personally, but I have been told through contact with my classmates that she is very appreciative of cards and support from all the people who knew Steve, so if you have a chance, just send her a quick card showing support for our cause in Afghanistan and to reinforce to her what I am sure she already knows: Her husband was a hero and patriot and it is because of him and all the other guys over their risking their lives that we enjoy our freedom. Thanks-


This was further elaborated thusly:

My company-mates from West Point and, now, our whole class are coming together to try to get a memorial set up for him at West Point. Right now, it is down to a decision of whether to put up some kind of plaque/memorial at the USMA Baseball Stadium or possibly name an annual award in his honor going to a baseball player each year at USMA. Possibly both options may come to fruition. If anyone is interested in donating to this cause/memorial, let me know and I will keep you informed of whatever West Point and our class decide to do. Also, his family has set up a memorial fund in Connecticut - the information is below.

Steve was the most honorable man I have ever met and truly deserves these honors - he literally gave up the opportunity to make millions of dollars playing baseball to dedicate (and ultimately give) his life for our safety and freedom.

To conclude the stream:

K - I just got off the phone w/ AOG (Association of Graduates, ed) and they will be getting back to me with the process for setting up an annual award in Steve's name. What I'd like to propose is that we establish an award given to the graduating Baseball player with the top GPA (assuming this does not yet exist). This award would be presented at an annual ODIA awards convocation that Steve's family would be invited to attend.

Now here's the kicker. In order to establish a perpetual award like this, the AOG is indicating that they'd need a minimum initial investment of anywhere between $5-10K (depending on the convocation venue). We can potentially ask the class of '93 to divert some of our current class funds into this effort to help get things started, and I can cover 10-20% of the initial investment depending on the baseline target (whether it's 5 or 10K). However, before we commit to this, I want to ensure that there is enough interest amongst us and Steve's other classmates to be able to meet these investment requirements.

In addition to this award, the AOG has indicated that because steve was KIA, that at some point in the future, his name would be added to a plaque in Cullum Hall.

Bottom line: They need to raise between $5-10K to cover these costs. I really expect they will be able to raise it internally - but if would like to offer any assistance whatsoever, please email me direct and I will coordinate with Eric. They haven't asked for this help. I'm doing this on my own, because if I can't use this pulpit for something like this, just as we did for Spirit of America, well, what the heck, why bother? I'm not expecting an SoA-level response - and you can certainly contribute directly to the Memorial Fund with nary a word to anyone, if that's your druthers. Don't send me anything other than an email - based on the response, I'll coordinate with Major Reich's classmates on how they want to proceed. johnbethd*at*

Thanks for your time and consderation.


John of Argghhh!

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In memoriam.

For those of you with an interest in the SEAL casualties - Matt Heidt at Froggy Ruminations has info you can use. H/t, Banter in Atlanter.

WillyShake of Unconsidered Trifles has more on LCDR Kristensen.

by John on Jul 08, 2005 | Observations on things Military | Something for the Soul
» Banter in Atlanter links with: More Updates - SEAL Ceremonies / Contributions
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Today's links 2005 07 08 Friday
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol

Things that annoy me, part 2,334,651

I understand symbols. I really do. I understand symbolic acts, too. But certain kinds of symbolic acts - especially done poorly, but also in a general sense, just "peese me off"!

One such symbolic act is going around the Army today. And is being done poorly - and it annoys more people than it impresses. At least here where I work and in scattered places where I have friends living and working.

One thing about the Army leadership. We sure do love to jump on fads. The Marines, well, they found a fad they liked 'round about WWI, and have pretty much stuck with it since. The Army is a different creature, as it should be - but that is a post for a different day.

If you are going to institute a fad, there are Right Ways and Wrong Ways.

Take the "Army Values and Warrior Ethos" dog tags. There is *no doubt* they are cheesy. When the Army Values one came out, and they had to force them on the whole Army at once, the attitude was pretty much, (especially in the 'institutional' i.e., non-line unit) Army - "Okay everybody, here's this new "Army Values" carp on a plastic dogtag. Everybody has to wear 'em with their tags, it's an inspectable item at formation, and the commanding general/chief of staff expects ya ta be able to rattle 'em off if they ask," followed by tossing you this bit of plastic.

This is the Wrong Way. But it is how it went in every unit I was in that experienced this. There were units, mostly line units, which took a better approach.

If you think giving soldiers plastic dogtags with slogans on them works in inculcating those values - you're wrong. You have to tie it to something meaningful. In Basic Training, we now do it via the Victory Forge ceremony. You actually make these tags something you earn - a sign of accomplishment - conferred after a Rite of Passage, and awarded in front of peers and the leadership. Perhaps the Heartless Libertarian, a Basic Training Company Commander, (though soon to be a Stryker Brigade kinda guy) will elaborate for us if he's not too busy trying to find all his unit property, handing over the guidon, and moving.

To the cynic, this sort of thing will *always* be cheesy (but they'll still pay attention) and to the earnest, it will have meaning. *And* it will indicate that the local chain of command - the single most important one in a soldier's life - cares, and thinks it's important. Doing it wrong SENDS ABSOLUTELY THE OPPOSITE MESSAGE.

Now, I have an attitude problem about some things. Shocking, I know. Ask SWWBO, but I *really* hate it when someone reminds (or requires) me to do something I already know, or do, as a matter of course. Not entirely rational, I admit. Funniest manifestation of this in a self-enlightenment sense was Kansas and the Mandatory Seat Belt law enacted while I was stationed at Fort Riley. I have *always* worn a seatbelt. It just makes sense. But when they passed the law, I was so pissed that they passed a law about it, that I found myself having to *make* myself buckle up. In the final analysis - the source of my anger was pretty narcissistic: they took away my self-ascribed virtue, by making mandatory something I did voluntarily... and well, for good or ill, that kinda thing justs overtorques me.

So, where *is* my bad example, anyway? (I'll never make it as a pundit - too wordy) Bear with me.

30 years ago, I swore an oath. The oath of enlistment. I can still recite it from memory.

I, John Hays Donovan, do solemnly swear/affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

27 years ago, I swore this oath, one which *still* binds me today - and which I can recite (or type) from memory, the Oath of Commissioning, which is also the oath that Federal civil servants swear or affirm:

I, John Hays Donovan, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."***

Which leads to my Bad Example, the one that peeses me off. Even though this time, it doesn't apply to me personally, as I am a contractor. We have a new Secretary of the Army. He feels, in the midst of war and rumors of war, that we should reaffirm our commitment to the principles embodied in the oaths, and in the federal ethics regulations.

So, Secretary Harvey sent out this Memorandum on the subject. As written, I have *no problem* with the directive to review, and personally reaffirm, my commitment. It's kind of the same thing as renewing your vows in a marriage - it is a joint, mutual thing - and you make it a ceremony - a Rite of Passage, to put the proper seal and solemnity to the event, and it's purpose.

So this is what comes out to assist in implementation of this guidance. Okay, understand. The Big Guy thinks it's important.

So, how do we implement?

As part of an email. With an Opord from higher headquarters directing compliance. Running through the administrative assistants, with an Excel spreadsheet (damn you, Bill Gates!) to monitor and report compliance.

I (even though I'm not the target audience) am vaguely insulted. Apparently, the Leadership wants to 'renew our vows'. Okay. We're a damn busy group of people these days, doing work of literal life and death import... and you want me to recommit. Must be important, right? Right. So, at the local level (and I suspect this happened through much of the Army, not just here) it comes out in an email, read this, check the block, report back up.

All that did was irk me. Sure, this is important. And, before I composed this rant, I did a little survey of the workforce - 10 people, %70 (mixed civil servants/commissioned officers) agree with me, and are irked, as well. What, you don't think we understand our oath?

If this was that important - then we should have had the directive coming from the local leadership - preferably in person, probably via a professional development session, using a Chain Teaching presentation developed by the ARSTAFF that made clear what prompted this - and where we all could have stood up and raised our right hands and actually *reaffirmed* that oath. Where we discuss recent, concrete examples, of where people were failing to live up to the oath. You show, by working and personal example, Why This Is Important.

To me, the approach taken, all in good faith, no evil intended, trying to meet the requirement with minimal disruption... actually trivializes the intent, and achieves in some people just the opposite of the intended effect. It wasn't entirely wasted - it did stimulate some conversation about the subject - but I'm not sure it's the conversation the Secretary was after. But, doing it my way *is* admittedly the hard way, and we're busy, and, well, that's just the kind of thing that peeses me off and gets you bored to tears reading this stuff. And half of you reading this are thinking to yourselves, "Oh geez, Donovan is such a dork! Just what I need, another touchy-feely meeting that gets in the way of getting the job done! Wotta load!"

I didn't say doing it right would be easy. It would take work. But if we think we need to reaffirm our oath and commitment - I would think the effort would be worth it.

As a reward for wading all the way through this - how about some Plane Pr0n?

***Technical note - if your scruples/religious upbringing, etc, do not allow you to *swear* and/or call on God as a witness/guarantor, you *affirm,* and the "So Help Me God" part is dropped. [Note to young leaders - you should find out what your soldiers wish to do in this regard, PRIVATELY, before standing them up in front of formation and either (most likely outcome) causing them to go ahead and compromise their principles to avoid an embarrassing moment - or causing an embarrassing moment... which will be *your* fault.] I am also *not* impressed with leaders who have to read it from a card. What, you don't know the oath? And why not?

That's the Spirit!

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by John on Jul 08, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Bad day in London

July 07, 2005

The "Blitz" Redux (on a very small scale)

I'm a first-generation native-born American. My dad was a British citizen who grew up here from the time he was about 6 years old. He was naturalized in time to join the US Army at the start of WW II.

This reaction would be typical of him, with one exception. He frowned on swearing. I can count on one hand the number of times I ever heard him say anything like, "Damn!" The F-word was right out. But his was a cold fury when provoked...and that's a legacy his former countrymen brought to the New World those many years ago. That's good for us, bad for "them."

Now, stay with me for a minute...

Many thought "Troy" was a terrible movie (from the standpoint of literary Hollywood...imagine that). But I enjoyed it, primarily for the pleasure of watching Brad Pitt's Achilles fail so miserably at anger management. There's nothing like a well-played high dudgeon to get my blood up and Brad did a pretty good impression of being righteously pissed after Hector whacked Patroclus. (He had good reason in the real story...go check it out.)


We need more of that. We need to find these bastards, drive them to their knees with a bone-breaking blow, place the tip of our swords in the middle of their chests, make sure we have eye contact, and shove.

I'd dispense with the trip around the walls of Troy...time saved to go looking for another target.

How much more is it going to take before there's a hard-core consensus in the West that it's clobberin' time?

HT: Michael J. Totten

Union Jacks

I went to the PX over lunch to score a Brit flag to hoist up the pole at Castle Argghhh! I am pleased to report that the vendor there sold out of his stock - but has more arriving tomorrow.

Well, I really do already have a flag.

This One.

One with a lot of *steel* in it.

Update: While I'm not a complete fan of Rumsfeld - on this, great minds think alike:

But if these terrorists thought they could intimidate the people of a great nation, they picked the wrong people and the wrong nation. For generations, tyrants, fascists, and terrorists have sought to carry out their violent designs upon the British people only to founder upon its unrelenting shores.

Before long, I suspect that those responsible for these acts will encounter British steel. Their kind of steel has an uncommon strength. It does not bend or break.

Though technically - the bayonets *do* pass a 'bend test' - they're supposed to bend - they just snap back...

Guess I'll just have to use that flag. I can think of worse reasons to take it down from the wall. And I don't think the Arms of Empire will mind all that much, frankly, if that flag snaps in the breeze for a bit.

Might as well save some server space and reuse this post:

Some Muslim condemnation of the attacks. Good to see. And with no waffling, either. H/t Pandagon

Wahabism Delenda Est!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Wahabism Delenda Est.

Or, as Hans Mahler provides in Hebrew: Wahabism Tsareech lemote!

Jim C. sends along this thought, which brings me a smile as I think of Jihadis... whether the hard-core or the possible wanna-be's...

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Some people Jihadis are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing. But they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.


(I don't know if this is Hans' website and "Hans" is a handle - or if he just likes it - but it's worth a visit for the dog pics - no point in *not* having a little levity on a day like today, eh?)

Compare and contrast:

George Galloway, Buffoon, MP, Fallujah:

We extend our condolences to those who have lost their lives today and our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have been injured by the bombs in London.

No one can condone acts of violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government. They are entirely innocent and we condemn those who have killed or injured them.

The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.

We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.

George, you ignorant putz. Oh, not really. You are honest. Once bought, you stay bought, eh?

"Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence."

Ah, George, you clever man. The 'innocents abroad' in Iraq who died at the hands of your pal and mentor, Saddam Hussein, they were just the victims of "needful violence," in order to preserve the perks and style of your buddies regime, eh?

Compare George vice the Socialist Mayor of London, Ken Livingston:

"I want to say one thing, specifically to the world today — this was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful, it was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian ... young and old … that isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted fate, it is an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder."

"They seek to divide London, they seek Londoners to turn against each other ... this city of London is the greatest in the world because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack."

"I know that you personally do not fear to give your own life in exchange to taking others ... but I know you do fear you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society ... in the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our seaports and look at our railway stations ... you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world, will arrive in London to become Londoners, to fulfill their dream and achieve their potential … whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

Way to rise to the occasion, sir. Much more Winnie-like than Mr. Blair, too.

Update: It occurs to me, that today, in London - more "avatars of ourselves" are having that brief, shining, transcendent moment. The everyday heroes.

London Blitz.

I think I'll save my planned but-now-trivial post of the morning for later.

Heh. We are all Brits now, eh? Even, perhaps, some of my Irish-descended colleagues. I'll be stopping by the PX this noon for a Union Jack to put on the pole at Castle Argghhh!

Update. I went to the PX over lunch to score a flag. I am pleased to report the vendor had a run on them this morning. More are inbound for tomorrow. I guess I'll just have to use this one.

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The Denizens of Castle Argghhh! extend our condolences to the families and friends of the dead and injured of today's attack in London. Others will do a far better job of covering this than we could hope, so I don't intend to try. Others among us, however, might. Feel free to email anything you find worth linking to on the story as it develops through the day.

As for the British people and government - well, I'm sure they will not react as Spain did, though surely some will seize the moment to advocate just that. A reminder, however, for the residents of that Scepter'd Isle:

You've been here before, only worse... the Blitz.

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Remember the outcome of that, Berlin, 1945...

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Al-Qaeda is like much like the IRA, but worse. You stayed the course with the IRA, and while perhaps no one is happy with the situation as it stands in Northern Ireland, progress is being made, however incrementally. Keep that in mind as you look at Iraq in light of today's events.

Christiane Amanpour of CNN asked, "What is to be done?" Well, there's always the Spanish Response... or, there is the Churchillian response. I know which one I hope to see in Tony Blair's words and deeds.

As Winnie observed:

"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

Show us your steel.

Update on the Churchill Speech. Mike Sargent, found the whole text of the speech - which includes this, very relevant, passage:


Looking at the full text here Sir Winston gives us another good suggestion:

“There is, however, another class for which I feel not the slightest sympathy. Parliament has given us powers to put down fifth column activities with the strongest hand, and we shall use those powers subject to the supervision and correcting of the House without hesitation until we are satisfied and more than satisfied that this malignancy in our midst has been effectually stamped out…”

'fifth column' - heh.

Emphasis in the speech is mine. Make a few topical changes, and it fits equally well today. Leave aside the snarks about France, please. And lest anyone think I found a picture of a Union Jack damaged in todays attack - no. That is a pic of a brit flag in Antarctica - it just seemed appropriate.

Other's blogging the story (do send along the links, in comments or email the greatest service we can provide today is that of aggregator):

Instapundit (d-uh)
Ghost of a Flea has a nice running post.
Silent Running.
Tim Blair
Tim Worstall
The Command Post.
Brothers Judd.
The Corner
The Guardian (UK) Blog.
Jane Galt.
Jeff Jarvis

First update already...

Confederate Yankee makes an interesting observation. We'll see.
Reuters (via AFSis)

"Some will counsel fleeing"...

Like George Galloway.

We extend our condolences to those who have lost their lives today and our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have been injured by the bombs in London.

No one can condone acts of violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government. They are entirely innocent and we condemn those who have killed or injured them.

The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.

We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.

"Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence."

Ah, George, you clever man. The 'innocents abroad' in Iraq who died at the hands of your pal and mentor, Saddam Hussein, well, they were the victims of "needful violence," in order to preserve the perks and style of your buddies regime, eh?


Others blogging or updated from above:

Jeff Quinton

James Joyner

Captain Ed


Barbara O'Brien

Arthur Chrenkoff

Norm Geras

Ann Althouse

La Shawn Barber

Confederate Yankee


Jesse Taylor


Dean Esmay

Susanna Cornett

Michelle Malkin

Hugh Hewitt

Reporter's Log

Villainous Company

Joe Gandelman

Gateway Pundit


Scared Monkeys

Jane Galt



John Hawkins



Jeff Jarvis

Accidental Verbosity

Say Anything



Uncle Sam's Cabin

Blogs of War

Chris Short


by John on Jul 07, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» MuD & PHuD links with: Terror In London
» Ghost of a flea links with: London bombing
» Blonde Sagacity links with: London
» Jeff Quinton - Backcountry Conservative links with: London terrorist bombing updates
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Oh, no!
» Mark in Mexico links with: al Qaida claims London explosions
» Silent Running links with: Galloway runs up the white flag, bends over, says "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
» The Moderate Voice links with: London Subway Rocked by Terrorists' Blasts Killing 33
» Speed of Thought links with: Round the Reader - London Edition...
» University Blog links with: Terror in Albion

July 06, 2005

Heroes, Living and Dead.

Comes forth retired soldier, occasional commenter, and emailer Blake, with this observation:


I've had two congruent experiences in the past week that have left me wondering. Last Thursday, COL Roger Donlon (US Army, Ret.) spent most of the day sitting at a table outside the entrance to the Main PX at Fort Campbell, KY, selling copies of his memoirs. He was wearing his Medal of Honor. In fact, it was catching that flash of pale blue ribbon at his throat out of the corner of my eye that caused me to notice him in the first place. I took the time to stop and speak with him, and to purchase an inscribed copy of his book for my wife, who is also a Vietnam veteran, and who has taken to collecting that sort of thing. I was far from being the only person to buy a copy of COL Donlon's book that day, but there were far more people who just walked by as if he was just another nobody hawking something useless.

Yesterday, I heard of the death of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his conduct during seven years as a prisoner of war after his A-4 was shot down over North Vietnam. The news reports of his loss have all been very low key. And I'm beginning to wonder why real heroes have somehow gone out of fashion. The posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to SFC Paul Smith wasn't even a nine-day-wonder before people were back to worrying about Jessica Simpson's marriage.

[SIDEBAR: Would somebody please tell me who Jessica Simpson is and why I should give a rat's ass about her marriage?]

Part of it, I suppose, may be the natural modesty of most of the men and women who might qualify as heroes. In the past twenty-odd years I have been lucky enough to have met and spoken with four living recipients of the Medal of Honor. To a man, they deny that the actions for which they were awarded the nation's highest decoration for valor were in any way special or extraordinary. They all claim that they were just doing what was necessary, given the time, place, and circumstances. And for this we reward them with relative obscurity.

We ought to be holding them out as exemplars to our children, saying "THIS is sometimes what it means to be an American. If and when the time comes, we will expect no less from you."


Blake Kirk
SFC, USA, Ret.

To which I responded:

Blake - heroes have almost always been a flash in the pan in our society, unless they get the celebrity that goes with it - Audie Murphy comes to mind.

I can't really explain why, it just is. In some respects, it's a Good Thing - because too much hero-worshipping, especially of military heroes, can lead down a dark path. Ask the Germans.

That said, they *should* be remembered among the Brotherhood.

Colonel Donlon lives just up the hill from me. So does Leavenworth's other MOH holder, LTC Charley Hagemeister.

And when you enter Leavenworth you see their names on signs *before* you see Melissa Etheridge's (Leavenworth HS's deserved Hall of Famer...) but even here, more people would recognize Melissa than would recognize Roger or Charley. Except among the Brotherhood.

Blake responds:

Yeah, you have a point there. And maybe relative obscurity isn't entirely a bad thing. Lord knows the notoriety never made Audie Murphy happy.

What with being an 82nd vet and having lived in Tennessee for 21 years, I've always had a lot of admiration for Alvin York, who went right back to Fentress County and the valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf River as soon as the Army released him, and took up his life again. Alvin York once said that the best thing to come from his having earned the MoH was that he was able to trade upon his reputation to persuade the State of Tennessee to fund a comprehensive high school for Fentress County. Seventy-odd years later Fentress County is still so dirt-poor a place that the local tax base can't pay for a high school, and the Alvin C. York Agricultural Center is still the only state-funded public high school in Tennessee. I've seen worse memorials to great soldiers.

I've often wondered about the fascination with celebrity... which is usually, but not always, tied to wealth, in some form or another.

I wonder if heroes are only of seemingly passing interest, because they are so much more likely to be 'folks like us' in the final analysis. Just folks who rose to the occasion when the situation demanded - whereas celebrities are, well, alien.

Roger Donlon and Charley Hagemeister live in town, leading normal lives, despite their extraordinary, single day, where for one, transcendent moment, they stood as Giants Among Men. Celebrities, by contrast, live bizarre, fascinating lives... and, in the final analysis, rarely have what I would characterize as a truly transcendent moment, though in the world of fawning self-absorbtion many of them live... they believe they do - and that they are bestowed of a wisdom denied us mortals.

But the true heroes, well, they walk among us, avatars of ourselves. The First Responders, the teachers, the veteran next door, the citizen who who defied the criminal... they can be any one of us... and because of that, we simply don't *see* them. Because they *aren't* freaks. They're us.

Whattaya think? I'm being harsh on celebrity, and some of them have overcome real obstacles to get to where they are... but, well, it's been a while since a Scion of Society was awarded a Medal of Honor, pulled someone from a raging river, put themselves between the the Bad Guy and his victim. Not to say that they wouldn't, should the need present itself - but their lives, and their choices, just don't put them in those positions very often.

The *rest* of us live that... and, oddly enough, when one of them *does* run into something like that... well, it's so rare that it just *adds* to their personal cachet... again, perhaps, because it's so... alien.

Oh - and Jessica Simpson? At least she gives the troops a little eye relief!

Announcement is made...

Hosting provided by FotoTimeAP Photo By Denis Poroy

No. 679-05
Jul 05, 2005
Department of the Navy Announces the Death of Retired Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale

Retired Navy Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient, former Viet Nam prisoner of war (POW), naval aviator and test pilot, academic, and American hero died today, July 5, 2005, at his home in Coronado, Calif. He was 81 years old and had been battling Alzheimer's disease.

Born Dec. 23, 1923 in Abingdon, Ill., and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1947, he is best remembered for his extraordinary leadership as the senior naval officer held in captivity during the Vietnam War. As commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Sixteen flying from the aircraft carrier the USS Oriskany, he was shot down while leading a mission Sept. 9, 1965.

During his 7½-year imprisonment, he was tortured numerous times, forced to wear vise-like heavy leg irons for two years and spent four years in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, he organized the prisoner culture in defiance of regulations forbidding prisoner communication and improvised a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior. Codified in the acronym, BACK U.S. (Unity over Self), these rules gave prisoners a sense of hope, which many credited with giving them the strength to endure their ordeal.

Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale's extraordinary heroism became widely known and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. A portion of his citation reads: "Stockdale...deliberately inflicted a near mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated their employment ofexcessive harassment and torture of all prisoners of war."

"Vice Adm. Jim Stockdale's legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom has been an inspiration to our nation," said Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. "His courage and life stand as timeless examples of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit. Our thoughts are with his devoted family. America and our Navy are eternally grateful and will always remember him."

Upon his retirement from naval service, the secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership presented annually in both Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. Stockdale held 26 combat awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Star Medals. He is a member of the Navy's Carrier Hall of Fame, The National Aviation Hall of Fame and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He held 11 honorary doctoral degrees.

"Our Navy is saddened by the loss of Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a giant among heroes and a patriarch of ethical leadership," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Adm. Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sybil, his devoted partner in love and life, and the rest of the Stockdale family."

Stockdale will be honored at a memorial service on board the USS Ronald Reagan in his hometown of Coronado, Calif. The service will take place Saturday, July 16. He will be buried with full honors at the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday, July 23. He is survived by his beloved wife Sybil of Coronado, Calif., and his four sons: James of Beaver, Pa.; Sidney of Albuquerque, N.M.; Stanford of Denver, Colo.; Taylor of Claremont, Calif.; and eight grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to:

U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 291 Wood Rd., Beach Hall, Annapolis, Md., 21402, telephone: (410) 295-4116.

Monmouth College Fund, 700 E. Broadway, Monmouth, Ill., 61462, telephone: (309) 457-2316/17

Stockdale's biography and additional photos are located on the following Web site: .

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In memoriam.

More on this, later.

Morning reads.

MIPT Terrorism Database, anyone?

From Hurl, a deployed milblogger - a Patriot you should know, but probably don't. I'm guilty. If I *ever* knew, I forgot.

Hee! Unintended Consequences. H/t, GM's Corner.

Over at The Word Unheard... Iran unveils, and she ain't pretty.

Heh. As usual, I'm late on this stuff. Damn that job thing, anyway. Gets in the way of surfing... Atrios and the ChickenHawk thing. I was going to respond to it, except there really isn't much substance there to respond to, Duncan just makes his point (which are the usual things one can say about any war - and people did, for example, with Roosevelt in re: WWII - shifting war aims, incompetent generals, lack of volunteers, etc. In fact, I recall the forbears of the Democrat Party made the same claims about Lincoln and *his* war, too) and closes with easy cheap-shots. I expected better. I don't know why, I just, well, *did*. Black usually exceeds Zuniga and Herd in that regard. Anyway - if, like me, you missed this little tiff, Matt at Blackfive, Don Sensing at One Hand Clapping, and Armed Liberal at Winds of Change have all responded.

But I do think one favor should be returned. If you'd like to email Mr. Black about his thoughts, you can do so here: Read his bit and you'll understand.

Should there be any of Mr. Black's readers who wend this way - I am the antithesis of a Chickenhawk. I'm worse, I suspect, in your universe. I'm a 2nd Generation professional killer in the service of the state - and while I'm retired, my name is on the Voluntary Recall list with the Army. If they need me, I'll be there, to paraphrase the song. In fact, in this family, on both sides, we've had the Republic covered since before it was a Republic, with our first recorded soldier in Roger's Rangers. The professional thing, well, that *is* new. And, since I *know* you are burning to know... my college age son has not, nor does he intend, to enlist or seek a commission. An opinion unchanged since, oh, he was 10. He figures if he's really needed, they'll call. And that's just fine by me.

As for the recruiting issue? I'm with Reverend Sensing on this one - it's more an incompetent General thing - the leaders of Recruiting Command. If your thesis were really, really valid, the Marines would be having problems, too - and they aren't. And the re-enlistment rates would be slacking - but they aren't, we made 104% of the goal for re-enlistments last time I checked (last week). Those are far better indicators. You can keep looking, trying to find the Hollow Army of the 70's - but, wishes ain't fishes, guys, you're just going to go hungry.

Oh, and Mr. Black? Since you seem to require that military service is a pre-req to having an opinion on the war or things military, how about a nice cup of shut-up? Nah, I didn't think so.

Sigh. Asked the question yesterday if anyone had more data on the SEAL who was found yesterday (see Morning Reads, below). Sadly, Bill did. They found two more, dead. That means there is still one left out there somewhere. And, do I think the loss of the helo and all aboard was worth trying to find these guys? Yes. Leave no man behind, as policy, does more to conserve fighting power than you can imagine.

Let's close this (for now, I might add more later) with a pic of some young 'Murican volunteers doing a little work in the Box.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

THAR THAR REGION, Iraq – An amphibious assault vehicle kicks up dust as it rumbles through the desert regions here June 19. AAVs transported infantrymen from Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment as they conducted Operation Dagger, a five-day long effort to rid regions north of Fallujah of insurgent activity. Photo taken by Cpl. Mike Escobar

Hi-res, click here.

H/t, Strategy Page - saved me surfing the USMC pic site...

Okay, okay, I linked to a lefty site today. Here, lemme take care of that for ya, and clean up that monitor. H/t: Larry K.

Got Kids?

The birth of the latest BlogChylde reminded me of this one -- but I'll bet all parents can relate to it...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The boss needed to confer with his IT guy one Saturday morning about a suspected virus in the company’s server. He dialed the employee's home phone number and the following conversation ensued:

(child's whisper) "Hello."

"Is your daddy home?"

(child's whisper) "Yes."

"May I talk with him?"

(child's whisper) "No."

"Is your mommy home?”

(child's whisper) "Yes."

"May I talk with her?"

(child's whisper) "No."

"Is anybody else there?"

(child's whisper) "Yes, the policeman."

"May I speak with the policeman?"

(child's whisper) "No, he's busy."

"Busy doing what?"

(child's whisper) "Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the fireman."

With growing unease, the boss heard a distinctive whup-whup-whup through the earpiece on the phone, and asked, "What is that noise?"

(child's whisper) "A hello-coppater."

"What is going on there?"

(child's whisper) "The search team just landed the hello-coppater."

"What are they searching for?"

(child's whisper, with a muffled giggle) "Me."

July 05, 2005


(sniffs armpits) - Nope.

(checks teeth for stuff between 'em) - Clear.

(dandruff check) - Nada.

(checks out clothes...) - pedestrian, but clean and neat.

Nope it ain't that.


I hear this from the Adjutant?

MSG Keith, the Castle Correspondent from Afghanistan, has transferred to being His Own Master. Welcome another newbie to blogworld!

My Army Life.

Hmmmm. So, who among us gets to claim parentage? Barb stakes a claim because she mid-wifed him... I stake a claim because I gave him a taste of fame as the Castle Correspondent... and I suspect AFSis can stake a claim because she pointed him out to me.

Whattaya think, Denizens?

Morning Reads

Hadda take SWWBO to the airport this morning, so my content is lite. Ooo! I see that today is a trifecta - all *3* of us have posted! Whee!

Since Dusty posted today - here's a reward for him!

And in honor of Bill posting... how about a WWII-era, wooden-bladed Flying Pancake? Yes, built for the Navy, the V-173/XF5U

Credit where credit is due... I still don't read him anymore, however.

Heh. Scotland the Brave, and disarmed. No wonder there are so many surplus Regimental Claymores for sale over here.

The XXVth Edition of the Red Ensign Standard, the collection of musings of Canadians Militant, is up at Raging Kraut.

Over at Strange Fictions, Lazar asks a question about the UN.

At BlueStateRed, Steve Couch watches CNN, so you don't have to.

Mark, at Decision '08, has the latest RINO Sightings.

RedState.Org is taking a close look at proposed regulation of blogs by the FEC. Office bloggers (who oughta be careful, anyway) watch out! I'm with Ravenwood - look for the end of timestamps on posts if this works out... but, fellas, the server logs (both yours and your firm's) will *still* have the data if people want it.

Xrlq believes a little fisking of Molly Ivins is in order...

Over at The War on Guns, we find that courts are willing to apply a label that they admit doesn't fit the person, or the crime... because it *might* fit some other person committing a similar crime... yer right Judge, it *is* unfair.

Jumpmaster... pretty Kewl, Chad!

Publicola is a little down this Independence Day. Mebbe some traffic will cheer him up?

How about a little Indirect Fire Pr0n? Why 'jo flingers don't like dusty environments...

Icelandic Coast Defense...

Even though the underlying reasons for this are a cause for concern, this is kinda kewl.

Opinion-Journal has an interesting interview with Oriana Fallaci, one which makes my head spin with the Liberal love affair with Europe...

I do soooo love words and the history of words. Especially naughty ones!

GEN Schoomaker goes to Seattle to speak out on recruiting and retention - into the lion's den, so to speak.

Bit by bit, little by little - the Iraqis take over.

I must, that in this instance, I agree with David Broder on the need for some published metrics (usable ones, not just feel-good carp) to evaluate (and adjust approaches, if needed) progress in Iraq. Of course, once they are there, if any need to be adjusted, that will raise a howl from the usual suspects - whether the adjustments are based on solid analysis or not.

In interesting development in the Sunni clergy in Iraq. Wonder how much pull they have in this?

So, we found one of the guys missing in Afghanistan - which is good. But this press release raises more questions than it answers. Anybody got more data?

The flip-side to the fly-paper analogy... and certainly grounds for valid criticism of how we have handled Iraq - and the short-sightedness of those who refused to help - not with the invasion, but with the stability efforts. Yes, NATO, I mean you.

All I can say here is... about time. The two Major Regional Contingency strategy has been a dead horse for some time. About time we faced the reality of it.

The perils of self-diagnosis

A lovely young redhead enters the doctor's office and says that her entire body hurts -- touching it anywhere results in intense pain.

"That doesn't sound possible," says the doctor. "Show me."

The redhead takes her right index finger, pushes her left hand and screams.

She then pushes on her left elbow and cries in agony.

She pushes her right knee and wails; the same thing happens when she pushes her right ankle...

...everywhere she touches results in a scream of pain.

The doctor ponders a moment, then says, "You're not really a redhead, are you?"

"Well, no," she admits, "I'm actually a blonde."

"I thought so," the doctor says. "Your finger's broken."


Ooops--major strategic error! I totally forgot about ALa and weaponry! *scrambling for k-pot and body armor*

July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

Update: *Speaking of Canadians... and ones with hot graphics on their site, too... Ith directs us to Girl on the Right - who wants to organize Letter Writing... to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan... hey, why not? They're there - and they are there with us. I suspect if it had been up to a vote of the Canadian soldiery - they'd have been with us in the March Upcountry, too.

Now, back to the original post...

Literally, as Canadian Denizen CAPT H emailed:

Happy Fourth of July!


Though he'll probably snark that he was just wishing us a happy 4th, and "What holiday?"

He also recommends some thoughts of David Warren regarding Iraq.

The anniversary just having passed - I recommend this bit from the US Army regarding Gettysburg.

A Kinder, Gentler, White House... at least in regards to French sensitivities... so, instead, we let the loser of Trafalgar have the biggest toy afloat... at the winner's commemoration. Snerk!

You can run, well, no you can't, we'll shoot you then, too. And now, it's gonna get harder to hide... From Strategy Page today:

INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS: LADAR Sees Through Camouflage July 4, 2005: The U.S. Army has found a new way to defeat camouflage, and do it in 3-D. Army tests using LADAR (Laser Radar), found that, using more powerful computer software, the LADAR will build a 3-D picture of what it sees, which is so detailed that it will reveal vehicles hidden under camouflage. This kind of 3-D image building is also being used to help troops prepare for combat missions. They can move through these 3-D images of their battle area, in what looks like a video game. But the purpose of the "rehearsal simulator" is to do a realistic run-through of the operations. The first UAV to get the new LADAR will be the DP-5X Helicopter UAV.

CAPT H, after being nice regarding the 4th, reverts to type and snarks me for recycling...

Since you insist on posting old stuff (from 2003): " The US Navy today announced that it has released a senior terrorist after questioning him extensively for 27 days while he was held prisoner aboard a US aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. In a humanitarian gesture the terrorist was given $50 US and a white Ford Fairlane automobile upon being released from custody. The attached photo shows the terrorist on his way home just after being released by the Navy."


Denizen Blogging this July 4th:

Barb offers Prayers and Thanks.

Alan, a Canadian, oddly enough isn't all over the holiday... but is all over frozen custard.

Even though she ignored us, we'll still link with Cassandra's Salute to Milblogger posts today!

Kat reminds of of Why We Fight.

Punctilious hasn't posted today, but her co-blogger UML Guy has - just start at the top and move down.

SWWBO weighs in, still sniping at an *Unamed Person*.

Bad Cat Robot is busy shingling her house and visiting the USS Lincoln today - but she has this up to keep you busy.

And while SGT B is apparently off barbecuing today - his linkfest is worth perusing.

Okay - that's enough. SWWBO and I have yard work to do, and money to spend at Lowe's and Home Depot.

Go drink beer, burn brats (I can't wait to see who snarks that) and all that other 4th of July stuff - but do take a moment to ponder the importance of July 4th, 1776, in the nation's history.

If yer still looking for Good Stuff:

Ragin' Rinos.
Gun Bloggers.

Cya later!

Update: Meanwhile, in Berlin...

July 03, 2005

New Force Structure.

This will be new to somebody...

Redneck Special Forces

The Pentagon announced today the formation of a new 500 man elite fighting unit called the US REDNECK SPECIAL FORCES (USRSF).

These North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee boys will be dropped into Iraq and have been given the following facts about Terrorists:
1. The season opened today.
2. There is no limit.
3. They taste just like chicken.
4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music or Jesus.
5. They are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the death of Dale Earnhardt.

This mess in Iraq should be over shortly.

H/t, Dave M.

by John on Jul 03, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Red State Rant links with: Independence Day reading

One thing about dial-up...

shorter posts! And fewer of them! So, what catches my eye this morning...

Well, lessee, I love the Aussie Army and all Soldiers of Oz I've served with... but via Bastards, Inc I see that Cover.your.ass-itis is alive and well there.

At Resistance is Futile - Carnival of Cordite #20 raises it's SchumerRodhamStein-defying head.

Carnival of the Recipes #46 is up at Anywhere But Here.

James Rummel, over at Hell in a Handbasket, chats about the Federal Election Commissions proposed rulemaking covering blogs - and blogger reax to same. I'm thinking that if you aren't taking ads or money from the campaigns, you are probably safe... though blog coalitions like Blogs for Bush are a gray area that might see some regulation, being percieved as arms of the campaigns. I dunno how that's going to work out. I do know one thing, I'm a blogger... which in the strict "journal" aspect of things... means I'm a journalist? Heh. I don't think Cokie Roberts,, will like that.

Chris Byrnes, the AnarchAngel, has advice for aspiring writers who want to have gun-savvy characters in their books (or journos who *might* like to get the fiddly-bits right). But Chris *did* miss my favorite peeve - clips versus magazines. Clips feed magazines. Magazines feed the weapon. Sigh.

74 over at The Bow Ramp talks about small ships, small ship sailors, and the Navy, tensions with.

The Sea Lawyer at Eaglespeak chides the International Herald Tribune for some sloppy reporting... I would have to agree.

Well, literally, that's all I have time for. Feh. I'm just glad to see that Castle Argghhh! wasn't the only site that had really slow loads over dial-up. I will say with the new machine at the Castle, I've reloaded Photoshop, so I can once again reduce picture density to a more manageable level for you guys with dialup! But no wonder some of you have never seen the sidebars!

by John on Jul 03, 2005