Today's YouTube Search: "tahrir Jazeera"

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Massive Container Ship Gets Out Before Typhoon

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mars is Cool

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Advertising Fail


Novell paid a lot of money to have this image splashed around various websites. Of course, there is some story behind it.  Perhaps some of the text was supposed to be moving.  Perhaps this is a transition between slides.  I don't know.  I will probably never know.  Because this is all I got.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gorilla Run -- Frank's Birthday

London's Gorilla Run 2009 was held on September 26, which is Frank's birthday.  One of my favorite Frank stories was about him doing a Gorilla Run in Hawaii, as part of a promotion for something.  If you're not familiar with Gorilla Runs, a brief video may help you understand.  Or not.



Happy Birthday, Frank.  We all miss you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Learned Something New Today


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gettin' My Amazon On

Testing...

Stand By, Comrades

I am re-organizing (okay, organizing) my online presence.  This blog will change a lot.  The structure, appearance, links--everything will change.  I don't even have a blogroll yet.  Stand by.

This Is No Time To Go Wobbly, Mr. President

Reported at Bloomberg.com:
Obama Delays Afghanistan Troop Decision as Criticism Deepens 
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said he’ll hold off deciding whether to add more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan, as Democratic lawmakers raised concerns that he lacks a clear plan and measures of progress.
“You have to get the strategy right and then make the determinations about resources,” Obama told reporters at the White House yesterday following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “I am going to take a very deliberate process in making those decisions.”
My objection to this is that an over-arching strategy is actually the least important aspect of our presence in Afghanistan.  Our simple continuing presence there will eventually bring victory, and our departure will bring defeat.

Even if the Afghan Army and other forces were staffed, equipped, and trained at the levels desired, we could not walk away and expect to win.  The most important thing we are accomplishing in our counterinsurgency, apart from the obvious need to provide security, is a transfer of cultural values.

It is a simple thing to recruit, equip, train, and deploy a soldier.  It is quite another to change the culture of the military so that the soldier is empowered to make decisions and take action appropriate to the circumstances.  This is not merely difficult, it is impossible unless the folks we are training have prolonged, in-depth, and personal exposure to our own system.

Afghan culture is built on relationships.  Successful institutions are built on relationships.  The recovery of Afghanistan depends upon tens of thousands of relationships between our people over there and their people over there.

Mr. President, commit to strengthening our relationship.  Send the troops that the military is asking for.  You have the plan you need -- commit the resources.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Murayama Matsuri



   I first posted this while sitting on a curb in a small town in Japan.  Murayama is on the northern outskirts of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture.  We have family up there, so each year we go up for this wonderful street festival.

   This year, I had just returned from Afghanistan, and on the way back, picked up a Nokia E75.  I had done my homework, determined that the phone would work in Japan and shelled out some serious cash at the airport in Kuwait City.  The Nokia E75 is a thing of beauty--a small phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the Symbian OS.  I had everything I wanted.

   Except that things change, and so by the time I returned to Japan, Nokia no longer had an arrangement with the provider Softbank, and Softbank also sells phones, so they no longer supported Nokia phones.  So I was forced to get an iPhone 3G[S], which I believe is the last non-Japanese cell phone you can get here.

   More on that later.  Meanwhile, because the E75 does have a good Wi-Fi setup, I was able to use my phone as a palmtop computer and get online whenever I was within range of an open Wi-Fi access point.  So a lot of my spare moments were taken up with warwalking, which consists of looking for an open access point and bumping into people a lot.

   At these street festivals, al you have to do is find a place to hang out, and the whole rolling party goes slowly past.  For hours.  There are people selling chairs, food, toys, souvenirs, beer, and other booze, so the whole thing is fire & forget.  Well, fire, pay, and forget.

   We bought some folding chairs, grabbed beer & munchies, and found a nice spot to park our cans, so to speak.  Lo and Behold, a house close to us was running an open access point.  I took many photographs of the proceedings, and particularly liked the one above.  That guy was going at it with two small cymbals like there was no tomorrow.  Sound trucks with live instrumentation (lots of drums and joyful shouting), squads and hordes of dancers and other performers, streets lined with tipsy if not tipped spectators--and my magnificent Nokia E75 on its farewell deployment.

   I have kept the phone, as I would likely be unable to sell it--it has support for four languages, including French and two varieties of Arabic.  So the squiggles on the keys and the different punctuation layout mark it for the dustbin anywhere it is likely to go anytime soon.  I can't bear to see that happen.  You could say that it's still too dear to me to be sold for the pittance it would go for.  Below, for posterity, is the original text which accompanied this photograph to the web:

Posting from my Nokia E75, sitting on the side of a road currently b esieged y a parade. Drin kin, de rigeur, and this keyboard is difficult when sober.
Test, test, test on a stolen borrowed CO NNECTION. more ab out that lzater.

Snow Leopard Multilingual Install

This should answer any lingering questions about language issues.
Even the Japanese system disk is the same as the English one.
I installed 10.6 on my MacBook Pro from a Japanese disk, and as I said
on a previous post, I never saw a single Japanese character. Now I
know why.

Inspiration

Mobility is good.

Even more ACORN video from BigGovernment.com

All right. I just can't believe how bad this gets.

ACORN Prostitution Scandal: California Here We Come!

Shared via AddThis

Bestselling Computers & PC Hardware -- Purchase, Comrades!

Let's see how this "Carousel" display works from Amazon. This is an assortment (one presumes) of netbooks.

Update: A-Ha! Hold down the little left and right arrows. If you simply click, there's not enough time for it to start moving, and it appears as though it just doesn't work.

I should have remembered the IT mantra drilled into my head by the helpful communications & computers shop on my base in Afghanistan, "It's not broken, I am just using it wrong."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Purchase, Comrades, Purchase!

Capitalism is integral to Freedom, and vice-versa, of course. As part of my ongoing efforts to free my fellow man, Dear Reader, I intend to aid you in your shopping. Amazon is fantastic, and I want to help you get your Amazon on.

Amazon swiftly became one of my best friends while I was in Afghanistan. They got a lot of my money, and I think they should have some of yours. And I should have just a skoshe off the top. You know, for my efforts.

I won't steer you wrong. Comrade.

Obama Calls Kanye a 'Jackass' -- The Audio

Alright. This audio is probably going down soon, so I'll help get it out while I can. I saw (don't ask me why I clicked on it) the video wherein Kanye West (who is apparently some sort of singer) behaves like a jackass. Go find the YouTube video, you can't miss it. Or, just take the President's word for it:

Obama Calls Kanye a 'Jackass' -- The Audio

Shared via AddThis

Good for you, Mr. President. I hope you don't get pasted for this--you were right.

Decision: Afghanistan

Soon, the Obama administration will have to decide whether to commit additional troops to Afghanistan. From the New York Times: Military Chief Says More Troops Needed for Afghan War. This announcement has been well-telegraphed, so that it comes as a surprise to nobody who pays attention. So far, I am pleased with the attention the White House has paid to Afghanistan.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

I am now running Mac OS X (10.6), also known as Snow Leopard, which was a bit of a leap of faith. I live in Japan, and so am at the mercy of the few shops which carry English software. None of them had (or would soon receive) 10.6, so I had to buy a Japanese-language version of 10.6, and used it to update my existing English-language 10.5.8 to the new standard.
Fortunately, the good people at Apple seem to think of everything. As soon as I popped the Japanese Snow Leopard CD into my MacBook Pro, it used English. The splash screen, the install instructions, the progress screens, and shortly thereafter, all of the interface elements, files, folders, and so forth were all in English. I never saw a single Japanese character.
Of course, when I actually do want Japanese, it is simple to switch the entire system over. Any applications which support this sort of localization also shift language.
For more information on multi-lingual support and operation in the Macintosh Operating System, check out the Multilingual Mac blog.

Consolidation

Simple is good.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Victory Victory Victory! Because nothing else is acceptable.

I saw a remark online that Afghanistan was turning into a "Death Spiral". That set me off.

Afghanistan is difficult, as any honest person will admit, and will remain difficult for quite some time. Expect to see advances and setbacks. Expect to see every little bit of negative news from there magnified either by our enemies or their enablers in the MSM. And expect us to remain there for a long, long time.

I am just coming back from my first tour there. I am currently in Kuwait, waiting on plane. I will probably go back at some point, either in the military, or with some other agency (looking at options to serve).

You will hear a lot of complaining about things, and a lot of that is quite valid. We are screwing up some incredibly important things, and many of those are being addressed, some better than others. Others still are getting little attention.

We did not win WWII or any other war through an unbroken series of battlefield victories and sound strategic decisions. We won every war we ever won through soul-numbing, clenched-teeth determination; in the huts, on the battlefield, and all the way up to the White House. It's hard to stay focused when the enemy succeeds. It's even harder when we screw things up through what you might call unforced errors. But staying focused is the only thing that works.

Afghanistan will not be won in a year, or in five, or in ten. It may be a lot better in ten years, and I certainly hope so. This is one of those "hinge of the world" problems, and we had better treat it as the long-term, difficult priority that it is.

Death Spiral, my ass.

I had two good friends shot and killed while we were there. One of them worked in my shop and stayed in the same open-bay-style hut with me. We were as close as could be.

We worked with some locals as well. They were just devastated by the news, when I told them, individually. These Afghan Muslim men pray for my friends, and call them Martyrs. Both of my friends were driving forces behind some of the more social/cultural interactions--teaching Afghan soldiers to play baseball, working out together, and such. Also, they both were involved in Humanitarian Aid missions, as well as coordinating charity shipments above and beyond the normal military channels.

These facts are not lost on Afghans in the area, and the memories of my friends are not gone from that country. One of the locals we work with told me of a dream he had, and long story short, it was part of how he is coping with the loss.

You will not hear stories like this unless you go and look for them.  Go and look for them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Returning

My tour in Afghanistan is complete--I am currently in Kuwait, starting to come home at long last.  I wound up less comfortable with posting from over there than I thought I would be.  Let's just say that it will be easier to communicate when I am no longer on active duty.
Call me old-fashioned, but I am amazed at what I see written and depicted on blogs from active-duty types these days.  More on that soon.  I grew up in the Cold War Navy, and I am that guy, the one constantly telling his friends and colleagues to watch what they say on the phone, to support personnel, and now--online.
Many many stories to tell--coming soon.  Right now, however, I am sitting in a Starbucks in Kuwait, making car reservations online.  Spoke to the wife, and today I finally get to do some laundry.  I also get the THROW AWAY a bunch of this Army gear.  
  I hauled pounds and pounds of this gear around the world just to see it sit under my bunk, undisturbed, so I could pull it out and haul it back.  I was glad to have it in case I needed it, but I didn't need it, so I'll be glad to see it go. 
   I was able to speak with my interpreter just before I stepped on the plane, and I will really miss him.  We went through a lot together.   I also spoke with my Croatian counterpart, a really good guy in the Croatian Army.  We worked together for several months, and I was supremely pleased that his contingent arrived.  Croatia has some first-rate guys.
   I have some German and Norwegian colleagues as well, and I will relay more about them in due time.
   Khoda Hafez.