Momma’s Corner is celebrating a Blogiversary today!

My mother wasn’t too sure about starting a blog back when I first suggested the idea to her. In fact she said no a couple of times before finally saying yes. It took her awhile to find her voice and an audience and she thought about giving it up a couple of times over the first year or so, but she stuck with it and eventually carved out her own niche on the Interwebs. Today she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her blog which is a milestone to be proud of considering how many bloggers do give up within the first year.

So stop on by Momma’s Corner and wish her a Happy Blogiversary!

KPG says: “We are freaks.” And I concur.

There’s a very good entry over at SEB regular KPatrickGlover’s blog titled We Are Freaks. It’s about how those of us who spend way more time than we probably should on the Internet have all these inside jokes and memes we’ve been exposed to that the vast majority of people in the world haven’t:

Try this little experiment. Pick a public place, a grocery store, a bar, maybe a mall. Stand there with a clip board and ask random strangers what their favorite lolcat is. Ask them if they know that longcat is looonnnggg. See if they know who Anonymous is locked in battle against.

We have this weird disconnect with the world these days. The internet has provided us with such a detailed method of social interaction and we have formed amazing communities around it. Places where we interact with hundreds, even thousands of people. We spend so much time there, that it’s easy to forget that most of the people around us in real life, well, don’t.

And when we start saying things like “Jesus Christ, it’s a lion, get in the car”, they just sort of stare at us blankly. It’s a situation I’ve become adjusted to and even enjoy. I like those blank stares. I like being in on the joke, no matter how stupid the joke may be.

I’d never really sat down and thought about this before, but it’s definitely true because I’m often trying to explain to other people why something stupid I just said is actually really, really funny. Often it’s my Mom who has the typical reaction of shaking her head at me and deciding it’s not worth asking for a better explanation. My wife, while not as well versed as I am, is immersed enough in Internet and gaming culture because of her association with me that she’ll often toss out a meme or joke just as readily only to have me be the only person in the room who picks up on it. At which point we try explaining it, usually to my Mom, who shakes her head at both of us and tries to be satisfied that at least we’re a happy, if somewhat deranged, couple. Even so my mom and, oddly enough, my dad are both immersed enough to at least know what LOLCats are. Hell, my dad actually reads Cute Overload regularly and shares what he finds with me.

There’s so much of that stuff on the Net, though, that it can be difficult keeping up. In the examples given above by KPG I was already familiar with LOLCats, Long Cats, and who the hell Anonymous are (is?), but I wasn’t particularly familiar with “Jesus Christ, it’s a lion, get in the car!” So I did what I do when I need to edumacate myself and Googled it. Turns out its likely origins is with a LOLCat picture, one that I’ve actually seen before and forgot about. It’s also said that it’s what is known as a Rogue Punchline, which is a form of humor I’ve practiced for years without ever even realizing it. I ended up spending a half hour going through various Wikipedia and Uncyclopedia articles learning about the various types of memes and jokes to be found on the Net. Many I am already familiar with, but there were more than a few I wasn’t.

The appeal, for me anyway, is the subversive nature of that kind of humor. The first time you use it around someone they’ll look at you like you’re an idiot, but if you continue to use it repeatedly around said person they’ll slowly start to understand it and find it actually funny. One of the people I worked with at the job I just quit was a fellow by the name of Nate who is a walking treasure trove of memes and jokes of this sort. I knew I had found a fellow Internet Geek when one day he tossed out the classic: My Pokemons, let me show you them, which is easily modified to “My X, let me show you them” where you replace X with whatever the hell you want to show someone.  He would use these jokes with wild abandon in his conversations and half the time I was the only person giggling his ass off over them. Which just goes back to what KPG was saying in his entry. It was kind of fun being one of the few people in the group to know what the hell Nate was prattling on about and I reciprocated in kind probably just as often.

Having gotten this far into this entry I suddenly realize that I don’t really have a point to all of this other than to give KPG some link-loving for helping me with another paradigm shift. Chalk it up to having gotten up way too early this morning without actually firing up the brain first.

Unintelligently De-lined

I promise the title’s pun is the unfunniest thing about this story. 

There is a rich, deep kind of irony that must be shared. I’m blogging this from the Apple store in the Mall of America, because I’m too amused to want to wait until I get back to my hotel room.

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled! It was kind of weird — I was standing in line, hadn’t even gotten to the point where I had to sign in and show ID, and a policeman pulled me out of line and told me I could not go in.

I’m still laughing though. You don’t know how hilarious this is. Not only is it the extreme hypocrisy of being expelled from their Expelled movie, but there’s another layer of amusement. Deep, belly laugh funny. Yeah, I’d be rolling around on the floor right now, if I weren’t so dang dignified.

The real surprise is in the full posting: Expelled! at Pharyngula.

Read more: here and here and even here.

90 Day Jane: Social experiment, religious outreach, or real thing?

Update: Turns out it was a “personal art piece”, whatever that means:

90DayJane was meant to mirror the tragic figure, Christine Chubbuck. Newscaster Christine Chubbuck committed suicide in 1974 by shooting herself in the head live on air. She was very vocal about her depression to those around her and gave every indication of her exact intentions leading up to the event. Sadly, no one reacted or helped Christine and those left behind could only ask “why”.

Her story both inspired and terrified me because I can truly empathize with her rage and even her isolation. I wondered how Christine’s life and subsequent suicide would play out in our time. Would the internet be yet another place of isolation to her or an escape? If she remained vocal about her intentions would anyone bother asking “why” or even noticing before the fact? Would the reaction (if any) of the public change her intentions?

I thought this mirror might reflect the isolation everyday people feel and the lack of true human connection on the internet.

It is my feeling that the internet is the best and worst example of human interaction. This was painfully proven to me by reading every comment and every email. I believe I owed that to everyone. I know we all saw the dark side of the reactions in the blog comments. There was so much hate, immaturity and apathy. But, I truly wish everyone could see the beauty and honesty in the emails; many people feel like Jane (me). People have been more real and heartfelt than I thought was possible. I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me the difference between people’s reactions and their true feelings. I understand.

I have to admit that “art pieces” like this always leave me with the realization of why I’m not an artist. I just don’t understand how this is art. Social experiment? Sure, I can see that. But art? OK, whatever.

I am amused at her not realizing how likely something like this was to explode in terms of the attention it would garner. Welcome to the Internet, “Jane.”

Original entry follows:

The atheist blogs are humming with commentary over a blog called 90 Day Jane. Here’s why:

I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It’s simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I’m not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose. My generation has had no great depression, no great war and our biggest obstacle is beating Halo 3. So, if I feel like saying “game over”, why can’t I?

Well it’s certainly a novel idea for a blog I suppose, but it seems a bit of a pointless exercise for someone who claims they’re not looking for attention and has already made up their mind. Speculation has run the gamut from it being a social experiment of some sort to an effort by some religious group to attract converts. Shnakepup of the blog “Salt on Everything” seems to feel it’s the latter option:

Expect “Jane” to start laying the nihilism and hedonism on thick, all the while spouting off about how pointless it all is. Then, closer to the due date, we’ll see more and more posts featuring Jane reconsidering her godless, wasteful existence , and pondering if maybe there’s something more. Cue religious friend who sets her straight on the lie of atheism, and who tells her all the church has to offer in it’s place. Instead of killing herself on Day 90, we’ll see her changing her mind and deciding to live her life with Jesus! Warm fuzzy music plays and everybody learns a valuable lesson.

And there’s some decent reasons put forward for thinking this is the case, but I have to admit that I haven’t a clue if it’s real or fake myself though I would tend to be skeptical. Still in this day and age with Emo kids offing themselves just so their friends will set up memorial websites about them it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this turned out to be authentic.

I’m not interested so much in whether it’s a hoax as much as I am in the reaction it’s garnering from the people that visit the site. Comments on the various entries has ranged from the expected “life is too worth living” pleas to abandon the plan to some seriously thoughtful comments on what “Jane” should spend her last 90 days doing along with how to do the deed itself. Combined, of course, with a whole bunch of Internet assholes leaving nasty comments just because the anonymity allows them to be complete douche bags without fear of retribution. I never cease to be amazed at the assholes who always seem to be able to sink lower than the one that posted just before them.

As to ‘90 Day Jane’ herself, well, I don’t know her well enough to have an emotional investment in whether she lives or dies and while I can put forth arguments as to why I’m not interested in suicide at this point in my life those arguments apply mainly to me and aren’t necessarily good ones for anyone else. I think it’d be a waste if she were to go through with it, but I’m not going to sit here and tell her she shouldn’t if that’s what she really wants. We each have to find our own purpose in life even if it is sometimes as simple as seeing what the next day will bring, or even just finishing Halo 3. If it turns out to be a church out-reach kind of thing, well, you know what kind of church it is for engaging in deceptive recruiting efforts. If it’s a social experiment then it’ll be interesting to see what conclusions are drawn from it.

Tell me your favorite blogs by Atheists.

I was reading this entry by vjack over at his Atheist Revolution blog about reciprocity in the atheist blogosphere and I was pondering what I might do to help other atheist bloggers get a little recognition. First you’ll notice that I’ve recently added the Atheist Blogroll to the sidebar which is a bit of cool synchronicity as I did that prior to vjack’s post. It’s very lengthy, though, so I may switch to a smaller scrolling version that they have available. Secondly I’ll be modifying my own blogroll that I’ve been maintaining to try and make a bit more sense out of it. Right now it’s just an alphabetical list and I’d like to try and categorize it a bit.

Then it hit me that I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting blogs to read, particularly those written from an atheist perspective (though not necessarily devoted solely to atheism). So I thought I’d start an entry asking you guys to list off your favorite atheist authored blogs in the comments. In particular I’m interested in hearing about sites you think are deserving of a boost in traffic and I encourage you guys to check out each other’s links. I’ll also be updating my own blogroll to include some that I’ve been reading in Google Reader regularly, but haven’t gotten around to listing in the side bar yet. Of course I’d recommend any of the blogs that are in my sidebar already.

It’s possible that the anti-comment spam we’re using might moderate some comments with lots of links in them so if you see that your post doesn’t show up immediately that may be why. If you’re a registered SEB member it shouldn’t be a problem.

So let me know what your must-reads are. Let’s get a little link lovin’ going on.

***Dave (Does the Blog) is six years old today!

International Man of Mystery Dave Hill is celebrating his sixth Blogiversary today! Stop by and harass him about getting old.

Scariest Movie Ever: Why We Fight

[Reposted from SmugBaldy.com – because I’d rather have you read my writing.]

There are plenty of horror flicks out there, but way deep down we know they’re fictional and so we’re not really scared by them.  Startled, maybe.  Disgusted, sure.  But not really scared.

No, in order for a movie to really reach inside you and send an icy chill all along your spine, there has to be truth behind the terror.  Nothing gives birth to a truly horrific sense of dread as authenticity. 

That’s why I found Sony Pictures Why We Fight so damn scary.  It’s a story that begins with a warning of undue influence of for-profit military contract corporations on American foreign policy, and ends up with a picture of an an America that dutifully swallows think-tank generated talking points in support of war after war after war.  And, of course, the horror of it is that it’s all true.

First the warning:

Dwight D. EisenhowerUntil the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted; only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

This was part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address to the nation.  As Eisenhower stepped down, he was quite candid concerning what he perceived to be one of the two greatest threats to American liberty: the rise of Military Industrial Complex (aka the MIC). 

What is the Military Industrial Complex?

According to militaryindustrialcomplex.com, it is:

a phrase used to signify a comfortable relationship between parties that are charged to manage wars (the military, the presidential administration and congress) and companies that produce weapons and equipment for war (industry). To put it simply, the Military-Industrial Complex is described as an all-too friendly relationship that may develop between defense contractors and government forces, where both sides receive what they are perceivably looking for: a successful military engagement for warplanners and financial profit for those manning the corporate boardrooms. It can be viewed as a “war for profit” theory.

If the MIC represents an inappropriately comfortable relationship between corporations that would likely profit from war and our elected officials that are charged with actually prosecuting wars, there is still the question as to whether it’s real.  Could the MIC be a bogeyman used to frighten inquisitive bloggers?  Read on to find out:

 

Consider:

1. The United States spends more on defense than any other nation.  Since 1961, the US budget for defense has increased by an order of magnitude – from a mere $49 Billion to nearly $500 Billion today [ref].  While critics will cite that the defense budget remains a fairly small portion of GDP, they often omit that American GDP has increased by a factor of 10 over the same time period as well.

2. Defense accounts for more than 50% of the US discretionary spending budget.  [ref]

The Fiscal Year 2008 budget request includes $930 billion for discretionary spending (the money the President and Congress must decide and act to spend each year), roughly $481 billion of which will go to the Pentagon. The “National Defense” category of the federal budget for FY’08 accounts for over half of all discretionary spending (52 percent). [NOTE: These totals do NOT include funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the $141.7 billion requested for the “Global War on Terror” were included in both the request for the Department of Defense and the total for discretionary spending, the percentage of Pentagon spending of total discretionary spending would jump to over 58 percent.]

3. From 1961 to 1993, US forces have been involved in at least 56 military actions and wars around the world [ref].  It’s interesting that defending the US has historically and consistently meant projecting military force around the globe.

  • 1962—Cuba. President Kennedy instituted a “quarantine” on the shipment of offensive missiles to Cuba from the Soviet Union. He also warned Soviet Union that the launching of any missile from Cuba against nations in the Western Hemisphere would bring about U.S. nuclear retaliation on the Soviet Union. A negotiated settlement was achieved in a few days.
  • 1962—Thailand. The 3d Marine Expeditionary Unit landed on May 17, 1962 to support that country during the threat of Communist pressure from outside; by Jul 30 the 5000 marines had been withdrawn.
  • 1962-75—Laos. From October 1962 until 1976, the United States played a role of military support in Laos.
  • 1964—Congo. The United States sent four transport planes to provide airlift for Congolese troops during a rebellion and to transport Belgian paratroopers to rescue foreigners.
  • 1964-73—Vietnam War. U.S. military advisers had been in South Vietnam a decade, and their numbers had been increased as the military position the Saigon government became weaker. After the attacks on U.S. destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf, President Johnson asked for a resolution expressing U.S. determination to support freedom and protect peace in Southeast Asia. Congress responded with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, expressing support for “all necessary measures” the President might take to repel armed attacks against U.S. forces and prevent further aggression. Following this resolution, and following a Communist attack on a U.S. installation in central Vietnam, the United States escalated its participation in the war to a peak of 543 000 in April 1969.
  • 1965—Dominican Republic. The United States intervened to protect lives and property during a Dominican revolt and sent more troops as fears grew that the revolutionary forces were coming increasingly under Communist control.
  • 1967—Congo. The United States sent three military transport aircraft with crews to provide the Congo central government with logistical support during a revolt.
  • 1970—Cambodia. U.S. troops were ordered into Cambodia to clean out Communist sanctuaries from which Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacked U.S and South Vietnamese forces in Vietnam. The object of this attack, which lasted from April 30 to June 30, was to ensure the continuing safe withdrawal of American forces from South Vietnam and to assist the program of Vietnamization.
  • 1974—Evacuation from Cyprus. United States naval forces evacuated U.S. civilians during hostilities between Turkish and Greek Cypriot forces.
  • 1975—Evacuation from Vietnam. On April 3, 1975, President Ford reported U.S. naval vessels, helicopters, and Marines had been sent to assist in evacuation of refugees and U.S. nationals from Vietnam.
  • 1975—Evacuation from Cambodia. On April 12, 1975, President Ford reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to proceed with the planned evacuation of U.S. citizens from Cambodia.
  • 1975—South Vietnam. On April 30 1975, President Ford reported that a force of 70 evacuation helicopters and 865 Marines had evacuated about 1,400 U.S. citizens and 5,500 third country nationals and South Vietnamese from landing zones near the U.S. Embassy in Saigon and the Tan Son Nhut Airfield.
  • 1975—Mayaguez incident. On May 15, 1975, President Ford reported he had ordered military forces to retake the SS Mayaguez, a merchant vessel en route from Hong Kong to Thailand with U.S. citizen crew which was seized from Cambodian naval patrol boats in international waters and forced to proceed to a nearby island.
  • 1976—Lebanon. On July 22 and 23, 1974, helicopters from five U.S. naval vessels evacuated approximately 250 Americans and Europeans from Lebanon during fighting between Lebanese factions after an overland convoy evacuation had been blocked by hostilities.
  • 1976—Korea. Additional forces were sent to Korea after two American military personnel were killed while in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea for the purpose of cutting down a tree.
  •      

  • 1978—Zaire. From May 19 through June 1978, the United States utilized military transport aircraft to provide logistical support to Belgian and French rescue operations in Zaire.
  • 1980—Iran. On April 26, 1980, President Carter reported the use of six U.S. transport planes and eight helicopters in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue American hostages being held in Iran.
  • 1981—El Salvador. After a guerilla offensive against the government of El Salvador, additional U.S. military advisers were sent to El Salvador, bringing the total to approximately 55, to assist in training government forces in counterinsurgency.
  • 1981—Libya. On August 19, 1981, U.S. planes based on the carrier Nimitz shot down two Libyan jets over the Gulf of Sidra after one of the Libyan jets had fired a heat-seeking missile. The United States periodically held freedom of navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra, claimed by Libya as territorial waters but considered international waters by the United States.
  • 1982—Sinai. On March 19, 1982, President Reagan reported the deployment of military personnel and equipment to participate in the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. Participation had been authorized by the Multinational Force and Observers Resolution, Public Law 97-132.
  • 1982—Lebanon. On August 21, 1982, President Reagan reported the dispatch of 80 marines to serve in the multinational force to assist in the withdrawal of members of the Palestine Liberation force from Beirut. The Marines left Sept. 20, 1982.
  • 1982—Lebanon. On September 29, 1982, President Reagan reported the deployment of 1200 marines to serve in a temporary multinational force to facilitate the restoration of Lebanese government sovereignty. On Sept. 29, 1983, Congress passed the Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution (P.L. 98-119) authorizing the continued participation for eighteen months.
  • 1983—Egypt. After a Libyan plane bombed a city in Sudan on March 18, 1983, and Sudan and Egypt appealed for assistance, the United States dispatched an AWACS electronic surveillance plane to Egypt.
  • 1983-89—Honduras. In July 1983 the United States undertook a series of exercises in Honduras that some believed might lead to conflict with Nicaragua. On March 25, 1986, unarmed U.S. military helicopters and crewmen ferried Honduran troops to the Nicaraguan border to repel Nicaraguan troops.
  • 1983—Chad. On August 8, 1983, President Reagan reported the deployment of two AWACS electronic surveillance planes and eight F-15 fighter planes and ground logistical support forces to assist Chad against Libyan and rebel forces.
  •      

  • 1983—Grenada. On October 25, 1983, President Reagan reported a landing on Grenada by Marines and Army airborne troops to protect lives and assist in the restoration of law and order and at the request of five members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
  • 1984—Persian Gulf. On June 5, 1984, Saudi Arabian jet fighter planes, aided by intelligence from a U.S. AWACS electronic surveillance aircraft and fueled by a U.S. KC-10 tanker, shot down two Iranian fighter planes over an area of the Persian Gulf proclaimed as a protected zone for shipping.
  • 1985—Italy . On October 10, 1985, U.S. Navy pilots intercepted an Egyptian airliner and forced it to land in Sicily. The airliner was carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro who had killed an American citizen during the hijacking.
  • 1986—Libya. On March 26, 1986, President Reagan reported to Congress that, on March 24 and 25, U.S. forces, while engaged in freedom of navigation exercises around the Gulf of Sidra, had been attacked by Libyan missiles and the United States had responded with missiles.
  • 1986—Libya. On April 16, 1986, President Reagan reported that U.S. air and naval forces had conducted bombing strikes on terrorist facilities and military installations in Libya.
  • 1986—Bolivia. U.S. Army personnel and aircraft assisted Bolivia in anti-drug operations.
  • 1987-88—Persian Gulf. After the Iran-Iraq War resulted in several military incidents in the Persian Gulf, the United States increased U.S. Navy forces operating in the Persian Gulf and adopted a policy of reflagging and escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Gulf. President Reagan reported that U.S. ships had been fired upon or struck mines or taken other military action on September 23, October 10, and October 20, 1987 and April 19, July 4, and July 14, 1988. The United States gradually reduced its forces after a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq on August 20, 1988.
  • 1988—Panama. In mid-March and April 1988, during a period of instability in Panama and as pressure grew for Panamanian military leader General Manuel Noriega to resign, the United States sent 1,000 troops to Panama, to “further safeguard the canal, U.S. lives, property and interests in the area.” The forces supplemented 10,000 U.S. military personnel already in Panama.
  • 1989—Libya. On January 4, 1989, two U.S. Navy F-14 aircraft based on USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan jet fighters over the Mediterranean Sea about 70 miles north of Libya. The U.S. pilots said the Libyan planes had demonstrated hostile intentions.
  • 1989—Panama. On May 11, 1989, in response to General Noriega’s disregard of the results of the Panamanian election, President Bush ordered a brigade- sized force of approximately 1,900 troops to augment the estimated 11,000 U.S. forces already in the area.
  • 1989—Andean Initiative in War on Drugs. On September 15, 1989, President Bush announced that military and law enforcement assistance would be sent to help the Andean nations of Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru combat illicit drug producers and traffickers. By mid-September there were 50- 100 U.S. military advisers in Colombia in connection with transport and training in the use of military equipment, plus seven Special Forces teams of 2-12 persons to train troops in the three countries.
  • 1989—Philippines. On December 2, 1989, President Bush reported that on December 1 U.S. fighter planes from Clark Air Base in the Philippines had assisted the Aquino government to repel a coup attempt. In addition, 100 marines were sent from the U.S. Navy base at Subic Bay to protect the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
  • 1989—Panama. On December 21, 1989, President Bush reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to Panama to protect the lives of American citizens and bring General Noriega to justice. By February 13, 1990, all the invasion forces had been withdrawn.
  • 1990—Liberia. On August 6, 1990, President Bush reported that a reinforced rifle company had been sent to provide additional security to the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, and that helicopter teams had evacuated U.S. citizens from Liberia.
  • 1990—Saudi Arabia. On August 9, 1990, President Bush reported that he had ordered the forward deployment of substantial elements of the U.S. armed forces into the Persian Gulf region to help defend Saudi Arabia after the August 2 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. On November 16, 1990, he reported the continued buildup of the forces to ensure an adequate offensive military option.
  • 1991—Iraq. On January 18, 1991, President Bush reported that he had directed U.S. armed forces to commence combat operations on January 16 against Iraqi forces and military targets in Iraq and Kuwait, in conjunction with a coalition of allies and U.N. Security Council resolutions. On January 12 Congress had passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq Resolution (P.L. 102-1). Combat operations were suspended on February 28, 1991.
  • 1991—Iraq. On May 17, 1991, President Bush stated in a status report to Congress that the Iraqi repression of the Kurdish people had necessitated a limited introduction of U.S. forces into northern Iraq for emergency relief purposes.
  • 1991—Zaire. On September 25-27, 1991, after widespread looting and rioting broke out in Kinshasa, U.S. Air Force C-141s transported 100 Belgian troops and equipment into Mnshasa. U.S. planes also carried 300 French troops into the Central African Republic and hauled back American citizens and third country nationals from locations outside Zaire.
  •      

  • 1992—Sierra Leone. On May 3, 1992, U.S. military planes evacuated Americans from Sierra Leone, where military leaders had overthrown the government.
  • 1992—Kuwait. On August 3, 1992, the United States began a series of military exercises in Kuwait, following Iraqi refusal to recognize a new border drawn up by the United Nations and refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspection teams.
  • 1992—Iraq. On September 16, 1992 President Bush stated in a status report that he had ordered U.S. participation in the enforcement of a prohibition against Iraqi flights in a specified zone in southern Iraq, and aerial reconnaissance to monitor Iraqi compliance with the cease-fire resolution.
  • 1992—Somalia. On December 10, 1992, President Bush reported that he had deployed U.S. armed forces to Somalia in response to a humanitarian crisis and a U.N. Security Council Resolution determining that the situation constituted a threat to international peace. This operation, called Operation Restore Hope, was part of a U.S.-led United Nations Unified Task Force (UNITAF) and came to an end on May 4, 1993. U.S. forces continued to participate in the successor United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II), which the U.N. Security Council authorized to assist Somalia in political reconciliation and restoration of peace.
  • 1993—Iraq. On January 19, 1993, President Bush said in a status report that on December 27, 1992, U.S. aircraft shot down an Iraqi aircraft in the prohibited zone; on January 13 aircraft from the United States and coalition partners had attacked missile bases in southern Iraq; and further military actions had occurred on January 17 and 18. Administration officials said the United States was deploying a battalion task force to Kuwait to underline the continuing U.S. commitment to Kuwaiti independence.
  • 1993—Iraq. On January 21, 1993, shortly after his inauguration, President Clinton said the United States would continue the Bush policy on Iraq, and U.S. aircraft fired at targets in Iraq after pilots sensed Iraqi radar or anti-aircraft fire directed at them.
  • 1993—Bosnia-Hercegovina. On February 28, 1993, the United States bagan an airdrop of relief supplies aimed at Muslims surrounded by Serbian forces in Bosnia.
  • 1993—Bosnia-Hercegovina. On April 13, 1993, President Clinton reported U.S. forces were participating in a NATO air action to enforce a U.N. ban on all unauthorized military flights over Bosnia-Hercegovina.
  • 1993—Iraq. In a status report on Iraq of May 24, President Clinton said that on April 9 and April 18 U.S. warplanes had bombed or fired missiles at Iraqi anti-aircraft sites which had tracked U.S. aricraft.
  • 1993—Somalia. On June 10, 1993, President Clinton reported that in response to attacks against U.N. forces in Somalia by a factional leader, the U.S. Quick Reaction Force in the area had participated in military action to quell the violence. The quick reaction force was part of the U.S. contribution to a success On July 1, President Clinton reported further air and ground military operations on June 12 and June 17 aimed at neutralizing military capabilities that had impeded U.N. efforts to deliver humanitarian relief and promote national reconstruction, and additional instances occurred in the following months.
  • 1993—Iraq. On June 28, 1993, President Clinton reported that on June 26 U.S. naval forces had launched missiles against the Iraqi Intelligence Service’s headquarters in Baghdad in response to an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate former President Bush in Kuwait in April 1993.
  • 1993—Iraq. In a status report of July 22, 1993, President Clinton said on June 19 a U.S. aircraft had fired a missile at an Iraqi anti-aircraft site displaying hostile intent. U.S. planes also bombed an Iraqi missile battery on August 19, 1993.
  • 1993—Macedonia. On July 9, 1993, President Clinton reported the deployment of 350 U.S. armed forces to Macedonia to participate in the U.N. Protection Force to help maintain stability in the area of former Yugoslavia.

4. In 2005, more than half (10 of 19) of the defense and aerospace contractors on the Fortune Global 2000 list were American corporations.

5. While US military contracting has always been a very lucrative business, it is relatively new for investment management firms to stake their whole business on trading defense equities .  Take The Carlyle Group, for example, which profited greatly following the 9/11 attacks:

In 1997, Carlyle liked the price of United Defense, and beat out General Dynamics and Alliant Techsystems, which also coveted the underperforming artillery firm. General Dynamics bid more than Carlyle offered for the company, but potentially faced a lengthy, drawn out antitrust battle if it acquired United Defense. Carlyle ended up winning the bid.

Carlyle finally sold its stakes in United after taking it public in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. The Washington Post called the hugely successful public offering “one of the most successful single venture investments of recent years.”

But United did not seem all that lucrative before September 11.

“They [Carlyle] were really kind of in a pickle with United Defense,” McCutchan said. “They wanted to cash out on the equity. There wasn’t much money to be made… When 9/11 happened and the defense budget took off, suddenly they had a winner on their hands.”

Even Carlyle, which typically does not disclose its financial and operational details, crowed over the sale.

“It was one of Carlyle’s best investments,” Carlyle’s Ullman told the Center. “We did make more than a billion dollars on that deal, and we are very pleased that we served our investors quite well.”

To paraphrase one of the commentators in Why We Fight, “When there’s such a great profit to be made from war, you can be sure that you’ll see more of it.”

Indeed, Eisenhower was way ahead of his time, and that should scare the shit out of us.  Most interestingly, Eisenhower had some words of encouragement that he passed along with his warning:

 

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So, friends, while it’s not much, here’s something that I can do: I can remind you that the USA was once ruled by sane and sober statesmen and scholars; that we once took pride in our work and our dreams for the future; that we were once willing to accept the responsibilities that our ideals demanded of us regardless of the sacrifices involved; that we never loved war, though we were sometimes forced into it.  I can also remind you that, while there are many new economic incentives to maintaining a perpetual state of war, there are still sane and sober Americans who will eventually, as President Eisenhower said, compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. 

What are you going to do?

Watch Eisenhower’s complete Farewell Address Here

Decrepit Old Fool was recently stoned.

Or rather was recently trying to pass a stone. He tells us about it over on his blog and it sounds like it was a lot of no fun. Here’s his summary:

Ow, ow-ow-ow!

Can’t get much more succinct than that. So stop by his site and tell him how much you’re happy it was him instead of you you sympathize and hope him a speedy recovery.

Spreading some link love: Nothing To Write Home About and KVBlog.

I know it sounds like two different things, but it’s not. It’s actually two parts of a whole that makes up the blog written by my best friend, Karl Roosa, whom I have often referred to in the past by the pseudonym Hairboy. I’ve known Karl ever since the first year of the one and a half years I went to college. I met him through, of all people, his mother who was in the same psych class I was taking at the time and who recognized the scarf I was wearing as being a somewhat replica of Tom Baker’s scarf in the Doctor Who series. Karl is also a big fan of Doctor Who so she introduced us and started off what has now been a 20 year friendship. In addition to being a fellow DW fan, Karl expanded my fledgling knowledge of anime quite a bit in addition to showing me the wonders of the Hong Kong action film including Jet Li and Jackie Chan before they were ever popular here in America.

In the past Karl and I collaborated on my first big venture into the world of being a webmaster when I started the anime website known as The Casual Otaku. We had a number of very cool adventures as a result of that experience including traveling out to California after IGN.com made us an affiliate for about a year. Karl didn’t get into blogging the same way I did after we shut down TCO, but he’s played around with it a bit over the years and lately has been putting a bit more effort into it. The result is his blog called Nothing To Write Home About. His blog is mostly about his interests and that means there’s plenty of stuff on movies, TV series, and video games to be found there. Some of the cooler and obscure things I’ve ever been exposed to was thanks to my friendship with Karl.

Karl is a freelance videographer who is, like me, currently looking for work and in the meantime is busy keeping his skills up playing around with the home studio he’s set up. Among other short video experiments he’s also started messing around with something I keep thinking of messing around with: video blogging. The result is KVBlog which is pronounced just like it’s spelled which means Karl is the only person I know who can pronounce it. He only has two video blog entries at the moment and, of the two, the second one is the better one as it’s about his recent trip with his wife to Seattle:

Now I find Karl to be hilariously funny, but you’ve seen my sense of humor around here so your mileage may vary. He’s not really trying to be funny in this clip, but he manages to amuse the hell out of me anyway. Karl has offered to help me put together some video blog entries for SEB, but I find myself with the same problem he talks about in his first video blog entry which is that I don’t have a friggin’ clue what to talk about and that just doesn’t make for very compelling viewing. Something I wouldn’t mind trying once again would be to collaborate with Karl on something for SEB and I’ve also thought about trying to do a podcast where I talk to other bloggers such as DOF, but again I’m left wondering what the hell I’d do that’d be A) interesting and B) not a rehash of stuff someone else has already done.

Anyway, I just wanted to point a little traffic Karl’s way as I thought some of you may find him interesting and it might encourage him to keep up his efforts at both writing and video blogging. Go check him out.

Jon Stewart, 5th most powerful person in America

Just a quick entry,

Robert Reich is a blog I read on a fair few occasions, but this entry has made any occasional meh entries worth reading for this entry.
5 most powerful people in america

smile