Category: "culture/news"

See the Dragon in Google Earth

I found the locations mentioned in See the Dragon and added them to Google Earth. To find some of the spots I had to overlay Vietnam maps from the internet into Google Earth. The .kmz file with all of the locations and maps is available at SeeTheDragon.com/maps.

See the Dragon kmz screenshot

See the Dragon (Hardback)

I just got my proof copy of Don Arndt's See the Dragon: One Wolfhound's Vietnam Story in hardback and it looks great, so I made it available for purchase. Now we have three versions available: PDF download ($9.99), paperback ($14.99) and hardback ($26.99). If you're interested in learning about the Vietnam War from the perspective of a Missouri farmboy that was drafted, then you might enjoy this book. If you like the book (or if you just take my word for it) then you can help us promote the book. A quick link to seethedragon.com on your site would be a big help. And we'd love to have someone read the book and write a review on Lulu.com.

See the Dragon

Don Arndt, a friend of mine wrote a book about the year he spent in Vietnam in 1966. I helped to edit and typeset it and then we listed in on Lulu.com, a print on demand self-publishing site. You can read more about the book and find the links to order it on SeeTheDragon.com. The paperback version is available now and we should have hardback ready soon, too.

Rove quits

Proving the old adage that even rats know to abandon a sinking ship, Karl Rove stepped down from his job as advisor to President Bush. It's funny how family suddenly becomes a top priority when you're being called to testify before congress.

This quote reveals his view of congressional oversight:

When asked for his reaction to those who say he's being "run out of town," Rove responded, "That sounds like the rooster claiming to have called up the sun."

Perhaps most interesting is Rove's view of democracy as revealed by this statement:

What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."

US Military

Nobody asked me, but . . .

Our military is both too large and too small. Our military is too big during peacetime and the money we use to have a large standing army, bases around the world and nuclear weapons (which would be immoral to ever use) is enormous. That money could be better spent elsewhere. Yet, when we do get into a war, as we have in Iraq, our military is too small. We're asking people in the military to do multiple 15-month tours in Iraq, and we're still not securing that country.

In the future, I think we should have a much smaller military during peacetime. Enough force to defend our own country from credible threats should be sufficient. I imagine that most of the host countries would be happy to see us close our bases. (Would you want China or Germany to have an army base next door to you.) If some unfriendly country starts to get close to our strength, we can always increase the size of our military. At the moment, no one is the world is even close to use, and the highest spenders behind us are friendly toward us.

What happens when we have to fight a war? We do what we've done almost every large-scale war in our history: draft an army. As unpopular as conscription is, it has a lot of advantages. The nation at large has to be behind a war effort for a draft to work. If a war isn't worth asking Americans to sacrifice, then we shouldn't enter it. If the American people are not convinced that a war justifies a draft, then the case for war is too weak. If a war has to be started more quickly than we can raise an army through a draft, then it's too hasty.

We need to get over the idea that we can fight a cheap, fast or easy war. If our commander in chief had to resort to conscription to start a war, there would be fewer wars.

Fun facts about John Wayne

Here are some fun facts about iconic man's man, John Wayne, taken mostly from Wikipedia:

Birth name: Marion Robert Morrison

City of birth: Winterset, Iowa

His name was changed to Marion Michael Morrison when his parents decided to name their next son Robert.

His family moved to California when he was four.

Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in pre-law.

A bodysurfing injury cut his college football career short.

Without his athletic scholarship he had to drop out of school and start working in the prop department of a film studio.

A director and a studio executive came up with his stage name. Wayne wasn't present for the meeting.

After he started acting, stuntmen taught him horseback riding.

Wayne was married and divorced three times.

All three of his wives were hispanic women.

He was exempt from the WWII draft because of his age (34). Many other actors enlisted, and Wayne considered it, but continually postponed it until "after he finished one more film."

Wayne's third wife, Pilar, wrote, "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."

He was a Freemason.

He smoked five packs a day until he got lung cancer and had his lung removed in 1964. He switched to tobacco and cigars after that.

Wayne actively campaigned for Richard Nixon.

In a 1971 interview, Wayne said, "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility."

Wayne had several high-profile affairs.

Wayne was approached by Mel Brooks to play the part of The Waco Kid in the film Blazing Saddles. After reading the script he said, "I can't be in this picture, it's too dirty...but I'll be the first in line to see it."

Revolutionary and Iraq Wars

Wonkette.com in their usual sarcastic tone, had this to say about a speech Bush gave yesterday:

Bush compares Iraq to the American Revolutionary War. But in the way, obviously, that makes the exact opposite of sense. Apparently the wealthy foreign occupying power are the scrappy colonists, and the local insurgents represent Great Britain.

The Onion weighs in, too.

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney likes his office to operate in secret, starting from his second week as Vice President. Now this:

For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the office in charge of overseeing classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested that the oversight office be shut down, according to documents released today by a Democratic congressman.

The oversight office, a unit of the National Archives, appealed the issue to the Justice Department, which has not yet ruled on the matter.

-- New York Times (June 22, 2007)

Well, at least we know that the Justice Department will be absolutely impartial and apolitical.

Nations that don't use the metric system

That's Burma, Liberia, and the US.

(via Digg)

Slaughterhouse-five

I started reading Slaughterhouse-five on Friday night and finished it on Sunday afternoon. It's about a man that comes unstuck in time and experiences his life in a random order. Part of the story follows him through the allied fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, where he was held as a prisoner of war by the Germans in World War II. After the war, the main character is up late one night when this happens:

He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

I thought that was one of the more poignant passages of the book.

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