Showing posts with label england. Show all posts
Showing posts with label england. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shooting Book Read, Garand Sale, Potential Training

After a good nights sleep and an easy morning run things are looking up in the world. Also Friday is a plus for sure. Today was a weird day at work. I had to be there and occasionally do stuff but the rest of the time doing whatever was cool. So I read Your Competition Handgun Training Program: A complete training program designed for the practical shooter by Michael Seekerland. Definitely got a ton out of it. Way too much to digest it today. Very good stuff. Working some new stuff in my dry fire practice. Among other things doing mag changes the right way was part of today's fun.I am planning to implement the exact program from the book stretched out to my timeline for dry fire practice and shooting. A full review will likely follow after I have gotten to implementing the program.

 After that I started The Irish War. Picked it up at a (or maybe the, I'm not sure) Army Museum in London and have been meaning to get to it. The importance of public relations and managing the media are made clear. Very interesting stuff.

The M1 Garand sale is a go. I am not replacing it with another gun parse though this sale is more or less concurrent with Project AR Upgrade. The collection is looking a lot more functional these days. On the plus side this frees up a decent amount of resources for reallocation. Got to look at some things and see what cracks out. It's probably going to be a light of some sort.

I have also been looking at some potential training opportunities. It is too easy to just buy guns and gun stuff and not work on the skills to run said guns. While I have some solid skills there are also some areas I need to work on. Thankfully right now I am in a place to (hopefully/ potentially) do some of that. There is potential for a Defensive Pistol class next month and maybe an Appleseed in December. If things go well I would like to take another course in the spring. 

 Anyway that is what's going on today. Tomorrow I will talk about something other than gun junk. Hope you are all having a great Friday.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Back From London

Spent a long weekend in London. It was pretty awesome. Might write something more on topic later if the motivation strikes me.

I hope you all had a good weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

End of Combat Operations in Iraq?

The last "combat" brigade left Iraq today. I wouldn't say this means our efforts in Iraq are over but it is sure a significant milestone. As for what will happen now, time will tell. I do think it is very important that we practice expectation management. If we expect Iraq to be a nice calm place with totally functional, completely democratic and honest institutions and great infrastructure like say Israel (the only example I could think of in the middle east) we will be disappointed. However if we expect sporadic bombings and localized violence, semi corrupt elections along party lines and haphazard infrastructure we might be on the mark.  I say that for a couple reasons.

It is important to remember that early American history didn't go so smoothly. There were small localized uprisings, the government went broke and stayed there more or less and our first government failed entirely. We had some real problems with pirates robbing our ships. Around 20 years after our nation was established the British stomped us pretty badly and burned down our capitol. (Would it be ridiculous and war hawkish to suggest we burn down Buckingham Palace to get even? Better late than never right?) A couple generations later we fought a massive civil war. For some reason we Americans have a short memory and an even shorter attention span. We would like to make Iraq into a wonderful place over the course of a few short years. If we manage our expectations and take a longer view the situation can be seen more realistically.

What does this mean? Well hopefully we as a nation can finally borrow a little bit less money to keep things going. Also we will have fewer brave young Americans at risk which is always a good thing. Getting out of Iraq will allow us to increase dwell time for soldiers. This will almost certainly help with some of the problems (prescription drugs and suicide are notable) we are currently facing. More focused training time at home station will allow for the retrofitting and replacement of equipment as well as training which are good things. Also this will let our nation focus almost exclusively on Afghanistan which is something that has needed to happen for a long time. I don't know what will happen there but it would be a darn shame if we let a lack of adequate amounts of men, weapons and equipment be the deciding factor.

These are sure interesting times we live in.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why Apologize

Are good

Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when
DeGaule decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaule said he wanted all US
Military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded,
"Does that include those who are buried here?"

Did not respond.

Could have heard a pin drop.

When in England ,
At a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the
Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of
'empire building' by George Bush.

He answered by saying,
"Over the years, the United States has sent many of
Its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom
Beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for
In return is enough to bury those that did not

Could have heard a pin drop.

There was a conference in France
Where a number of international engineers
Were taking part, including French and American.  During a break,
One of the French engineers came back into the room saying, "Have you
Heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
Carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he
Intend to do, bomb them?"

A Boeing engineer
Stood up and replied quietly:  "Our carriers have three
Hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are
Nuclear powered and can supply emergency  electrical power to
Shore facilities; they have three  cafeterias with the capacity to
Feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand
Gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a
Dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and
From their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships;
How many does France have?"

Could have heard a pin drop.

A U.S. Navy Admiral
Was attending a naval conference that included
Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French
Navies  At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large
Group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a
French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many
Languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that
We always have to speak English in these conferences rather than
Speaking French?"

Without hesitating,
The American Admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the
Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't
Have to speak German."
Could have heard a pin drop.



Robert Whiting,
An elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.
At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport
In his carry on.
Have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked

Mr. Whiting
Admitted that he had been to France

You should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said,
"The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France !"

The American senior
Gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he
Quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in
1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen
To show a passport to."

Could have heard a pin drop.


I am proud to be of this land, AMERICA

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Put The Gun Away Even Though Nobody Is Coming To Help You?

Glad I don't live in England. Germany doesn't have the greatest gun laws but it seems pretty darn safe. Of course if you flash a big wad of cash in a bar and then leave drunk through a dark alley there is a risk of being robbed. However if you apply a bit of universal common sense it seems like one of the safest places I have lived.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Don't Walk, Don't Jog, RUN Away From Adjustable Interest Debts

It is difficult to buy a conventional home (let alone one on land) or get an education without taking on debt. For some folks using a loan to get a modest 3-5 year old gently used car with low-reasonable mileage makes more sense than getting $500'ed to ruin by an unreliable vehicle. No debt is ideal. However not all debt is created equally.

Right now I would be seriously concerned if I had adjustable rate debt, doubly so for credit card debt. The rates are going to go up, and up and up. This article is out of the UK but the same stuff is happening here. I do hesitate to suggest specific priorities for people without knowing their situation; however if I had adjustable rate debt I would do everything realistically possible to get it paid off or at least paid down as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Militias: What They Were. What They Are, What They Can Do and Examples

I have been sort of holding off on this for awhile because well it is going to be a long and complicated post. Today is as good a day as any so I will get started.

Questioning the sanctity of militias in this group is probably more dangerous than saying you voted for Diana Feinstein and party regularly with Bernanke. Anyway I am going to attempt to look at the role of militias in America from the establishment of the new world to now. Also I am going to try and look at some of the examples of successful militias and question what militias can do for our national security. This should be fun.

Militias have a long history. Groups of cave men likely had something like a militia where able bodied men used what weapons were at hand to defend themselves and or just kill other groups of cave men. Prior to division of labor people probably fought much shorter battles because they were unable to really store up food. I imagine groups occasionally bumping into each other and sometimes fighting being the norm.

In England militias have a long tradition. They were a come as you are sort of affair. Our colonial militias were drawn along these lines. Colonial militias were not created because they were the best option, they were created because of a lack of better options. Warfare at that point was so localized that a standing army 20 miles away would not do any good. Also since these colonies were chartered by private companies they were watching their dollars. The general idea was that all able bodied males are armed and will come together to defend their village from aggression or try to massacre the local Indians when they become a bother.

While some militia units did awesome things for every one of them there was at least one bumbling expedition lead by a complete fool that ended in total disaster. Having the head of the militia often be a political figure had disastrous results in many cases. This brings us to a couple of interesting points.

First of all a real problem the militias had in the various conflicts up to and including the French and Indian War was that they were local. Often militias were fairly well organized at the local level and could be called up by the states but that was it. Often say the New Hampshire militia would refuse to go to Vermont to assist them in fighting. Even getting them to leave their local area was often difficult. Don't get my wrong I totally understand why these men wanted to protect their families, homes and livelihoods but a few guys here and a few guys there guarding their towns is not how wars are won. Because of their desire to protect their homes and Governors desires to protect their state and or internal squabbles militias efforts stumbled. By and large in this period they were often unable to achieve Mass, did not have good Unity of Command and lacked Economy of Force. The end of the French Indian was brings us pretty much up to the American Revolution.

To bring this period to a close I think the main points were as follows. Militias were definitely the cheapest and most expedient way to bring a level of protection to the local level. Their performance was good and bad depending mostly on the quality of their key leadership. Ability to work effectively in a regional sense was often hampered by the localized structure of militias and their sometimes unwillingness to go far from home.

The American Revolution is often what is cited as the great American example of why we are awesome and why militias are amazing. I do think it is completely awesome that a bunch of folks stood up the the most powerful and well trained army in the world to pursue the goal of freedom.  Of course these folks could not have done so had they not been armed but we will revisit that point later.

To say American militias beat the Redcoats is a serious oversimplification. To say that America was very lucky that the Revolution happened in a period where England and France happened to be fighting it out abroad would be accurate. To say that American militias were able to avoid being totally destroyed until a the Continental Army could be raised and foreign aid could be secured is probably accurate if not philosophically pleasing.

One part I would like to note from this period is that military and civilian arms at the time were very comparable. In fact in some ways the rifles many colonists carried were superior to the Brown Bess. A group of militiamen from some village were probably equipped in a roughly comparable way as a comparable group of redcoats.

After the Revolutionary War over time the concept of a compulsory militia of all able bodied males became less prevalent as the necessity for it went away.

From the late 19th to early 20th century state militias became much more organized at a federal level. This period saw the Militia Act of 1903 and the creation of the National Guard. as we know it today. This is also where we are going to see a significant shift between what militias were and what they are today. Militias were compulsory organizations of all able bodied adult males of military age who often provided their own weapons and equipment and occasionally (varying widely by period and region) trained at the local level. Though they draw lineage from the militias of the past it could be argued that today's National Guard has little in common with the militias of the past. First of all they are volunteer organizations composed of a relatively small group of individuals and all of the equipment is provided by the Guard and centrally stored at their Armories. The guard is more of a professional  though part time part of the U.S. Army than a militia group at least for the sake of this discussion. One could talk all about the Guard but that isn't really what this is about so further discussion will not involve the National Guard unless they are specifically mentioned.

People who are championing the militia concept often speak of Switzerland as a great example. I will agree with this with one significant proviso. The Swiss have a very good compulsory militia. That they have a strong tradition of marksmanship and keep their weapons at home would help greatly should they need to be activated. Also that they keep their noses entirely out of every ones business and stick to chocolate and banking helps a lot but that is another discussion entirely.

My proviso is as follows. The Swiss militia had little to do with Germany not invading in WWII. It is fashionable in some circles to say that the Swiss militias were so well trained and great marksmen, etc that Hitler decided not to fight them. I think if we really take an objective look it was geography that kept Switzerland safe, well that and some collaboration. If the Swiss people with their tradition of neutrality and strongly militaristic culture and corresponding militia had happened to live in Poland they would have been Blitzkrieg-ed.

Someone, likely Brass is going to bring up both Vietnam vs France and then the US and the Afghans vs, well everyone who has ever came to Afghanistan but mostly them vs the Ruskies. Small wars/ wars of empire/ whatever the term of the period are an interesting beast. The indigenous group involved tends to do better when there is an outside group providing them with weapons/ equipment and better still when they have a safe haven.  The American Revolution would have been a lot different without help from France and Spain. Vietnam would have been a very different war without the Commies giving aid to the North and them having a safe haven in neighboring countries. The Afghans would have had a far harder time fighting off the Ruskies without massive foreign aid, mainly from America and Saudi Arabia. The Afghan elements we are fighting today would have a harder time without a safe haven in Pakistan.

Maybe it is just because I am in the military but I think these wars are won or lost more by political decisions than military skill/ might. If we really look at it the key factors in these sorts of engagements are how realistic (or unrealistic) the political goals which took the military (Russian, US, whatever) there and their willingness to do what is necessary to meet those goals than anything else. Going back to my post yesterday the military can kill people, break stuff and control space/ deny that space to others. If the enemy crossing an imaginary line gives them a safe haven, there aren't enough troops to get the job done and or the goals are entirely unrealistic the best military in the world can't win. Just to put it into perspective I could whoop a very good boxer in a fist fight if he had drank a quart of booze, was wearing a blindfold and had an arm tied behind his back.

As to the concept of militias in modern America. Some liberals and anti gun folks portray modern militias as a bunch of white, racist trailer trash has been/ never were types with beer guts who get together to shoot guns, ramble anti government conspiracies and drink beer. Liberty and militia type folks will portray modern militias as pro American, well trained and competent, freedom loving individuals looking to protect their communities and families, modern Minute Men if you will. To be honest I think they are both probably somewhat right with their portrayals personifying the extremes of the modern militia movement.

As for how effective militia groups would be I think we first need to say it would vary widely based on the militia itself. That group of a few fat drunk has been/ never were types who get together to ramble about conspiracies and drink some beer would probably not be an effective fighting force unless their job was to turn full beer cans into empty beer cans. A group of reasonably fit and well trained individuals who were properly equipped and effectively lead that took on realistic missions could probably get some stuff done.

Now we ask, effective against what? Lets say there two broad possibilities would be foreign invasion and some sort of an internal problem (I will let you imagine your own scenario).

So lets just say that those darn Canadians raise a million man Army and invade the US. A bunch of militia men in foxholes would not be able to stop an Armored column from taking over their town. Now if they were smart and realistic they could harass the heck out of them and get their hands on some heavy machine guns and then become a real pain a la Red Dawn. Offing a guy here, blowing up a truck there and stealing some supplies in another place is not going to get those darn Canadians back over the border. However the more resources they have to spend guarding their logistics and hind quarters the fewer they have to fight our conventional forces and continue their invasion.

Now to an internal scenario. I think this is where a militia could have some real value. Even those fat drunks might well be able to get together and protect their families, all of their pickups and at least one of the trailers. Also depending on exactly what the scenario is they might be able to get some stuff done. An effective militia force would likely have solid well thought out plans to protect their families and such in their immediate area which could have some real value in an internal scenario.

I think the biggest things holding militias back are that they are now small, marginally equipped (for modern warfare) and varying trained:

Instead of every able bodied male being in the militia a la colonial America they are now very small select organizations at least by % of the total population. Lots of very competent and well trained folks stay away from militias because they do not want to deal with hassles and put their freedom/ family at risk by drawing that bulls eye on their head. Between unfriendly government agencies, their informants, and just plain psychos in their ranks militias these folks see them as a dangerous group to be involved with. Entrapment is a dangerous thing and conspiracy is a very open ended phrase.

Our weapons laws being what they are militia groups are really handicapped. Either they are seriously lacking weapons for modern warfare or they are probably breaking the law. Class III weapons being highly regulated, rare and VERY EXPENSIVE mean they are almost surely not widely fielded. While it doesn't matter if someones individual rifle goes bang once, three times or repeatedly when the trigger is pulled medium and heavy machine guns are very useful. Also mortars and anti armor weapons are not present at least in more than a token sense.

Of the three things likely holding militia groups back training is the one they can realistically do the most about. Honestly I doubt a group which did not have some experienced folks in key positions for both training and potential operations could be successful. Setting and enforcing standards would be essential. Physical fitness is key. Selection, size, recruitment and training always go together. If goals are set too high you will have three or four highly qualified (whatever that means to you) folks and if they are set too low you will have a bunch of worthless buffoons. Setting realistic goals for who you want to recruit and figuring out how to get them to join and stay would likely be the biggest challenge of a militia.

Broadly speaking the two roles militias have been best in were immediate localized defense and as a balwark against tyranny. Seeing as the Indians have pretty much been done declaring war on local towns and burning isolated farms and we have two weak neighbors (though I am watching those darn Canadians) immediate local defense is probably not a big concern. As for the militias role in preventing tyranny I think it is a distant second to the fact that Americans own about a billion guns but is positive none the less.

I just want to say this was a long post and I didn't spend weeks researching it so I am not going to debate small historic points with you. However discussing broad trends and conclusions should keep us plenty busy.

Edited to include:
To my fat drunk readers in trailers. Sorry if it seemed like I was taking a shot at you guys. It is the liberal anti gun totalitarians stereotype, not mine. I think you are great just the way you are and am fine if you don't want to change. Its just that if you are serious about being part of some sort of militia it might be wise to be a bit more about the exercise. Again sorry if I offended.

Edited again to include:
To all. My point certainly is not to belittle militias or say they could not do some good things. If it came off that way maybe I am having an off day. Note that for both an internal scenario and an external threat I mentioned areas where a militia could be quite successful. Also in mentioning what I see to be their biggest limitations it doesn't take much imagination to turn two of them into a blue print on how to do it very well.  The one they can't do much about is weapons. Unless they can get their hands on Javalines at Costco and RPG's and heavy machine guns at Walmart they are pretty much left to improvise or try and scrape some up if need be. My goal was to look at militias both in the past and today through a pragmatic lense instead of one tinted by political leanings. If I got you thinking a bit more critically it was at least a partial success.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember it on the nightly news when I was a kid. Not well but guys standing on a big concrete wall with sledge hammers and a lot of people who were all happy and stuff. I think the impact of the Cold War (certainly best symbolized by the Wall itself) upon Germany is at least to those in my approximate generation completely under rated.

To me prior to coming here if you had to list things which were significant and involved Germany you would mention the World Wars, and Beer and maybe David Hasselhoff. Specifically I tended to focus in on WWII and The whole attempted takover of the world and genocide bit. I think elements of those things are significant but less so than the Cold War.

I say this because the effects of the Cold War were more significant and longer lasting. Yeah Germany tried to get a bigger piece of the colonial pie which Britain, France and to a far lesser degree Spain had pretty much divided amongst themselves. They pretty much took over Europe for awhile and killed a whole bunch of Jews, Gypsies and other folks. However not that long after the war their situation in relation to the war wasn't that different from that of their neighbors on both sides. A whole generation of young men were pretty much gone, lots of innocent people were dead and the national infrastructure was wrecked. The story of a German woman was probably not that different from that of a Belgian woman or a French woman. Times were hard, her sons went off and some or all of them died, for times food and fuel was limited and things generally sucked. At some point there was some bombing or shelling in the area and at some point strange young men in weird uniforms occupied the area and may or may not have done some bad stuff.

The one thing which makes Germany's national experience vis a vi WWII different is a broad sense of national shame. They let a real asshat gain power and then their country tried to take over Europe and killed a whole shit ton of people. The jewel in their crown of guilt is the holocaust. However the way this is expressed is in a sense of real reluctance at wide military action which for different reasons (mainly the shell shock of loosing a huge part of two whole generations of young men) pretty much all of Europe has.

Attempting to disconnect WWII and the Cold War into discrete events is something of a tenuous operation but not entirely undoable if some imagination is used. The war on the Eastern Front (Russia vs Germany) could well have gone differently (more that it could have gone slower for the Ruskies not so much the end result) or the Allies could have moved a little faster and Germany would have been left to recover and rebuild from the war with out a bunch of commies waiting to storm through the Fulda Gap. Interesting what if's aside the two issues can be somewhat seperated.

A good comparison for how Germany rebuilt after the war would be Japan.

It is almost impossible to imagine a country being suddenly cut in half with almost no travel (at least for average folks) in between. The image is particularly stark when you consider Berlin being cut into pieces. Your Mom lives across town, too bad maybe you can see her in a few decades.

To make the contrast between West and East Germany all the more distinct one side got massive aid to rebuild and the other got systematically stripped of anything useful and was run down. The West generally was a decent place to live and the East was not so nice by really any measurable criteria I can think of.

While Germany could have recovered from the war within the time it takes to age a good Burbon the Cold War lasted about 45 years depending on which events you count or where you were. I would submit that Germany is still feeling the after effects of reunification. The East has far higher unemployment and hasn't generally caught up to the developed and productive Western part of the country.

This quote really sums it up best " It was expected that stronger growth would begin reducing the numbers of unemployed by 1995 and that Germany would return to its postwar path toward prosperity. But the absorption of eastern Germany, and the methods by which it had been accomplished, had exacted a high price throughout all of Germany." I would submit that this price is still being felt.

In any case the damn commies (not to be confused with our kind though slightly stern Social Democrat allies:) lost which is always a good thing. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Politics the way it should be

Apparently Rep. Joe Wilson has pissed off some people. During Obama's little speech about Obamacare, he yelled you lie. Now the big question on CNN is whether it was planed or not. So what? Lets say it was planned... So what?

CNN also ran a commentary about how we need to respect presidents. At the start of it, it mentions how the Brits have a "question time" where the PM gets into basically a yelling match with the House of Commons. Whats wrong with that idea? Now normally, I believe, the fact that someone in Europe does something is a good reason not to do it here. That goes double for the British. However, those bastards might have stumbled on to something here.

I think we need more yelling at the president. This is the way politics should be (note: I am in class while writing this, so I didn't get to watch the video... hopefully it will be a good one).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Living in Germany 1: Initial Impressions

This doesn't have a whole lot to do with any of the blogs core topics but since it is also an extension of my life and life experiences it is going to come up here. At the end of the day I write about what I want to. I move a lot for work and this has trickled into the blog starting with the rv living series and then going to my chronicles on living in The South. I will stick with the tried and true good, bad and ugly format TOM suggested so long ago. Well maybe not so long but I have moved 4 times since then so it seems like forever. This post is just going to be initial impressions as I've been here for a few days.

The Good: Lots of trees, very clean, the people are nice, the food is great, the beer is great, the houses and stores are cool looking. It is set up so walking is practical. It is all new but I am really enjoying it a lot so far.

The Bad: We are at least temporarily out of the loop on most everything as we do not speak German. It is a lot better now that we've got an internet connection. On the tv at our hotel there is only one channel in English and it is CNN. Sort of a random international CNN I think. They use the Euro here and at about 1.4 dollars to 1 euro things are more expensive than in the good old USA. I make a good living so it will not be a big issue but we will probably notice it. (much more on this later) The 19% VAT tax is sort of lame also. The time difference will also be a barrier for communicating with folks back home.

The Ugly: Nothing really.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Travel, Life and Security

I am in the process of out processing right now. Lots of lines and paperwork and fun times. This area has been pretty good to us but I am ready to get into a more settled position.

I/ We have done some thinking and talking about exactly how much to share about the upcoming move. Decided that saying absolutely nothing would not be practical as tid bits of everyday life slip into here anyway. Saying Europe would not make any real sense because aside from the 173rd Airborne in Italy and a few people here or there it basically means Germany anyway. I am not going to say more than that, tis my compromise. If you pick up more by putting pieces of stuff together please keep it to yourself. I would be bummed to reject a great comment because it mentioned in passing where I am.

We are moving to Germany. I put it on my wish list back in the day and never thought they would actually give it to me, turns out they did. The move is going to be significantly more complicated then say throwing our stuff into two cars and driving across the country. This is going to be exciting and interesting.

I am pretty excited about the whole thing though somewhat apprehensive. Wish I could take some guns but other then that I think it will be fun. Wifey is excited about the travel opportunities though apprehensive in general and disappointed that finding work might be difficult to impossible. She is concerned about jumping through all the right hoops and stuff for getting the cats there without it costing wads of cash and them sitting in quarantine. Also the Anti Terrorism briefing kind of freaked her out.

I really want to go to Switzerland and Wifey wants to go to Paris. She has some family in England so that will be cool. To be honest I can't think of a place I don't want to go. We plan to travel as much as time and finances allow. Since we will already be there it seems like a lot can be done on weekends (especially 3-4 day passes) and if you want at fairly reasonable cost.

Anyway that is all for now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rush on Health Care

The conversation about health care has been interesting and thought provoking. Today I heard something very interesting on the radio. I am not going to try and quote Rush but I certainly got the gist of it.

Rush said that we do not have a problem with health care. We have the best health care in the world. People from all over the world (namely Canada and England which says something in and of itself;) come to America for health care. Aside from going abroad for the newest (questionably safe or effective) experimental cancer treatments (TOR adds or going to Thailand to get their outie turned into an innie) Americans do not go anywhere for health care. This is because they can get the best health care in the world in their region or certainly the good ole USA.

We do however have an issue with the cost structure of our health care system.

Now we get my thoughts on what he said:

I agree with Rush on this one. Basically the care is great but who/ what/ how/ pays for what is not working well by any possible measure. Like a lot of things how people view this problem pretty much shows their angle and you don't really even need to hear their view on how to fix things. In a perfect world we would be able to (how we would do this is open to a lively discussion and again falls to peoples view) fix the cost structure of our health system without messing with the actual framework of doctors, hospitals and the like. I just can't see this happening.

The reason I can not see this happening is because it assumes you can change one part of the system without touching the other. I don't know a whole lot about fancy economics/ business stuff but I know a tiny bit about equations. Simply put they balance out. What is on one side is going to equal the other. One of those old scales where you put stuff on each side like a teeter totter works the same way. One side effects the other.

Our system is the way it is because there is strong incentive to be a doctor or provide various pharmacutical/ medical services as being high up in one of these fields is almost like having an ATM in your living room. Doctors from all over the world (again Canada and England;) come to America so they can make a lot of money. If profits start to be 'managed' within a few years doctors will start migrating to greener pastures. Within a decade or two we will see fewer people becoming doctors and those bright minds will become engineers or lawyers or who knows what else. A few of the potential consequences of tweeking compensation the wrong way would be fewer doctors, longer wait times and decreased availability of care in general.

This quote was certainly thought provoking and it did give me a shred of hope. If we can manage not to fuck up the overall cost/ compensation structure too bad maybe the actual care won't get completely screwed up. I still think we are all screwed no matter what happens but maybe it won't be as rough as it could be.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Fall of the British Empire

Yesterday I finished The Fall of the British Empire by Collin Cross. Had planned to write about it last night but I got home awful late. Lots of times people talk about the fall of the Roman Empire and make doom and gloom comparisons to our current situation. I think this is somewhat accurate as a comparison to a genuine global TEOTWAWKI which is a pretty darn unlikely scenario. Often our nation is compared to past empires which inevitably fell. I firmly believe the best comparison is Britain. While we do not have an empire strictly speaking we do have a very large global military presence which some might say is similar. Admittedly I am a history buff with a slight emphasis on military history.

At its height the British Empire controlled 25% of the worlds land mass and a bit more then 25% of its population. The Empire came together over time but mostly was acquired in the second half of the 19th century. It was said by Lord Patterson that (the Empire) was acquired in a 'fit of absent-mindedness'. I would say it was lost in a long bought of ambivalence followed by cutting and running. To those in charge the biggest events in the Empire paled in importance to trivial events of national or European politics.

The particulars of the fall of the British Empire are not particularly important aside from being interesting to me. The big question I have asked myself is "How did the the British Empire affect the lives of every day citizens?". Since the Empire started (very fuzzy to find an exact time for our purposes) and ended over a period of multiple generations which encompassed so much change it is impossible to tell for sure.

The next question which is probably more relevant is "How did the end (again up for debate but certainly the mid-late 1960's) of the British Empire affect the lives of every day citizens?"

My answer to this (based on a reasonable amount of reading) is that it did not affect for better or worse the conditions of a brick layer or a high school teacher or a pharmacist in any significant way. The average person had little contact with the Empire aside from maybe military service in a garrison or conflict. On the whole if they had missed the papers and radio/tv broadcasts about the news the Empire being lost could have gone without notice. Some big wigs and businessmen may have had their affairs change in some way but on the whole things went on more or less the same.

[It is worth noting that the lives of those in the colonies may have changed drastically. Being a White farmer (or owning any major industry/ mineral rights) in a British colony in Africa at the time after that colony became an African Republic was often not fun times.]

In terms of economics in an era of relatively free trade the loss of the Empire did not greatly inhibit trade. At best the Empire was a wash in terms of economics. It cost the government money and what riches were made tended to go to very small groups of big businessmen. On the whole money flowed from the mother country to colonies not visa verse.

Who knows what will happen in terms of our politics and international involvement, particularly the two wars we are currently involved in. To be honest I can't realistically see how our forces in some parts of the world will do anything but get more involved. In any case I do not think you need to fear the potential end of our massive international presence because the barbarians are not going to storm the gates.

Now I am reading Wars of Empire. Today I got about 180 pages into it so it may be finished up this week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where is this thing going?

I am not quite sure why I stumbled into this train of thought. Guess with anything that is a big part of your life it is good to think about its role in your life from time to time. First of all I don't plan on going anywhere in the foreseeable future. You can expect full bore TOR for a long time to come.

The wildcard for me is work. If I have to go somewhere for a month or two I will try and get a few scheduled posts so you can have something during that time. If (when) I get deployed things will rapidly change here. If I have regular access to email you will be hearing from me. I might be able to convince Wifey to throw some updates on here if I don't have regular access to puters. That aside.

Lets look at the future:

1 year from now: I expect to be doing more or less the same thing. Ryan will be close to graduating which will be pretty awesome. It will be a huge milestone for him. Also his time will be more open so we can divide labor on here a bit more. That will be nice.

3 years from now: I will have fulfilled my commitment to the US Army. This will be time to decide if it is going to be my carrear or get out and start doing something else. I imagine it is going to be my carear but who knows.

5 years: If not in the Army things will really be starting to get interesting with the blog. If still in I will own a home and be able to do a lot more stuff (garden, storage, etc). Either way I am really glad that our blog covers a lot of broad topics.

10 years: Who knows. I imagine posting will be at a regular 3x a week cycle or something like that. Between myself and Ryan with a joke or picture thrown in from time to time we could make sure there is something new on here every day (cept maybe Sun) with relative ease.

20 years: If the Army is my carear I will be getting out and looking to get cracking on a farm/ retreat! This will be big fun stuff with lots of interesting things that I might or might not be sharing. Who knows what kind of crazy technology will be going on then.

Got to get back to work. Apparantly they are rioting around the G20 meeting in London.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cool Music Video and my beliefs

I have been sitting around watching Rage videos and that got me to thinking. They tend to do things like flying flags upside down which I am not a fan of. To them and some others it is symbolic but it just pisses me off. FYI someone who does that around me is probably going to the hospital. I believe some acts merit physical violence and that is one of them. That being said they kick so much ass that I am not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They tend towards some beliefs I don't agree with but really they on the far left and I on the far right have more in common then anyone would acknowledge. Really the political spectrum is not anywhere near as simple as the mainstream makes it out to me.

That also got me thinking about revolutions. I am fine with revolutions. Any American who isn't either wishes we were still British subjects, is ignorant or a hypocrite. I do think it is pretty hard to have a genuine popular revolution in a democratic country because if they were actually a significant amount of people they could just vote the action they wanted into power. That tends to mean "revolutions" are either a few asshats trying to tell everyone what to do (the Taliban) or a small marginalized group (Zapatistas, AIM, etc). For these small groups revolutionary violence is an extension of their political goals. To a certain degree I wish these groups some localized success in addressing their greavances. I do not think these small groups should be able to have influence far out of relation to their size and the legitimacy of their concerns. I do however find myself with minimal sympathy when revolutionary groups get stomped on. If you are going to mess with the bull you've got to be prepared to take the horns.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Badass of the week- Winston Churchill

Check out this account of the awesomeness of Winston Churchill. I confess a strong suspicion that at least one fact in this account could have been exaggerated. In any case it is a pretty amusing and at least slightly factual account of one of the greatest men of the 20th century.
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