Frontier Former Editor

March 27, 2011

Space-clearing oddities . . .

Wal-Mart is still the top-grossing spectator sport in the South, far in excess of NASCAR. Especially when one wanders through the local Wal-Mart  to peek at what’s in the various, strategically-placed bargain bins. CD’s and DVD’s have been the latest and most popular fire-lane obstructions in the chain’s loss-leader marketing.

On Thursday, I think I might have made two significant cultural discoveries in a CD bin – possible the two shortest, commercially released music CD’s in U.S. history: Kenny G Super Hits and Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits.

Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars . . . .

September 16, 2009

Yup, Mike was the smart one . . .

Been busy developing a business writing course for a local college management seminar, but I stumbled across this on Facebook (thanks to Mark C. Still). What a blast, considering it’s been 28 years since I saw this . . . .

And they expect me to teach writing to managers . . . . .

Sorry, the embed’s not working . . . try here

January 8, 2009

I’d like to see the corresponding odds of . . .

being a Palestinian civilian and being hit by Israeli ordnance.

http://www.ifcj.org

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like seeing civilians of any stripe being hit by rockets, missiles, bombs, cluster munitions, artillery fire, mortar rounds or any other ordnance. But I’ve seen a commercial twice in the last three days from the International Federation of Christians and Jews about how I should drop everything and call a toll-free number to show my support for Jewish victims of Hamas rocket attacks. The commercial states that these rocket attacks are not widely reported in the media.

Funny thing: I’ve been well aware of these attacks for years now.

I’ll do one better. I’m blogging now to show my support for civilians in Israel, Gaza, Jerusalem, Lebanon and associated areas who have to endure rocketing, bombing, shelling, suicide bombing and other violent acts, no matter what the source of the ordnance.

As for ‘eye for an eye’? In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man may be king but he still has lousy depth perception.

January 4, 2009

Another reason not to book that Holy Land tour . . .

Filed under: ancient history, colonialism, doomed to repeat, dumbasses, imperialism, Judaism, religion — Tags: , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 1:44 am

As a history major, I look at Saturday’s news and remember the following:

  • Balfour issued his letter in support of a  Zionist homeland in Palestine, as long as the native population was not adversely affected, like that was a consideration since 1917.
  • Israel, despite its political leadership’s claims that it is not a colonial power, joined quite willingly with England and France in 1956 to support seizure of  the Suez Canal and, as a bonus, seize control of the Sinai and expand its borders beyond the 1948 lines.
  • Also, despite its claims of non-colonial stances, most Israeli governments have, at best, paid little more than lip service to the concept of withdrawing settlements in Palestinian territory and, at worst, actively encouraging settlements as a non-governmental way of expanding Israeli hegemony beyond the 1948 borders.
  • Hamas and Hezbollah, while understandable reactions to Israeli imperialism (yes, imperialism), are really no better than successive Israeli governments in promoting any sort of rational solutions to the region’s problems. Both sides, however, are skilled practitioners of the ‘eye for an eye’ school of dispute settlement.
  • I have real concerns about a country conducting a foreign policy based cynically on the Old Testament.
  • On top of that, the mainstream Arab leadership across the region has done little to ease the situation under which Palestinians have existed . And when militant killers organize in resistance to the state of Israel, do you expect ? After all,  look at the Stern Gang and Irgun and ask what is the fundamental difference between them and Hamas/Hezbollah?

 

Perhaps it is time for the world community to allow both sides of the current troubles to be isolated and fight each other to the death. On second thought, perhaps it’s time for all parties to the events of the last 92 years to own up to their contributions to those events and to bring hard rationality and justice to the region. 

Both sides of the region’s inhabitants are equally responsible for killing and maiming civilians.

Most European nation-states are also responsible for persecution of Jews over the last several centuries and to that persecution’s peak in World War II.

The U.S. certainly has done little to head off Israel’s territorial expansion since the 1960’s, except to offer a confused series of initiatives and momentary successes of rationality lost in subsequent, emotionally confused shows of support for ‘Judeo-Christian’ values and perfunctory nods to ‘good Islamics’ victimized by the actions of ‘bad Islamics.’

And, when we all watch the news, hear the U.S. veto U.N. efforts to put Israel on the spot, and watch as Israeli aircrew flying American-made helicopters and jets bomb and strafe Gaza today, it’s hard to say that America is committed to a just peace process in the Middle East.

And what have the Arab nations done in practical terms to ease Palestinian suffering?

April 3, 2008

Of great white hopes . . . .

Filed under: ancient history, Cold War, dumbasses, history, tragedy — Tags: , , , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 3:54 pm

tsr2-cosford.jpg

As my Canadian acquaintances will note, the Avro Arrow was a world-beater of a design which died an abrupt and painful death because the United States had something cheaper and supposedly better available.

And so did something American, cheaper and supposedly better help kill the TSR. 2.

The TSR. 2 died its rather brutal, quick and typically British bureaucratic death because of a combination of factors, although the promise of the American F-111, a clapped-out modification of the F-4 Phantom, and leftover Royal Navy S2 Buccaneers helped push along the process.

Granted, the TSR. 2 probably would have suffered its share of technological teething pains if the project had stayed alive. But those problems would not have been any worse than those suffered by the F-111 or many other contemporary military and civilian aircraft.

And if its development had continued . . . . what a world-beater it would have been.

Sadly enough, the gentleman exiting the cockpit at the end – Roland Beamont – helped preside at the gestation of two legendary British aircraft: the Hawker Typhoon and the English Electric Canberra and was poised to the be midwife for another if the TSR. 2 had survived. 

tsr2_ad.gif

Google some of the histories of the TSR. 2 or, better yet, go find some books on the subject. If one compares it to the development and acquisition of the Hawker Hunter and other postwar British types, it makes one wonder if Britain as an institution was aiming for technological suicide.

On a lesser scale, my personal disgust for Dick Cheney began long before that scumbag declared himself vice president. As Secretary of Defense in 1988, he helped scuttle the F-14D Tomcat – what the Tomcat could have been 15 years earlier and what could have kept the U.S. carrier fleet a viable instrument of power as opposed to a deck full of short-ranged jets. 

It would have been a bargain, since the cost of remanufacturing more than 400 Tomcats and producing about 200 new F-14D’s would have been, per plane, about a third of the cost of a now-new F-18E Super Hornet. But Cheney pushed for its demise and for the development of a new fighter which, in one of its big selling points in advertisements and literature by McDonnell Douglas, could bring back more underwing stores than could the F/A-18C Hornet.

 But I digress . . .

“All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right.”

-Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hart, Fury, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, Fury, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk, Hunter, Kestrel, Harrier . . . .

March 31, 2008

Nothing new under the sun

Filed under: ancient history, doomed to repeat, history, humanism — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:29 am

No humor in this.

With all the relatively recent hue and cry over Darfur, Kosovo, Iraq and other places, I have to let my head drop a bit at the idea of young folk acting if somehow they have single-handedly discovered genocide as they wear their ‘save Darfur’ shirts and shout anti-war invective. All fine and well that they may be developing social conscience, but this obituary in Sunday’s International Herald Tribune is a reminder of how change remains the same.

Dith Pran, a photojournalist for The New York Times whose gruesome ordeal in the killing fields of Cambodia was re-created in a 1984 movie that gave him an eminence he tenaciously used to press for his people’s rights, died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on Sunday. He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, New Jersey

The cause was pancreatic cancer, which had spread, said his friend Sydney Schanberg.

Dith saw his country descend into a living hell as he scraped and scrambled to survive the barbarous revolutionary regime of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, when as many as two million Cambodians — a third of the population — were killed, experts estimate. Dith survived through nimbleness, guile and sheer desperation.

Many of us have probably thought we discovered cruelty in our world, but the true discovery is that cruelty has been around as long as we have.

It doesn’t mean the young – or the old for that matter – shouldn’t fight it, but making the fight a fad eventually creates numbness and short attention span.

When younger folk start protesting China’s behavior in Tibet this spring, they might want to consider just how long repression has been a part of life under the Chinese Communists and pretty much every regime and dynasty before them.

And, given mankind’s general record around the world, that’s just for starters.

January 13, 2008

Another entry in the chronicle of “I really am getting old . . .”

Filed under: Afghanistan, ancient history, Charlie Wilson, Tom Hanks — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:40 am

Tonight I went to see “Charlie Wilson’s War.” As the sound system suddenly went haywire in the theater, I went out in the lobby to find a manager to put it right again.

No employees were to be seen, but two teenage girls were in the lobby. They said the staff all left. I thanked them and turned back to the theater, and one asked me if “Charlie Wilson . . .” was good. I said yes. She said, “I like Tom Hanks.”

I said, “Yeah, but it has some ancient history in it.”

I was about their age when Aeroflot brought its first ‘tourist’ charter into Kabul.

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