Tuesday Halloween Open Comments

I’ve come across several web sites that consist of two sentence horror stories.

“I told my neighbor I had to shoot their dog in self-defense. Actually, he was just too good at digging up bones.”

“The deepest part of the ocean is 10,916 meters. According to our instruments, we should have passed that 3 kilometers ago.”

“As we stood there in the desert, I wondered – why had we dug more graves than bodies?” [Okay, that’s ONE sentence.]

How well can we do? I’ll start:

“While one a haunted house tour, my friend jokingly dared me to a staring contest with a painting of the house’s original owner. The painting lost.”

“I kept seeing my curtain moving out of the corner of my eye, and it was keeping me awake. I got up to close the window – and it already was.”

“The neighbor’s adorable newborn girl was missing, so I volunteered to dog sit for them. The next day, the dog vomited, and I knew what had happened to their daughter.”

“For long weeks I prayed fervently for hours every day for salvation, skipping meals, work, sleep, and my social life. Hillary still won.”

“I wanted to borrow my friend’s backhoe. Southern Tragedy told me she had to hose it off first.”

Weekend Extreme Valor Open Commentary


Scott Johnson from Powerline:

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal published a Notable & Quotable item excerpting a November 13, 2010, speech by then-Lieutenant General John Kelly to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, describing a 2008 suicide bombing in Iraq that killed Marines Corporal Jonathan Yale, 22, and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 20. The Journal published the excerpt under the heading “Six seconds to live” and also posted the item online with a link to the complete text of General Kelly’s speech. The Journal notes that General Kelly’s son, Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly, 29, had been killed in action in Afghanistan on November 9, 2010, only four days before he gave the speech. I want to draw attention to this without further comment for readers disgusted by the deeply disgusting news of the day as something to stay our minds on and be staid.

Four days earlier, one of General Kelly’s sons was killed in combat in Afghanistan.  His speech included these words with no mention of the death of his son.

Like my own two sons who are Marines and have fought in Iraq, and today in Sagin, Afghanistan, they are also the same kids that drove their cars too fast for your liking, and played the God-awful music of their generation too loud, but have no doubt they are the finest of their generation. Like those who went before them in uniform, we owe them everything. We owe them our safety. We owe them our prosperity. We owe them our freedom. We owe them our lives. Any one of them could have done something more self-serving with their lives as the vast majority of their age group elected to do after high school and college, but no, they chose to serve knowing full well a brutal war was in their future. They did not avoid the basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen—the defense of country—they welcomed it. They are the very best this country produces, and have put every one of us ahead of themselves. All are heroes for simply stepping forward, and we as a people owe a debt we can never fully pay. Their legacy will be of selfless valor, the country we live in, the way we live our lives, and the freedoms the rest of their countrymen take for granted.

and this,

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing
non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it
apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill
their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have know they were safe…because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.


Thursday Existential Crisis Open Comments

The universe shouldn’t technically exist, according to top scientists who have spent their careers trying to figure out how the beginning of everything didn’t immediately destroy itself.

The current model for the birth of the universe predicts that equal parts of matter and antimatter were produced by the Big Bang.

But, since matter and antimatter are identical except for their opposite electrical charges, they annihilate each other – a reaction that fuels the starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.” When the two collide, they combust in a violent eruption, meaning none of anything should be here today.
“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” Christian Smorra, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is. What is the source of the symmetry break?”
I have an idea. Keep looking and maybe someday you will find it.

Tuesday Burns/Novick Review Thread

 Mackubin Thomas Owens 

Owens was a Marine infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, received a Silver Star, retired as a colonel, has a bio/resume far too long to list, not the least of which is his birthplace in Bryan, Texas.

He has written a two part review of the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary I believe is the best I’ve read so far.

The divisions over Vietnam are deep and people on both sides of the divide have become invested in their respective positions. As someone who is proud of his service during the Vietnam War, I saw the series—touted as an even-handed portrayal of the war—as just another manifestation of the standard narrative advanced by those of the “Vietnam generation” who have somehow been anointed as spokesmen for all of us.

Let me be stark in describing the polar attitudes of those who came of age during the Vietnam era. On the one side in this culture war are those who believe that Vietnam wasn’t very different from other wars. The cause was just, but it was as affected by ambiguities as any other war, including World War II. In the end, the U.S. defeat was the result of strategic failure, not moral failure. Those who fought it were doing their duty as they saw it, just as their fathers and grandfathers had done theirs when the times demanded it of them.


Such are the problems with the series. I was struck by the absence of certain voices. There is nothing from those who have offered reasoned defenses of both the purpose and conduct of the war, especially Jim Webb. There is no mention of Mark Moyar, who has written a revisionist study of the war, or of Bob Sorley’simportant contribution to the study of the military leadership during the war, which has generated a lively debate among US Army historians. Sorley appears in the documentary, but if he was asked to talk about his revisionist history of the war, it must have ended up on the cutting room floor. I was stuck as well be the downplaying of the patriotism and sense of purpose that fortified the resolve of many of the Americans who served in Vietnam—including the two-thirds who volunteered.

and most tellingly,

But this is bad history. A 1980 Harris poll of Vietnam veterans revealed that 91 percent were proud of their wartime service; 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service; and, contrary to the notion that the war was inherently unwinnable, 89 percent agreed with the statement that “our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win.” One would think the producers could have found at least a few veterans who supported the war.

The particularly grievous result of all this is that Burns and Novick wrongly reinforce the myth that the US military in Vietnam was an army of unwilling and dispirited draftees—and one composed of an unjust overrepresentation of minorities. But in fact, two-thirds of those who served — and 73% of those who died — were volunteers. With respect to minorities, African-Americans comprised 13.1% of the draftable age group, 12.6% of the military, and 12.2% of the casualties.

(Emphasis added.)