My DD214

Veterans should be a thing of the past.

Confusion about Myanmar, Burma

At this point, there’s really no excuse for why we haven’t sent a U.S. Armed Service Veteran to Myanmar/Burma to clean that situation up. Sylvester Stalone showed us all how diffuse THIS EXACT SITUATION when he made the last Rambo movie. I don’t know, it seems pretty clear to me what needs to be done – if there’s a bad man in Burma stealing children, torching monks and villages and just being an outright prick to humanity, send a bad-ass-mutha in there to clean that shit up!

Will

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10 May, 2008 12:11 PM Posted by | I lack creativity and/or attention to detail, Just a thought.., News, Politics and other hazardous materials | 1 Comment

Followup: VA responds to theft of vets’ personal info

A notice on the front page of the Veterans' Administration website (www.va.gov) addresses the recent possible identity theft previously discussed here. The VA will be individually contacting vets who may have been affected, but if you aren't willing to wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to start turning you can call 1-800-FED INFO (333-4636) from 8am to 9pm EDT, Monday through Saturday.

The full text of the statement is inside.

Continue reading

25 May, 2006 12:22 PM Posted by | News, Veterans' affairs | 2 Comments

Now we can all be Will Charlton

The VA has reported that a massive theft of veterans' personal information has occured. From the New York Times story:

Personal electronic data on up to 26.5 million military veterans, including their Social Security numbers and birth dates, was stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who had taken the information without authorization, the agency said today.

The department said there was no evidence that any data had been used illegally, and that whoever stole it during a burglary of the employee's home might be unaware of the nature of the information or how to use it. The stolen data does not include any health records or financial information, the agency said.

If they were unaware of the nature of the information before, they sure won't be now.

22 May, 2006 5:47 PM Posted by | News, Veterans' affairs | 5 Comments

A little nail for the 9/11 Pentagon conspiracy theory coffin

A public interest group called Judicial Watch petitioned the US Justice Department to release the only known "videos" of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th. Judicial Watch hopes that the release of this video will put the conspiracy theories regarding to the Pentagon attack to rest, but sadly, I'm not convinced that it will.

The "video" is in fact a collection of sequential still shots from a Pentagon security camera; tinfoil hatters will simply claim that the video was doctored. And in fact, it would not be tremendously difficult, given the strobe-light effect that the video gives to the events. In both videos, the aircraft appears in exactly one frame (at 1:26 in the first, and at 0:24 in the second) which is followed by the fireball caused by the crash. Even in the one frame where it appears, the airliner doesn't particularly resemble a passenger jet as much as it looks like a prop in a poorly thought out Coors Lite commercial.

The moment in video 2 where the aircraft is visible The moment in video 1 where the aircraft is visible

(fancy red boxes indicating position of Flight 77 by yours truly)

I admire Judicial Watch for their efforts, and I can imagine that they're somewhat disappointed that the videos obtained for the public through their hard work are so equivocal. Occam's Razor and some blurry, low-res time elapse photos are not going to sway those who really believe that there's more to the story.

Related links:

The videos, hosted by Judicial Watch

BBC coverage

An excellent rundown of 9/11 conspiracies in New York Magazine

17 May, 2006 12:49 AM Posted by | Just a thought.., News | Leave a comment

Full English text of Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush

Check it kids. The White House didn't release it, but Iran's government did. Analysis from yours truly after I get through it; the letter isn't exactly terse.

13 May, 2006 3:44 PM Posted by | News, Politics and other hazardous materials | 1 Comment

Noteworthy stuff on two totally distinct fronts

I'm up waaaay too late after work, but there's things you need to see.

Firstly, the NYT drops the science on why the United States' trade embargo with Cuba is going to go away. And no, humanitarian concerns have nothing to do with it, unless your idea of humanitarian aid involves Cadillac Escalades. I realize that the article doesn't say that explicitly; expect some analysis from me tomorrow.

Secondly, if you're a nerd like me, then you really need to see Bungie's brand spanking new trailer for Halo 3. Even if you haven't the foggiest notion what Halo is, just watch the trailer. The dramatic musical stings will let you know when it's time to get the jibblies.

There was also good stuff on Iran in the paper today that bears discussion, but it's going to have to wait until after my Greek & Roman Religion final tomorrow afternoon. Wish me luck.

10 May, 2006 3:18 AM Posted by | Just a thought.., Linkage, News | Leave a comment

Oh dear

William, I know that you're a big Hugo Chavez fan, but this is the one of the least subtle moves I've seen since my junior prom: Venezuela's Chavez proposes referendum on holding office until 2031. (via)

8 May, 2006 5:19 PM Posted by | News | 1 Comment

Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain etc etc

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a media superstar. As well he should be; he is a man whose every action seems to be focus-groupped ahead of time to maximize newspaper sales. Last year he called for the destruction of Israel and decried the Holocaust as a myth. As Iran inches its way towards advanced nuclear capabilities, he continues to hoard the attention of the Western media: he's on the cover of this week's Economist, and his letter to George Bush has been making headlines all day. But those who would capitalize on Ahmadinejad's Jerry Falwell-like propensity to be blindingly stupid are doing the public a disservice. This guy doesn't run anything.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Presidents of Iran have about as much power as Queens of England and Kings of Pop. The real power in Iran is, of course, the Ayatollah and the clerics around him. The only time in memory that Ahmadinejad has done anything notable (besides saying something vulgar) was when he declared that women would be allowed into soccer matches last week. Anyone who was paying any attention at all to Iran scratched their heads a bit at that, as it was a reach for power that (although trivial) was beyond anything President Ahmadinejad had attempted before.

But the head-scratching was in vain. The conservative clerics, who had been outraged at Ahmadinejad's "decision", reversed it today.

Ahmadinejad will continue to grab the spotlight here in the West. But he is not the problem.

8 May, 2006 3:37 PM Posted by | Just a thought.., News | 1 Comment

The War on Dorky Terror continues apace

Well it wasn't just CNN that bit when the DoD dangled the Zarqawi blooper reel today: the New York Times and LA Times jumped on it, as well as ABC and Fox. So far as I could find, Reuters, Bloomberg and other wire services stayed silent and Al Jazeera has yet to chime in, not even providing their usual meta-commentary on how US media was handling the story.

So clearly we have a charm offensive being conducted by the Bush administration. In the words of Major General Rick Lynch (who was apparently running the dog-and-pony show for the media), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is "a warrior leader.. who doesn't understand how to operate his weapons system and has to rely on his subordinates to clear a weapons stoppage."

But how wise is this? Is it really such a good idea to paint Zarqawi as a bumbling idiot when haven't been able to catch the son of a bitch for two-and-a-half years? What does that make us?

4 May, 2006 10:09 PM Posted by | News | Leave a comment

I never read CNN.com anymore

And here's one of the reasons why:

U.S.: Outtakes show al-Zarqawi as poor gunman 

Are you kidding me? Not only has the Department of Defense adopted the new strategy of making fun of al-Qaeda, but CNN puts this crap on their front page. I'm looking forward to more CNN headlines in support of our new initiative in the War on Terror:

U.S.: Our dad can totally beat up your dad

U.S.: Sources indicate that Bin Laden 'eats his own boogers'

U.S.: New leadership in Iraq insurgency 'a bunch of fags' 

4 May, 2006 2:45 PM Posted by | Just a thought.., News, Release the Bears | Leave a comment