Thursday, February 28, 2008

Your Story Is Important To Me

I read this over at Any Soldier and emailed Marty Horn inquiring about posting it myself. He let me know it wasn't his place to grant the permission, but that he had forwarded my request to the owner. I am pleased to say permission was granted.

Your Story Is Important To Me

When I think of an American soldier, four words come to mind, Honor, Respect, Freedom and Valor.

Your story is filled with Honor and Respect. Honor for our country and all we hold dear. These brave men and women risk their lives to honor this great nation. All of the service men and women show great respect for our flag and everything it stands for. With everything these wonderful people do, I don't think we show them the respect and honor they deserve in return. I can not think of a more honorable profession than to be a United States Soldier.

Your story is filled with Freedom. We are all free because of the men and women who serve in the military. The war in Iraq is a perfect example of your dedication to protecting not only the freedoms of the American people, but also to helping free people all over the world. We are able to live the way we do and enjoy all of the freedoms we have because of our soldiers. Due to these people, we have the opportunity to do anything we want with our lives. Our soldiers protect our Country so we can keep the freedoms allowed us. They keep our rights safe by defending the constitution. I am able to stand here before you today and share these feelings because our soldiers have risked everything they know to defend my rights.

Your story is filled with Valor. Every member of our military, past and present, are true heroes. These soldiers voluntary risk their lives every day to keep us safe. As far back as the Revolutionary War, our American Soldiers have not given up the fight for what they believe in. Through the wars we have fought, our troops are often out numbered and have faced great odds. It is only through bravery and true heroism that they have fought on and defeated their enemies. They are often asked to sacrifice everything to insure our safety at home. At times, they are asked to leave their families and all that they know behind. They must travel to foreign countries where they don't always know the language or understand the culture. It could mean losing their life to cross a border into some of these countries. Yet they are willing to take that risk. These men and women do jobs that others are afraid to do. A soldier will do whatever is necessary or asked of them to accomplish these tasks.

I don't believe one day a year is nearly enough to honor all of the brave men and women who voluntarily give up so much to defend and protect our country. In my opinion, we all need to show more respect to our veterans. I personally would like to thank you for all you have done.

Katey LeAnne Kilpatrick
(Age 14, 8th Grader)
O'Connell Middle School, Lakewood, CO.

Miss Kilpatrick is a special young lady. I think she did a great job on this essay. And, I'm sure that any member of our Armed Forces will appreciate the sentiments she has expressed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Showing some class

On thing I like about attending professional baseball games is the singing of the National Anthem before the game. The other day, I saw this video. It appears to be from the 2007 season. The Boston Red Sox were hosting a Disability Awareness Day, and the National Anthem was being sung by one of the disabled persons being recognized. Partway through the song, he begins having trouble getting through it. No matter your baseball allegiances, you have to admit the Boston fans showed a lot of class in how they reacted to this young man's difficulties with the song:

There's just something about hearing the entire stadium singing together. I've been able to be a part of that a few times at Express games, too.

H/T: On -my-soap-box

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rick White's Trike for the Troops

Rick White has taken Colorado's Bike to Work day and turned it into an opportunity to help support the troops. Last year, he raised $3500 to purchase care package items that went to the 82nd Airborne. This year, he has teamed up to with Soldiers' Angels to raise money for Project Valour-IT.

This year's Bike to Work Day is June 25th. His goal is to raise $8000, which would purchase 10 laptops for our wounded warriors. As of today, he has received $455 in pledges. Do what you can to help Rick White meet, and exceed, his goal. Just fill out the pledge form at the bottom of his Trike for the Troops site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What was that about global warming???

January 2008 global temperatures were .75°C cooler than they were in January 2008 2007. That is the single largest annual drop in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) data set, which goes back over 200 years.

Also, the Artic sea ice has grown more than the average for the last three years, by 2 million square kilometers. In addition, the thickness of the ice is increasing in some areas, by about 10 to 20 centimeters, over last year.

I'm all for energy conservation and being responsible stewards of the environment, but I also know there is much we don't know about "climate change". I'm not ready to buy into anthropogenic global warming alarmism. These reports just go to show that the so-called "experts" don't know everything. With pretty much any field of scientific endeavor, there are three groups of facts: (1) what we know we know, (2) what we know we don't know and (3) what we don't know we don't know. So, all those man-made global warming pushers out there are being disingenious when they speak of sure things. And, as I posted yesterday, we don't need government to get clean alternative energy sources: the market will do that on its own. And the economy will be all the better for the government staying out of the way.

H/T: Weekly Standard: January Was Wicked Cold

Monday, February 18, 2008

It will happen without government interference...

if people think they can make money doing it.

T.J. Rodgers isn't invested in solar power because he's part of the green movement or a global warming alarmist - he's not either of those things. He's in it because he views it as a good investment which will make lots of money.

A decade later, one of the scientists who worked with Noyce and Hoerni, Gordon Moore, by then co-founder of Intel, realized that this miniaturization/mass-production technique was advancing at a rate never seen before in human endeavor. This formulation was the famous Moore's Law, which defines the modern world.

Most of us now understand, and appreciate, Moore's Law, but in the semiconductor industry they live it every day. And T.J. is one of the best of them. And what he saw in SunPower was the impending arrival of Moore's Law to the alternative power world … and more than anyone, he knew what that meant.

As he has admitted, what he saw wasn't Green, as in environmentalism, but "green," as in money. That's why he made such an unlikely move — and why he is now an even richer tycoon.

This takes a singular combination of vision, guts and the kind of strategic thinking that is only found in real, business-oriented entrepreneurs – not in government bureaucrats, or, for that matter, reporters.

The husband of a woman I grew up with has worked for T.J. for many years in international sales. It's been a good job, so when I heard a few years ago he was being transferred to SunPower, I felt sorry for him, figuring it was a demotion. These days he's adding new wings to his house.

You may not like their politics, or their attitude, or their style. But if we really do have an energy revolution in this country and free ourselves from our addiction to fossil fuels, it will be because of hard-charging, take-no-prisoners entrepreneurs like T.J. Rodgers — not UN committees, environmental groups, or government officials.

I recommend you read the entire article by Michael S. Malone:
Silicon Insider: Solar Companies Glow Despite Economic Slump

H/T: Instapundit

Racism and intolerance: disappointing at a liberal university

You might think that a gay porn star, speaking at a liberal university, couldn't possibly say anything to garner a negative reaction from the campus community. But, you would think wrong...

Mike Lucas, founder of Lucas Entertainment, a gay adult film company, was at Stanford University, apparently to speak about safe sex and AIDS. Somehow, the subject of Lucas' views on Islam came up. And THAT is what has gotten him into trouble with members of the Stanford community...

Mr. Lucas wrote an Op-Ed that appeared in The Stanford Daily responding to the controvery:

What fostered my distain for Islam? The contempt that Muslim men vomit on women, treating them with less respect than camels. That includes the infibulation — female circumcision — of young girls; the imposition of chadors and burqas; the decapitation of adulterous wives (but never adulterous husbands); the fact that, in most Muslim countries, women cannot go to school, see a doctor or even leave their own houses without a male escort; the approval of polygamy; the arranged marriages that involve girls as young as 9; the barring of women from taking part in public life or in any receptions, even those of their own weddings; the death penalty for drinkers of alcohol; the mutilation penalty for thieves; the public killings of homosexuals. Doesn’t all of this originate from the Koran? Have you ever thought that, instead of protesting me, you should protest against those atrocities, maybe organizing some short demonstration in front of Muslim embassies? Why instead are you unleashing your hate against one who speaks against those crimes? Why are you denying my right to compare the Koran, the text in which these facts originate, to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf?” The Koran, that for 1,400 years has tormented humanity more than the Bible, the Gospels and the Torah combined? Do not suppress or boycott someone who has a different opinion, even if you disagree with this opinion. Debate it. Argue it. In a civilized manner. Otherwise, what is the difference between you and Islam?

H/T Instapundit

Sunday, February 17, 2008

American Alienation

You really need to watch this video by Kafir Alalazoo (from his YouTube page: "My name is a pseudonym derived from the Arabic word 'kafir', which means 'infidel', and the word 'alalazoo', which is an ancient Greek military term, meaning 'to raise a war cry'."). A warning: the filmmaker does use course language and includes a few graphic images, but it is relevant to the message he is attempting to get across.

H/T: Uncle Jimbo @ BlackFive

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Outlander Series

I don't recall when I first read Outlander, but I got hooked. It is the first of what became a series of novels. I just finished reading the sixth (and last? researching this post, I've discover a new book, An Echo in the Bone, is expected to publish in 2009, along with a 192-page graphic novel) book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I might have picked up the first one in the Romance section of the bookstore, but since then, I have found Diana Gabaldon's books in the Fiction & Literature section.

At the beginning of Outlander, World War II has recently ended. Claire Randall, who was a British combat nurse during the conflict, and her husband, Frank, are on a second honeymoon in Scotland, having been separated long years during the war. While out walking on her own while her husband was working on his history research, Claire comes upon an ancient stone circle. She touches one of the stones, and she is no longer in the 20th Century, but in the 18th. There, she is caught in the middle of the 1745 Jacobite Rising (an effort to put a Stuart back on the throne) against the English. She also meets a young Scottish warrior, James Fraser. She becomes torn between fidelty to a husband she doesn't know if she'll ever see again and a love she never imagined. Many think her a witch, since she cannot get smallpox or cholera, diseases that claim many lives in a world before vaccines; she also knows things a person shouldn't or wouldn't know. To 18th Century Highlanders, witchcraft is the only explanation.

The story picks up twenty years later, in the 20th Century, with Dragonfly in Amber with Claire needing to tell her now-adult daughter, Brianna, about her real father. The story then flashes back to the time Claire & Jamie spent in Paris, attempting to stop what Claire knows to be the end of the Scottish clan system after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Voyager brings Claire, now a doctor, and widowed in the 20th Century, back to the 18th Century in search of Jamie, leaving Brianna behind.

In Drums of Autumn, Brianna and her boyfriend, Roger MacKenzie (a historian), discover an old newspaper clipping that tells of the death of her parents. In an attempt to save them, she dares to go back in time through the standing stones. After she leaves, Roger decides to go after her.

Claire, Jamie, Brianna and Roger are in the colony of North Carolina, in the years before the American Revolution in The Fiery Cross. They all know war is coming, but Jamie, having had to swear allegiance to the King of England as a condition of his pardon, must walk a fine line to keep his family safe.

The Revolution is fast approaching in A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Claire and her family know that soon, Jamie must declare himself a Patriot, but he must chose his time wisely. Also, the date of their "death" - the event that brought Brianna to the past - is nearing. Can they avoid this tragedy, too?

If you have an interest in history, you might find this series very interesting. I likely know a lot more about history than the average person, and I learned things reading these books I had never known before: while I knew of the troubled history between England and Scotland, I was completely unaware of the Jacobite uprisings in 1715 and 1745; the Stuart would-be king, the Bonnie Prince Charles, had found refuge in the French (Catholic) court; I had never heard of the War of the Regulation - which took place in North Carolina - and the Battle of Alamance.

I have enjoyed all of the Outlander series. The books have made me both laugh and cry, and I have a hard time putting them down - even when I know I will pay for it the next morning when the alarm clock goes off... Claire (and Brianna) are stronger, intelligent women who take their 20th Century attitudes with them to the past. Jamie is a man most any woman would love to have fall in love with her (and she with him): he is a good man, to whom honor is important, in addition to the fact he is a very manly - tall, broad-shoulders, red-haired, defends what is his (e.g. - his family) and who doesn't love a Scottish accent ;-)

I will say these books won't be everyone's cup of tea. These books are hard to classify: they aren't strictly romance novels, they aren't strictly "fantasy" and they aren't strictly historical fiction. The romance threads are very *ahem* "descriptive". The stories of battles and their aftermath can be very graphic. Gabaldon has even addressed the issue of "post traumatic stress" through some of her characters - survivors of bloody battles or violent rape. The Library Journal review posted at B&N for A Breath of Snow and Ashes says "Anyone who has gotten this far in Gabaldon's popular "Outlander" saga knows to expect loads of steamy sex, kidnappings, medical miracles, and gritty period details."

Of the related books (listed below), I have only read Lord John and the Private Matter. I didn't like this one as much as the others. Lord John Grey is a key figure in the Outlander series, but I missed Claire and Jamie. I might give the Lord John series another try, though.

The Outlander Series, in order of publication:

Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Related books:

The Outlandish Companion
Lord John and the Private Matter
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Lord John and the Hands of the Devil

Friday, February 8, 2008