One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

R.I.P. -- SFC Paul Ray Smith: 1969 - 2003

This one comes from an unlikely source...the mainstream media.

According to Blackfive, MSNBC has started putting together a series of small clips dubbed "Faces of Courage", and released the first of them last night.

Ladies and SFC Paul Ray Smith:

Bravo, MSNBC. If you guys keep this up, we might almost be persuaded to forgive you for keeping this guy on the air.


UPDATE: John over at Castle Argghhh! has brought to our attention that Paul's widow and son, Birgit and David Smith, recently had the honor of christening the Freedom, the first Littoral class combat ship in the U.S. navy.

As such, Birgit is also the sponsor of the ship, whose function (if I have this right) is to act as the sailors' contact with folks back home, to coordinate and participate in special functions such as homecomings, and basically support her sailors in any way she can. Good on ya, luv.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fair Tax Blogburst: Sept. 27, 2006

A note to regular readers: With this post, I am proud to announce my acceptance into the fold of the "Americans for Fair Taxation" blogroll. Anyone who wishes to join me and my new neighbors should find all the information they need at the bottom of the post.

But I digress. Onward.


by TD of The Right Track

A quick and dirty search through Google News for articles, news, and editorials revealed no less than 14 pieces written in the last month regarding the FairTax. Fully 1/3 of those were editorials agreeing with the need for the FairTax.

A sampling:

From the Denver Daily News, an editorial titled "FairTax, not flat tax, needed to fix nation’s taxation woes":

Dear editor,
The IRS needs to be eliminated and replaced with the FairTax, not the flat tax, as suggested by columnist Aaron Harber in Monday’s Denver Daily News.

The flat tax changes absolutely nothing — the IRS, tax code, regulations, 16th Amendment, corporate taxation and payroll taxes (the way Social Security is funded) stay exactly the same under the flat tax.

At best, the flat tax is temporary, the wrong direction to move towards simplification.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The Fairer Tax":

The Fair Tax ( will make our true tax burden -- most of which is concealed in the price of goods and services -- visible to all and is a necessary first step toward smaller and less-intrusive government.

We cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.

So first, let's replace the current complex and dishonest system of taxation with a fair and transparent system that will allow the people to choose how much government they can afford in full knowledge of how much it really costs.

The Raleigh/Durham News & Observer has an editorial headlined "Total Replacement":

Our tax code has grown steadily more complex, unwieldy, expensive and out of control ever since its overhaul in 1986. The IRS is increasingly unable to cope with the tax code, and puts much of its resources to uses unrelated to raising revenue and contrary to the wishes of the Founders.

Like Icarus flying ever closer to the sun, the tax system appears to be headed for self-destruction. It is far beyond any fix and is losing respect and credibility. The only reasonable solution is to finally and completely scrap it and replace it. I support the revenue-neutral FairTax plan.( 1-800-FairTax).
This is just a sampling of what people are saying all across the country. Truly a grassroots effort, it takes people willing to step up and show public support for the FairTax to convince politicians that it's in their best interest to support the bills.

One way to show public support is to write an editorial to your local paper, no matter how large or small. Use the FairTax category that may appear on this participant blog, visit, or read the FairTax book by Boortz and Linder to learn more. Get your facts straight, then write your editorial and submit it. Many papers now have a way to submit online or via e-mail.

However you decide to do it, your public support for the FairTax is vital.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Two Words: Sept. 25, 2006

....for Bill Clinton:
Oh, please.

....for the denizens of DailyKos:

....for Keith Olbermann:
Stained sportcoat?

...for Louisiana Gov. Mary Landrieu:
Rebuilding....RIIIIGHT. the head of the European Union:
'Bout time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Somewhere, The Dead Cry Out: DISCRIMINATION!

Anybody surprised by this stuff anymore?

Anytime someone comes up with an idea that makes it harder for someone to take advantage of the system -- ANY system -- in order to break the rules and get away with it, you can depend on at least one thing to happen....

...the ACLU will come out against it:
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed its disappointment with the House passage of a bill placing undue and unnecessary burdens on Americans’ fundamental right to vote. H.R. 4844, the "Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006," requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote in federal elections. In addition, beginning in 2010 voters would be required to present a photo ID that was issued based on proof of citizenship in order to vote. The measure passed by a vote of 228-196.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Less than two months after the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, the House of Representatives has chosen to pass legislation disenfranchising the very citizens the VRA was designed to protect. No eligible citizen should have to pay to vote. There are voters who simply don’t have photo ID and requiring them to purchase one in order to vote would be tantamount to a poll tax. This measure will disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority voters, senior citizens, voters with disabilities, and others who do not have photo identification nor the financial means to acquire it."

Translation: "Oh, no! Say it ain't so! How dare they make it so convicted criminals, illegal aliens and dead people law-abiding American citizens can't vote as many times and in as many places express their political will the way we they want!? We cannot allow the useful idiots poor and minority voters of the world America to be caught red-handed disenfranchised by those mean, nasty people who won't give us what we want no matter how much we cry, whine and stamp our little footsies the Bush administration!"

How can we possibly be so cruel to our photo-ID-less brothers and sisters who...
1) can't legally get a job
2) can't legally cash a check even if somebody gave them a job
3) can't legally drive a car
4) can't legally apply for federal aid of any kind
5) can't legally begin any kind of post-high-school education... short, anyone who hasn't bothered to make any real effort to become a law-abiding, productive citizen of this country in the first place?

(Boy, that word "legally" sure pops up in a bunch of places on that list, doesn't it?
I wonder why.)

I tell you what, if you ever wanted to discourage honest people from immigrating to this country and trying to live their own lives as part of the American experience, THAT'S the way to do it.

But then, why do it the hard way....when there's any number of people over here who'll promise you the moon and the paperwork to back it up, as long as you do what THEY want you to?

After all, they're looking out for your rights. Right?

For those who wish to peruse the bill as it was passed, here ya go. (Wherein is explained, by the way, how ANY LEGAL CITIZEN of this country would be able to obtain -- at little to no cost, depending on the situation -- a specific photo ID which will allow him/her to vote.)

Tip o'the rock to the crew at Stop The ACLU.

UPDATE: The ever-informed Don Surber brings to our attention that the New York Times, never to be outdone by a bunch of piss-ant lawyers, is jumping up-and-down in lockstep outrage over this, too:

The bill the House passed yesterday would require people to show photo ID to vote in 2008. Starting in 2010, that photo ID would have to be something like a passport, or an enhanced kind of driver’s license or non-driver’s identification, containing proof of citizenship. This is a level of identification that many Americans simply do not have.

As I stated above...If you legally have a job, drive a car, receive federal aid, or are continuing your education, YOU ALREADY HAVE A LEGAL PHOTO ID. And I would wager that any law-abiding citizen who already has one form of legal photo ID won't have too much of a problem getting another one in order to LEGALLY vote, because they understand WHY it is necessary.

The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting.

Don says he can prove otherwise. Go ask him.

Noncitizens, particularly undocumented ones, are so wary of getting into trouble with the law that it is hard to imagine them showing up in any numbers and trying to vote. The real threat of voter fraud on a large scale lies with electronic voting, a threat Congress has refused to do anything about.

As many times as I've seen evidence of this newspaper's real intent, I STILL cannot believe they say things like this.
IF YOU ARE NOT A CITIZEN OF AMERICA, YOU CAN'T VOTE FOR THE LEADERS OF AMERICA!!! We do it this way for a reason. We do NOT want the next Hugo Chavez to have a say in who runs this nation!

The actual reason for this bill is the political calculus that certain kinds of people — the poor, minorities, disabled people and the elderly — are less likely to have valid ID. They are less likely to have cars, and therefore to have drivers’ licenses. There are ways for nondrivers to get special ID cards, but the bill’s supporters know that many people will not go to the effort if they don’t need them to drive.

*BZZZZT* Sorry, not the answer we were looking for. Thanks for playing.

The bill's supporters know that any LAW-ABIDING citizens who want to vote will HAPPILY make the effort to get one, be they poor, elderly, disabled, black, white, red, yellow, or purple-polka-dotted -- even if they have to take the bus to do it -- because they know they have nothing to gain (and possibly quite a bit to lose) by NOT doing it.

Thanks for the heads-up, Don. We at the Point greatly appreciate those who willingly strap on the hipwaders and keep tabs on the Shady Lady, so the rest of us don't have to.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Kidnapped Missouri Baby Found Alive & Well

You may have heard in the news this last week or so about little Abby Woods, a newborn baby girl kidnapped not long after her birth by someone who slashed her mother in the throat while snatching the child from her arms in Missouri.

It is now being reported that this little trooper has been found alive and well. She had been kidnapped by one Shannon Beck, a local woman who lived just a skip away from the baby's home and had miscarried her own child recently, but was returned to her family by Beck's sister-in-law, Dorothy Torrez, who quickly noticed something fishy:
On Sunday, Beck contacted Torrez to say she had given birth, Corvington said. Beck had been pregnant but apparently miscarried shortly before her own child was to be born.

Torrez visited Beck on Monday and urged her to take the child to a doctor, the FBI agent said. Beck agreed, and Torrez accompanied her to St. Louis on Tuesday, about 45 miles away.

Torrez noticed what appeared to be makeup on the baby's forehead, Corvington said. When she rubbed the forehead, makeup came off what was covering a small birthmark.

In publicizing the abduction, police had described Abby's strawberry-red birthmark. Her suspicions aroused, Torrez confronted Beck, who gave her the baby, Corvington said.

Torrez contacted police, and the baby was handed over to authorities around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The baby has since been reunited with her family.

I just LOVE happy endings.

(Although I would advise that whoever wrote the headline for the second story might want to be just a LEETLE more careful next time. Heh.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Pope With A Pair

Well, at least now we know why the Pope wears a dress.

It's 'cause he needs the extra trunk demonstrated by his recent homecoming speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he was once a theology professor.

From a rather in-depth article in Wikipedia:
In three paragraphs at the beginning of the speech, Benedict quoted from and discussed an argument made by Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in a 1391 dialogue with an (unnamed) educated Persian, as well as observations on this argument made by Theodore Khoury, the scholar whose edition of Manuel II's dialogues to which the Pontiff was referring. Benedict used Manuel II's argument in order to draw a distinction between the Christian view, as expressed by Manuel II, that "not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature", and the Islamic view, as explained by Khoury, that God transcends concepts such as rationality, and his will, as Ibn Hazm stated, is not constrained by any principle, including rationality.
From the speech itself:
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that sura 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood — and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…

Yeah, you in the back, you heard me. How ironic is it, pray, that the only guy on the planet with big enough balls to bring a truly historical perspective of the Muslim faith to the world stage is the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church -- a religious entity which, on the whole, at least nominally commands that its preachers have no use for them?

Note that word "historical", folks. Whether these words reflect his true opinions of Islam is irrelevant here, because he didn't present them that way. He cited a quote from a man over 600 years dead, as an example, in an intellectual study of the subject.
That's right, folks...Pope Benedict XVI doesn't just go with his gut. He goes with his brain, too.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Time Magazine's Jeff Israely:

On Tuesday, in a riveting and provocative university lecture, the Pope explored the philosophical and historical differences between Islam and Christianity—a speech that would become the surprise centerpiece of a five-day visit that many had expected would be mostly just a walk down memory lane. There is little doubt left that Benedict is indeed highly attuned to the risks of fundamentalist terrorism. In fact, it is testament to where this problem stands on his list of priorities that he used the occasion of his triumphant return to Regensburg University, where he taught theology in the 1970s, to deliver a lecture that explored how Christians and Muslims may have historically viewed the relationship between violence and faith, based on the two religions' conceptions of the divinity.


This is indeed Benedict doing it on his own terms. Rather than tackling the challenge of fundamentalist terrorism with a pithy remark packaged for the 9/11 anniversary or reaching for a John Paul-inspired sweeping gesture, the professor Pope went digging into his books.

Oh, wait, I forgot...the God of Islam transcends rationality. How silly of me.

And so, without the benefit of rationality, the followers of Islam fall back on their old stand-by -- REACtionality -- and prove the dead guy to have been...well, dead on.

And you know what? He even issued a statement of regret afterwards. And that still isn't enough for these people.

Why? Simple.

He didn't say he was sorry he said it, because he wasn't. He didn't say he was wrong, because he wasn't.
He simply said he was sorry people didn't like it. Which is all he needed to say.

Now I'm no expert here, friends, but it seems to me that Islam has had this coming for a long time. Muslim history -- like other religions, Christianity included -- has a pretty good-sized trail of blood in its past.

The main difference between Islam and other world faiths (to me, at least) is that, through the centuries, most of the world's other surviving religions have eventually learned how to answer the secular world with something other than steel, and to find ways to live peaceably enough within it that they can attract new converts simply by letting their own lives speak for their faith.

Sadly, the lives of a great many practitioners of Islam seem to have only one method with which to attract new followers: "Convert or die."

How is it, you might ask, that I say this is the only message Islam has for outsiders?
A good question. To answer, I will say that I have indeed heard a different message from a Muslim.


If only one of them has the 'nads to call out his faith's own monsters, the rest of them have NO room to bitch and moan when someone else stands up to do it for them....not that that'll stop them.

I will end this post with a missive from The Anchoress, who quite rightly points out what happened the last time someone stood up to the rattle of scimitars. (Hint: two guys got shot, and the rest is history.)
Read her other posts on this topic, too...they're an earful.

Oh -- and a tip o'the rock goes to the crew at Wizbang for the links to the Time and New York Post articles.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nice Work, Bone Daddy

I've spoken of my parents before on this humble little blog. They were good people who did good things.

The time has now come to reveal a little factoid about my dad that hasn't been told much outside the house.

I found about it when I was around 11 or 12, when my mom gave him a copy of a jazz/fusion album called "Mr. Hands" for Christmas that year.
My dad positively gushed over it...and then explained why he was so taken with the gift.

During his college days at Grinnell, he played jazz trombone in a local combo with the guy who made that album.

A guy named Herbie Hancock.

It's just one of those little things you find out about someone by accident, because they don't like to blow their own horn about it (pun fully intended).

A few years later, my dad somehow managed to get tickets to a concert thrown in tribute to Thelonious Monk at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
And man, EVERYBODY was there...Roy Haynes, David Amram, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Holland (Bill Cosby, too -- he was the host), a whole bunch of others whose names I do not now recall....and Herbie. It was too cool for words.

After the show, Dad tried to check backstage to see if he could chat with his erstwhile college buddy. Sadly, security wouldn't allow it.
But the look on my dad's face as we watched his old friend on stage was enough for me. He was in heaven.

My dad died in March 2001 during treatment for prostate cancer, when he had a relapse and it basically ate him alive in the space of a year-and-a-half. He died when my son was five years old.

Thus, my now-10-year-old son was largely cheated out of the experience of growing up with a grandfather. It's always been one of my great regrets when it comes to my son's upbringing. My dad was a hell of a man, and he would've made a stellar grampa.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

About a week ago, my son brought home a flyer from school advertising signups for this year's incarnation of the middle school's orchestral band. He evinced interest in it, so we signed on the dotted line, and went with him to the school music room the other day for the initial conference with the band teacher.

The band teacher had (wisely, I think) brought in several local professional musicians to help out with the crowd of kids that came in to try out several instruments. One guy (the trombone-man with a local band that opened for Three Dog Night not too long ago)
tried my boy out on a trumpet and a trombone.

Son-of-mine did pretty decent on the trumpet, and was able to produce something quite resembling a note or two, amidst the bleatings and fuzz-bombs usually attendant when someone tries a brass instrument for the first time.

Then came the trombone. My kid licked his lips, blurted one little false start, took a deep breath...and flared out a good, long, clear blast from all the way downtown that made the pro's eyebrows jump skyward.

"Whoa," said he. "We've got a natural here."

My son was as impressed as he was, and took only a moment's thought before declaring the trombone as his instrument of choice.

But that's not the best part. This is.

I called my mom down in Texas last night, to see if she might still have Dad's old Conn trombone kicking around somewhere. (She had said not too long ago that she was considering giving it to a local high school band department, since no one was using it.) I was hoping to not have to shell out the bucks for a new one.

Thankfully, she still has it. In fact, she said, my brother had taken it out to the music store where he worked a while back and had it refurbished, so it is now in great condition, and she was absolutely thrilled with the idea of her grandson getting his hands on it.
She's shipping it to us as we speak, with the admonition that he practice long and hard with it...because "his grampa will be listening."

How 'bout that. There may well soon be a new bone daddy in the family...with the very same horn that my daddy played right alongside Herbie Hancock back in the day.

CAN I get a witness!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

...And A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Meet Colton Lockner

"Hmmm...the Force is strong with this one..."
--- Darth Vader
I don't know about you, O faithful ones...but I can think of a lot of "grownups" who could learn a thing or two about leadership from THIS little giant-killer:

SEBRING, Ohio, Aug. 3, 2006 – If Colton Lockner’s summer project is any indication of his future success, his name is one everyone should remember.

Colton, 9, has taken it upon himself to organize this small village’s first America Supports You Freedom Walk, a move that surprised no one who knows the slight boy.

"You don’t expect this from a 9-year-old kid," former local elementary school principal Vito Weeda said. "We look for great things for Colton because of the type of person he is."

Colton’s mother agrees that her son, who has no problem talking business with adults only to turn around and jump into the pool or play soccer with his brothers, is unique.

"That’s just Colton," Robyn Lockner, his mother, said. "Colton’s always wanting to organize something."

America Supports You is a nationwide Defense Department program that highlights grassroots and corporate support of the nation’s servicemembers. ASY Freedom Walks are intended to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and honor U.S. troops.

I flim-flam you not, friends...this short man did damn near ALL the legwork himself. He talked businesses into sponsoring the event and donating food and other goods, posted flyers, placed donation cans, and even brought Sebring Mayor John Smith into the loop:

"(The walk) is to honor (servicemembers) and thank them for what they’re doing for our country and to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11," Colton said. "We’re trying to get it to be an every-year thing, like a permanent holiday."

Sebring Mayor John Smith said Colton has his backing on that idea.


John Pappas, owner of the local Pizza Pan restaurant, said he was so impressed with the way Colton conducted himself that he agreed to help him make the walk happen.

"He was a little man walking in," Pappas said. Though he’d not met Colton before, he listened to his pitch to put a donation can in the eatery. Not only did Pappas agree to the can, but he talked with Colton and his mom about sponsoring the food, banners and t-shirts for the event, as well.

"We didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal," Pappas said. "We thought there were going to be 50, 75 people (participating in the walk)."

His commitment hasn’t wavered as the numbers have climbed, though. In fact, he’s upped the ante by offering all walkers who pre-register a certificate for a free large pizza.

"This is small-town America and this little man … is what it’s all about," Pappas said. "My hat’s off to little Colton. He really got a lot of people together."

Heh..."Little" man, indeed.

Stand to attention, y'all...there's a TALL man walkin' heah.

(Tip o' the rock to my new HE neighbor and fellow Mountaineer, Uncle Mac Is Pissed. Welcome to the family.)

Dammit Bolts & Jesus Springs (UPDATED)

Anyone who's ever worked on a large piece of complex machinery knows what that means.

For those who don't...a "dammit bolt" is any small, hard-to-reach piece of hardware that you just spent 20 minutes struggling to grasp with your wrench/pliers/fingers/whatever, that falls off its mount to the ground just as you finally reach it.

The "Jesus spring" is roughly similar...the difference being that instead of going *CLUNK* to the ground, it goes *TWOIINNNGGG* in the air, launching itself in random direction A to unknown location Z.

You've no doubt already guessed where the names came from.

This is what I am experiencing at the moment with my mumble-grumble-rassin-frassin Haloscan Trackback links.

They appear on my main page just fine, as you can see below. But for some reason, they won't show on my individual post pages for love, money or nuthin'. (No, threatening to manually reprogram the computer with a large prybar didn't work, either. Why won't this thing listen to reason?)

So, until I get this figured out, anyone who wishes to Trackback to a post of mine can only do so from the main page. In other words, just click HOME from the Permalink URL, and you'll be able to do it there. My sincerest apologies for any incovenience this may cause. (Any swings with a Clue-X-4 would be greatly appreciated.)

(P.S. My buddy TacJammer is also having some problems with his Trackback code, and is asking for assistance. I have already represented the Haloscan service there, so if anyone out there who uses MovableType or WordPress would be so kind, please go over and send him a test ping, won't you? He thanks you in advance.)

UPDATE: Looks like I finally got the bugs worked out. I'll be sticking with Haloscan for the comments now. It does mean the Blogger-ized comments are lost, unfortunately, but hopefully I won't be having any more of these problems in the future.
Many thanks to Don Surber, and Deb over at Right Truth, for their kind assistance.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sept. 11, 2001: Where We Were...and Where We Are Now

I was at work.

I had not been a member of my department for very long, having just been promoted up from the entry-level floor, and didn't know the people there very well. There was a shortage of space until things were arranged to fully integrate me into my new workspace, so I was tucked into the corner of the QA room, and just doing my thing like any other day.

My company's policy is relatively lenient about what it lets people have around them while they work, so a couple of the gals in the room had radios going, as they liked to check in with the local country-station morning show as they got on with their duties (it was the only station that could get through the walls of our building). I pretty much tuned out the sound and chatter, as I did most mornings.

Then one of them started shushing everyone else down and turned up her little transistor radio, so everyone could hear the news breaking into the DJ's schpiel to tell us that a large airplane had just crashed into one of the WTC towers.

At first, we just kind of sat there, wondering exactly what it was we were hearing. Certainly, airplane accidents do happen from time to time...but one of the two tallest buildings in the city? One of the gals wondered aloud what kind of a moron the pilot had to be to hit something that big and visible.

That line of talk actually went on for some time, interspersed with half-hearted joking from some, and admonishments from others to "jeez, stop it, people probably got hurt".

Then the second plane hit.

Nobody said much of anything for hours after that.

By that time, the management had parked a large TV on the main floor, so everyone in the building could see what was happening. I couldn't hear anything through the window which looked out from where I was to that area, but the looks on people's faces told me everything I needed to know.

For my part, I just shut up and got on with things, while I turned these events around in my head.

I was reminded of a concept I'd read about in a book by Terry Pratchett, wherein he spoke of "the Trousers of Time"...those decisive moments in one's life where Fate goes down one leg or the other, dictating the rest of history from then on as it does so.

And -- as silly as this may sound, it really did happen -- the image formed in my head, as the improbability of two airline pilots being that inattentive in the same place at the same time asserted itself, of Fate tripping in mid-leg and tearing a hole in the knee.

Then, as if to top it all off, we listened as the towers went crashing to the ground.

And I remembered a church trip to the Big Apple that I had gone on when I was still in high school.
I remembered us entering one of the WTC towers, and going up to the observation floor -- the 104th, if I remember right.

There was a lowered platform running the entire edge of the floor, with a handrail jutting up from the floor about two-and-a-half feet from the windows that formed the outer shell of the that if one had the guts to do it, one could step down onto the low platform, grasp the handrail, and actually rest one's head on the window and look....DOOOOWWNNN.

I have always had a great fear of heights, and my heart was lodged firmly somewhere in the region of my left ear, but (with one of my friends holding my hand down on the rail in case I blacked out)...I did it.

The view was....unbelievable.

It saddens me, to this day, that no one will never see that view again.

It is also humbling to think of the difference between that view...and what it must have been like to look out from the gaping, burning hole where your office used to be a few minutes ago.



As I sit here composing this, I am watching a stream from FOX News of the live newscast which played as those events unfolded, and thinking about where I was then....and where I am now.

Have I changed somehow? I'm not sure. It's hard to put it down in words. And frankly, whatever I might write (including everything I've puked up onto the screen thus far this morning) would not do this the justice it deserves.

Better, I think, to give you -- my fellow climbers of the rock of life -- a trail or two to follow on your own paths of remembrance.

As you might expect, there are signposts everywhere today, but perhaps none on as grand a scale as the 2996 Memorial Project. Quite simply, it is a concerted campaign involving over 3,000 bloggers to have every single victim of the WTC attacks memorialized individually. (Yes, you read right -- EVERY SINGLE ONE.) Each participating blog writer chose one name to place in a memorial "plaque" on their own blog, and post a tribute to that person...all at once, all today. The original base website of this effort ("") is currently "suspended" -- I will choose to assume that it simply crashed and burned from too much traffic -- but I have found a way to reach the list of bloggers through Google. (Search for "2996 blog", and click on the "Cached" link of the second entry on the results page. They're all there.) But if you like, you can probably just wander around and stumble on one here and there. That's how many there are.

Lorie Byrd of Wizbang has assembled as comprehensive a collection of articles and tributes as can be found anywhere on the Web, going back through each of the five years since the attack. In addition, her comrade-in-arms Jay Tea has undertaken a blow-by-blow, post-by-post playback of the events of the day as they occurred.

In contrast to the pictures and video that we have all seen, Peggy Noonan offers tribute to the sounds that were heard that day...with special focus on the phone calls that flew back and forth, as people frantically tried to phone home before the worst came to pass.

Captain John Maniscalco, a pilot with American Airlines, wrote this article a while back about the way things have changed since then. He speaks of what...and who...he's noticed. It's an older piece, but it still rings powerfully about what the attacks have done to some of us as people.

Here, on the FOX News front page, you will find the link to the stream I've been watching this morning of their actual live coverage as run on Sept. 11, 2001. At this writing, it's been running for over four hours, and it's still going. Feel free to point this to anyone whom you think REALLY needs to be reminded of what happened. But act quickly if you decide to do so...I do not know how long it will be up.

Cox and Forkum, a collection of artists editorial, shares with us a cartoon to which they have added a new panel for each of the five anniversaries. They paint rather a cutting picture of what it apparently means to confront terrorism opposed to what it meant then.

Finally...allow me to share one moment of great personal resonance to me.

A year or two ago, I was allowed the rare honor of participating in the flag-lowering ceremony at Walt Disney World (and the honorary title of Veteran of the Day) as my family looked on. The following picture was taken on that occasion...but I think it's appropriate today.

Bow your heads today, folks. Go find a flag to salute. Do something nice for someone.


But, as we return to our lives tomorrow...whatever you do....



Testimonials, tributes and musings on this day from:
From My Position....On The Way!
Don Surber
Free Will
Right Truth
Hot Air

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Currently Under Construction...

Pardon my dust, and the absence of much in the way of news. I am currently attempting to overhaul things a little here. It might take a little while, but I think you'll like it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

R.I.P. -- Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin: 1962 - 2006

He was famous for his love of wildlife, his passion for the environment, and his infectiously over-the-top enthusiasm for pushing the envelope of fortune in pretty much anything he did. He represented Australia to the world like a true ambassador.

Sadly, on September 4, he was killed by a freak stingray barb that punched through his chest and hit him square in the heart.

Here's a Wikipedia article with the details.

UPDATE: The town of St. George in Queensland, where Steve owned some retreat and conservation property, is planning a memorial.

Others reporting on this sad event:
Don Surber
Hang Right Politics
Tim Blair
Outside The Beltway
Oblogatory Anecdotes
Right Truth

Points of Interest: Video Edition

Yeah, I know, I've missed a few days and a lot of news. Oh, well. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Just 'cause I've not done it this way before, here's a collection of video clips from around the 'sphere that I have been meaning to put together for a while now. These are examples of patriotism (and other unconventional wisdom) that I thought worthy to share with you.


I didn't watch the 2002 Super Bowl (I don't remember why, so don't ask) so I had never seen the halftime show, which featured a concert by U2, until a few weeks which time Cathy over at Sunday Morning Coffee was kind enough to spike my Joe with a remembrance of it, along with a few other things worth noting.

Back when the duo of country-rock court-jesters known as Big & Rich first hit the scene, I wasn't sure what to make of them. (I mean, come on -- wasn't there a law against country music containing the phrase "bling-bling" in any form?) Since that time, of course, they've proven that they intend to stick around awhile...and that there's more to 'em than just a couple of shined-up hick-hoppers.
Case in point: "The 8th of November", as linked by Jason of CounterColumn. (Now you know why you rarely see Kenny without that kick-ass medicine hat of his.)

This next clip is one of the neatest little flicks I have ever seen. It's called "Reveille", and is provided courtesy of Beth over at Blue Star Chronicles. Folks, if these two old goats can bury the hatchet and recognize what they have in common, the rest of us have NO excuse.

By now, of course, you recognize the name Taylor Hicks. He's the guy who won "American Idol" this last go-round. He's got a pretty decent voice, and apparently knows what to do with it.
This next piece is Hicks singing a song called "Do I Make You Proud", accompanied by some very impressive imagery. I found it on the website of one of my favorite soldiers, codenamed Grey Eagle, for whom the above question has taken on new meaning recently. Check it out, y'all...this is pretty powerful stuff.

Finally, I present my favorite piece of work from Carlos Mencia, a rising comic star who's got an "equal-opportunity" policy all his own....EVERYBODY'S fair game. (No, really. I'm not kidding. Everybody.) He's got a few things to say about why the US military really is the ass-kickin'-est force on the planet, why freedom of speech is getting fat and lazy (it doesn't get NEARLY enough exercise), and EXACTLY why we should be living every moment like it was our last. It comes in two them both. Seriously. This guy just plain gets it.

(Fair Warning: Yeah, Carlos is pretty profane. Hey, sometimes that's what it takes to get the point across. Deal with it.)