Today is March 28, 2006. Yesterday, a USMC website posted a story about the Iraq Army making progress and starting to execute one of the most critical functions of any viable army; logistics. An operation occurred on March 23rd in Al Anbar Province in northwest Iraq, near a town named Ubaydi. Nothing flashy happened as the article notes. It does note this though:
Last week’s operation spawned another Iraqi Army achievement when soldiers executed their first logistics re-supply to six different battle positions the night prior to the operation.
“They [Iraq Army] will be able to run their own logistics convoys from now on,” White assured.
The success here comes on the heels of other recent achievements of Iraqi military units in western Al Anbar. Two weeks ago, an Iraqi Army company from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, conducted a similar independent operation in Khaffajiyah – a village along the Euphrates River about 90 miles east of the Syrian border.
A handful of Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Brigade in Al Asad recently graduated a three-week Humvee course and received 24 of the vehicles from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense – a step up from the unarmored pick-up trucks they were using.
Whether through logistics convoys, patrolling the streets or interacting with local residents, Iraqi soldiers here are on the path to success in this remote region of western Al Anbar Province.
“If the (Iraqi) battalion continues to do this well, there is no reason why they should not own this battle space by the end of the year,” said White, a 38-year-old from Seymour, Conn.
This is one of those things that isn't obviously a huge deal, but it really is as a sign of progress for the Iraqi Army. One that should be used as one of the benchmarks for progress in the Iraq War. If they not just maintain but expand this capability it's good news. If the capability is degraded or lost, it's bad news.
For most Americans though, it's no news. I found that story via a post by Bill Roggio. I did a google news search on "Ubaydi" tonight, limited to the last week. I got 5 results, only one of which, the referenced above Marine story, was relevant.
Why is that? Why, when I go to the New York Times website and search for "ubaydi", do I get 9 returns, the newest from 12/5/2005? Is it not news that the Iraq Army is becoming self-operating? It seems like news to me, even if it is a small scale. It has to start somewhere and it should be followed as a sign of progress or failure in Iraq. The NYTimes certainly has the resources, as do all the major media outlets, including FOX, to visit the Marine website linked above. There's nothing on this from them. Do they not go there? Is it not really news, of any import at all? Like I said, it seems like news, good news, to me.
The questions for the Big Media are these:
You mock citizen journalism as unschooled and undisciplined, but why did I get this story from Roggio and not from any of you? Is there something wrong with it? Wouldn't that in itself be a story?
Why should I trust you to tell me what's really going on in Iraq?
I'm frustrated about Iraq right now, on several levels. One level getting much attention right now is the media coverage of the war. It's not that the coverage is factually incorrect so much as it is incomplete. I think that if you get your information on the war primarily from big media sources, network news or papers, the impression is one of debacle. If, in addition, you are inclined or able to go out to more left-wing sites such as DailyKos, that impression is dramatically reinforced. On the other hand, if you are, or also are, inclined to go out to sites like Michael Yon's, Bill Roggios', or The Belmont Club, you get some very different perspective and links to other sites and milbloggers that challenge the conventional wisdom of the big media today. Iraq appears to be not nearly the debacle presented by most media outlets. As an aside, I think they also often provide far more penetrating analysis than most big media sources.
The Empire is striking back at the critics now and feeling somewhat defensive. What they are missing is that that their stock with formerly locked in and loyal information consumers such as myself is melting under their feet. I not only think, I know, that the information I get from them may be accurate, yet it is certainly incomplete. Twenty years ago I could have felt the same way but I had few if any alternate resources. Today I can view multiple media sources from around the world, though I cannot trust all of them the way I used to trust the Times or the Strib. I see nothing from any of the big media that acknowledges my frustration as a customer and pledges to do better. In fact, given their arrogance, I doubt quite a few will survive the decade.
What we are seeing now is not the opening conflict but the main battle between the old gatekeepers of information and what they perceive as the barbarians. The old gatekeepers are going to lose I think. They are incapable of adapting, except for a few individuals, and most of those already have. In the short term this isn't good at all. The West is doomed to fight a war against true barbarians, the Islamofascists who have access to some of our tools, while we are sundered by our different perceptions of reality, because we have and choose different sources for perceiving that reality.
In the long term though, it could be for the best. So long as we triumph over the Islamofascists and the Euro-cynics, and I think we will....we have to, we will arrive to a safer and more informed world than ever before. Aggregators of information able to sort millions of sources, not gatekeepers massaging limited and sometimes corrupt sources. A good chunk of what is known as big media today strikes me as much like Chrysler in the late 1970s. This time there will be no bailout. Buh-bye, when you were good, you were good.
The FEC today approved new rules for applying campaign finance laws to Internet communications, including blogging. The rules generally exempt blogger's ruminations on politics and you can catch all 96 scintillating pages here along with the most recent amendments(only 13 pages.....whoo hoo!).
"The Commission did, indeed, pass the final rules by a vote of 6-0. Congratulations and kudos to the Commission, especially Chairman Toner and Commissioner Weintraub. This is a tremendous win for speech - and the only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not the "reform community" can resist the urge to sue the Commission over these regulations."
Quite a few others are equally happy with the FEC vote. I am also to some degree and it is certainly better than the opposite, yet having actually read the rules, I'm bothered by the sparse citation of the First Amendment as a primary right to free speech. I'd hoped that the FEC would cite that more in defense of free political speech on the internet. Maybe they are constrained to dealing with the statutes involved, I don't know.
Perhaps this is unfair, but I had the distinct impression that the FEC was feeling pretty magnanimous about how broadly they had ruled today, like they did us....not exactly a favor, but.......something they really weren't obligated to do. I don't mean to disparage the efforts of Mr. Krempasky and the others, though I wonder if engaging the FEC on this issue at less than a Constitutional level has hurt us all in the long run. After all, what we've accepted that the FEC giveth, the FEC can also taketh away.
Ah well, for now I welcome my FEC Masters....you suppose I should send a thank you card for being able to use this blog to speak my mind this year?
Sorry, this is late because of the fried power supply (see below), but Monday was a tough day for a lot of people around these parts. Winter came back as it often does this time of year, with a vengeance. It's High School Hockey Tournament time here (last weekend) and we pretty much always expect some snow for it. The snow/sleet that started on Sunday night wound up on Monday evening with about 10" of wet, gloppy stuff. My trusty Ranger, which has carried me through brutal cold and about as much in fluffy snow, failed me twice that day. I got stuck for the first time in....I don't know, 25 years? What is normally about a 30 minute commute was more like two hours, a combination of dead stop, me helping people get unstuck, and people helping me get unstuck. At 30F it was at least relatively warm, but that was part of the problem too, as the snow compacted and turned to ice.
I'd stopped by my Mom's place on Sunday and as is usual, I left with food. 44 years old and still getting care packages from Mom. Heheh. I think it's actually impossible to leave my Mom's house without food in hand. The universe would collapse or something. When I was 20 I needed them. When I was 30 I was annoyed by them. Now I understand that they are just one expression of love and I accept them gratefully. Sunday it was some nice pork chops that she "happened to have too much of" (ahem). I was going to grill them up on Monday night but as this photo from the CrabappleLane Family Blog shows, I don't think so.
Fried 'em up instead and they were darn good, especially after doing my share of this kind of stuff. Thanks, Mom.
I got home the other night and my Dell PC was off. Actually not off, more like dead. I did all of the standard troubleshooting stuff and it looks like the power supply has gone belly up. Ok. I guess 14 months for the first service call isn't awful, but it isn't great. At least it's still under warranty. I was going to do a big post ripping Dell for their customer service, but upon further review, I think most of the problems I had are due to the fact that I purchased the PC through my previous employer and never transferred the warranty. Bad Dave. I suspect that things would have gone much smoother if I'd taken care of that little detail. So I'll cut Dell some slack on their on-line tools not working, it's likely that's because the home account didn't match up with the business warranty.
Anyway, they did get the part shipped last night and that was a very good job on Dell's side. Unfortunately they addressed it to my old company at my new company's address. About 10:30 a.m. it showed up on DHL's website as an attempted delivery, will attempt again tomorrow. Shit, I wanted that sucker. So I call up DHL practically trembling at the ordeal I was sure I was going to face getting my hands on that thing today.
Nope, no ordeal at all. A woman named Tara answered after one ring, got the relevant info and my name and number, and promised to call me back. She called back a half hour later and had spoken to the driver, who was confused by the bad company name, and she told me he'd be back within a half an hour. Sure enough, there he was with my power supply and hopefully, keep your fingers crossed, that will fix that.
It's a sad day with the passing of Kirby Puckett last night. The man had Hall of Fame worthy skills as a player, but I don't think that's why he was so loved here. Those skills mattered of course, but lots of great athletes have come and gone over the years and to me few, if any, are in Puckett's class. I think it was more that for a guy who was kind of weirdly proportioned physically, he seemed to have such good proportions in ways that mattered, like a strong ego but one tempered with humility. Some great athletes take their sport so seriously that it's not a game anymore and I don't think that was the case with Puckett. He was a pro, no doubt about it. But it was also in the end just a game, it wasn't life. He wasn't perfect of course, but he had a huge and positive impact on many lives and it's sad that he's gone now and at such a young age.
Kirby Puckett suffered a stroke this morning. The lack of details late this evening regarding his condition seems ominous to me. I hope and pray that worry is misplaced.
There are lots of entertainers in this world, but Puckett has a special place for the people of Minnesota. In an era when most look out for number one, "In 1992 he passed up more lucrative offers to re-sign with the Twins, and in 1995 he turned down the opportunity to become a free agent altogether. His enthusiasm and humility — he drove to the ballpark every day in an old pickup truck — made him one of the most universally respected players of his generation."
I've seen Kirby Puckett around town a couple of times, once at a store in Edina and another time when he was coming back from fishing on the St. Croix River. I didn't bother him because he was just a regular guy doing ....well, regular stuff. It seemed wrong to me to go up and intrude by saying hello or asking for an autograph. There have been some issues in his post-MLB life, and though they haven't amounted to much as far as the public is concerned, I suspect things haven't been a bed of roses since he was forced into early retirement due to glaucoma and blindness in one eye.
Regardless, what he did while he played here, and more importantly, how he did it, has mattered most to me.
Good luck Kirby, I and many others I'm sure, are praying for you.
The sport fishing season in Minnesota is now closed until the opener in May. Winter started off decent enough for icefishing, but kind of went to hell in December and didn't get any better, at least in the Twin Cities, with maybe the warmest January ever. So if Winter wasn't going to come to us, a few of us decided to go to it this past weekend. I had to have at least one round of icefishing, or as a guy I know puts it, "icedrinking", this year. To not do so would be, I don't know, un-American or something.
The scene was a little cabin near Embarrass, MN and a nearby lake, Sabin Lake. If you want some good ice this time of year, Embarrass is always a good bet. It didn't disappoint, with around two or two and a half feet. Easily enough for us to drive our trucks out on. The eight inches or so of snow we got on Friday made for good sledding for the guys who are into snowmobiles (not me), but it wasn't enough to keep us off the ice. With a temp of 5F above and winds of 15-20 mph on Saturday, it was a sub-zero windchill, what we call brisk here. Momma didn't raise no fool though, so I had my ass firmly planted in a portable icehouse, one of these, that my friend Bob brought. It was quite comfy actually. Saturday night it got down to -20F at the cabin, but with a fire and no wind it was actually pretty nice. Around the fire.
We went through more beer than minnows and got jack for fish, but we all got our limit....if you know what I mean.