The Wood Shed

You never know what you're going to find in the pile.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From the Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Iraq

To those who doubt our mission in Iraq the following letter offers proof that we are indeed doing what needs to be done. From The Mudville Gazette and Greyhawk, this needs to be heard:

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era. The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.

Finally, no matter how much I write or speak about this brave Regiment, I haven’t the words to describe the courage of its officers and soldiers. I pray to God to grant happiness and health to these legendary heroes and their brave families.

Mayor of Tall ‘Afar, Ninewa, Iraq

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Avoid Long Lift Lines

Shaun White aka "The Flying Tomato" and his unconventional approach to "boarding" the gondola. I can only watch as I nurse an ankle sprain after my unintentional slingshot 360 involving a small spruce tree earlier this season (don't ask). Photo courtesy Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

Highly Informative

Spengler's column in Asia Times, dated February 7th, is a very well-written study of Islam's current plight:

With freedom of choice and access to information come doubt. Western scholars doubt whether Mohammed ever existed [2] or, if he existed, whether the Koran was invented two centuries after his death, or indeed whether the Koran even was written in Arabic. Christianity and Judaism are bloodied - indeed, drained almost dry - by nearly two centuries of scriptural criticism; Islam's turn barely has begun.

Muslims rage at affronts to their faith because the modern world puts their faith at risk, precisely as modern Islamists contend. [3] That is not a Muslim problem as such, for all faith is challenged as traditional society gives ground to globalization. But Muslim countries, whose traditional life shows a literacy rate of only 60%, face a century of religious deracination. Christianity and Judaism barely have adapted to the modern world; the Islamists believe with good reason that Islam cannot co-exist with modernism and propose to shut it out altogether.

Throughout the world, literacy erodes traditional society, and the collapse of traditional society leads to declining population growth rates. But in the Muslim world these trends hit like a shock wave. Both the traditional life of Muslims as well as Muslim theology have been frozen in time, such that Muslims are repeating in compressed time trends long at work in the West. The result is devastating.

The entire column is well worth reading. The above paragraphs were selected for content and do not follow each other in the original. The numbers refer to footnotes found at the end of the column. Spengler's logical approach helps to explain in context the reactions and violent language coming out of the Muslim world today.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Grocery Store Humor

I had to laugh. During a quick trip to the store to pick up some items for breakfast I passed through the organic foods section on my way out. Out of the corner of my eye I caught something that registered as odd once the image found its way to my brain. I had to go back and confirm it. There it was, proudly labeled on a metro-sexual bottle, "Smart Water"!

All these years I've been drinking the regular old stupid stuff. What a load off my mind. Dad, I now have a legitimate reason for all those years of poor grades: it was in the water. Or rather "it" wasn't in the water! Whatever "it" is.

Where is the Voice of the Moderate Muslims?

From Iran Focus:

Tehran, Iran, Feb. 10 A senior Iranian cleric called on Muslims on Friday to direct their fury over cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad at the United States, rather than Denmark.

When crowds of worshippers in Tehran chanted "Death to Denmark" during his fiery sermon, Tehran Friday prayers leader Ahmad Khatami told them, "We shouldn't say 'Death to Denmark'. Denmark is nothing! We must say, 'Death to America'. It's the Americans who set up the likes of the Danes".

I must have missed the history class that outlined how America established the sovereign country of Denmark. To the best of my knowledge Denmark has been around much longer than 230 years. Where is the moderate Muslim Cleric calling "BS" on this rhetoric? CNN, CBS, ABC, MSNBC? I haven't seen him. "Death to (insert here)" called for by a religious leader during prayers - what kind of religion is that?

If main-stream moderate Muslims do not speak up and condemn such irrational statements by their radical brethren they are placing themselves in a dangerous position. Without a rational voice separating moderates from the fanatics calling for violence the non-Muslim world is left to fill in the void with its own thoughts and fears. Call it profiling, persecution, or survival instinct - I'm sure there are certainly several other titles I've neglected - but the silence from the moderates is likely to result in the average individual collectively grouping all Muslims. Rightly or wrongly so, I wouldn't want to be lumped in that group.

I'll stress it again: where is the moderate Muslim voice?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Congratulations My Friend

On Thursday, February 9th, Commander Robert Geis, USN, took command of Strike Fighter Squadron 211, the first Atlantic Fleet squadron to fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. As if my grey receding hair is not reminder enough that I'm getting old, now my good friend Bob has graduated to the milestone that all career aviators strive for. He has become "the old man". The persona that we, as JO's, loved and hated depending on the day, the mission, and the mood. It should come as no surprise to those that know him that he has succeeded in achieving this goal even though the jet that we trained to fight in is being retired from the fleet. I can't think of anyone more appropriate or deserving to lead the way with the Navy's newest tactical jet. Being selected to command a squadron is truly an honor but being selected to cross-train from the S-3 into the F-18E/F for a command tour illustrates the outstanding character possessed by a man that I'm proud to know as a true friend.

Bob, I wish I could have been there for the ceremony and there are days when I wish I was still in the fight with you. The world has changed considerably since we started Pensacola together. The old adversaries are long gone having been replaced by more dangerous and unpredictable enemies but I take heart in the fact that you are still out there at the tip of the spear. May you be successful in all that you do and bring 'em all home when your turn is done.

Good luck and God bless.

Writer's Block

For those of you suffering to create a novel (as I am) I'd like to pass on information on something that I have found extremely helpful: a software package consisting of Power Structure and Power Writer available through This is not one of those author-in-a-box, fill-in-the-blanks and you'll be published software programs. It does not teach you how to write. Power Structure is an organizational tool designed specifically for authors that you can tailor to your preferences. It makes keeping the plot, sub-plots, characters, and conflicts on track much easier. Power Writer is simply a word processing program that integrates with Power Structure and allows you to import all that hard work directly into a format where you can flesh-out the outline in an environment that anyone used to Word (or similar) should be familiar with. You can download a demo version at the link listed above.

Once I got into the middle of my novel I found that I was spending more time searching back through material I had already written than I was actually writing new material. Power Structure/Power Writer solved that problem for me. It takes some getting used to but quickly becomes second nature and is well worth the effort. If you're looking for a tool to help organize your story and your thoughts this is it. If what you want is something that will create a story for you with minimal input I suggest you stick to your day job. I assure you it's easier than writing!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Propaganda Campaign

We are indeed dealing with a "manufactured crisis" generated by Muslims. If the "offensive" images are upsetting enough to incite violence of the type we've seen over the last few weeks then why is Egypt still standing? It should have been a smoking pile of sand back in October. According to World Net Daily:

"The images originating in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten in September were reportedly featured on the cover and inside pages of Egypt's al-Fagr (the Dawn) in October, during the holy month of Ramadan."

Read the entire article here. It certainly confirms the questionable legitimacy of the uproar. If you install the appropriate filter to block out all the noise you can hear it clearly in the background: a collective voice saying, "I'm insulted and upset. No, really I am! Now that I've had four months to think about it, along with the proper indoctrination, I'm really PO'd!!!"

Oh really?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Back to Reality

For those who need reminding, here it is straight from Webster:

1. a preparatory design, drawing, or painting.
2. a drawing intended as satire, caricature, or humor (a political cartoon).

Can a satirical sketch be just cause for torching buildings and threats of murder? Not to a rational person. Which leads me to ask two questions: (1) If the cartoons were so offensive why has it taken several months for the Muslim community to bring the issue to the forefront of world politics? and (2) Could it be that the originals were not insulting enough so the Danish Islamic Clerics had to draw a few of their own truly offensive renderings and make a grand publicity tour through Arab lands to manufacture the kind of response desired?

On a lighter note the Steelers won and Detroit is still standing. I count that as two wins for the good guys!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Political Shenanigans

Muslims worldwide upset about some rather tame cartoons (not op-ed pieces mind you) depicting the prophet Mohammed. Saudis upset by Bush's goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil by 75%. Maybe I'm insensitive but none of this nonsense bothers me. Americans do not have an obligation to continue funding the Saudi royal family nor does the non-Muslim majority in our country have to cater to the Muslims. As American citizens the Muslim-American community is guaranteed the right to practice the religion of their choice and I have no problem with that. I do have a problem, however, with the radical faction that believes that the right to practice Islam inherently includes the right to wage jihad against me. Leave dar el Harb and return to dar el Islam. America will not be conquered and converted: American soil is not, and will never be, dar el Islam. To the jihadists: your right to practice your religion does not preclude my right as a living, breathing Presbyterian to continue the pursuit of happiness.

That pursuit happens to include my chosen path as an author. I have a novel to finish. That novel happens to include a protagonist (villain) who is a Muslim jihadist bent on destroying all that I love. Because I am an American I can write and hopefully publish such fiction without fear of being jailed because of my words. Maybe, just maybe, my work will become popular and it will help open the eyes of my fellow countrymen to the greatest threat to our country since its inception.

For a proper response to a truly disgusting cartoon see the Joint Chiefs' joint reply to Tom Toles' trash.

Time to get to work.