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Archive for August, 2011

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.
     —    John Leonard
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Our mission as advisors in 1967 was to do exactly what American advisors are trying to do in Iraq now: train the local army to assume all security and nation-building duties and permit us to go home.  We never managed to do it effectively in Vietnam, and we are unlikely to be given enough time to get it done completely in Iraq, either.  Among other things, it takes more than simply sending over advisors, regardless of how well trained, qualified, and committed they are.  It takes the dedication of all executive departments in an organized, centrally directed, and concerted effort.  That’s not something one sees in Iraq.
    —    Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
From their book:  “If Not Now, When?
[We could not “save” Vietnam.  We will not be able to prevent the collapse of Iraq.  And we will NEVER (in anything less than a hundred years) be able to build a modern, functional democracy in Afghanistan.  The sooner we are out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the better off we will be as a nation.  Does anyone seriously believe we will not bankrupt the United States before we are able to “help” the Afghans stand on their own?  We are building both (Iraq and Afghanistan) houses on sand.  When the first rains come, both will be washed away.    —    KMAB]
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In Vietnam we were engaged in an unconventional war, one for which few of the lessons of World War II and Korea applied.  The template for a war of this type was the British success in Malaya, but there were truths to be learned for the American Revolution, too.  All wars are ugly, but Vietnam had already proven to be frustrating, as well, and it was clear to everyone that we would be there for a long time.  But in typical American fashion, the Department of Defense ignored many of the lessons that and been learned about counterinsurgency.  In other conflicts, it had been proven conclusively that the prevailing side achieved success by isolating areas and securing them.  Instead, we launched a strategy of attrition.
    —     Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
From their book:  “If Not Now, When?
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We fight against poverty, because hope is an answer to terror.
    —    former President George W. Bush
[Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut – or – a politician speaks the truth!    —    KMAB]
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…If we are to learn to improve the quality of the decisions we make, we need to accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgments.  We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that  —  sometimes  —  we’re better off that way.
    —     Malcolm Gladwell
From his book: “Blink
[To misquote “The Last Samurai“:  Sometimes, they ARE all perfect!    —    KMAB]
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Movie:
Rebecca (my older daughter) and I went to see “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” yesterday afternoon.  Bec thought it was “entertaining” and I really enjoyed it.  Bec has seen the 2001 re-boot version starring Mark Wahlberg, but she’s never seen the original starring Charlton Heston.
Prior to the movie, we reviewed my personal criteria for deciding if a movie is any good.  Sci-Fi = plus; Action = plus; Comic book hero = plus; Saturday cartoon star = wash; Actors I like = plus; Good acting (somewhat to very believable in role) = big plus; Special effects (either new or old but used well) = plus; No slap you in the face stupid plot holes = plus; The story hangs together internally = not too choppy from all of the previous points = plus; “X” factor (likability)= plus.
So here’s the movie: baby ape gets brains, baby ape joins family; ape gets taste of freedom; ape defends family; ape goes to jail for defending family; ape wants to be back home; ape gets bullied; ape wups on bully and becomes head ape; apes escape; apes fight humans for freedom (and win, audience cheers); humans all die from playing around with science – the old “some things are not meant to be controlled by man” theme.
Did I just spoil the movie for you?  Not really, ’cause I didn’t tell you anything you couldn’t have gotten from the title.  Well, anyway, it’s a darn good movie and I highly recommend it!  In case you’re wondering about my personal criteria: there is no comic book hero or saturday cartoon star, but other than that, the movie met or exceeded all of my criteria.
Poem:
Today’s poem (“song lyrics”) is “Southern State Of Mind” as performed by Darius Rucker.  This isn’t a tune I’ve heard a million times (yet), but it is one which I loved the first time I heard it and which I’m starting to wear out.  It’s just a great song about being relaxed and polite and just okay.  I’ve started waving to people from my car and I know they think I’m crazy!  (But most smile and wave back!)
Other bits and bobs:
Today I was looking back through one of my comments and found a link to a guy who is running a year long maze / blogging marathon.  Each day he posts a different maze for you to look at.  The site is called “mazeaday“.  He started it in June.  Go check it out.  He includes a quote with each maze and some are good, so I’ll be “borrowing” them in the next few days.
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Jesus was not sent here to teach the people to build magnificent churches and temples amidst the cold wretched huts and dismal hovels.  …He came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul an altar, and the mind a priest.
    —    Kahlil Gibran
From:  “Secrets of the Heart
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Let us henceforth make war on all monopolies — whether corporate or union.  The enemy of freedom is unrestrained power, and the champions of freedom will fight against the concentration of power wherever they find it.
    —    Sen. Barry Goldwater
From his book: “The Conscience Of A Conservative
[For thirty years we have seen nothing but union busting, worker subjugation and the steady increase of power (economic and political) by the corporations willing to weaken America and our freedoms by the constant drumbeat of foreign competition – by both exporting jobs to other countries and importing labor to increase the supply of workers inside the United States.  The net effect of both tactics must always be to drive down the costs of labor for all workers even those at the very top end of the labor market (corporate management).  It is simple supply and demand.  It is just a matter of time before multinational corporations recognize they don’t have to pay hundreds of millions to American executives, when they can pay tens of millions to Asian or European executives.  The loss of jobs is incremental from the bottom up – workforce, supervisors, management, executives.  The American conservative movement has promoted the erosion and crippling of the workforce (apprentice and journeyman) and supervisor levels of our economy.  Much of the management level has also been lost.  Executives are increasingly in the target cross-hairs…  Where are our champions of freedom?     —     KMAB]
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But laughter is a response to frustration, just as tears are, and it solves nothing, just as tears solve nothing.  Laughing or crying is what a human being does when there’s nothing else he can do.
     —    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
From his book: “Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons
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“Republican candidates,” Vice President Nixon has said, “should be economic conservatives, but conservatives with a heart.”  President Eisenhower announced during his first term, “I am conservative when it comes to economic problems but liberal when it comes to human problems.”  Still other Republican leaders have insisted on calling themselves “progressive” Conservatives.”  These formulations are tantamount to an admission that Conservatism is a narrow, mechanistic economic theory that may work very well as a bookkeeper’s guide, but cannot be relied upon as a comprehensive political philosophy.
  —    Senator Barry Goldwater
Quoted from his book:  “The Conscience Of A Conservative
[Isn’t it interesting that Senator Goldwater was able to tell us over 50 years ago EXACTLY what the problem is with Conservatism in the United States.  In fact, he did not go far enough, because he should have stated not that it could not be relied upon, but that it would ultimately fail miserably for a functioning government in a country moving to a post-manufacturing society.  Note: I did NOT say “post-industrial”.  We have industries.  We simply don’t manufacture enough solid, tangible goods to support our society and our economic welfare.  I would argue the current Republicans are NOT Conservatives at all.  They are Corporatists.  They are not interested in personal freedom.  They ARE interested in Corporate profits.  Full stop.    —    KMAB]
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A first grader should understand that his culture isn’t a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society.  I didn’t find that out for sure until I was in the graduate school of the University of Chicago.  It was terribly exciting.  Of course, now cultural relativity is fashionable — and that probably has something to do with my popularity among young people.  But it’s more than fashionable — it’s defensible, attractive.  It’s also a source of hope.  It means we don’t have to continue this way if we don’t like it.
    —    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Quoted from his book of collected shorter works: “Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons
[We don’t have to let 400 families in the United States control 60% of America’s wealth.  Ronald Reagan (the God-Father of the wealthy class) signed the largest tax increase in U.S. history to ensure the country paid it’s way.  Incidentally, most of this increase was directed at corporate tax loop-holes, not personal income taxes, although there were increases to those as well.   —    KMAB]
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I have traveled extensively in Concord.
    —    Henry David Thoreau
[Of course, Henry didn’t mean Concord, California, but nobody’s perfect, and, reading the quote on a flight to Europe made me chuckle.    —    KMAB]
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Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a Great War, the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one.
    —    A. J. P. Taylor
British historian
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When I got out of the Army, a friend recommended a book to me about a CIA assassin who was also a zen master (yeah, I know, but just go with me for a second).  Anyway, the guy had a garden built in the middle of his house so when it rained he could sit on a cushion, close his eyes and listen to the rain drops hit the various leaves.  The image has always stuck with me…
While I was in Liverpool recently, I was sitting next to an open window (reading) and the memory came back to me, so I closed my eyes and I’ll be darned if I couldn’t hear the drops striking various things – the window, the roof, the trees, etc.
This in turn got me thinking about “rain” themed songs.  Most are usually about crying over a breakup, but some are not.  It turns out there are loads of songs which use this imagery.  Here are some of my favorites from across my life:
Breakups:
It Must Be Raindrops
Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain
I Wish It would Rain
Happiness and/or Memories:
Singing In The Rain
I Can See Clearly Now
Alabama Rain
Walking In The Rain (With The One I Love)
Shelter From The Storm
As always, read the words (first), then go listen to the songs/music.  If you agree they’re terrific or just bring back memories for you – drop me a comment.  Don’t forget to buy from your source or go visit someone playing live music.  That’s the best way to support the Arts!!
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Believing is a fine thing, but placing those beliefs into execution is a test of strength.
     —    Kahlil Gibran
From:  “A Treasury of Kahlil Gibran
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