More on Achilles in Viet Nam

Before I said “Everyone should read this book.” I was only forty or so pages into it at that point. I am almost done, and now I have to say- Maybe not everyone.

It’s just so crushingly sad. I have talked to two of my trusted friends, guys that live out here in the country near me, guys that also happen to be combat vets. I was fully expecting them to tell me that they didn’t want to talk about it. In my mind, a guy (like me) with no combat experience from “back in the world” would have something like zero credibility. But, unexpectedly, these guys opened right up. The thing that I have realized is that, for soldiers that were in wars that weren’t in the papers, homecoming is kind of just another covert operation.

You can be “in the shit” (in danger (and in terror) of being killed, wounded or left behind) at 6:00pm on Monday, and by 2pm on Tuesday, you can be at the PX trying to decide if it’s going to be PBR or Rolling Rock. Guys that they have lost (friends, fellow soldiers) sometimes just disappear, and there isn’t time to mourn or process or deprogram. It’s 60 to zero with a brick wall abruptness.

Reading this book has really profoundly affected me. There are about thirty things that I want to address in this weblog about it, but the whole discussion deserves so much more than the flip, topical analysis that this kind of forum affords.

Siegfried Sassoon was a veteran of World War One, and he wrote several poems about his experiences there. I am repeatedly reminded of this one line from “Suicide in the Trenches” while reading this book:

“You smug-faced cowards with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray youÃll never know
The Hell where youth and laughter go.”

Something new

I have done a lot of things in my life- I have played in a rock band for ten years, run two marathons, finished college and subsequently started grad school, I have seen Niagra Falls, and I have swam (have swum?) in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and two Great Lakes… but there was one thing I had never done until today.

Today, at the end of my first semester of grad school, I opened my grades and I had straight-As. I have never had a 4.0- not from the first report card in First Grade until now.

You could have knocked me over with a spit-ball.

And I can’t get my brother (the “good student”) on the goddamn phone to tell him about it. We’re twins, he knows it in some creepy, psychic twin way, and he’s avoiding me. Bastard.

Who is John Galt? (and who works on his house?)

There’s this infamous thread over at Jane Galt’s Blog about wanting to hit anti-war protestors with a 2×4. Jane’s a “libertarian.” (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- You show me a libertarian, I’ll show you a republican that smokes pot.)

She spent a LOT of time backing away from her original post- I am guessing that she got called out enough on it that maybe the light flickered on in the shed and she figured out that maybe bludgeoning people that disagree with her isn’t the healthiest thing for the republic. Rather than getting into the puerile nature and the pure fascistic bent of the general sentiment, here’s the part that actually surprised me: This is from her backpedal- “And some of the confusion maybe my fault, because until a friend emailed me, I didn’t know exactly how large a two-by-four was.”

!??!

Here’s the text of the comment that I left elsewhere-

Only a “libertarian” would be able to become an “adult” without ever 1. having done enough real work or 2.having enough common sense to actually know “exactly how large a two-by-four [is].”

I mean, fer chrissakes, it’s 2 by 4! How big is a gallon jug? A pint jar?

That’s what I love about Libertarians (and any one that calls themselves an Objectivist. Just a wild guess, since she calls herself “Jane Galt,” an Ayn Rand reference, methinks.): They piss on the working class in favor of the geniuses that run “The Marketplace.” In the meantime, they don’t know which end of a hammer to use to drive a nail.

Attention, Jane Galts of the world: GET! A! FUCKING! JOB!!!!

Fun with jackasses

My twin brother has had just about enough of being treated as a second class citizen. The debate on gay marriage has really gotten under his skin, and you can read about how annoyed he is over on his weblog.

The commments are piling up, and I am struck by how myopic and blithely bigoted some of them are. So, I decided to have a little fun.

This comment was posted by someone named “Bobby G”:

“I’m not about to debate you on this.
Personally I don’t care one way or the other about gays being able to get married.
I (usually) have no problem with gays. The only time I do is when I see them parading down Main street USA, on a float, kissing aother guy while in a thong!
Children don’t need to be exposed to that confusing scene!(let alone me)
And please David, don’t tell me you think it’s ok for gays to adopt?
No, I’m not a homophobe, either. A good friend of mine is gay. Like I’ve told him.”I don’t care what you do in your personal life, just don’t tell me about it”.
P.S. CALM DOWN!”

I made a few changes (and posted them in his comments section) My changes are in [brackets]:

I’m not about to debate you on this.
Personally I don’t care one way or the other about [black people] being able to [vote].
I (usually) have no problem with [black people]. The only time I do is when I see them parading down Main street USA, on [the way to the polls]!
Children don’t need to be exposed to that confusing scene! (let alone me)
And please David, don’t tell me you think it’s ok for [black people] to adopt?
No, I’m not a [racist], either. A good friend of mine is [a negro]. Like I’ve told him.”I don’t care what you do [with your black friends], just don’t [move to my neighborhood]”.
P.S. CALM DOWN, [they’re just Nigrahs]!

SEE HOW FUN THAT IS? Shift the target of their bigotry a little and WHAMMO, instant comedy! Strom Thurmond would be so proud!

Free… yup, FREE!

Two things tonight:
1. Somebody opened a store in Brooklyn where everything is free. Really. I think that I am going to box up a SCSI scanner, some various useful-to-someone-I-am-sure cables, a bunch of books and some shoes and just send them there. (this is via my new pal e-claire.)

2. Went to a meeting of the local Open-Source O.S. guys tonight. I was a little disappointed that the meeting was less technical and more about advocacy, but I did win a book on network security and I met some cool folks. I think that I can probably get someone interested in some of my dream projects. (that computer lab in a low-income area with free access for underpriveledged kids and their parents… with machines that are rehabbed to run Linux with portable user accounts and network drive space… and classes to increase computer literacy for the community. Stupid dream, I know, but it’s mine, and I want to at least try it.)

What’s with all this free stuff? What’s with all this free stuff being distributed in an orderly manner? Is it that people are tired of paying too much for too little? Tired of getting ripped off by car dealers, insurance companies, mobile phone providers, software vendors, their bosses, Wal-Mart, Kool-Whip, Burger King, etc?

Is the key to freedom from fear of being ripped off just giving stuff away and hoping that fate hands you something in return? Anybody need a pair of hiking boots, size 12?

The Economic Reality Tour

What do you do when you get laid off from your software company job after three years and you hear that Bush’s economic advisers are coming to town on a “fact-finding mission”? Well, you go on a road trip and give them the facts.

He’s getting some attention. My favorite quote from his web journal of the trip:
I “got a 15 second interview on the CNN Financial Network. They told me that this was a “live feed” (isn’t that what they give alligators?).”

This is a riot, and for chrissakes, someone help this guy find a job. Here’s his resume.