Monthly Archives: January 2015

If You Can Take It You Can Make It

I just saw the 3rd movie I wanted to see this month. Decent stuff coming from Hollywood is so rare, and here 3 good ones – The Imitation Game, American Sniper, and Unbroken,  all here at the same time.

I had read Laura Hillenbrand’s wonderful book on the life of a remarkable man, Louis Zamperini, a couple of years ago. The best Hollywood screenwriters could not have imagined the trials and tribulations Zamperini went through.

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An American Hero

Today I saw the 2nd of my trilogy of movies to see. This is the movie that has confounded the Hollywood insiders, breaking box office records. At the multiplex I attended they were showing it about every 3 hours. The parking lot had more cars than I had ever seen.

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A Movie Worth Seeing

I don’t know about you, but it takes a lot to get me into a movie theater these days. Maybe it is because I am not in the target demographic of the 16-18 year old rushing to see Spiderman XXI, or gratuitous vulgarity doesn’t have a hold on my life it did when I was 18.

But there are 3 movies that surprisingly have come at the same time and are on my “to see” list.

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A Strange Day For A Lexican

 

One  of the postings on our Facebook page  by a Lexican – some of you may know him as Phonebook – others as comanchepilot – was so funny I had to share this with his permission.

 

Well Lexicans – yesterday was quite a day for me. It was root canal day [see Pinch, its a universal thing apparently] and replace 2 huge cracked cavities with caps – all in the back of my mouth – the very last molars. As much as I love modern dentistry, my dentist offered to put me out. . . . conscious sedation. As you will see, I need to go find out what he gave me because my conscious day ended about 10am yesterday morning but it did not end until 9p at night apparently in the ‘real world.’

I rolled into the dentists office at 930a and by 10a they had the nitrous mask on me and I was gone. They completed their dentistry by about noon apparently, and I left with 2 permanent crowns and an appointment card for Jan 29 to place the permanent on the root canal.

It has been told that I was happy when I left – and cooperative – and my mother in law drove me home. Where I then proceeded to prepare a meal at home, unsupervised, which at the very end, resulted in my temporary cap coming off.

I then apparently, took the cap, placed it in a zip lock with ice and drove back to the dentist. I have no recollection of this. I apparently walked in, appearing completely sober, and said ‘my tooth fell out, can you put it back it.” Which is what they did – but by this time the replacement was ready so they whisked me back into the room, re-engaged the nitrous, and we were off to the races.

The dentist cleaned it up, and placed the crown and post from the lab in his office – and off I went. the office staff tells me I was perfectly pleasant and coherent and walked out with my new crowns. I tried to tip the dentist, which should have been a warning sign, but I appeared ok to drive.

Thereafter, I drove home – again zero recollection – stopping to buy a pizza. Which I prompted placed in the oven, But did not turn it on. This was cooked pizza by the way. I then apparently called the pest control people in the city with our rent house and yelled at them about non-existent termites, then I asked my son if he wanted to pick up his car at the repair shop.

We drove over there and picked it up. Where I proceeded to then buy 2 fifths of Jack Daniels at the store, one of which I apparently gave to the mechanic. I bought gasoline. I know I did these things because I have the receipts for them.

I then took my son to dinner where I consumed, according to him and the receipt, 2 margaritas. He says that I was perfectly coherent having a normal conversation about the normal things we talk about at dinner. He then left to get a haircut in his car and I drove home – on the highway – and parked my car in its normal space – straight in and perfect – where I then went inside and spoke with my wife on the phone [she was out of town in Philly] she says I sounded unusually happy and was slurring my words a little but she assumed I’d consumed adult beverages.

I woke up this morning – and apparently made coffee the night before on autopilot – discovered the cold uneaten pizza in the oven and a half-eaten loaf of bread in the microwave.

I apparently did no one harm [thankfully] and did not go to a casino or a strip club or buy a car – and did not spend any money other than for normal things. How and why the dentist let me leave the second time is beyond me – but I guess I looked and acted perfectly normal.

I was completely out of it all day . . . never happened to me before. . . . .

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“It’s a problem for everyone – not just us Muslims”

……so says the managing director of “Quilliam”

The clinical precision with which the brothers Cherif and Said Kaouchi murdered 12 people on Wednesday — ten of them unarmed — has appalled the world, and rightly so. Little has changed since the murderers first stepped through the doors of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, as international media have gravely watched on, poring over every titbit of information leaked by the French security services.

In all likelihood the terrorists — about whom there is a clear lack of concrete information — may well have been apprehended when this comes to print. And, as soon as this happens, the world will inevitably breathe a collective sigh of relief, thinking that this latest horror of jihadist-motivated terrorism has passed; that we can all move on.

That cannot be allowed to happen. Indeed, it is imperative that the opportunity that this most abhorrent affront to our universal rights presents is seized, used as a platform from which to launch serious societal and political change. It is an unfortunate truth that no community needs to engage in such reform more than European Muslims. That is not to say that non-Muslims have no role to play.

In the coming days, weeks and months, it is up to Muslims, whether in France or elsewhere, to take a good long look at what happened in Paris on Wednesday. After all, it was not simply an indiscriminate “Mumbai-style” attack, nor was it just an attack on the offices of a satirical magazine that has long been the bête noire of Islamist extremists. No, the assassination of much of the Charlie Hebdo editorial team was a carefully calculated and well-calibrated assault on one of our most fundamental human rights, the freedom of expression.

Justified by jihadists around the world as retribution for past depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him), it is a sad fact that many will see these deaths as something inevitable, if not quite desirable. After all, the cartoonists committed blasphemy and so, according to the medieval Islamic blasphemy laws still sustained by many on the Islamist spectrum, they became legitimate targets. If we are to avoid repeats of events like those of this week, this outdated conception must be driven out of modern Muslim society and thinking.

Only Muslims that can bring about such change, through deep introspection and an acceptance that reform is necessary. Prime ministers calling an act “un-Islamic” will not cut the mustard.

In the light of these terrible events, European Muslims will enter into a period of soul-searching and condemnation. Yet condemnation is not enough. Mosque imams, community leaders and Muslim politicians must come together to talk openly about the ideas that drive men such as the Kaouchi brothers to commit such offences. The discussion must be candid, it must be intrusive and it is likely to be uncomfortable. However, if we are to shift the discourse on Islam away from foreign fighters and beheadings, we need to ask why it is that so many of our Muslim youth — not just in France — find the ideals of groups such as so-called Islamic State so persuasive.

This is not just a job for Muslims, though. Non-Muslim counterparts must also involve themselves and recognise that our society has become impaired. There are a lot of disaffected teenagers out there, and they are not just Muslims. If the rise of the far right across Europe reflects anything, it is that non-Muslims can be radicalised too. This is rarely reflected in discourse on extremism.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the whole of society must move on together. As it does, the political class must work to repair the widening cracks that separate it from the people.

In doing so, no section of society should seal itself off from the rest, least of all Muslims. It is only by reclaiming our voices and beliefs from the extremist threads that poison our communities that we can hope to move beyond the expectation from non-Muslims that Muslims apologise for their religion after horrific acts of extremism.

Normal Muslims should not have to explain the actions of a tiny, rabid few. However, there is an expectation that they should and, predictably, this week it came. As soon as the world received word that jihadists were rampaging through Paris, Muslim councils issued statements expressing their anger and desire to dissociate the religion of Islam from these fanatics. Such announcements were swiftly followed by communiqués by some of the world’s most prominent Islamic institutions.

Swift and resolute condemnation of the acts is right, but it should be assumed that Muslim people abhor terrorism just as much as non-Muslims. However, while sticky issues — such as the archaic belief in the need for retributive justice in the face of blasphemy — continue to be brushed under the carpet, this problem will continue. Lasting change will only come when the issues at the heart of the extremists’ appeal are dealt with, instead of ignored.

Our freedom of expression, the guarantee that we are legitimately able to offend and be offended, is something that all humans are owed. Muslims and non-Muslims alike must stand together in solidarity. Indeed, we are not just Charlie, we are Ahmed, the Muslim policeman shot outsideCharlie Hebdo, too.

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The Ministry of Defence……

I have cut and pasted an extract from columnist Matthew Parris’s article from last Saturday’s edition of “The Times” (UK) entitled `Sshh….six taboo subjects we don’t talk about`. The below was one of those `taboos` and sub-titled, `Military incompetence`.

If these days you were flicking throughYellow Pages wanting to hire a nation to manage a war for you, would it any longer be Britain? And don’t give me any of that “the soldiers only do what the politicians tell them” nonsense. It was the top brass that told the last government they could do counter-insurgency and sort out Helmand; it was the military that mishandled equipment and supplies.

Southern Afghanistan was never do-able. We’ve been useless at counter-insurgency. But our armed forces thought they could do it, and do it within available resources. They couldn’t. Just as they couldn’t do southern Iraq. We messed up in Basra, big time, as I saw early enough when I went there.

Take a look at a review in Thursday’s Times by our defence editor, Deborah Haynes, of Christopher L Elliott’s new book: High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Elliott analyses a decade of military failure. “At the moment, the UK is bound to fall on its face,” the retired major-general said, “a coherent, thinking, ‘brain’ either does not exist in the MoD, or the circumstances of Whitehall do not allow it to flourish.”

Such open discussion is very rare in our country. An unhealthy coalition of boffins, neocons, commentators gone native and “use it or lose it” generals has all but closed down debate. But make no mistake: the Ministry of Defence is in charge here. Don’t blame the politicians. Don’t blame the poor bloody infantry. But do ask why Britain keeps making a hash of it. Or, rather, don’t, because we who believe in defence aren’t supposed talk about failure.

I’m sorry but our most recent world-beating military success was 70 years ago. After that narrow squeak, JM Keynes wrote this: “England is sticky with self-pity and not prepared to accept peacefully and wisely the fact that her position and her resources are not what they once were.”

A useful thought — dare I say it? — for the year ahead? More useful than a thousand speeches about immigration? Am I allowed to say that?

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The Aviationist » GoPro footage of French Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck Operations

Among The Joshua Trees

Blue Water Ops. French style.

For the record, the wire mentioned in launching the Super Etendard is the bridle…………….It was used our carriers as well in the days of the Phantom, Crusader, Vigilante, Trader and Skywarrior in my early days in aboard the Forrestal Class Carriers Independence and Ranger.

The full story is at the link below.

The Aviationist » GoPro footage of French Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck Operations.

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