Friday Musings 08/12/2005

By Lex, on Fri – August 12, 2005


You were aware, perhaps, that the Yellow Fever vaccine contained an actual live virus?

No? So then you didn’t know that, when checking into a shore command for the first time in seven years, and turning in your medical record to a young, fuzz-cheeked corpsman that was never even a glimmer in his own father’s eye when you were a full-bird by God lieutenant bringing the heat at 1.2 in max grunt on the tip of the spear, that all Yellow Fever vaccinations occurred only on Wednesdays between 1300 and 1430? Because, it being required every five years, no matter when the last time was that anyone ashore or at sea ever heard of man dropping down dead from the Yellow Fever (and you’re as likely to get struck by a bus, if not more so) but once the the jar is opened it’s all to be used, and that right quick? It being a live virus, you see.

Like that’s supposed to reassure you. “Never you worry, Jim. It’s only a live virus we’re injecting under your skin. What could possibly happen? I mean: What could go wrong?”

That and the PPD. Which I’m told informs on the typhus, great killer of man since time immemorial, and as contagious as the plague never mind that both of them are gone missing for the last several decades, at the very least. Never mind that you have to get it every year, the PPD. Stuck into your forearm like a screwdriver and no one who cares will tell you different. See you in a couple of days, to tell whether or not you’re going to die a horrible death, somewhere in a sanatorium. Every year we get it done, and every year we say: “What, again? So soon?”

One wonders what the institutional response would be for the man who goes and gets his case of typhus the day after his PPD gets read.

Bike commute today, and it was totally wasted. Pearls before swine, no traffic at all on the northbound route.

I was strangely disappointed.


Saw a bunch of SERE school students all lined up and ready to go into the hills today. For all that they were young and had brilliant careers flying all manners of wonderful equipment in front of them, I couldn’t help but thing: You poor bastards.

No. It’s not all beer and skittles in the fleet. Of all the things I’d go and do again, and maybe do a bit differently, SERE is not among them. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt. First time’s a charm.

I can’t mention SERE * without bringing up the legacy of the late James Bond Stockdale. His picture and Medal of Honor citation * are just outside my new office:

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners’ of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale’s valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Yes they did.

I heard him speak at the Naval Academy, way back in the way back when. He talked to us plebes about the first day in the Hanoi Hilton, getting hollered at, and beaten. He said it reminded him of being a plebe. We all laughed, we understood: Plebe year sucked – it lasted the better part of a year. SERE school sucked. The hard part lasted a very long weekend.

Stockdale was imprisoned by the North Vietnamese for a little over seven years.


Also saw two SEAL candidates, in their old fashioned cammies, plastic helmets and white name tapes. Lining up for X-rays there in the North Island clinic. Limping up and down. Thought to myself: It’s supposed to be hard. Not everyone will make it.




Was driving home from work t’other day: Heard the NPR folks talking to someone from the Heritage Foundation and someone else from the Weekly Standard. The topics were important, and there were no rebuttals from Mother Jones, and no one took any phone calls.

I imagined the programming director in a closet with his face turning blue under a plastic bag and a gripping tightly to a can of PAM.

The poor bastard.


We’ve a rabbit. Or at least, we used to. A decision was made that it would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? If the rabbit were permitted to run free for a bit in the back yard. The rabbit itself took this parole and extended it, perhaps beyond the bounds of the grantee’s imagination: The rabbit is gone, run off unto the great backyard greenery that has no name, but contains no few coyote.

I can’t help feeling that this is going to turn out badly. I can’t help thanking God that I was nowhere near when the aforementioned decision was made.


Quote from the NARAL * board : That whole, “Make detestable stuff up out of whole cloth and push it as The Truth in order to turn the debate in our favor through agitprop” thing has really blown up in our face. Whew! Who could know? This used to be so easy!”


To file under the category of: “People who you are really glad * that you are not right now”: Jamie Gorelick *

(And meanwhile, taking the long view: I can’t help thinking that, jimminy, that’s a terrible last name.)

Oh, yeah: And Sandy Berger *.

Tsk, tsk.


I’ve just decided: One of these days I’m going to tell you all about my first date. In Richmond, Virginia. With a cousin. Which, since she wasn’t a first cousin, was considered perfectly appropriate.

But there’s more, gentle reader. Oh, so much more.

* 07-11-18 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.

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