Category Archives: Best of Neptunus Lex

FRIDAY MUSINGS 10/08/2004

by lex

Posted: Fri – October 8, 2004 at 04:05 PM

 

Well. That was interesting.

 

So. Where to begin? For me it would be easier if we went backwards in time, starting from right now. Like that movie, “Memento,” that was causing such a buzz last year.

Just got the credit card replacements today. Which allowed me to go back and re-vitalize my .Mac account, wherein this blog is hosted. To those of you who noticed my absence, thanks for noticing!

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You know – in a strange way, not being able to post was somehow liberating – I was freed from the implicit need to scan memeorandum on a daily basis for ammunition to re-fill my bile glands. Neither was I compelled to launch into much-anticipated, breathlessly awaited opinions on who won the debates, whether vice presidential (Cheney, by a length) or presidential (Kerry, by a lap), or whether they would make a hair’s breadth of difference (I don’t think so, in the long run).

And since you’ve been spared my political commentary, lo! these many weeks, I’ll encapsulate the depth and breadth of all I’ve thought and learned over the past month: I am simply astounded, given the vast amount of talent in this country of 300 million people, whether that talent be in the law, business or politics, or whether it is measured in terms of intellectual capacity, cultural understanding or moral strength, that we are once again going to the polls in November to choose the next leader of the free world, and we are once again stuck with trying to make the least-worst choice. What is it with us?

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Because I was at sea for three (count them, three) weeks (not that I’m complaining, no one shot at me), I missed the entire RatherGate kerfuffle, including the aftershocks, that blazoned new names across the blogo-heavens, while casting down the minions of Sauron from their creaking pinnacles at Barad Dûr (ed. Hold on – how does a pinnacle creak?)

Eh. I’ve been at sea, my metaphors have gotten rusty. It’s the salt air. The sun was in my eyes. The deck was up. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts!

Anyway.

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And while away, in the midst of a three-day final battle problem aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the Hobbit’s purse was stolen from her car. Which led of course to our having to cancel all of our credit cards, checking accounts, etc. Just stop everything!

Which I can now reveal to you is damned awkward, if you haven’t lived through it lately. Because in order to be sure that no one else gets access to your capital or credit, you’ve got to go a non-trivial time without access to them yourself. Which is one thing when you’re 19 and hiking the Appalachian Trail from end to end with nothing more to worry about than where the next candy bar is going to come from, and a whole other thing entirely when your only son has gone to college leaving you alone in a house full of women!

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So, how was my time at sea, you ask? Uneventful. The strike group did a great job actually, and the ship herself is a good fighter. I’ve had the opportunity to sail on any number of aircraft carriers in my career, and I can say that of all I’ve ever been on, Vinson was far and away the tautest ship. For one thing, everywhere I went everyone was shouting “Attention on deck!” and throwing themselves up against the bulkheads. Which was a little embarrassing, because I figured out ultimately, after coming to attention and throwing myself against a bulkhead a number of times, that it was me they were talking about. So we all would stand there for a moment not saying anything before I’d finally figure it out and say, “Carry on,” so we could all go back about our lives.

Now, it’s true that this was my first time to sea as a captain, but I’m fairly certain nothing like this ever happened on any ship that I was on before, unless that captain was The Captain, which I most assuredly am not.

There were a number of other features, which stand out in stark relief to those of us in the business, but would be sand-poundingly dull to share with my land-locked readership, so I will spare you those details.

And how was I billeted? I’m glad you asked – in the very lap of luxury was I, and my captain roommate: *

FridayMusinkgs10082004a

Not much better or worse than what you’d get in any of your federal penal institutions, but we were guests after all.

The food? Let’s just say I should have lost weight. The fact that I didn’t is not the fault of the Supply Officer.

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The old joke among the aviators is that you can tell the moment you’re aboard ship, because you instantly become hungry, horny and sleepy, all at the same time. Ship time is not like beach time, in a way that can be hard to describe – once you’ve been aboard for 24 hours or so, the ship becomes your frame of time reference – you are aboard. You have always been aboard. You always will be aboard. This is the only life there is, there was never any other, everything else is an illusion.

All your previous at sea time telescopes, and leaps across the intervening periods ashore to join with this time at sea.

But then the day after you leave the ship, it is as though it never was. It is like the memory of pain.

But, you’ve got this to look forward to every day: *

FridayMusinkgs10082004b

(Ed. Note – Lex’s Original Pictures were’t captured by the Wayback Machine. My thanks to Colocomment for remembering his post and supplying these. 

Which is nice.

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OK – got to go. It’s good to be back, look forward to seeing everyone around the neighborhood.

 

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MAYBE SO…

by lex

Posted: Fri – October 8, 2004 at 08:16 PM

 

What one person in Iraq thinks, about all of it…

 
I have been listening to the report about the WMD’s by Mr. David Kay. Now, all of you in the West must know that as far as we, the Iraqis, are concerned, we care very little that stocks of WMD’s existed or not at the time of liberation. For us Saddam and his regime were in themselves, the most lethal WMD that cost our people hundreds of thousands of victims not to mention the destruction of the economy and the very fabric of society in our afflicted country. That regime was a dead end for our people and with its continuation there was no hope whatsoever for the future. Mr. David Kay did mention something about this, and he should know, since he spent so much time in Iraq and has intimate knowledge of the situation. Saddamism is a cancer that we have yet to recover from. Western intervention lead by the U.S.A. was a God send to us, despite all the pain and misery that accompanied the operation and the repercussions that continue to rock the process of recuperation and rebirth of the nation. The U.S. soldiers are bravely standing in the thick of the turmoil and contributing with their blood and sweat not to mention the treasure of their land, towards curing us from the remaining ulcers of the disease after having performed the main surgery which no one else even dared even to think of.

Perhaps, the interests of our people were not the main consideration that led to that action; nevertheless, that does not change anything about the importance and implications for the people of Iraq of this tremendous historical act. Yes there is pain, chaos and loss; yet on the other hand, there is possibility of hope, and a clearly discernible “light at the end of tunnel”, to use this worn out phrase.

Were we better off during Saddam’s time? – A question to which many outsiders are very keen to know our answer. Well, in many respects the streets are much more insecure, yet the security that existed in Saddam’s days was like someone quietly waiting for certain death; like a cancer stricken individual carrying the disease in his guts with no hope or attempt at cure. Yes, the pain and torture may be much more terrible when the surgeon has operated and the disease is tackled; but at least there is hope of recovery and healing, and the prospect of life saving. And this is not allegory, nor a parable; this is coming from someone whose house has been standing in the midst of bombs and explosions for so long now, protected by none but the mercy and grace of the Lord; from someone who has suffered robbery, kidnapping and constant daily danger.

And here we are, trying to organize elections, trying to control the security situation, trying to restart the reconstruction, able to talk, able to think, able to watch satellite T.V., use the internet, the mobile etc. – in short everything that we have been forbidden to do before. And without the slightest hesitation, we hail withLove and Gratitude our giant U.S. friend and his allies, standing with us shoulder to shoulder, braving the elements, braving death, calumny and hatred, shedding blood; to help us heal, to help us reach the shores of safety. And make no mistake, the campaign is winning and will achieve its objectives. Make no mistake; you have already created an allied nation in the very heart of the M.E. despite all appearances, which will produce all the long term benefits and consequences so many times reiterated by President Bush, to the ridicule and insults of the profoundly mistaken, of the profoundly hating.

America, stay the course – God, Decency, Honor, Hope and everything that is virtuous and right is on your side, beside the majority of the Iraqi people. America do not waiver, for you have never waged a more noble and just campaign in your entire history. America, we are winning, God’s willing, and Victory is coming sooner than many might think.

Salaam

You too, brother.

Peace.

And I hope you’re right.

 

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READING AND WRITING

by lex
Posted: Sat – October 9, 2004 at 09:41 AM

 

While on the ship last month, I had some spare time between events and at night to read. Reading is a luxury I used to enjoy much more frequently than I have of late.

There are of course all sorts of time pressures in our daily lives, everything seems to happen so quickly these days. There seems to be very little space for contemplation and reflection. And reading literature at least, as opposed to email, ought to be a contemplative pleasure.

Where has the time gone? Sometimes I am subject to the gnawing concern that these “labor saving” devices we have built for ourselves have chained us instead to tyrants of “Better” and “Faster.”

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IN FLIGHT COOKIE EXCHANGE

by lex

Posted: Mon – August 30, 2004 at 05:55 PM

It’s good to have a niche in the blogosphere – as I’ve mentioned before, you want to hear sea stories from an aged FA-18 pilot living in San Diego who commutes to work down the 5 on a BWM R1150GS motorcycle, you come here.

But that puts a bit of pressure on the old memory circuits, so I’m fortunate to have correspondents that can both share their tales with all of us on these pages, and also jog the noggin.

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MORAL EQUIVALENCY WATCH

by lex

Posted: Mon – August 30, 2004 at 06:24 PM

From time to time, I’ve had the occasion to discuss why I won’t argue America’s interaction with the world from a zero-sum, morally neutral point of view.

Here’s why .

Atefeh Rajabi appears to have been a fairly normal 16-year-old: sulky, disobedient, and eager to have sex. In London, those attributes earn lectures from parents and teachers on the importance of acting responsibly and not being offensive. In the city of Neka in Iran, where Atefeh Rajabi comes from, they get you hauled up in front of a judge.

Atefeh’s typical teenage behaviour meant that she was charged and found guilty of “acts incompatible with chastity”. The judge in the Islamic court ruled that the appropriate penalty was death. That’s right: death. Her sentence was confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court.

And that penalty was carried out, by hanging her from a crane in full view of the city. Pour encourage les aûtres.

Ordinarily, even the “sin of unchastity” for an unmarried teenager wouldn’t have merited the death penalty under sharia. But Atefeh managed to compound her crime by sassing the judge, and “undressing” in the courtroom. She took off her hijab:

It seems that all she did was to take off her headscarf and insist that she was the victim of an older man’s advances: but even if she had stripped naked and called the judge a fat ignorant bastard, those actions would hardly merit death, even under Islamic law. Nevertheless, the judge was so outraged that he decided he would personally put the noose round the child’s neck.

Makes perfect sense.

Welcome, fellow travelers, to the 21st century.

The writer, one Alisdair Palmer, writes with eminent good sense:

What would be headline news if it happened in America (can you imagine the response if a 16-year-old girl was executed for having sex in Texas?) is, because it happens in an Islamic state, apparently too banal to count.

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MUST READ

by lex

Sat – September 4, 2004 at 07:44 PM

Ralph Peters in the New York Post lays it all upon the table .

If Muslim religious leaders around the world will not publicly condemn the taking of children as hostages and their subsequent slaughter — if those “men of faith” will not issue a condemnation without reservations or caveats — then no one need pretend any longer that all religions are equally sound and moral.

And:

…we will hear spiteful counter-accusations about imaginary atrocities supposedly committed by Western militaries.

Well, the cold fact is that Western soldiers, whether Americans, Brits, Russians or Israelis, do not take hundreds of children hostage, then shoot them in cold blood while detonating bombs in their midst. The Muslim world can lie to itself, but we need lie no longer.

Finally:

The butchery in Russia was a crime against humanity. In every respect. Was any war ever more necessary or just than the War on Terror?

And what will terror’s apologists say when the killers come for their own children?

There’s lots more in-between. Do read the whole thing.

By the way, as though it matters now: Nearly 350 dead. The vast majority children. Nearly 350 pairs of Innocent eyes, gazing out on the universe two days ago. Forming thoughts, creating opinions. Now closed.

The horror.

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FROM OUT OF THE DARKNESS – HOPE?

by lex
Sun – September 5, 2004 at 12:03 PM

You who have spent any time on these pages are aware that I am an implacable adversary to Islamist terror. You cannot but understand, even if you do not agree, that I believe that we cannot yield the field of battle to these latter-day vandals, these authors of barbarism, these forces of rejection and nihilism. You know that I believe that if we were to do so, through retreat, negotiation or compromise that we will only end up fighting the same battles on fields far closer to home – In our cities, in our ports and airports. In our schools.

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