Sunday, February 26, 2006

Today's Thought

As I was just sitting here watching Andrea Boncelli belt out "Because We Believe" at the 2006 Torino Games Closing Ceremonies, it dawned on me that the next time I watch the Olympics, 2010, I'll probably be in a foreign country. That just struck me as odd and really put things into perspective.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Measuring the Success

As most of you know, the Democrats have been screaming for a withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq while members of the Republican party have been echoing the words of our Fearless Leader that we should stay. As I've said repeatedly, President Bush has never offered a tangible goal by which we could gauge our progress toward success in the Iraqi Theater. For this reason, our military has had to gauge our current levels of success using more creative methods.

After the conventional military excursion into Iraq was finished and Saddam had been removed from power, the US was in charge of what went on. Our goal is to be completely out of Iraq and within our own borders, once again. The only way to make these two situations meet would be a gradual shift of power and responsibility. The main problem is that when we first arrived, there was no one there for us to turn power over to. With the success of the Iraqi elections, this problem has been solved. Thinking back in time once again, when we were first establishing ourselves in Iraq, there were no Iraqi forces (police or military) to assist in keeping order and/or taking actions against the insurgency operations.

According to a DoD report, presently, there are 53 battalions of Iraqi military that are capable of operating with the support of US forces (Level 2). There are 45 that are trained enough to fight along side our forces (Level 3). That means there are 98 Iraqi battalions that are actively engaged in anti-insurgency and stability operations within Iraq. In September, there were only 88. The Level 2 forces are kicking in the doors while US forces, for example, are providing support by fire positions and assistance during searches, as well as logistical support (ie: vehicles, since they presently don't have any). Progress is being made in this area! There is no denying that.

As I have shown, Iraq is slowly coming into its own, militarily. Other ways that we are able to judge our success is through the local populations. Brigadier General Burgner, Deputy Commander, MultiNational Forces, Northwest (Iraq) recently made a stop here. He said that when we first started operating there, they would receive a tip from the indigenous people two-three times every two weeks. Now, it is up to 9-15 per day. The Iraqi people did, indeed, see us as an occupying army. However, we have been able to demonstrate to them, through tangible results, that we are there to help them and that we do not intend to stay. These things I attribute not to President Bush or any other politician, but to the soldiers on the ground walking the streets of Iraq. Our platoon leaders are responsible for setting up town meetings and getting the local leadership together to identify and solve their regions problems, whatever they may be. Our soldiers are the guys that are getting the job done, not those in Washington D.C.

Granted, there are still locations where people throw rocks at our guys. They will always be there. The media capitalizes on the body bags and the protests. They don't show all of the successes that we've had.

If you sincerely have an interest in our military's progress in Iraq, I strongly recommend that you read this news briefing from September with BGen Burgner. Keep in mind, this took place back in September 2005, so there has been even more progress since then.


Vox Suggests Widening the Roads

In his "IED efficiency" post, Vox stated the following:

One thing I've wondered is if it would make sense to widen the roads most often traveled by US forces to such an extent that anything planted offroad would have to be so large as to be easily detectable. I find it difficult to imagine that the explosives in the IED's are so powerful that they'd be undetectable if the roads were two or three times as wide.

This seems so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning, but asphalt and active road crews are surely less expensive than Humvees, military hospitals and long rehabilitations. And perhaps they've already been doing this; I doubt the media would see fit to report the fact that Highway Whatever is now thirty feet wider than before.

Though I do not know if any such program has been enacted, I doubt it would have a high success rate. There are several reasons that I question its success rate. The first is that US forces travel on most, if not all, of the roads in Iraq. In some cases this happens on the platoon and section levels during presence patrols and general interaction with the assigned community. A second reason it would not have much success is that if they couldn't put the IED alone a widened road, they would simply put it where the road returns to its normal size. The affect, in essence, would only be displacement, which leads me right into my third point. In the urban areas, there simply isn't room to expand the roads. Mosul alone has about 2 million people in it. For comparison, the 2004 Census has Houston, TX at about 2 million people. (Those of your interested in doing a map/satellite recon of Mosul, 36 degrees 20'06.00" N 43 degrees 07'08.00" E.) Another thing that many people forget is that we are dealing with more than simple roadside bombs. There are suicide bombers and Vehicle-born IEDs (VBIED) that we need to defend against. And most of all, never to be forgotten, is that the insurgency force is very adaptive and should not be taken lightly.

In quoting someone else's post, the statistics were also brought up which showed that more IEDs were emplaced (almost double), but fewer were detonated that injured people between 2004 & 2005. For these reasons, it can be said that the members of the US military are some of the brightest members of society in that they must learn faster than our enemies can develop new weapons and strategies. Our military must develop contingency plans before they even know what is coming. It is truly an amazing system when you see the inner workings of it all.

To all those deployed, Godspeed.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

US-CERT TA06-053A -- Apple Mac OS X Safari Command Execution Vulnerability




US-CERT ST06-002 -- Debunking Some Common Myths



Monday, February 20, 2006

Since Its Been a While

As it has been a while since I put up a post, here is a paper (only a 2 pg, dbl spaced) I recently wrote for social problems. It deals with the issue of the medical use of marijuana.

Medical Marijuana

It is my belief that marijuana should be legal. I do not think it is the job of the government to decide or attempt to regulate what I can and cannot put in my own body. If I want to smoke myself to oblivion, that should be my decision and my decision alone; it shouldn't be based on government policy. Throughout this paper, you may notice that my beliefs are similar to those carried by the majority of the Libertarian Party.
As for the medical use of marijuana, assuming it was legalized, if you desire to submit to the medical opinion of a doctor who recommends the use of marijuana, so be it. We are free to seek second opinions. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of using such a drug, you can always seek the recommendation of another physician, or ask the original physician if he knew of any other options.
Getting to the matter of the marijuana itself, there are several precautions that should be taken prior to the use of marijuana. The first is to know your source. When you take a look at a bag of marijuana off any average street corner, you will find that the contents is not a pure concentration of marijuana. Some drug dealers will mix other drugs in with the pot in an attempt to create an addiction in the casual drug user thereby guaranteeing business for tomorrow with a craving for a more expensive drug (such as cocaine or heroine). If you subscribe to the thinking that “The government is concerned with my best interests,” the reason I just described may be, in part, why we have seen the government take such a strong stance against the medicinal use of marijuana. One way to overcome that problem would be to grow your own, which leads me to the converse style of reasoning. If you are more in line with the school of the thinking that says, “The government is here only to take more control and look out for itself,” you may be more inclined to think that the government will not legalize the medicinal use of marijuana because 1) it will be difficult to regulate where people acquire the drug from and 2) will therefore make it more difficult to tax, which leads to reduced governmental income from the marijuana itself and from the taxation of the previously used prescription drugs.
It is not very easy to answer the question as to whether or not marijuana can benefit people when used as a medicine because the federal government has set up quite the obstacle course for scientists to negotiate. Therefore, you can already assume that most of the US studies will be skewed in their results. The studies that were completed, though, took place so long ago that the data may be obsolete or even incorrect, if re-run with today's equipment and methods.
I am a firm supporter of private research. Whether or not the researchers have kissed the ring of the Almighty State and received its blessing is irrelevant to me. I think there should be some limitations regarding what can be done in the name of science, but I would hardly classify researching alternative medicines as outside the moral bounds of science and medicine. What could the worse-case scenario of medicinal marijuana research be? Even if death was possible, how could that outcome be worse than the possible death outcome of other approved medicines? When you look at the “reported side effects in some cases” of modern day medicine such as, internal bleeding, nausea, blurred vision, birth defects, irregular heart beats, increased & decreased blood pressure, warnings not to drive, loss of appetite, stomach ulcers, do we really have anything else to worry about? In the long run, you're going to die of the disease if you don't take any drugs. It seems that the current attitude is along the lines of so what would be big deal be if you bite the dust a little early due to your medication? Almost everyone does things on a fairly regular basis that shortens their lifespan. If you're going to die, why not lessen the pain just a little. Again, I am back at my original point that people should be able to do to their bodies as they see fit.
In closing, I don't think you will see the government take any action which would result in, or could potentially result in, the relinquishment of any power from its own hands. It would be just as easy to assume that you could put medicinal marijuana up on the shelf right next to Elvis, Sasquatch and Area 51.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

US-CERT TA06-045A -- Microsoft Windows, Windows Media Player, and Internet Explorer Vulnerabilities

Unbelievable, I know.




Friday, February 10, 2006

The Third One Bites the Dust

Since I have been at this college, the third restaurant has been closed due to illegal activity. The first was KFC (Kan't Find the Chicken) which was closed for running a prostitution ring. The second was Burrito Express. They were using some plant other than lettuce in their burritos, at least according to the DEA. And most recently we had Huddle House shut its doors for drug trafficking. Hooray for this town... I told you the indigenous population was bright.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rethink Your TV Viewing

Vox went there, ladies and gentlemen. He put into words (other than the ones I've already used) why I hate that show & everything it is about.



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

US-CERT TA06-038A -- Multiple Vulnerabilities in Mozilla Products


It is also worthy of mention that Mozilla had released the appropriate software updates days before this CERT Security Alert came out.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

George Washington & Serial Numbers: Tonight's Adventure in Ethics

We were discussing the police subculture and, in turn, the personality of police officers (in relation to predisposition). The instructor used the arrangement of money in a wallet as an example. He said most officers will have their money arranged according to denomination. Somehow the conversation began to deteriorate. I suppose that's because the universe moves toward chaos instead of order. Anyway... "Flabby Freckles" speaks up.

Let me first say that for some unknown reason she thought it would be a great idea to sit behind me instead of next to me for tonight's class. Well, she must be ADHD because she wouldn't stop moving around. Her feet were on that book rack underneath my chair and I could feel her shaking the entire class. With that on top of the fact that I just don't like her, she was running a high risk of being stabbed in the throat with my pen when we were only about ten minutes into the class. I eventually pulled my desk-chair assembly several inches forward to give her a clue. I'm not sure if she caught on.

Anyway, she pipes up about how she organizes the money in her wallet. At this point, I'm ready to just put my head down and try my best to contain the impending explosion because I just know this is going to be a winner. She proceeds to tell us that she arranges her money according to denomination in ascending or descending order. Okay, I do that too. THEN she arranges it according to the serial numbers. I spin around as fast as possible to see if she's serious. She's completely deadpan. As the entire class lets out a "She's nuckin futs!" courtesy laugh, I realize that I have to sit here for another hour & 30 minutes+ with some girl who's one green Maraschino cherry short of a fruitcake sitting right behind me!

I fear for the future of humanity...


Friday, February 03, 2006

The Reciprocal of Joel Stein

I have never related news carried by the "Christian Science Monitor", but today is going to be the first exception.

Sue Dais, a freelance writer, wrote an article in which she relates the story about the day that she received a certain phone call, from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

Read the article, then continue.

That's the type of things our soldiers need to hear, even if it is from "Mom". They don't need to hear some slimes so-called "opinion" on why soldiers shouldn't be supported simply because they did what they were told to do. If you're going to write that kind of garbage, why don't you leave your family & take your sorry gluteus maximus to Iraq & tell that to the soldiers' face? I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms. Heck, just go walk a patrol with them. But I know you would never do that. Why? Because you are a COWARD, Joel Stein. Our deployed military forces have access to the same news sites as the rest of us.

Nevertheless, thank you, Mrs. Diaz, for writing your article. We appreciate it.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

US-CERT TA06-032A -- Winamp Playlist Buffer Overflow