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Showing posts from January, 2015

Popular On Line Can Be Strange

This week my YouTube video explaining the difference between Army MRE and C-Ration meals passed 50,000 views.

A photo I took this weekend has had more than 4,000 views.

And here is the most popular post on this blog by far with more than 2,600 views.

Is there a lesson?  I guess writing about where soldiers live, talking about what we eat and taking pictures of helicopters reaches a lot of people.

Not like kitty videos or anything, but a lot for me.

More Snow on the Way? Armor Still Looks Good

This weekend began with snow all over Fort Indiantown Gap, including the Armor displayed at the main intersection.  Armor looks good in the snow, as you can see below, but it is not made for snow driving.  The the 53-ton M60A1 tank I drove and commanded would slide easily in two or more inches of snow.  Wide tracks mean low ground pressure--the same ground pressure as a Corvette.

So if someone offers you a ride in a fully-tracked vehicle in the snow, say "No Tanks!" unless you want to slide.

1984: Big Brother Never Showed Up

I am re-reading "1984" for the Cold War class I am taking.  George Orwell's tale is so completely Evil Empire and so completely wrong.  In a bleak, battered London, Winston Smith toils rewriting history at his day job and trying to remember and write down the truth at night.

As a storyteller Orwell is brilliant and chilling.

As a prophet, he is a failure.  The world he imagined is nothing like what actually happened.  Orwell imagined a future with central control of information and nearly all history wiped out.  In this gray, impoverished world everyone is starving.

Closer to the future is Ray Bradbury's 1953 book "Fahrenheit 451."  You and I and everyone who read that book 30 years ago remember it as the book about burning books.  In this terrifying world in which Firemen start fires instead of putting them out.

But when I re-read the book several years ago, the thing that stood out was the video walls and the ear bugs.  The main character's wife ha…

Soviet Era Propaganda Reminds Me of East-West Border, And Advertising

Yesterday was the first day of a class I am taking about the Cold War Era in books, film, and images, like the one above.  Today we saw Soviet propaganda films from 1924 to the 1960s and discussed several propaganda posters.  Before class we read a 30-page article about Soviet cartoons and cartoonists.  
Among the cartoonists, Boris Efimov story was chilling.  He lived from the beginning of the 20th century, either 1899 or 1900 until 2008.  He drew cartoons for the entire Soviet era.  
In interviews he said he drew what he was told to draw, Soviets as heroes, westerners as fat and greedy.  In his tale, I remembered both seeing Soviet posters when I was stationed in Germany in the 1970s and at home in newspapers and on TV.  
I worked at an ad agency for 13 years and have worked in marketing communications of various kinds for the past 30 years.  What stands out in the Soviet images is how well they controlled their "brand."  From the 1920s to the end of the Soviet Union in t…

Aviation Photo Contest Photos

I entered three photos in the Army Aviation Association of America photo contest.  Last time I entered, all of the photos were of aircraft over Afghanistan and Iraq.  It's hard to compete with combat photos.  So this time I decided I would enter three photos (the maximum allowed) with no photos of aircraft in the air.  In fact all three are very much on the ground and only one has aircraft.

The first one was a photo of grounded aircraft in heavy fog in January of 2014.  All the photos have to be in calendar year 2014.  The second is of mechanics from 628th Aviation Support Battalion pulling a broken truck out of three feet of water.  The third is from Dunker training.

Politics and Freedom in "Fury"

This morning I was reading Hannah Arendt's "The Promise of Politics" on freedom and leadership.  Politics, Arendt says, should bring freedom into the world.  She wrote this shortly after World War 2.  In a big way, the movie "Fury" could be seen as a movie about men who gave up their freedom to set others free.

But reading Arendt, I thought about one of the early scenes when the column of tanks passes hundreds of German refugees.  Among this group of pathetic people carrying their meager belongs on the muddy road is a woman wearing her wedding dress.  Her head is oddly tipped.  The dress is dragging in the mud.

In any coffee shop, locker room, or restaurant, we hear people saying "Politics doesn't matter--they are all the same."  Or "I don't care about politics."

In America we have the freedom to say those things, because in America we have the Rule of Law and who is in charge does not matter in the same way as in a real dictators…

When I'm 64, I Might Still Be a Soldier

Last week I signed two documents that begin my request to stay in the Army another two years.  And since the enlistment will end 29 days after my 64th birthday, if I get the extension, the answer to the Beatles question, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" will be, "Yes!"  At least for a few more weeks.

Right now, my last drill will be in May of this year.  If I do get to stay in the Army, our summer camp will be sleeping in two-man tents on the ground in northern Michigan with my M16 rifle sharing my sleeping bag.  So if the Army says yes, I will have a real Army experience right away.

When I enlisted in 2007, the waiver I needed to get in was signed by the commander of the PA National Guard, Major General Jessica Wright.  In 2013 when I got the two-year extension to stay till age 62, the waiver was signed by the current Adjutant General Wesley Craig.  This waiver goes to the Pentagon.  Waivers like this are often turned down.  Rat…

French Soldier in Afghanistan Writes About His Admiration for American Soldiers

The article below was sent to me by my friend Julian Richter.  It's a real tribute to American soldiers.  Here is the link, but I am pasting the whole thing so dead links won't be a problem.

Here is the original in French.  If you read French the last two paragraphs are beautiful.

I trained with French soldiers in Germany in the 1970s.  Those soldiers were the grandsons of the French Army that lost a million dead and five million wounded in World War One.  This young man would be the great grandson of those men who defended France in the horrors of the trenches.

What follows is an account from a French ISAF soldier that was stationed with American Warfighters in Afghanistan sometime in the past 4 years.  This was copied and translated from an editorial French newspaper. A NOS FRERES D’ARMES AMERICAINS "We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold f…