Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Graveyard of Empires; Episode I

In 336 B.C. a 20 year-old Macedonian from the royal line of a nation numbering not more than 1.5 million people, assumed the kingship of the Greek world from his assassinated father. Alexander had been educated by one of history's greatest teachers, Aristotle. Along with the throne, his father Philip bequeathed him the finest fighting force the world had yet seen. Philip himself had built the Macedonian army, organized and equipped in a highly flexible combined arms manner that had easily crushed the other monolithic phalanxes of the Greek city states and their colonies, as well as irregular formations of barbarian tribes to the far north of Macedon.

Immediately upon the young Alexander's accession to the dominating Macedonian throne, the Greek city states and the barbarians whom his father had subdued tested his mettle and attempted to throw off Macedonian rule. Alexander first solidified his authority as leader of the Hellenic League (alliance of all the Greek states, save Sparta) established by his father by marching on Athens at the head of a Macedonian army and rapidly crushing, by a demonstration of strength alone, the opposition. That done, he turned north and put down the restive barbarian tribes.

While campaigning in the north, Alexander received word that Thebes and Athens, at the instigation of Darius II of Persia, had revolted against Macedonian rule. Alexander immediately marched on Thebes and all but destroyed the city to subdue it. Athens got the message and surrendered peacefully to Alexander's rule, for which the young king returned kindness and no retribution for their errant behavior.

With the Greek world solidly behind him, and two years of successful campaigning against disparate enemy formations under his belt, Alexander crossed the Hellespont into Persian dominated Asia (what is today, Turkey), not just to accomplish his father's dream of punishing the world power to the East for their repeated transgressions against the Greeks, but with his own plan of conquering Persian, AND the rest of the known world. Alexander first defeated a mixed army of Persians and Greek mercenaries at the Battle of the Granicus and liberated the Greek coastal cities of Asia. Lacking a navy with which to maintain his sea lines of communication with his home base back across the Hellespont, Alexander next sought to negate the Persian navy's ability to interdict him, by sweeping down the Mediterranean coastline and capturing all of the ports from which the Persian navy operated.

A third of the way through this coastal campaign, as Alexander was marching southward into modern-day Syria, the Persian king had attempted to cut off his lines of communication back to Macedon by placing a 100,000 man army to Alexander's rear. Alexander had turned around with 30,000 men, and, despite being outnumbered three to one against an enemy well fortified on the other side of the Pinarus River, routed and destroyed half of the Persian army with the loss of less than 500 of his own men. Following this victory, remembered as the Battle of Issus, Alexander completed his anti-Persian Navy campaign by seizing the island port of Tyre (by means of the herculean engineering feat of building a causeway out to the city), the city of Gaza (by means of another great engineering feat: the construction of a 250 foot high mound a quarter mile in circumference at the base from which the Greeks bombarded the defenders with siege engines), and the occupation of Egypt where the young conqueror established the first of many Alexandrias.

Having effectively destroyed the greatest navy in the world at the time, by way of brilliant stratagem, Alexander now turned his attention to the mighty Persian Army assembling in Mesopotamia. With his trademark rapid march, Alexander sped from Egypt back to Tyre, turned east and crossed the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The Persians, numbering about 200,000, were drawn up in battle array on the Plain of Gaugemela waiting for Alexander. Outnumbered nearly four to one, the Greeks nonetheless attacked straightaway and Alexander's tactical genius shown clearly in his adaptation of a battlefield formation that created, then exploited, a gap in the center of the massive Persian line. The Persian king, Darius, was suddenly in a relatively exposed position and he beat a hasty retreat. His grand army disintegrated with his ignominious retirement from the battlefield, and, after being pursued by Alexander for the next eleven days, Darius was assassinated by a group of his Persian nobles, leaving the young Macedonian strategic, operational, and tactical genius the ruler of Persia--a feat the most ambitious Greek leader before him could never have dreamed attempting.

No warrior king had ever before nor has ever since accomplished so much conquest at any age and level of experience, let alone Alexander's tender age of 25. He was clearly the world's most brilliant battlefield leader and destined to cruise to world domination, including the lands that were later to encompass the western Roman Empire--what is now Italy, Mediterranean North Africa, Spain, France, and the British Isles. He could count on vigor that would keep him in the fight for at least another 25 years. He had consolidated control of the Greek world, occupied Egypt, and conquered the Persian Empire in less than five years--one could scarcely fathom what he should accomplish given five more like periods of time...

But, then he marched into Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday Morning MOTOs, Not-so Special Wednesday Edition

The Colonel knows that this is Wednesday and that he has been regularly irregular in his fitfully faithful posting of the Monday Mastery of the Obvious (MOTO) medal awards, to those whose public comments demonstrate their steel trap grasp of the obvious, on..., well, on Mondays.

Several colliding and colluding factors have created a not-so perfect storm preventing the Colonel from publishing the Monday Morning MOTOs until later in the week. First, the Colonel's bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity has been particularly persistent this week.

Second, Grandson #1, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, has been on an inspection tour of the grounds of the Tallahatchie Free State, a government in opposition formed with hand-on-wallet as much as tongue-in-cheek, and has commanded a bit more of the Colonel's and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's time.

Third, there has been a distinct dearth of public comments by anyone demonstrating any kind of grasp on reality.

The Colonel's Not-so Special Wednesday Edition of the Monday Morning MOTOs Bronze Medal goes to the Colonel, for his mastery of the calendar, as demonstrated by the lead sentence in this pernicious post.

The Colonel's Not-so Special Wednesday Edition Monday Morning MOTO Silver Medal goes to President O'Bama (he did claim some Irish ancestry didn't he?) for his realistic, if blatantly obvious, remark that, with regard to our economy, "There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets." Hmmm, seems to the not-so bright Colonel, that's exactly what he and the socialist spendapaths in Congress have been attempting to do with trillion dollar bandaids and shotgun blasts, all of which will, in the Colonel's not-so humble opinion, result in nothing more than hastening the complete economic collapse of these re-United States into hyper-inflation and depression.

The Colonel's Not-so Special Wednesday Edition of the Monday Morning MOTOs Gold Medal goes to President Obama for his explanation for his delay in joining the hypocritically populist outrage over the revelation that the same effete, Gucci-wearing, limo-riding, penthouse-living, money-grubbing, Yankee Wall Street crooks who came hat in hand to the American taxpayer for financial rescue after they literally mismanaged their institutions into bankruptcy, channeled millions of OUR MONEY into their own pockets as bonuses for doing such a splendid job of destroying our wealth, "It took us a couple days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

What?!? Was the teleprompter broke?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Freefall Physics

Relatively irrelevant relativity, that heretofore ill-documented time-warping phenomenon which most often manifests itself in bubble form encapsulating the Colonel, a man curmudgeoned before his time, demonstrated the never before observed characteristic of “transferability” here at the northern end of southern nowhere the other day.

The Colonel was up in the air, quite literally, walking the high steel... uh, toes clinging to the fiberglass top of a ten foot step ladder…, adding boardage to Semper Field's new tractor shed addition to the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility, one hand on a hammer, the other on a nail, and, you guessed it... no hands left to anchor me and prevent my ultimate reconnection with the hallowed capital grounds of the Tallahatchie Free State, a government in opposition established with hand on wallet as much as tongue in cheek. Said ladder has long since achieved the state of repair that gives the word rickety a whole new meaning, and Miss Brenda, the comely and kind-hearted chairperson of the Tallahatchie Free State Committee on Safety has decreed that the Colonel is prohibited from ascending beyond the first step without her provision of stability and verbal encouragement to "be safe," as if I intentionally flirt with danger and disregard all rules of workplace safety every time I stir from a nap (I mean complete a strategic planning session) and take hammer in hand--okay, I do have a penchant for skirting safety regulations, but that's not important right now. The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was providing effective stability for the Colonel whilst I was up the ladder, until the phone rang in the Sawdust Production side of the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.

A phone in the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility?” you ask. But of course. I spend a great deal of time at, around, or in the EMTSASPF, and with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s full social calendar and burgeoning circle of girlfriends in what can only be described as a middle-aged girl gang (hereinafter referred to as her MAGG), a phone in the EMTSASPF allows the Colonel to fulfill his critical responsibilities as the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s answering service in her absence.

As the phone continued to ring, I glanced downward at the upturned visage of my best friend and beheld the picture that should be in the dictionary next to the definition of the word, “indecision.” The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was, in a word, “torn.” Her phone answering service was perched above her on the dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.” Leaving her post as the Colonel’s safety supervisor, even briefly, would, she was certain, expose her man to the dangers inherent in allowing doufi (plural of doufuss) to operate machinery (hammers qualify as machinery for doufi) at altitude without female (doufi are strictly male) supervision. Not answering the phone would almost certainly result in missing the announcement of the next unscheduled convocation and economic stimulatory shopping trip of her MAGG—a turn of events much too painful for the comely, kind-hearted, and shopping centric Miss Brenda to contemplate.

Don’t MOVE. I’ll be right back.” The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is nothing if not commanding when it comes to giving direction, and I froze, hammer in mid-swing.

And, then, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity surrounding the Colonel, shimmered briefly, popped with a distinct, “pffft,” and reappeared simultaneously around the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda. That visual stimuli to my optic nerve should have provided sufficient warning that I was going to be perched precariously on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” with hammer frozen in mid-swing, for an inordinate amount of time during which I was certain to observe the hastening approach of winter. However, comma, the Colonel has long and painful experience with disregard of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s commands, and I endeavored to persevere in obedience.

At some point in the next seven hours and twenty-seven minutes, during which I maintained nearly inhuman motionlessness while perched precariously on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” with arm and hammer frozen in mid-swing, a combination of minor muscle fatigue and major attention deficit began to erode the Colonel’s obedient perseverance. There began to creep into the paltry collection of amorphous grey goo lying fallow in a forgotten recess of the bony brain housing group within which my dim consciousness resides the thought that I might very well have been, if unintentionally, abandoned by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, and that I might want to consider engaging in some relatively minor muscle movements designed to reduce the precarious nature of my perch atop the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.”

The almost imperceptible of minor muscle movements designed to affect the least bit of readjustment of the Colonel’s precarious perch on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” resulted in launching the man curmudgeoned before his time from his high altitude perch and into mid-air as if shot from the proverbial cannon. At exactly the same moment, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity that had transferred to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda seven hours and twenty-seven minutes previously, reappeared with a shimmering “ding,” around the Colonel and slowed the passage of time to a creep approaching the speed at which sorghum molasses pours from a bottle on a cold day. The Colonel’s otherwise catlike reflexes, on which I would rely for terminal ground approach, were delayed in initiation due to indecision regarding choice of an appropriate landing zone, said choice being complicated by the vast array of mostly pointed and sharp edged tools littering the ground, in strategic order of last use, at the foot of the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.”

As the Colonel sorted through the limited and rapidly diminishing collection of available courses of action with regard to clear landing sites, it occurred to me that, due to the lack of airspeed resulting from my previous perseverance in obedience to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s “Don’t MOVE” command, said lack of airspeed would have the ultimate result, despite out-stretched and wildly gyrating arms attempting to achieve a modicum of lift, of reducing my glide ratio to that of a bag of bricks. As I drifted earthward, the surrounding bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity provided sufficient time, once I had exhausted the list of available landing sites and accepted a lack of control over same, to contemplate the foot pounds of energy that would be exchanged upon impact with terra firma, and calculate the degree beyond which I was likely to exceed my pain threshold subsequent to gravitational contact.

As I neared less than one half foot AGL, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity surrounding me shimmered and disappeared with a barely audible “pffft” and, in the intervening six inches, a radical transition from sorghum molasses time warp to hypervelocity occurred causing me to accelerate to just below terminal velocity prior to impact. In spite of my best efforts to induce lift, and despite a lack of forward airspeed with which to achieve course correction, I managed to deposit my carcass on the one patch of bare ground devoid of the aforementioned vast array of mostly pointed and sharp edged tools littering the ground in strategic order of last use. The resounding thud with which the Colonel’s body made contact with Mother Earth is reported to have registered on seismographs across a three state area.

Evidently the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity transferred once again, shortly before my hypervelocity and thunderously ground-shaking impact, to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, as I was able to process through a lengthy checklist of skeletal structures and provide myself a preliminary damage control report based on lack of any searing pain registering in the amorphous grey goo passing for cognitive cells lying dormant in the cavernous recesses of my brain housing group, before the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda initiated return to her abandoned post as the Colonel’s worksite safety supervisor. In the intervening interminable period of relatively irrelevant relativity bubble-governed time it took Miss Brenda to pry herself from telephonic conference with her MAGG and respond to the in-flight scream of terror and post-flight low moans of the Colonel, I had completed a thorough diagnostic check of all critical systems and was contemplating initiation of positional readjustment from the very-still prone position to a more dignified head-between-the-knees sitting readiness posture.

Ed, are you alright!?” A high, querulous voice cut through the ground fog that had suddenly appeared coincident with my arrival ground-side.

Sure! Never better!” I answered. Aural distortions attendant to the lingering effects of the relatively irrelevant relativity bubble caused the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda to hear my answer as a low moan.

I told you not to move!

I didn’t—at least not for several hours.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Drug War

The next war with Mexico is ramping up and this is one could make the Afghanistan and Iraq anti-terror campaigns look like picnics.

Those who are in the business of studying and assessing threats to these re-United States and our allies have been warning anyone who will listen, and not many decision-makers are, that aside from Pakistan, the nation, critical to our national security interests, that is most at risk of political implosion and violent explosion is our neighbor to the south. Some are going as far as to say that Mexico is rapidly becoming a Narco State, with drugs and drug money the political, economic, and military driver. With a trillion dollar appetite for marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs either produced in or trans-shipped through Mexico, the people of these re-United States are directly responsible for the pain and suffering of the Mexican people at the hands of the drug cartels increasingly in control of their country.

Currently, Mexican drug cartels are estimated to have a combined para-military capability of over 100,000 men armed and equipped with modern infantry weapons systems. Flush with far more cash than the Mexican government they are rapidly supplanting, these cartels easily pay their soldiers, many of whom are former members of the Mexican army, much more than they could make in any other occupation, and easily pay off the members of the Mexican local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Those they can't buy, they kill.

The Mexican Army has been called up to combat the cartels, but, in all likelihood, the Army has been infiltrated by the cartels to the point that most operations against them will be marginalized. Again, the cartels pay a whole lot better. Watching footage of Mexican soldiers in the attack this week reminded one of the anti-insurgency operations conducted by the nascent Iraqi Army. When the soldiers of your national army are wearing masks to conceal their faces from recognition by the bad guys, you have a serious problem.

My, not so wild and somewhat educated, guess is, just as was the case with the post-Saddam Iraqi Army, the Mexican Army will not be able to eradicate the cartels' fielded forces on their own. My further prognostication is that U.S. decision-makers will dither while the Mexican Army flounders, and will only commit U.S. forces in support once the Mexican Army starts to crumble. At that point it will be too late. At that point we will be facing a failed state on our southern border run by people whose one and only goal is supplying the American drug habit.

Frankly, the magnitude of this threat is greater than any economic recession. And, much easier to successfully combat--if we act quickly. The first step is to SECURE OUR STINKING BORDER!!! That we haven't done this at all post 9-11 is one of the most egregious lapses of our government in its most important function--national defense. We have the most capable military the world has ever seen--this would not be a very difficult mission!

The second step is also a no-brainer, and, since we have the printing presses making cash at the speed of heat, should not be very difficult, either. The Mexican drug cartels wield power and influence primarily because they pay better. Let's outspend them. Let's give the Mexican government enough money to make heroes, very well-off heroes, out of every private in their army. I'm talking serious cash--not just a ten percent pay raise. Let's create a Mexican middle class to rival our own in one fell swoop. Let's give the Mexican government enough money to build a half million-man army, each soldier in which makes six figures. Heck, let's recruit a couple of divisions of Mexican citizens right here in the re-United States and send them home, well-paid, to make their country great like ours. The cost would rival only that which we have wasted trying to keep GM afloat.

Or, we can wait until Mexico collapses and spend untold trillions in treasure and a hundred thousand lives trying to turn back an invasion of up to a quarter of our neighbor's 110 million people attempting to escape the chaos.

Patient Patients

Clean bills of health provided by the doctor with the honor of monitoring the physical well-being of the Colonel and Miss Brenda, at the conclusion of our annual check-up yesterday.

After fifty years of military medicine, it has been a bit of an adjustment for us as we have transitioned from the government collective to a local Family Practice doctor for our primary care. One of the welcome changes has been having adults tend to our health. The medicos in uniform were all to often youngsters still fighting acne--in the main, very effective, but very young and relatively inexperienced. It had gotten a bit disconcerting to be poked and prodded by folks who looked much, much younger than my own very young kids.

When the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and I emigrated from the Redneck Riviera to the Northern End of Southern Nowhere two years ago, we experienced the joy of doctor shopping for the first time in our lives. We settled on one who had the two critical prerequisites--long-past achievement of adulthood and acceptance of Tri-Care (our military retiree medical plan). His office staff were also adults, and even more exciting, long-time members of our new community. Yesterday, as the nurse drew our blood, we talked about an uncle of hers who is a neighbor. Never had that experience with military medicine!

Miss Brenda is proud to announce that, according to our new favorite doctor, she has "the heart of an athlete!" On the other hand, the Colonel, whose internal operating systems are, likewise, in good working order, got no such athletic arterial comparison. The Colonel, as will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, has no heart.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To the rear, MARCH!

Here at the northern end of southern nowhere, that detested four week square month, with its hated attributes, has been ripped from the calendar with relish, if with lack of ceremony. The Colonel likes March a whole lot better, except for one characteristic it shares with February here in the South--the weather roller coaster. When it comes to climactic mood swings, March is February on steroids.

Two days ago a balmy breeze out of the South pushed the temperature up and over the eighty degree mark and the Colonel spent two glorious days outside working on the tractor shed addition to the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility. The men who took this southern boy, with blood further thinned by nearly five years in Panama, and dragged him kicking and screaming through hypothermic practical application of arctic warfare training, taught me to layer my clothing and regulate activity to prevent soaking myself in my otherwise prodigious perspiration. But, with t-shirt temps on hand, I let the sweat pumps kick into high gear and flushed the winter sludge out of my pores as I dug three foot post holes through the Confederate Concrete that passes for soil here aboard the grounds of the capital of the Tallahatchie Free State. Yesterday morning, I sauntered outside dressed for summer and quickly executed a retrograde operation houseward for clothing retrofit.

In the time it takes this big blue marble to complete less than one rotation 'round its axis, the temperature had dropped nearly fifty degrees! There's a welcome rain falling with the unwelcome fall of the temperature, so the Colonel won't complain. The shoreline of Lake Brenda could stand significant expansion prior to the summer dry.

Just doesn't need to be expanded via freezing!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adding to Ed's Edifice

For the last several days, the temperature here at the northern end of southern nowhere has climbed up to and past the four score mark on Herr Fehrenheit's scale and yesterday the spring-like weather flipped a "let's clean the house" switch in the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's brain housing group. Cleaning house ain't on the Colonel's short (or long, for that matter) list of favorite participation sports, and the strong whiff of Pinesol that jangled my olfactory nerves served as a sufficient catalyst to activate my desire to attack the growing list of projects requiring attention on the grounds of the capital of the Tallahatchie Free State (a government in opposition, formed as much hand on wallet as tongue in cheek).

One of the aforementioned projects, The Tractor Shed, an open-sided, roofed addition to the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility under which to park Semper Field (the Colonel's tractor; not to be confused with the Colonel's pick-up, Semper Fillit, and the Colonel's boat, Semper Fish) between forays afield, has languished as concept in the few remaining cognitive cells in my hat rack for several months now. On the promise and expectation of stimulus funding (an earmark for which I have been promised has been included in the omnibus appropriations bill), the Colonel began construction yesterday on said addition to the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.

The preparatory phase of said construction project involved a prolonged period of strategic planning, risk assessment, and work site survey, the predominance of which was accomplished by the Colonel in his open-air office, ensconced in his "thinking chair," eyes closed and shaded from the thought-damaging effects of ultraviolet light. A few short minutes into this vitally important stage of engineering excellence, which, due to the temporal distortion of the bubble of relative irrelevant relativity surrounding the Colonel (see post entitled "Time in a Bucket" for an explanation of this heretofore undocumented phenomenon), seemed more like several hours to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, the mother of my children stepped outside to conduct the regular safety check and supervisory security sweep required of the wives of Gregory men. The Colonel's super-natural situational awareness provided sufficient aural stimuli to warn of the impending presence of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, but, not wanting to startle and traumatize her with a demonstration of my explosive, cat-like reflexes, I remained carefully stationary and motionless in my strategic planning repose and only, and very slowly, responded to my dearest's attention-getting attempts when her gentle nudging escalated to the level of mild shaking.

"What have you gotten done this morning?" The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was interested in her man's accomplishments--how heart-warming!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday MOTOs; Vol. II, Ed. 3

Time once again for another installment of the Colonel's regularly irregular Monday Mastery of the Obvious (MOTO) awards, for public pronouncements demonstrating the speaker's death grip on reality. The awards committee, chaired by a man curmudgeoned before his time, will present medals in absentia today at 1300 Tallahatchie Standard Time, on the front porch of the capitol building at Eegeebeegee, Mississippi, capital of the Tallahatchie Free State, a government in opposition formed as much with hand on wallet as with tongue in cheek.

The Colonel's Monday MOTO bronze medal is awarded to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (who leads the closely followed TCMM medal count by a substantial margin) for his blustering, "I warn you this revolution means business," (according to Patricia Rondon in a March 4 Reuters dispatch from Caracass). Hugo "Castro Lite" Chavez's government had just announced seizure of a parboiled rice plant owned by the American company Cargill, as the dropping tide of oil prices supporting his "bread and circuses" populism ran him aground upon the shoals of economic reality. The Colonel's source in Caracass (codenamed "Toucan Sam") claims the reporter left off the last part of the Chavez pronouncement: "...and the state will become one and the same." Socialism (aka: liberalism, progressivism) has but one totalitarian aim--consolidation of power in the hands of a few--and conceals its motives in the populist camouflage of social fairness.

The Colonel's Monday MOTO silver medal is awarded to Marti Maguire, staff writer for the Raleigh News and Observer, for the headline, "Tornadoes are not 'to toy with'." Amen, sister! I can testify! Also, for your further mastery, Ms Maguire, I submit the following obvious points: Tigers and chimpanzees don't make good house pets; Marines are trained to kill; and all politicians lie.

The Colonel's Monday MOTO gold medal is awarded to pollster John Zogby who explains that President Obama's soaring popularity, in the face of a slew of broken campaign promises and an economy spiralling out of control, is based on his “sheer personality.” I'm more and more convinced, day after day, that there ain't but a handful of us, you and I included of course, that get it. Everybody else can't tell the difference between what's going on in the real world and what happened on "The Bachelor." Leaves this Marine just a tad bit disappointed.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Time in a Bucket

Never have quite understood the logic of Daylight Savings.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the extra hour of sunlight in the evenings. One of the things that was always a downer for me, when I was working for a living, was going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. I really looked forward to the government-sponsored clock shift in the Spring that would eventually allow there to be some daylight left in the evenings when I got home. Gave me more time to feel guilty about being too tired (read lazy) to go outside and play ball with the kids.

But now that the Colonel no longer wears a wristwatch, having given up the rat race for the seasonal, rather than hourly, governed life of a blogging farmer (and I use the term "farmer" looser than a newborn's diaper deposit), the concept of time has become, with apologies to Albert Einstein, a relatively irrelevant relativity. Time has taken on an entirely different aspect for me than it has for everyone else. Allow me to provide some examples in point:

Case 1. The Colonel is at the controls of Semper Fillit (my red, mud-bespeckled pick-up truck; not to be confused with Semper Field--my red, mud-bespeckled tractor) and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is lightly ensconced in her right seat drive director's position. Semper Fillit is traveling at a rate of speed roughly equivalent to the speed of smell as the Colonel is in no particular hurry, having no particular deadline to meet. A glance in the rear-view mirror reveals a pretty young coed in a brand new daddy-bought BMW, with the ubiquitous cell phone slapped to the side of her noggin, approaching the back bumper of Semper Fillit at a rate approaching a large fraction of the speed of light. As the Beamer and its blond operator close to within pistol range of the Colonel, and enters his bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity, the effects of temporal distortion are clearly evident, manifested by the marked and obviously uncontrollable physical behavior displayed by the aforementioned coed--hands thrown involuntarily upward; pie hole agape and mouthing verbal utterances symptomatic of sudden onset Tourette Syndrome.

Case 2. The Colonel is in his shop, merrily mesmerized by the effectiveness of one of his power tools at turning lumber into sawdust. The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda enters the Colonel's domain unbidden and breaks the reverie with a request, "I need some help with [some inane and totally unnecessary nest feathering project intended to soften the rough-hewn facade of Eegeebeegee]. It'll only take a minute." Seven hours and thirty-seven of those aforementioned minutes later, we have reached the approximate half-way point of the [some inane and totally unnecessary nest feathering project intended to soften the rough-hewn facade of Eegeebeegee] and cease labor due to the fast approaching onset of winter.

Case 3. Miss Brenda and the Colonel are wandering the aisles at Wally World doing our part to keep the world economy from collapsing into Stone Age barterdom. The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda mentions that she needs to stop in the craft section for a minute. Seven hours and thirty-seven of those aforementioned minutes later... On the other hand, the briefest stop in the sporting goods department elicits an almost immediate round of the foot-tapping, eye-rolling, and heavy sighing indicating that, to Miss Brenda, time has increased its rate of passage exponentially and we are wasting valuable time that could otherwise be spent on completion of the [some inane and totally unnecessary nest feathering project intended to soften the rough-hewn facade of Eegeebeegee].

Think I'll call the physics department at Ole Miss in the morning and offer my services as theoretical genius in residence.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Second Thoughts

I let my NRA membership lapse 25 years ago because I was growing tired of the gun control hysteria every time some effete liberal yankee politician got birdy regarding firearms.

I'm a bit of a student of our Constitution--it's always a good idea to know what it is you are swearing an oath to defend with your life. I've studied the Federalist Papers; heard and appreciated (if not agreed with) the arguments from all sides regarding the intent of the Framers. I have, as a result, come to a personal interpretation of the Second Amendment; and it ain't in line with the hyperventilators of the National Rifle Association. For those who have egregiously failed to read their re-United States Owners Manual, or have forgotten the contents of the Bill of Rights since they last looked at them sometime in their childhood, here's the Amendment in question:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Proponents of unlimited access to and possession of firearms, chief among them the NRA, single out and hang their collective hats on the second half of the Amendment. Proponents of gun control, and those seeking to restrict the types of firearms a citizen may possess, point to the first half of the Amendment as indicating that the Framers' intent was maintenance of an armed and "well regulated militia" for homeland defense. At the time of the writing of its constitution and its first ten amendments, the young country was still beset on every border by clear and present dangers to its security. There was no standing army (the fear of which was ingrained in our European forefathers), and state militia, (the forerunner of our current National Guard) comprised of private citizens who would drop plow, pen, or hammer and take up arms in crises, were the only organized armed force available to deal with the threat of internal insurrection (such as the Whiskey Rebellion and Shays Rebellion) or external uprising on the frontier. That militia, armed and proficient with their own firearms, was clearly what the Framers were addressing with the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Let me be clear and honest: I own guns--a lot of 'em--and I am, what you might safely assume, rather proficient with them, thanks to my Dad and the United States Marine Corps. But, I'm not as comfortable as my friends and neighbors in the NRA with the concept of unregulated access to and possession of firearms. Frankly, and this is a founding principle of the Tallahatchie Free State (an opposition government formed as much hand on wallet as tongue in cheek), I firmly feel that no one should be allowed to own a firearm--or vote, for that matter--unless he or she has earned that privilege via honorable uniformed military or police service.

With all the above said, I am a bit worried about the concealed intentions of the sponsors of the House Bill H. R. 45, also known as "Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009" ( While seemingly innocuous and reasonable on its face, the bill contains a few worrisome provisions, which, taken to logical extremes, could result in the very restrictive regulation of firearm ownership about which the NRA has heretofore participated in the aforementioned collective hyperventilation. The bill would amend Section 922 of title 18, United States Code to require licensing of any citizen wishing to own or possess a firearm. That seems reasonable enough, you might say. After all, you have to be licensed to legally drive an automobile. Yes, but, there is no license required for ownership or possession of a car or truck. I have no problem with my government reasonably regulating the use of my firearms (it already does that through hunting license requirements and hunting regulations regarding seasons and hours during which, and weapons and ammunition with which, I may unleash my primal apex predator instincts). I do, however, have a HUGE problem with my government's mouth-breathing bureaucratic minions having access to my mental health records--an odious and dangerously Stalinistic requirement of licensure included in the bill in question.

You won't need my mental health records to figure out just how crazy I am if you try to enforce that one!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


There's something therapeutic about turning lumber into sawdust; ranking right up there with the life-centering results of turning your own cut and split firewood into heat and light.

If there's one resource I have in abundance on Eegeebeegee, it is timber. The ridges and creek bottoms are covered in hardwood stands, interspersed with mature pine and cedar. Each of my three large fields are edged by stands of planted loblolly pine, ranging between five and ten years old. In short, the Colonel has a long-term renewable resource that could serve me and mine for several generations; if me and mine will stay disciplined in its stewardship. Dawns on me, as I sit here converting electrical impulses into palmar and dorsal interossei movement and thereby into this electronic missive (I know it amazes those of you who know the Colonel well, that he is able to do two things at the same time), that I need to put some unequivocal language in my will to instruct my progeny, and theirs, regarding long-term maintenance of this valuable resource: NO CLEAR-CUTTING.

As those of you who have wasted valuable time reading this voluble vomitus for more than a few months know, the Colonel is a proud possessor of a long-dreamt-of workshop with enough room to house large and multiple projects and the large and multiple power tools with which to accomplish said projects. The really good news in this story is that the Colonel has been doing his part to stimulate the economy by throwing copious wads of cash (well, swiping a magnetic strip) at the local big box hardware store in return for the aforementioned tools to populate the aforementioned workshop. Next on my wish list (purchase pending approval of the spending bill containing the earmark I have asked my congressman to include for improvement of the grounds of the capital of the Tallahatchie Free State) is a radial arm saw (excuse me while I pause for a short session of monosyllabic guttural utterances signifying manproval).

In a former life, the Colonel received some training on systems efficiency. Unfortunately, the wrinkled mass of cells carrying that information has atrophied to an amorphous puddle of grey goo in a shallow recess of my brain housing group. But, I have never been one to allow a lack of intelligence or education (I didn't go to college--I attended Ole Miss) to prevent my progress. So, I have developed a plan for presentation to the Tallahatchie Free State purchasing committee (chaired by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda). Said plan includes a line and box diagram depicting the Eegeebeegee sawdust production system deemed critical to the continued mental and physical well-being of the Colonel (he whose retirement income maintains Miss Brenda in the standard of living to which she has grown accustomed). She has accepted my need for, and has approved purchase of the aforementioned radial arm saw (excuse me while I pause for a short session of monosyllabic guttural utterances of manproval). She will, of course, recognize immediately that there is a glaring gap in the Eegeebeegee sawdust production system processes right between the box entitled "timber" and the box marked "radial arm saw" (excuse me while I pause know the drill...join me).

I need a sawmill.