20091129

29NOV09 Battle For Terra DVD review, or 83 minutes of life I'll never get back...

NOTE: If you intend to watch this movie, don't read my review first, I'm spoiling the plot!

First off, it was rather beautifully animated even if the rendering was a tad on the light side in some cases. The shadows were well executed, and CG has come a LONG way since Toy Story! However, its 2009, so yo know it was low budget because the main characters were bald, and the ones with hair still had the solid cap looking hair that was a necessity back when Toy Story was made due to the technical limitations. Now, its just a sign of not being able to (or willing to) pay for the rendering farm usage. They captured the movements and skittishness of birds quite well in their Terran (but not the Earth Terra, but an earth-like planet called Terra... yeesh! So the critique begins...) equivalent of hummingbirds and sparrows.

Downhill from there. As always, its about humans traveling across the galaxy looking for new home because we destroyed our home planet Earth, and in this case both Mars and Venus in a giant war between humanity. Someone believes Earth would have a government, that would have colonies on Mars and Venus who would be under colonial governments and declare independence from Earth's government. Typical episodic or b-grade science fiction idea (I blame Gene Roddenberry for that one mainly, but its a far too common theme in science fiction...). Of course, the beautifully rendered bird is on the earth-like planet called Terra by humans, inhabited by none other than a peace loving race of aliens who are at one with nature (anyone else seeing where this conflict is leading?).

As you can guess, the human race, having destroyed earth is desperate for a new home world, and the human government consists of the ever wise, clear thinking, and level headed Council; and the hothead, genocidal (xenocidal) maniacs of the Earth Force. They are in a space craft called the Ark, and run across the ever peaceful species of aliens whom the Earth Force (surprise, surprise) is willing to wipe out in an effort colonize the earth-like planet of Terra. Since the Council disagrees and wants to engage in diplomacy, the Earth Force does what every military force does when faced with this dilemma in Hollyweird film, and carries out a military coup.

But wait, theres more! Our Terran aliens have a wise and all knowing Council of Elders themselves that have ensured the peace and prosperity of their planet by removing all knowledge of war from the people! Gum drops and lollipops all around! They seem to have managed to eradicate violence from their species by keeping all weapons from them! In the mountains shrouded in clouds is a cave full of the knowledge of war, forbidden to the general populace, and only the Elders have access! The Terrans have pulled their advanced technology out to save their species! Of course, the protagonist has to go through the shock of learning what violence and war is, and then learn all about how the Terrans almost destroyed themselves with these weapons, which was why the survivors banned technology that wasn't approved by the Elders and hid the weapons. So, a species that is Fallen like mankind, can just suppress all thoughts and acts of violence by removing the weapons? Right... Ask a prison warden what happens with no guns or knives, ask an orderly at a mental institution about kids raised in a 'weapon free' environment and how violent they can be just based on PURE INSTINCT. Of course, such details are omitted, as this is a child's cartoon (rated PG of course...).

As to the final battle, lets just say a human who isn't bad finally decides to stop the plans of the xenocidal maniac General Hammer. Which brings me to my next point, have you ever noticed that Hollyweird always portrays military men in science fiction as being homicidal/xenocidal/genocidal maniacs (and when they can, they chomp cigars like Patton) with no mind to the consequences of violence? That, and always ready to conquer new lands and planets and enslave the populace in order to rape said planet of natural resources! I've also noticed the tendency for said generals to execute a military coup, assassination plot, or some other bull @#%* whenever the civilian government (who is ALWAYS portrayed as wise, all knowing, peace loving, and empathetic) gets in the way of the Conquest. Perhaps this negative portrayal of the military is my biggest critique of this movie (along with mindlessness of the enlisted men and officers under the General, except for the one they intend to foil the plot with whom has 'gone native'), along with the fact that all Hollyweird war heroes tend to be officers (with occassional senior enlisted men involved somewhere... anyone in the real military will tell you the countless stories of heroism involving men who wore stripes, not bars, leaves, birds or stars).

Make no mistake, I'm a fan of military science fiction, mostly in the books. Give me a book by David Drake or J.E. Pournelle any day and I'll gladly read it. Why? Because there is a far greater accuracy in their writing than what I've ever seen on the big screen. Of course, if Hollyweird tried to make a movie about one of their books, they'd screw up and come up with another 1997 movie erroneously named Starship Troopers (which honestly, they should have picked a Hammers Slammers story to do instead of Heinlein's book, they'd at least portray the back story of the mercs 'pleasure section' accurately even if they missed the rest of the story...). But then, Hollyweird is full of writers who don't have any military experience of their own, or if the do they get lost in the crowd of producers, executive producers, directors, and focus meetings done in order to target the script at the best selling segment of the audience at large. FLOP, WHY?! They scream when the movie fails...

Part of my frustration, which has led to this blog post, is the continual stereotyping I see in Hollyweird science fiction movies. If one were to judge science fiction based on movies, science fiction is in trouble! But alas, science fiction lives in literature and lives very well there. Much better than on big screen. We've seen Hollyweird come a long way in its portrayal of science fiction, from the basic 'green men invasion' low budget flick period in which only two movies really reflected science fiction literature ('The Day the Earth Stood Still', and 'The Forbidden Planet'), to classics like 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Star Trek' on TV, until where we are today with decent science fiction on the TV and big screen.

But there is a long way to go. I can see the format for the last two decades reverberated here. Its form science fiction again, what sells (sorta). We see the same common thread in 'The Abyss', the 'Fifth Element', and finally here with 'Battle for Terra'. Mankind is bad, we destroy our earth, and worst of all we fight wars. Therefore we are violent, 'un-evolved', people whom should be isolated on earth or destroyed completely. Um, sure... Some how, I'm on board with the military science fiction crowd (in literature) that believes that fighting is a fact of life (and being a spiritual man, an aspect of our Fallen existence). If we are this way, somehow I suspect alien life is that way, and will continue to be that way. Very FEW species on earth don't have any mechanism for fighting to survive, and those that were like that died off (the dodo for example, didn't fear man enough to fly away, or fight to defend nests, they just stood there while sailors shot them and stomped the eggs...). Fight or Flight, or die!

There is some irony here, as I'm going to quote some of J.E. Pournelle's Preface to the 1983 collection of military science fiction stories “There Will Be War”, as he was writing from Hollywood CA at the time! This is the best explanation of why movies like 'Battle for Terra' piss me off I've yet seen.

“Everyone desires peace; but there have been few generations free of war. Paradoxically, the few eras of peace were times when men of war had high influence. The Pax Romana was enforced by Caesar's Legions. The Pax Britannica was enforced by the Royal Navy and His Majesty's Forces. The era of (comparative) peace since 1945 has been marked by the deployment of the most powerful weapons in history.
The Swiss Republic has long enjoyed peace; but ruthlessly enforces universal manhood conscription and military training.
Historically, peace has only been bought by men of war [emphasis mine]. We may, in future, be able to change that. It may be, as some say, that we have no choice. It may be that peace can must be bought with some coin other than blood of good soldiers; but there is no evidence to show that day of jubilee has yet come.”

“History shows another strong trend: when soldiers have succeeded in eliminating war, or at least in keeping the battles far from home, small in scope, and confined largely to soldiers; when in other words, they have done what one might have thought they were supposed to do; it is then that their masters generally despise them.”

Keep in mind, this was written in 1982. Never forget, history repeats itself.

Writers, and those influencing scripts, in Hollyweird are as disconnected with America and reality as they are with history and the military. This movie is nothing more than a cheap flick made to fit the format of Hollyweird science fiction 'first contact' molds with computer animation. It just keeps perpetuating negative stereotypes of those who wear a uniform and actually risk something more than pissing someone off for peace.

So, where is the movie where aliens come to earth, visit the UN, and determine we are un-fit for galactic society because we kill our own before they are even born, seek to kill our elders when they are deemed a burden to society, and social engineer our children into little drones for the government in government run schools while using junk science to scare people into paying more for basic essentials for survival like wood, coal, oil, and natural gas?

20091124

24NOV09 CLIMATEGATE! The beginning of the fall of Global Warming BS?!



Check out my little box on the bottom right of this page for my Environmental Reading List, with the exception of some of the books, the links are to blogs and journals from around the globe. Climate Gate coverage now tops the list, but other skeptical works are linked in also!

20091112

12NOV2009 Angry Veteran Ranting, part one-hundred... (well, post 219 on this blog...)

More and more, as the days go by, we learn more and more about how political correctness and excessive sensitivity assisted greatly with a lack of communication between Federal law enforcement agencies and the Dept. of Defense! People weren't listening, people were looking the other way in fear of repercussions from CAIR and the ACLU or the MEO (Military Equal Opportunity) Office. President Obama is currently ordering an intelligence review (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9BU5G982&show_article=1) in regards to this incident at Ft. Hood. What is incredibly frustrating is this from that article:
“The FBI confirmed this week that the U.S. government knew about 10 to 20 e-mails between Hasan and a radical imam beginning in December 2008.”
From NPR we have an article based on their interviews with Hasan's co-workers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center which contradict the first comments from Hasan's Imam and family who said 'he was a good soldier' and 'never expressed any radical Islamic' views. In the military, its obvious that they need to take a soldiers co-workers points of view about not being in a foxhole with them much more seriously!
“One official involved in the conversations had reportedly told colleagues that he worried that if Hasan deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, he might leak secret military information to Islamic extremists. Another official reportedly wondered aloud to colleagues whether Hasan might be capable of committing fratricide, like the Muslim U.S. Army sergeant who, in 2003, killed two fellow soldiers and injured 14 others by setting off grenades at a base in Kuwait.”
(http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120313570)
We can see that this is not the first time that a Muslim soldier with radical Islamic views has acted in a violent manner toward his fellow soldiers in a blatant act of betrayal and treason along with murder. When soldiers don't trust a Muslim soldier, typically there is a basis in reality; most of the Muslim soldiers that are trusted have actually earned such trust, those that aren't trusted are not trusted for good reason. I can tell you about some of the Muslim soldiers, to include Chaplains, who have done so much for us and increased our ability to interface with the local population in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who have lost the trust of their comrades need to be removed and watched closely, there is typically reasons for this necessity. Why? Critical intelligence could be compromised along with compromising national security, and incidents like the 2003 grenade attack in Kuwait and now Ft. Hood on the 5th of November 2009.

Maj. Hasan's superiors at Walter Reed did indeed notice suspicious behavior, and I strongly suspect that they acted rather passively due to the very real fear of legal reprisal from Maj. Hasan through the MEO Office. This is no joke, whenever someone who is not a White Christian Male complains about anything, the MEO Office takes seriously and acts in a manner similar to the Spanish Inquisition (NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!) ensuring the accused is guilty until proven innocent and sent to 'sensitivity training' and letters of reprimand through Article 15 Non-Judicial Punishment is meted out (and in some cases, especially in very real cases of sexual assault, Court Martial).

'Meanwhile, the Pentagon has found no evidence that Hasan formally sought release from the Army as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, two senior military officials told The Associated Press. Family members have said he wanted to get out of the Army and had sought legal advice, suggesting that Hasan's anxiety as a Muslim over his pending deployment overseas might have been a factor in the deadly rampage.

Hasan had complained privately to colleagues that he was harassed for his religion and that he wanted to get out of the Army. But there is no record of Hasan filing a complaint with his chain of command regarding any harassment he may have suffered for being Muslim or any record of him formally seeking release from the military, the officials told the AP.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.
Another Army official, Lt. Col. George Wright, said Wednesday that Hasan likely would have had to commit to another year in the military when he was transferred to Fort Hood earlier this summer. It is common for an officer to incur a one-year service extension when they receive a transfer to another post.

An Army officer can request a discharge and offer to repay his education costs funded by the military, but in many instances such a request would be denied because it is difficult and takes several years to replace officers at that level.

"It's not unusual for medical officers to be funded by the government," Wright said, "and there is an active duty service obligation to repay that educational funding."'
(http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091111/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_fort_hood_shooting)

Despite opportunities to actually confront anyone harassing him, and legally resign his commission and get out of the Army, he did none of these beyond whining (yes whining or venting) to his co-workers about doing it. Instead of using the MEO Office for its intended purpose, in Hasan's case, any actual harassment about his ethnic background and faith; it seems to me that the MEO Office and Inquisitorial procedure stood in the way of actual legitimate concern about his radical Islamic leanings in his daily interaction with his fellow soldiers. Having been in the military, and having to have gone through annual MEO briefings, along with other annual briefings that are required by to deploy with similar messages (like Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Inappropriate Relationships, Homosexual Policy, and many, many more Annual Training requirements... With at least 30 Power Point Slides and guidelines from the Pentagon down to the local unit level....), soldiers were paralyzed by policy from expressing the concern of 'I don't want him in my foxhole' veto power based on the manner in which Hasan argued against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are very few units in the US Military that have that kind of authority to deny someone from deploying or serving in a unit, too bad it only seems reserved to the highly specialized units. In this case, I believe it should be considered much more seriously. Not only should a soldiers superiors rate him, but his subordinates and co-workers to some extent should have some input, after all in a team there is a matter of trust. The man on your left and right ARE truly your concern, they are going to get you out alive and you will likely get them out alive also. Obviously such a system would need be taken with a grain of salt in some cases, but should be considered to some degree.

There was always the opportunity for Maj. Hasan to be come a conscientious objector and say “Due to my Islamic faith, there is a moral conflict of interest and I am not going to bear arms against my people” and I'm sure that would send off the right flags to get him out of the Army after his Military Service Obligation ended and keep him from deploying overseas. But that would require a certain amount of moral courage that obviously he didn't have, or perhaps he was planning on carrying out an act of war against the United States in the first place inserting himself in the Army. Who knows for sure at this point. With the CIA and FBI constantly under scrutiny for 'violating' peoples rights during the Bush Administration, with endless investigations from the House and Senate with high profile members of the Democratic Majority constantly hammering down on them crushing department morale, initiative, and ingenuity; I believe an investigation should be started not only in the agencies that failed to flag and remove the threat, but into the forces pushing certain Congressmen and Congresswomen to constantly whip the CIA and FBI. What political organizations are encouraging Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid? This is a factor that should be taken into consideration in much the same way that it was investigated in the 9/11 Commission Report about how those agencies had their hands tied and communication severed by the Attorney General Janet Reno (who was assisted by the current Attorney General Robert Holder!).

Politics must not interfere with the defense of our nation. Any politician that does willfully interfere with the defense of this nation is a liability to national security and an asset to the enemies of the Constitution of the United States of America; and therefore should be investigated with an eye toward treason. If it turns out that political correctness killed 12 soldiers and 1 civilian at Ft. Hood, its time to remove politicians from office on charges of treason. We are at war, and war is an equal opportunity killer that knows no political or religious sensitivity; we need to commit to victory or work toward terms of surrender if the enemy can be negotiated with. Those are the only two aims in war, anything in the middle is a betrayal of those who fight. Surrender advocates need to make themselves known and be completely honest about it, and quit hiding behind a false face of mediocrity, political correctness, and the wasted phrase of “we support the soldiers but not the war” while delaying decisions to send more troops or pull troops out of Afghanistan costing my brothers and sisters their lives on the field of battle. Victory or Defeat, chose one, for there is no other option in war. In our case, I strongly suspect defeat will mean the end of the United States as we know it in much the same manner as the end of Rome (and the beginning of the subsequent 'Dark Ages').

“The historians can't seem to settle whether to call this one 'The Third Space War' (or the fourth), or whether 'The First Interstellar War' fits it better. We just call it 'The Bug War.' Everything up to then and still later were 'incidents,' 'patrols' or 'police actions.' However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an 'incident' as you are if you buy it in a declared war...
R.A. Heinlein “Starship Troopers” (not to be mistaken for the 1997 erroneously called the same thing)

20091109

09NOV2009 Treason!

Major Nidal Malik Hasan committed an act of cold hard treason and sabotage during a time of armed conflict. Irregardless of his background, religion, nationality, or any other factor that might have motivated him, he is a traitor and not a victim. Any other details, ranging from possible radicalism in his Islamic faith to being against the war are minor details that might assist in determining motivation but its all minor compared to convicting Hasan on charges of treason (and executing the traitor). Hasan is just another McVeigh and deserves the same fate, I'm just happy that he will be facing a Court Martial and face the UCMJ. In other words, he will face a death penalty with little chance of avoiding it if convicted.

If they try and say 'teasing' made him a victim, thats bull shit. In today's military, especially if you are of Hasan's background, you have a special set of rights that allows you to hammer those evil white Christian males that joke about you; the Military Equal Opportunity Office. On top of that, how many of you have dealt with worse than being called 'camel jockey'?! I lost count of how many times my co-workers refereed to my faith in a negative manner and used words like 'virgin' and 'prude' in a rather derogatory manner. I've dealt with much worse, such as someone taping a picture of Cardinal Law from Boston on my desk and a 'Recovering Catholic' picture next to it (that resulted in the vehemently anti-Catholic individual receiving a very long talk from my supervisor with his supervisor, luckily the point was noted how pin-headed such actions are and no administrative actions were necessary). Did I go nuts and shoot up people? Nope. I did what any good ROMAD does, and got a thicker skin, but then thats just whats expected of anyone who is a White Christian Heterosexual Pro-Gun Pro-Life male in this country; we can't be offended as we are just so oppressive and evil ourselves we should just take all the hate since we must pay the price for our long dead ancestors that brought all the evil to this world... Don't give me the 'teasing' bull shit excuse. If its so bad to insult Islam, they need just need to grow up like the Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus have and grow a thick skin (then again, Islam through-out Central Asia and the Middle East tends to oppress those faiths currently...). There is no religion on the face of the earth that hasn't spent some time in persecution by another religion; GET OVER IT.

November 9th, 1989; I was in 1st Grade in Religion Class at St. Terese Catholic School in Aurora Colorado (one of two years I was there), that was when I first learned of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, the day it came down! A proud day for the world! Freedom triumphed, and the ideas of Communism crumbled with it just a few days later. You would think folks would remember what a farce system socialism is based on the past experiences of seeing over the wall... Nope, people don't remember that far back and forget the lessons of history. I thank God my father was a Cold War Veteran, he gave the context of what the world was like at that point in history.

Hugo Chavez is rattling his saber, telling his forces to get ready to go to war with Columbia. Go figure, he supports the FARC which resorted to kidnapping and drug dealing in between the time when they got money from the Soviets and Chavez. FARC is nothing more than a guerrilla force of Communists attempting to overthrow the Columbian government and force socialism on the rest of the populace. Got to love those Communists! And we wonder where our drug culture came from...

20091108

08NOV09 Mass Casualty Training

We just finished Drill this month, early. Why? Well, we've been coordinating and are continuing to coordinate training on MASCAS events. Mainly, because if the State Defense Force gets called up, its likely going to be one such event. State Defense Force/State Guard units are next in line when the National Guard is swamped or deployed over seas (during Katrina, the State Guard in Louisiana and several other states like Maryland responded until the US Army and the State of LA were able to get the bulk of their National Guard units back from Iraq and other locations... Hence the purpose of a Title 32 State Guard/Defense Force... YES, the National Guard NEEDS backed up once in a while...) to respond to crisis. Our instructor (who is an active duty medic and volunteering his weekend to train us) worked with the New York State Guard during 9/11/01 and has felt the urgency in ensuring that State Guard/Defense Forces need as much training as their National Guard, Reserve, and Active duty counter parts based on that experience.

About three months ago, he approached us and expressed an interest in helping us a few weekends to get us up to speed with the likely procedures in use today, starting at the very basic level. We are still at the crawling phase in our training, but now we are thinking about how to handle the crisis. Our medics (many of whom are EMT, ranging from in EMT courses now, to full Paramedics with combat/ full time ambulance experience) were as always the center focus of training, with all the rest of us learning what we can do to back them up during a MASCAS event. Everything from initial triage, placement of each level of triage, to the roles such as site security and public affairs were discussed. Should something happen, we now are better prepared to fill in the appropriate roles!

One of the best things that folks in the public at large should learn about mass casualty events is that YOU could be a first responder. Learn basic first aid and CPR! You never know where this might come in handy. With basic first aid training you go from being just a witness or victim of an event (like an earthquake, flood, fire, or God forbid a terrorist act like 9/11) to being someone who can assist the folks in uniform in at the very least bearing a litter and holding pressure on a dressing to stabilize bleeding. You can bet that in the event of a MASCAS, that kind of assistance will be both needed and welcome. One thing that I always liked about the military, in these events, rank vanishes and anyone walking tends to automatically know that they have a role to fill (generals carrying litters and holding field dressings has happened many times throughout history...). Take that example to heart. Anyone with medical training of any variety should step up and do what they can. Citizens are the first responders in every MASCAS! Know enough to be able to be more than 'just a bystander' getting in the way! Mentally, accept the possibility of the worst possible event and you just increase your chances of survival tremendously!

I'd also encourage folks to learn a little more about what State Guard and State Defense Forces do, and why they are so important to the security and readiness of our country and states! For veterans, this is a great way to serve your country once again when you are done with Active Duty, National Guard or Reserve time! You don't deploy overseas, you might go to another state, but for most units there is no age limits (obviously, you will be assigned duties accordingly...). If anyone in Alaska is interested, just shoot me a message and I'll get you more information on the 49th Civil Affairs Brigade (SEP) Alaska State Defense Force (formerly the Alaska Territorial Guard back in WWII), and in particularly the 3rd MP Battalion here in Fairbanks.

20091106

06NOV09 Can you blame them for loss of trust?



Is it a terrorist act, or just an angry Army Psychiatrist who happens to be Moslem getting mad and going of the deep end when faced with his first deployment orders to a war he opposes? His Imam is at a loss, as he never showed any radical tendencies at the mosque; his co-workers are pretty shocked that his stress led him this way; and there are many of those whom are his victims who were re-deploying home and heard the words they heard far too often “Allah Ackbar” as he began to open fire on them:

“Soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — an Arabic phrase for "God is great!" — before opening fire, said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the base commander. He said officials had not yet confirmed that Hasan made the comment.”
(http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091106/ap_on_re_us/us_fort_hood_shooting)

As the investigation continues, I'm sure we'll get a clearer profile on the path that led Maj. Hasan to the path of violence against his fellow soldiers. Clearly, trust has been violated in an extremely grave manner here. You have a Psychiatrist entrusted with helping soldiers through times like this in their own lives; who is also Moslem and opposed to the war. This will cause further suspicion that has existed for a very long time, and honestly you can't blame the soldiers for being suspicious anymore. They've never trusted psychiatrists, and since 9/11/01 have been cautious about Islam with good reason; now they hear one of their own turned and killed 13 of their own at Ft. Hood while while allegedly screaming “Allah Akbar” like a common terrorist. Can you blame them for lack of trust?