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Webster's Blog


Posts from February 2013


A Marine's View of What Is Really Going On


The following is presently making the rounds on Facebook.

This young man is articulate and has a flair for colorful language and descriptive prose.  Scorpions, chiggers, and sand fleas. Great letter, a must read.
 
FROM A RECON MARINE IN AFGHANISTAN

From the Sand Pit. It's freezing here. I'm sitting on hard cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains , along the Dar'yoi Pomir River, watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.

I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but the scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.

The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.

It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin. But you know me, I'm a romantic. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.

Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that's your idea of a party. But the smell alone of those 'tent cities of the walking dead' is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.

I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of 'em, are Huns...actual, living Huns.. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other's barbarism. Cavemen with AK-47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.

I'm freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart.' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning.' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart.

They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it. OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I'm good at it.

Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here, because you have no idea what we're doing, and really, you don't want to know. We are your military, and we are doing what you sent us here to do.

Saucy Jack
Recon Marine in Afghanistan
Semper Fi
 (4) Comments
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Topics: Human Interest
People: Aaron BrownJack Recon


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They're Out There


It is a fact that there is a tight little knot of listeners to our show in the morning (and in fact who probably listen to the radio every waking hour) who are, clinically speaking, half a bubble off plumb.

Pardon the medical jargon.

I'm glad for every listener we have even the ones who, if you could ask them 'What is 2 + 2?' once a day every day for a week, you might expect to hear a number that isn't 4 at least twice.

But they're not the listeners I'm talking about.

And I'm not talking about the majority of listeners who are normal and who listen because they enjoy if not agree with the things they hear and who, when they call or write, express themselves in a civil manner.

I'm talking about the ones who send vitriol-laden emails (sometimes signed, other times written behind the cowardice of a phony email address) and the ones who call and leave nine minute voicemails excoriating something they heard or think they heard on the radio.

 
Not sure that any of that select group will ever read this but if you do, please know that I tap '1 to delete this message' no more than ten seconds deep.

 
For those whose imbalance is expressed via the written though often anonymous word I have set up a rule in my email client that sends all yours directly to the Delete Folder marked Read.

Does that sound unreasonable? Mean? Dismissive? I'm not mean or unreasonable. I guess with you I am dismissive. Sorry.

 
Simply put, your problem is your problem but it's not mine.

 
Keep those cards and letters coming if you want. I get blowing off steam but better advice would be to find something constructive to do with your time.

 




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It Has a Happy Ending


I found this on a Facebook page. It had been posted there by my friend Jerry B. It appears on www.upworthy.com and was titled:

Bullies Called Him Pork Chop. He Took That Pain With Him And Then Cooked It Into This.

Shane Koyczan was bullied a lot when he was a kid. So he took that pain and made this stunning video with the help of some amazingly talented people. It's kind of breathtaking and powerful, just a warning. Also, it has a happy ending.

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Is It Me?

Look, the expected 'I'm sorry someone is dead...' aside, I have spent some time wondering why I don't give a rat's rear-end about stories like the still-unfolding Oscar Pistorius case.

Maybe it's because I didn't pay more than passing attention to him when he was the inspirational and at the same time controversial Olympic figure? Just a guess, can't be sure.

For the record, as of this writing he's still going with the 'I thought it was an intruder' explanation as to why his girlfriend is dead.

I hope I never have an intruder in my house but I wonder if I did and as I stood there with a gun in my hand knowing that the intruder had bolted himself inside a bathroom, would my first reaction be to pump three gunshots through the bathroom door?

Regardless, if he killed her may he go to jail for as long as law allows in South Africa.

Meanwhile I marvel at the worldwide fascination.

I have given some thought to the idea that maybe this is a meaningful and interesting story and the fact that I'm not interested is my problem. So is it me?

And is it weird that the answer to that question is something else I'm not interested in?



 
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A Nod to B.F. Skinner or What I Learned After the 2nd M-80 Went Off


My earliest collegiate memories are of living in Shawnee Hall at East Stroudsburg State College (now East Stroudsburg University, pardon moi.)

It was the fall of 1974. My roommate Paul and I lived in room 116 and the first floor of our dorm was rife with characters including...

...Lanunziata and Sokirka.

Sounds like someone you call when you're injured in a truck accident, doesn't it?

They were seniors. We didn't really know them, didn't really hang out.

But one night they called us.

3AM, our room phone rang. Yes, we had room phones. Cellphones had yet to be invented.

 
Our room was at the far opposite end of the hall from theirs, first door on the right, next to the cleaning lady's slop closet. (Our housekeeper was Louise. Old, we thought. Probably 50. Probably had been in the Navy. Smoked while she worked. She'd gravel-voice us up in the morning for class. "C'mon boys, get the hell up goddamit." She was great.)

Anyway, the phone rings. 3AM. It's Sokirka. "C'mon down the hall for a minute. You guys gotta see this!" And hangs up.

 
So I'm 17, my roommate who I know since 9th grade, Paul is 18. Think Homer and Jethro go to college.

 
So we open the door and slink down the hall past Mordecai's room, CaCa's, Caveman's, Nick the Cigarette's room. Past Neil and Bills room, Jay the RA who owned a little desktop scale, Randy Tillman and Harold "Bugs" Gulley's room, past Dave Marsilio's, who for some reason always called me "Pink Pad", past room after room. Past the water fountain and the shower room. Then make a right and it's another sixty feet to Sokirka and Lanunziata's room.

But you know, at 3AM, when all is quiet and the RA's room is between you and yours, when you get oh, halfway down that final hall to see what these guys, Sokirka and Lanunziata are up to? These crazy upperclassmen who'd seen it all? The older guys who are taking us into their confidence in a round of campus hijinks? Maybe they have beer?!?

We were past the turn and halfway down their hall when the last door on the left opens. Lanunziata sticks his head out, "C'mon!"

We quickened our pace! He pops back in, I hear laughing, then Sokirka sticks his head out and then he whips an M-80 down the hall at us and closes the door.

BOOM!!
























A 3am thunderclap in the hallway!

Deafening, ear-ringing, and concussive, like a stun grenade. Smoke fills the corridor! Thick smoke and the smell of sulfur.

We were trapped like rats in a box!

 
Brain overcomes first instant of shock, assumes monosyllabic panic mode.

TURN! RUN!

Busted! Jay, the RA with the scale caught us.

We hadn't done anything wrong but there we were in the hallway where there had just been an explosive device detonated the size of which you don't generally see indoors all that much. It didn't look good.

 
Happened again a week later.


 
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Maybe She Was Kidding


Deb Feyerick is an anchor on CNN.

This past Saturday she was on the air talking to Bill Nye, 'The Science Guy' about the snowstorm that hit the northeast US. She teased a question before a commercial break about extreme weather events and how some people automatically wonder about (if not outright blame) global warming when such an event takes place.

When the break ended and it was back to Deb Feyerick she said, “Talk about something else that’s falling from the sky and that is an asteroid. What’s coming our way? Is this an effect of, perhaps, of global warming or is this just some meteoric occasion?”

She was referring to an asteroid astronomers have spotted that is due to pass by our planet on February 15th in what is a relatively close distance astronomically speaking.

But did she really try to tie the asteroid to global warming?

Here's the video:



Was it supposed to be a joke? Didn't sound like one.

It sounded more like the dumbest question ever uttered on a television news program. That said, the video and accounts of her question are all over the internet.

Which leads me to make this prediction:

By the end of the week, CNN or somebody will produce a scientific 'expert' who will somehow manage to tie the Earth's temperature to the force of gravity and will make a case that "...it's not impossible to think that the rise in global temperatures actually may cause the Earth's gravitational field to increase and theoretically could attract an asteroid or other celestial object that otherwise would not come as close."

Gonna happen.
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Topics: Environment
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Locations: Northeast Us
People: Bill NyeDeb Feyerick


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What, You Never Did Something Dumb?



Torre Scrimalli did something dumb.

18 year-old Torre Scrimalli, a senior at Scranton Prep (the school with the most pretentious motto anywhere ever, "Ad Altiora Natis", Latin for 'born for higher things') is accused of making terroristic threats after he allegedly posted a Tweet about a high school basketball game that included the words 'blow up' the schools.

By all accounts, Torre Scrimalli is a model student. Excellent grades, involved in sports, spiritual according to his Mom, has a job, and is said to be an all-around nice kid.

The pomposity of it's motto aside, the fact is you have to be pretty smart to go to Prep.

But that kind of smart doesn't always guarantee the other kind of smart during every waking moment of the day. What kind of smart is that? The kind that gets you called on the carpet and asked to pay for not giving it any consideration.

Have you ever done something just plain dumb? It's nice to think that as we get older we get a little wisdom along with the extra candles on the cake. How much of that wisdom is it fair to expect in an 18 year-old?

What Torre Scrimalli tweeted was dumb. But it wasn't malicious.

Does Torre need to be taught a lesson about the fact that words have consequences? I think we can agree on that.

Does he need to go to jail to learn that lesson? That's absurd.

If I were the judge in this case, I would reduce the charges from felonies to misdemeanors and this would be the sentence that Torre Scrimalli would serve:

1.) Barred from using social media for one year.
2.) Must pay a cash fine of $2000.
3.) Must serve 300 community service hours divided between volunteering at an animal shelter and speaking to students at area high schools stressing the responsibility they bear for their words and actions.

On successful completion of those conditions, I would expunge his record.

And for all the 'throw the book at him' folks out there, there's an old saying about stones and glass houses.

 

 (2) Comments
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Topics: Education
People: Torre Scrimalli


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Go Daddy? Go Jesse!


     Super Bowl XLVII is history and my guess is it'll be April before I can no longer recollect who won. Something I'll probably recall a little longer was the GoDaddy.com ad featuring Bar Rafaeli as 'sexy' and character actor Jesse Heiman as 'smart'.

     Reaction to the spot has generally been, 'That was disgusting' and usually that assessment is accompanied by a mention of the close-mic technique that captures all the spit-swapping going on between 'sexy' and 'smart.'

     There are two versions of the commercial. There's the one that ran during the Super Bowl which is a lot of kissing but no tongues. Then there's this:

   

Memorable or disgusting I'll say this. They shot the commercial 45 times before the creative types were satisfied.

 
And on top of that Jesse Heiman got paid.

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This Just In!


     BREAKING:

     Beyonce can sing.

     The 'controversy' over whether or not Beyonce lip-synced the National Anthem at President Obama's inauguration has finally been put to rest. She did.

     But she didn't have to! Just so you know.

     She proved as much this week when, at a press conference at the Superbowl in N'awlins (she's the halftime show) she belted out a live version of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and wrapped it up with 'Any questions?'

     Yeah, I have one Beyonce. Who cares?

     Bad question I guess. Seems lots of people do!

     Lip-syncing at big, outdoor events where big name recording stars are involved is commonplace. And you're not a famous singer because you're not a good singer. So, bad question or not, who cares?

     To be fair, the to-do was not Beyonce's fault. It's the media and those who are, let's say, not Obama fans.

     As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if she sang it live, lip-synced, or did it in Morse code.

     But now we know.

     Just glad I won't have to spend another night tossing and turning, wondering.
 
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