General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com

Thursday, October 03, 2002
Regardless of party affiliation, we should all be concerned about the NJ Supreme Court's finding in the Torricelli/Lautenberg case. The reasoning that both major parties must be on a ballot for it to be a genuine election is specious at best and a signal to those such as myself that we cannot really ignore politics just because we have no respect for politicians. One of the things that has really bothered me about the baby boomer generation of which I am a member is the apparently ingrained idea that any inconvenient law or rule we do not like, we simply go to court and get it changed. Of course we must then strive to keep judges on the bench who don't have any respect for legislative imperatives and thus feel justified in ignoring an inconvenient law. Please note that NJ has a Democrat Governor and Legislature and could have changed the law.

The local talk radio station had a drive time question yesterday afternoon. Should we vote for or against a candidate based solely on his ethics or lack thereof. The answer seems obvious to the casual observer: if the candidate is not ethical, why should you believe anything else about him or her?

I am beginning to think that the only candidate with ethics is "none of the above" and he never appears on the ballot.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002
The Sarge opened a hornet's nest over the Civil War. As a native Alabaman, I normally try to keep my mouth shut about the Civil War when I am around people I do not know well, but here goes.

I grew up in a town named for a Union General, although there have been numerous attempts to find another reason for the name. In doing some research on my family's history, I came across this story. It seems that the town was named Harpersville. Sherman's Army was in Chattanooga and getting ready to set out for Atlanta. Union scavenger's were going out nearly a hundred miles from Chattanooga taking whatever they found to support the Army.The city father's of Harpersville met and decided that if their town were named for a prominent Union General, it was less likely to burned, so they changed the name. It wasn't burned. Of course, it was also so small and out of the way that the name change may have nothing to do with its good fortune.

A related story told to me by the Pennsylvania born husband of one of Dad's cousins. It seems he and she decided to get married during WWII and came down to Alabama to tell her parents. My Great-Great-Grandfather lived with the bride's parents. He refused to eat at the table with a Yankee. The Pennsylvanian finally cornered the old man and aked him what his problem was. G2-Grandfather said: "I hate Yankees. In 1865 they came down off that hill right there, stole every chicken, hog and cow we had, took our corn and vegetables and we damn near starved to death". Pennsylvania and the old man became great friends over the next few days after G2-Grandfather learned Pennsylvania's family came to the States after the War. After a career in the USAF, Pennsylvania retired as Brigadier General and lived out his life in Alabama.

G2-Grandfather's story illustrates why the South has been slow to forget the Civil War. It was mostly fought on Southern soil. The Southern people of all classes suffered greatly. After the War, there was massive emigration to the North from Europe, but much less to the South. The South remained closer to its antebellum roots than the North. People who had personally suffered at the hands of Sherman and Grant never forgot the destruction. To them it was always the War of Northern Aggression, a term that they used because that was what they believed it was.

As for me, I think James Longstreet was the first General to recognize that the nature of war had fundamentally changed. Unfortunately for the South, Longstreet could not act on his discovery. Grant and Sherman were not so restrained. I am an admirer of Grant because from Shiloh on, he strove to make the war as unpleasant for the South as possible so that it would end as soon as possible. Neither he or Sherman enjoyed the destruction and wanted it over.

After Appomattox Courthouse, R.E. Lee got on with his life and encouraged his soldiers to do the same. Southerners have fought gallantly in every US war since 1865 and will continue to do so. We know the war is over and that there is nothing we can do to change the outcome. Not one in ten thousand of us would even want to. We are Americans and proud of it.

Monthly retirement plans update based on stockmarket performance: 120. I surely hope that medical science does something to expand life since having to work several decades after I am dead will be a total downer.

I see from this which I nabbed from Mr. Possum hisself that my grandmother was even worse than I knew at the time. On second thought, I think she may have been the calmest person around during the beatings, speaking quietly about whatever I had done to earn punishment.

My In-laws once lived next to the cruelest mother who ever existed. When one of her children did something to earn punishment, she would set the execution time for a certain hour and minute a few days in the future. Had the effect of clearing the child's mind and ensuring good behavior in hope of pardon.

So feeling patriotic, I went down and registered to vote. I was a Colorado resident during the last election and had not gotten around to registering in Alabama. I don't do primaries since I would have to say I was a Republican or Democrat, if only for a day. Came home all fired up to do the right thing, go out and exercise my franchise and ensure that the people who can get the job done are elected next month. Visions of vast improvements in State government danced in my head like sugarplums, whatever those are. Anyway, I was sure that the savior(s) of Alabama were right around the Tuesday after the first Monday in November corner. I never watch network TV. Never! But being male, I am drawn to channel surfing, like a Southerner to catfish and hushpuppies. I was a little slow going past a local station and got caught by a spot by a candidate for governor. It was actually pretty good from a production standard; however, it lacked a bit in the veracity department. No outright lies! I don't know about you, but my sainted grandmother used to beat me when I shaded the truth. Child abuse for sure but then she was just an ignorant country woman who read Proverbs and Poor Richard's Almanac and did not know anything about childrearing.

Well, since seeing the political spot, I suppose that I will vote for:

The next to last person whose spot I happen to see.

I reckon that if Rip Van Winkle were a current Alabama resident and went to sleep for 20 years, he wouldn't notice any difference in state governance upon awakening. A pity.

Monday, September 30, 2002
One of the Blogs I read everyday is No Watermelons Allowed. A recent post was on how well we understand or don't understand the principles of science. I was reminded of something that happened to me several years ago. I was assigned as the Commander of a high tech research and development center that was rumored to have capabilities as a weapon. Not research and development capabilities, but actual real and existing weapons capabilities. A "leading scientist" from an organization I will call Concerned Scientists was quoted regularly in the press as saying that we could turn things into slag whenever we wanted to and that further research and development was: (pick the one you like)
A. A waste of taxpayers money since we already had the technology
B. A serious violation of some international agreement
C.Bound to start WWIII

Soon after assuming command and having received no briefings on the "weapon", I asked one of my senior engineers about the source of the spokeman's proclamations. When he stopped laughing, he told me that my predecessor had called the "scientist" at least weekly to tell him about the weapon and its capabilities. He enjoyed listening to the guy rant and rave over the telephone. The facts were that no such weapon existed and a rudimentary understanding of science was enough to understand the impossibility of producing such a weapon. Basically, you cannot deliver energy to a target unless you have said energy to begin with.

The Concerned Scientists may have been concerned, but they were not scientists. I never talked to the "scientist", but years later I continue to see him quoted as an expert on a certain weapon that doesn't exist.

Well, maybe it does and I just never had a clearance high enough to be told about it. I suppose it could be technology from Area 51.