"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Monday, March 03, 2008

So there I was, dropping lemons in the middle of the desert...

Accidentally, of course. Actually, it wasn't my fault at all. So we're hauling external loads to a FOB, right, and the guys on the ground who rig these things didn't quite tighten the nets all the way over this load, which was composed of multiple free-floating boxes of produce. And as it happens, when you apply forward airspeed to certain things, they'll move if not properly secured. A box of lemons happened to be unproperly secured, and, airspeed doing what it does, lifted that box right off the load in flight and deposited it somewhere in the desert. Lemons from Allah for some lucky Bedouin (we lost some apples, too, but did not report that to my flight lead, as he was singularly uninterested and unsympathetic to our lemon problem).

Anyway, it's another sand day ("weather day" being a term singularly displeasing to my readership); the dust is a-blowin', leaving us with little to do but seek entertainment (which, lately, has manifested itself by playing practical jokes on each other. Current favorites have included sending out emails about a fake physical fitness test for all officers to be held in 48 hours, which caused the 'target' to spend the next two days doing pull-ups and running windsprints until he couldn't move, and doctoring promotion lists in order to convince one lieutenant that the reason he was the ONLY one not to pick up captain was because he didn't submit a picture of himself in the proper uniform. No good comes of Marines getting bored). I myself have read a few more pages of Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken, updated my NATOPS flight manual and flight checklist with newly released performance charts, and watched the movie Serenity off our shared drive. Incidentally, that movie is the conclusion of a fantastic but short-lived TV series called Firefly, also on our shared drive, which was highly recommended to me by several other pilots. The show features the semi-piratical crew of a smuggling ship called, well, Serenity (they're only semi-piratical because their jobs often go awry and deep down they have, well, morals) as it journeys across a distant solar system populated by settlers from "Earth That Was". Their biggest challenge is avoiding entanglements with the "Alliance", a quasi-authoritarian government whom some of the ship's crew fought against in a rebellion several years earlier, and lost. The writing is great, the stories are interesting, and the special effects, while humble, are still impressive. In some ways it's the anti-Star Trek (Next Generation variety): the future isn't squeaky clean, filled with happy citizens under a benevolent galactic United Nations government, who've forsaken the evils of capitalism by moving 'beyond' the search for material gain, and abandoned the superstitions of ancient religion for postmodern moralizing. Firefly's future is rough-and-tumble; the Alliance is less than benevolent, valuing order more than individual liberty, ships are dirty, people are still driven by things like profit and money, and religion still plays an understated but strong role in people's lives (Serenity has a no-kidding preacher on board; the Enterprise can only muster Counsellor Troi, who, attractive physical characteristics aside, offers guidance only a few degrees better than Jerry Springer's "take care of yourselves and each other"). It's libertarian science fiction, in the footsteps of Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and highly entertaining.

I've also done a little more digging about the structures I've seen along the river on some of my flights. I'm leaning toward the theory that they're old aqueducts, not bridges, as there appear to be channels on the top of many structures, some of which look like they stretch out into the desert. They're all taller than a simple bridge across the river would need to be; and, in most cases, there are no accompanying ruins either in the middle of the water or on the other side. My mom sent me several links meriting further investigation on the subject, and I plan on publishing my dissertation as soon as I get to the rear. It will be riveting, I assure you.

In other news, Prince Harry has rapidly exited Afghanistan after his presence there was revealed by the Drudge Report. Not your proudest moment, Mr. Drudge. Much of the British media has heaped scorn on Harry's sojourn there, calling it a waste of resources so that one aristocrat could experience 'job satisfaction' by jeopardizing his men. I have some sympathy for him, though; I can understand how hard it is to wear a uniform and train for something, and then never get to do the job you've trained for. I also think much of the British press' criticism of the whole thing reflects very poorly on themselves: if they weren't a group of bloodthirsty tabloid vampires, far less effort would have been required to keep Harry's deployment on the down-low (though unusual, the children of important officials do occasionally get to do 'dirty work' without a constant spotlight on them. John McCain's son recently returned from Iraq, and it's a credit to the American media that we heard almost nothing about him while he was over there). In the end, I admire Harry's desire to share the mission of the men he'd trained with, and believe it reflects (however crudely on his part) what used to be a common understanding amongst aristocrats of old; namely, that the privileges of royalty also entailed certain obligations, to include taking arms for your country and defending her in times of peril. This theory is no longer popular among today's elites; but good on you, Harry, for trying to practice it. Would that the children of today's aristocrats did the same.

OK, time to see if the dust has settled enough for a run. I'm guessing no, and that I'll run anyway, and come back with the black lung. We'll see.


Matt said...

I'm not sure where this puts me on the 'dork' scale but I'll just note that the creator of 'Firefly' & 'Serenity' is also the creator of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. So clearly these are things I should probably be watching because, again, I'm a big dork.

Cincinnatus said...

That's something I learned in the course of watching 'Firefly'. The down side is, I now have to watch all the seasons of 'Buffy' to catch up on all his work. The up side is, I have no shortage of free time to do so. I might as well start, since apparently whoever manages our shared drive here has no intention of posting new episodes of 'Lost'.