"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, June 23, 2008

Not the day I expected

Whew. I woke up this morning thinking today would be an easy day. I was slated for nine hours behind the duty desk with only test aircraft flying, which usually means that I do a few minutes of real work talking on the radio and answering phones, and the rest of the time I can watch the news, read, take care of personal stuff on-line, etc. But perhaps I should've realized today would involve real work after watching the first half of "Act of Contrition" from season one of Battlestar Galactica. Talk about heavy. One of the things I like about BSG is the effort the creators put in to designing a realistic military atmosphere. From the command structure to crew chiefs running around the flight deck with cranials (protective headgear) on to pilots arguing with said crew chiefs to the simple act of saluting superior officers, I feel like I'm looking at an authentic armed service. BSG may well be the first sci-fi show to convincingly do this (the simple presence of enlisted ratings puts them far above any and all Star Trek series, in which every ship is populated by a vast mob of officers. Sorry, but that's not how any military, from the time of Greek hoplites up to now, has operated. It's always the enlisted guys who make up the bulk of the service). Anyway, the first part of this episode was almost too real for me. It starts off with a hangar bay accident that kills half the pilots on the ship, then proceeds through two military burial services (one in present time, one a flash-back) replete with the trappings of current funerals, down to flag-draped bodies, the folding of the national ensign, and a twenty-one gun salute. For this guy, at least, the idea of a large number of pilots getting killed on active duty was a little too close to home. BSG, I appreciate your attention to detail, and curse you for that attention.

Anyway, so I get in to work still looking forward to an easy day, and then I see that George Carlin, of the "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV" fame, had died. I think that Carlin's work got more bitter and less funny over the years, but truly enjoyed much of his early material, including that sketch. He was quite a character, and original in ways that most comedians nowadays aren't. He will be fondly remembered.

And that's where things pretty much turned into a shit-storm. I got pulled from duty to go help test aircraft since we had so many to test this morning; then when I got back, I had to track down my mortgage loan officer, who wasn't all that easy to find (oh yeah, I'm buying a house, BTW), sign some more of the endless stream of paperwork that goes along with buying property, and then pitch in to preparing flight products for one of our pilots to get an important designation. I was planning on getting through the battle of Chattanooga up to the Wilderness in U.S. Grant's Memoirs, but looks like that's not going to happen. God, I hate it when a work day turns into a work day. We had plenty of working work days in Iraq; why can't we have a few more non-working work days here?

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