Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back in Virginia

I am safely home with my family in Northern Virginia. As far as I know I have no further obligation to the Army for the next 6 months, and after that I'll be eligible to resign my commission. Sultan Jeff is home as well, but Chris is still over in Afghanistan. He was the last of my group to arrive, and he'll be the last to come home.

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes (and clicks and eyeballs and links) over the last 16 months.

The blog is not going to go away. We still have VPs to settle on, and the IRR story is something that will continue to develop as we see what direction the wars take under a new president.

Thanks again, and I'll talk to everyone soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IRR Statistics...sorta

The other day I received an article on the Army's utilization of the IRR, generously forwarded by Vice Presidential Candidate Sultan Jeff.

The article is interesting, and it marks the first time--literally--that I have ever seen an Army official discuss statistics regarding how many people have been drafted out of the IRR.

The problem, then? COL Good claims that only 4% of IRR call-ups have failed to report. This number is so wildly different than all the anecdotal evidence would suggest--everyone seems to agree that there is about a 50% report rate--that it calls into question the rest of the information presented in the article.

Furthermore, if the Army were serious about "debunking myths about the IRR", they should release far more descriptive statistics than the ones listed in this article. Namely, break things down by officer and enlisted, by different military occupational specialties (infantry, artillery, etc). Break the numbers down by year, and let us know the stats on delay and exemption requests.

Until the Army does that, the IRR process will continue to be looked at with fear and loathing by the men and women who make up its ranks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: Checking In

Welcome back, everyone.

I wanted to check in and let you all know that I don't have internet in my room anymore. As such, I have to use the public computer lab, and that might mean less frequent updates in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time.

Though we don't have any new candidates tonight, the race to replace the current running mates remains as important as ever. With Troopergate continuing to blow up in Sarah Palin's face, and with Joe Biden still being from Delaware, both major parties stand to gain from an eleventh hour switcheroo.

So stay tuned, and keep your eyes open for our next installment--the Judge Advocates.

Until then!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Adorable Ones

Greetings, loyal followers of the 2.0, and welcome to the 4th installment of our continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time.

When last we left you, the 2.0 had broken down 4 potential replacement-running mates ready and willing to step in for Biden and/or Palin.

After starting our list with 4 straight male candidates, it's time to reveal the first of our female potentials. And if you thought Sultan Jeff or Patrick had a compelling case to be made, wait until you see what the Adorable Ones have to offer.

First up is everyone's favorite sign wielding newborn, baby Abigail. Now, we feel compelled to mention that the adorable infant is constitutionally banned from the office of Vice President for another 34 years and 8 months. Putting that aside, though, one must admit that baby Abigail combines all of the adorableness of the Palin family with the same basic level of readiness in a single, more efficiently sized package.

Both candidates are said to covet the little baby’s unquestioned cuteness and quickly developing gross motor skill. Should McCain tap Abigail it would be mark the first time a national ticket ran two candidates with less-than-total bladder control.

Pro: Has no experience, has never been to Washington, has never said anything incriminating or embarrassing (or at all), has never met or associated with any politically controversial figures, isn’t old, isn’t a fake-Muslim, isn’t from Delaware.

Con: Easily distracted by shiny colors, pleasant noises.

Pet Issue: Legislation ensuring that she isn’t forced to receive sex education for at least another 21 years.

Favorite Parent: The nicer smelling one with the long hair and milk

As cute as little Abigail is, there is one potential running mate that scores as high (or higher) on all the relevant adorability indexes--our very own guest blogger, Bailey the cat. The 10 pound feline is a delightful mix of orange fur and pink paws, and she sports highly valued working class roots from her youthful days on the mean streets of Saint Louis. Bailey would also mark the first vice president in recent memory able to hide from tiresome, visiting heads of state by jumping on top of a bookshelf and laying perfectly motionless for hours on end.

Republican strategists believe that a blogging cat might be just the solution the GOP has been looking for to assuage voter fears regarding McCain’s lack of tech-savvy. The Obama campaign thinks that this already historic election could be made even more important by pairing the first ever black candidate for national office with the first ever orange one.

Pro: Daily routine of sleeping, eating, bird watching is basically equivalent to a typical day-in-the-life of a sitting Vice President.

Con: Tendency to knock pencils, important documents off the president's desk creates tension between adorable orange cat, president.

Pet Issue: Mandatory sentencing for mommies who don’t feed kitties prior to 7 AM each morning.

Favorite Beatles Album: Rubber Soul

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Comment Leavers

Hello again, loyal 2.0 readers, and welcome to our next installment in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. While last time we looked at a couple of Dark Horse candidates--guest bloggers Sultan Jeff and Laser Rocket Arm--today it's time we expand our search to include two of the Army 2.0s most frequent comment leavers--Patrick and KyleC.

Strong candidates both, I think that this race just got a little more interesting (as if that was even possible). With all of that said, let's get to the candidates!

Patrick—no fancy nicknames here, he’s just Patrick—is a loving husband and father. He also might be an honest-to-God scientist pretty soon, but who are we kidding—we’ve been hearing that rumor since he started grad school like 10 years ago.

McCain hopes that by tapping a young, up-and-coming biologist like Patrick—who isn’t really that interested in policy or politics—the Vice President could eschew all typical VP duties to devote the majority of his attention to finding a cure for being really, really old.

Obama, while also intrigued by the valuable insight a biologist-as-VP could bring to many of the great ethical and scientific issues of our day, is mostly interested in Patrick for his body.

Pro: Torture survivor had to wait an entire summer to find out if Jack Bauer would escape from China after Season 5 of 24—brutal!

Con: Seriously, if the candidates don’t leave him alone to finish grad school this fall it’s probably never gonna happen…

Pet Issue: Mandatory display of the 10 Commandments in University biology labs

Favorite Vowel: U…but sometimes Y

KyleC, a cat owning San Franciscan family man, is quite possibly the 2.0s most reliable comment leaver. McCain might look to tab Kyle with hopes of increasing his share of the Bay Area vote from infinitesimal to barely-above-zero—a huge moral victory that could help a McCain/KyleC ticket in other key states.

Obama, who gave up a career with a huge Wall Street firm after Law School to pursue political activism, is said to be attracted to the fact that Kyle gave up a career with a huge Wall Street firm after Business School to pursue a career in software-as-a-service…which is like political activism, but with more small-and-medium enterprises and fewer members of the Weather Underground.

Pro: On the McCain ticket, the former child star could benefit from the “Republican Actors from California” bump.

: Billboard modeling work generally considered less Presidential than playing Notre Dame football star, poorly-dubbed Greek hero let loose in New York City.

Pet Issue: California Independence Party’s proposed vote for Northern California secession from Southern California.

Favorite Type of Plane From Which to Shoot a Wolf: Cessna 172

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Army 10 Miler--Bagram Airfield Shadow Run

This morning I ran the Army 10 Miler here at Bagram Airfield. While the flagship race is held each October in VA/DC, the Army holds satellite or "shadow" runs around the world to coincide with the main event.

At the start of this deployment my hope was to be home to run this race in DC in front of my wife and family, but alas, twas not to be...

Still, I've been training for this run for the last 6 or 8 weeks, and I'm very pleased with how the race turned out. The particulars are as follows:

Time: 1:15:34
Avg / Mile: 7:33
Elevation: ~5000 feet
Place: 36th (out of ~500 here at Bagram)

This is me (on the left) with Patrick, and we ran the first 6 miles of the race together. We helped each other stay loose and find our pace, and I probably would have run 2 or 3 minutes slower without a strong partner to help push me through.

The event was very well put together by Task Force Warrior, the unit that took over the mission that I was working on for my first 7 months in country. Above you see the band that played at the start/finish line. They drew liberally from the Rocky soundtrack, and really, who doesn't run faster when they've just finished listening to Gonna Fly Now?

This is my training partner Nigel, an officer from New Zealand who I worked with for several months. Nigel is the guy that forced me out of bed early in the morning to go on long training runs--thanks a lot, Nigel. (No really, thanks a lot!)

You can also see in this shot what a beautiful morning it was here in Central Asia. It still gets pretty hot during the day, but the mornings lately have been wonderful.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Dark Horses

If you can feel the excitement in the air, it's probably because it's time to reveal the first set of potential VP candidates in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. As we discussed yesterday, the Army 2.0 will spend the next several days weighing the relative merits of a number of potential VP choices either party can use to replace their current dead weight and lift their presidential candidate to a sure-fire victory in November!

Now, for those of you expecting to see nothing but politicians and public figures on this list, you're in for a disappointment. In case the title of this series didn't tip you off, the 2.0 is a change-loving maverick with no interest in cow-towing to the inside-the-beltway elites. We're not much interested in the outside-the-beltway anti-elites, either. In fact, no one you'll see on our list has legislative OR executive experience--because really, look at all the good that crap has done for Biden and Palin.

Enough of my time wasting! Without further ado, the Army 2.0 proudly presents the Dark Horse Candidates:

Here at the 2.0, Sultan Jeff is a part time contributor and a full time good guy. A former Division I basketball player, Jeff could team up with President Obama to form the second greatest backcourt pairing in Presidential history (slightly behind the often overlooked Nixon/Agnew combo). On the other hand, a McCain/McFarland ticket would lead to so many more hilariously clever Mc-fill-in-the-blank jokes that voters couldn’t help but put the pair in the Mc-White House--see how easy but completely annoying that is? McAwesome!

Pro: Up and coming family man boasts beautiful wife, loyal dog.

Con: Nation uncomfortable with Jeff's familiarity with Islam, Julie Andrews' show tunes.

Pet Issue: Drilling for oil in the protected Cinci-tucky region at conjunction of Kentucky, Ohio.

Favorite Skittles Flavor: Grape

Our second Dark Horse Candidate is Mr. Laser Rocket Arm himself, guest-blogger Chris. Chris is an MBA with an ear for foreign policy, and he’s currently reading Dr. Kissinger’s magnum opus: Diplomacy. I think most pundits will agree that both candidates could use a guy like Chris shoring up their foreign policy team. And the next time McCain and Obama debate what Kissinger did or didn’t say about—I dunno, the spread of the neo-global islamo-fasciast jihad—wouldn’t they like to have a guy like Chris on their side?

Pro: Passing resemblance to current Vice President. Like Cheney, derives powers from his male pattern baldness.

Con: Only written two guest posts—Cheney would have found a way to secretly take over the blog by now.

Pet Issue: Public funding to construct new football stadium in Indianapolis, giant Peyton Manning Theme Park in Chris’s parent’s backyard.

Favorite member of N’Sync: Chris Kirkpatrick

That's it for this installment of Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. Check back tomorrow when we bring you the second round of exciting party-irrespective VEEP choices--the Comment Leavers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time

Hey everyone.

I don't know if you have paid much attention to the VP candidates this time around, but if you're like me you are less than thrilled with what the Dems and the GOP have offered up for the electorate's approval.

What's my beef, you ask? Unfortunately, as an Army officer on active duty I'm not allowed to share my opinion of the common criticisms you hear about Biden and Palin...but let's jsut that I'm not overly impressed with either candidate--and I'm guessing many of my loyal readers feel the same way.

All of this leads me to wonder--does it really have to be that way? Do we really have to settle for less than the very best, year in year out, election after election?

Call me naive, but I think that we can expect more from our political system. And because I'm generous, I'm gonna do both parties a solid.

No, I'm not going to endorse anyone--the legality of doing that is questionable, even if the ability of the IRR-blogging crowd to tip this thing one way or another is not. And no, my back-of-the-napkin plan for saving the banking system still isn't ready for me to share with the world, much less the 2.0, so hold tight on that one as well.

Instead of all of that, the Army 2.0 is going to provide a still more valuable service to the presidential candidates, and to you, the American people. I'm going to take a few days away from my normal tales of sports and Russian literature to provide both Senator Obama and Senator McCain with a list of perfectly viable replacement VP candidates that--irrespective of party--are almost sure to guarantee victory for their running mate this Fall.

I appreciate that this might set the election cycle back weeks, and it's really not that fair to anyone who cast an early ballot without the benefit of knowing any potential running mate changes. But all the responsibility is to give all the involved parties the information they need to make the most informed, enlightened decision possible.

Check back later today for the first round of candidates: The Dark Horses

Update 1: The Dark Horses
Update 2: The Comment Leavers
Update 3: The Adorable Ones

War and Peace Blogging #3: Almost There...

I hate to say it folks, but just inches from the finish line I've hit something of a wall. I haven't picked up War and Peace in 2 or 3 days, after speeding through to the final section of the Epilogue. Why the slowdown? Well, the story itself actually wraps up at the conclusion of Volume 4. The Epilogue consists entirely of 50+ pages of Tolstoy expounding on his theories of the nature of history. He wrote quite a bit about that subject throughout the book, but again, this is 50 straight pages of straight up theorizing. It's interesting stuff--among other things, Tolstoy contends that the importance of "great men" in shaping events is greatly over emphasized--but it's tough reading all the same.

Date: 3 October
Complete at last update: 1038
Pages complete: 1325
Read since last update: 287
Pages per day: 287 / 9 ~ 32
Pages remaining: 33