Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's Pipey!

British photo by LA (Phot) Jannine B. Hartmann

"Royal Scots Dragoon Guards piper Maj. Ross Munro played his pipes during sunset whilst based at the Contingent Operating Base (COB), Basra, during Op TELIC 12 on Aug. 22. Munro played for Universal Music of London who are producing a CD including the sound of pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for their second album."

And to think I knew him as good old "Pipey" when we were both down at Camp Wessam, home of the Iraqi Army 14th Division...

UPDATE: I had forgotten about this picture...
"Right, this is Pipey's Corner - don't mess with it!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

FOB Salerno in the crosshairs

This went down last week. The Taliban need high profile attacks to continue their IO campaign. Dozens of attacks each day targeting NGOs, Coalition and Afghan security forces. There are some new players coming to the fore. Is there another surge on the way?

The Haqqani Network: Reign of terror

Olympic Medal Analysis

Clearly, China was using the 2008 Olympics as a political stage in an attempt to show that they are not only in the 21st century, they are leading the way. This wasn't the Beijing Olympics, it was the Chinese Olympics.

To that end, they did a great job.

I've been curious about the Olympics and the medal count that was shown everywhere. As Americans, we've grown accustomed and expect to lead the medal race. There was something odd though. The Chinese actually had more golds (after the very first medals awarded on the first day to the US Women's Fencing team who swept the medals there).

So, I got to thinking. China had more gold, but the US had more overall medals. Do you count only gold (the gold is, after all, given to the actual winner), do you count total medals? Surely, gold are worth more. What if you weighted the total medal count to give more credit for doing better?

If you're going that far, why not factor in the population of the country? The top three medal winners, no matter how you count them were the most populated countries. What about proportion? What about rich countries? Can you "buy" more medals?

If you were curious too, then I have the break down for you.

First, I start with the raw data of the top eleven countries (I meant to do the top ten, but I miss counted) as ranked by the official Olympic site. Then I include the population in millions, then the Per Capita GDP based on the IMF report (references sited below).

I move the decimal point around a bit to show more clearly the breakdown. The number of gold medals by population, for instance, is in the ten millionths (or only one in ten million for the low end). Since I move the decimal, the same amount for each country there should be no problem.

I sorted by the numbers in the first column of each table, but I highlighted the winners of the other categories in each table as well.

So here are the results. The winners were: China, US, Australia and Ukraine (I know it looks fuzzy, but if you click on the charts they will pop up big and clear)

By the way, the rest of the top 20 were: Netherlands, Jamaica, Spain, Kenya, Belarus, Romania, Ethiopia, Canada and Poland.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A couple of realizations

This was a week of many high level decisions - I had a part in some of the long work to get ready for the General Officers to decide rather alot of important things. Overall, it went very well. I was quite elated at first, then it struck me - several of us had put in many, many hours to get these results. Fortune had nothing to do with it, nor did we do anything fancy or unique. Whoever said "luck is the residue of hard work" (or was it "of good design"?) was probably right.

On a lesser note - one thing you don't want to hear around here is the dreaded phrase, "tiger team". Really, you don't.

Dangar, Will Robinson!

No, that is NOT a mispelling - well, if you follow the signs posted where I work...
Maybe the Dangar! is from the Super Bazooka air conditioner?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Random Iraq Photo

Not much to say here. Work, work, work, work, work, work. Then some work. Since I haven't got anything worth reporting, I figured I'd just post some random photo I took while near Basrah.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Too Much Time On Their Hands

That is what someone must have. Well, that and access to a whole bunch of stickers from their daughter or such.

The Men's rest rooms (both of them) in the building I work have been covered in stickers - I think they are one of those Groovy Girls or Bratz or whatever the younger set likes.

Probably one of the odder pranks I've seen to date.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Khost, ISAF?

This report this morning says that a base near Khost, Afghanistan was attacked by suicide bombers. There are two bases (or at least there were when I left) near Khost, but they were both US bases.

The good news is the suicide bombers got their wish and there were no ISAF casualities. Unfortunately there were civilian casualities and that is very sad. Their families have my sympathy.

If this was FOB Salerno, then given that the attackers were engaged 1000 yards from the base with small arms indicates to me that the Afghans actually did the direct fighting until the helicopters got there. There is a defensive ring manned by Afghans about 400 yards beyond the actual base wire (I'm not giving any secrets away here, the towers are plainly visable).

This report also says that the base was attacked recently by a car bomb or VBIED (vehicle borne improvized explosive device (at least I assume it was improvized)) and that that attack was repelled at the gate. I wonder if the new gate, to the east, closer to the road intersection was ever built.

I appologize that there are more questions than answers in this post.


Sunday, August 17, 2008


I had jumped into the Blackhawk with my helmet sliding around - chinstrap askew, goggles knocked about - when a passenger took this shot of me. I kind of like the reflection off of my sunglasses - you can see Baghdad in them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In Xanadu, er...Baghdad

did Kublai Khan... um, Saddam decree a...uh, mediocre pleasure dome decree:
Where Tigris the, waste filled river, ran
through qanats dug by man
Down to a sun baked sea.
So twice five meters of trash strewn ground
With T-walls and checkpoints were girdled round:
And there were a couple trees, right with post-no-bills,
Where blossomed not many a pigeon-bearing tree;
Enfolding overly sunny spots of mundanity.

But oh ! that shallow sluggish chasm which slanted
Down the green non-hill athwart an urban cover !
A savage place ! as holed and disenchanted
By woman wailing in fear of her Uday-lover !
And from this qanat, with ceaseless turmoil not seething,
As if this earth in dust filled pants were breathing,
A broken sewer pipe momently was forced :
Huge fragments vaulted like horrid hail,
Or plastic bags as the trash collectors fail:
And 'mid these crumbling blocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the Tigris River.
Through palm grove and city front the polluted river ran,
Then reached the qanats dug by man,
And sank in oil slicks to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult the now dead Saddam heard from far

The shadow of the cement dome of semi-pleasure

Floated midway on the waves ;

Where was heard the honking measure

From the traffic and the drivers' raves.
It was a miracle of traffic device,

A traffic circle blocked by a truck of ice!

A burkha with a dulcimer

In a bazaar once I saw :
It was an Assyrian crone (old),
Singing of Chemical Ali.
Could I revive within me
Her cackling and song,
To such a bet 'twould win me,
That with dollars and dinar long,
I would not build that crappy dome in air,
That shabby dome ! those bags of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Look There ! Look There !
Weave a noose round him thrice,
And close your eyes with R Rated dread,
For he on Iraqi oil profits hath fed,
And spoilt the milk of Paradise.

My apologizes to Samuel Coleridge.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Shadows of a Soviet Past...

The question now is......What will the world do. Georgia has been trying to join NATO for the last few years. Russia is making her move, and the world seems not to care about civilian dead and unilateral aggression all of a sudden. Good luck Ukraine, you may be next. Georgian troops are now leaving Iraq to defend there homes

Hungary 1956......

Czechoslovakia 1968.....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Man, I am glad the late afternoon...

...cooled off.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Deja ... Building?

I remember this building...I had seen it before.


Was it here?

Ah, I cannot remember where, but I am pretty sure I saw that building take a hit or two on TV during the initial invasion. Now I am walking by and see the thing... go figure.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Posing, with weapons

I have noticed that no matter where I go, and which army I encounter - everyone wants to check out each others weapons. And once they get ahold of it - they want a photo...

This Jock offered to trade his rifle for mine, on the spot. His was much heavier. He wasn't even fazed when I told him that ours jammed more frequently than theirs.

These Iraqi Army 14th Division mechanics were enjoying themselves quite a bit.

Er, I may have actually done this m'self, way back when, to be fair about it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

These things...what are they called again?

What is they call these things again...hmmm?

Coming as I did from Camp Al Shaheed Wessam, these large things with the green bits are quite unfamiliar. The name seems to elude me... I know they are something that rhymes with "ants".
Ah! PLANTS! One benefit of being in Baghdad. Actual plant life.
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