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November 12, 2010

S'wonderful!!!

The Valour IT fundraiser ended at midnight last night. The total raised by all four teams plus unspecified added up to $92, 542.
That is $32, 542 MORE than the original goal.

The Marine Team's total at the end of the day was $37,770.
WOW!!! What a wonderful, wonderful way to end. On top.
Thank you to everybody on the Marine Team, everybody who supported the Marine Team, everybody who shared our links and everybody who donated.
Your generosity has been so overwhelming. Thank you!

Now, we have some unfinished business to take care of: The Demotivator Contest.
So, let me announce the results and congratulate the winners.
Jihad Gene's entry took first place.
The Sniper's Air Force entry took second.
Retriever's Marine entry took third.
Congratulations to all three of you and to everyone who submitted entries.
It was a great fundraiser but now I need a nap. :)
Carrie

Posted by at 11:44 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day is really about honoring those who are serving or have served. I've already thanked my favorite veteran today.
How about you? Did you do something special to mark Veterans' Day?

Every year since 2004, Veterans' Day has had a second meaning for me.
The second battle of Fallujah was raging and one of our 1st LAR companies, Charlie, was in the thick of it.
And on that day six years ago, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion lost SSgt. Theodore "Sam" Holder and LCPL Kyle Burns.
They died within minutes of each other.

Marine brothers in life, they were both buried at Ft. Logan cememtery within hours of each other.

James Sheeler remembers a tale of two tombstones. For those that don't know, James Sheeler wrote a book called "Final Salute" about his experiences with Lt. Col. Steve Beck as he went about his duties caring for the families of fallen Marines. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend it. You want to understand the cost of war?
There you go.

As I've done for several years now, I went back today to Crash Fistfight's blog to reread his post called "What Veterans' Day Means to Me".
He knew these men and he wanted to make sure that we knew them a little too. He wanted to make sure we didn't forget.

We should never forget to thank our veterans for all they do on our behalf. We should never forget men like SSgt. Holder and LCPL. Burns.
Either would be a sin.

Posted by at 05:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Valour IT Marine team update for Nov. 11th.

Today's the last day of the Valour IT fundraiser. What a great two weeks we've had.
I want to take a minute and thank all who blogged, shared and/or donated to make the Marine team's total money raised (as of 4:40 pm)$37,355.00. That is the equivalent of 46.5 laptops.
That is OUTSTANDING!!!

Here is what our Marine team has been up to today:
Ercille: All Heroes All Day.

Mind Numbed Robot: Thank a Vet.


No Sheeples: Honoring those who served.

Pundit and Pundette: CPL. Todd Nicely

Retriever: Poppy Day.

All American Blogger: All Gave Some

IMAO: Thank you.

Pirate's Cove: Thank You.

Coalition of the Swilling: Thanks, Vets!

Say Anything: Special Happy Veterans' Day post.

Miss Ladybug: I Honor Back.

Ruby Slippers: Our Nation's Strength.

The C Square: Thank a Vet

Soldiers' Angels Germany: Home of the Free Because of the Brave.

Weekly Standard Blog: Veterans' Day.

Posted by at 04:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day, a holiday that is often confused with Memorial Day. Like Memorial Day (which began as a remembrance of those lost in the Civil War), Veterans Day began as a remembrance of those lost in The War to End All Wars:

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The war to end all wars: if only that were true. If only it could be true. But as one author wrote years ago, every battle - every war - is fought for things worth dying for. Those "things" may be as quotidian and concrete as the desire to protect one's friends or as abstract as the notion that freedom is a fire that burns in every heart, regardless of race, religion, nationality. I believe it was George Santayana who said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war".

We carry it in our hearts. But Veterans Day, though it began as a memorial to the fallen of WWI, has come to be a remembrance of the tremendous debt we the protected owe to those who are willing to fight and die to preserve the freedoms we enjoy:

We need to relearn the habits of debts as things to be repaid, and today - the day we're reminded so concretely of those who have loaned us their lives, their souls, and their health and who need to be paid back.

Today take that thought - that we owe our soldiers and veterans and should through our actions and lives pay them back. Tomorrow, revisit it and see if it can become a lens you look at all of your life through. To who else do you owe a debt that can never be repaid, and how will you serve others to try and pay it back?

Today soldiers are the primary lienholder. But they are not the only one. Everyone who's come before us to make this country what it is - and what it could be - is our creditor. And we owe them.

We owe them our respect, and most of all we owe them our effort to make this a better place - in whatever way suits us. And we owe them the admission that what we've inherited - not just the physical stuff, but far more valuable, the ideas - they handed us are rare, extraordinary and exceptional.

Veterans day reminds us that we owe this nation's fighting men and women a debt of honor. And like all debts, it should be honored. Part of that debt is a duty to remember the past honestly and without flinching at the parts that don't reflect well on us as a nation or as a people:

Forty some odd years ago, as a new lieutenant, I was in charge of a detachment sent to honor a soldier killed in Vietnam at his funeral. We practiced our routine, folding the flag and its presentation for hours the day before. We traveled the next day in civilian cars and clothes. The Army felt we shouldn’t travel in uniform or in government vehicles for fear of an “incident” which were all too common then.

We arrived, changed and reported in to the funeral director. We didn’t know that the young widow hadn’t requested our presence, but instead the funeral home had done so as it routinely did when a service member died or was killed.

We were either roundly ignored or endured hostile stares as we sat in the back of the chapel. At the conclusion of the ceremony, and under intensely cloudy skies, we followed a few cars to the cemetery a short distance away to do our duty. As we approached the burial site, the heavens opened up.

There was no funeral home tent over the grave and, as it turned out, only my detachment got out of our cars and went graveside. There, in the pouring rain, we rendered honors to our fallen comrade.

After receiving the folded flag from the NCOIC of the detachment, I turned toward the car that I knew contained the widow and approached the back window on the side she was sitting. She was staring straight ahead and it seemed I was left to stand there forever. Finally, the driver from the funeral home must have said something because she turned toward me with a sullen stare, rolled the window down part way and snatched the flag from my hands before I could even begin to say what my duty compelled me to say to her. Without another look, she ordered the driver to depart and I was left rendering a hand salute to the tail lights of the few cars that had bothered to attend the service.

That was the Army and nation with which I began my service. It was literally and figuratively one of the blackest days of my time in the military.

Part of that debt is to remember those who have fallen. It saddens me more than I can say to note that my hometown paper, The Washington Post, has not updated its "Faces of the Fallen" since September 30th. Evidently, some grim milestones are more useful than others.

Part of that debt involves a commitment never to forget the sacrifices made on our behalf by men and women both living and dead:

Six months after the German surrender, my father finally made his way back to his New Hampshire village. He hung up his uniform and picked up his scissors. My mother - his wife of two years - took off the welder's mask she'd worn at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. They enjoyed 52 postwar years together. Their five children have enjoyed a total of 282 years. This is not just math; it's life. It was the vague dream my father was imagining while digging foxholes in the Apennines. It was an outcome that might have been denied by a random piece of shrapnel or an order to stand guard duty.

I thought of that if-clause last month when reading the announcement that four soldiers had been killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:

Cpl. Justin J. Cain, 22, of Manitowoc, Wis.

Lance Cpl. Phillip D. Vinnedge, 19, of Saint Charles, Mo.

Lance Cpl. Joseph E. Rodewald, 21, of Albany, Ore.

Pfc. Victor A. Dew, 20, of Granite Bay, Calif.

We must feel this sacrifice. We must remember their service. Their dreams have ended. And each death conceals a clause that loved ones will repeat for years: "If only he hadn't . . . " The unfinished thoughts will hang in the air, silenced by the countless dreams of what might have been.

A long, unbroken line stretches from the present day to ancient wars lost in the mists of time. It is formed by uncounted millions who, when the time came to fight for what they believe in, did not flinch. Fathers, sons, brothers, wives, sisters.

Mothers, now. They have fought, and will continue to fight, for us. Do not forget them, or the sacrifices that make peace more than just an unattainable dream.

We have so very much to be thankful for.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2010

A Poem for the Marine Corps Birthday

VC reader Tim Taylor sent me a poem he wrote for the Marine Corps Birthday.

It's not easy to write poetry and even harder to share it. Tim writes:

"This came to me in a flash after hearing a story about a young Marine blinded by his wounds reaching up to feel the insignia of his visitor and then firing off a sharp salute to that officer."

Amazing.

***************

Semper Fi

Though the body is battered
and broken
and no longer fit for the fray

The spirit cries out
and is willing
and again will carry the day

Semper Fi is a code
and a motto
but some know its deeper side
that lives in the heart
of the soldier
who is this nation's pride
for it's the heart that
is always faithful
that is ever so willing
to die

For the Cause
and the Nation
and Freedom
it has always been
Semper Fi

When liberty's honor
is threatened
and the straits
are desperately dire
the Corps will come
to the forefront
to offer her men
for the pyre
that burns on the
altar of freedom
and must not ever
die

Though we often
forget these heroes
they never forget
their cry:

"For the Cause
and the Nation
and Freedom
there will always be
Semper Fi"

Posted by Cassandra at 01:52 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Marine Team Roundup for Nov. 10th

Again, Happy Marine Corps birthday!! The Marine Corps has been serving our great country for 235 years.

Here's what the Marine Team has to say today:
Cassy write about the Marine Corps and about being a Marine wife.

Remembering Cpl. Jason Dunham. It is his birthday today too.

Pundette appreciates her father's service in the Marine Corps.

The Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps deliver the 2010 birthday message.

Ercille continues her history lesson.

Miss Ladybug sends her birthday wishes.

Oh Hell: 235 years, and still going strong.

Marine Wife wishes the Corps a happy birthday too.

Retriever celebrates the birthday AND gives us some fun facts.

Wolf on the Marine Corps Hymn.

Mrs. P thanks her husband.

Remembering our fallen.

What do you get a Marine on the birthday?

Posted by at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Traditional US Marine Corps Birthday Message.

Happy Marine Corps birthday to all of you Marines, past and present.
And a happy birthday as well, to all of us who love Marines.
This is read every year at every cake cutting and every birthday ball wherever Marines gather. From Quantico to Afghanistan.

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,

Major General
Commandant

Posted by at 10:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 09, 2010

Marine Team Roundup for Nov. 9th

Good afternoon all!!
It is another GLORIOUS day in the Corps. The Marine team is sitting pretty like a Marine in dress blues today. Thanks to everybody's support, we've raised more than twice what Soldiers' Angels asked us to on behalf of injured servicemembers.
Simply put, that is outstanding!!!
We’re in the home stretch and tomorrow is the Marine Corps birthday as well as being CPL. Jason Dunham’s birthday.
Speaking of MOH winners, it was announced yesterday that Gen. Amos has nominated a Marine for the MOH.

Here's a look around the Marine team today:
Miss Ladybug reminds that it’s not over until the 11th.

Ercille, as always, inspiring.

MaryAnn has a great post remembering 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2/503, 173rd ABCT. Interservice rivalry is fun but in the end, we’re all in it together.

GatorDoug….it’s just funny.

No Sheeples. Class.

Oh Hell has team totals and final push!!

Retriever: suffering and indifference

Coalition of the Swilling: esprit de corps and uncommon valor

Wolf at Howling at the Moon. That is just awesome!!

Blatherings Blog has fun Marine facts and a nice roundup.

The Weekly Standard blog throws in with the Marine Team.
Welcome and thank you so much for supporting Valour IT AND the Marine team!!

Posted by at 03:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Valour IT Challenge: The Demotivator Contest

Bumped to the top.

Sorry I'm a day late. Some things came up at work yesterday and there was no time to post. Please vote for your favorite demotivator. I had to use two polls. Voting will be open until midnight on the 11th and for every vote, the Marine team will donate $25 up to a max of $500. It's an easy way to do some good.

Thanks to everyone who created an entry!

Vote for your favorite Demotivator
Jihad Gene: "It's Senator"
BillT "Army Aviation"
The Sniper "The US Navy"
The Sniper "US Army"
The Sniper "USAF"
The Sniper "The US Marines"
Results

Vote II
Cass "Oh Lord It's Hard to be Humble"
DL Sly "Marines"
DL Sly "US Navy"
Retriever "Marines"
Results

The entries are below the fold.

OK folks. We have $750 in matching funds to spend and it's time to have some fun.

During last year's campaign we ran a Military Demotivators contest. We'd like to do the same thing this year, but with a slight twist:

1. For each entry submitted, the Marine team will donate $20 to Valour IT. We'd love it if each entrant would undertake to match our donation but making a donation is NOT required in order to enter the contest.

2. The contest will run from Thursday until Sunday at midnight. On Monday morning we will vote for the best entries in each category. Again, the Marine team will donate $25 per vote for each winning entry, up to a maximum of $500.

3. We are challenging the Army, Navy, and Air Force teams to enter their own Demotivators, and ask their readers to match (or improve upon) our pledges for entries and winning votes.

There will be categories for:

Best Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine demotivators.

Best "Embracing the Suck" poster.

Best Salvo from the Distaff Side

Here's one I submitted last year that riffed on a great picture by MrsG of the Air Force team:

automotivator(5).jpg

Here's a form you can use to create your own Military Demotivator. So get ready to do your worst for a good cause! Email me those entries, or let me know in the comments section where your entry can be found!

ARMY ENTRIES:

From JihadGene comes our first entry (and first $20 matching donation):

Army motivator_jihadgene.jpg

And here's BillT's entry:

bill_motiv.jpg

Four great entries from The Sniper:

Navy.jpg

Army.jpg

AirForce.jpg

Marines_sniper.jpg


MARINE TEAM ENTRIES

army_motiv.png

DL Sly weighs in:

Santa_demotivator.jpg

Navy_Demotivator.jpg

As does Retriever:

marines_retriever.jpg

Posted by Cassandra at 04:37 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Thoughts on Leaving Blogging

Marc Ambinder is quitting blogging. He has some thoughts on the medium and the effect it has had on traditional journalism:

My experience has not been unique, but it has spanned the life of this newly evolved species of reporter. I've had some time to think about what effect doing this day and night has had on the practice of journalism, on the quality of news-gathering and dissemination, and on the people who do it. I've written quite often on the first two subjects and participated in many discussions about them. All I will say here is that the mere fact that online reporters feel they must participate in endless discussions about these subjects is something new, a consequence of the medium, and is one reason why it can be so exhausting to do primarily web journalism. The feedback loop is relentless, punishing and is predicated on the assumption that the reporter's motivation is wrong. Unfortunately, the standard for defining oneself as a web journalist depends upon establishing a certain credibility with a particular audience of critics. Responding to complaints about content and structure and bias is part of the way one establishes that credibility.

Really good print journalism is ego-free. By that I do not mean that the writer has no skin in the game, or that the writer lacks a perspective, or even that the writer does not write from a perspective. What I mean is that the writer is able to let the story and the reporting process, to the highest possible extent, unfold without a reporter's insecurities or parochial concerns intervening. Blogging is an ego-intensive process. Even in straight news stories, the format always requires you to put yourself into narrative. You are expected to not only have a point of view and reveal it, but be confident that it is the correct point of view. There is nothing wrong with this. As much as a writer can fabricate a detachment, or a "view from nowhere," as Jay Rosen has put it, the writer can also also fabricate a view from somewhere. You can't really be a reporter without it. I don't care whether people know how I feel about particular political issues; it's no secret where I stand on gay marriage, or on the science of climate change, and I wouldn't have it any other way. What I hope I will find refreshing about the change of formats is that I will no longer be compelled to turn every piece of prose into a personal, conclusive argument, to try and fit it into a coherent framework that belongs to a web-based personality called "Marc Ambinder" that people read because it's "Marc Ambinder," rather than because it's good or interesting.

What I find so remarkable about Ambinder's farewell to blogging is his determination to shoehorn blogging into a definition that doesn't fit. To him, reporting seems to be more a matter of identity than of conviction or focus. At the risk of making an offensive analogy, in these hands journalism bids fair to follow religion down the path of Things That Used to Matter But Have Become Largely Pro Forma. These days, many of us aren't Catholic or Episcopalian because we intend to be bound by the will of God, but because being vaguely spiritual (albeit in some New Age-y fashion that doesn't require obedience to confining biblical teachings that are, like, so five minutes ago) allows us to don the mantle of moral legitimacy. "I believe in some-amorphous-thing-to-be-defined ... umm... later", but somehow this makes me different - better - than folks who don't believe.

Likewise we know reporting when we see it because it's done by reporters (even when they're really doing is opining). And because we all know that reporters are dedicated professionals, blogging is different - more legitimate, more objective, more moral - when they do it. I'm not sure where that leaves the rest of us. You know, the ones who are just trying to make sense of it all?

The thing is, I don't know too many bloggers who think what they do is reporting. Journalists seem almost obsessed by the idea that blogging has upstaged traditional journalism, but I've never been able to figure out exactly what bloggers offer that can even hope to replace news reporting? If the news media disappeared tomorrow, could blogging take its place? Who and what would we link to? Comment upon? Discuss? The vast majority of bloggers begin each day by pointing to news items that interest them. The best ones add commentary or context. Some go on to compare and contrast related news items, fact check, present independent research in confirmation or rebuttal or simply throw a contentious topic out for discussion and debate. But most of us don't report.

Journalists seem determined to set up a false dichotomy in which news reporting proceeds from a noble desire to convey facts and truth in an objective fashion while blogging clings to it like a tapeworm, burying all those lovely facts and truth in mountains of ego driven, partisan blather.

I don't know what I meant to accomplish when I first visited a site called ScrappleFace in March of 2003. I think mostly I felt a sense that the attention bill was overdue; that America was at war and I knew little or nothing about the events that had led us to that pass because I'd been too busy living my life to pay attention to the news. It seemed remote; unconnected to my life. And then, suddenly, it wasn't any more.

If I had to explain why I showed up all those years, it was to answer a question: what does it all mean? Certainly there is an ego affirming aspect to blogging. If you do it long enough, readers say kind things to you and that feels good. They also say perfectly awful things to you: things that make you want to crawl under the covers and never come out. On balance the back and forth has been a good thing. It has toughened my skin more than a bit, made me less cocksure, less glib, less convinced of my own ineffable wisdom.

I said earlier that I didn't know what I intended to do when I began blogging. But I do know what blogging became: a way to stay in touch with people I like and - in some cases - came to love. A way to make sense of the incomprehensible. A conversation with a group of people I wish I were lucky enough to know in real life. People who are interesting. And intelligent. And funny.

I'm always a bit mystified when bloggers describe blogging as ego driven because if you have a comments section, the very first thing you discover is that it was never about you or your opinions. It's about the conversation.

Thank you all for making VC a fun place to wake up to every morning. You all, for me, are what blogging is all about. Bit by bit you made this former housewife and tech wench smarter, more thoughtful, better informed. Which is not the same as being smart, thoughtful, or informed.

But it's progress, no es verdad?

After the Valour IT fund raiser is over on Nov. 11th, VC will go the way of so many blogs. Carrie and Cassy have done an outstanding job of leading the Marine team this year and I hope you'll take a moment to thank them when this is all over.

I always resisted putting up a PayPal link here but if you've found any value in anything you've read here over the years, please consider making a donation to Valour IT. Those are the folks who make conversations like this possible.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:24 AM | Comments (78) | TrackBack

November 07, 2010

Eugene Robinson Brings Teh Funny Yet Again

If these people weren't so willing to serially beclown themselves, my job would be a lot harder:

But amid the wreckage of Tuesday's GOP rampage, there's one person for whom I feel awful: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She's losing her job not because she does it poorly but because she does it so well.

Welcome to the wild and wacky world of the Reality Based Community where if what happens in the real world doesn't fit the narrative, you can simply redefine success!

Progressives are fond of saying that reality has a liberal bias. It would be far more accurate to say that their perception of reality has a profoundly liberal bias. Where else but in Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood would presiding over the biggest Congressional turnover in over 70 years be described as "having done your job too well"?


Come to think of it, wasn't it Nancy Pelosi who raised hyperpartisan obstructionism to an art form?

Like DeLay, who was also known for bruising rivalries within his party, Pelosi has embraced hard-knuckle partisanship, even if it means standing still. When Bush announced his Social Security plan last year, Pelosi told House Democrats they could never beat him in a straight-ahead, policy-against-policy debate because he had the megaphone of the presidency and was just coming off re-election. So the Democrats would thunderously attack Bush and argue there was no Social Security crisis and therefore no need for them to put out their own proposal. Some members were leery, concerned that Pelosi would make the Democrats look like the Party of No. As the spring of 2005 wore on, some pestered her every week, asking when they were going to release a rival plan. "Never. Is never good enough for you?" Pelosi defiantly said to one member.

Robinson has a strange definition of competence. It seems to embrace the very tactics he complains bitterly about when Republican lawmakers employ them:

In recent months, the Democrats have routinely accused the Republicans of being the party of 'No': of resisting legislation without offering viable alternatives. Nowhere was this clearer than over healthcare, when Republicans in both houses of Congress voted solidly against the reforms.

But it was the strategy Pelosi pursued when the Democrats found themselves in opposition.

When President George Bush proposed to reform social security, Pelosi pressed Democrats to avoid a public debate over the issue because it would be hard to win against the pulpit of the presidency. She offered no alternative plan and instead preferred to direct the party's energies in to unleashing a full frontal attack on Bush's motives. Social security reform failed.

... "Nancy Pelosi has become one of the most divisive politicians in the country. Look at her polls. She is widely disliked. People hate Congress and she's the face of it..."

Politics, to the Reality Based Community, means never having to live in the real world where actions have consequences and leaders are fired for poor performance. It's not that politicians like Pelosi and Obama haven't performed well.

We're just too ignorant and fearful to recognize brilliance when we see it.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:22 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Study: We Don't Value What We Don't Have to Work For

Interesting study of the week:

Maybe your dad said, “The harder you work for something, the more you’ll appreciate it.” Well, father really did know best. Because a new study finds that the harder mice have to work for a treat, the better it tastes. The research appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. [Alexander Johnson and Michela Gallagher, "Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food"]

Mice were trained to push levers to get either of two rewards. Press one lever, out comes a drop of sugar water. Press the other and they get a drop of different tasting sugar water.

Then things got interesting. For one of the treats, scientists gradually increased the amount of effort required for the payoff—from one lever-press to five, then 10, then 15. So by the end of the session, one type of sugar water cost 15 times more effort than the other.

Question of the day: now that this rather obvious truism has been validated by the "experts", can we finally stop trying to make everything easy and equal and just admit that challenges often improve the quality of our lives (not to mention helping us appreciate what we have).

Posted by Cassandra at 10:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2010

Feel Good Video of the Day

Posted by Cassandra at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stealth Heroes

We had a great week, but it's time for a little motivation:

You all did some amazing things last week, and the nicest thing to be said about that actually came from Team Army. And... they have charts!

I have said over the last few days that even though Team ARMY was leading by long-shot in the Valour-IT fundraiser, we needed to keep our eye over our shoulder on Team MARINE.

Now I am not sure how they did it or who they pulled out of the woodwork to donate for them, but I think Team MARINE has set a record in the amount of money raised in one day.

Team MARINE essentially doubled the amount donated in their Team’s name in one day from what they had raised since the start of this friendly competition on Oct. 28th.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am proud of them and glad to see so many generous people open their wallets for Valour-IT, but come on people TEAM MARINE!!!

Each year Valour IT hosts a friendly interservice competition to see who can raise the most money the fastest for a very worthy cause. This year, Army crossed the $15,000 finish line first but it fills me with pride to see what the Marine team has accomplished - and that, after we'd already lost the competition.

But I don't want to see us rest on our laurels, because the number of wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines is growing by the day. Marine team member MaryAnn Phillips writes about a weekly conference call between doctors, nurses and medics at hospitals in Afghanistan, Germany, and the United States:

The week, the assembled group of over 80 people review the cases of the 13 critical patients treated the prior week. Nine of the patients will have permanent disabilities: Two lost one leg; two lost a leg and a foot; two lost both legs; two lost both legs and a hand; and one was paralyzed from the waist down.

The conference is run by Col. Brian Eastridge, a 47-year-old trauma surgeon with 23 years in the Army. He grew up in Damascus, Md., graduated from Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He now heads the Joint Theater Trauma System, which organizes trauma care in both wars.

Over five deployments, Eastridge has seen the entire arc of worsening wounds and increasing survival that has marked trauma care during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Dressed in brown camouflage battle dress, he sits halfway around a large U made of wooden tables. Around him on the walls are idealized scenes of Afghan life painted by a local artist - a girl leading a caravan of camels, children being taught arithmetic at the base of a tree, kids flying kites. Eastridge runs the conference with somber efficiency, offers comments sparingly and addresses his listeners mostly by location-"Kandahar," "Landstuhl," "Walter Reed."

The rapid-fire reports are dense with medical jargon and anatomical description. It's a narration of one disaster after another, and of how things were kept from getting worse, and made better, by skill, speed and attention. It's the aural equivalent of watching a dozen high-wire acts in which some people are rescued mid-fall.

Here's just one.

"Dismounted IED" injury is jargon for wounds caused by a bomb or mine that are suffered outside a vehicle. The soldier had tourniquets placed for partial amputation of both legs. One liter of a special IV fluid was given in the helicopter, and the patient arrived at the Kandahar hospital in and out of consciousness and in shock.

In the operating room, surgeons temporarily tied off the arteries going to the legs and repaired a tear in a major vein. There was massive damage to the area between the legs. One leg was amputated at the knee. In a second operation the next day his wounds were rewashed and a finger, broken in the explosion, was fixed with external hardware.

That same day the soldier was evacuated to Bagram, where his wounds were washed out and the pelvic region was re-explored. A "foreign body"- the speaker didn't say whether it was dirt, metal or something else - not seen in the first operation was removed. He suffered a collapsed lung after surgery, which was fixed.

He stayed there two days before flying by critical care air transport to Landstuhl.

Seven days after suffering his wounds the soldier arrived at a hospital in the United States. He had another collapsed lung, and pneumonia. His right foot, initially thought to be salvageable, wasn't healing and the surgeons planned to amputate it at the ankle. He had further surgery to his abdomen and numerous operations to start repairing the missing floor of his pelvis.

"This was one of the biggest pelvic injuries I've ever seen," said one of the surgeons in the United States. Eastridge later said he hears that a lot from surgeons in the United States who haven't been deployed yet.

This was not an uncommon case.

The other day I mentioned "stealth heroes" - people who quietly go about the business of doing what needs to be done. MaryAnn is one of those stealth heroes. The amazing folks who pushed us up over our $15000 goal this week - including a few who went all out with some stunningly generous donations - are stealth heroes. These people will never know the feeling of public recognition, but then that's not what they were after.

It's easy to forget that only half a world away, Americans are engaged in a life and death struggle against an enemy that thinks nothing of throwing acid on women and girls, killing children, hiding among civilians. It's hard to fight soldiers who won't even stand clear of the innocent. It blurs the lines that have stood for centuries, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between friend and foe, combatant and non-combatant.

And make no mistake - we're suffering horrific injuries as a result of our refusal to stoop to their level.

It continues to amaze me that this war is being fought by soldiers younger, in many cases, than my sons. We ask much of these young men and women, and when they are injured fighting on our behalf, we owe them our thanks, our respect, and most importantly our support.

Government does a lot, but government cannot solve every problem. We need to step into the breach.

Will you help?

Marines:

Posted by Cassandra at 08:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 05, 2010

Marine Team Roundup for Friday, Nov. 5th

What a difference a day makes!!! As of this evening, your Valour IT Marine team is in the lead!!! Oorahh!!
I want to thank the Marine team for blogging/supporting the Valour IT effort. I want to thank everyone who shared the links with friends and family. I want to thank everybody who has donated.
We have a ways to go until November 11th and anything can happen between now and then so please keep up what you are all doing!
It's working!

Here's a look around the Marine team for today:

Ercille is on fuego!!!

Oh Hell explores the bond that military service creates.

MaryAnn talks about life at the hospital at Landstuhl.

Miss Ladybug introduces us to a World War ll Vet.


Wolf warns us about Little Wolfie. Let’s not make this young man mad, mmkay?

Blatherings Blog: Being wounded is just the beginning.

Retriever is following orders.

Miss Tammy knows who to thank.

Posted by at 05:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Men...

They are problem solvers:

Posted by Cassandra at 12:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

One Year Ago Today

Today it has been exactly one year since the Fort Hood massacre.

On that day, one of our own - VC commenter Philip Warman - lost his beloved wife Juanita. I wasn't able to write about it for several days, but what I said when I finally did is equally true on this sad anniversary:

America's armed forces are a rough and colorful patchwork composed of urban sophisticates and down home country boys and girls, cynics and romantics. Perhaps nowhere in America do men and women, blacks, whites, hispanics, Jews, gentiles, native born Americans and those with the ink still wet on their citizenship papers so successfully live, work, and bond together. This is, I think, the result of a resounding call to be part of something greater than ourselves. Though it took her away from those she loved so deeply, Juanita Warman heard and responded to that distant trumpet. She stepped up. When her country called, she was right there where America needed her to be.

And so, behind the scenes, was her family. We the protected owe America's military and their loved ones a great debt. On this Veteran's Day, it is my hope that stopping to reflect on Juanita's life will remind us how very lucky we are; of the values that unite us instead of those that divide us; of the very best that we can be when we put our shoulders to mastering great challenges and overcoming daunting odds.

There is great good in America still, and it is embodied by the men and women of our armed forces. And it is embodied by their wives, husbands, parents and children; by the brothers and sisters who lovingly wait for their return. On this Veterans Day it is my prayer that this healer's spirit will continue to console and guide those who are missing her so very much today.

I hope you will keep Philip and all the families of the Ft. Hood massacre in your hearts and in your prayers today.

War is a terrible thing - even more so when it comes home. If nothing else, horrors like the Ft. Hood shooting serve as a terrible reminder that evil exists, and that there are people who have dedicated their lives to opposing it.

My condolences to the Army community on the loss of so many of their own, today and always.

Others writing:

The Armorer remembers and reflects:

That Major Nidal Hasan is not yet a convicted felon stripped of his commission and possibly awaiting execution is a condemnation of the system, in that such a seemingly obvious slam dunk has to be handled so cautiously so at to provide no excuses for this perfidious betrayer-of-trust to use to beat the system and somehow walk.

Of course, the fact that Major Hasan still had a commission and was thus able to walk into that building legitimately wearing his uniform after being saluted by fellow soldiers is a sad indictment, too.

Yep.

Mudville has an updated salute to the 467th Medical Detachment.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 04, 2010

Marine Team Roundup for Thursday, Nov. 4th

We are on day 8 of the Valour IT fundraiser and I just wanted to take a minute and thank everybody for the support so far. We've broken $10k this afternoon. Thank you to all the members of the Marine team. Thank you to everyone who took a minute to share a post about Valour IT with friends and family. Thank you to everyone who has donated. It is so deeply appreciated.


A look at what the Marine team is up to on a very busy Thursday:

Wolf has a great post about a Wounded Warrior West Event. Great and inspiring photos!!.

Doug at Stixblog has some thoughts, thanks and a request.

Blatherings Blog introduces us to yet another fine Marine. Oorrahh!!!

We want to welcome Doug Powers to the Marine Team.!!

Miss Ladybug updates us on the Valour IT Auction items up for grabs.

Great story about what it's like to be a Marine sniper.

Another great and inspiring story about a true champion.

Posted by at 02:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Personal Reasons

Wow.

Just wow.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

She's Doing Her Part

Are you?

ReeseLilAngel.jpg

I don't know how many of you remember who Linda Ferrera is. She was - no, IS - the mother of 1st Lt. Matthew Ferrara. Matthew was killed on November 9th, 2008 in Nuristan province. Here's what this amazing woman had to say about losing her son:

Some people don't think that we have to fight just yet,
that we can wait, and the crazies will go away
and not harm our little tribe.

They are already harming our little tribe.
All of humanity is our tribe.

Michelle's on board, too:

Once again this year, as in the past, we’re proud to be representing the US Marine team taking part in the Project Valour-IT fundraising competition. This competition features four teams: The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Here’s a brief explanation of what this great cause is all about:

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries. Technology supplied includes:

Voice-controlled Laptops – Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.

Wii Video Game Systems – Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).

Personal GPS – Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

We can't do this alone. We need your help.

I will leave you with the words of Matt Ferrara's friend, 1st Lt. Walter Bryan Jackson. Walter is one of a tiny group of Americans who have earned the Distinquished Service Cross (the military's second-highest medal) for saving another soldier's life while himself wounded and under heavy fire in Iraq. Men like this deserve our thanks, our respect, and our support:

"It's kind of hard to explain" how it feels to be part of a small segment of the U.S. population that is "bearing the brunt of the responsibilities" from today's conflicts, Jackson said as he waited for his flight at Dulles International Airport. "It doesn't affect society at large in the slightest. Life just goes on, and a lot of people . . . are more concerned about the price of gas than about soldiers fighting and dying," said Jackson, who has lost several comrades in the wars.

Make a difference:

They did.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alright, Jackwagons :)

Time to move out - we have work to do.

Hardly a day passes when the American flag above the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade’s headquarters here is not flying at half-staff.

With U.S. and other coalition forces stepping up operations against Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, more dead and wounded are being pulled off the battlefield than ever before.

Since deploying in March, helicopter ambulance crews with the brigade’s Task Force Shadow have flown more than 2,000 missions, evacuating more than 2,500 patients, according to Maj. Jason Davis, commander of Company C, 6th Battalion.

That’s more than twice the rate that helicopter ambulance crews in southern Afghanistan were flying this time last year, he said.

The increase reflects just how sharply fighting in the region has spiked in recent months, a result of President Barack Obama’s decision to deploy 34,000 additional U.S. troops. Most were deployed to southern Afghanistan, where they, along with mostly British and Canadian forces, are trying to wrest control of strategically important areas from the Taliban, including the city of Kandahar and the Arghandab and Helmand river valleys.

“You’ve got more people fighting the enemy in places where we haven’t been in a long time,” said Davis, 35, of Steilacoom, Wash. “And when you’ve got more people fighting, you’re going to have more missions.”

More than 540 NATO troops — two-thirds of them American — have been killed in Afghanistan this year, making 2010 the deadliest year of the war, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks coalition fatalities. More than 1,200 American troops have died in the war since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.

For years, Marine team co-chair Carrie Costantini has worked with injured Navy and Marine patients at Walter Reed and Bethesda. It's rewarding work, meeting the families of these men and women; watching them complete an arduous and grueling rehabilitation period; seeing firsthand the challenges they face as they work to adjust, adapt, and overcome to a very different life than the one they've known before.

Typically, we're talking about athletes. People in better physical shape than 95% of Americans. They can run for miles, do impressive numbers of situps and pushups, endure 10 mile hikes with 80 pounds of gear. And then - suddenly - it's a struggle to do simple things like tie their own shoes or lift a fork to their mouths.

Being wounded is just the beginning of a very long road. Many of these folks are facing a lifetime of painful and debilitating medical treatment - repeated surgeries, setbacks from ailments as simple as a common cold, ongoing paralysis or chronic pain. And they do it all with determination and equanimity.

These people don't need your pity. They are heroes. But they sure could use your support as they continue to do what they do best: never giving up, never settling for the ordinary or the expected, defying the odds and rising above their own problems to make the world a better place.

How many of us do that in our daily lives? Make the world a better place, that is? What is our contribution to be?

I used the phrase, "give 'til it hurts", but I haven't done that yet. I've contributed 7 times during this campaign. But I could afford to give more. I'm not going to go hungry for the lack of a few dollars. I might have to forgo a few luxuries, or eat soup instead of steak but I'm not going to suffer in any real way.

With every year that passes, we hear less and less about the two wars America is fighting. To tell the truth, we tired of war. It's depressing. The thing is, the men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan don't get to be "tired of war". They're in the thick of it, while we're largely insulated from the ugly parts, the painful parts.

The depressing parts.

All of us - all of us - can do more. Some of us can do more than others. Can you go without a latte from Starbucks? Can you give up beer for a week or two? It all adds up.

Conservatives like to preach that government is not the answer to all our problems. Well, if that is true than it would seem that the onus is on us - we, the people - to do the things that need to be done. The question is, do we practice what we preach? I know I don't, a lot of the time. Perhaps even most of the time. It's easier to wait for someone else to take action.

I can't imagine what it must be like to lose an arm, a leg, both legs or both arms. To be blinded. To have my bell rung so thoroughly that I'm left with lingering problems. To lose the use of my fingers. I'm typing this because for me, typing is easy. It requires no real effort (whining about being tired notwithstanding).

Talking about the dedication and valor of our armed forces is easy. Giving something back, not so much.

I'm asking you to give something back. I'm asking you to think, "What can I do to help?" To a soldier, sailor or Marine facing a 15 month convalescence and repeated surgeries, your help can literally make the difference between feeling isolated, forgotten and alone and staying connected to family, friends, and perhaps most importantly, the brothers he left on the battlefield.

Traditionally Valour IT has been a mostly good natured competition between the services. As a member of the Marine team, normally I would ask you to hit the Marine team button. But the truth is that the money we raise all goes into the same pot. It all goes to the same good cause.

And so I'm going to ask you just to donate. Even if you've already done so, take a second look at your finances to see if you can't spare just a bit more.

Donate to the Navy team. My Dad, father in law and brother in law were all career Navy.

Donate to the Air Force. Carrie's Dad served. So did Greyhawk.

Donate to the Marine team. My uncle Mel was a Marine, and my husband.

Hell, you can even donate to the Army. My grandfather served in the Army, and my husband's uncle. Fortunately, there's this thing called evolution that makes each generation smarter than the last :) You can see that in our family: Army - Navy - Marine Corps. If I find out the next step is Air Force, I'm outta here...

Army has upped their goal to $25,000. Help them meet it.

I don't care who you give to. Just give. As VC reader bthun said yesterday,


"No other donation that I make during the year feels so right."

You know what to do:

Posted by Cassandra at 08:06 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 03, 2010

AWOL Today

Guys, I am really sorry about going AWOL on you today. Lately, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to juggle all the things on my plate (and isn't that the mother of all mixed metaphors?). For years now I've gotten by on very little sleep. That has been the price of keeping this place running, but I can't do it any more. I'm exhausted, physically, emotionally, mentally. I just don't have anything left.

I did promise a humiliation challenge today. Yesterday and last night we raised a good amount of money for Valour IT, so you all have definitely earned it. A big part of that was a large donation from someone who will have to remain anonymous, but who is one of the best friends the Marine Corps will ever have.

There are a lot of what I'd call "stealth heroes" in the world. They go around doing good without expecting praise or even that anyone should notice their efforts. Maybe it's the Taurus in me being stubborn, but I think they deserve our thanks (even if we don't know who it is we're thanking). So... you know who you are, Mr. Mystery Stealth Hero Person :p I hope this anonymous thank you goes a small distance toward redressing the enormous debt of gratitude that I feel for everything you do for our men and women in uniform.

Also, to our mystery donation matchers: you ladies (yeah, I'm going to out you that far) are the best. You make me proud to be numbered in your ranks, if only because we share the whole being-female thing.

I did promise to do some sort of humiliating challenge thingy yesterday. Unfortunately, some things have happened that have made me wonder whether that's a wise idea (and no, it didn't involve anything salacious or immoral). As the old saying goes, "Fight smarter, not harder". Please be patient with me - I will figure out a way to make good on my promise.

By my reckoning we still have about $750.00 in matching funds to spend. DL Sly has asked that I judge some of those old caption contests for donations, and I think that's a good idea. I will still find a way to publicly embarrass myself for Valour IT.

This morning the Army team crossed the finish line by meeting their $15,000 goal. They ran a great campaign and were in the lead from the get go, and my hat is off to them. We will try to find ways to keep the competitive spirit alive during the week we have left because we still have a long way to go towards meeting our commitment.

That's one thing the Marine team has tried hard to do: have some fun while we're doing good. Thank you - all of you - for your support.

Love ya ... even the ones who donated to the Navy team! :) It's all good.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Marine Team Roundup for Wednesday, Nov. 3rd

Here's a roundup of posts from some of our Marine Team posters for Wednesday, November 3rd.
Cassandra is off doing princessy things but will be back later for news about our next challenge.

Wolf has a post about a unique way a Marine dealt with a Dear John letter.

Mrs. P is on the go!!!

Ercille is letting us know what she wants for Christmas.

Oh Hell has rules!!!

The Washington Post has a nice roundup of the Marine Corps Marathon with emphasis on the Marines who ran it.

A wounded Marine returns home. It was one helluva homecoming.

Posted by at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Also Eminently Quotable

I was going to attempt some form of commentary this morning, but don't have the time. This, however, is as close to what I would have said as it gets. Enjoy:

My own reaction is that this is a rebuke to the Democrats, not an affirmation of the Republicans. Beyond that, I am actually glad that the GOP did not secure notional control of the Senate, because it will make it that much more difficult for President Obama to blame the Republicans for the no doubt still sluggish economy in 2012. And, anyway, I am a fan of divided government. The lesson of my lifetime is that Washington gets exponentially more asinine if one party controls all three of the House, the Senate, and the White House.

As a right-of-center blogger, I am also at least a little relieved that the Tea Party's goofier candidates -- Paladino in New York, McMahon in Connecticut, O'Donnell in Delaware, and Angle in Nevada -- all lost. I was not looking forward to spending the next two years explaining how their every gaffe was really literally true or not moronic in some technical sense. Like it or not, in today's world public leaders of any sort -- including high profile corporate executives, university presidents, the managers of NGOs, and of course candidates for office -- require a measure of professionalism. The right would do well to groom and nominate their candidates even at the cost of some authenticity.

What I find reassuring about this election is that despite all the more-heat-than-light fulminating about "violent rhetoric" (MOM! He hit me with... words!") and extreme extremists and their dangerous and scary extremism, what we're looking at is one more in a long series of peaceful, orderly transfers of power.

When you look at Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a lot to be said for that.

The pace of change may not always be what we wish it were, but given our legendary short sightedness with respect to unintended consequences, that's a good thing. Stable governments don't lurch violently to the left or to the right. Despite all its imperfections and despite the erosion of trust in our system of government, at the end of the day we resolve our differences at the ballot box rather than at the point of a gun.

May it ever be so.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:49 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Morning After Quote of the Day

Allegedly, the Tea Party movement has been violent, angry, intent to incite fear and hate among the populace. These narratives weren’t true — tonight’s vote has proven them caricatures laid out by journalists with short wordcounts and shorter attention spans.

Violent movements do not do these things. They don’t show up at the polls and overwhelm the establishment in favor of a minority candidate, as in the case of Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, R-Fla. They also don’t lose so badly, as in the case of Christine O’Donnell. They don’t take on, and nearly defeat, the leader of the majority party in the Senate, at the same time as he colludes with casinos in a potentially illegal scheme to get out the vote in his favor. They don’t settle for a more liberal candidate in Illinois just because he’s the most electable.

Yet they did all of those things. Strange.

Read the whole thing. It's excellent.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 02, 2010

End of the Day Valour IT Roundup

OK, guys. Here's the recap:

We began the day at $5550. We are now at $7140, for a delta (as of about 5:30 pm) of + 1590.

During the day our $1250 of matching funds increased by $250 (thanks Amazing Mystery Donator Person!) to $1500. We've spent about $600 of our matching funds, leaving us $900 for tomorrow's matching fund campaigns.

goat.jpgCassy Fiano raised over $250 (with $250 of matching funds, for a grand total of over $500!) and consequently she will be cheering Army in the Army-Navy Game whilst dressed as Bill the Goat. We are assured that there will be humiliating photos and possibly even video!

So... that leaves the blog princess.

There are several suggestions on the table:

1. Judge caption contests at $100 a pop.

*sigh* :)

2. Wear a Justin Bieber t-shirt and carry Twilight all day.

3. *cough* Back when the Spousal Unit was in Iraq, some of you may recall that certain photos were taken of the Princess in a variety of wigs and clothing you can be damned sure she would not ordinarily have donned.

The photos range from the mildly humiliating to the truly ... ummm... memorable.

We couldn't help noticing that most of today's donations came courtesy of the fairer sex. It's time for the Oink Cadre to stand up and be counted. Depending on how much we raise between now and noon tomorrow, the Princess will turn one or possibly more of these incriminating photos into Military Demotivators and turn them over to you for captioning.

Carrie has seen these photos. I will leave it up to her to describe the indescribable.

To everyone who donated or helped us publicize the Marine Challenge - thanks. Such a simple word, and yet it means so much. We have (I hope) a big surprise in store for tomorrow.

Hope you voted today. I did.

Please help, guys. I wish I could post some of the emails I've read the past two weeks about the number of wounded coming in. You will never spend your hard earned dollars on a better cause.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:10 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Best. Election. News. Roundup. Evah.

Here.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Equal Rights Mean Equal Responsibilities...For Both Sexes

That is, unless you're a radical feminist with an entitlement complex:

... the old situation, in which women presented men with a child, and the man either did the decent thing and offered support, or made a run for it, allowed women a certain leeway. The courtesan in Balzac who, on becoming pregnant, unhesitatingly sought, and got, maintenance from two of her men friends, can’t have been the only one. Uncertainty allows mothers to select for their children the father who would be best for them.

This is unreconstructed idiocy, but some of the responses don't seem much more lucid.

Let's stipulate one thing up front: what this author is advocating is the "right" of a woman to lie to and cheat on a man she's sleeping with and further, to hold him financially responsible for the support of a child he didn't father. That is so obviously wrong that I'm surprised it requires saying.

What I'm not seeing, however, is any recognition that sexual responsibility is supposed to be a two way street. If you're a man and you don't want to father a child, use birth control.

There is only one innocent victim in this scenario: the child. The man (unless of course he's married to the woman and they've previously agreed to try for a child) isn't a helpless victim. He's an adult who had just as much responsibility and opportunity to prevent pregnancy as the woman he slept with.

There's a word for people of both sexes who can't be bothered with birth control: parents. Think about it.

I don't for one moment endorse what this moron is suggesting, but a man who takes equal responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies wouldn't find himself in this situation in the first place. This has nothing to do with sexual politics or feminism and everything to do with simple biology.

We try so hard to make sex a morality and consequence free zone, but it isn't and it never has been. Like pretty much everything else we do in life there are risks.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:43 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

The Humiliation Challenge!

What we Marine women will do to support our Corps....

Team leader Cassy Fiano and I are volunteering to humiliate ourselves in return for your donations. You can suggest ideas in the comments or, if we don't get any funny suggestions, we'll come up with our own ideas.

First up is Cassy. If we can raise $250.00 between 2 and 4 pm today, NOT ONLY will that sum be matched by our Mystery Donors, but Cassy will volunteer to embarrass herself for your listening and viewing pleasure. Here's my suggestion for her (be nice - she's expecting!):


Compose and post a short poem about how much she loves Barack Obama.

Feel free to add your suggestions for Cassy or myself in the comments section. I have an idea for myself, but I'll keep it under wraps until Cassy's ordeal challenge is over!

Update: Bwa ha ha ha!

So, I volunteered for the Marine Team donation matching challenge, and here’s what I’ve been dared to do. If we raise $250 between 2:00 and 4:00 this afternoon, not only will one of our donors match it, but I will dress up like as the Navy goat for the Army-Navy game and publicly cheer for the Army the entire day. Yes, there will be pictures and maybe even video.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the costume I’ve already bought, because I know you guys will come through for us:

Hit that donation button!

Posted by Cassandra at 12:40 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

The Marine Team Challenge: Double (or Triple!) Your Donation

soles.JPGWhat do you do when you run into a roadblock? Do you give up? Blame others? Feel sorry for yourself? Or do you treat difficult circumstances as a challenge - a chance to accomplish something extraordinary?

Former Marine Sgt. Jeremy Soles made history on Sunday when he set a Guinness World Record for running the entire 26.2-mile Marine Corps marathon while wearing a gas mask in an unofficial time of 4 hours, 29 minutes and 2 seconds.

Soles, founder of the nonprofit group Team X-T.R.E.M.E., dedicated his achievement to Marine Cpl. John Michael Peck, who suffered traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2007 but insisted on returning to combat, only to lose both arms and legs in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan in May.

“He embodies everything that Team X-T.R.E.M.E is about: Overcoming mental and physical obstacles,” Soles said in a phone interview on Monday.

Sunday’s event was the culmination of two years of conditioning and training. The gas mask restricts his breathing by about 25 percent, and all the gear associated with the mask weighs 15 pounds.

“A lot of times, people ask why we run in a gas mask,” Soles said. “Well, we use the gas mask to symbolize what we do. People often ask how difficult it is, and our first thing to tell them is it’s not nearly as difficult as overcoming traumatic brain injury, which he did, not nearly as difficult as overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, learning how to walk again with prosthetic limbs – and people see the parallel.”

MCM1.jpgMost of us can't imagine even running a marathon, much less running one with only 75% breathing capacity and an extra 15 pound load. How about doing it from a wheelchair? What makes extraordinary feats like this possible is the power of belief in something larger than yourself, and that's just the kind of story that exemplifies the Valour IT spirit. These are men and women who've been dealt a hand that would crush most of us, and yet rather than feeling sorry for themselves or giving up, they're out there continuing to make the world a better place.

As of last night, here are the current totals for the Valour IT fundraiser:

TEAM ARMY $10,552.00 TEAM MARINE $5,550.00 TEAM NAVY $3,940.00 TEAM AIR FORCE $2,100.00 No Branch Specified $1,201.00 Total $23,343.00

As you can see, the Marine team is holding onto second place. We may be trailing Army, but I wouldn't count us out. Not just yet.

The thing is, we need your help. If the Marine spirit is about anything, it's about the power of teamwork. Together, we can accomplish far more than any one of us could alone.

Last night, a few of us put our heads together. As a result, we'd like to throw a challenge out to all of you. Four generous donors have ponied up a whopping $1250 in donations, but there's a catch: we need you to match our donations. Throughout the day, today and tomorrow, the Marine team be throwing out challenges to our readers. Some will be fun, some will be serious. Every donation counts, so don't be discouraged if you can't afford much.

Are you willing to step up and help us reach our goal? If so, make a donation and then email me (cassandra.vc at gmail.com) your donation receipt. If you want to X out your name, that's fine. I will keep the identities of all donors strictly confidential:

Here's what your money will buy for a wounded soldier, sailor, airman or Marine:

$800 buys a Voice-controlled Laptop - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.

$200 buys a Wii Video Game System - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).

$200 buys a Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

$400 buys an iPad

In a world where information comes at us at 90 miles an hour, it's easy to get overwhelmed, to think that the actions of one person can't possibly make a dent in everything that's wrong with the world. Here's your chance to make a difference. It all starts with the willingness to go just the little bit beyond what you think you can do.

Our four donors have already done that, but they need you to be a force multiplier. Will you step up? Can you contribute $25? $50? $100 or even more? Is anyone out there willing to match our entire pot ($1250)? If we can triple our original investment, we can net nearly $4000 for a worthy cause.

Let's make that thermometer jump - Twitter this, put it on Facebook, email your friends or neighbors, post the Marine Challenge on your blog. Together, we can change the lives of some extraordinary people. We can give them encouragement and hope during a difficult time, but more importantly we will be reminding them that we can't wait to welcome them back into the world once their time in the hospital is over.

I can't think of a group of people who will put your donations to better use.

CHALLENGE 1: Can we raise $250 (for a total of $500 with matching funds) before lunch? It doesn't need to be a single donation, but I need someone to get the ball rolling.

UPDATE: 11:40 am. WOO HOO!!!! The Marine team rocks! Keep it coming, folks!

At 12 noon the first of our matching donors will pony up $250 in matching funds. We need ideas for the Early Noon challenge - if we can raise another $250 by 2 pm, not only will those funds be matched but the Princess will be happy to humiliate herself in whatever way the Villainry suggests in the comments section.

Thanks so much to our big hearted Marine team donors! Here are the amounts (not sure I have permission to publish the names):

$100.00
$250.00
$50.00
$100.00

Pour it on! :)

EARLY AFTERNOON CHALLENGE: raise $250 by 2 pm. We're almost half the way there!

thermom1pm.gif

Retriever links with Vote - then give to those who make it possible.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 01, 2010

Marine Team Roundup for Monday, November 1st

It's the 5th day of the Valour IT fundraiser.

The C Square tells us about teleconferencing from the war zone.

Over at Thor's Hall, we have a twofer!!!

Marine Wife shares a story written by her very talented Devil Pup.

MaryAnn from Soldiers' Angels Germany shares some photos of the Marine Corps Marathon.

Blatherings Blog introduces us to CPL Nicholas Ludke.

As I mentioned above, it is the 5th day of the competition and yes, I know, Army is leading right now. We still have 9 days to make that thermometer jump. Do you need a little moto, moto motivation? That ought to get everyone's heart pumping today!!

There's still time to join the Marine team if you haven't already. We'd love to have you! If you've already donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't, there's still time to do that too.
The need has never been greater.

Posted by at 01:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack