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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It is very sad to have to report the death of another young hero. Zachary Sisson, the son of Lyle and Lois Sisson, passed away on 15 Dec. at the age of ten, after battling brain cancer for a couple of years. The story below shows how and why Zach was a hero.

Lyle, his father, was best man at my wedding to KANH many moons ago and Lois, his mom, has also been a great friend over the years. Lyle and I were squadron mates for years, flew together, and shared many...uh...interesting...experiences. I knew vaugely that Zach had been ill on and off for some time, but we had no idea of the specifics, or the severity, until a mutual friend told us of Zach's death five days ago. I remember Zach as an infant and only wish I had known the fine young man he had grown into. I deeply regret that I slipped in the last few years as both a friend and a correspondent, and so lost the opportunity.

The Rocky Mountain News (which has been a stalwart in reporting the highjinx of Ward Churchill) had a very fine story on his ordeal, reprinted in full:

Fifth-grader Zachary Sisson, 10, displayed a buoyant spirit
By Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News
December 26, 2006

Sisson endured the hell of cancer and died from it Dec. 15 at age 10. But he moved through his trials with staggering goodwill, only rare complaints and an adaptability that saw him swap rambunctious outdoor playfulness with quieter indoor hobbies better suited to so many rest days.

Grown-ups who knew Zach were baffled by his buoyant nature. Joanne Szuch, a 39-year- old family friend, said she was surprised to hear Zach tell her he was "good" when she called his hospital room one day.

Answering her confusion, Zach said, "What, I can't be good when I'm in the hospital?"

About two weeks before he died, Zach asked his parents whether he could go for a bike ride. They did, on a gorgeous Colorado day.

Only a few times, recalled Zach's father, Lyle, did Zach state what was so obvious to everyone else: "This isn't fair."

The rest of the time, he busied himself with a mishmash of interests: a fledgling effort to learn viola, slapstick comedy, fireworks, arts and crafts, and a fascination with all things mechanical and electrical. His dad started calling him Sparky.

Zach was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer in mid-2005. Nicholas Foreman, a pediatric neural oncologist at Children's Hospital in Denver, helped beat it back using chemotherapy, radiation and - as it refused to go away - high-dose chemo. That last attack worked for a while. In March, the family, who lives in Arvada, had a party to celebrate the end of cancer therapy.

About two months ago, though, the cancer returned. "It came back angry. It was mad. It moved very fast," Lyle Sisson said.

His son had pain when he walked; he limped. Tumor growth was discovered in his pelvis and femur. Foreman turned the family over to his colleague at Children's, Dr. Lia Gore, for experimental chemotherapy.

"In the end, that didn't end up working too well for us," said Lyle Sisson, who had high praise for the doctors. "It was a good try."

Help poured in from the community. A spaghetti dinner for fifth-grader Zach at his school, Vanderhoof Elementary in Arvada, raised $8,000. Martial arts master Dan Klenda brought in $4,000 in pledges by doing 700 consecutive sit-ups, and pilots at United Airlines donated days off so their colleague Lyle could spend time with his son.

On Zach's last evening at home, he overcame a coughing fit with a stiff dose of pain meds. Freshly articulate and with a little surge in energy, he left his parents laughing as he instructed them meticulously on how to properly arrange his sheets and blankets so he could rest more comfortably.

They laid down for bed, one parent on each side of Zach. They said their goodnights like the Waltons on TV. Zach slipped into unconsciousness and passed away in his sleep.

"He had a bunch of life and energy, and he wanted to give us one last burst of it," said his father of that Friday evening. "That was his last gift to us."

In addition to his father and mother, Lois, Zach is survived by his brother, Lyle. Services were held Friday.

The family prefers that donations be made to cancer doctors and researchers at Children's. The address: Children's Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders c/o Marylou Houston, Children's Hospital Foundation, 1245 E. Colfax Ave., Suite 400, Denver, CO 80218.

We offer our heartfelt love and condolences to Lyle, Lois, and Lyle IV.

Monk & KANH

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Aerial Anal Aroma -- or -- Pooting on a Plane

Instapundit released this:

NO IMAMS WERE INVOLVED: Farts spark emergency landing:

The flight from Washington to Texas landed at Nashville airport, in the southeastern state of Tennessee, after passengers alerted the crew to the smell of burning sulphur.

Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for Nashville International Airport Authority said all 99 passengers and their luggage were taken off the plane and searched.

An unlucky canine team was also brought in to sniff the aircraft for explosives.

After intense questioning by the FBI, a woman passenger admitted to lighting matches on board the aircraft to conceal her gas, Ms Lowrance said.

“For a long time she did not admit to striking matches and I think that was just out of embarrassment,” she said.

“She did finally admit to it saying she had a medical problem about excessive gas.”

Glad I wasn't on that flight.

Umm ... yeah. Good thing she didn't light the .... oh, never mind!


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Thursday, December 07, 2006


Fred Barnes, in last week's Weekly Standard, has some excellent suggestions for how President Bush can avoid being just a lame duck and a poltical nonentity. Now that his accountability is shot to hell anyway, he might as well:

a) Fire the Generals. Lincoln did it until he found some that would fight. Most today are more worried about politics and procurement than about winning. We don't need more F-22s or Strykers, we need effective counterinsurgency and the ability to take military action against Iran and Syria.

b) Keep John Bolton as UN ambassador. Assign him to the State Dept and then detail him to the UN, where he could act as the Black Prince -- the power behind the throne. Let the latte-lovers, panty-wastes, and mewling barbarians at the UN screech. It will be music to my ears, at least.

c) Stop earmarks. Veto every bill that comes down the pike with even a hint of pork. Take a muslim stance toward it. The government would come to a screeching halt for a time, but the people are always safer with less government in their lives.

d) Give recess appointments to all his Congrssionally-verboten judicial nominees. Put that in your hashpipe and smoke it, Kos.

e) Talk up the military options with Iran and Syria. Hell, why not? Both the Iranian nuclear program and and the Syrian kleptocrats could be removed with airpower and the Air Force is not particularly busy at the moment. This would accomplish to things: a) possibly reduce Iranian "truculence" (read: farting in our general direction) and b) make the world press scream. Again: music.

f) Declare to Korea that any nuclear event from it against the US or any allied power would be dealt with as a direct nuclear attack on the US and would be dealt with accordingly. The Kennedy option. North Koreans in the countryside would never know Pyongyang had been nuked. They'd still be starving or in extermination camps, and Kim Mentally Il would be a shadow on the pavement.

g) Push radically for energy independence. This should get bipartisan support -- All except for drilling off the southern California coast, which would ruin the view for all the decadent social insect Hollywood types in their Malibu mansions and might even provoke Rosie O'Donnel to start an earthquake.

h) leave "a final gift to the world," as Barnes puts it: actually carry out aerial destruction of Iran's nuclear infrastructure. More about it I cannot say, except that it is most definitely "do-able." Again the world press would go absolutely apeshit, heads would explode in the Boston Globe's press room and in Hollywood, Rosie would jump up and down (look out, those along the San Andreas), and the world would "hate us."

So? The world, except for a very few die-hards in England and Australia, hates us anyway. Who cares? More to the point, they would fear us a great deal more. Now, they and the muslim enemy regard us as a boneless chicken. Why not prove them wrong? And as for the complaining, again: Miles and Thelonius playing a duet to my hearing. Unlike Barnes, however, I think his penultimate act before leaving office should be another gift:

i) Take all the cockroaches in Gitmo, shoot them, and throw their bodies over the fence into Cuba. It'd save a lot in lawyer bills. Might even put a few radical trial lawyers out of business. All good.

Of course, Bush will do none of these things. He wants history to "like him." Unfortunately for him, history will like him only if he changes things and wins.

Won't happen...


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stress and the Next Two Years in Iraq

Sorry for recent lack of blogging -- crazy busy at work and I'm finally doing some serious research again. This time, its in the applicability of animal stress response to collective groups of animals. Stress response in everything from cephalopods to humans is well understood, and pretty well described in layman's terms in the works of Selye, Sapolsky, Hobfoll, and others. But do groups of animals (packs, units, scieties, etc) experience stress by an analogous process?

What we lack is scientific evidence that the responses to stress animals experience applies to societies of animals, particularly those of humans. Intuition and anecdotal evidence suggest that it does, but hard evidence of this is very new and incomplete. If it's true, it has profound implications for how we take down and build up complex systems like armies and societies (can you say Iraq? I knew you could...) SLA Marshall's Men Against Fire and John Warden's work provide some justification, but I seem to be barking up the wrong tree scientifically.

In any event, the President is getting a lot of advice concerning his next moves in Iraq. The Baker Commission seems poised to produce a somewhat more moderate timetable for defeat than the Democratic Party in Congress does and has even hired a PR firm to help sell thier ideas, but the result will be the same: "honorable" defeat, a la Vietnam. The left wants another Vietnam-like ending to, a) demonstrate its power; b) to prove to old heads that the current koskid crowd is as committed to leftist ideals as their parents, the Baby Boomers, were; c) to weaken the efficacy of the military as an instrument of national power; d) to enhance the efficacy of internationalist bodies like the UN; and e) stick it to Shrubbychimpler the antiChrist. Plus it gives them another chance to spit on our soldiers, which they are ecstatically love to do.

Among the right and even among moderate Democrats of my acquaitance, a consensus seems to be growing that we are not doing enough, not that we're doing too much and need to pull out. This may signify the beginning of the Jacksonian "America gets pissed off and kills everything in sight" phenomenon that I spoke of in previous posts. Good. Better that it happen here, in a more controlled environment, than in the War the Is to Come. If we can get the President to listen to the people, we may have a chance of preventing that larger, much uglier, war. If we withdraw from Iraq, everyone in the world (except perhaps the political and chattering classes in the US) will know its a defeat and will know that we don't have the will as a nation to stop radical islam in its quest for lebensraum and religious "purification" of the globe.

Besides the timetable for defeat, the Baker report offers nothing new and basically recapitulates what we're alreay doing over there. "Give the Iraqi army and security services more responsibility for patrolling and securing parts of Iraq." What the hell do they think we're doing now?

I agree with those who have sutdied successful counterinsurgencies (the Brits have the most experience, but we have a decent record in the Philippines and Japan). You don't win by just killing insurgents (although you must do a bit of that too). Rather, you place troublesome portions of the population in internment (caoncentration, but not extermination) camps, fortify friendly villages against insurgent attack, and directly involve not just the indigenous army, but local villagers in helping provide their own security. The people are the center of gravity and you can't catch and kill all the enemy in situations like this. Rather, you must go after the center of gravity directly and punish the recalcitrant (internment camps have a way of greatly reducing active insurgency too) and reward those who "play ball" with us. Then you use your army to provide security from external threats (like sealing the border with Syria and bombing Iranian nculear facilities to demonstrate zero tolerance and hopefully frighten them away from some of the active subversion they've been guilty of.

As a last resort, divide Iraq into three separate nations, guarantee their sovereignty and border integrity, and permanently occupy the center sunni section to use as a "base of fire" against other nations in the Middle East. Intern troublesome parts of the of sunni population and level those parts that refuse internment (civilians and all). Demonstrate our committment in absolute, unequivocal terms. Many civilians died during the battle for Fallujah. Many more might have died if we had done what we should have: made a loud announcement that Fallujah had 48 hours to evacuate, after which it would have been completly flattened. Soldiers and marines should have held out at the berm (they built around the city) and shot everyone who tried to escape -- women and children included. Many "innocents" would have been killed, but the entire world would have rocked back on its collective heels and said, "f&*k, they mean business! I guess we shouldn't piss off the US too badly." Then and only then should we have instituted concerted counterinsurgency programs (what the Russians failed to do after flattening Grozhny). This should have been a single act, with the implication that worse would follow. Fear is a much more effective instrument of coercion than constant (and adaptable) pressure.

International "law" you say? War crimes, you say? F*^k international law. Only Euroweenies, fern-loving Bluestaters, and a couple of panty-wetters on the Supreme Court care about international law. Our enemies do not and will never extend its provisions to us; why should we extend it to them?

The 75,000 or so soldiers, marines, and airmen this program would require should be added back into the mkitary through new recruitment, perhaps of as many as 100,000 (rather than, for example, cutting the Air Force by 40,000 in order to "recapitalize" with the damned F-22). Those who advocate a draft are leftist extremists who realize perfectly well that, a) the modern military would have no use for 2-3 year amateur soldiers and, b) a draftee military would make it much more difficult to fight and to get into fights (due to inevitable civilian-attitude griping and Congressman-calling). This is one of the aims of the Charlie Rangels in Congress, who want nothing short of crippling our military's ability to perform anything but CONUS home defense.

So...that's where I stand. I have a pile of Christian carnivals to post, but am not in the mood right now, as perhaps you can tell.


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