Reports from the frontline in Iraq, the classroom and Japan. And I need your advice about visiting New York (see bottom).
1. HAMBURGER HELPER. This is from the Conservative Lie blog by veteran Dave Jeffries. Whether you agree with his politics or not, this poignant memory from his time in Iraq is worth reading. It gets gruesome if you click on the link – which is also where you’ll find his thoughts on combatants’ motivations. Here are the opening lines:
Sometimes there are scenes from my time in Iraq that won’t quit looping through my mind. So, I thought that maybe writing about it might be cathartic and help me put paid to it for a while. I suppose, in a way, this is political, but I really don’t care.
While in Ar Ramadi, we had a network of computers that had limited internet access, but a great intranet system that allowed us to communicate with each other very well. One day, as I was perusing the list of messages, I came across one labeled “Hamburger Helper”. There were a few jokers in the Regiment, so I opened it up anticipating something that would make me laugh. Instead Continue reading
Once you get away from the explosions and help! Help! Radiation! Head for the hills… All this nuclear meltdown China Syndrome in Japan business gets a bit complicated. Too many millisieverts, half lives, critical masses and atomic bomb memories. Should we all be panicking? Or not?
Without wanting to be too complacent – and sitting far from Japan – I think, on balance, not.
Here are two options for you to make sense of it all.
1. Read this book. Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller. (Or he’s here on wikipedia.)
Or check out his University of California at Berkeley lectures on YouTube.
2. Or – watch the children’s version of events, using farting and poo. Continue reading
It was nearly the end of the night in my local. Two young women worked their way to the bar in time to get a drink before time was called. They were also in time to enter the landlord’s question.
One question. Free to enter. If there’s a single winner, he or she wins the prize money. If more than one person gets it right, it goes to a second question.
So I encouraged them to have a go – two scraps of paper, a pen, go on, have a guess.
The landlord’s question was this: In the last election Saddam Hussein contested in Iraq, what percentage of the vote did he get?
What? (they said) How are we supposed to know that?
It doesn’t matter. (said I) It’s free. You could win some money. Just have a guess. Write anything.
Oh come on! (they said) Give us a clue. Did he win?
That question took me by surprise. Has Saddam Hussein become such ancient history that young people of voting age in one of the countries that overthrew Saddam, and whose troops have just recently pulled back from Iraq, that their grasp of events is so slight?
Then again, I’m sure there are vast gaps in my own knowledge. And to be fair to the young women in my local, nobody in the pub got the right answer.
I’ll leave you dangling in suspense for the answer. C’mon – it’s just a number.