Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Review: The Kite Runner

I recently finished reading Khaled Hosseini's widely-acclaimed first novel, The Kite Runner.

Hosseini, a native of Kabul, Afghanistan whose family fled in the wake of the Soviet invasion in 1979, is a physician living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In his first novel, he delivers poignant metaphors and striking prose that borders on the artistic.

The Kite Runner is the story of a boy who longs for his father's approval -- and whose choices create consequences for all around him. The story tells of ambition, regret, loyalty and an unquenchable aspiration for redemption.

While Afghanistan is clearly the backdrop, the protagonist hails from the affluent side of Kabul -- where his father owned a business, drove a Mustang and lived in a two-story house. Don't expect to gain a deeper appreciation for the "real" Afghanistan -- a sentiment echoed by a character from Peshawar later in the book who berates the protagonist as not being anything close to mujaheddin.

But do expect an emotional roller-coaster, where even someone from a place that few Americans could find on a globe before 9/11 shares the same dreams -- and battles the same demons -- as so many of us.

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Be Prepared

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a number of online courses related to Homeland Security and Civil Preparedness. Anyone with an interest in the National Response Plan, and the soon-to-be-mandatory-for-communities National Incident Management System (NIMS), can take self-paced courses online through FEMA's Emergency Management Institute. The courses are free, short (no more than two or three hours each), and passing the online final exam gets you a certificate with "Continuing Education Units" (CEUs).

I'm spending my evenings this week at the Anderson County Emergency Operations Center for their in-residence offering of "ICS-300" (Intermediate Level Incident Command System). It might be interesting to someday pursue formal "certification" in Emergency Management through the International Association of Emergency Managers.

On the topic of community preparedness and protection of "intellectual property" and symbols, there is an interesting legal battle brewing between the American Red Cross and Johnson & Johnson over the "red cross" symbol. On August 8th, Johnson & Johnson filed a civil complaint against American Red Cross over the licensing of products bearing the Red Cross symbol to third parties. Read the respective press releases here (Red Cross) and here (J&J). Personally, why an $11B (yep, that's a "B") company cares about a couple million dollars in retail sales by a predominantly volunteer and philanthropic organization is beyond me ...

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Battle of the Cheesesteaks

During a brief jaunt to Philadelphia yesterday (for the company's annual summer party at our CEO's place), I arrived early enough to determine -- once and for all -- which cheesesteak is really the best in south Philly.

At the intersection of 9th Street and Passyunk, about two miles south of Independence Hall, two cheesesteak titans are squared off. On the south corner of the intersection, Pat's King of Steaks has stood since its humble beginnings in 1930 as a hot dog stand. On the north side is relative newcomer Geno's Steaks (founded in 1966).

While Pat's is subdued, Geno's is full of neon and glitz. I began my early lunch at Pat's, ordering a "whiz with" (cheesesteak with cheese whiz and onions). Then, in a feat of unmitigated gluttony, I crossed the three-way intersection and got the same at Geno's.

The verdict: Pat's steak was more flavorful, while the bun at Geno's was a bit softer. Also, the sides and beverages at Geno's take a slight edge (especially since Geno's features Birch Beer -- kind of like a cross between root beer and Mountain Dew Code Red).

Bottom line: You can't go wrong at either place! These are without doubt the best cheesesteaks anywhere!

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Run, Mike, Run!

My good friend Mike Vegh is running his first marathon this fall -- the ING New York City Marathon on November 4th! And I am honored to run alongside him as he crests the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens, across the East River on Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, up the East Side into The Bronx, then back down through Harlem and the full length of Central Park to the finish near Columbus Circle.

In addition to training for his first-ever marathon, he is also sponsoring a charity with Team Continuum (a service provider for cancer patients and their families, helping them endure the disruptions that cancer can bring to a family). Please visit Mike's Team Continuum web page. Read his story. And if you're so inclined, please make a donation to help his -- and Team Continuum's -- very worthy cause.


An xGW Primer (Abridged)

Since my good friends Zenpundit, tdaxp and General of the Hordes Subadei Ba'adur have offered primers on the "generational" model of different approaches to warfighting, I respectfully offer this abbreviated primer:

"Zeroth" Generation Warfare:

First Generation Warfare:

Second Generation Warfare:

Third Generation Warfare:

Fourth Generation Warfare:

Fifth Generation Warfare:

Too bad Mel Gibson (the architect of warfighting archetypes) wasn't in the ultimate 5GW movie:

Class dismissed...

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Nuclear Warfare

Today marks the 62nd anniversary of the nuclear strike on Hiroshima (広島市). At 8:12 AM local time, on Monday, August 6th, 1945, the B-29 Superfortress "ENOLA GAY" dropped the "Little Boy" bomb on this city in western Honshu. The 12-kiloton above-ground detonation resulted in more than 70,000 direct deaths and completely destroyed more than 2/3s of the buildings.

Coupled with the "Fat Man" bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki three days later by "BOCK'S CAR",
these attacks prompted Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) to accept the Potsdam Declaration and offer Japan's unconditional surrender. Since President Truman had approved Operation DOWNFALL (the Allied plan for invading the Japanese homeland) two weeks earlier, the success of the Manhattan Project spared potentially millions of lives. My grandparents (both Marines in the Pacific Theater during World War II) could have been among them...

The Uranium-235 in the "Little Boy" bomb was purified and refined in my adopted hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the Y-12 Nuclear Plant in Bear Creek Valley. Y-12 was one of three sites aboard the 60,000 acre Manhattan Project reservation in Oak Ridge, using Calutrons (large magnets) desiged at Berkeley to extract Uranium-235 from natural ore.

Today, ENOLA GAY hangs in the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum near Dulles Airport in northern Virginia. The Y-12 site at Oak Ridge dismantles more weapons than it creates. And the motto of the City of Oak Ridge is "Born of War, Living for Peace".

R & R

Our final trip of the summer took us back to the Commonwealth of Virginia, where daughter Shelby participated in a dance camp at her old ballet studio. During our return to Tennessee, we paid a brief visit to one of our favorite wineries (and a regular at Norfolk, Virginia's annual "Towne Pointe Wine Festival" each October): Valhalla Vineyards.

The mountaintop location, the tasting room that looked more akin to a Nordic dining hall, and the local construction company called "Thor" all added to our venture into Norse mythology. Even more pleasant was the absence of Washington County sheriff deputies on Interstate-81 with radar guns...


[Moblog entry]

Off line until Sunday (05.Aug.2007)...


The more things change ...

... the more they stay the same.

I'm in Virginia for my old command's "Industry Symposium", and it's amazing how little has changed since my departure last year.

Gen Lance Smith, USAF, Commander of USJFCOM (as well as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation) noted USJFCOM is "the only interagency combatant command." At least until Africa Command is formally stood up in the coming months.

Even though the complexity of USJFCOM's "social network" is growing exponentially (the biggest change was the inclusion of more collaboration partners in their dialogue regarding force providing, training, integrating and transformation), only now are they looking for tools to help them manage such a complex mesh.

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