Archive for April, 2009


April 14, 2009

The blogging process has been a truly unique experience.  I have never considered blogging before class but now that I have started I realize what it is all about.  In my opinion blogging is about getting the story from the horse’s mouth.  Real contact with people, real connections, and real stories.

            Although I can’t say that I love blogging or that I will continue for the rest of my days I can say with the utmost certainty that I will blog again. It may not be about war but I will do it again.  I would imagine that I would proffer cheese sandwich blogs opposed to war blogs.

            Another thing that has blown my mind through this process is the RSS application.  I had no idea prior to this class that such and amazing information generator existed.  The RSS reader will be a staple throughout the rest of my academic career.  The possibilities are endless and its easy use will allow me to find articles that other wise would be unfindable.

            Another thing that I have grown to love about blogging is the language.  Its loose an colloquial.  It’s the language of the common man and it is relieving to be able to write in that manner.  I believe that blogs are, as the Aviator would say, the way of the future.  I think over time they will become the way stories are broke and will eventually become a multi-million dollar industry.

            Overall blogging was not my favorite thing to do, evident in my last minute posting.  However that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy looking at my page and seeing all of those posts that I worked so hard on.  If there is one solid thing I learned throughout this process is that blogging is the most personable way to write and it is the best way to convey opinions and beliefs. 



April 14, 2009

            The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been raging for decades.  After reading “A Long Way Gone” I have seen similarities between the retaliatory natures of the two conflicts.  At the heart of this post is the speech mad by Ishmael at the UN conference.

            I am from Sierra Leon, and the problem that is affecting us children is the war that forces us to run away from are homes, lose our families, and aimlessly roam the forests.  As a result, we get involved in the conflict as soldiers, carriers of loads, and in many other difficult tasks.


            This is very similar to the situation between Israel and Palestine.  A recent BBC article highlights a Palestinian who was shot dead for trying to run over officers guarding the destruction of a home.  The home was being destroyed because it is a policy of Israel to destroy the home of people that attack Israel.  The Palestinians and the Israelis are losing there homes and there families and in Palestine they are force to roam aimlessly once those things are gone.  Those circumstances eventually lead youth to joining the conflict. 

            Ishmael speaks to the cycle of violence at the end of his speech at the UN


            What I have learned from my experience is that revenge is not good.  I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…


            The cycle of violence that Ishmael experienced is very similar to the cycle that is currently going on in the Israel/ Palestine conflict.  Recently Israel killed some 1,200 civilians depending on who is reporting the information and based on the history of this conflict this will only bring about Palestinian responces and the Israeli ones.  It is hard to understand that a 15 year old boy can grasp this concept after a little more then 3 years of civil war and two countries haven’t learn this in a half century.  I understand that the issues go deeper into religious claims to property but both sides would be well served to read “A Long Way Gone.”

BBC article

Spin and Monkeys

April 14, 2009

            “Spin” the story from The Things They Carried reminds me of a war blog called “Holly Crap!! A Monkey.”  In Spin O’Brien talk about how


            “war wasn’t all terror and violence.”


In “Spin” the soldiers play checkers to pass the time, give one legged kids chocolate, send envelopes full of lice to the draft board, take drugs, teaching locals the rain dance, run off with red cross nurses, and blowing up puppies.  All of which are events in war that are happy memories in an unhappy time.  In the Afghanistan war soldiers play with monkeys.

            In this blog the solider is radioed that the guards have a monkey so he grabs his camera and goes to investigate.  Upon arrival he sees a small monkey on a 10 foot chain.  The monkey is in his words “a puppy on steroids.”  It unvelcro’s everything on his jacket, bites his hands and runs around like a mad man.  He takes note of the monkey’s hands and how it has little finger prints.

            Stories about ordinary life continuing in extraordinary circumstances have been a theme throughout all are reading.  Regardless of where soldiers are they always find some semblance of home, some small eccentricity to quell their nerves and there boredom. 

            In this blog and in the Story the youthful soldiers make due with the surrounding and find ways to entertain themselves.  I find this remarkable because I do not know if I could approach day to day life in a war zone the way that most soldiers seem to.  I do not know if this is a coping mechanism or just a result of the resiliency of the dynamic human sprit but whatever the cause is it is amazing.  The thought of playing with a monkey or playing checkers when the possibility of death looms around every corner is something special.  However these are just boys and maybe that is the cause of this “Spin.”  In regards to the monkey I believe it is still in good health.  I just hope they don’t blow it up like the puppy in “Spin.”  


            Holy Crap its A Monkey

Nazi in Ohio

April 14, 2009

The USA Today reported that an alleged Nazi death camp guard, John Demjanjuk, is being deported to Germany to face charges as an accessory to some 29,000 deaths. These crimes happened at the Sobibor camp in Nazi controlled Poland in 1943.
Demjanjuk immigrated to the US after the war and attained citizenship in 1958 and it was revoked in 1981. Then he was charged with war crime and extradited to Israel in 1986 and found guilty of crimes against humanity. Upon appeal he was released and allowed to return to the US in 1998 when his citizenship was restored. Then in 2002 his citizenship was revoked again by the state department once again claiming that he was involved with Nazi death camps. Now he is appealing an immigration appeals board ruling that allows Demjanjuk to be deported to face his crimes.
This story is amazing because it provides some semblance of justice to all of those withering faces that we have seen in the holocaust videos and the books we have read. All of the survivors who were treated so horrendously can have a little payback.

“We knew the stories—that they will gas us/ and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944… We knew everything. And here we were.”

Now Mr. Demjanjuk or “Ivan the Terrible” as he was called can finally
understand those powerful words from Maus. He has undoubtedly heard the stories of what happens to Nazi who are convicted of war crimes. This is 2009 and he will soon be there, back in Germany and will be forced to answer for his crime.
This story reminds me of the circular nature of the writings we have read, this all started in the 1940 and finally the story has come full circle and the guard will soon become the captor and the German people will once again play the role of judge, jury, and executioner.

Nazi story

Bad to Worse and Worse to Bad

April 14, 2009

            The pod cast “Alive in Baghdad” recently ran a story on the hospitals of Iraq and the problems they are facing.  This story immediately reminded me of Oliver Stone’s classic Born on The Fourth of July.  The similarities are frightening.  The only difference is that these hospitals are not just for members of the military, like in the movie; these are Iraq’s general hospitals for the entirety of its population. 

            The difference between the two is that through-out the movie the conditions are worsening in the Hospital.  Initially when Tom Cruzes character gets injured he I taken care of relatively well.  He gets regular physical therapy, and has his diagnosis given to him by a seemingly legitimate doctor.  However by the time Cruz’s character breaks his leg it’s a different story.  I remember him yelling “I need a bath” and “I shit my pants!”  The situation deterioration increases rapidly once the new doctor is introduced.  Cruz’s characters pump that is attached to his leg breaks and he is told that without the pump he will loose his leg, so the doctor as ridiculous as it is, goes down to the basement to look for something to use instead.  

            In Iraq the hospitals are similar in terms of capabilities and overall service; however the situation is going from worse to bad instead of bad to worse.  This is a subtle difference but a major one. 

            In the pod cast the first thing I was struck by is how alike the rooms look.  The beds look akin to the ones in the movie and so do the rooms.   The only major difference was brighter lights and the absence of an anti-Vietnam staff.  The reasons behind the struggling hospitals in Iraq are obvious, bombing, looting, and theft just to name a few.  This is the opposite of the reasons behind the deteriorating hospitals in the movie which were lack of funding because we were too busy bombing other countries. 

            There are other factors that affected Iraq’s health care system.  One being the mass exodus of doctors and surgeons as the violence became too great.  Other problems like mass damage to hospitals as a result of ill advised bombing and sectarian violence.  Even to this day hospitals remain a target.  An unforeseen factor is water, or to be more specific the lack there of.  The absence of clear water readily available to the population and the health care industry presents a serious and two-fold problem.  This problem is quickly developing into a cholera epidemic.

            The hope for Iraq is a resurgence of intellectuals that left with the “brain drain” that proceeded the fall.  With enough doctors the Iraqi’s are determined to restore the “spine of the Iraq government.

            Alive in Baghdad