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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not Up to Much

While I've been trying to figure a way to streamline my study process while retaining my grades, thus freeing up some time for other activities during those terms (like this one) that I'm taking two excelerated classes, I haven't been doing much else. Which is why I haven't thought of anything worth posting on, at least nothing that's not homework related.

However, I do occasionally need some down-time, and video games fill that need. It's got to be simple and easy to leave (which doesn't include the compulsive factor), so I can get in and out between assignments/tasks/annoying paragraphs. After besting my own time a dozen or so times on Minesweeper, I decided to try the site my kids are loving.

And I found this...

***Sorry, the annoying game is gone. There is a link below. As to the why, I recommend this site for a clue.***

A bigger (accurately sized) version is available here. There's lots more games there, and they're all free. Maybe they decided to fill the spot Yahoo! charged itself out of. :-p

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Psst. There's a WAR Going on...

A bi-partisan study group recommends we talk to Iran and Syria -- make them our friends, garner their cooperation. And yet, we find our own already-established allegiances questionable and unsure in this unstable region.

Is Pakistan our friend?

Perhaps this is a major victory for our soldiers in Afghanistan. Perhaps some real enemies have been stopped, eliminated, before they could wreak more havoc. But, as the tenuous situation unfolds, I have to ask: Can we trust the Pakistani government? Or, are they harboring the Taliban?

All governments are made of individuals. If the Pakistani government is harboring the Taliban, I suspect it is a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing...or however that cliche goes. I doubt the entire Pakistani government is intentionally deceiving both us and the Afghani government. And yet... I find it hard to believe that the entire government is innocent here, either.

I'll put it to you this way. Our government doesn't necessary work cooperatively with the drug lords on our southern border, but they do give them a bit of a thumbs up when they tell our troops they cannot fire on invaders in our own backyard. Our government is responsible for the militant infiltrators, whether they work cooperatively with them or not. In this same sense, the Pakistani government is responsible for the Taliban infiltrators, whether they work cooperatively with them or not.

With that parallel in mind, I would say that Karzai's frustration and accusations are completely understandable. I'm none too happy with our own government's near-cooperative lack-of-effort; having your neighbor and supposed friend making empty promises when you're in the middle of an acknowledged war has got to be all that and more.

More disturbing still is the lack of national attention this is getting. Mostly, I just skim head-lines. As frequent readers know, I'm neither a newshound, nor someone with an excess of time on my hands. So, I find it incredibly frustrating that I have to search around and hunt for news about an on-going war we're in. I mean, really...that's just idiotic. (Maybe one of these days I'll have to figure out that whole RS thing...or whatever it is...the news line services.)

So, while Rice and Gates are supporting the President in his futile bid to build up to nothing in Iraq, we have a major battle in Afghanistan that's apparently too unimportant for their time. So, I've got to ask...shouldn't supporting the troops, which our President claims to do, mean supporting the troops in both wars?

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Political gas?

Probably. But still, Bush actually apologized!!! No, wait. That's an exaggeration. He took responsibility, that's it. I'm thinking, "DUH!!!"

"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me," Bush said.

Yeah, well, we knew that. Thank you, so much, for the clarification. *rolls eyes*

He said that "to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi
government, tear that country apart and result in mass killings on an
unimaginable scale."

Yeah, and I agree with that. However, I wonder if he realizes that many people don't care any more. Now, that doesn't say much for American empathy/apathy...but, again, we pretty much knew that.

The only encouraging thing about all this...

But he offered a concession to Congress — the establishment of a bipartisan working group to formalize regular consultations on Iraq. He said he was open to future exchanges and better ideas.

Now, does he mean it? Will it work? I don't know. And, I doubt it. Frankly, I don't trust the new Congress any more than I trust the old Congress, or the President for that matter. Their all smarmy, schmucky, and corrupted by their own affluence-at-the-expense-of-our-nation thinking.

Mostly, it's just politics as usual. Bored now.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Classes Starting

Though the official start date for my classes this term isn't until tomorrow, I've already started working on my assignments. Ah, the luxury of on-line learning!

What I've discovered is that, while I may be more motivated to learn the material in my business class, the work-load there is significantly lighter than for my psychology class. The good news, however, is that the material for my current psychology is almost completely different from the material I studied in my previous college psychology class (back when I was in high school). I'm glad I won't be bored.

Still, I wish the business class was the 4 credit class and psychology was the 3 credit class, but I don't control that, obviously. Still, it's not that I'm not interested in psychology (okay, so Freud and Jung make me want to pull out my hair, but really...psychology is way more than them), it's just that business is my major and I'm a little tired of all the general education classes that keep repeating the same material over and over again -- here's how you study, here's how you think critically, here's how you research... On and on it goes. I've "learned" critical thinking three times, already, with a fourth on the way, just in this degree program, and I haven't even taken my Critical Thinking class yet. Granted, critical thinking is important; I know and respect that. But, is all this repetition really necessary?

Anyway, I'm actually learning aspects of psychology that I didn't know...like that Maslow was a humanist, and that it wasn't (from the way the textbook describes it) intended to be an alternative to religion/spirituality. Interesting stuff. But, even though school has started, I haven't forgotten my resolutions, and blogging is on there. And that's somewhere between Love/Belonging and Self-Actualization.

Void Sticker

Monday, January 08, 2007

***Exclusive*** Guard the Borders Blogburst

By Heidi Thiess at Euphoric Reality

The incursion into U.S. territory last week by “Mexican gunmen” was not a chance confrontation between the Arizona National Guard and untrained illegal immigrants, but a deliberate “perimeter probe” by an infantry-trained, uniformed Mexican force, officials say.

Euphoric Reality has learned in exclusive interviews with high-ranking sources within both the Arizona National Guard and the U.S. Border Patrol that the incident the mainstream media calls a “standoff” was in reality a military-style operation, carried out by a unit of Mexican troops dressed in military uniforms, flak jackets, and armed with AK-47s in an apparent operation to probe the border defenses and test the limits of the National Guard troops. Using easily recognizable infantry movement tactics (such as arm and hand signals and flanking maneuvers), the Mexican unit deliberately moved in a military formation across the border from Mexico, while under surveillance by the National Guard and Border Patrol.

As the hostile force moved north over several hours, deeper into Arizona, National Guardsmen wearing night vision goggles were able to ascertain that the approaching gunmen were indeed uniformed (including PAGST helmets) and heavily armed. When the Mexican unit came within approximately 100 yards of the EIT site, the Guardsmen repositioned themselves in order to maintain surveillance and tactical advantage. They observed the Mexican unit sweep through the EIT site, and then rapidly withdraw back into Mexico. No shots were fired by either the Mexican gunmen or the Guardsmen. Border Patrol was on the scene within minutes of the Mexican unit's withdrawal.

The Guardsmen, through an Arizona Border Patrol official, confirmed that the incident appeared to be an intelligence-gathering exercise designed to ascertain what the National Guard's response would be to certain tactics. It is not an isolated incident, and many such probes have been reported by the Guardsmen assigned to the area. Though no shots were fired during this particular incident, shots have been fired near and in the vicinity of the soldiers at the EIT site in other situations, though not at the soldiers themselves. It is not clear from the uniforms if the Mexican soldiers were official Mexican federales or mercenaries hired by the drug cartels.

Since then, follow-on news reports have included statements from the Border Patrol that no shots were fired. This was confirmed today by Major Paul Aguirre, a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the Arizona National Guard. Rumors have circulated that the Guardsmen were not armed, and thus unable to defend themselves - and that is not the case. Both Major Aguirre and Rob Daniels, a Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Arizona Border Patrol, state that all Guardsmen assigned to EITs are armed, specifically with M16s and sometimes a sidearm. As well, there have been some contradictory news reports that stated the gunmen came "within yards" of the Guardsmen, while other reports state that the gunmen were approximately 100 yards away. Mr. Daniels clarified that the gunmen came as close as 100 yards to the Guardsmen. He also stated that the Guardsmen did not "retreat" but tactically repositioned themselves to maintain surveillance of the group of armed men while simultaneously radioing for Border Patrol agents. He asserted that the Guardsmen had followed their protocols perfectly, and that their services were invaluable to the Border Patrol agents.

The Myth of Troops Bringing Law Enforcement to the Border

National Guard soldiers on the border are volunteers deployed by the federal government for Operation Jump Start. They are not mandated to perform law enforcement activities and, in fact, are prohibited from doing so under a misinterpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act while federally deployed. They are assigned to the border mission for the sole purpose of supporting the Border Patrol - mostly performing administrative, engineering, and maintenance duties that free up Border Patrol agents for border enforcement.

The ramifications of this incident hitting the public awareness are significant. There are incidents on the record of specially-trained military commandos attacking Border Patrol agents, and videos in existence of uniformed Mexicans, deep in American territory, angrily confronting Arizona Minutemen volunteers. Hundreds of armed incursions have been documented by the Border Patrol. In one year, June 2005 until June 2006, over 250 armed assaults have been reported by Border Patrol agents, and several agents have been killed.

Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, has gone on the record to dismiss reports of armed incursions by a uniformed military force as "navigational mistakes", claiming that the Mexican soldiers were "lost.” However, Chertoff offered no explanation as to why these “lost troops” fired on American agents. The Mexican government claims that uniformed military soldiers coming from Mexico are actually American soldiers disguised as Mexican soldiers. Furthermore, when confronted with the possibility that Mexican commandos called Los Zetas, trained by U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg to support the Drug War, have defected from the military and now work as mercenaries for the drug cartels, Mexican officials have worked very hard to debunk such evidence. In an official report presented to the U.S. on behalf of the Mexican Office of Inter-Intelligence Affairs, Mexico claimed that “the Zeta army, or syndicate, is no more real than the [mystical] crying lady of Puebla.”

Yet, contrary to Mexican denials, Los Zetas do exist, and the U.S. Border Patrol is very familiar with them. In a June 2006 investigative news piece by News Channel 5 in Texas, Zetas discussed their training and murderous missions. They also issued a warning:

“These two members of the Zeta army also have a warning for American law enforcement: They are here, with cells operating in Roma, Rio Grande City and Mission - and more are coming. ‘It is not a lie,’ Zeta-2 said. ‘They need to check good, because it is true.’"

Los Zetas: Guns Gone Bad

During the 1990s, U.S. Army Special Forces trained a number of Mexican federal agents and army units in special warfare tactics as part of an effort to aid the struggling Mexican government in the Drug War involving the violent drug cartels of northern Mexico. It's been said that "the training was remedial in nature, and did not exceed international peace time law of NATO forces training foreign combat forces in tactical warfare." Lest we worry about the operational proficiency of such mercenaries, Wikipedia has this un-attributed entry:

“The training lasted a mere three months in the sweltering North Carolina heat. In total, 300 Mexican agents and army officers participated in the summer long exercise. Years later, unsealed documents revealed that the training proved to be no more than an extended boot camp. "It was more a media and propaganda effort then it was for actual tactical training that could be used in combat," one of the US Special Forces Officers that participated in the effort stated. "They brought them [sic] boys here, and most of them could fire a gun already, so we just showed them a lot of video of Special Forces training from the early 70's. We were not about to teach or display tactics that make Special Forces what they are. That's why when I read that these boys that are 'Zetas' were Special Forces trained, I almost wet myself with laughter.’”

What the Zetas may lack in professional specialized training, they make up for in ruthless and savage violence. Last year, Times Magazine exposed much of the brutality in an article called Brutal New Drug Gangs Are Terrorizing The U.S.-Mexico Border, and added further information about the identity of Los Zetas.

"According to Mexican officials, Lazcano was a clean-cut Mexican army recruit from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz when he was picked a decade ago to be part of the highly trained Airborne Special Forces Group. The unit was sent to the eastern border to battle drug trafficking. But in the late 1990s, Lazcano and more than 30 other members of the special forces began working for drug lord Osiel Cardenas, head of the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel, which at the time controlled almost one-third of the Mexican drug trade."

Official Mexican propaganda notwithstanding, it can be safely assumed that the Zetas are a paramilitary force that has made regular incursions over our border in sometimes heavily-armed assaults. Whether they are actual Mexican federales or uniformed mercenaries in the employ of the drug cartels remains to be seen. Perhaps a small clue to the uniforms is found in last year's News Channel Five investigative report:

“‘The municipal police, the state police, the ministerial police, the police of the state,’ Zeta-1 said. ‘The soldiers and the federal preventive police. The military on the border. They are bought by the Zetas.’ The Zeta's tools even include uniforms given by the police themselves.”

Regardless of who the uniformed soldiers are, or who commands them, what is paramount is that our southern border security is breached by foreign troops on an increasingly aggressive basis. While our National Guard troops are effectively hamstrung by political restrictions, foreign military soldiers press the advantage. Border Patrol agents have already given their lives in a heroic effort to guard our border, and it is only a matter of time before we lose American soldiers. Is that what it will take for our government to finally take the matter of border security seriously? This is no longer a matter of local civilian law enforcement; it is a matter of national security. For politicians, no matter their affiliation, to play partisan games with our national safety and security, is a betrayal of their constituents' trust, and the constitutional duties of their office.

Kit Jarrell also contributed to this report.


This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we're going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to admin at guardtheborders dot com.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Nesting Instinct

With all three of my pregnancies I got rather sick. Morning sickness remained throughout my pregnancies and sapped me of my strength. When I was pregnant with my oldest, Willy, it was the worse. For several months we couldn't understand why I tended to feel somewhat better outside our apartment, and worse in our living room. During the visit of a friend of ours, it clicked in Mark's mind that there must be something in the living room that was aggrivating my condition.

My mother-in-law gave us a couch...but not just any couch. This couch had been in Mark's sister's basement and, as far as this sister knew, the couch was being thrown away...unbeknownest to her, or us, it was being "thrown away" into our living room. Mark was in a manic phase, and had a male companion to help, so when they investigated the couch and found a strange, pink mold...they tore it apart piece by piece and threw it out the window into the alley. They did transport it to the dump after that, but initially they threw it out the window. Slowly, I recovered from the drain and was able to "nest" our apartment in preparations for our arriving child.

With each child, despite the weakness brought about by severe morning sickness (that wasn't all because of the couch), I would "nest." For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's like spring cleaning...and then some.

No, I'm not dwelling on this because I'm pregnant. I'm dwelling on this because birth is not the only form of creation in which I partake. As those who've read my resolutions for this year are aware, I'm committing (or re-committing) myself to some major creative projects which are going to be long-term and are going to require a lot of thought, energy and devotion. And it just occurred to me...I go through that same "nesting" process prior to such projects.

At first, I thought of it as productive procrastination. Besides, the house needed to be clean anyway and it's much easier to work on said projects with my desk and writing table unearthed from the rubble of the paper volcanoes that go off every December. But, as I'm exhausted and rather loopy from lack of sleep (because I didn't take HistoryMike's advice!) my mind started dwelling on previous endeavors. My successes, my failures, and my processes...and my procrastination, which truly is a problem for me. However, I also realized that before I truly committed myself to a consuming creative project, I would always clean first. Kind of like wiping the slate before beginning anew.

Perhaps it's just the sleep-debt, but then again...my post-clean writing sessions tend to be rather productive, with a high degree of committment. Could I have stumbled upon some sort of insight into how my mind/body ticks? Then again, maybe I should just go to bed.

Please excuse any gross violations of the English language that may or may not be present here. I'm serious about the sleep-debt...I owe myself big time!

Void Sticker

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Well, I've been tagged by Reverse_Vampyr, and so here they are:

5 Things You Don't Know About Me

  1. I've tried to read Moby Dick three (maybe 4) times, and have never gotten past page 50; and yet, I can usually read a 1000+ page fantasy epic in three days despite my other obligations.
  2. I'm one of those annoying people who talk during the movie (albeit quietly)...and, when I'm at home, I get near-hysterically involved in the story. After nearly nine years of marriage, my husband has finally stopped asking, "Are you okay?"
  3. If I were offered the chance to trade my current existence for the butt-kicking life-style of a Buffy/Sydney type bad-guy-beating martial artist, I would have to seriously consider it. Which I find rather disturbing...but, how cool would that be!?!
  4. I haven't weighed less than 200 lbs. since my first son was born. I'm neither comfortable nor uncomfortable with this, but perhaps surprisingly so, it's not the reason I don't like my picture taken...I just always seem to be between facial expressions when the image is actually captured and it looks very odd.
  5. The third short story I ever completed was a pornographic revenge story that involved the unanesthetized removal of certain portions of a man's genitalia, which I sent to my uncle who was in prison for revision. He told me it wasn't anatomically possible, but aside from the actual removal and subsequent force-feeding...I know the positioning works.

Now, who should I send it to?

I'll start with Small Town Girl at Lisa for President.

Then, I'll include Milemastersarah of The Nefariouspoo of Sarah.

I'd love to learn more about McEwen of Whitterer on Autism.

I'll pass it along to my husband, Mark, of Lazy Mormon.

And, we'll see if David from A Republic, if you can keep it... is willing to play along too.

Void Sticker

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 New Year's Resolutions...

I've never been good at these things. Either I make an unrealistic resolution, like write an entire novel in a year, or I make a resolution that's out of my own control. Like, get my novel published.

So, when I first came up with this year's resolution, i.e. publish two short pieces in 2007, it seemed like a bad idea. So, I came up with something that's completely within my control (barring no personal tragedies occur) and something that doesn't seem too unrealistic. It's in parts...

Part 1: Submit two short pieces (either fiction or
nonfiction) a month.

Part 2: Find and do a write-up of at least one voter education site a week for my VOID project.

Part 3: Write up a complete, workable chapter-by-chapter synopsis for my fiction novel.

Part 4: Write up a complete, workable chapter-by-chapter outline for
my nonfiction book.

Part 5: Maintain my family obligations, my 4.0 GPA, my VOID
participation, and my blog while accomplishing the above.

So, does this seem realistic, considering what Part 5 has proven to entail? Or, am I setting myself up for failure once again? Do you think I can manage my time that well? Or is there more to it than time-management and motivation?

I don't know, but I do want to try. Advice would be appreciated.