Sunday, August 19, 2007

Q: What is the 6th Commandment?

A: Thou shalt not murder.

This weekend I watched a documentary DVD, The Ground Truth. The DVD is a collection of interviews with former soldiers, sailors and marines who were active recently in Iraq. Here is what I learned from watching the DVD.
  1. Killing another human being is hard thing for a person to do.
  2. One of the goals of Basic Training is to overcome the human safeguard not to kill.
  3. Basic Training is so good at overcoming the safeguard not to kill that by the time an enlisted man or woman gets to Iraq, he or she wants to kill. Sort of like the dynamic of practicing the piano a lot. By concert time, you want to play; you really, really, really want to play.
  4. The current opposing combatants in Iraq are not uniformed soldiers, but civilians with guns.
  5. There are a lot of guns in Iraq.
  6. Iraq is one big combat zone in which soldiers, sailors and marines live on the edge, considering any and every Iraqi that they encounter to be life threatening.
  7. Our military is killing a lot of civilians. Some are combatants. Many are not. This number includes a lot of women and children.
  8. Most times killing civilians is a response to a perceived threat. Incidents of recreational killing, killing for fun, have been reported.
  9. Many American soldiers, sailors and marines are coming back from Iraq physically and emotionally broken. Body armor technology has improved dramatically. Wounds that would have been fatal in the Viet Nam era now result in the loss of a hand, arm, leg or eye. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is rampant.
  10. Suicide among in country and returning military personnel as well as Iraq era veterans is on the rise.
If you were to ask me how the DVD ended I could not tell you. I could not watch it to the end. I was too overwhelmed by the tragedy and immorality of it all. I went to sleep feeling powerless, criminal and deeply ashamed of American foreign policy and military tactics.

But, more troubling is that the stupidity of our foreign policy is practically guaranteeing future violence on American soil. These people are not stupid or docile. They too are People of The Book. They know all about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Imagine what the people who live in Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Palestine think after watching footage on Al Jazeera or YouTube of American troops killing civilians. Imagine watching the footage every night. Just as America wants revenge for 9/11, they will want revenge for Iraq. Don't doubt it for a moment.

Our government has done a horrible, horrible thing in Iraq and a horrible, horrible thing to the American men and women in uniform. Our military volunteers were sold a bill of goods that advertised an opportunity for experience, service and a few bucks for college. In return they were delivered a baited and switched package that brainwashed the sons and daughters of America into that which they most despised--invading killers.

And in turn, our nation is now viewed as that which we most despise.

I am beginning to lose sleep. I hope that our leadership is too.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Q: What’s the fast lane on the road to divorce?

A: Office 2007

It’s back to college time for my youngest daughter; so it's time to do the Laptop Shuffle. The Laptop Shuffle is a simple dance. I buy a new laptop for my wife and give my wife’s laptop to my college bound daughter so that she can IM, FaceBook, LiveJournal, email and maybe write a paper or two.

So I bought my wife a Gateway laptop with a big ass screen with Windows Vista and Office 2007. My daughter got the Dell Latitude.

All seemed to be good. My wife liked the big ass screen and my daughter was happy to be back in the online soup with her cohorts and colleagues. (Her previous laptop, which was the product of a Laptop Shuffle with my older daughter, died an “I’ll power up for five minutes only” death.)

As I said, all seemed to be good.

One night my wife and I are sitting around on the couch. She was working on her laptop. I was working on my laptop. We both watched mindless TV. (We like to parallel play and multitask.) It's her first night on the new laptop with the big ass screen. She opens up an old Word document that I had copied over to her new machine. The next thing that I hear is, “WHAT'S THIS?”

She starts plastering me with questions:

“Where’s the File menu?”

“Where’s the Edit menu?”

“How do I save my file?”

“How do I print?”

“How do I change the footer?”

So I say the obvious, “Read the help files.” (Not a wise move on my part.)

She says, “I don’t want to read the help files, I can’t even find the help files. I want my Word back!

So I figure out how to access the help files and read them trying figure out how to make Word 2007 display in “Classic Mode” so she can have her Word back.

Turns out that there is no Classic Mode. All that's to be had is Word 2007 with it wonderful, easy to understand, easy to work, patented pending, Ribbon enhanced, Graphical User Interface. NOT!

So I end up having to learn the entire new interface to Word 20007 just so my wife can get her night’s work out.

I felt like her personal computer, and I let her know it.

(Another, not wise move on my part.)

We both went to bed angry. The next morning was not fun. We did the “let’s try to smooth things out and understand each other perceptions” talk, which is unusual because it is rare for my wife and me to have an angry word between us. (I got most of the angry words out in my first marriage. But that's another story for another time.)

All this over Office 2007.

I mean, help me understand the benefit of changing this:

to this:

With no backwards usage path?

Ya know, I’m use to having Microsoft impose its will upon my profession. I've learned to adjust. But this is the first time I’ve had to deal with the company imposing its will on my marriage.

I mean, jeepers, some boundaries really should be respected.