The Words We Say

Monday, 28 November 2005, 18:55 | Category : Life, Religion
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Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost has a Christian Critique Of Swearing that makes some interesting points, applicable to soem degree even to those outside the Christian realm. I had read of Tony Campolo’s statement before:

“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

Christians aren’t alone in reacting to the wrong stimuli, of course, but we have, as a part of the faith we proclaim, a burden to care for the needy as a part of our doctrine. There isn’t such a clear call to purify our language, although there’s enough there to tell us we shouldn’t swear like sailors. But when I hear someone say that Christians shoudl never swear, under any circumstances, I’m reminded of my college English Lit professor, who I know to have been a fine Christian lady. She said curse words were like spices in food – overuse either caused too much of a reaction or dulled the senses, but properly timed would add just the right flavor to your statement. Carter writes “A word

2 Things You Never Want To Hear In A 2-Story House

Monday, 28 November 2005, 11:03 | Category : Life
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-the sound of water gushing and splashing upstairs, and

-your daughter’s muffled voice screaming “DAD!!!!!!”

Objectives, Rules Of Engagement, And Picking Up Squirrels

Friday, 25 November 2005, 20:28 | Category : Politics
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Before you commit U.S. forces, there are certain questions you need to be able to answer. You need an objective that you can define in military terms. Our military knows how to liberate a country, destroy a navy, take down an air force; those are militarily achievable objectives.

A second requirement is to specify rules of engagement. The soldier or marine in the trenches needs ground rules — what we call “rules of engagement” — about how he is to achieve his mission. Whom does he shoot? How much force can he use, and under what circumstances?

You also need to know what constitutes victory. How would you define it? How would you know when you had achieved it? And finally, how do you get out? What’s the end game? How do you wrap it all up? And what’s the cost in terms of American lives in that involvement?

Did the Bush Administration meet these three criteria with Iraq? Certainly, we had specific military objectives, but did we have an overall objective that was definable in military terms? Does simply removing Saddam Hussein from power qualify?

As far as the second question, we did seem to have clear rules of engagement. These were apparently the rules as defined by the U.S. Central Command Combined Forces Land Component Commander in January 2003:

Appendix E: Rules of Engagement for U.S. Military Forces in Iraq:


  1. On order, enemy military and paramilitary forces are declared hostile and may be attacked subject to the following instructions:
    a) Positive identification (PID) is required prior to engagement. PID is a reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate military target. If no PID, contact your next higher commander for decision

    b) Do not engage anyone who has surrendered or is out of battle due to sickness or wounds.

    c) Do not target or strike any of the following except in self-defense to protect yourself, your unit, friendly forces, and designated persons or property under your control:

    Civilians

    Hospitals, mosques, national monuments, and any other historical and cultural sites.

    d) Do not fire into civilian populated areas or buildings unless the enemy is using them for military purposes or if necessary for your self-defense. Minimize collateral damage.

    e) Do not target enemy infrastructure (public works, commercial communication facilities, dams), Lines of Communication (roads, highways, tunnels, bridges, railways) and Economic Objects (commercial storage facilities, pipelines) unless necessary for self-defense or if ordered by your commander. If you must fire on these objects to engage a hostile force, disable and disrupt but avoid destruction of these objects, if possible.

  2. The use of force, including deadly force, is authorized to protect the following:

    Yourself, your unit, and friendly forces

    Enemy Prisoners of War

    Civilians from crimes that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, such as murder or rape

    Designated civilians and/or property, such as personnel of the Red Cross/Crescent, UN, and US/UN supported organizations

  3. Treat all civilians and their property with respect and dignity. Do not seize civilian property, including vehicles, unless you have the permission of a company level commander and you give a receipt to the property

Turkey Day Gardening

Friday, 25 November 2005, 17:30 | Category : Gardening
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I spent my morning, and early afternoon after lunch, doing some gardening. I set out 80 tulip bulbs, 45 daffodil bulbs, about 45 hyacinth bulbs, a flat of pansies, a flat+ of snapdragons, and some matthiola (stock), plus transplanted the last 10 or so chrysanthemums from pots to permanent bed locations. I’ve done this the past few years – I buy chrysanthemums in late summer or early fall to replace the summer annuals in my big pots, and once they’ve bloomed, since the ones I buy tend to be perennial here, I transplant them into permanent beds. I’m slowly building a large number of chrysanthemums around the yard this way. I am once again caught up, everything is planted (except for some Hidden Ginger (curcuma) that I got from a friend a few weeks ago), the last of the summer annuals are pulled out and either thrown away or composted, except for some salvia that’s still blooming. Not much left to do until spring, except mulching leaves. Except this morning I decided to find some big daffodil varieties to plant in a couple of areas that need some springtime color. And some azaleas I need to move now that I had to cut down a couple of trees after Katrina, throwing some azaleas I planted last year into a sunny spot. They won’t be happy in the sun.

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“The President Is Dead”

Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 14:16 | Category : History
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I was in the fourth grade at Sykes Elementary in Jackson, MS. Mrs. Hicks was my teacher. Earlier that morning, November 22, 1963, the principal, Mr. Bennett, had come into the classroom and whispered something to Mrs. Hicks. Her face went pale, and she gravely announced to the class that President Kennedy had been shot. Not long after that, Mr. Bennett returned to the classroom and once again quietly said something to Mrs. Hicks. She then announced, “The President is dead”. I can remember the entire scene like it was yesterday – the rows of desks, the chalkboards, Mrs. Hicks’ desk in the front center, a few feet in front of the chalkboards. It was probably the first time I had seen an adult with that look on their face. I don’t think we, the students, really understood. In fact, I know we didn’t. All we knew was that school was dismissed for the rest of the day, and there was no school until after the funeral. Kennedy wasn’t particularly popular in Mississippi. More than one Mississippian expressed something very near happiness that he was dead, although those sentiments, even here, were rare. The image I retain from the televised funeral was that of the riderless horse, and the relentless drum cadence – I remember it being a single drum, although that may not be correct. At some point over the next days, the shock our parents were feeling got through to us, but we had no idea that the world had changed that day, that the United States had aged in a split second. November 22, 1963.