I have decided to join my wife and thousands of others to participate in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. This will run during the month of November, and the goal is to produce a 50,000-word novel by the last day of the month. This works out to about 1,667 words a day.

Now I’ve written short stories before, and I’ve enjoyed it. I once took part in a writing group that met monthly to share stories, but it’s been a while since I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for a story. For years I’ve not done much writing, and for the past two years, I’ve been primarily limited to writing stuff here. My continuing goal for comments here is 1,000+ words.

“But Captain, since you don’t always reach your goal of two 1,000-word articles per week, why are you trying the harder NaNoWriMo work?”

Partially to participate in an activity with my wife, partially because writing is a fun and creative work, and partially because I believe that working on the novel will make me a better biweekly poster here. It has been my experience that people who are busy accomplish more than people who have lots of free time. I believe this happens because busy people are of necessity better organized, and busy people are not afraid to knuckle down and put some extra effort into a new task.

Or I may just be out of my mind. Here’s why I believe this is probably the case. To stay on track, I need to produce about 1,667 words each day. But I work full-time during the week, so all my writing needs to happen afterward. And I won’t be able to do any writing on Sunday or Tuesday since they are already too packed with activities. I don’t plan on doing any writing on Thanksgiving or the day after, or on my wife’s birthday. I’m down 12 days right there. That means I have 18 days to write 50,000 words, plus eight more commentaries here at another 1,000 words each. That’s 58,000 words, or about 3,200 words a day.

I’m either nuts or a masochist. Take your pick.

At least I have a the outline of a plot and a good setting. Unlike my wife. Heheh.

[Hey, I do too. Bite me. --TPK]

http://www.captainscomments.com/feed/

The Captain’s Comments now has an RSS feed. If you’ve never heard of RSS before, it stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” This means you can use an RSS-capable program to know when there has been an article posted here rather than clicking all the time to check up on me.

Where can I get an RSS-capable program?

Good question! There are many, but I use http://my.msn.com. You can configure this page with the RSS feeds you want. I have the weather and stock tickers, the Astronomical Picture of the Day, some news feeds, and a few of my favorite blogs – Michelle Malkin, Power Line, and House of Eratosthenes.

How do I add the Captain’s Comments to my.msn.com?

First, copy the bold green URL up at the top of this page. Then go to http://my.msn.com and sign in. Now follow these steps:

  • Click the “Add content” link in the top left of the page
  • Click the “Advanced options” link
  • Paste the blue URL above in the “Add a gadget by URL…” textbox
  • Click the Subscribe button

The Captain’s Comments will be added to the list of your feeds. Other RSS programs will have a similar way to input the URL.

Enjoy!

So, did you hear the really good news from Iraq? No, the news you heard about some car bombing in Iraq is not the good news. The media announces each bombing with an almost breathless excitement, but that’s not the good news from Iraq.

While I type this, the media is announcing that the 2,000th U.S. serviceman has died in Iraq. You might think this “grim milestone” was good news, based on the almost visible glee on the part of the liberal fringe as they eagerly anticipated this death. Cox and Forkum do a very good job of showing the strange bedfellows of the “peace at all costs” Left and the murderous thugs in Iraq.

But not only is this not good news, it’s not even true. The serviceman who topped the list as the latest death “in Iraq” actually died in Texas. Granted, he died from wounds sustained while serving in Iraq, but there’s no way you can define Staff Sgt. Alexander’s death in Killeen, Texas as having happened “in Iraq.” Major Chaz does a good job of debunking this false meme. Here are some interesting chunks, but the whole article is worth reading:

The MSM is starting to gear up (and the anti-war left has been ready for a while) to present us with the story of “the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq”.

First, being in the military is a high-risk enterprise, even when you are not in combat. Humvees roll over, helicopters crash, people commit suicide, people get hit by vehicles. People die. But in this instance, since they happened in a combat zone, they fit neatly into the meme of the leftists that “Bush Lied, People Died”. They would have you believe that all of these brave souls died as victims of imperialist government fighting in an illegal war. Bringthemhomenow.org says “So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq ….”

But only slightly more than 1500 have actually died from hostile fire. More than 400 military members have died due to non-combat causes. And not all of the almost 2000 deaths have actually happened in Iraq. If a military member dies in the AOR, on orders for OIF, his/her death is counted towards “the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq”.

As radio talk show host Jim Quinn has put it, the rightness or wrongness of a military action is not determined by the number of deaths sustained. Thousands died in one month taking Okinawa from the Japanese. Thousands died on both sides of the Civil War during the days of battle at Gettysburg. And almost three thousand civilians died on a clear September morning when the buildings fell.

While it is understandable to mourn the loss of life, the tallying of losses should happen once the job is done. Otherwise, you may run the risk of losing your nerve and pulling out before the mission is finished. If you consider what happened the last time the U.S. pulled out of a major engagement, the result was three million deaths — specifically, the two million Vietnamese and one million Laotians who died when the Americans departed and the Communists took over their countries. Was it worth the price of three million lives to spare Americans from possible death or injury?

Though these news items have been making our enemies and Leftist peaceniks smile, this is not the good news from Iraq to which I refer. I have a screenshot from the front page of MSNBC.com cropped for size. At the top of the page was the “sad milestone” graphic to celebrate mark this day. There were also other articles linked from the front page that dealt with all the negative news coming from Iraq. But if you look at the very bottom of the graphic, you can see the announcement of the good news from Iraq half cut off at the bottom of my browser. I guess you can see the priority MSNBC places on the GOOD NEWS of the Iraqi people approving their constitution.

Did you catch that? The Iraqi people went to the voting booth and voted with purple fingers to determine the direction they wanted to take their country. Not all of them voted for their constitution, but they voted. While there were still some murderous thugs who resorted to violence, the vast majority — even greater than in the last Iraqi election — spoke with votes, not with bombs.

The Middle East as a whole, and liberal naysayers in particular, need to recognize the nascent democracy in an Arab and Muslim country. Those people who said that Iraqis could never accomplish this change should hang their heads in shame, but they won’t. They’ll continue to beat their single drum of gloom from Iraq.

I’ll close this with a few paragraphs from Major E. as quoted on the Power Line Blog:

During my last couple of months in theater, I interacted with various US units that have been working more and more closely with the Iraqis in order to bring about the transition of military responsibility from the coalition. Across the board, the US troops are impressed with the progress being made by their Iraqi counterparts. That progress was demonstrated under fire during successful operations in Tall Afar last month, where a majority of the troops that defeated the terrorists in that area and destroyed their operational safe havens were Iraqi.

But good news is so slow to get out, if it ever does. As I mentioned last week, I have been speaking and sharing slides with local civic and political groups here at home and, unfortunately, almost no one with whom I have spoken has even heard of Tall Afar or any of the positive developments coming from there.

On the other hand, seemingly every person knows of Fallujah and remains aware of the high casualties taken by the Marines who secured the city late last year. Yet no one seems to know that just last week, an estimated 70,000 Fallujans voted in the referendum. That is a dramatic increase over voter turnout last January, when essentially zero votes were cast because the lack of security made it too dangerous to establish polling stations.

There is good news coming from Iraq. Just don’t expect to see it on your nightly news.

I occasionally torture myself by listening to Air America Radio as I drive to and fro. If you haven’t listened to Air America — and frankly, most Americans haven’t — let me fill you in. Air America Radio is the liberal answer to the highly successful conservative radio shows hosted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly. The only real name of note on the Left’s side is Al Franken. I find it interesting to note just how often he says his show is funny. I figure if you have to identify yourself as funny, you’re probably not cutting it. And I don’t find his show funny.

I once heard Al Franken sing — yes, he sang; did I mention I torture myself? — something like this, to the tune of “Blowing in the Wind:” “How many times must DeLay be indicted, before you consider him a crook?” And the Left has made much of Rep. Tom DeLay’s indictment. But an indictment, all by itself, is much like being arrested — it means the authorities have chosen to bring you to trial. And in this country, people are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Since much has been said in the news and by liberal pundits (and that’s really the same thing) about how guilty Rep. DeLay is, let’s take a look at what is really going on here. The driving force behind these indictments is Ronnie Earl, the Travis County District Attorney in Texas. Earl has worked with three grand juries as part of his attack on Rep. DeLay. Let’s consider these grand juries.

The first grand jury looked at the charges, weighed the evidence, and decided not to indict. The second grand jury looked at the charges, weighted the evidence, and decided to indict Rep. DeLay for violating the Texas Election Code in 2002 — based on a Texas law amended in 2003 to make what was done illegal. How can you be tried for something you did before a law was written against it? Well, actually, you can’t. Doing so would make it an ex post facto or “after the fact” law, which is specifically prohibited by Constitutional law. Rep. DeLay’s lawyer has requested that this indictment be tossed out. Indicting someone for doing something that wasn’t illegal at the time is a sign of embarrassing incompetence in a lawyer. It’s like a contractor accidentally building a house upside down. The word I’m looking for to describe the second grand jury’s actions at the behest of Earl goes beyond “oops.”

So when Earl realized that he couldn’t convict Rep. DeLay with the first two juries, he scrambled to work with a third. In less than five hours, the new grand jury decided to indict Rep. DeLay on money laundering charges. Tell me, how carefully do you think the grand jury looked at the charges and weighed the evidence? After all, the first two grand juries spent months checking out the evidence, but this one could return an indictment after a few hours. *sniff* Something stinks here.

Regardless of how much this stinks, the indictments have had the immediate effect of removing Rep. DeLay from his position as the Republican Whip, the #2 man in the House. Rep. DeLay was also instrumental in turning the Texas state legislature from Democrat to Republican control for the first time in 130 years. These indictments are a punishment for that success, pure and simple.

And just in case you believe, along with Al Franken, that the Bush administration is the most criminal one in American history, let’s do a quick comparison of our current administration with the previous one:

Under the Bush administration, there have been two indictments on Rep. Tom DeLay, one of which is invalid. Rumors are flying that new indictments will be coming for the Valerie Plame / Joe Wilson scandal. Whee!

And here’s a quick breakdown of what happened under the Clinton administration, as outlined by Undernews:

STARR-RAY INVESTIGATION

- Number of Starr-Ray investigation convictions or guilty pleas (including one governor, one associate attorney general and two Clinton business partners): 14
- Number of Clinton Cabinet members who came under criminal investigation: 5
- Number of Reagan cabinet members who came under criminal investigation: 4
- Number of top officials jailed in the Teapot Dome Scandal: 3

CRIME STATS

- Number of individuals and businesses associated with the Clinton machine who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes: 47
- Number of these convictions during Clinton’s presidency: 33
- Number of indictments/misdemeanor charges: 61
- Number of congressional witnesses who have pleaded the Fifth Amendment, fled the country to avoid testifying, or (in the case of foreign witnesses) refused to be interviewed: 122

SMALTZ INVESTIGATION


- Guilty pleas and convictions obtained by Donald Smaltz in cases involving charges of bribery and fraud against former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and associated individuals and businesses: 15
- Acquitted or overturned cases (including Espy): 6
- Fines and penalties assessed: $11.5 million
- Amount Tyson Food paid in fines and court costs: $6 million

CLINTON MACHINE CRIMES FOR WHICH CONVICTIONS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED

Drug trafficking (3), racketeering, extortion, bribery (4), tax evasion, kickbacks, embezzlement (2), fraud (12), conspiracy (5), fraudulent loans, illegal gifts (1), illegal campaign contributions (5), money laundering (6), perjury, obstruction of justice.

OTHER MATTERS INVESTIGATED BY SPECIAL PROSECUTORS AND CONGRESS, OR REPORTED IN THE MEDIA

Bank and mail fraud, violations of campaign finance laws, illegal foreign campaign funding, improper exports of sensitive technology, physical violence and threats of violence, solicitation of perjury, intimidation of witnesses, bribery of witnesses, attempted intimidation of prosecutors, perjury before congressional committees, lying in statements to federal investigators and regulatory officials, flight of witnesses, obstruction of justice, bribery of cabinet members, real estate fraud, tax fraud, drug trafficking, failure to investigate drug trafficking, bribery of state officials, use of state police for personal purposes, exchange of promotions or benefits for sexual favors, using state police to provide false court testimony, laundering of drug money through a state agency, false reports by medical examiners and others investigating suspicious deaths, the firing of the RTC and FBI director when these agencies were investigating Clinton and his associates, failure to conduct autopsies in suspicious deaths, providing jobs in return for silence by witnesses, drug abuse, improper acquisition and use of 900 FBI files, improper futures trading, murder, sexual abuse of employees, false testimony before a federal judge, shredding of documents, withholding and concealment of subpoenaed documents, fabricated charges against (and improper firing of) White House employees, inviting drug traffickers, foreign agents and participants in organized crime to the White House.

Frankly, Mr. Franken, I think the comparison says it all.

Addendum (10/25/2005): And speaking of Al Franken, Michelle Malkin gives an indication of his temperment based on his own actions.

When Idaho’s Teton Dam broke on June 5, 1976, the people downstream in the towns of Wilford, Sugar City, and Rexburg had only a short warning to vacate before the waters from the breaking dam hit their homes. Many people were able to grab a few cherished belongings before the flood waters took everything away. There isn’t much time to dither and debate over what to toss into the car when you know that you may lose your life if you take too long. All in all, only six people died from the flooding, while several more died because of heart attacks or accidents.

My family lived in Germany in the early 1980s. We understood that a war between the East and West could break out at any time, and we hoped that there would be enough warning during the escalation of hostilities so that civilians could be evacuated first. We knew that at some point a command would be issued for us to gather our 72-hour kits and head for the airport to be flown back to the States, while the active-duty family members would stay at their stations.

A decade earlier, when we were living in Florida, a hurricane made landfall. We had two options: either leave the state while the storm came up, or ride it out at the house. I remember the family listening carefully to the radio and watching TV as the storm approached. Finally we decided to stay put. It’s been too many years now, so I can’t remember whether we stayed because the storm was forecast to pass us by, or because it was a weakened storm when it finally hit. But my parents pondered their options before they made the decision to stay.

Mount St. Helens suffered many minor earthquakes and eruptions before it finally blew one Sunday morning in 1980. People had been warned of an eruption before it came, but scientists converged on the mountain despite the threat. And some people chose to wait it out. One such person was Harry Truman, an eccentric old man who chose not to leave his cabin even when people warned him of the danger and told him to evacuate. He refused, and he perished.

While our family was in North Dakota, I remember waking up one night to the sound of tornado alarms. We spent the next few hours in the basement while the storm raged overhead. I remember learning later that three tornadoes had been spotted that night. Knowing what we needed to do that night made the waiting easier.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have shown how important it is to listen to the authorities, and to prepare to leave the path of danger. Another thing this disaster showed us is just how much we are on our own, especially right after a disaster strikes. You should not plan on getting any aid or assistance for between 72 and 96 hours after a disaster. So you should be prepared to care for yourself and those around you for at least that period of time.

Are you prepared for a disaster? You may think you won’t have a disaster where you live, but I challenge you to name a state in the U.S. that is free of natural disasters in any form. Along the Gulf and East Coast there are hurricane threats. Massive winter storms strike the Northeast. Tornadoes hit the midlands, and extreme heat, drought and flash floods affect the desert Southwest. And we on the West Coast are in constant danger of earthquakes, volcanoes and liberals.

So do you have what you need to last the 72 to 96 hours after a disaster before aid comes in? We have a 72-hour kit here at home with the water, food, and emergency items we would need to keep us going. But what we are lacking is an easy way to carry it, and at least one change of clothes. I know that just having clean socks is a great feeling when you are tired and dirty. Emergency cash would also be very handy. And while you are putting your emergency kit together, are you making sure that you have 3-4 days’ worth of necessary medicines? If you need daily injections of insulin, anti-depressants, blood pressure or similar critical medications, do you really want to run the risk of going days without taking them?

You can visit the Red Cross or the U.S. government’s Ready.gov site to read about what your 72-hour kit should contain. I know that some local hardware stores in this area sell 72-hour kits already packed in backpacks. With a minor amount of effort and money, you could have your 72-hour kits ready and available for the time when you need it. I know of one family that has a 72-hour kit backpack hanging ready in the garage for each family member. While you are at it, you could also have a kit for your office. You never know where you may be when disaster strikes.

While you are outfitting your 72-hour kit, you should also be doing three other things. First, know where and how to shut off the water, electricity, and gas at your home. Some homes were spared additional destruction after the Teton Dam broke because the owners turned off the gas and electricity before they fled. I guess they could have turned off their water too, but with the amount coming from the dam, I think that would have been a wasted effort.

Second, there should be someone your family can call to report in after a disaster. For instance, after an earthquake, everyone could call Grandma in another state and explain the situation. After a disaster, the phone lines are usually taxed to their limit as people try to call loved ones; it’s better and easier on the phone lines to contact a single source.

Third, learn what the possible disasters are in your area and devise plans to handle them. This means that my wife and I should know what to do in case of earthquake, volcanic eruption, or the sudden advent of hippies. And since we live downstream from a dam, we should also pay attention to what happened in Idaho 30 years ago.

While we can’t stop natural disasters, we can certainly be prepared for them. And “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” D&C 38:29-30

Imagine you are busy running errands in town. You park and dash into various stores, checking off your list of Honey Do’s as you go along. Everything is going rather well, and you found that extra on-sale item that will bring a smile to your loved one’s face. Whistling, you head back to your vehicle in high spirits, only to have them dashed. There’s a ticket under the windshield wiper. You check — nope, not parked in front of the fire hydrant. No, the parking meter didn’t run out. Then you pick up the ticket and realize that it wasn’t put there by the police. It was placed on your windshield by an environmentalist group, chiding you for owning a gas-guzzling vehicle and warning you of the dangers of driving your SUV.

These anti-SUV tickets can be found (and purchased) at EarthOnEmpty.com. In the words of Earth On Empty’s founders: “We came together because of our frustration with SUVs, the US oil and environmental policies, and our desire to make people think about the impact of their consumer choices has on their neighbors.” You can see the outside of the ticket here or the inside here. The text is a basic collection of “SUVs suck” facts, all of which boil down to the common liberal notion that they know better than you how to spend your car-purchasing dollars.

The Pirate King once expressed her contempt for the purchasing choice of someone driving by in a new Hummer. She pointed out that the person could have spent half the cost on a really nice car, and used the rest of the purchase price to help people in need. While it could be argued that her idea is more noble, I responded that we in the U.S. have the right to choose how we spend our own money. Yes, this person could have donated the whole price of the Hummer to charity. But the spending of that money is not my decision, nor is it my wife’s decision, and it is certainly not the decision of the buttinskis at Earth On Empty. The decision of how to spend your discretionary income rests solely with you, the owner of that income.

If you manage your money so that you can cover both your needs and some of your wants, and still have enough to provide for the needs of others — as with the recent disasters in the U.S. and abroad — then I salute you. But even if you choose to spend a large sum on just a new Hummer, then go ahead. It’s your money, after all. The Hummer dealership will thank you, the people who manufactured your Hummer will thank you, and the people who service your Hummer will thank you, too. Your purchase choice will benefit them all. And when it comes down to what you do with your money, shouldn’t it be your choice?

What the Earth On Empty folks don’t seem to realize is that the free market will handle the SUV issue, and it will do so far better than they could with all their obnoxious fake tickets. With the recent fluctuations in oil prices, the price of gas has increased this year by 50 cents or more per gallon. People at my work have been lamenting the high price of gas, asking why President Bush couldn’t just wave his hand and fix the price at a more sane level than the almost $3/gallon gas we’ve had here. I suggested that since they were rooting for a price fix, I would like to see the price of gas set at 25 cents per gallon. That would make filling up the car much easier on the pocketbook. They all agreed that would be nice. Then I pointed out what happened here in the U.S. the last time the price of gas was fixed artificially below its real price to produce — long lines and gas shortages.

When the price of gas — or of any product — is artificially held below its production cost, then where is the incentive for people to limit their gas consumption? And if the price is kept low, where is the incentive for people to produce the gas? Had President Bush stepped in and fixed the price of a gallon of gas, people would be buying up that cheap gas as fast as they could, whether or not they actually needed it. And since there would be little or no incentive to produce the gas at a financial loss, the supply of gas would go down.

The equation is simple: High demand + low supply + fixed cost = rationing and shortages. Would you like to go back to the long gas lines of the ’70s? I’ll give that a miss, thanks.

But President Bush didn’t step into the market and behave like a bull in a china shop. He reasoned, and rightly so, that the rising price of gas would automatically result in a drop in demand. Our wedding anniversary happened to coincide with the time Hurricane Katrina was hampering domestic oil distribution and causing national gas prices to rise. Though we had originally planned to drive 90 minutes into the city for a weekend romp, we saved our money and gas by staying close to home instead. And we were not alone in doing this; due to the high cost of gas, many people have voluntarily limited their travel and thus their gas expenditures. This reduction in demand resulted in — surprise, surprise — a drop in gas prices. Actually, this would only be a surprise to someone who believes that the market behaves best when the government is at the helm.

There is a word to describe people who believe that the government should “fix” the market — Marxists.

We have had over 70 years of watching Marxists and Communists try to compete with free capitalist societies, and the verdict is in — as an economic theory, Marxism bites. It has failed every time it has been tried. Marxism worked about as well as environmental busybodying does by folks like Earth On Empty, who believe “raising awareness” does anything other than annoy people.