In Memoriam – 2005

May 30, 2005

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

— John Adams (1735-1826)

As a theoretical physicist with major metaphysical leanings, I’ve long felt the above quote by President Adams to be especially pertinent to me personally. Therefore, to the many who have made the sacrifice to study the ugly side of life so that others may study the beautiful side, I offer my humblest thanks.

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And there have been so many…

US Personnel Served and Casualties Suffered in Major Wars/Conflicts of the 20th Century
War/Conflict Personnel Served Battle Deaths Other Deaths Wounds Not Mortal
World War I
(1917-1918)
4,734,991 53,402
(1.128%)
63,114
(1.333%)
204,002
(4.308%)*
World War II
(1941-1946)
16,112,566 291,557
(1.810%)
113,842
(0.707%)
671,846
(4.170%)*
Korean War
(1950-1953)
5,720,000 33,741
(0.590%)
2,835
(0.050%)
103,284
(1.806%)
Vietnam Conflict
(1964-1973)
8,744,000 47,415
(0.542%)
10,785
(0.123%)
153,303
(1.753%)
Persian Gulf War
(1990-1991)
2,225,000 147
(0.007%)
235
(0.011%)
467
(0.021%)

* See reference notes below for sources of these figures.  Note that World War I "Wounds Not Mortal" as well as the Marine Corps contribution to WWII "Wounds Not Mortal" (68,207 of the 671,846) are actually "Wounded In Action" (i.e., number of soldiers wounded) and technically not "Wounds Not Mortal" (of which one soldier could receive multiple ones during his tour of duty, of course).

US Casualties Suffered in Major Ongoing Operations**

[For comparison, bracketed figures give the DoD official totals as they stood last year on Memorial Day 2004, which reflected casualties up through May 28, 2004 10 AM EST.]

Operation Killed in Action Nonhostile Deaths Wounded In Action
Enduring Freedom
(Sep 2001-present)
75
[53]
112
[69]
470
[310]
Iraqi Freedom
(Mar 2003-present)
1264

[587]

383

[215]

12,630

[4,682]

** Current as of May 27, 2005, 11 AM EDT.  See reference notes below.

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Want to contribute something? Then, please consider:

1) Donating your frequent flyer miles to soldiers through the "Hero Miles" program. a program which played a major role in shaming the Pentagon into paying for all legs of soldiers’ flights home for 2 week R&R leaves from Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than just an intercontinental leg from Iraq or Afghanistan to either Baltimore/Washington DC, Dallas/Forth Worth, or Atlanta. However, the domestic legs of flights home for family emergency leaves (e.g., for birth, death, or serious illness of family members) still need to be paid for out of pocket by the soldiers, as do any flights by soldiers’ families to visit them in military hospitals. Heromiles.org uses donated frequent flyer miles to defray the cost of these flights for soldiers and their families.

2) Any of the major grass roots support efforts by soldiers and their families such as http://www.anysoldier.com/ and the many programs to which it links.

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Notes and References for the Tables:

—————-
For 1st Table:
—————-

Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. "DoD Principal Wars – US Military Personnel Serving and Casualties"

All names used (notably, "Vietnam Conflict" and "Persian Gulf War") as well as all years chosen for tabulation (notably, including 1946 casualties in "World War II" and including only 1964-1973 casualties in the "Vietnam Conflict") are those used by the Department of Defense in the above source.

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For 2nd Table:
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Source: The present "Casualty Reports" link of www.defenselink.mil, the official web portal to all of the public US Department of Defense websites. Note that the Casualty Reports link is regularly updated and the most current one can always be found at the bottom of the "Press Resources" linklist in the right column of www.defenselink.mil.

NB: A useful general source for all military casualties from all US military engangements is the "Military Casualty Information" webpage of U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. The homepage of the Statistical Information and Analysis Division has a wealth of information on many other topics too.

Well, it might be the sleep deprivation talking (I’m trying to shock myself into being a morning person once again), but I thought this following bit by Marc Maron on Air America Radio’s Morning Sedition about allegations George Lucas is trying to criticize George W. Bush with Revenge of the Sith was utterly hilarious:

MARON: Now there’s been a lot of talk, Yoda, about this being a political movie.

YODA: Hmmm! Biased this movie is not.

MARON: But some political–some Republicans–are very upset…

YODA (interrupting): Whack, these bastards be!  Nothing but haters, these bitches are.

MARON: So you’re saying you don’t play partisan politics, and this movie doesn’t either?

YODA (sheepishly): Well… Hillary 2008!

As chronicled previously on this blog, taking online personality quizzes of dubious design is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Thus, when I saw a link on both Lindsay Beyerstein’s blog Majikthise and the equally wonderfully named group blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money to the following doozy of a dubiously designed quiz, "What Is Your World View?", I simply couldn’t resist.

I was quite surprised by my results:


You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.

Idealist

69%

Modernist

63%

Postmodernist

56%

Existentialist

50%

Cultural Creative

50%

Materialist

44%

Fundamentalist

25%

Romanticist

13%

What is Your World View? (corrected…hopefully)
created with QuizFarm.com


Methinks I’ve been watching the Matrix Trilogy too much.

(Seriously though, and while on this note of the Matrix Trilogy, this utterly unscientific quiz might be onto something.   Among my many sci-fi aficionado amigos, I alone actually liked both Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.  Moreover, I liked them especially because of their ever more overt Gnostic Christian / Hindu elements, whereas I know many thought these elements detracted too much from the movies’ core premise of "humans will use kung fu to overcome tyrannical robots in a dystopian future," which of course is something upon which all sci-fi aficionados readily agree.)

Scientists at Cornell have made small self-replicating robots.

I notice that web traffic for this here blog of mine is pretty piddly.  Hence, taking a cue from every darn newscast in America, I’ve decided to institute a "News You Can Use" segment and inaugurate it news you can use with those perennial American obsessions of diet, exercise, and health.

But unlike all that filler you see on newscasts that alternates between the genuinely informative, the barely informative, and the overhyped and scare-mongering, I assure you, gentle reader, that my "News You Can Use" segments will always be genuinely informative.  (I’ll confine my barely informative, overhyped, and scare-mongering posts to my rants on current affairs.)

So without further ado, let me point you to the most comprehensive collection I know of relatively layperson-friendly, scientific review articles on diet, exercise and health covering issues important to both the sedentary and the athletic among us:

Position Stands of the American College of Sports Medicine

Let me share something personal: I love speculating on probable tit-for-tats in US foreign policy.  It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling that even if I detest this messy, Machiavellian world in which we all unfortunately live, I kinda understand it.  🙂

Today’s example: Am I the only person who believes there’s a connection between the following pair of recent events in the news?

  1. Pakistan’s capture of Al Qaeda "Third in Command" Abu Farraj al-Libbi and subsequent sweep up of over two dozen other suspected associates(Sidenote: I put "Third in Command" in quotes because, as one can read in the above linked BBC stories, some have argued that in the wake of US and Pakistani operations, #1 man Osama bin Laden and #2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri would at the very least no longer place their trust in any one person to serve #3 man / Director of Operations capacity, if indeed they chose to hew to such a standard hierarchy at all.  Moreover, some have claimed US officials may have confused Abu Farraj al-Libbi with another Abu al-Libbi who is suspected of significant involvement in the 1998 Africa embassy bombings because the common appellation al-Libbi simply means "Libyan".)
  2. In March, the Bush Administration, reversing a policy suspending arms transfers to Pakistan that had held since his father’s administration, moved to allow the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Moreover, just yesterday, it approved the sale of more modern versions of the air-to-sea Harpoon and air-to-air Sidewinder missiles to replace the aging ones purchased by Pakistan in the 1980’s.   

My main question is: Are we on a prepay plan with Pakistan?  A regular installment plan?  Or a cash-on-delivery plan?

If we’re on some sort of prepay plan, then is there any reason to think that the recent reversal of US policy on arms transfers to Pakistan corroborates this bit of seemingly wild speculation heard Sunday on Meet the Press from a Mr. Gary Schroen, a recently retired CIA operative who apparently led the first CIA team into Afghanistan after 9/11 and who now is on a book tour promoting his memoir of that mission?

MR. RUSSERT:  Before you go, will we ever capture Osama bin Laden?

MR. SCHROEN:  I think with the capture of Al-Libbi recently–gives some hope that the Pakistanis will cooperate if we put enough pressure on them, and maybe we end up doing it unilaterally but I think we’re going to get him within the next three to four months.

MR. RUSSERT:  Three to four months.

MR. SCHROEN:  Well, that’s my hope.

MR. RUSSERT:  From your lips to God’s ears.  Gary Schroen, we thank you very much, and our condolences on the loss of your mom, Fern, on Friday.

MR. SCHROEN:  Oh, thank you very much.

(Hat tip: Justin Logan)

A New Beginning

May 8, 2005

A year and a day ago, I lost a good friend, as was recorded on this blog here and here.

Much in my life changed then.  And now that I’m looking back, I’m happy to say that most of the changes have unquestionably turned out to be for the best.  (Some, however, are still in the process of turning around.)

Quite possibly the least of these changes—though I suppose the one most directly pertinent to you, gentle reader—has been the attention I’ve devoted to this blog.  Since my friend’s passing, I never gave it the attention that I lavished on it during its first month, a month that turned out to be my friend’s last. 

It, like many other things, now feels due for a new beginning.