“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

02/27 Wednesday Hero: Michael E. Koch

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch
29 years old from State College, Pennsylvania
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

"There are only approximately 2,500 SEALs in the Navy and they really are a brotherhood," said Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. David Luckett. "This is another unfortunate reminder of the risks and sacrifices these amazing warriors and their families make on a daily basis."

Koch leaves behind his parents and a fiancee. He enlisted in July 1998 and entered SEAL training in January 1999, according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. He received the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Navy SEAL Michael E. Koch died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq alongside fellow SEAL Nathan Hardy, who was profiled last week.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

02/23 Hockey Notes

There was a lot of discussion at the GM meeting Wednesday. Goalie gear changes were discussed. A changes to the kicking rule was actually instituted. As long as the skate does not leave the ice, any goal scored counts now. I’m not in favor of 1 minute penalties in overtime, though. 2 minutes makes penalties more severe in OT, where the point is to settle the tie. And, no surprise, I’m not alone in that opinion.

More season changes coming? In two years, say NHLers, teams will go to a home and home format, letting teams in other conferences finally get to play each other again. All I can say is it’s about time!

(…who knows…maybe this will bring an audience increase…either way, it can’t hurt…can it?...)

Speaking of generating audience appeal, do you want a way to drive up scoring? Here’s one: eliminate the point for overtime losses. Now, this argument has been going on since the overtime tie/point rule came into effect. Take away the incentive to play for the tie and get that extra point, teams would have to change their game play. The number of ties would decrease, and real play to win hockey would return. I think they’re right. I’ve coached and played youth hockey. You do it differently when there are points on the line.

(…one more way the Lords of Hockey can create a better product…if they really want to…)

Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh! Rah! Rah! Rah! At least that’s what sports beat writer’s seem to think, call Ovechkin the best player right now. Go check out the list of their picks. It’s a bit surprising.

And, the Forsberg saga has finally come to a close, at least for this year.

Peter Forsberg has informed NHL teams, through his agent Don Baizley, that his troublesome foot problem will prevent him from playing in the league this season.
And that means…what…for next year?

The GM Meetings were rampant with fan expectations of trade fodder, given the looming trade deadline. No trades so far, which isn’t necessarily bad news. But there was a lot of talk.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

02/20 Wednesday Hero: Navy Seal Nathan H. Hardy

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
29 years old from Durham, New Hampshire
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

It was Hardy's fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, Stephen Hardy, a professor of kinesiology a the University of New Hampshire. His mother, Donna Hardy, is an administrative assistant in UNH's psychology department.

Nathan Hardy grew up in Durham and was a 1997 graduate of Oyster River High School. He joined the Navy after graduation.

Other family members include his wife, Mindy, and their 7-month-old son, Parker; and a brother, Ben, of Middlebury, Vt.

Another brother, Josh, died in 1993 while a senior at Oyster River High School.

"Our hearts go out to Steve and Donna Hardy, and their son, Ben, at this incredibly difficult time," UNH President Mark Huddleston said in a statement. "We know it was Nate's dream to become a U.S. Navy SEAL when he graduated from high school, and he pursued that dream and excelled at it. His death has stunned all who knew him, and all who know his parents, who both are so much a part of the UNH community."

Navy SEAL Nathan Hardy died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

02/18 Morning Report

I’ve read enough science fiction that yesterday’s headline really made me smile…mostly because of the way it was worded: Hopes rise for finding alien Earths. The concept of an alien earth made me laugh.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Hugo Chavez backed off of threats to halt exports to the US. Chavez had been claiming that the Bush administration and Exxon were “conspiring” against the Venezuelan economy. Now, Chavez says he was only talking about actions if the US invaded. However, the war over Venezuelan oil and money isn’t over. Chavez is also signaling higher taxes on foreign oil companies operating within his borders.

More foreign affairs that directly affects Americans, Serbia recalled it’s US ambassador. Angry over the US recognition of Kosovo, they recalled their ambassador. It will be interesting to see what else they do, since most of the EU has also recognized the new nation.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Britain's David Miliband said "at least half" of the bloc's 27 member states would formally extend diplomatic recognition by the end of the week.
However, political problems aren’t the only thing the US must address. There are still US servicemen and women deployed in the region as peacekeepers.

(…I wonder where the Democrats and liberals stand on that one…)

Speaking of Democrats, who would have believed just a few months ago that things would go this crazy? Obama may flip-flop on public financing pledge. But, Hillary’s campaign is pretty much reduced to pointing fingers, rather than having control of the campaign—or setting a clear direction. I hate to admit it, but Obama’s TV ads paint a much stronger image than Hillary’s do. Honestly, it’s starting to sound like Hillary may actually have to really fight for her political life here. Too bad the Republicans don’t have a real attention getting platform that people can grab hold of. This would be a great opportunity to take the media by storm with it. As it is, the Republicans are airing…well…nothing.

(…this kind of silence is NOT golden…)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

02/14 Hockey Notes

(…school has kept me out of touch for a week or so on the subject of hockey, so here is trip through some recent headlines…just to bring things up to date…)

Monday‘s article by Matt Johnson may seem like just another rant on NHL officiating. But, the truth is, he highlights a growing problem—inconsistent officiating. That’s a really nice way of saying the refs kind of make some stuff up as they go along. If the NHL Lords have any desire to see the status of the League improve…well…there are some simple things they can do to bring that about…

Speaking of improving the game…Hard to believe it’s been 3 years since the lockout. But, even so, the salary cap hit a new high, at $53 million. Remember all the fanfare when the lockout ended of the cap being $35 million? And the brouhaha leading to the lockout about teams going broke because of salary escalations? My how times don’t change…

Good news on Richard Zednik, though. Despite losing 5 units of blood, and an hour of surgery, Zednik will be OK after having his carotid artery severed in a freak accident. Despite the high speed, rough and tumble play, there have really been few bad incidents involving skates in the NHL. Here is a summary of the major skating accidents in the last ten years or so.

And, then there is the continuing Return of Forsberg Saga”. Honestly, this guy has more press that says nothing new than anyone outside of Hollywood. It just seems to be a never ending stream of “He will,” followed by “He won’t.” Having traded him to Nashville, it does seem fitting that the flyers would want him back, though. GM Paul Holmgren, said,

"Other than the fact that we have not gotten a call and other teams did (that Forsberg isn't interested in playing for them), well, that leaves us in the game, I guess.”
Of course, now that Simon Gagne is out with his third concussion this season, the Flyers could use the help, if he is honestly over the foot troubles. I wonder if it will make a difference to Forsberg?

I have to admit I liked the idea behind John Buccigross’s column Tuesday: What if the NHL started over from scratch next season?
What if the NHL started from scratch?

What if every player's contract was shredded and we started all over?

What if the NHL restocked all 30 teams through a league-wide draft in which every player was available?

What would the first round look like?
Pure fantasy, of course, but it was an amusing read all the same. MVN posted an alternative view of how the draft would go. Personally it strikes me as a little more reality based…but still pure fantasy.

(…I won’t even try to think mine out…)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

02/13 Wednesday Hero: Cpl. Ryan J. Buck

Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
21 years old from Nokomis, Illinois
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault)
June 26, 2006

"His platoon leaders described him as the type of soldier every leader wants: A very talented, dedicated soldier, who did everything that was asked of him." That's what Lt. Col. Greg Butts, commander of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, said about Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley at his memorial service. "I'm glad I could come here. It was an opportunity to recognize one of my great soldiers."

Cpl. Buckley lost his life on June 26, 2006 when an IED detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. "I held him while he died," Spc. Richard Morris, a fellow soldier who was wounded in the attack, said after the service. "He was my best friend. This nation has lost a hell of a soldier."

Ryan Buckley, a 2003 graduate of Hillsboro High School, was attending Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield in March 2004 when he left school to join the Army. He had told his mother on 9/11 that he planned to join the military to defend his country. Jennings Carter, who recently retired from the Army, was the commander of the Litchfield Army Recruiting Station when Buckley signed up. Carter said Buckley was an unusually cheerful young man. "Every time we saw him, he was always smiling," Carter said. "Before he went to Iraq, we saw him a few times. He was always happy. He would come by and tell us what he was doing."

Jean Buckley, Buckley's aunt, said he was always a responsible young man, who took his school work seriously, as well as his role in the school bands. The talented French horn player was awarded the John Philip Sousa award his senior year as the outstanding band member.

"He was always a protector," Jean Buckley said. "It's such a sad time. We're so thankful for the Ryans of the world. I appreciate all the veterans and all they've done for this country."

Cpl. Buckley was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq from Nov. 30 to June 23. Bronze Stars were presented to his wife of one year, Tina Buckley, his mother, Sally Nation, and father, Dennis Buckley.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

02/07 Morning Report

Once again, painting the Republicans as the bad guys, yesterday’s NY TIMES headline read ”G.O.P. Senators Block Democrats’ Stimulus Plan”. The slanted article spent most of it’s time focusing on how the Democrats are trying to help more people. But it did mention a few important, little known truths…

To pressure Republicans from cold-weather states into voting for the plan, he (Harry Reid, Nevada) added $1 billion in home heating subsidies for low-income families and enlisted the aid of various lobbying groups.
Enlisting lobbying groups is a key phrase. It leads to more later, such as…
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said earlier Wednesday that he was bothered that special-interest groups were lining up for handouts in an economic stimulus bill and urged senators to keep it focused on simple tax rebates.

“I am increasingly concerned that in the Senate, the bazaar is open, the special interests are coming to the trough, and that when I’m reading about and hearing about things like tax rebates for coal companies, the benefits for oil-well drilling and things like this, I’m concerned that it’s going to get bogged down,” Mr. Paulson said.
It’s so nice to see the true Democrat colors. I bet the environmentalists are enjoying this. Now, I am all for increasing the benefit for those that need it—disabled veterans and social security recipients that were excluded from the House stimulus package. So does Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Last week, Reid and some other Democrats are calling that their “fallback option.”
But on Monday he said he would allow votes only on the full Senate package and the original House plan with no changes.

“They are going to vote on this package,” he said. “The American people are watching.”
Indeed we are, Sen. Reid. We are watching to see how much the Democrats will pander to special interest groups…considering how much you have accused the Republicans of doing it.

(…I doubt the MSM will change their tunes…after all, it’s the Republican stymieing the Democrats…not the Democrats being stupid…right?...)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

02/06 Wednesday Hero: Robert S. Cone

This week's hero is a good one. Robert Cone is the second Cousin of Wednesday Hero's partner in crime, Greta.

Robert S. Cone
85 years old from Delray Beach, Florida
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Surrounded by family, feted by a U.S. congressman and a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard, one of the few surviving members of the "Filthy Thirteen" was honored on October 8, 2006 in a backyard on Massapoag Avenue.

Robert S. Cone, 85, now of Delray Beach, Fla., finally received the 13 military medals he was due for his service on D-Day during World War II, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW medal and Presidential Unit Citation.

"To tell you the truth, I never expected it. I'm very honored to get it and really feel good about it," Cone said.

"He's finding it an honor, and he's a little embarrassed, to be honest," said Cone's son, Edward R. Cone, 45, who hosted the family barbecue that included a visit from U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch.

Only a few members remain of the 101st Airborne Division's famed "Filthy Thirteen," an elite parachute and demolition unit that volunteered for a suicide mission on June 5, 1944, the eve of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

The Filthy Thirteen, who shared a Quonset Hut in England, were a group of "pretty bad boys," Edward Cone said, renowned for hard-living and fierce fighting. They are believed to be the inspiration for the 1967 movie "The Dirty Dozen," although none of the Filthy Thirteen was a convict.

The unit's mission was to parachute behind enemy lines on the night before D-Day to blow up bridges and impede the Nazis.

Many were killed on the drop. The survivors found it difficult to reunite on the ground because the pilots had panicked when the Germans opened fire.

Cone said he spent two days in a hedgerow battle and was shot in the right arm. When he escaped to a French farmhouse, the owner turned him over to the Nazis and he became a prisoner of war.

His unit and his family thought he was dead. His mother, in Roxbury, received a telegram from the War Department saying he had been killed in action.

Cone spent 11 months in three POW camps in Germany before being liberated by the Russians near the Polish border. He fought alongside the Russians as they made their escape, his son said.

Cone walked to freedom through Poland, Russia and Romania, journeyed by ship to Egypt and was eventually flow to Italy, finally making his way home.

All the medal ceremonies had taken place without him.

Cone married Ida, now his wife of 61 years; became a postal worker and plumber; raised three children in Hull; and spoke very little about the war, Edward Cone said.

About four years ago, Edward Cone decided to find out whether any of his father's Army colleagues were still alive.

He found the Filthy Thirteen's leader, Jake McNiece, in Oklahoma, and put his father in touch by telephone. Their conversation was recorded by the BBC and played on the anniversary of D-Day.

Later, the History Channel filmed its own segment on the pair, which still airs, Edward Cone said.

The group reunited in Taccoa, Ga., the home of their jump school.

"My Dad and I drove from here to Georgia. I heard everything on that trip," Edward Cone said. "Three were alive from the unit. They talked and drank and told stories for days."

Three years ago, McNiece published a book, "The Filthy Thirteen: From the Dustbowl to Hitler's Eagle's Nest: The 101st Airborne's Most Legendary Squad of Combat Paratroopers."

It was McNiece who mentioned that Cone was due a few medals. Edward Cone and his fiance, Kate Guthrie of Leominster, who works at the Statehouse, gathered documentation and contacted Lynch.

The result was the Sunday party, also attended by Cone's daughters, Ronna Townsend of Monroe Township, N.J., and Natalie Gaudet of Hampton, N.H., and most of his seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Cone admits he never talked much about the war before.

"I really didn't," Cone said. "But they insisted I tell the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. So I talk to them. I tell them stories. I tell them true stories. They all enjoy it."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

02/05 Morning Report

Did you know it isn’t enough to talk about overcoming racism? Now days, at schools, you also have to support the anti-family agenda of the left.

You may know Ken Hutcherson's name from his pro football days or, more recently, his pro-family activism in defense of traditional marriage. But Hutcherson's daughter was introducing her father at her high school to talk about how he overcame racism thanks to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"And then she says, 'But the most important thing is, this is my Dad.' I stood up to walk up to the microphone and there were some boos. They started booing."

Hutcherson, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington, ignored the hecklers and gave his presentation, which never mentioned homosexuality. But the homosexual activists who booed Hutcherson were not finished. After his speech, they challenged him directly in front of the entire assembly.

"The sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance stood up and yelled out, 'I know that I am not on the program, but why is this man here when he doesn’t believe in equal rights for everybody?'" says Hutcherson.

The woman accusing Hutcherson was Kit McCormick, his daughter's favorite teacher. "And I felt like I couldn't sit and not say anything," says the teacher. "I felt like this was a moment that I had to stand up and say something."

McCormick told KING-TV that Hutcherson was misrepresenting himself. "He is not about equality for everyone," she asserts. "He's about equality for some people."

Hutcherson says the teachers' behavior was inappropriate and [the behavior] would never have been tolerated if they had been pro-family activists criticizing a pro-homosexual speaker.
It’s obvious that Hutcherson is right. Those on the left are just as exclusive towards their conservative opponents as they claim conservatives are towards them. It’s immaterial the crux of the disagreement is whether homosexuality is natural or not. It only matters that those on the left want their way, and they will intimidate and shout down anyone who opposes them…all in the name of “equality”, of course.

(…I guess that makes the left just as wrong as the right, unless your on the left…or teaching our children…not that this is anything new…)

Islam is having it’s own public image problems lately. Wikkipedia’s entry on Islam is causing quite a stir. Why? It shows images of the Prophet Muhammed. Supposedly there is a prohibition about showing people’s pictures in Islam. But…
Paul M. Cobb, who teaches Islamic history at Notre Dame, said, “Islamic teaching has traditionally discouraged representation of humans, particularly Muhammad, but that doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent.” He added, “Some of the most beautiful images in Islamic art are manuscript images of Muhammad.”
The ban actually dates only to the 20th Century. There was an on-line petition with some 80,000 signatures sent to Wikipedia, and a lot of emails. One interesting point about the uproar…
The petition has more than 80,000 “signatures,” though many who submitted them to ThePetitionSite.com, remained anonymous.

“We have been noticing a lot more similar sounding, similar looking e-mails beginning mid-January,” said Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco.”

(…hhhmmm…sounds like Islamists have learned how to use SPAM to intimidate…)

Not to be outdone by possibly fictitious rules, requirements and actions, the French bank Société Générale is facing some more problems. It seems bank policies may have let the rogue trader get as deep into trouble as he did. There are apparently several holes in the argument that Mr Kerviel is the supervillain he is portrayed as. Us authorities are investigating the bank as well. Specifically, they are looking at bank board member transactions in the days before the scandal broke. Meanwhile, Agence France press reports that while French trader Jerome is saving any substantial statements for the judges, he is refusing to be a scapegoat for the bank.

(…another rousing success for the French…)