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November 26, 2003
Greetings from 50 NorthBy Greyhawk
Welcome to 50 north.
Germany (and most of Europe) is on latitude with Canada, for the most part. Forty north, the line that runs through the American near-center-of-mass, paved and labeled I70, barely kisses continental Europe on the far side of the Atlantic.
At 50 north in summer there are a few more precious hours of daylight, and in winter comes the payback. These days I watch the sun rise on my way to work, and if I'm fortunate enough to call a day after a mere nine hours I see it set on my way home.
It's November now, in the sense I remember from where I grew up. November is brown in trees and fields, with green here and there to remind us what green is. But it's the brown month to be sure, leaves off trees, hint of cold, and sheet metal sky, steel-grey with a luminous sheen where sunlight almost pokes through.
There's a beauty in all that. This is a beautiful country, make no mistake. At least this part of it. God and men have conspired well to create a feast for the eyes in almost every direction. The Germans fully appreciate this beauty. Is it strange then that for the ears they rely so much on imports?
American imports, for the most part. Did you catch the American Music Awards? From teeny-bopper icon Justin Timberlake to golden oldies Fleetwood Mac, "appearing via satellite from Germany" and without a Dixie Chicks moment. I note the Dixie Chicks were resoundingly booed when the announcer read their nomination, nearly a year after torpedoing themselves to get a quick burst of applause here in Europe. I had forgotten; for an instant I didn't understand the jeering, for a shorter moment I pitied them, and then I returned to not-giving-a-damn.
The Beatles were here first, you know. These folks whose musical heritage runs the gamut from Wagner to The Scorpions can claim "discovery" of rock's first definitive band.
And the Germans are not fickle in their preferences; once they determine something meets their approval they support it whole-heartedly, and they'll maintain loyalty to the bitter end. Perhaps to a fault. Remember the crowd that cheered Michael Jackson in Berlin, as he dangled a baby over the edge of his 5-star hotel balcony? Accused once again of child molestation in America, the King of Pop can do no wrong here. In America he is innocent until proven guilty, in Europe he is innocent. Rallies are held on his behalf throughout the continent.
How do you supose this (from Agence France Presse) reads to a German audience, almost always eager to believe their atrocities from the past century could be repeated anywhere?
The star's mother, Catherine Jackson, told the online version of Germany's Bunte magazine Friday that there were two interpretations of the law in the United States -- "one for whites and one for blacks".
Always alert for opportunities to
"Michael deserves due process, the newsrooms should remain objective and the global community must not hasten to judgement (sic)," he said, branding the raid by up to 70 investigators on Jackson's Neverland Ranch "overkill."
Make no mistake; Jacko is far from proven guilty. Perhaps, like Roman Polanski before him, he will come to live in Europe, where minds are apparently more open and accepting to certain behaviors. And where (at least in certain media circles) this view of American justice is considered witty and insightful.
(Cartoon and translation via David's Medienkritik.)
More to come...
Posted by Greyhawk / November 26, 2003 1:36 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
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