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September 19, 2007
For the RecordBy Greyhawk
Slate's "Explainer" David Sessions, answers your question about the news. Today he set out to debunk John McCain:
Yesterday, John McCain told supporters in Iowa that U.S. soldiers are "carrying 40 pounds of body armor in 130-degree temperatures."For reasons unknown, it's important to him to prove McCain is wrong about that temperature claim. He cites climate records from the US Air Force...
That's right - but Sessions is wrong.
Jeff Emmanuel waves a BS flag, arguing (as near as I can tell) that
a. Humidity is sufficient to cause a heat index higher than the temperature
...which, like the climatological data, is also right. But in fairness, McCain didn't say the weight of the armor makes it seem like the temperature is 130 degrees, he said it was 130 before the armor went on. Likewise, he wasn't talking about a "heat index".
There's also a discussion of cheap thermometers poorly placed, yadda yadda yadda. Disregard that for now, while I provide the actual solution, and make left and right happy in this instance and we can all go forward and live together as one, in harmony. It's a simple explanation, trust me on this one...
Official temperature is taken IN THE SHADE, using very damned expensive equipment. Official temperatures for Baghdad (taken by US Air Force meteorologists at the Airport in the shade) in late July and early August peak in the late afternoon between 115-120 EVERY DAY - IN THE SHADE. The record temperature in the shade is indeed 124 degrees. Now that September is here it's a bit more variable, highs ranging from as low as 102 to about 108 over the past week or two. In the early morning hours we shiver as the temperatures plunge into the upper 70s.
Did I mention the shade part? Out in the desert or the middle of a city in the direct sunlight in July? Or in the back of a closed vehicle or an aircraft? There it's really hot, and 130 on a cool day, maybe.
But here's what I call hot: when you step out of a porta potty after a 5 minute visit into the direct sunlight of a July afternoon in Iraq and think "gosh it's nice and cool out here" - then you know that inside that porta potty was the HOTTEST EFFING PLACE ON THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH.
Anyhow, in case I wasn't clear, Jeff is right in saying Slate's "Explainer" is wrong - but now you know the rest of the story.
Like I said, trust me on this one. (Stupid people will argue, folks who know me will laugh...)
A final thought: 120 degrees is HOT. Wear armor and run a few miles in it and we can talk about hot. In fact, 110 is HOT. Hell, three days of temperatures around 100 in any city in America will kill a certain percentage of the population. Still, if anyone can explain why it's so important to prove that soldiers aren't really experiencing anything hotter than 120, be my guest. Maybe that's a question best left to the Explainer.
And an update: As much as I hate adding to something after claiming "a final thought" - it just occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, this is a lesson in why one shouldn't attempt to draw conclusions from studies of Iraq done in America based purely on statistics...
Posted by Greyhawk / September 19, 2007 11:33 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...)
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