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Showing posts from July, 2011

Fitness and What We Do

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.  Robert Heinlein*


I wasn’t much of an athlete in school.  My older brother was a gifted track athlete and still holds the triple jump record at our high school in North Dakota.  My younger brother was Mr. Everything at his high school in Oklahoma.  Basketball, football, track, Shawn was a standout in everything he did and he was worker; here was a kid who would not date during football season and put himself through hellish self-concocted training regimes during his summers. 

As for me, I played a little football in high school, but was not particularly good at it or even all that inter…

The Moor of the Caucasus

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The security official (who is no longer in this position) hands my boss some pictures and comments, “those are all the ones we got.”  My boss examines the pictures and expressionlessly passes them to me.  They’re shots of militants killed during a recent, large-scale raid in Ingushetia.  Under each picture is a name and date of birth.  Several have stunningly gruesome gunshot wounds that obscure their features.  One is a woman, supposedly the common law wife of the warlord Doku Umarov.  The youngest is a boy who, according to the date below his picture, had just turned twenty a few weeks ago.  I hastily hand the pictures back to the official.  He holds my gaze for a moment and I fear that my distaste may have registered visibly on my face. I feel compelled to say something.  
“Good job.” 
It’s a remarkably silly comment, but apparently it’s sufficient – the conversation returns to the overall situation in Ingushetia.  We did not ask to see these pictures; this guy wanted to show them …