Wednesday, August 6, 2003

There's this one experiment I remember from my grade school science class -- no, not dissecting a brontosaurus. Our science teacher had this little hand-crank generator wired to a light bulb. And we'd turn that little crank, and it managed to generate just enough juice to light the light bulb. That baby generator was fine for the limited demands of Mr. Light Bulb, but I would hate to try and run my whole house on it! Bye-bye stove, bye-bye microwave, refrigerator, computer, lighting, and heat. No way that puny power supply could handle all the demands!

Monday, August 4, 2003

I travel a lot. Of course, sometimes I drive, and time matters a lot. So over the years, I've learned a fundamental secret of making great time on the open road. No, not speeding - just driving steady. Over and over, I've watched what I call a "spurter" come roaring up behind me, doing everything but pushing me into the right lane. He's obviously well into the State Trooper Zone as far as his speed's concerned. So I move over, he roars past, but I catch up with him a few miles later -- without ever changing my speed. See, he's settled back into the right lane, just cruising along. (Maybe you've passed this guy, too.) He speeds in binges, he floors it one minute and then he's just tapping the accelerator a few minutes later. I usually make excellent time driving places, and I've talked to other marathon drivers who are used to getting places fast. And we pretty much agree. How do you trim hours off a long trip? A steady foot. The fast way to get somewhere is not with big spurts, but with a consistent, steady speed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

They have always been a major deciding factor in military victory or military defeat. It's just that most of us don't realize it. But the critical importance of the logistics forces became very apparent when Coalition forces invaded Iraq in "Operation Iraqi Freedom." As they moved at lightning speed across Iraq, the combat supply lines were quickly stretched across 200 miles of unforgiving desert. USA Today said, "To re-arm, feed and fuel the advancing forces, military logisticians have built one of the longest, most sophisticated supply lines ever fielded in war." They are the people who deliver what the military calls the "beans, bullets and black oil." In Iraq, for example, the 90,000 troops inside the country drank an average of 400,000 gallons of water a day. And just to give you an idea of the massive fuel deliveries needed, one Abrams tank gets less than a mile to a gallon and it needs 300 gallons of gas every eight hours. USA Today reported that "for every soldier or Marine firing a weapon at the enemy, there are at least nine helping make this fight possible." Is it any wonder a retired four-star general called them "the unsung heroes"?

Well,

Monday, May 26, 2003

Last time I heard this term, it was describing how the French royalty was dealt with during the French Revolution - it was that ominous word "decapitation." It took on new meaning at the beginning of the Coalition's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Decapitation was used to describe a strategy of trying to eliminate the leaders of the regime in order to bring down the regime. It's a strategy that's actually used more commonly than you think.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Americans have seen a lot of emotional scenes, watching families say goodbye as their soldiers and sailors ship out for duty in the world's danger spots. Not long after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, thousands of military personnel boarded ships bound for unannounced destinations. Imagine - your ship has set sail, but you don't know where you're going. The news reported that some of those ships left with sealed orders. When their ship reached a certain point, their commander was authorized to open those orders and find out just exactly where they were all going. And as people needed to know, they were informed by the commander. "Need to know," they call it.

Well,

Friday, February 7, 2003

I consult my atlas pretty often. And I can count on the fact that anywhere I go, there's a detailed map for it. It wasn't always that way. Back in the first century B.C., for example, much of the world was still unmapped. So when the mapmaker got to the edge of what had been explored, he just drew monsters and dragons. The story comes down from that time of a Roman officer who was leading his troops on a mission that took them into unmapped territory - dragon territory. So, he sent a courier back to Rome with a blunt - and slightly desperate message, "We have just marched off the map. Please send new orders."

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

I have had the wonderful privilege of being in just about all of the United States. But one of the last that I had the opportunity to visit was one of the most beautiful - Alaska. When I went there the first time, I was impressed with this motto they have on their license plates. It seemed pretty appropriate. "Alaska - The Last Frontier." I can see why they say that. There are hundreds and thousands of miles of unpopulated expanse, abundant wildlife like bears and moose and eagles, great untamed areas, even some untamed people! There's a wildness that does seem to make it the last frontier.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

It will be hard to forget some of the most heartbreaking images of the end of the 20th Century - like those tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees fleeing from the attacks of Serbian soldiers and police. Day after day, we would hear reports on the news of how many more refugees had arrived on the Albanian or Macedonian border, how many were jammed into makeshift camps, desperate for food, for water, for shelter, for a feeling of being human again. Most of the major networks had correspondents on the scene who would report from that sea of humanity and misery. In a moment of disarming honesty, one reporter said, "When you cover a tragedy like this, you have to put up a steel wall to protect yourself or you can't do your job." But then he went on to say, "But I have to confess to you, suddenly today my steel wall came down and I just lost it."

Monday, January 13, 2003

I think it was our son's first official date with a girl - actually, just a couple of hours at the mall, really. The next day he ran into some of the guys from school who only wanted to know one thing about his Friday night. "So how much did you get off her?" They weren't talking about money. They were talking about conquest. He came home pretty disgusted, frankly. He said, "Man, those guys; they're messed up!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Well, we've been wrong. Yeah, our science books tell us that there are 100 billion galaxies. We look at our Milky Way, and we see the one galaxy we're in. We're all excited because we've been able to get an unmanned spacecraft to the edge of our solar system! Wow. Our solar system is just one small part of our one galaxy - and they're telling us now that there are 100 billion more. Well, actually, not 100 billion more. We've been misled. See, the Hubble telescope has supplied new information. No, there aren't 100 billion galaxies, after all. There are 125 billion galaxies! Don't even try to comprehend it.

            

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