Friday, September 14, 2007

Pampered Pet "Enhancements"

PAMPERING PETS
I'm flipping through the pages of the Los Angeles Times this morning when I see a cute photograph of a cat on the front page of the Business section. Attracted by the photo and the headline, "Care, pampering going to the dogs - and cats", I kept reading. Big Mistake!

QUEEN LEONA'S BEQUEST
In the opening paragraph (to read the whole article click here) writer Leslie Earnest talks about the late Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million to her Maltese, which was enough to rock me back. However, the second paragraph is what really got me. It reads as follows:

"Americans are pampering their pets more than ever. They treat dogs and cats as if they were human, buying them bathing suits, strollers, anti-depressants and, for the neutering-conflicted, testicular implants". (That emphasis is mine) Arf! Ouch! Arf! Ouch!

NICE KITTY
Now, I'm a pe
t lover. Well, actually, I'm a dog lover. Cats and I seem to barely tolerate each other. When I cat-sit our neighbor's feline we seem to get along OK. I'm a convenient source of food and a couple legs against which he can rub if so inspired. I, for my part, have figured out where that special scratch spot is that gets that whole purring thing going like an outboard motor, but there's always just a little bit of tension between us as I wait uneasily for that moment when he will tire of my caress and slice my hand like swiss cheese with those nasty, little claws. Nope, I'm a dog guy.

PRECIOUS POOCHES
We've had some wonderful dogs in our lives. They become de facto children to us, except without the teenage years, thank goodness. There is little we wouldn't do to enhance their comfort - a reasonable trade-off for th
e companionship and unconditional love they bestow upon us. However, I must admit that the idea of providing one of our mutts with a testicular implant never entered my mind. Yikes! What's next - breast implants? How about a little botox injection for little Muffy to fix those droopy eyes? Good grief! Just when you think you've heard it all!

EYE ON THE BALL(S)
So, curious guy that I am, I investigated this a little further. Seems there is a product called "Neuticles", which - quoting the web site (here) - "Neuticles are crafted from FDA medically approved (For human implant use) Polypropylene. Neuticles replicate the canine testicle in size, shape and weight. The 'space-age' material is solid in form and is used in other medical applications as well." Yikes! I have this image of old Rover, prancing across the living room with his new polypropylene "equipment" clacking like a pair of pool balls with every step.

CLIN
K, CLINK
This got m
e thinking. The opportunities for "customization" seems almost endless. If you're Michael Vick, for example, maybe you could adorn your especially aggressive pit bull with a pair of these things made of brass. It couldn't sneak up on anybody, but probably wouldn't care. They might get uncomfortable when the weather turned cold, though.

SLEIGH BELLS RING, ARE YOU LISTENING?
Or, if you want to know where Rover is all the time, maybe you could replace his "original
equipment" with a pair of sleigh bells so it would sound like a Budweiser Clydesdale approaching when he runs to greet you.

Ah, the things we do for our pets here in the Land of More Money Than Brains for
the sake of their self esteem. Good Grief!

Labels: ,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Putting 9/11/01 In Perspective



"The United States loves life. We love death. That is the difference between us."
- Osama bin Laden




THE WARRIOR REPORTS
Here we are, six years downstream from the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. and the resolution of our response is still unclear. Today I watched as General David Petraeus, the commander on the ground in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker presented to Congress the results of our current policies in Iraq, including the "surge", and their take on what is necessary for success in Iraq in the future. Following their testimony their words will be dissected and criticized by those opposing our continued presence in Iraq - that has already begun as I type these words. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and our military commanders will be allowed to complete the job they were sent to do.

PERSPEC
TIVE
I think it's time to put this War on Terror in s
ome perspective. Searching for that perspective I recently came across a publication by the Congressional Research Service entitled, "American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics.", which was published June 29, 2007. This report was apparently written in response to numerous requests for war casualty statistics and lists of war dead. It's a fascinating piece of reading and covers American casualty statistics from the Revolutionary War forward to the present day. It includes not only major wars, but peace-keeping operations and other skirmishes, as well. Here are some excerpts:

THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
As you leaf thr
ough the pages of this report you can't help but be staggered by some of the numbers presented. For example, in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) it is estimated that between 184,000 and 250,000 men served and a total of 4,435 Americans died - the same number was reported for so called "battle deaths".

THE CIVIL WAR

During the four years of the Civil War (1861-
1865) 2,213,363 members of the Union forces served. 364,511 died, of which 140,414 were considered "battle deaths". Confederate statistics are unreliable, but it has been estimated that between 600,000 and 1,500,000 served, 133,821 died, of which 74,524 were "battle deaths". In the battle of Gettysburg alone, on two days in July of 1863, more than 165,000 men from both sides fought that bloody battle. More than 46,000 died. Nearly 500,000 Americans died in our Civil War.

WORLD WAR I
During World War I (19
17-1918) 4,734,991 Americans served. 116, 516 died , of which 53,402 were "battle deaths".






WORLD WAR II
In World War II (1941-1946) 16,112,566 Americans served. 405,399 died, of which 291,557 were "battle deaths".



KO
REA
In the Korea
n War (1950-1953) 5,720,000 served. 36,574 died, of which 33,741 were "battle deaths".





VIETNAM
During the Vietnam Conflict (1964-1973) 8,744,000 served.
58, 209 died, of which 47,424 were "battle deaths".

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
Finally, the most recent numbers
for our current conflict, which the report refers to as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (from March 19, 2003 to June 2, 2007) 3,480 Americans have died, of which 2854 were "hostile deaths". This number, sadly, continues to grow as we know from the daily reports via the news media - the most recent number I heard was just under 3,800 deaths.

If you've managed to slog through all those sad numbers, you'll find the rest of the report itself fascinating.

WAR ON TERROR
My point here, although it took a long time to reach it, is that the current War On Terror has ta
ken many, many fewer lives than any other "war" in American history. The Vietnam War - one that still resonates with so many of us who served in the military during that period - cost us nearly 60,000 young Americans. The Korean War, which ran for only three years, cost over 36,000 lives. While every single young American life is precious, the numbers of dead and wounded during this current war pale when compared to any other conflict in our history. That does not mean that losing another American soldier in combat is acceptable, but each day the news media, with the help of the internet, provides us with images of carnage that keep the wound that is our American perception of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan open and bleeding.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

As you loo
k at the photos on this page I hope you'll remember what started this whole thing. The quote from Osama bin Laden at the top has defined the tone of this conflict. Nearly 3,000 American lives were lost on September 11, 2001, snuffed out as the fuel-laden jets crashed into their targets. When the twin towers in New York City imploded those innocent victims stood no chance - they were simply shredded, mangled and vaporized as the buildings came tumbling down around them. The brave passengers of Flight 93, apparently headed for another target in Washington, D.C., were the first heroes on that day six years ago. They all lost their lives, but saved unknown thousands from death and injury by their brave action.

THE BEGINNING - BEIRUT, 1983

This war on terror is actually a war declared by radical Muslim
s well before September 11, 2001. This attack on America and her allies may have begun as far back as October 23, 1983, when a truck bomb exploded at the American military barracks in Beirut, Lebanon with a force said to be the equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT - at the time, the largest non-nuclear blast ever deliberately detonated on the face of the earth. In that blast 241 American military men and women died. This was preceded by the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in April of that year, which took 17 American lives among the 63 killed in the attack.

WORLD TRAD
E CENTER TOWERS, 1993
On February 26, 1993 the W
orld Trade Center towers were attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, who exploded a truck loaded with a urea nitrate fuel oil device and included sodium cyanide, which they hoped would filter through the ventilation ducts and slowly smother the occupants of the towers. The plan was to explode the bomb so as to knock one tower into the other, toppling both and killing an estimated 250,000 people. 6 people were killed and 1,042 were injured. The plan failed and most of the perpetrators were captured, tried and convicted and are serving 240 years each.

KHOBAR TOWERS, 1996
On June 25, 1996 a car bomber exploded the equivalent of 20,000 - 30,000 pounds of TNT at the Khobar Towers in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing
19 Americans and injuring 372 people of various nationalities.

USS COLE, 2000

On Oc
tober 12, 2000, in an attack that is viewed by some as a precursor of the 9/11/01 attacks, the guided missile destroyer USS Cole was attacked by two suicide bombers who approached the ship and exploded their cargo, leaving a 35-by-36 foot gash in the ship's side. 17 sailors were killed and another 39 were injured.


THE PAT
H TO 9/11
If you d
oubt we are at war, take a look at this link, which chronicles the path that culminated in the attack on September 11, 2001 in amazing detail. It contains 580 entries, which lists the intelligence success and failures that resulted in the attack. Take a look at the numbers above and understand that this "war" is a long way from over. Don't forget the attacks in England and Spain and the murders of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl. Let those be a reminder that, as has been said many times - if we don't defeat them over there we will be fighting them over here.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE
As I post this today there have been rumors about anot
her massive attack somewhere to commemorate 9/11/01. I hope that, as you read this, nothing of the sort has happened. We, as a country, must remain steadfast in our resolve to quash these evil forces that are determined to destroy our way of life. Regardless of the political posturing and rhetoric by our elected leaders, we must show unity and dedication to that end.

STRENGTHEN YOUR RESOLVE

If your resolve weakens, remember the quotation from
Osama bin Laden at the top of this entry.

NEVER FORGIVE AND NEVER FORGET!

Labels: ,