Monday, August 29, 2005

Slabs of Marvel

For those of you who can see the right-hand column of my blog* there is a section of links under the heading Military Blogs. These are blogs that are either authored by members of the military or by writers embedded with the military in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The contents of this list will change from time to time as new blogs catch my attention. Occasionally I will mention some of these new blogs in a posting such as this one.

* One regular reader has told me he has trouble with his browser such that my blog doesn't have a right-hand column.

Today's MilBlog of interest is Life in X Minor written by a young man in Afghanistan. He is on the right in the photo above which I found in his flikr gallery. His most recent posting as I write this -- Michaelangelo -- offers his philosophy about how we are shaped by adversity and created by our enemies. It contains, among other things, one of my all-time favorite typos.
Only through conflict of the self versus everyone and everything do we learn anything about ourselves. Your strength of will against the whole fucking world. Like a slab of marvel in the hands of Michaelangelo.
[In fairness I should point out that the word marble appears several times in the piece correctly spelled and he was clearly betrayed by a missed mouse-click in his spell checker.]

Xavier (as I believe his name to be) is a good writer with interesting things to say about his experiences. When he is in a serious mood -- as in Michaelangelo -- he can be a bit overmatched by his topic, but when he writes a funny piece he is really good. As examples, consider The Afghan Sauna or Full Body Massage [Caution: indelicate language and subject matter... but funny.]

Life in X Minor is fairly typical of military blogs written by deployed soldiers. The stop-and-go nature of military in-theater life -- occasional actions interspersed by long periods of boredom -- are an ideal environment for blogging and many of the blogs are well worth reading.

This same stop-and-go pace often means that they can't post on a regular schedule and I worry about them during these hiatuses. In most cases they have just been busy, or deployed somewhere without an internet connection, but in some cases the reason for the interruption are more serious -- sometimes tragic. I was a a regular reader of Steven Vincent's blog -- In the Red Zone -- and his articles in the New York Times and National Review Online and I was deeply saddened to hear that he had been killed -- murdered by gunmen who were most likely linked to the corrupt Shiite police forces he had recently criticised in the Times.

I think everyone who feels the need to have an opinion about the War on Terror should read the occasional military blog. It is terribly difficult to get a clear view of what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan (or London for that matter) when the media pundits on both sides are spinning the story so strongly this way or that. Of course the soldiers in the field also have their opinions -- their slant on things -- but I think their first-hand experience and having their butts on the line should buy them some credibility. They have earned the right to a little torque of their own in spin city.

A good place to start with military blogs is The Mudville Gazette -- the uberblog of the MilBlogs which is both a decent blog in itself and a great source of links to what other MilBloggers are writing. It is through the Mudville Gazette that I found many of my favorite blogs -- things like 365 and a Wake Up that I read regularly and include among the links on the elusive right-hand-side of my page.

If you are like me, reading some of the blogs I have mentioned here will leave you impressed with the intellegence, talent, bravery and thoughtfullness of the men and women who serve in our military. They are slabs of marvel to be sure -- each and every one.

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