Category Archives: national security and infrastructure

Kristin Beck (Lady Valor) speaks at AGLA Christmas Party

img91313

Kristin Beck (author of “Warrior Princess” and subject of the CNN film “Lady Valor”) spoke tonight at the Christmas party for the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I see that I have footage from her speaking to AGLA at the Arlington VA library Nov. 25, 2014, too.

Here are the clips. I have to admit my attempt to wide-screen them on the cell phone backfired. Later I’ll figure out how to rotate them in the embed statement. For now, just play in YouTube and rotate the smartphone 90 degrees/

1 (Introduction)

2

3

4

5

6

(Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

A Capitol Fourth, 2016: Clips, with some surprising political retrospect

IMG29930

It started with a chain dance, not exactly a Virginia Reel from the old days of straight singles clubs.  Before, a couple of brothers played a game of mistaken identity on Capitol Hill.

1

2

Then Colin Powell gave a speech appealing for the USO, which entertains troops, often at some sacrifice by performers.  Now the USO comes up in the 1999 film “Southpark” when “Big Gay Al” mentions it (before blaming Canada);  he made an allusion to my book and the military DADT at the time.  In fact, Powell, as Chariman JCS, first opposed President Clinton’s 1993 plan to lift the military ban on gays, but gradually accepted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” which Clinton announced July 19 that year at Ft. McNair.

3

Besides the closing of the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, the National Symphony played the “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams:  Two brief clips (the second is the ending)

4

5

(Posted: Monday, July 4, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)

IMG29942

Also: Fort McNair in Washington DC (site of Clinton’s DADTDP speech)

mcnair

Clips of QA from Cato Institute forum on ISIS

IMG28951

On Wednesday, May 18, I attended an event at the Cato Institute in Washington DC, “Is ISIS Economically and Socially Stable?  Speakers included Howard J. Schatz and Jacob Shapiro.  This does sound like an understated title for a foreign policy forum.

I have a writeup on Blogger here   but I wanted to share a few brief clips (max length 95 seconds) of the Question and Answer section. I’ll embed the two most important.

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

Clip 5

Clip 6 makes the libertarian case that if a radical or violent or authoritarian movement fails suddenly or catastrophically on its own (like the Soviet Union) then others will be deterred from trying the same experiment in the future

Clip 7 answers my own question about homeland security.

Clip 8

Clip 9

Clip 10

(Published: Friday, May 20, 2016 at 11:30 AM EDT)

Films of the Shenandoah (“Brown Mountain” or “Rocky Mount”) fire areas

IMG28852

On Monday, May 16, 2016 I visited the burned are in Shenandoah National Park, 12 miles south of the US 33- south entrance (between Remington and Harrisonburg, VA), near the Brown Mountain Overlook at Milepost 77, looking West.

IMG28842

It’s important to note that this not the same as “Brown Mountain NC”, site of the famous lights (which actually occur at several places in Virginia and North Carolina — high school chemistry explanations — covered here Nov. 4, 2015).  The fire has also been called the “Rocky Mount Fire”, no connection to the Rocky Mountains in western US and Canada.

IMG28839

Vegetation was already starting to grow back.  But the visual effect was striking.

IMG90864

I saw very little fire damage on the south side of Skyline Drive.

Wildfires may occur in the East.  The Virginia fires don’t seem to have jeopardized homes.

1

2

3

4

 

Here’s a video on “What Caused the Fort McMurray Fire?” in northern Alberta?

And I can’t resist sharing this slide show of Expeditions by (22-year old nuclear physicist) Taylor Wilson, maybe the raw material for a documentary film. in Nevada, New Mexico and northwestern Arkansas. The “SCI” in the website name seems to refer to a level of security clearance.

The next-to-last story in my “Do Ask Do Tell III” book is called “Expedition“.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12 noon EDT)

 

 

Three films about nuclear Armageddon from the 80s

kansas18

 

A few films in the 1980s, the Reagan years, do recall the horror we used to feel at nuclear war.

In November  1983, ABC aired a two-part “The Day After” on a Sunday and Monday night. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer and written by Edward Hume.

The US has maintained an underground SAC base near Lawrence, Kansas and the University of Kansas (where I went to graduate school).  After international tensions, the US launches them within sight og the campus, and the Soviets nuke Kansas City.  People are shown turning to skeletons in the blast downtown, as the first part ends.  In the second half, people search through rubble. Jason Robards, JoeBeth Wiliams, and John Lithgow star.

People were told not to watch this alone.  I watched in my apartment in Harvey’s Raquet in Dallas with a medical resident next door I had befriended.  He had gotten used to treating PWA’s already.

 

Another film in 1983 was “Testament”, directed by Lynne Litman (Paramount).  A mom (Jane Alexander) in a suburb in Marin County and her kids learn that San Francisco has been nuked from an emergency news broadcast, and they await the end of their lives from radiation sickness.  (It’s a little hard to believe the broadcast could have gone off in the first place.) The film is available to rent on Amazon.

 

In 1982, NBC aired a 3-hour, 2-part “World War III”, by David Greene and Boris Sagal, written by Robert L. Joseph.   In retaliation for a grain embargo, the Soviets attack the US oil pipeline in Alaska.  This was a big deal in the years after the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973.  Rock Hudson, to die of AIDS five years later, plays the president.

(Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 1:30 PM EDT)

“Full Metal Jacket” (1987) somewhat captures the world of Vietnam-era mandatory military service

IMG25593

There have not been many films that really present the Vietnam era military draft, with the controversial student deferment system (and subsequent lottery), but one that comes somewhat close is Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket“, from Warner Brothers. As I recall, I saw this film at Northpark in Dallas shortly after release. The large film is based on Gustav Hasford’s novel “The Short-Timers” (1979).

The plot is in two parts.  The first section deals with basic training in the Marine Corps in 1967.  (It was possible to be drafted into the Marines at times, but not on the day in February 1968 when I was inducted.) There are three main characters:  The misfit Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio),  Joker (Michale Moldine), and Sgt. Hartmen (R. Lee Emrey), and some others such as Cowboy (Arliss Howard), Sgt. “Animal Mother” (Adam Baldwin) and Eightball (Dorian Harewood).

Pyle’s problems would have put him in Special Training Company in the environment I experienced at Fort Jackson in 1968, but they come to a head at the end of part 1 when he commits suicide (after shooting Hartmann).

Joker gets journalism as an MOS, and that does sound like an odd idea for a military occupational specialty — given today’s ideas about journalistic objectivity. Most of the other grunts get infantry (as had Pyle).  The second half of the film happens in Vietnam and covers the Tet Offensive, which had been launched Jan. 30, 1968, just before I went into the Army myself.

(Published Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT)

 

WJLA7 News Channel 8 offers “Fight for Freedom” Town Hall regarding “chilling effects” on journalism from radical Islam, North Korea, and other foreign interests

IMG20775

On Monday, February 9, 2015 I sat in the studio audience on the Second Floor at WJLA TV (7), in Arlington VA, for a special debate on News Channel 8 at 7 PM EST (one hour), “Town Hall: Fight for Freedom: Your Voice, Your Future” .  Sometimes WJLA refers to this program in a different word order “Your Voice, Your Future: Fight for Freedom”.

The four panelists were Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy, Clifford May from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jane Hall, Professor of Communications (Journalism) at American University in Washington DC, Faheem Younus (“Muslimerican”) and remotely, Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA).  Jeff Barnum moderated, and Scott Thuman managed the external stories and questions from social media.

WJLA offers a complete 58-minute video here.  I’m “in the movie” as the old man in the middle on the second row.

I made six small excerpts.

Clip 1

Clip 2  will be shown as an embed.  There was a stirring comment about how author Salman Rushdie (“Satanic Verses”) was told he was “in trouble”.

Clip 3

Clip 4

Clip 5

Clip 6

(Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 2 PM EST.)

Former Navy Seal Kristin Beck talks about her experience as trangender; she has a book and a film on CNN

IMG11978
I wanted to provide three clips of the speaking engagement of former Navy Seal Kristin Beck at the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance potluck on Nov. 23, at the Arlington County (VA) central library.

Kristin (note the spelling) was the subject of the CNN film “Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story” and her own book “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy Seal’s Journey to Coming Out Transgender

Clip 1 (She talks about Seal training)

Clip 2 (she talks about Alan Turing)

Clip 3

(Published Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM EST.)

Recalling “Brokeback Mountain” and its story concept

IMGA1705

I saw the epic gay romantic film “Brokeback Mountain“, directed by Ang Lee and from Universal/Focus Features, in December 2005, before a sold-out crowd at the Landmark Bethesda Row (MD).  I still recall the experience.


The film presents two cowhands, Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal)  and Ennis (Heath Ledger) as developing a romantic relationship, after some initial roughness, while working on sheep ranches in the Wyoming high country, in an environment where men have their own horses and bedrolls.  I remember the line “I wish I could quit you.”  The two men then separate and marry, and cross paths again at various times, as their marriages deteriorate.  Wikipedia gives the plot details.

In my novel “Angel’s Brother”, Randy (about 40, married with family) and Sal (a college student, near graduation and a supposed military intelligence career) develop a relationship in the course of “work”, in different ways, for the intelligence community, related to a biological (as it seems at first) threat that might come from Russia, from Islamists (not emphasized much) or from “aliens” (the most interesting possibility).  Randy’s wife is a health care professional also working on the threat from the CDC angle.  As the story progresses, the marriage weakens (because of the new gay relationship) but Randy actually grows closer to his oldest son as an adoptive father, but less so with his two subsequent biological children. But in time, it becomes apparent that not everyone will land from the global threat intact, but some people will actually be better off.  That’s sort of how it is with a “rapture”.  It doesn’t love everybody.

(Published “Friday Night” Nov. 21, 2014 (Sat AM) at 12:30 AM EST.)

Picture is in CA, near Mammoth Lake and US 395, Tioga Pass, 9500 feet (not Wyoming).