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A soldier of warBoth opponents and supporters of current US foreign policy in Iraq use casualty figures to help support their assertions. I thought I would do some investigation and try to place current events in historical perspective. However, I discovered that those who paid the highest price were as likely to be innocent victims as they were to be wearing a uniform. Additionally, suicide is a much bigger problem than most people realize. In fact, the total number of people who died during all wars/conflicts combined during the past 6-7 years is equaled by the number of people who took their own lives. For example, the U.S. teen suicide rate for the period between 2001-2007 dwarfs the military casualty numbers in Iraq.

WW2 is clearly the most costly modern war in terms of civilian casualties (even if you discount the Holocaust). 40,000,000 civilian died during this world wide conflict. The impact of war on civilians (or so called non-combatants) is quiet clear – 50% of all war related casualties during the 20th century were civilian.

It is also clear that the total number of casualties from the War on Terror is rather low when compared to other modern conflicts. However, like Vietnam, the War on Terror is prolonged when compared to prior conflicts. Perhaps this is a natural result of a lack of clear military objectives (much like Vietnam). Or perhaps this is a side effect of the United States’ unwillingness to go “all in” in recent conflicts.

Another sobering statistic – the number of young Americans who committed suicide during the same time period as the War on Terror is about 7 times higher than the total number of military deceased. Where is the news coverage on this topic?

Better yet, who represents the interests of the children both here and abroad? Where is the public outcry over the loss of our children? When a child loses both arms because he was playing near a concealed mine or IED. where is the outrage? When children die or are injured because they live in war zone, why does the media resist giving the children a voice by not separating child from adult casualties? When a child’s father or mother comes home in a body bag, who is responsible for explaining the logic behind such a monumental sacrifice? Who can make amends for the loss of a parent or the loss of a child? Who dares to justify the sacrifice of family for oil, WMD, politics, and, most of all, religion?

According to WHO and the CDC:

1) In the 20th century, an estimated 191 million people died as a result of warfare, half of them civilians.
2) During 2001-2007, there were approximately 10,000,000 violent deaths (including the War on Terror) and of those, about 5,000,000 committed suicide.
3) During 2001-2007, the total number of suicides for Americans ages 10-24 was about 30,000.

  Revolutionary Civil War WW1 WW2 Korea Vietnam War on Terror Other Conflicts
  (1775–1783) (1861–1865) (1914–1918) (1939–1945) (1950-1953) (1959–1975) (2001-2007) (1900-1999)
Military Deaths (All) 50,000 620,000 9,720,453 25,037,500 700,000 1,000,000 25,000 58,000,000 *
Military Deaths (USA) 25,000 620,000 116,708 407,300 46,911 58,000 4,246  
Military Wounded (All) 45,000 412,200 * 21,228,813 26,400,000 1,000,000 1,900,000 42,000  
Military Wounded (USA) 25,000 412,200 * 200,000 670,000 100,000 150,000 29,000  
Civilian Deaths unknown 50,000 * 8,865,649 47,118,500 2,000,000 * 4,000,000 105,000 * 33,000,000 *
Civilian Deaths (Terrorism)             5,000  
Civilian Deaths (Military/Insurgent)             100,000 *  

* estimated, exact number is not known

Notes:
WW2 civilian casualties include Holocaust victims
War on Terror figures include all fronts world wide

ArguingI will probably never win Father of the Year. In the official imaginary Father Ranking System, I’m somewhere between Homer Simpson and the guy who sold his kid’s Xbox for a tidy little profit the day after Christmas. Okay, so maybe I’m not that bad, but I’m feeling a little lost these days – more so than usual.

Yesterday, my three year old son P.J. was having an especially bad day – behavior-wise. This is to say, we were all having a bad day at my house. I’ve heard it said that ‘the terrible twos’ is one of the most challenging periods of parenthood, but I think the person who came up with that term probably had yet to experience ‘the third degree threes.” The Boy… we call him The Boy because we live in a house full of girls… Anyway, The Boy simply will not take NO for an answer and he absolutely will NOT obey under any circumstance.

For example, if I tell The Boy that he cannot have any ice cream for dessert; the following path of attack will likely be employed in an attempt to Shock and Awe his opposition (namely me). The initial attempt will involve The Boy repeatedly storming the front gates with, “Daddy, I want ice cream.” My negative reply will be met with outright insolence and is basically ignored completely, “Daddy, I want ice cream.” Amazingly, this insane frontal assault has apparently worked on at-least one occasion since he continually employs this same strategy as an opening bid in The War for Ice Cream… Alright, it might have been me in a moment of weakness, but I had the flu or something… When The Boy has decided that the front gates are impregnable he will begin his secondary attack strategy. A strategy so bold, audacious, and down right disrespectful, it is sure to send yours truly through the ceiling. This second strategy is most effective if his mother and I are in the same room – even better if we are sitting next to each other. Yes, you guessed it, “Mommy, I want ice cream.” He’s done this before, but yesterday I’m sitting next to my darling wife and The Boy is looking right at me as he says these words cradled in his mother’s arms. It was all I could do to restrain myself from jumping over the imaginary walls of my impenetrable Father Fortress. As I said, the sheer audacity! This plan didn’t work either, but certainly not for lack of daring on his part. I just don’t know how to make him understand that WE DON’T HAVE ANY FRICKIN’ ICE CREAM!

So, like I said, it was a bad day at our house and it really had nothing to do with The Boy.  Anyway, the inmates are clearly running my asylum and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, if I could only find my happy place… I hope the bathroom isn’t occupied!

Some interesting quotes about fatherhood:

  • “An angry father is most cruel towards himself.” – Publilius Syrus
  • “When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.” – The Talmud
  • “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” – Theodore Hesburgh
  • “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’” – Harmon Killebrew
  • “It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping.” – John Sinor,
  • “One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.” – Jewish Proverb
  • “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano
  • “By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” – Charles Wadsworth
  • “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain,
  • “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” – Harry S. Truman
  • “My father was often angry when I was most like him.” – Lillian Hellman
  • “We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents.” – Henry Ward Beecher
  • “There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.” – Anonymous

Dungeons & DragonsNow that Gary Gygax, the creator of D&D, has passed away, I am forced to revisit my past as a total role playing gaming geek. All of my best childhood and “pre-grownup with kids” friends are in some way connected to me through role playing games. The fellowship and good times we had will always be remembered fondly. Playing and moderating role playing games helped sharpen my intellect. I learned how to harness my creative spirit, the art of story telling, and how to think fast and improvise. But more importantly, gaming provided common ground for establishing friendships and incredible fellowship. Truly the best of times.

Although Gary’s career, post-Dungeons & Dragons, was not as successful, the entire role playing game industry owes it’s existence to Gary’s vision. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gygax many years ago at a local gaming convention in Atlanta. Gary was promoting one his new creations post-Dungeons & Dragons. Okay, so I didn’t pass out and I didn’t scream like a lovesick Beatles fan, but meeting the creator of D&D was certainly a unique honor.

So, after spending countless hours throwing oddly shaped dice, erasing holes through dog-eared character sheets, and having a blast imagining and exploring worlds that never existed, I salute the creative spirit of the recently departed E. Gary Gygax.

Gary resided in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He described his studio in his typical narrative fashion as, “a small but sunny upper room—cluttered with books, magazines, papers, and who-knows-what else. Right now, pending the redecorating of that room, I am lodged in the downstairs dining room at a long table that holds two computers and a scanner, with the printer hiding to one side below it. The radio there in the studio was usually tuned to a classical music station, but the station was sold, programming changed, so now I work sans music, or now and then with a CD playing through the computer. While there are bookcases in the upper studio, elsewhere on the second floor, and on the first floor, the main repository of printed lore (other than that piled here and there) is my basement library which includes thousands of reference works, maps, magazines, and works of fiction.” – wikipedia

-A lifelong RPG geek

Here’s a couple of interesting articles published at the time of Gary’s passing:

Barack ObamaI have repeatedly read and seen, over the past year or so, from a variety of sources that Barack Obama (Democrat candidate for President) is or was a practicing Muslim. Even if he was, I’m not sure I understand how this makes him a good/bad (emphasis on bad) candidate/person. The term Muslim does not equate to radical Islamic terrorist – can we all agree on that at-least? In any case, to help set the record straight I looked up Mr. Obama’s background and although his father was raised a Muslim, Obama himself was not. In fact, Mr. Obama has been a member of the United Church of Christ for over 20 years.

A theme of Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and the title of his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In Chapter 6 of the book, titled “Faith,” Obama writes that he “was not raised in a religious household.” He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents, as detached from religion, yet “in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known.” He describes his Kenyan father as “raised a Muslim,” but a “confirmed atheist” by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian stepfather as “a man who saw religion as not particularly useful.” The chapter details how Obama, in his twenties, while working with local churches as a community organizer, came to understand “the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change.” Obama writes: “It was because of these newfound understandings—that religious commitment did
not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved—that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.” He has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ for over twenty years.” -wikipedia

The United Church of Christ claims the following people as famous past or present members:
* John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)
* Julian Bond — Chair NAACP (2004–present)
* Howard Dean — Former Governor of Vermont (Democrat)
* Bob Graham — Former U.S. Senator from Florida (Democrat)
* Judd Gregg — U.S. Senator from New Hampshire (Republican)
* Jim Jeffords — Former U.S. Senator from Vermont (Independent)
* Andrew Young — Civil rights leader, ordained UCC pastor, and former member of Congress, UN ambassador, and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

I am not advocating Mr. Obama for president. To be honest, I haven’t selected a candidate. However, I would prefer to base my decision on facts and maybe even the truth! Or as close to the truth as we are allowed to get.

A couple of interesting articles on Barack Obama relayed from a friend:


The Golden CompassRecently I received the following alarmist chain e-mail from a friend:

“The Golden Compass (UNCLASSIFIED) – Please read the attached article about the new movie called the Golden Compass that will be released this December 7, 2007. It is a children’s movie that was written by an atheist. He is anti- C.S. Lewis. The message of the movie is basically to kill God! Please read this and pass it along to any unsuspecting parents. We definitely don’t want to purchase a ticket by mistake and subject our children to such a horrible movie.”

While we should be careful about what we allow children to read and watch, I am uncomfortable with the assumption that The Golden Compass movie (based on a trilogy of books by Philip Pullman) advocates “killing God” or that it’s message is “anti-C.S. Lewis.” In fact, Pullman does not like The Chronicles of Narnia because he views it as being “blatantly racist” and “monumentally disparaging of women.” Also, the inspiration behind the novels is, in part, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a poem, though controversial in nature (it grapples with theological issues like fate, predestination, and the Trinity), is still considered to be one of the greatest works in the English language.

My casual research seems to indicate that the movie/book is merely anti-dogmatic which is certainly a valid complaint against many Christian-based religions (and for that matter, many modern non-Christian religions as well). Although I have not read these novels or seen the movie adaptation, I find no basis for taking such an alarmist position.

Here is a conversation between the author and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams regarding a UK theatre adaptation of the novels (“His Dark Materials”):

The Dark Materials debate: life, God, the universe…

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