The views expressed here neither represent nor are affiliated with the US DOD, US Navy, FAO association, MGM Studios, Time Warner, Sony, RCA Recording or Hostess. Now, "relax and take notes . . . "

FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Weekly Reading: Down Syndrome, Maritime militias, Refugees, Fathers' Love, Netflix Secrets, Pro-Life and BPC primer

In Defense Of Down Syndrome Children...Like My Son
Love this.  Love my Uncle Dutch with down syndrome!

We must allow life in our world that doesn't follow our scripted narrative. We must have the courage to choose that which is good over what is convenient.

Why the rush to rid the world of people like Cade?

If you are a WestPac SWO or PACOM FAO this is mandatory reading.  CIMSEC puts out some great stuff.

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence
I try to read everything that Tristan McConnell writes.  His review of this book is stuck behind a paywall but I've added the book to my reading list for this year.

President Obama challenges pro-lifers to join March for Life (sort of)
A clever little video that juxtaposes the president's concern for shooting victims (which is admirable) with his support for abortion.  To me, being pro-life means being pro-gun control as well.

Why Every Girl Longs for a Father’s Love
Jut a nice reminder on why being a dad is so important...and why being an intentional dad is so important!

Netflix Has A Ton Of Secret Movie Categories And Here’s How To Access Them
Some cool little hacks to better search for movies on Netflix.  For example, http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/25804 will give you all the military shows that they carry. Rom-Coms are under 5475

Mini Object Lesson: No, There Are Not 100 Eskimo Words for "Snow"
haha, I love a good etymological deep dive!

What Is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues for Congress
These CRS reports are great.  If there was a Foreign Area Officer PQS, this would be one of the source documents.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Reading: Spooks, Buchanan!, Loss, Sanctuary cites, Mada's Legal Morass, FAOs and I am 2nd

How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996
Well this is an interesting article...but who could have really predicted Trump...

On Flying, and Who We Lost
A beautiful heartbreaking post about aviation, friendship and loss.

I Am Second
Then who's first, you will have to see for yourself.  Some incredible videos and stories.

The Struggle With Sanctuary Cities in Iowa
I am learning new things about our crazy political/electoral system all the time.

Eyewash: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations
The CIA, of course, denies any knowledge...between articles like these and watching Homeland...

UPDATE: Law and Legal Systems in Madagascar: A Political Siege
A good primer on the pol-legal systems of Madagascar.  I've been here two years and there were quite a few things that I learned.  It's difficult to find much political analysis on Madagascar in English so this was nice to run across.  One quote in particular caught my attention: "Montesquieu recommended that “power should be a check to power” to avoid abuses. However, Madagascar which wishes to be a democratic regime views the legislature and judiciary subordinated to the executive. Further, the Constitution appears to be an instrument used to legitimate and strengthen its supremacy."

This links auto-downloads the PDF--a bit annoying but so far a good 50 pages thesis that I am reading through.    His short answer is yes but AFRICOM needs a more balanced approached in Phase Zero ENCAP, MEDCAP and SC/SA activities.  You can just skip to page 48 to read his conclusions.

Foreign Area Officers learn from the experts at Monterey language school
Nothing I love more than a little FAO propaganda!

"Every FAO is an expert on political-military issues in a particular region of the world, is knowledgeable of security cooperation, highly trained in language skills and interpersonal skills, and is an experienced officer."

We definitely are not trained in 'interpersonal skills' but it's not a bad idea...although I am not sure what that would look like

Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekly Reading: Leaping Lines, Revolutionary Baby Jesus, Repo Men at Sea and Great! Post Offices

I read a lot over the holidays so I am still catching up with my summaries of all my December reading.

Reading Is About the Lines That Leap Off the Pages
Much of what you read in the Times you read without giving a thought to who the author is.  I couldn't make that mistake after reading this year-end gem by Dwight Garner, literary critic extraordinaire.  In it he deftly leaps through about twenty different book recommendations, lifting delicious quotes from each of them.

The Christmas Revolution
Smart, well-written article on just how revolutionary Jesus was.  "He saw the inestimable worth of human life, regardless of social status, wealth and worldly achievements, intelligence or national origin. So should we."

ISIS’ War on Christmas
Interesting and thoughtful article on how Salafists think about Christmas theologically.  The author also draws parallels between Islamists' "origin' state and that of the far right en France.

Wow, fascinating report on the gritty underbelly of maritime repossessors.  This has to get made into a movie.

What’s Your Favorite Poem?
A round table of authors discuss their favorite poems--what's not to like!

How I Escaped Vietnam
Incredible untold story of the flood of children that escaped Vietnam in the midst of escalating violence and mayhem.

In Chile, Where Pablo Neruda Lived and Loved
Beautiful writing about the homes of Neruda in Chile.  Essential reading for any Pablophile.

The Deported
I feel like it's all too easy for both sides of the immigration debate to make sweeping statements one way or the other.  Articles like these should hopefully give one pause to consider the actual human lives behind whatever the policies enacted are.

Why the Post Office Makes America Great
Having lived overseas for more than two years in a third-world country I appreciate the author's sentiment.  As Americans we take things like being able to send a letter that arrives where it is supposed to for granted.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekly Reading: Washington's Study, Rosewood Riches, Ragamuffins, Biblical Iliteracy, Sean Penn and One Important Quesiton

A Well-Organized Study
I don't normally put these articles in any order but when I saw I had this one near the bottom I moved it up to the very top.  MY FAVORITE READ FROM THIS PAST WEEK.  A USNA Classmate has put together a detailed look and program for organizing your digital life.

Madagascar continue de fermer les yeux sur le trafic du bois de rose
Some key quotes for my non-francophone readers regarding rosewood trafficking in Madagascar:
- From one diplomat--The entire world is sick and tired of Madagascar's double talk
- No one can even really measure the amount of natural resources being pillaged by Madagascar's political elite

Will definitely check out this movie from about two years back

Life aboard a hospital ship
Great short article on the great work done by the volunteers at Mercy Ships!

‘Excellent Daughters,’ by Katherine Zoepf
Looks like a very interesting read by someone who worked for years with these women.

 My Last Day as a Surgeon
Ugh, a heart breaking article excerpted from the surgeon's swan song/book.

We’ve lost our consciousness of the Bible
This article hits the nail on the head as the majority of the news/media establishment no longer has even a modicum of knowledge regarding what many Americans still believe.

Sean Penn is a college freshman’s Che Guevara T-shirt personified
For real though.  Talk about the lack of a moral compass.

Why We Write About War
The short answer: We write to know we are not alone.

Such a great post: what do you want so much that you are willing to endure pain to achieve/get it?

Brookings: Foresight Africa--Top Priorities for the Continent in 2016
A good reference and starting point for analysis.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Reading: the Fugees, ISIS, Happiness and the Death of a Diplomatic Legend

Killing the Islamic State Softly Military power will win battles in Syria and Iraq, but only soft power can win the war
The prolific Stavridis makes his argument for soft power against ISIS--bottom line--it won't be cheap.

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
A decent (albeit long-winded) TED-ish speech on an INCREDIBLE and fascinating 75 year study on happiness.  Short answer: the most valuable thing you can do is invest in close relationships with family and friends.  Loneliness kills...literally.

It's a good and interesting list to consider.

The Arts and the Military
Great deep thoughts from a Naval Academy classmate on civil-military relations.  He's got a great website/blog that he writes at--check it out.

What Would Cool Jesus Do? Inside Hillsong Church NYC
I never expect GQ to be so even-handed in an article about a Protestant movement/church but the author was--a fascinating look into the leadership of the Hillsong church..and Justin Bieber.

The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires
Really this is just a depressing article...10 ideas a day?  Who has time for that?  Who even has 10 ideas a month or a year?  ...I guess millionaires?

Call to battle’: Catholic bishop challenges men to be ‘men’ in awesome new video
Great call for men to be leaders in loving their families.

The CNO Puts it to Paper
The Navy's top admiral makes his pitch for the United States to maintain maritime superiority.  It's a quick read worthy of some thought.

The U.S. diplomatic corps loses a legend just when it needs him the most
A fitting requiem for diplomatic great Ambassador Bosworth.  A worthwhile read and summary of his myriad accomplishments.

My Selections from 2015 Africa Is a Country Book Recommendations

I love me a good book list!  AfricaIsACountry published their recommended books of 2015 here. I've put the ones that look interesting to me below.    Among them Lagoon would be the first African Sci-Fi book that I will have ever read.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Thoughts on Islam in Morocco and the Role of its King as the Leader of the Faithful

Found this short note going through old grad school notes when I happened to be studying Islam in Morocco.  Perhaps I will expand upon it in the future.

In a system of belief, one of whose pillars is submission to God (two other pillars include, making the journey  and charity),  can one man climb atop the shoulders of this belief –a belief that burns like hot coal in the heart of a nation—and effectively own the course of Islam in that nation?  

Can a political party?  

Can the fact of a man’s ancestors lift him above the beggars’ heads in Marrakesh? 

Surely charity lies in the heart
In the community of believers
Surely submission to God
Lies in the prostrate spirits
Surely making the hajj

Lies in the believers’ humble feet.