More videos claim chemical weapon use in Syria

Thought I’d come out of dormancy for a moment to post something on Syria. Here’s a short review of the indicators of CW use in the following recent videos:

Q: Could sarin or chlorine have been used against Syrian patients seen in the source videos?

A: The fewest indicators were seen against sarin in the source material. The single indicator against sarin comes from hearsay.





Low consciousness; staring, vacant



Frothy exudate



Muscle twitching



Possible small rocket casing









Bodies w/o visible wounds



Smell of chlorine


  • There are 4 indicators not likely for chlorine.
  • There is 1 indicator not likely for sarin and 1 indicator inconclusive (unknown).
  • There are 4 indicators not likely for no CW.  Some indicators supporting no CW were selected because they could result from being close enough to a conventional weapons explosion to experience shock, anxiety, and dust inhalation.

Conclusion: of the possibilities considered, these videos most likely show patients affected with a CW nerve agent or organophosphate chemical based on the fewest indicators against it.  

I did not attempt to consider when or where these patients were videoed. Key assumptions are that the videos are recent, were taken in Syria, and were not faked. 

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Dr. Horribles Sing Along Blob

Just good clean fun.

Update: When I posted this, it was free. Now you have to buy it on iTunes. Bastards! What’s with these capitalist pigs wanting money for their work?!

Holy moly, where did all you people come from?

Due to a bizarre alignment of planets resulting in links from Danger Room, Armchair Generalist, and Little Green Footballs (I sure didn’t see that coming), this little blog has had more visitors today than any other day in its short history. Hi y’all. Stop back occasionally – you’re likely to find something weird, mildly interesting, or even entertaining here, if only in my blogroll & links.

whatcha lookin at

Oh, and thanks, WordPress for breaking on this day, not some other day, but this one. Frakking losers. (Fixed!)

U.S. wanted to gas Aussies?

Aussie PPEReportedly, declassified documents just released from the (Australian, I think) National Archives describe a U.S. plan to gas a remote jungle area in Australia in the 1960s. And the U.S. wanted Aussie troops to be on the receiving end (properly suited up, of course!)

Not only that, but the Australian government felt pressured into the deal or they might lose the U.S. as allies.

Under the plan – which is not believed to have been acted upon – 200 Australian combat troops, presumably wearing 1960s-era chemical protection suits, were to be subjected to aerial bombardment in the Iron Range rainforest near Lockhart River in far north Queensland.

Officials “believe” the testing did not take place. Supposedly, they didn’t want to tell the test subjects exactly what was going on:

The documents stated that of the 200 troops to be used in the tests, “only four to six would need to know the full details of the operation”. The US proposal recommended that the Australian government keep the nerve agent tests secret, describing them as either “equipment testing” trials or “land reclamation” experiments.

Yes, that would have worked out great when a few soldiers decided they were too hot and uncomfortable and pulled off their masks. I just have to doubt that anyone could have seriously proposed such a thing, but the fact is, we’ve had some madcap ideas about agent testing over the years.

The proposed Australian tests were designed to collect data about how troops in jungle terrain pick up chemical agents on their equipment and clothing. I have to say that test data like that—in all different kinds of terrain and climate—would be invaluable today. We don’t have it, and probably never will. The way that we go about testing our gear in no way resembles what might be reality in the field.

Although we could do a lot better to test our gear and understand the hazards of agents in realistic conditions, I think we can probably do without gassing uninformed allied troops to get there. “Land reclamation”?! That’s just silly!

20 years since leaving the military

dog tagsAs of this weekend, the old gal has completed 20 years of post-military life. I can hardly believe it has been that long. Yes, they did indeed let me put “Rastafarian” on my dog tags. At one point I had “Zoroastrian” but I guess I’ve lost that set.

This morning I dug through all my old photos and junk. Not just the military stuff but everything from my whole life. I’ve got way too much crap. As it turns out, my military stuff amounted to not much of it. I kept a few of those old plastic award folders, some pins and coins and junk like that, flotsam and jetsam from Europe, and not a lot of photos. I was looking for a certain faded Polaroid of me in basic training in the old pickle suit, but I couldn’t find it. Must have given it to my Mom. I did find one of me holding a large shaped charge, but frankly the old bubble helmets were not very flattering so I decided not to scan that one in.

beer labelAmongst the flotsam and jetsam from Europe, I found an old beer label. It figures. I also kept a couple squares of the gray, sandpaper-like toilet paper from the German trains. Ticket stubs from “Rock Am Ring” in 1985 and ’86 (I also went in ’87). Various bits of ID and old ID photos that look like mugshots, and a class photo of me wearing “spec 5″ rank—hell, I’d forgotten that rank existed! An old postcard showing my house in Kröeppen, Germany, where the renter behind me played drums incessantly and had eyes that each pointed a different direction and an insane, orange-ish afro. A few photos of friends who I’m sad to have lost touch with.

Now one of my kids has gone into the military and it’s really a strange feeling. The military really sucked sometimes, and that was peacetime. I can’t imagine how it is for them nowadays. I can’t say that I would strongly encourage anyone’s kid to join the military at the moment, but if anyone asked, I’d have to tell them that overall, it did do me some favors. Today I’m no longer in the military but in my way I’m still in the Service. I guess you can take the girl out of the uniform but you never quite wipe the camo off the girl.

Army promoting first female 4 star General

That’s “General” as in 4 stars. LTG Ann Dunwoody (is it LTGEN nowadays?) has been nominated to the rank of General. I think that’s awesome. I’m always thrilled to see women reach the highest ranks in the military because I know they had to be better than perfect to get there.

For some reason, I had none of that feeling for Hillary running for president. Zip. I guess it’s because she’s never really done anything I personally respect as a great achievement. Oh well, I have no respect for politicians in any shape, form, or gender so that probably explains it.

But I digress. Rock on General Dunwoody! HOOAH!

Army press release here.

7 random things

Major Kong, not appearing to suffer from too much martial discord, but getting ready to deliver some.

So Drew Conway was kind enough to saddle me with this randomness meme thing. I’ll try not to disappoint. The rules are:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
  3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  5. Present an image of martial discord from whatever period or situation you’d like.

7 random or weird facts about myself:

  • People gross me out: I hate hair. Loose hair—not connected to a body, that is.
  • People gross me out: I hate hearing people eat, or slurp their drink.
  • I love sci-fi, almost to the complete exclusion of all other entertainment in books, TV, and movies.
  • Someday I would like to be a cyborg. Preferably through an enhancement of my own choice and not through a need for a basic replacement part.
  • I’ve always been a Republican but since they got on this awful religious kick I’ve had to give it up. But I’ll never be a Democrat, so I’m planning to write in my own name or vote for General Zod in 2008.
  • I love to cook.
  • For an old bat of nearly half a century, I am damn well-preserved. I credit the U.S. Army pickling process™.

7 fresh victims (blogs I read, but frankly, one would be ill-advised to hold one’s breath waiting for most of them to complete this exercise):

Research tooltip: Zotero

Just a quick tip here. For those of you who do any sort of online research, I highly recommend Zotero as the most useful, FREE source organization tool I’ve found. It builds bibliographies in any format you like, saves files, links, notes, and tags, and really speeds up your research.

Zotero is an open source plug-in to your browser. It shows up as a “Z” at the bottom of the screen that you can click to toggle the interface, which sits at the bottom of your browser screen and looks like this (click for larger):

zotero thumbnail

You can make it whatever size you want.  It stores and exports files and bibliographies, and basically makes it fast and easy to bookmark and/or store copies of the files you are using for your research.

It does a TON of stuff I won’t go into here because I have really only scratched the surface of its functionality, and there are a lot of good planned upgrades in the pipeline.  Give it a try, if you do online research I think you’ll find it a huge timesaver.


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