Commenting on Daylight Raid by U.S. Forces in Somalia

I’m not sure why but this story about a daylight helicopter raid by U.S. Special Forces in Somalia is intriguing to me. I tried twittering about it but I just couldn’t sum up my thoughts in 140 characters. I’m not sure if this kind of story is rare, but I don’t remember seeing that many stories about U.S. raids like this (though it’s entirely possible I just miss them—I almost missed this one).

I think what I find interesting is that it was so “clean,” if such a thing can be clean. They took out a major terrorist operative who was connected to the U.S. embassy bombings and an attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya. There were no civilian deaths (another article noted that they opted to send in troops instead of using cruise missiles to minimize civilian casualties), it seems like they got the right guy (not sure if they have a positive ID yet) and it was a quick in and out operation. Maybe this is how it often happens and I just haven’t seen the stories, but it seems like this is how the war on terror should go. It could have just as easily been a mess, as any combat situation can go bad (Somalia of all places has taught us that).

I guess all the military stories we hear are of being mired in Iraq (which I don’t think started with any legitimate connection to the war on terrorism) or the continued struggle in Afghanistan. There are certainly successes in those places, but they often feel overshadowed by the body counts, the civilian casualties, the two steps forward one step back “progress” of nation-building.

I’m often uneasy about war and sympathize with peace movements, but I also think that in the face of things like terrorism a nation has little choice but to fight back. How we fight back is the crucial question of course, and I guess this just strikes me as a good example.

I realize I’m completely rambling here. Sorry.

Update: Here’s a second story on the daring raid that includes a little more background and detail.

9/11 Confession

I didn’t want to do this. I don’t like the whole reflect on tragedy thing. I clearly didn’t like it seven years ago either (I think I’ve mellowed a bit since then, thankfully). Even eight years ago I was understandably uneasy. (I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I haven’t blogged on this day since 2001.)

But as the tweets kept coming up today and I started clicking on links and reading stories, first this one about a 9/11 curriculum and students who don’t remember 9/11 and then this collection of Pulitzer prize-winning 9/11 photos. The first article was hard enough to get through (it doesn’t help that parenthood has set in since 9/11, which has made me more emotional)—it’s weird to realize my kids won’t relate to 9/11 like I will. But then I started to remember.

I was at my desk in the Internet department at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, getting started on work as other coworkers came in telling stories about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. At first it sounded like a small prop plane, but as we tried to get online and find out more it became clear that it was much worse. Much of the morning was spent trying various web sites, trying to find one that wasn’t crashing, trying to get some sort of update.

Continue reading 9/11 Confession

Gmail Down? 25% Off Lulu Today Only

Downtown DandelionsYou may have heard about the big Gmail fail today when Google’s mail app went down for an hour and 45 minutes. It was a tech apocalypse of so-so proportions.

But it gets fun when on-demand publisher offered a 25% discount today only. Use the code “gmail” and you can get 25% off, up to $100 until midnight tonight. So what can you buy at Well, among other things (like Wil Wheaton’s Sunken Treasure) you can buy my first novel, Downtown Dandelions.

If you’ve ever considered purchasing my barely edited, first stab at a novel, now’s your chance to get it for 25% off (that’s only $9.74). What a deal! I haven’t made much of an effort to pitch this novel, mainly because of the whole barely edited part (yes, it has typos). But today I thought, why not? Some of you might actually get a kick out of it. Some people have actually liked it. In fact, just last month a distant friend commented on Facebook: “I just read Downtown Dandelions on my vacation and really enjoyed it.” Nearly five years after it was published some people are still enjoying it, so why not pitch it again?

It’s the story of college students facing calamity and falling in love. Death and romance in one tidy package.

If you haven’t heard the back story on this novel, you can read up on it here. Essentially, I wrote it in a month as a part of the National Novel Writing Month. I spent a few weeks editing it (mostly for proofreading, it didn’t get a real edit) and slapped it together on so I could have an actual copy on my shelf, more for posterity than anything else.

So if you want to snag a copy at 25% off, you’ve only got a few hours left to do so. And if you’re cheap, you can also just download the free PDF.

Update: Looks like Lulu is having another sale for Labor Day weekend: 20% off up to $25 (code: WHITE) or $50 off $250 or more (code: GREEN).