Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chorten in Bhutan, Oct.1992

One of my old friends, Bari, who finished up two years in Peace Corps Mongolia, is now talking about going back, and it sounds like getting married there too.

I thought I would send him via e-mail , this photo of the author of this blog, in front of a small chorten on the path up to Chomolhari, taken in October of 1992. Fourteen years ago, and all those days still seem fresh, to me. It just goes to show how pleasant memories, are remembered more readily.

I miss Bhutan at times, and wonder about Sangjay Khandu, our trek guide.
Guess, I'll have to look up Kuensel on the Web sometime.Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

Genealogy post- Greenberry Pinkston

GREENBERRY PINKSTON was born 1772 in Union County, SC, and died on July 27, 1852 in Mt. Meigs, AL. He married his first wife : Mary Ann Key Armstrong on December 25, 1796 in Hancock Co., GA.

By 1785 His Father John Pinkston (1744-1803) had moved the family to Wilkes County , Georgia , and by 1793 land records show them as being in Hancock County, Georgia .

I recently found a small amount of information about him in the book-
Recollections of the Early Settlers of Montgomery County and Their Families, by W.G. Robertson,
Here it is:" Green Pinkston

Green Pinkston , one of the first settlers, was a member of the Baptist church and lived in the vicinity of old
Antioch church, and had his membership there. He was a strong supporter of his church and a man that was
respected by every one who knew him. Mr. Pinkston had a family of four sons and three daughters.

James, one of his sons, married a Miss Mosely. Franklin, a splendid young man, married a Miss Hopper, and
John married a Miss Ray. Ann, the oldest daughter, married John Harper. Dolly, the next, married Frank
Howard, a good citizen and farmer. Evelin, the youngest, married William McClemore. Mr. Pinkston lived to a ripe old age and gently passed from earth."

In 1812, Land Tax Records show him as living still in Hancock Cnty. ,GA.
His eldest daughter, Martha Dolly Pinkston, was born 3 Feb 1813 in Montgomery, County, Alabama, which would indicate in the latter part of 1812, the family moved from Georgia, to Montgomery Cnty., Alabama.
It looks like he spent the remainder of his life in Mt. Meigs, Alabama, living near the Antioch Baptitist Church along the old Line Road.

Greenberry would either be my great, great , great grandfather or great, great, great grand Uncle. It all depends upon who is assigned as being the father of Henry B. Pinkston, (1828 -Jan. 1, 1887) my Great, Great Grandfather.

Which means that I will likely add to, or update this post at some point in the future.

Well, I just added an update to this. I finally found a death date for him in:`Marriage and Death Notices From the "South Western Baptist" Newspaper . Thus: " Died at the residence of his son in Montgomery County, Alabama on the 27th of July last, Deacon Green B. Pinkston, in the eighty first year of his age, having been a member of the Antioch Church thirty years and a deacon twenty eight."

Also I came across this information about him in a book entitled Early Alabama Settlers: " Granted land in Montgomery County, AL. Territory in 1817. He moved to MT. Meigs at that time along with his brother James and Mary Ann's brothers, James W. Armstrong, Mack Armstrong and her sister Miriam A. Vickers".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Two columns that caught my attention

I was struck by the ending of one of George Wills recent column's entitled:
Iraq's Atomization:

"But it did not take three years of Zarqawi and terrorism and sectarian violence to turn Iraqis into difficult raw material for self-government. For that, give another devil his due: Saddam Hussein's truly atomizing tyranny and terror. On June 20, 2003, just 72 days after the fall of Baghdad, The Post reported this from Fallujah:

"Military engineers recently cleared garbage from a field in Fallujah, resurfaced it with dirt and put up goal posts to create an instant soccer field. A day later, the goal posts were stolen and all the dirt had been scraped from the field. Garbage began to pile up again."

An Army captain asked, "What kind of people loot dirt?" There are many answers to that question. Here is one: a kind of people who are hard to help."

Then week after week Sidney Blumenthal disects everything 'W' does, and clarifies what is really going on. Here's the final part of a column entitled: George Bush Sr. asked retired general to replace Rumsfeld :

(At the beginning of the column he recounted behind the scenes efforts of Bush Sr. to ease out Rumsfeld)

"As Bush's approach has stamped failure on the military, he insists ever more intensely on the inevitability of victory if only he stays the course. Ambiguity and flexibility, essential elements of any strategy for counterinsurgency, are his weak points. Bush may imagine a scene in which the insurgency is conclusively defeated, perhaps even a signing ceremony, as on the USS Missouri, or at least an acknowledgment, a scrap of paper, or perhaps the silence of the dead, all of them. But his infatuation with a purely military solution blinds him to how he thwarts his own intentions. Jeffrey Record, a prominent strategist at a U.S. military war college, told me: "Perhaps worse still, conventional wisdom is dangerously narcissistic. It completely ignores the enemy, assuming that what we do determines success or failure. It assumes that only the United States can defeat the United States, an outlook that set the United States up for failure in Vietnam and for surprise in Iraq.

Bush's abrogation of the Geneva Conventions has set an example that in this unique global war on terror, in order to combat those who do not follow the rules of war, we must also abandon those rules. This week a conflict has broken out in the Pentagon over Rumsfeld's proposed revision of the Army Field Manual for interrogation of prisoners, which would excise Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions that forbids "humiliating and degrading treatment." And, this week, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., proposed a bill that would make the administration provide "a full accounting on any clandestine prison or detention facility currently or formerly operated by the United States Government, regardless of location, where detainees in the global war on terrorism are or were being held," the number of detainees, and a "description of the interrogation procedures used or formerly used on detainees at such prison or facility and a determination, in coordination with other appropriate officials, on whether such procedures are or were in compliance with United States obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture." The administration vigorously opposes the bill.

Above all, the Bush way of war violates the fundamental rule of warfare as defined by military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz: War is politics by other means. In other words, it is not the opposite of politics, or its substitute, but its instrument, and by no means its only one. "Subordinating the political point of view to the military would be absurd," wrote Clausewitz, "for it is policy that creates war. Policy is the guiding intelligence and war only the instrument, not vice versa."

Rumsfeld's Pentagon, meanwhile, reinforces Bush's rigidity as essential to "transformational" warfare; by now, however, the veneer has been peeled off to reveal sheer self-justification. Rumsfeld is incapable of telling the president that there is no battle, no campaign, that can win the war. Saving Rumsfeld is Bush's way of staying the course. But it also sends a signal of unaccountability from the top down. The degradation of U.S. forces in Iraq is a direct consequence of the derangement of political leadership in Washington. And not even the elder Bush can persuade the president that his way of war is a debacle."

Really an excellent column. I recommend checking out Salon each week, if for nothing else, at least Sidney Blumenthals columns. There are a lot of other excellent articles there too.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Traveling by Book

Well when a Sagittarius can't do much traveling due to circumstances, then they tend to do traveling by book. Thus, I picked up Robert D. Kaplan's The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century .
A travel book, but more than that, Kaplan visits places most travelers aren't going to at the moment. Here's the mini review from, which was originally from Publishers Weekly:

" After his recent travels through troubled southeastern Europe, Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History) has taken on an even more ambitious itinerary-some of the most inhospitable regions of the globe, both geographically and politically. Starting in West Africa, where he finds that border regions are so porous as to make the concept of countries "largely meaningless," he braves the Egyptian desert, then advances through Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, sprawling Turkestan, China and Pakistan and on through Southeast Asia. He advises at the outset that his book "folds international studies into a travelogue." Readers looking for an easy ride had better fasten their seat belts, for the author treats us to all sorts of speculation on the condition of humankind as the century is about to turn, along with generous dollops of history. Intermingled with graphic descriptions of exotic locales are highly personal ruminations, one of the most interesting of which is that in some of these lands, "the village came to the city and . . . vanquished it" by overwhelming modern urban middle-class values. A challenging and engrossing read."

I had been reading Constantine the Great, by Michael Grant, and Faust Theater of the World, and Struggle for Europe by Chester Wilmot, but once I got Ends of the Earth, it shot to the top of my reading stack so to speak.

Hard to put down. I have read several of Robert Kaplans books and I find them all engrossing and pleasurable reads. He brings valuable insights from his study of history , literature and art, to every country he visits.

One of the chapters which describes his adventures in Sinkiang, is called "Strategic Hippie Routes"; it would seem that back in 1994, when he was trying to get to Kashgar, the only westerners he ran into in the remote areas of Sinkiang were backpacking neo-hippies.

If I haven't been blogging as much, is I get involved in some good summer reading, or as I say traveling by books.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Excerpts from a Gore Vidal Interview

Didn't blog much in May, but now I am adding some excerpts from a Gore Vidal interview I found on the web. Usually each week I try to check what Hendrick Hertzberg at the New Yorker, or Sidney Blumethal at are saying. Vidal or course is now an Elder man of letters, and always has his own unique take on these United States, especially considering his deep, and long developed study of U.S. History.

The interviewer is Kam Williams, and it was found over at: . Here is a sample:

"KW: How would you describe the State of the Union?
GV: This is an Empire gone berserk. You've got a President who had every intention of militarizing the economy and militarizing the society. This had nothing to do with governance. He was mostly smearing people who pointed out his shortcomings. Now we don't have the money anymore… We don't have the will… People are disgusted… Katrina has turned off half a nation… And there's all the nonsense about borders… and so on… This is the worst period that I've ever seen for the United States. And Marcy Winograd, at least, is a good candidate who is intelligent.

KW: What do you think was Bush's agenda for this Presidency he wanted by any means necessary?
GV: To give his corporate friends jobs and tax cuts, from the oil people to General Electric. To make sure Halliburton wouldn't have to bid on its contracts to rebuild a country we first knocked-down with our tax dollars.

KW: By deliberately ruining Iraq so war profiteers could rebuild its infrastructure, he ended up ruining this country in the process, given the record federal deficit, which is why so much of the Gulf Region looks the same as the day after Hurricane Katrina hit. I wonder whether Bush has a sense of the irony about that.
GV: He has no sense at all. That's the problem. I don't think he deliberately set out to wreck the United States, but he has. It'll take two generations to get this country back, if we can ever get it back.

KW: Why aren't the people up in arms?
GV: Acquiescence. What used to be called citizens are now just a bunch of consumers waiting to be told what to do next, and automatically voting, even though they know the machinery is going to reverse their vote. We've lost too much in the way of the Bill of Rights.

KW: How do you think Bush feels about his disastrous Presidency?
GV: I don't think he cares. There are so many different kinds of stupidity. In American politics, you get to meet every kind. But he's a little exceptional. Very few politicians who got to be president are as ignorant as he is. Usually, they knew something about economics, something about the world works. I would say even some of them have a bit of conscience, not much, not much, and talk about impossible dreams. Aside from ambition, they do have an idea that they're going to serve a certain group.

KW: How has this played out with Bush?
GV: So, if there's a really difficult job, like running FEMA, you pick the dumbest person you know, because he's a really good guy. To watch Bush do this time and time again, I sit there and my jaw drops. Each time he does it he's in deeper trouble. He learns nothing.

KW: What will be the Bush legacy?
GV: If you remember, in one of my other books, I prophesied at the time of his election in 2000, "He will leave office the most hated President in our history."

KW: How'd you know?
GV: I put it together just from things he was saying along the way and from what I knew of his career in Texas."