Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury, has started something very cool over at Slate. "The Sandbox" is a sort of group blog that explores the human experience of the Global War on Terror, or GWOT. Posts from soldiers and wives on just the ordinary days and extraordinary burdens they have. It's not about policy or politics — it's just stories of people's lives. A fantastic idea. Just one quick excerpt from a soldier in Iraq:
"There are burn barrels and little pits dug into the ground all over. Sometimes at night you pass by an area and see mysterious darkened figures around a barrel alight with orange flame, like hobos in a New York back-alley. Or like robed men in sandals on an island in the Euphrates a mere mile from a large American military base, shadowed figures lost in thought. Add to this the Muslim prayers coming over loudspeakers from way too close, and it hits you just how much your personal reality has changed. The man who is usually praying sounds passionate, and fully enthralled in the words. It reminds me of a Native American prayer, as the vibrato voice rises and falls with a rhythm that is frantic and unsettling.
"I think Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this place at night. Without streetlamps, the darkness is complete, and you can find yourself on the walk back from the chow hall after dinner in a strange land of shadow and danger, your perception limited by the power of your flashlight. Fire breaks up the darkness. It is a welcome sight."