Where There's A William

there's always aweigh

Archive for the month “January, 2009”

You think you fear change?

For an extraordinary look at the professional military culture extant in the US today, read this Abu Muqawama post and comment thread in its entirety. Pack a lunch (or a substantial snack and a drink), the comment thread covers six days of well-considered point and rebuttal by a broad collection of (mostly) very experienced (and also mostly) currently – or very recently – serving officer and senior enlisted Soldiers and Marines from both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.

For my own part, I would council avoidance of using the Merchant Marine as an ancillary force model, better I think to adapt the US Coast Guards dual civil authority arrangement to an infantry soldier’s environment.

As to the training quandary I seriously suggest that this might be better dealt with by revamping the basic terms of military enlistment. By making the basic period of enlistment a full 6 years of active duty with the award of a university AA/AS degree as a result of the training and professional education a service member receives (and the realistic possibility of a bachelors degree being achievable on his/her own time) as well as a bachelors degree being the result of a re-enlistment for an additional 6 years. The US military gains the added time in service to achieve the expanded education and training modern military mission variety and equipment mix demands while enlistees recieve the advanced education and experience they hope to attain from military service. At the end of the 12 years the option to continue career military, transfer to the ancillary force or pursue civilian opportunities will have to be chosen between – by both parties (there being no guarantee that the service will require quite as many relatively age’d infantry in the strategic mix).

There are undoubtedly numerous good reasons for not doing anything like this – but let me be the first to point out that how much more difficult it is to lead men and women who are at least as well educated and experienced as yourself will most pointedly not be acknowledged in the decision-making process. The US military services have historically been a professional organisation for the officers after all. For all the undoubted changes in the various branch’s in recent decades, that hasn’t been one of them I’m certain.

And yes, I was junior enlisted once upon a time; does it show? 🙂

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Still More Entertainment

Staghounds (there is at least some possibility of this being this fellow here) comments on my Denise Richards fan-boy drool from last November.

It’s always struck me that a “reality” program where people, well known or not, are taught a genuine skill would be successful.

There was one in England called “Faking it”, which I happened to see once, coincidentally when the subject was my own- a dancer from some club was being taught to compete in a horse show, though she had never been on a horse before.

The gun makers and NRA are missing a bet by not producing a program like that. It could be a series, follow a half dozen novices from first time through an IDPA competition, for example.

As it happens, I also caught that particular episode of the program Faking It and remember it quite favorably too. And I think horses think I’m edible, so unless our man is intimating he’s also a go-go dancer (and having been in Texas 16+ years now I can say with authority that this is not the unlikelihood the stereotype would have it) I’m going to assume this is a confluence of his horsey interest and my life-long admiration for feminine practitioners of a universal human display ritual.

Staghounds and I are not the only one’s to notice how the gun manufacturers are missing out on the media opportunities that abound today. While there are certainly more hunting-related programs to choose among (especially if you have cable), there simply aren’t that many non-military related shooting-specific programs being produced, most particularly shows that deliberately appeal to the full spectrum of potential audience.

Further to that, I especially like his closing programming suggestion of novice shooters training up for an IDPA (or USPSA or Steel Challenge) competition (some overlap between those last two): call it American Ideal maybe (and piss off the Brit shooters no end; the rare double win that :)). Denise Richards completing such a challenge in an extended-length program debute would attract a reasonably diverse audience I think. That being followed by her serving as presenter (and occasional dose of reality to contestants) in a series of subsequent multi-contestant competitions lasting several weeks each, with all of the initial competition’s winners meeting for a shoot-off as the season finale, would offer ample opportunity for entertainment, audience education and product endorsement I’m sure (and not just for directly shooting related products either). The contestants could be vying for a spot as a year-long corporate-sponsored competitor on the professional competitive shooting circuit perhaps. Toss in some nifty swag for qualifying at all and some runner-up prizes too, maybe. Given the interactive nature of modern entertainments, there are likely possibilities for audience participation in the competition to be investigated as well.

As long as the program format stipulates that the gender divide between contestants matches the national average, and further requires specific displays of scholarship in addition to shooting talent, then I think there ought to be sufficient audience to make such a program viable commercially and serve to counteract the plethora of negative stereotypes (and plain old lies) that abound today about gun ownership and responsible usage. All of which ought to redound to the gun manufacturer’s (and other sponsors) increased bottom line, both as a result of increased sales directly and by means of increased awareness and acceptance of shooting amongst the general populace (who will hopefully not be shy about encouraging their elected representatives to a similar viewpoint too).

The emphasis amongst most shooters on hunting and political ideology is all well and good; the mechanism to achieving the greatest degree of general acceptance of shooting and gun ownership however will be achieved through explanation of the civic and personal development that derives from such. Verily, it has been said:

Folks, you own every bullet that comes out of your gun and everything it touches. If you can’t control exactly where it lands, you have no business toting a pistol in public.

Or even, sayeth himself, any sort of firearm at all. Anywhere. Ever (or at least until you better school yourself). The concept of personal responsibility simply cannot be better illustrated in my opinion then it has been above. Making children aware from a very young age (4? 5? depends on the kid, I suppose) about how to recognise a gun’s safety condition without need of handling it (you can see if there is a magazine in the well or rounds loaded in the cylinder if nothing else), and to not be any more afraid of this particular power tool than they are of Mommy’s or Daddy’s driving the car, ought to be one of the earliest efforts made to teach children about personal responsibility and the positive aspects of self-interest. From such purely individual lessons can come introduction to the historical, mathematical and philosophic connections that exist between all of us and our predecessors.

It doesn’t have to be a personality-numbing progression of impersonal names, dates, places, numbers and mystical psycho-babble after all, and self-reliance has to be one of the most universally desirable qualities parents anywhen have for their children. An entertaining program that encourages and validates just such thinking amongst the viewing audience ought to be one of the principle mechanisms by which gun, ammo and ancillary equipment manufacturers reinforce their market and consumer base. That such is not already the case to a far greater extent than is evident strikes me as one of the ripest opportunities available in the present and near-term social and political climate throughout much of the English-speaking world.

As ever, these speculations into the possibilities that arise from strategic thinking have value (to me at least) in their own right. In this case, I’m in – well, negotiations is probably too emphatic a word to describe the circumstance – I’m talking to someone about certain specific applications of this general line of thinking. Unless and until either those talks result in something concrete or die the quiet death most speculations achieve, I’m leery of saying over-much on this topic just yet. Leave it for the moment that a goodly sum of money is potentially involved and that a final course of direction has yet to be determined. Hopefully, there will be more to follow on this in days anon …

Consumer Watch Update

I’m wondering what might be driving gas prices to rise by $.21 over the last 48 hours? Can’t think of any particular incident that might be the cause.

uggh

Buddha’s mounded backside! Do people really do this every work day? I’d forgotten the AM sense of urgent confusion that accompanies working on day shift.

Here’s hoping the economy recovers and my decrepitude can return to the more leisured pace of the night shift.

Reading List

I am currently reading REVOLUTIONARY CHARACTERS – What Made The Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood. Consisting of a series of relatively brief essays, this book briefly examines the actual individual as recorded in primary source documents and the subsequent historical treatment each has cumulatively received; the combination of which reveals the often contradictory understanding of both the person and the legacy’s influence on modern American life.

One of the themes I find myself repeating on these pages is that of the importance of “context” to attaining understanding. Of anything; person, place or event whether historical, current or hypothetical. Mr. Wood makes excellent effort to provide the context both for the historical subject and the subsequent treatment each has received over the intervening centuries of scholarly examination. How we view their respective legacies and interpret their relevance to present concerns continues to influence modern society. This book offers a quickly achieved degree of perspective on the attributes of America’s formative generation.

When we allow ourselves the odd moment of impartial honesty, I suspect that even the most ideologically driven of us are willing to acknowledge the complex nature of those who inhabit and motivate our world today. Even so, we all need to acknowledge that those men (and the women who interacted with them) who connived to create our country were also complex and inconsistent too. No matter how compelled we might feel to use some aspect of their contribution to justify some position we seek to advance, we should acknowledge the contextual circumstance that inspired the original. Should such prove to lessen the argument we promote, perhaps a better argument needs crafting rather than yet another casual historical revision or misstatement. Revolutionary Characters offers much insight into achieving better understanding of the people and concepts which created the United States and how that entity subsequently evolved into the country we populate today. I recommend it strongly.

New Year A’Comin’

This is the time when we pause to consider all that has occurred over the course of the year just coming to a close and contemplate our hopes for the year ahead.

Meh.

Nothing all that encouraging comes to mind, I’m afraid. “I hope things go as well for you as they do for me”, doesn’t display the insightful quality one has learned to expect to mark this annual occasion. Still, it is at least an honest sentiment so it’ll just have to do.

See you next year, assuming we’re all still upright and breathing on our own by then.

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