Carbios is responsible for making a new enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles in just 10 hours—all while keeping them molecularly sound.
I am dusting off and republishing a few of my oldest efforts blogging. Rough around the edges. Originally published in July, 2009, on my then first blog site “White Male Born Forty” It feels like it was a thousand years ago.
It is unusual for me to admit that I may use technology, but do not necessarily embrace it. While I make my living at a technology company, I do not embrace every nuance, gadget, or appliance that others find indispensable. I have no interest in the Ipod. I don’t need a special ring-tone for individual callers. It is amusing, but not a necessity, that I have the latest cell phone, Kindle, or detail my every move tweeting away on Twitter.
Several years ago a friend at church introduced me to a novel web mail site, Gmail, where I could absolutely ignore the routine preoccupation with overflowing my storage capacity or even whether I could find a particular email in all that space. In the 12 years since I first used email and particularly web mail, this has become an indispensable tool for me. Daily I am reminded why I am proficient with email — some engineer or supervisor may ask me about an event that I was in some manner responsible a year or two prior — and I can influence the outcome of that conversation by producing an archived copy of an email showing he is off the hook!
But I have drawn the line! First, I was intrigued by a site offering an opportunity to find and swap sea stories with shipmates. In thirty years around or in the Navy, there have been a lot of folks I would like to have a chance to thank, call out, or just laugh together at how gray and fat we have become. But then it started to flood in — “Join me on MySpace”, “Check out old friends and family ties on Genealogy.com”, “Be recommended to other professionals on LinkedIn”, “MSN”, Navy instant messaging, business chatrooms, political websites and a constant barrage of instant messaging and recommended websites to my Blackberry and my computer. Even the TV – via the cable programming – offers two -way, instant, specialized content at the push of a button.
But what the heck is “Twitter”! and why would anyone care! I really have gone from being occasionally curious about that old friend who still owes me a drink or two from that bar six thousand miles and fifteen years ago, to a little irritated by the invasion of the peddlers who insist that my love life could be improved – as a result of my using the term “love bratwurst” in the search engine last week! Have you ever tried to delete the unwanted spam in your email, or railed against the indignity of the monthly charge from some obscure “entertainment” site simply because you ordered tickets to “sponge-Bob meet pimp-my-ride” show online?
I often am accused of behaving and thinking – and thus the origin of my blog’s name – as a White Male who was born an inflexible, stuck-in-my-ways, 40 year old. Hey I know plenty of people who begin sentences with ” when I put the record on the turntable”, or “would you believe we used to call our friends from pay phones?” It seems now strange that once, “social networking” was hooking up at the drive-in on Friday nights! Just as I am convinced that you can adapt at any stage of life to perform more efficiently with a technology aid – I am equally convinced that the society degrades to a little with each new technology introduced.
If we only had the technology dreamed up in the Matrix! Plug that big cable into my head and fill me up with all the information so I can jump across high-rise buildings or drive a SPECWAR combat chopper, or speak Mandarin. But you know, the part the movie didn’t show is that all that body morphing and plugging in – you couldn’t find privacy in a toilet. Everybody was connected to one giant theater.
So today, I have a brief encounter with social networking, but prefer the good, old-fashioned, 10-second chit-chat at my favorite donut shop when I start my commute to work, ” how’s the apple fritters today?” “isn’t it great that so many folks start their day with a cup of your coffee”. The day they offer me the ability to pre-order my sugar-fix on Twitter, is the day I wrap my head in aluminum foil and move to that spot in the desert 3 or 4 miles off the paved road, where the folks still complain about the neighbors when the nearest is a half-mile away. Wait a minute! Let me get on Facebook to update my status! Otherwise I might become a technophobe!
Wearing a “veteran” ballcap starts conversations.
The “San Diego Chargers” jersey worn by a twenty-something man I met near the summit of Angel’s Landing trail prompted me to ask whether he was a Los Angeles -based fan or one from San Diego. From Temecula, Californi, he and his buddies were up in Zion for a “men’s retreat”; among the faith community, that is “code” for a spiritual bonding time. We talked about our respective churches and our military service. As a Navy veteran, he asked me whether I had been to the Philippines; his father had joined the Navy from there. Eugene was an Army veteran. I told him about my son, an Army veteran. Eugene knew Fort Bragg. He and my son, were sort of, but not quite, following in each respective fathers’ footsteps. One of his companions was a veteran of the Iraq war. Both were now college students. As we talked, I encouraged him to endure the bureaucracy of the VA medical evaluation process (he had gone once and was discouraged by the red tape) to get service-connected injuries treated – or compensated. Being young men of faith as well as warriors, these newly encountered Brothers encouraged me. Like me, though my friends and several dozen people attempted the narrow and very physically-demanding ascent to the “Landing”, I knew these guys had nothing to prove to themselves. Military services do the difficult every day. The impossible generally takes just a bit longer.
There weren’t but one or two available seats on the crowded shuttle bus from the Temple of Sinawawa stop in Zion National Park. It was a thirty-minute ride back to the parking lot. Looking tired and a little irritated, the large man ( solid, not stocky) squeezed into the last available seat, directly across from me. He looked at my ballcap and thanked me for my service. We chatted. He was taking in Zion while his wife was at some military event in San Diego. He is a civilian archivist for the DOD, which lead to talking about history, this blog, and travel. Apparently, Lake Powell should be on my “bucket list”. One of the things that all this military reminiscing lead to was to get some coffee prior to starting back to the hotel in St. George.
On Saturday morning, the motel cafe was busy. All eight little tables were occupied. At one table, a man about my age wore a Desert Storm veteran ballcap. I asked him what service, and he responded Navy. I was also a Desert Storm veteran. He offered me a seat. Mike had been an Navy “airdale”, the Navy nickname for a member of the aviation support community. An aviation ordnance technician, he served a carrier airwing in the Persian Gulf during the conflict. We chuckled about engineers who design but never actually tried to use some things in aircraft he worked on; trying to remove an assembly where you could neither lay flat or reach overhead comfortably, but in one case having to crouch the whole time removing it. My companion, a retired DOD engineer, feigned dismay. A couple of comments he made, however, suggested he was a little more ‘dismayed’ than he let on. The trucker at the table across from us was also a military veteran, though from the prior conflict. As Mike and I chatted about the Navy, missed advancement opportunities (if only those darn Master Chiefs would retire so others could move up the career ladder!), and life after the military, the more I got to thinking how a community, a brotherhood, sisterhood, or more accurately – a large extended family one can meet all over the country.
Community. Often it starts with a ballcap, a veteran-themed t-shirt, or other, and an interest in getting to know someone.
Yesterday, December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Every generation has those who believe morally (spiritually) or intellectually in “world peace”. That coexistence of disparate ideologies are obtainable goals for mankind. Others believe that economic interdependence among nations is the key. Redistribution of wealth -generally that of political and social opponents – to those who have much less – by a paternalistic governing authority is a popular theme. And still others believe that superior military firepower will thwart aggression. In the last decades of the Twentieth Century and through the first two of the new Millennium, people have thought that accommodation, neutral stances and open-mindedness on everything from language to social services, gender and religion would bring about “coexistence”.
It doesn’t matter what the topic is, but what is disturbing to someone raised in the last years of the American post-WWII “Baby Boomer” generation, that discernment, wisdom, dialogue, and critical thinking have been tossed away. Feelings and hypersensitivity to the possibility that people may encounter ideas and attitudes that run counter to what they have been taught, have resulted in redefining “free speech”. And in an age where the leader of our country is hypersensitive to criticism, narcissistic and uses social media to incessantly comment on his political adversaries, we have other elected representatives refusing to obey legal statute, convention or address public safety concerns. These highly insulated folks pander to an audience who are not citizens of the nation. Judges do not rule on the merits of a statute based on the founding documents of the nation, but on interpretation and personal feelings. In Government, universities, public education (K – 12), and almost all information and entertainment mediums, the end goals of the broadcaster are fixed and unwaverable – with supporting data, “expert opinion”, and “statistics” found and scrubbed to present support for the “conclusion” reached. Dissent is met with ridicule and occasional violence.
The latest examples of how improbable it is to coexist, except on the bumpers of socially conscious Western Europeans and North Americans vehicles, is the perpetual state of violence: against Jews, Kurds, Ukrainians, Syrians, people in the Horn of Africa, Central Asia, and the Central and South America. With warlords, drug cartels, extremists, zealots, and criminal gangsters, there has been only violence, sex trafficking, child slavery, murder and anarchy, but no peaceful coexistence. International groups bring relief to hurting or starving refugees, risk being kidnapped, murdered, raped, or at best, had their aid looted and mission closed. There are nation-states like Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, who support groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, or the now-splintered Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Sixty years after the world went to war over geopolitical ideology, and rallied to oppose and end genocide in the process,, an ideology that has in its core tenets, an open hostility and warfare with Jews, Christians and – infidels, executes a malevolent plan against the United States, resulting in the deaths of nearly three thousand people. Whether the barbarism of a faction or yet another example of how people cannot coexist with differing ideologies, this was only the last of several attacks prior to September 11th which killed numerous military members and civilians of many nations, carried out under the banner of “fundamentalists”. And even as recently as today, more funerals, more anguish and more antagonism between rivals indicate that peaceful coexistence is as difficult to obtain unless one side is being buried and the other, performing the eulogy.
I think, in the wake of Sept. 11, it’s important for the American public to understand that to the extent that there are individuals within the United States who would undertake terrorist attacks, that we are doing something to address that. Robert Mueller
The older I get, the more I find it ironic how some people argue and protest about fairness in life – as opposed focusing on gaining in-demand skills, creating work to employ themselves and others, or volunteering to share their talents and good fortune with others. College students and academics are often the noisiest, when they themselves are better off than most other people in the world. Ironic, as, once upon a time I was one of those post-high school, underemployed, single people whining about fairness. And at the time, I had my own apartment, a vehicle, and was a spendthrift living on credit. In my early Twenties, I was not skilled sufficiently due to personal choices I had made about education. I was economically disadvantaged.
As I grew older, I made better choices. I made the military a career. I used skills and resources gained there to obtain a better living. I have been able to serve my fellow man, here and abroad, with material things I can provide from my income. I have taught some to read. Others, I have helped through translation. And still others I help through donations to Non-Governent Organizations (NGO) medical clinics, disaster-response efforts and volunteers. In the process of working for myself and for others, I learned the maddening impossibility of an efficient bureaucracy. Governments may be able to provide for the national defense, but can spend trillions of dollars and still not have good roads, education that translates into skilled occupations, or decent healthcare. Often I find myself in an argument because I believe more in principles that are in line with my religious and personal views, and individual responsibility, than government “nannies”. I will tell people, “I’m here for an argument, not abuse.” And that usually gets a quizzical look.
In the 1970s, Monty Python, a British comedic troupe was very entertaining with comedic sketches that lampooned society, politics, culture, and history very irreverently and often quite bizarre in a very British styled humor. This sort of humor might harpoon many topics sacred to a generation focused on a dire future. Why few have any opinion on a solution for the topics they brood about, from climate, health care or international relations is odd for an opinionated society. Perhaps if we could laugh at each other and disagree with one another – in a manner that Monty Python did so well -we could find solutions in the best interests of our fellow man.
A story I heard today set my jaw, got my dander up, and got me to thinking what sort of incapable hands, and I am speaking of the enlisted Navy khaki community – have my Brothers and Sisters in the CPO Mess (Retired) left behind? In recent years, story after story of accidents, improper behavior (fraternization) and issues with ships, aircraft and installations continue to be reported. The Navy’s top enlisted Sailor, the MCPON, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, resigned due to allegations of improper leadership this year. And I heard today that a Sailor, who happens to be a career top performer and a person who shares my faith (and a member of my congregation), is being allegedly PERSECUTED by the unit CPO Mess for (allegedly) sharing values with another sailor. Honor? Courage? Commitment?
I have to wonder what has happened to the Navy I served for twenty-six years. For as long as people have put to sea, spiritual beliefs have gone to sea with them. For the last two centuries, members of a faith community have been guaranteed the freedom of expression, worship, and other rights, as well as equal protection under the law. I certainly understand that everyone is entitled – and in the military particularly – to believe whatever they want to believe – as long as the mission and the team performance are not negatively affected. A conscientious objector in charge of a weapons system is not expected. A polygamist or adulterer is not expected to respond to policies that define conduct which brings discredit the unit. A person with addiction, particularly to alcohol or prescription drugs, is not the model of reliability in a moment of necessary quick response or judgement.
A search online on the topic of faith and military duty will reveal articles that support that servicemen and women of faith make better and more capable members. And there has been at least one who was convicted at courts martial for refusing to obey orders to remove a display of religious quotes in her workplace. That conviction was based in part on disobedience to a lawful order, and failure to demonstrate that she had taken all the proper steps via the chain of command to remedy her particular issues.
In the case of the Sailor I heard about today, I know that conduct was not the issue. Disobedience and disrespect of a shipmate was not the issue. If good people of faith, technically capable and ethically sound, are forced out of serving in uniform, then the nation as a whole suffers. I do not expect all members of the military to share my Christian faith, nor even to have a belief in a supernatural Deity. But I have known men and women in positions of responsibility whose conduct and attitude demeaned their peers and subordinates. Some of those subordinates chose to leave the service at the end of their contracts.
Honor. Courage. Commitment. Leadership in the armed forces of the United States is a privilege. And respecting the spiritual beliefs of capable, ethical, and valuable members of the team is but one trait that an exceptional member of the Chief Petty Officer Mess can impart.
righting a wrong
Of all the things that politicians do that gets people’s dander up, then-President Obama signed into law a bill that rights a wrong for combat-injured veterans. For more than a hundred-thirty thousand veterans whose combat injuries ended their careers, the government has ended taxing their severance pay. The veterans affected served from 1991 (Desert Storm) through the present.
The IRS bulletin :
The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016, enacted December 2016, allows certain veterans who received lump sum disability severance payments additional time to file a claim for credit or refund of an overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment. The law directed the Secretary of Defense to identify disability severance payments paid after January 17, 1991, that were included as taxable income on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but were later determined to be nontaxable and to provide notice of the amount of that payment. The Department of Defense is mailing letters to affected veterans (letters 6060-A and 6060-D) in July 2018.
What this means for some veterans
Veterans discharged from military service due to medical disability may receive a one-time lump sum severance payment. Disability severance pay is taxable income unless the pay results from a combat-related injury or the service member receives official notification from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approving entitlement to disability compensation.
Anyone who received a disability severance payment that was taxed and determines later that the payment qualifies under one of the rules above can file a claim for credit or refund for the tax year in which the disability severance payment was made and was included as income on a tax return.
For veterans who received a lump sum disability severance payment after January 17, 1991, the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 may provide additional time to claim a credit or refund for the overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment.
What you need to do
You must complete and file IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for the tax year the disability severance payment was made carefully following the instructions in the notice mailed by the Department of Defense in July 2018. You must mail the claim generally by the later of:
- 1 year from the date of the Department of Defense notice, or
- 3 years after the due date for filing the original return for the year the disability severance payment was made, or
- 2 years after tax was paid for the year the disability severance payment was made.
If you did not receive the notice from the Department of Defense and you received a disability severance payment after January 17, 1991, that you reported as taxable income, you can still file a claim as long as you attach the necessary documentation to your Form 1040X. You may contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Services to obtain your documentation for submission with the required Form 1040X. See the FAQs for additional information.
Text of the 2016 law:
The dictionary defines concert, so the director said Saturday night, as “a musical performance given in public, typically by several performers or of several separate compositions. (2) agreement, accordance, or harmony.” It was an opportunity to enjoy an evening with a thousand fans of symphony music. From the audience standing and singing the Star Spangled Banner to a medley of famous themes like the Sound of Music, the night and the performance were wonderful. And the point in the concert where the conductor asked military veterans to stand and be honored was wonderful.
The night was planned several weeks ago for our friends and us, to have dinner and enjoy the season-opening concert, San Diego Symphony at Bayside – on the waterfront downtown next to the Convention Center. The evening featured famous American composers and included masterful choral singing. Yet the night was unnecessarily in competition with a harbor cruise “party boat” going back and forth in the harbor all evening. While the symphony conductor was the picture of grace and civility, the operator, just offshore of our venue, was deliberately negligent, blaring the distracting beat, “ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum” over and over, and over again. The conductor made light of it, and yet many of my fellow veterans in the audience (from 20 to 80 years in age) were visibly ready to form a boarding party.
It was a great metaphor for the “endangered species” of civility – particularly in America in 2018. On the way home by trolley, a young person zigged and zagged to step in front of us “old people” ( I spent 4 seconds before inserting my card in the ticket-dispensing machine) to try to get her trolley ticket first (until I harrumphed and she demurred). On social media, a person makes a comment both insulting the fans and actually containing some painful truth, of a particular topic (politics), and gets his (insert characteristic here) questioned. But the comment was deliberately meant to provoke anger.
I regularly encounter both Prius and BMW drivers who act as though they are the most important dignitaries on the road -tailgating, careening across lanes – to get two car lengths ahead – in rush hour. When I hold a door open as a courtesy for females (as I do for males) even among my workmates, there is a occasionally a woman under thirty who seems irritated that I did so. But age is not a predictor of civility. I see men my age with yard signs or bumper stickers that declare other human beings idiots, criminals or ignorant. It is common now for people to pick “sides”. There is no tolerance for differing opinion. And there is no standard where dialogue has to be reasoned, calm, and well-supported by easily (verified (and unbiased) observers.
How do we revert to civility norms?
I think that this decline in civility has both been inflamed by social media as well as our education system. For fifty years we have groomed people to believe they have the right to say what they want without consequences. A Utopian desire for harmonious acceptance, order, and a pain-free existence for everyone everywhere is not through government control. Either some are forced (Constitutional guarantees are repressed by power-brokers; disagreement is labelled “hate speech”) or are bribed (“living wage” increases worker support, recipients of “public assistance” are encouraged to remain on the “dole”) to be obedient, and the result is a lack of civility toward those who have different views.
One christian’s viewpoint
Most among the secular world see the faulty application of Christian theology by many as evidence of a faulty theology rather than faulty human beings. Any government that promotes officially-sanctioned multiple languages, cultural norms, legal precepts, and political ideologies, is not elevating civility among dis-unified people but instead further isolating individuals and groups into opposing factions. History is full of these lessons. “Balkanization” is a term where multiple ethnic, religious, linguistic, and religious fracturing is present. The first World War all the way through the “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslav (Balkan) states in the 1990s were due to this fracturing. Fear and paranoia of people who will not assimilate is thousands of years old. But governments that accommodate the noisy separatists and neglect the “deplorables”, risk permanent balkanization. It has been the national identity, as “Americans” regardless of all the other factors, that has maintained unity in the United States since the Nineteenth Century. The resurgence of socialism in American culture, in the absence of a truly spiritual understanding of brotherhood, respect, looking after the ill and the truly desperate, leading a peaceful existence and having a strong work ethic, is not going to achieve a concert in America or elsewhere.
Secular proposals to restore civility in America
Americans can try to restore a civil culture through man-made effort. But how do people restore civility?
- Restore ONE NATION: Celebrate our diversity in ethnic heritage but unify everyone who comes here – through the established immigration policies – to become AMERICAN. Stop using hyphen american in all our identifiers.
- Establish ONE language. All business, education, judicial dealings, social interaction should be performed in English. Teach different idioms and language, but everyone who wants to be a resident must read, write and speak English in everyday situations. Make it mandatory to pass an oral and written exam within 24 months of arrival – with intent to remain – to reside in the United States, and become a citizen. Make the language a requirement to obtain any public assistance.
- Restore the ONE culture. Quit the divisiveness of public – and public-funded institutions promoting ethnic separatism. Whatever color, race, creed, or political leanings, celebrate differences in the context of making the “melting pot” better.
- Prohibit any public official or lobbying group on behalf of any non-citizens, extra-national allegiances, from campaigning to support non-citizens, foreign governments, or business interests seeking to change immigration policies without a national vote.
- Restore GOD and belief in a Creator as acceptable teaching. Permit use of public property for the exercise of religion as with any other use. Get government out of the Belief business.
- Spiritual beliefs that do not contradict the good order an unity of a nation, are not legally barred.
- Atheism does not trump the rights of others to practice their spiritual beliefs in private or in public spaces.
- Non-government employers and places of employment that express particular religious beliefs cannot be forced through legal redress to change policies (adding “abortion coverage” to a health plan for an employer that publicly “pro-life”). Employment conditions are still voluntarily accepted by both parties – employer and employee.
- Public (government) employees are barred from expressing support for, or opposition to, insulting, belittling, or deriding a particular religious belief.
- The judicial branch of government only decides whether an action violates the law, not whether it is moral, ethical, proper, or the “intent” of the law-makers
- No elected official can refuse to enact voter-approved legislation that does NOT
- cause physical harm to individuals or groups
- bar individuals or groups from activities that do not seek to cause harm (violence, rebellion) or deny others their human rights
- No institution of government can be used to manipulate public information, sentiment, or coerce support for a particular national political entity in power. This also means no institution of government can be manipulated to deny another political entity the fair and equal opportunity in elections.
- No entity or institution serving the national interest – media service, local, state or national educational institution (public or privately-funded) can bar exercise of the Constitutional “freedom of speech”.
- Civility is a voluntary ideal but some focused practices could improve civility:
- Practice, starting in the home, schools, and social organizations that disagreement with the policies of a government official does not condone any action, outburst, or display abusing that office.
- Accept the outcome of elections. Bring change through the ballot box.
- Public figures or celebrities should not incite street protests and violence against law enforcement and other public safety officers.
- Leaders of religious orders should promote peaceful doctrines, respect for authority, and practices among their adherents.
- Engaging in personal attacks on or inciting abuse of the family members of a government official should be restrained by peers and not promoted as entertainment by media business, celebrities, and public officials.
- Civility is a voluntary ideal but some focused practices could improve civility:
In the past week, the tabloids and other media was agog over the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry of Britain. The Duke of Sussex, KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order ). Several of my friends on social media posted “enough already”- type memes and commentary. I probably have a unique viewpoint among them, in that a “Combat Veteran Gets Lots of Love by the Media”.
Unique among the current British Royal family, Prince Harry served in combat, in Afghanistan, not just in uniform. His presence was kept secret for several weeks by the British press. In typical fashion, some in the media cannot keep secrets. The Australian press revealed that the Prince was in Helmond province. Against the Taliban and Al Quaeda, publishing the whereabouts of a high-value target such as the Prince was unwise, yet the prince continued to serve in theater. After serving in the British Army for ten years, he has continued to serve in a leading way but for charitable work.
Unintentionally, I believe, the news media has made a combat veteran a star. For a guy with army service, and little chance of ever becoming King ( he’s fifth in line behind his elder brother and family), I think it is pretty cool.
image source: Esquire magazine
Charitable work, past and going forward:
Four American Special Operations soldiers who died in an ambush in Niger were reported to have died as a consequence of improper planning, training, and taking unnecessary risks – a “culture of complacency”. Summarizing details in a classified Pentagon report, military officials found “low-level commanders, eager to make their mark against local militants in Niger, “took liberties to get operations approved through the chain of command,” ” according to the Wall Street Journal article today.
In the collisions between U.S. Navy warships and civilian freighters in 2017, the Navy found the same consequences of complacency, not following procedures, and overconfidence. In recent articles describing mishaps in Air Force and Marine Corps aviation, both cite decisions regarding decreased training hours for pilots, as well as decreased material support and funding resulted in increased mechanical failures and pilot error, particularly in the last several years.
For years, much of the attention paid to combat-action, training or mission-related casualties has focused on politics, funding (budget), and defense contractors, but less has been paid to warfighter training and culture. In the last twenty years both the warfighters themselves and the military services have “adapted” by the social norms of the day. Competitiveness, rigorous thinking, physical prowess, and unity of singular national identity ( e.g. American, not hyphen American, or French, not Algerian-French) has been debased internationally in favor of equality, fairness, tolerance, and individualism. Regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or spiritual concerns, a warrior culture has to be obsessive and unyielding about unity, training, respect for and obedience to authority, to mission and to nation. A warrior commander has to be pragmatic about readiness, mission planning, and risk. While there is always some acceptance of risk in any effort, there is no room for overconfidence, personal ambition, or politics in military operations.
However, with human beings comes human weakness. From the American ambassador during the Barbary Wars (at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century) who diverted support from the U.S. naval commanders interdicting pirates because he was not consulted, to the battlefront commanders who did not receive accurate enemy strength numbers when advancing on Tora Bora during the initial Afghanistan campaigns (with some fault from communication issues), character, training and planning shortcomings have resulted in unintended casualties. While it is true that military forces, particularly among the NATO alliance, have become better trained, better equipped and more unified, particularly in communications (Blue on Blue, or “friendly fire” incidents declined), veterans, families of currently-serving members, and the public need to press our civilian leaders to make the necessary changes from the ground up. Better leaders make better institutions. Better institutions makes better people. Better people make better warriors. Better warriors make better decisions.
Sometimes you get assistance and support from your elected representative. Sometimes you get a letter where they have miss the point the constituent was making entirely.
“Thank you for your letter regarding your concerns about unsolicited calls and the enforcement of the Do Not Call Registry rules. I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
I understand that you have registered your number with the National Do Not Call Registry, but that you have continued to receive telemarketing calls with disguised identities and phone numbers. In your letter, you expressed your support for stronger penalties against companies that violate the Registry rules. …”
I actually studied Political Science at the university ages ago, as I had some fantasy about going into government service. But that was before most colleges became a breeding ground of Orwellian thought control. These days I think back to the movie and musical, Fiddler on the Roof. Living as best one can apart from the Government bureaucracy.
Tevye: And in the circle of our little village, We’ve always had our special types. For instance, Yente the matchmaker, Reb Nachum the beggar… And most important of all, our beloved Rabbi.
Leibesh: Rabbi! May I ask you a question?
Rabbi: Certainly, Lebisch!
Leibesh: Is there a proper blessing… for the Tsar?
Rabbi: A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us!
I actually reached out to Senator Feinstein to demand that the perpetrators of cell phone abuse: spammers, hackers (who masquerade as someone in your contact list — or when you receive a call from your own number! – and malcontents be the focus of more intensive prosecution and penalties. I acted after my son received a call at his work number claiming that his mother had been injured in a traffic accident. It was b.s.
So all my friends and family who truly believe that the proper political party leading the country will make the roads efficient, the cell phones free from telemarketers, and the social media free of Russian meddling have great faith. Me, I will continue to be
Tevye: A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask ‘Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous?’ Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANGUP) Act” come before me for consideration in the Senate.