Saturday, January 26, 2013

Women in Combat

I was in the Army in 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected President. That dates me, I know. One of the discussion we had had, with our officers, was a political movement, even before then, that women may be allowed in Combat Arms units, including the one I was in. I was a Combat Engineer, and that job was rough. Long marches with heavy packs, long runs, and quite often, exceedingly difficult physical activity.

An example may be in order. One of the jobs of the engineers is to build a fence out of concertina wire. The most common is called a Triple Standard Concertina Fence. For that fence, you drive a metal stake called a picket into the ground every five meters, or paces. This driving is not done with a sledge hammer, it is done with a device called a picket pounder. The picket pounder is locally manufactured. In other words, welded together by your local mechanics. It is usually a steel pipe, with steel tubes attached as handles, and a thick steel plate welded at one end. Ours weighed about forty pounds. You slipped this over the end of the picket your partner was holding, and then rapidly, and with great force slid it up and then powered it down. The pounder drove the picket into the ground. In normal dirt, like in the forest of Fort Bragg, you could do this with three or four hard blows. Then you lifted this forty pound item, held it on your helmet like people hold baskets in third world countries, and moved to the next picket. After the second picket, your shoulders burned, and after five or six, you were breathing very hard. It was a lot of work, and it required pure upper body strength to do it. You are talking about hundreds of pickets in some fences. Everyone is working hard, lifting weight, toghether, and fast. Because time is a precious commodity in a combat arms unit. You are training for when you're doing the task in combat. And in combat, the enemy is not going to wait until you are finished to attack.

This is of course, but one example of the tasks that exist in those combat arms units. Building bridges, another Engineer task, is done by hand, with teams carrying items weighing hundreds of pounds.

This is a Canadian Engineer team building a bridge that I have worked on more than once. It is heavy, hard, and often exhausting work.

Am I saying that women can't do that? Not at all. But the truth is that perhaps one in six, or even one in ten men can do it. You have to like the feeling of your joints straining. You have to enjoy the pain to do these jobs well, and safely. If you drop your portion of the load, your mates will have to pick up your share, chances are they'll be unable to hold it, and someone will possibly lose a foot or hand to the sudden dropping of the load.

Now, sometimes you have to breach that wire fence. If you have time, you crawl up to it and cut it with a wire. If you have the right equipment, you use explosives to blow the wire away and create a safe path. But sometimes, you have to body breech the wire. That means you throw yourself onto the wire, creating a bridge with your own body for your mates to run across. No, the low man on the totem pole does not get picked automatically. You have to want to do it, you may need several breaches to get the infantry into the objective. Everyone has to be willing, and everyone will do it in training, because it teaches you that sacrafice for the group is your task, and your mission. Now your clothes help some. But you're going to be stuck, and cut up by the concertina. Razor wire would probably cut you to pieces, and you may die before your friends can get you out of the wire.

I still have a smattering of small light colored speckles that are the remanants of scars I picked up doing things like that. I've got those light discolorations on my hands, from working with the wire, and getting cut up by things that are not as user friendly as one might wish.

I know what you're thinking. Why mention this? Because you have two choices. You can maintain the current physical standards, which means that any women who go into those units will have to meet or exceed the same physical and psychological requirements that men meet. Do I think they can do it? Absolutely some women can do it. I was re classed and spent some time in a training unit. There, as a Sergeant, a female soldier took the Physical Training Test the same day I did. She not only met the male requirements in Push Ups, and Sit Ups. She beat me in the run by more than three minutes. Was this shocking to me? Not at all. I'd already met women who were exceptionally athletic and able to do more of some tasks than I was. My point to this is not that she was the norm, she was not the norm. The norm of female soldiers was still straggling in when I had stretched out after the run. This PFC was exceptional, and she would have done well in a Combat Arms unit. She was one woman out of five hundred military women.

If you maintain the current physical standards, than one woman out of a hundred will qualify for Combat Arms. Now the problem is that you will see people claiming discrimination, and it isn't fair that they are held to the same standard as men when their bodies are biologically different not by choice, but by nature. To a certain extent, that is true. There are different physical standards for women in recognizing this truth. Age also slows people down, so the requirement is adjusted for age, and gender for the Army. But we are talking about Combat Arms. There isn't a work around to help the women in Combat. There isn't a lower wall on the obstacle course. The bridge section isn't going to be marked female carry and be made lighter. It is heavy because it must hold a tank up when a tank drives across it.

But, it is also true that every single person in that unit must pull their weight, and you can't have people who are sent off to do security at every single tasking. That creates resentment, and anger among those who are pulling their weight. If someone is injured, temporarily unable, the troops understand. If that person is not injured, and is just unable, or unwilling. The troops get surly, and resentful. One of the things that makes a unit work is everyone doing the same things together.

I can't imagine how the crew of a submarine will work. You are talking about a hundred people using five bathrooms. Living inches away from their shipmates. Sitting hip to hip on a bench to eat meals. The first woman in that situation, using your average modern woman, will be screaming sexual harassment within three days. It will take a very special woman, one in a thousand military women, to tolerate that environment.

So what do I think should be the case? I think the standards must be maintained. I always have thought that. I think some situations should be unisex, merely because of the close living arrangements. An all female submarine crew would not have the same issues a mixed crew living in 18 inches would have. Yes, you read that right. The average crewman, if he gets his own bunk, some have to share. Those crew members get 18 inches of space between the top of their bunk, and the bottom of the one above. Space is just too precious on a submarine to waste it.

I could never be a submariner. The close proximity of other people all the time would get on my nerves, and drive me mad. A ship would be bad enough, but on a submarine you're never alone. Someone is always two feet away, at the most.

So do I think there are opportunities for women in Combat Arms? Yes I do. I think that a few women will exceed the standards, and more will meet the standards. But I think that those women will be, much like the men, the exceptions to the term average soldier.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where are the Homeless?

In a previous thread, I talked about Propaganda, and how it is used to spin the news. It is also used to ignore the news. I thought of that when I saw a news story, but I need to set it up for a minute.

When George W. Bush was President, every winter we saw news stories about the Homeless. Now since Barack Obama has become President, news stories are few and far between. Since President Obama has been elected, I've not read or heard one story about the first Homeless to freeze to death. Apparently Global Warming and the love of the Liberals is preventing people from freezing to death anymore. Perhaps that is why they call it warm and fuzzy thoughts.

Now, what are the facts? Foreclosures have been very high since the housing bubble burst. Unemployment is high, so there are fewer people working. Now, we have people being tossed out of their homes that they can't afford. We have people who can't afford them because they are unemployed. In both cases, the numbers are very high. Yet, we don't have a homeless problem?

Truth is where you match the facts, with the propaganda, and find what is really going on. Propaganda says that there is no homeless problem. We know that because the media, including Fox News isn't reporting on it. If there is a news story from the MSM, we see it as usually some Government agency telling a charity to stop feeding the homeless. I guess that's a solution, I mean starvation would reduce the numbers of homeless.

So where do we find the truth? Why we find out what is going on in our nation by reading the press from London England. Yes, Great Britain is reporting on Homeless living in Storm Sewers in Las Vegas.

Now, if Mitt Romney had been elected, this would be the lead story on every nightly news channel in the nation. How awful that people are living in sewers. What does President Romney propose we do about that? Instead, no news is good news right?

So the good news is as long as President Obama is in office, we won't have any Homeless in the nation, not so far as the news is concerned.

Political Economic Errors

What is the current economic situation? Are we doing fine, growing slowly, in a Recession, or in a Depression? Survey says? Nobody knows.

Politics means you don't tell the truth when bad news comes. You put a spin on it. If it is outright bad news, you wait until late on Friday to release the news, so the information is lost in the flurry of weekend sports and leisure stories. So what is the deal with the economy?

It sucks. More than eight million people are out of the job market. That means they aren't counted at all. They aren't part of the unemployment numbers. Now it's a little bit easier to pretend that the unemployment number is good, when you aren't counting nearly two percent of the population. If we were counting them, we would be into double digit unemployment.

Propaganda. Propaganda is spinning of the news, it is also not reporting certain news stories. The eight million number was roundly ignored, even by Fox, which supposedly doesn't do anything but lie about the President according to the left wing loonies. So why aren't those news organizations covering this information? Because Fox is merely more middle of the road, hardly the rabid right wing group of racists they are portrayed to be. Don't get me wrong, they aren't cheerleaders like the other news organizations are, but they aren't just out there shouting bad things about the President either.

Propaganda means you change the names of things, but you never actually change the thing. Re-branding of unpopular programs and ideas is another example of propaganda. We don't torture the people the CIA questions. We used enhanced interrogation techniques. That is one example that the Republicans started, and the Democrats were happy to continue. Propaganda is taking the Health Care Exchanges, and renaming them Health Care Marketplaces. Has anything substantively changed in the program? No. But focus groups find that the term marketplace is less disturbing than the term exchange.

So what does all this have to do with the economy? That's easy. Propaganda and politics will not allow us to admit that the economy is in the toilet. So we rebrand and set up accepted definitions of things so they can never be reached. If we reach them, we redefine the term so it's even harder to reach. In other words, we spin the facts, we use propaganda to hide the truth.

So why do that? Because economies are set up to cycle money. Let's say you work in a factory that makes peanut butter. You buy a TV, the company that produced the TV has to hire workers, and people who ship it, and truckers to take it to the store, who has to hire people to sell it to you. Those people in turn buy among other things, Peanut Butter.

Now, if you thought the economy really sucked, would you buy a TV if yours was still working? No you wouldn't. You would get by with your existing TV, which when combined with others, would cause the company making the TV's to cut way back, or even shut down. See the cycle break down now?

So we hit a Recession. Companies all over the world laid people off. They held off hiring people back, and still are. Why if the economy is doing so well, are those companies still not hiring, and why are they still laying people off? Because Companies cut expenses, just like every one of you when you have less money. Propaganda can't help you make payroll if you don't have money coming in.

So how can we turn things around? Well according to the experts, we have to spend more money, we being the Government. We need the Government to hire more people, to do more things, and fund other public works projects. We need to pump cash into the economy, and we need to deficit spend our way out of the mess. That is like a gambler putting his house up to win back his car. It doesn't work, and never has.

Japan is in the news, because Japan is rolling the dice on the future. They are going to go whole hog into Keynes theory by spending like mad, and pumping tons of money into the economy. They say in the article that this theory worked in the late 1930's. Sort of. It gave the false economic ability to create a military, which Japan used to invade their neighbors, which led to massive destruction of Japan's industrial base. That in turn was repaired after the war by massive infusion of American money, which led to a very technological Japan of the latter half of the 20th Century.

The United States has calls from several economic experts to do much the same thing. All for an economy that is according to those same experts, not in a depression. The problem is they can't tell the truth, because that would cause them to lose political power. But if they don't tell the truth, they can't get support from the public to do what they Keynes theory says they have to in order to turn the economy around. Do you see the problem? Without propaganda, then everyone would know the economy sucks. With propaganda, the people don't know, and don't approve of the changes. Nice catch 22 wouldn't you agree?

So what about Japan, and why is it interesting? Because Japan is throwing caution to the wind, and going full speed ahead. If Keynes is right, then the Japanese economy will be roaring back to once again dominate the world as it did in the 1980's. If Keynes is wrong, then Japan will collapse, first among the industrial economies, and a world wide depression will follow shortly thereafter.

What do you predict? As for me I'm investing in canned food and seeds for a survival garden. Keynes is a moron who sold a bill of goods that nobody is allowed to question. When theories of that kind of economic power run so contrary to common sense and basic math you know something is wrong. When you create money out of thin air, via QE whatever number we're on, that isn't economics, that's a Vegas magic show, and that means it's a trick that should be left to entertainment, not reality. Because at the end of the day, someone is going to be left with the bill.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Years ago, Columbine

Years ago, after the Columbine massacre, I was involved on another discussion board, long since defunct. At that time, the call for gun control was very high. Much like today, it would have made no difference if there was one more or even two more laws on the books.

So let's look at the crimes that were committed at New Hope.

1) It is against the law to possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

This law did nothing to protect the children. It's idea is admirable, it is to create a gun free zone where children are safe. Instead it created a zone where defiance and defense were impossible.

2) It is illegal to commit murder.

The law did nothing to protect the children, as before the gunman had arrived, he'd already murdered his mother.

3) It is illegal to possess firearms without the consent of the owner.

I'm sure his Mother did not give him permission to take the guns before he was shot dead.

4) It is illegal to plan to carry out an illegal action. This is called conspiracy.

This law did nothing to protect the children.

5) It is illegal for anyone who suffers mental health issues to possess a firearm.

Now, what can you see by these laws, did any of those words written on a piece of paper do anything to protect the children? No, none of them would have helped, because all of them are enforceable only after the crime, the murders, has happened.

It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet, in every criminal action, the pen comes in only after someone with a sword, a weapon, captures the criminal. So the pen comes in only after the violence has been used.

Violence never solved anything is another fallacy. Violence, raw force, has settled more issues in history than every other means combined. Recently, the idea of secession has been in the news. With some states putting forth ideas that explore the issue. Yet we are told that the Civil War settled the issue of session forever. Really? What pen settled that issue? When did trial by combat become a constitutional means of determining an issue? That issue was settled by force, as were every other serious disagreement.

People writing letters did not end the reign of Hitler. People signing documents with flowery language did nothing to stop the Kaiser of WW I. Force settled those issues.

So what can we do to protect our children? First, teach them truth. Teach them that force and violence are used to protect the innocent by the good and decent citizens of the world. Then put weapons in the school. Teachers are trusted enough to educate our children, and create the moral foundation that we use to grow citizens. Yet we don't trust them to have access to firearms?

Second, put a cop on the campus. Yes, the armed lunatic may shoot the cop first, but that is far less likely that you would think. You see, cops don't get mugged, raped, robbed, or harassed by thugs. The reason is they have the authority, and the power to enforce the will of the people. A cop or two will reduce crime in our schools dramatically.

Studies have proven it, and common sense proves it. Take a shopping center near my house as a boy. A lot of crime was going on there. People were robbed, cars were broken into and either had their contents stolen, or were stolen outright. The police responded, and put a small office in the shopping center. A cop was always there, walking around, in the office. Available. Crime dropped to zero. Instead of continuing this, the police decided they weren't needed there anymore, and left. Crime started right back up.

We have a choice, and if history is any indicator, we'll pick the wrong thing.

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