Friday, March 15, 2002

"The horror, the horror..."

Celbrity boxing. Words fail me.


My cheddarhead wife, who wantend to to watch this, this, thing, supposedly the First Celebrity Boxing Event, told me not to worry about ever having to watch again, it's "like eating a burrito at 7-11, you'll do it once."

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

"An organization created by geniuses to but run by morons"

Fred MacMurray's LT Tom Keefer said something like that in derisive reference to Navy regs in the film The Caine Mutiny. Having served in a latter day incarnation of the DMS (Destroyer Mine Sweeper) CAINE (in the Nav ships names are all caps), an FFG (Guided Missile Frigate), as a junior officer, the film and Wouk's excellent book especially resonate with me. I was watching it the other day with my wife and got chills when the boatswain’s mate piped an announcement. Its really amazing how little some of the basics of life in a "small boy," as carrier, cruiser and battleship sailors referred to destroyers and frigates, have changed. Part of this is of course due to the much maligned Navy regs and procedures.

The thing is, Hollywood, hell most popular culture, tends to lionize those who throw away the book while viewing those who follow procedures as dull thoughtless drones at best. What rarely, if ever, is noted is that while there are certainly dumb rules or rules that ought not be applied indiscriminately, it is this very set of standards that makes the Navy, or for that matter, any modern fighting force effective.

Without strict repeatable procedures, often written in the blood of the dead, planes would never launch from a carrier deck nor would nuclear subs be able to maintain that all important one to one dive to surface ratio. Standard procedures, so often given the short shrift in today's think out of the box society facilitate training and enable Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors to work together and support each other. Imagine if every ship had a different way of doing preventative maintenance or damage control. Shore training would not be as effective and replacement crew would have to spend much of their tours learning how things are done on ship X. The differences that exist between units that are standardized usually require a few months of experience to be inculcated. Concerted attacks and defenses would be terribly handicapped if participating units could not count on each other to fight and act a certain way for given conditions. Think Somalis versus Rangers in Blackhawk Down. Within the confines of regulations and procedures there is plenty of room for different approaches and creativity.

That said, the same does not apply to the government bureaucracy. Whereas rigid watchstanding procedures keep the screws turning and the ship cleaving the briny main, procedures such as those in the INS or FDA are often at odds with the mission of those organizations. There are many reasons for this. For one, since these agencies are often pork vehicles, there may be congressional language prescribing the way things should be done so that Senator Lott's constituents fully benefit from the government largess via cush GS jobs. That is not to say that the military is not a huge pork vehicle, it's just that once the ship leaves the pier or the first shots are fired on the battlefield, the procedures in place better work pretty well or the wrong people (our guys) die. Combat effectiveness and survival are sufficient inducements to ensure that while military procedures may not be the best, they are good enough, given you are often working with a bunch of scared recruits.

Typically, for those administering nonmilitary or law enforcement government agencies, the worst that can happen to a functionary is that he have to do more work or lose his job. So what kind of procedures do you think you are going to get out of them? That's right, rules that minimize increase in work and maximize job security. This is why we have to give up fingernail clippers at the airport and the INS just gave Mohammad Atta his student visa.
Of bad kids and little orange men

Speaking of the Sarge, it seems that like my bride, he was scarred by a certain movie.
Sheesh, I can't believe I forgot to permalink the Sarge. Fixed, he's now in the link pile, which I suppose I should organize soon, since that's what all the cool kids are doing.
From the darkest depths...

Lawrence Haws points out a LAT article about North Korean refugees in the south that should be required reading for those who espouse appeasement of Kim and his ilk. For a real graphic understanding of what North Korea has become under the yoke of communism, check this out. Remember, about fifty years ago, the two Koreas were even. Look at the north of the penisula now. Compared to the rest of the region, it's friggin' Mordor!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Not completely surprised

Mega hits from people looking for the Nagin Transition site. For whatever reasons, it has been pretty tough for me to find it via Google. Glad to be of help. One suggestion is that they should put a link on the campaign site. But then I've been on the case for a while.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

A New Leaf for New Orleans

Mayor Elect Nagin's transition site is up. It is slick and functional, allowing common folk like me to apply for jobs in the new administration and join citizen task forces. I think this, even if it is mostly show, is a good sign that things are changing in the Crescent City. Nagin promised to immediately start involving New Orleaneans in the governance of their city and one week after his election he seems to be making good. Let's hope one of the first things he does is have someone clean up this clunker. The current official New Orleans home page/portal is all light and no heat. It needs to become citizen and visitor-centric. Pain in the ass things that burden citizens in their interaction with city government need to be automated and webified. For example, noxious as parking tickets and the evil harridens who distribute them are, I would be much more likely to pay the $10.00 online via Visa than having to write a check and mail it in. The same goes for the S&WB and other city services. Hmmm. Maybe I'll send them my resume to see if they are serious.