31 January 2007

85, 54, 42, 32 Or 20...

My USN community is working hard to improve the process for selecting personnel for the prospect of mobilization. Depending upon how you look at the list, I am either 85th or 20th. And that depends upon a lot of things! The demand will depend upon a huge number of factors.

At present there are only 10 members of my community mobilized. In fact, since 9/11, only 32 members of my particular specialty have been recalled. There have been a number of volunteer actions, but we have not borne the burden of our colleagues in the other services.

So what?

So nothing.

It means there is a list.

There has always been a list.

When I originally received mob orders in 2004 (cancelled three days later! - why, I don't know - it's the Navy, son), they came out of the blue. I had some advance warning, but they still hit the family like a ton of bricks.

The estimated pull for 2007 is 10, maybe.

It could be 40, it could be zero.

It could be everyone.


29 January 2007

Ad Astra Per Aspera...

On January 27, 1967, three astronauts lost their lives in Apollo 1. That tragedy was one of the enablers for the United States to reach the moon just two years later.

I am a space geek.

I grew up in Florida. Born in the mid-60s, I was mesmerized by each and every launch from Cape Canaveral / Kennedy. The Apollo, Skylab and other missions manned and unmanned held me in thrall as only child hero worship could. I wrote letters to my hero, then LCDR Alan B. Shepard, commander of Apollo 14.

I wrote letters to NASA with detailed plans for moonbases, space stations and ships. They were wondefully supportive. I still have all the letters they wrote back. I watched Stoway to the Moon and wondered if I could ever get aboard a NASA mission. My sacred temple was the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. I watched Skylab II lift off from Kennedy.

I lept out of my Saturday MBA class in February 2003, when notified that Columbia had disintegrated over Texas. I sat anxiously with the alert OPS officer as he tried to determine is Navy MARPAT aircraft would be necessary for the search.

There would be no rescue.

As a boy, I would receive the flan brown government envelopes with a delight only exceeded at Christmas. Inside was always an official letter, signed with a few glossy prints of rockets and the earth. It was a kid's dream come true. I wanted to become an astronaut very badly, still do. Part of the draw of military service as a kid was the higher likelihood of getting into space.

I now know a few astronauts personally, including a high altitude pilot for NASA. In addition to a love of science and adventure, they also seem to hold a core of wonder at the amazing potential that is the universe. And I am not simply waxing poetic, almost all our major technologies have arisen from the efforts (post WWII) to get into space. Our cars are linked by satellite radio, our cell phones use GPS to aid rescuers in finding us on remote wildernesses. Satellites have been used to uncover ancient Mayan cities, long lost to the jungles of the Yucatan .

I even left the Libertarian party when I realized that they opposed government space exploration.

Most of my philosophy has been shaped by my interest in space. I recall watching Cosmos faithfully as a high schooler, even to the alteration of the school play rehearsal schedule. I am sure Gary Anello is still fuming that I conned him into that agreement!

I became a skeptic at heart. Sagan's seminal work, Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, which I read in Norfolk in the early 1990s, cemented my doubtful nature. I consider my mind open, though not so much that my brains fall out!

Space groupie, that is me. I am still drawn to the high frontier and the promise it offers humanity. Limitless enegy from SOLSATs, the propsect for new medicines, whole planets rich in resources and space for mankind, and of course, the potential for extraterrestrial life.

I hold out a lot of hope for our planet. I have an overwhelming faith in science and technology. Applied well, it provides boons and benefits unimaginable.

Left fallow, it deprives our species of its best chance for survival.

23 January 2007

The good guys...

I work for Unilever, a BAC (Big *** Company). We do stuff all over the world. Most of what we produce is used in a daily fashion by folks everywhere. I am proud of my firm. We do things in an ethical manner, take care of our people, and operate ahead (meaning better than) the laws and regulations of our host nations.

We also do a fair bit of volunteer work. One of my colleagues, someone I have never met has a program to help soldiers stay connected while deployed.

If you can help Art, that's great. If not, do something in your community (I know many of you already are!) to help maintain the greatness that is our nation.

“Adopt a Soldier Platoon” Helps US Troops Connect
Through “Operation DVD” American soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan can send videos to their friends and families back home.

Thanks to the Adopt-A-Soldier Platoon (AaSP) – a grass-roots initiative launched by Unilever USA employees in New Jersey and Connecticut – more than 25,000 troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have the opportunity to make DVDs to send to loved ones back home. This was made possible by the Platoon’s latest initiative, “Operation DVD,” which was started almost one year ago and is the most far-reaching project the group has tackled to date.

Alan Krutchkoff, a Unilever employee, is the president and co-founder of the Adopt-A-Soldier-Platoon. “A video is powerful. It allows friends and family to see and hear a loved one far from home,” stated Krutchkoff. “It’s better than an email, a picture or a distorted webcam image. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a DVD worth to the families and friends of these brave Americans? One of our ‘adoptees’ in Iraq suggested this ambitious project, so we gave it a try.”

After hearing about the program, Valhalla, NY-based Fujifilm U.S.A. wanted to be part of this effort and donated 25,000 DVDs. “Sending home a video is a natural way to bring the soldiers and their families together, which was especially important around the holidays,” said Gene Kern, Director of Advertising and Marketing for Fujifilm.

However, getting the several thousand pounds of DVDs to Afghanistan and Iraq was costly. The Army and Air Force couldn’t ship the DVDs and the shipment needed to be paid for privately. “It was getting a little depressing,” said Krutchkoff, “We had the DVDs but couldn’t afford to get them to Iraq, even with the special rate DHL was giving us. So, I made one last plea to our more than 200 members for help.”

And then another generous company stepped in – the Pepsi Lipton Partnership (PLP), a joint venture between Unilever and Pepsico. PLP makes all the Lipton branded ready-to-drink teas. “We had a great year,” said Joe Bigos, chief financial officer of PLP. “We wanted to share our success with America and the troops.”

“Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we’ll have helped these brave Americans send messages home, share their feelings, show they’re okay and connect with those who love them and miss them,” added Krutchkoff. “Now that’s a great picture!”

Click on the following AaSP link and find out how you can make a difference in the lives of our brave troops: Adopt A Soldier Platoon, or you can send an email to Alan.Krutchkoff to participate.

18 January 2007

Won't get fooled again...

Ah, the immortal words of the Who. It seems that the most recent shrill cries from the left over the ERBA's (Evil, Religious Bush Administration) sinister influence over our happy nation have once again proven themselves hollow.

In e-Skeptic, Michael Shermer reports on being spoofed by a liberal, anti-Bush group PEER. The group claimed that officials at the Grand Canyon were being pressured to no longer reveal the geological age of the canyon.

I though this smelled funny when I noticed it's aroma on one of my favorite blogs. And yet this claim has proven to be utterly false.

What sort of retractions and apologies for this obvious slander are forthcoming?

Well, don't hold your breath.

The same can be said for folks like Rep. John Murtha and his comments on the behavior of US troops overseas. My comments and ire are not meant to deny or whitewash any of the unacceptable actions or behaviors of government and military personnel. They are simply to point out that our media lives and dies on hyperbole and rhetoric. Once the story is written and sold, no one cares to make sure it's correct.

The public, alas, is too consumed with the drama (or not) to care to look deeper. This is to the detriment of our nation and society, just as it is to those who see only one side of the anti-Western menality which so pervades much of the developing world.

Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss...

16 January 2007

Hello, Navy calling...

From the Navy Times.  It seems that recruiting programs are increasingly reaching out to the target demographic.  This article led me to wonder if we are not developing a set of classes which live and learn in precise and specialized arenas.  Will the liberal bastions of the Northeast and West Coast begin to provide the nations intellectual elite while the heartland and south provides the entrepreneurs and bulk of the foundational workforce? 
I posited earlier about my concerns for our increasing isolation.  Citizen Une and I had this discussion, albeit on a slightly different topic, while we were regarding the mind numbing amount of choices and subcultures available on the web. 
 Recruiting videos ring in on cell phones


By Chris Amos - Staff writer
Jan 13, 2007

The Navy Reserve has found one more way to encourage you to sign up.

Since November, sailors passing within 30 feet of selected pay phone kiosks on 13 Navy bases in California, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida have received a prompt on their Bluetooth-enabled cell phones.

Those accepting the prompt see a two-minute video encouraging sailors to consider transitioning to the Navy Reserve when their enlistments end.

Mark Brodkin, chief executive officer of OutdoorPartners, an advertising agency and owner of the company that manages Navy Reserve Bluetooth advertising, said the video takes about 30 seconds to download and is viewable on most cell phones built within the past three years.

And when it cannot be viewed on a cell phone, the video can be saved and downloaded onto personal computers or forwarded to other cell phones that are capable of showing the video.

It features testimonials from Navy reservists, is free and does not count against a sailor’s wireless airtime.

Advertising officials say Bluetooth advertising is ideally suited for Navy bases for two reasons.

“The [base] audience tends to be younger, and they are much more technologically savvy than the general population,” said Jennifer Moynihan, spokeswoman for Campbell Ewald, a separate advertising firm that manages several Navy recruiting ventures.

Cmdr. Dave Hostetler, advertising planning officer for Navy Recruiting Command, added that the program makes sense because most Navy reservists come from the active-duty Navy, meaning that the video is much more likely to be seen by the Navy Reserve’s target audience than would more traditional advertising.

Brodkin said 50 pay phone kiosks have been placed in such high traffic areas as near Navy Exchanges, movie theaters and dining halls. A transmitter within the kiosk broadcasts the prompt to all cell phones within a 30-foot radius.

Grant Connelly, spokesman for OutdoorPartners, said Bluetooth advertising is effective even when sailors refuse to accept the prompt, because many will look around to see where it came from. When they do, they will see the kiosk, a Navy advertisement emblazoned on its side, reminding them with the message, “Make a difference a few days at a time,” that their future services are desired.

Every sailor accepting the prompt has seen the same video, Grant Connelly, spokesman for OutdoorPartners, but officials said they were unsure if the prompt would be sent every time a sailor passed near a kiosk in a commonly trafficked area, such as a dining hall.

Moynihan said Outdoor Partners has been impressed with the results of the campaign because it has achieved better results than similar advertising campaigns by such famous brands as Absolut Vodka, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, American Express and others.

“They’re blown away by this,” she said, citing a statement released by Jay Kovalick, an account manager for PrimePoint Media.

“These are by far the best that any Bluetooth program has ever had,” the statement read. “We have never seen published opt-in rates that come close to the U.S. Navy Reserve’s percentages. All the numbers that I have ever seen for a Bluetooth numbers in the [United States], the Navy Reserve’s numbers are three times better.”

The Navy program is scheduled to end Jan. 21, Hostetler said, but he added that the campaign’s success makes it likely to be funded in future Navy recruiting budgets.

“It’s very, very likely that this will be included,” he said.

But Hostetler acknowledged that it was difficult to connect the program with improved recruiting results because the program is so new and because the Navy Reserve buys advertising in numerous media, and advertising’s effect tends to be cumulative.

“[In] Today’s media market, our target market consumes media in so many different ways,” Hostetler said.

“We have to use as many media as possible to ensure we get our message to them. We are technologically astute in the Navy, and we want people to understand that we are.”

Hostetler declined to discuss the costs of the program, because he said Navy Recruiting Command does not break down advertising costs by particular campaigns.


By the way, when is a surge not a surge?  When you activate units earlier and extend present units on station.  In numbers and cost, there are more, but not "new" troops.  Someone call Representative Pelosi and explain it to her.


10 January 2007

Is everyone taking crazy pills...

Let me see if I have this straight, the President proposes to increase troop strength to bolster the transition in Iraq. The new congress, whose former minority was for some time calling for just such action, is now preparing to use the power of the purse to influence foreign policy. This was the same tactic employed by congress during the Ford administration in which support for South Vietnam was cut off.

What's wrong with this picture? No one likes the conflict in the Mideast. It is a dangerous, difficult and hard to fathom situation. It is not about oil, Israel or any other single issue. It has more to do with the post WWI partitioning of Europe's old colonies and their later division during the Cold War.

I think all of us would rather live in a world where we only had to worry about the next reality TV show or what cool new cell phone was going to hit the market.

Remember those times?

It was called the Clinton era. Nothing much seemed to be happening in foreign affairs. Oh there was the Balkans, and the genocide in Rwanda, the Cole and the first bombing of the WTC, but other than that not too much occurred.

Most soldiers in Iraq would like to leave, but most also want to leave a country which can stand on its own. The United States is the ONLY nation remaining in the world that has the capability to support other nations in their security measures. Other nations, even developed ones, still rely upon us for a lot of logistics, C4ISR and other "specialties" which we have developed during our war with the USSR, a war which we won only when we decided upon the right tool to lead us to victory.
Arbitrary timelines and budget restrictions are not the right tools.

08 January 2007

Selling it...

Has Scoot sold out? Apparently he has traded in his Saturn for a truck, okay a small truck. He needs some good advice, Sonic you out there? I think Major John has a truck of sorts.

Anyway, he also has started the ad function on his blog, although I don't know how he is getting paid. One of the first is this one.

Huh, I guess beggars can't be choosers. Unless of course this is only a prelude to his signing up with AFSOC and becoming the latest weapon in our war against injustice and tyrrany.

Could be.

An no, I don't care that his blog is worth more than mine. Anyone who can show me a receipt for the sale of their blog can validate the market!

Four agreements...

I recently sat with Citizen Une and heard a remarkably profound set of simple guidelines for everyday life. It was from a book titled The Four Agreements, but I can now recall hearing these truisms in many management, self-help, spiritual and even junior officer manuals. They are;

1. Make sure your word is impeccable - I read this as DWYSYWD (do what you say you will do). Be honest and true in your speech

2. Don't take things personally - For me this means don't let your first emotion obscure things (I personally have a rule one - Don't Panic)

3. Don't assume - An easy misstep to make when you ignore item two.

4. Do your best - I think I heard this in Little League.

What is stunning is that almost all of these principles can be found all around us. They are ingrained in Western culture and critical to an accepting society. Several posts back I wondered if anyone had a human equivalent to Asimov's three (actually four) laws of robotics. As I have pondered the varying differences in thought throughout the world, nowhere have I felt a clear outline for "good" behavior existed, and thus my inquiry of you to help provide it. Why do people seek something, which to me is already staring us in the face? One answer comes from Robert Todd Carroll.

"Most people would be better off if they followed some of the sensible recommendations of the "alternatives": eat less and don't stuff yourself with fatty and sugary foods with near zero nutritional value, relax, don't smoke or drink or use other drugs to try to make you feel better, don't take things so seriously, treat other people kindly and with respect, spend more time with friends and family building relationships, quit worrying about being so successful and rich or famous, be concerned about what you put into your body and what all of us are putting into our air and water. Philosophy can serve these interests. But most people also want some sort of assurance that this is not all there is, that This is NOT It"

Human nature - nothing free can be worthwhile and it is easier to ignore the sublime and simple.