Saturday, May 15, 2010

A whole new meaning to "Human Resources".

"The nation that has the schools has the future." -Otto von Bismarck.

Well, isn't that a cheery quote? The gruff old Prussian was in favor of teaching poetry and art and making sure everybody had an ethnic awareness program and good basic math skills...

Only that's not what he meant. He looked at schools as the primary molders of the "Nation-in-Arms"; turning out students that would enter adulthood already trained to obey. The very notion of this should be repulsive to any right-thinking American, to whom individuality is a sacred birthright. In the United States, the nation exists at, and ultimately for, our pleasure; we are not born merely to serve the hive. Life, liberty, and the purfuit of happiness are enshrined in our founding documents and are about the only things worth getting shot for.

Somebody needs to point this out to a few nominal Americans:
"Since 1995, the proportion of recruits who failed their physical exams because they were overweight has risen by nearly 70 percent," said Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The answer? Come up with a program called Mission: Readiness that will generate terabytes of PowerPoint presentations demanding Congress pass laws about what schoolkids may eat for lunch, in order that they may make a more effective "Natural Resource", as it were, in the future.

Can you imagine Alexander Hamil... okay, wait... Can you imagine George Washington leaning over to James Madison and saying "Prithee, put somethynge in Article I about Congrefs having the power to regulate the lunches of all small childryn so that their bodies may be more fit to absorbe ball and shotte when they grow up."?


Anonymous said...

Actually the US did kinda copy the Prussian educational system in large parts.

They put an american spin on it, which made it better. Fast forward 150 years and we're putting soviet spin on it.

staghounds said...

I have actually seen the first draft of the Constitution that was sent to Washington and returned with his hand written edits.

Not a word about schoolchildren, and he spelt perfectly well. Even corrects several errors in the printed text.

What a shame that he, Lincoln, Adams, Jefferson, and George Mason lacked the State School background that would have rendered their work properly sensitive and filled with critical reasoning skills.

(Seeing something that our, or at least my, national Deity pored over and altered with his own hands is something that prickles the hair just to remember.

And who are our official Lares and Penates now? The ones we hear referred to like talismans, and very occasionally quoted, are Lincoln, FDR, King, and Saint Jack.

Thirteen years of state schooling between them.)

Wolfwood said...

I'm actually conflicted on this one. As defense is a legitimate purpose for the national government, I'm okay with them trying to take steps to fulfill this role. While there are some federalism implications here, as well as concerns should this law apply to what children may actually bring themselves, I don't know that a federal restriction on money given for school lunch programs that requires them to be somewhat healthy because we want fit future soldiers is unreasonable. If it were Bloomberg-esque and were to make people healthier so their betters could sleep well at night that would be one thing, but this seems to me like a reasonable restriction tailored to serve a legitimate government interest.

Lewis said...

Turning our collective (!) backs on the Ancel Keys lipid hypothesis, with its mindless emphasis on high carbohydrate consumption, would make a difference. Cutting farm subsidies likewise, even though this suggestion puts me crosswise of the entire Midwest.

Eat meat, lots of meat, full of good saturated fats rich in Omega 3s. Eat some veggies. Cut back on bread and pasta.

Maybe we need a Feddle Department of How To Eat? (Tongue now being removed from cheek.)

D.W. Drang said...

First thought: That's awful verbose for General Washington
Second thought: If the Fed is going to subsidize school lunches, then it's reasonable for the Fed to have a say in the makeup of same.
Maybe letting it get out that the Pentagram is setting the menu is the key to getting Federal subsidies for school lunches axed.
Second-and-a-halfth thought: I have had several young people I work with over the last few years enlist, or attempt to do so. Even the Air Force is having them go on diets and show up for PT once a week, starting several months before they ship out. And I had one show back up at work, rejected due to being overweight.
Second-and-three-quarters thought: Only an issue with an All Volunteer Military. Note that, in fact, today's REMFS are in better shape than Nam era grunts, and today's grunts are in better shape than Nam era SF.

WV: wories. Heh.

staghounds said...

In the entire history of the educational enterprise no one ever got fat on school lunches.

TJP said...

Let's not get confused between the intent of the legislation and reality. The children who would most benefit from a well-rounded diet are the ones who dump their federally-mandated (or subsidized) school lunch in the wastebasket and produce from their pockets the Twinkies they bought at the convenience store near the bus stop.

Brad K. said...

On the nation with schools - keep in mind, India today has more honors students than the US has students. And we have left wing bozos wanting to depopulate the US by about 2/3rds, unilaterally. Let me guess whether school graduates will be more likely to pay attention to government plans to reduce the population. Grr.

As for feds and schools and defense. Competitive sports, back when it took 11 kids to make a football team out of 20 in the class, so they had to compete against the neighbor school to get a game together - that was team, fitness, discipline prep for basic training. We could get back to that, if we stop consolidating schools, and take the money out of college and high school sports, and put the professional athletes into the side shows and military where they were supposed to go. Basketball got smaller teams, so they could play indoors during the weather, when travel (by horse) to the next town was tougher.

One thing that needs to be address is the recent research on high fructose corn sweetener. This stuff in the lab, packs on fat on rats that eat it - as compared to rats eating the same number of calories in sugar. A college student tells me they consider HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) turns *off* the body's ability to burn fat. Thus the grossly padded appearance of young and not so young, among those consuming quantities of HFCS - like sodas. This one change might be 80% of the battle.

That, and stick the children into boy scouts, girl scouts, send them to summer camp, and start a 1/4 acre garden for each to grow and maintain. Maybe start a trend, buy your teen a bicycle instead of a car, until they hit 24 or earn their own, with insurance and maintenance, and not counting allowances. Allowances should be stopped anyway.

Lewis said...

HFCS is de debbil! (I'm serious.)

TJP said...

With apologies to Shootin' Buddy:

Could we just do reading, writing and math....please?

wv = "platoria"; world-famous philosophy theme park.

Mister_V said...

"Too fat to fight" is, in most cases, bull. The problem is that the military uses the body mass index, which is easily the least accurate method of measurement in common use. When I enlisted, I had trained with weights for ten years, could bench press over 1.5x my bodyweight, and could make the minimum 2 mile run time. The BMI test overestimated my bodyfat by 5% (I had done both skinfolds and bioelectric impedance analysis, so I knew where I really was) and I actually scored worse than a guy who was significantly fatter than me because he was thicker through the neck. I was made to lose 30 lbs. of solid muscle to enlist. If they would just adopt an accurate standard, the problem would go away. There is, of course, no need for the federal government to have any say in what your diet looks like.

staghounds said...

Really, how difficult can it be to write out the Lord's Prayer, say the three times table, jump over a chair, and drink a glass of sherry?

Oh no, we are well and truly f@cked.

OA said...

"Can you imagine Alexander Hamil... okay, wait..."

Aye. The day that statist bastard got shot should be a national holiday. Instead we celebrate a lost Italian as well as name the worst stretch of road in damn near any town after a man that would cry if he saw the behavior that occurs in the vicinity.

Ed Rasimus said...

Reference OA's comment:

Hamilton was Washington's Aide-de-camp for most of the revolution and since his thinking was very similar to Washington's on most issues, much of what came out over Washington's signature was drafted by Hamilton. Finally at his own insistence he was released from Washington's immediate staff and given a field command where he acted courageously and successfully in several engagements.

He was certainly the Federalist to be countered by Jefferson's State's rights thinking, but he would hardly have been a "statist" in terms of the current thinking. Even his financial views (which were significant and often controversial) would be counter the actions emanating form Dodd, Frank, Reid, Pelosi and the Bamster.

Don't be too eager to discredit Hamilton.

OA said...

" terms of the current thinking..."

The "current thinking" pertaining to virtually everything is horseshit.

Montie said...

Mister V is absolutely right. At 5'11" and 178 lbs. I was considered fat going into basic. when I got out of basic I weighed 148, which I hadn't weighed since junior high school.

Later, when I entered OCS I had ballooned up to 160 but made it by. One of the other officer candidates was a body builder and was a totally buff 6' 1" and 200 lbs with a very low body fat ratio. He had to drop a lot of weight that was all solid muscle. We all thought it was total bullshit, as he could run any of us into the ground, and do pushups until the TAC officers got tired of counting, all before dropping a single pound.

joe said...

Another question we may want to consider is why do we use so much high fructose corn syrup anyway? My understanding is that "real" sugar is much more expensive, largely because of high import tariffs that protect domestic growers. Unintended consequences, anyone?

WV: worie. What, me?

Außenseiter said...

Is it not true that the army and other services first check the BMI and if that is over the limit, they try to determine body fat? At least, that is what the web says on the subject. And it makes sense.

Preposterous to believe the army would force athlets to lose muscle, provided it wasn't really excessive.

HFCS tastes sweeter than regular sugar. Even if per kg it was as expensive as beet sugar, companies would still use HFCS. Maybe it's even cheaper than regular beet sugar.
Anyway, it's not proven that it messes with metabolism and makes people fat..
Not that that should matter to food companies.

Maintaing a healthy bodyweight is everyone's personal responsiblity, and I am amazed how people can fail to eat less. How hard it is to avoid buying junk food?

Bullshit. Carbohydrates are a natural part of our diet. Probably one of the reason why we're still here and neanderthals are more or less gone.
They contain a lot of energy, sure, but living purely on protein and fat is quite expensive.

Wolfwood said...

How hard it is to avoid buying junk food?

Depends on finances and education. I've known high school students who, in good faith, simply don't know any better. They've been told of the food pyramid and all, but it just hasn't sunken in. Part of this is because their families are poor and junk food is generally cheaper than vegetables and fresh meat.

These are teenagers. They're hopefully mostly on the way to adulthood, but they often simply don't know any better.

Yes, it's a discipline thing, but certain disciplines can be harder for some people than others based on their resources and backgrounds.

tanksoldier said...

I'm torn between the opinion that the federal government, or any level of government really, should have no place in education and the fact that our kids ARE out of shape. I'm pretty sure that the government can't solve that problem; it's a cultural shift to more sedentary lifestyles.

Incidentally, he goal of having fit recruits is to PREVENT their getting shot. The fact that 95% of our kids today wouldn't even consider military service is a travesty.

How do you re-instill the desire to serve and the sense of responsibility our forefathers had, while maintaining the individuality that is uniquely American?

Lewis said...


Hey, I don't have the funky character, so you're Aussenseiter to me. Oh, and stay classy, dude!

Carbohydrates have played a hugely important role in the growth of civilization, but carbohydrates are not I say again NOT necessary for humans to live, and are not a natural part of our diet.

Google up Vilhjalmur Stefansson and read about his almost ten years with the Inuit, living on NO carbohydrates, or his later experiment (at Cedars-Sinai? I think?) where he lived for a year, monitored by medical personnel, on nothing but meat. Think about the Central Asian nomads, you know, the ones that intermittently swept out of the wastelands and conquered piddly little unimportant civilizations like, oh, China, India, Persia and the Byzantine Empire. For thirteen centuries (that we know of) the settled grain eaters had no answer to these nomads. What did they live on? As pastoral nomads, not much grain: they lived on meat and milk products, and they were hardier, tougher, fiercer and (in many ways) just all around better.

HFCS is cheaper than beet sugar, too---because of US farm policy and ag subsidies going back to the Nixon administration, when "fencerow to fencerow" became the watchword.

Cybrludite said...

First thought: That's awful verbose for General Washington

True enough. I understand that the full text of his demand for the Hessians to surrender at Trenton read, "Prithee, what nowe, bytches?"

Anonymous said...

When military service becomes what it should be -a career path of Professional Soldier instead of refuge of last resort- then physical and mental fitness along with education and specific skillsets, become critical criteria to aspire to for acceptance into training for twenty-year service and employment.

With pay structure, fringe accoutrement, and post-service medical and pension benefits competitive with the private sector, the revolving door of unfit, unqualified and unhappy "recruits" on which hundreds of thousands of dollars in training is wasted on short termers who can't wait to take their taxpayer funded training into the private sector, and washouts who then milk the system for post-term benefits and services, is replaced with well-trained, well-qualified, well-paid, and well-experienced professional defenders of freedom and security that love their jobs and will fight to keep them for full vestment after twenty years. Now that would be a military.

How to pay for it? First of course the idiocy highlighted in Tam's post here saves huge sums that are misdirected on misguided infringements on personal behavior masquerading as "public good". Then the savings realized from the elimination of constant recruitment efforts and the above-mentioned wasted training of misfits, and the associated post-cost. Finally, as proper and effective national defense is arguably the only, or at least the primary, function of federal government, divert whatever is necessary from the so-called entitlement programs that mostly benefit the least-productive and deserving segments of our society, and make up the lion's share -by far- of federal expenditure, and threaten our very continued existence as a free republic.

Huh. Sounds a bit like capitalism doesn't it? Best system for private enterprise is the best system for public enterprise as well? Imagine that.


Ed Foster said...

Thoughts on the all meat diet: Several years ago I went on an all meat (plus dairy and eggs) diet for a year, with no other life style changes. No caffein, no sugar, all vitamin C from tablets.

If I had been living on the edge of a glacier and throwing sharp sticks at aurochs for a living way back when, I would have been getting my vitamin C from raw liver. I hate liver, so I cheated.

I went from 233 pounds (105 kilos) to 179 pounds (81 kilos). Total cholesterol went from 233 to 179 (I thought the linear relationship to body weight was cute), and my good cholesterol more than doubled from 25 to 65. Triglycerides also took an amazing nose dive.

10,000 years ago everyone on the planet was type O, and we all ate meat as a staple.

O is the hunter's blood type, with a highly acid body chemistry. Great for overall health (the acidity is tough on intestinal flukes and paracites) and digestion of complex proteins, but lacking A's charming resistance to bubonic plague.

Sadly, that same acidity chews on Mr/Ms. O's guts and muscles when they are forced to eat the more easily digested starch and sugar diet found "ideal" for the type A ascendancy. Plus, they run much more easily to fat on a high carb diet.

We evolved type A as an adaptation to starches(farmer's gene) and later type B as a means of processing dairy fats. Google up the staggering differences in disease resistance and suseptability dependent on blood type.

Three fourths of Norwegians have more in common genetically/dietetically with a Serbian from almost a thousand miles away than they do with the typical Scot just across the North Sea.

The high fat/high protein diet of the well fed Scot would give the Norske arteries of stone, and the starchy/sugary diet of the Scandihoovian would turn the Scot into a pudgy alcoholic. Carnivores tend to be strongly hypoglycemic, and alcohol blunts the sugar crash.

Kinda makes you think twice about the 19th century cliche about the alky Irish, Scots, and southern Germans in their potato fed slums doesn't it?

Brad K. said...

@ Anonymous 10:05,

We differ on what "should be". You said, "When military service becomes what it should be -a career path of Professional Soldier instead of refuge of last resort- ."

The military would like to see itself as a professional career. What the nation needs, though, is a professional cadre, and to drawn intakes, in vast numbers, from the general population. The greater number of civilians entering service - and returning to civilian life - the better off the nation is.

Military service in America has long been an engine of social engineering. Racial sensitivity training in the military, learning to serve next to and with "other" kinds of people, results in a veteran cadre with deeper insight into what can be done, when they return home to family and neighbors. Large numbers of poor, poorly educated, socially misfit, and variously abused and undisciplined people have found a fresh start through military service. Many have used military service to bridge social strata gaps.

In terms of national security, the more people fit for service, that see service as a necessary and honorable task, the better the nation is situated to respond when the need for more people under arms arises - and the very preparedness does a lot to avoid that need.

There is a danger of having a professional military, not in terms of effectiveness of the military or security of the nation - but that the nation forgets how to give up its sons and daughters in need. The nation is in danger of resenting the different culture necessary for the military to succeed. Each may begin to resent the restrictions they impose on each other.

It is the civilian draw, spreading losses throughout the nation, that keeps the nation in tune with the costs of conflict, with a sense of participation and involvement. This reduces the chance of a tyrant "wasting" the military frivolously, through inattention and disregard.

The nation would flounder, and ultimately lose itself, without the regular loss of young people from civilian life to military service, the regrettable losses of life during service, and the cadre of veterans returned at all levels to civilian life. The civilians entering and leaving the military are a fundamental strength of the United States.

@ Lewis,

According to Harry Turtledove's fairly well researched novels, the Roman Legions marched vegetarian, winning battles on boiled grains, when opponents eating meat got overheated sooner.

Brad K. said...

@ Tanksoldier,

I could almost agree with you about the role of government in education, excempt that a democracy, a republic, requires an informed electorate.

While educators might preen about Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic, compulsory education was created to assure voters understood government, civics, and history. The reading and writing and math were included so they could get to the geography and world affairs.

Beyond the basic mandate for a comprehensive understanding of those fundamentals - government really doesn't have a legitimate interest. Whether students learn, or are fit for military service, is not the government's problem to solve. The initial requirement, grade eight or age 16, still meets the basic needs. Any student that cannot pass the requirements for a grade the third time through used to get a pass to the next grade anyway. Thus the regular jokes on the Beverly Hillbillies about Jethro's exemplary school career, making it all the way to the third grade.

If you want to see tax money flow, visit your local school, ask to visit the "multiply handicapped" class or classes. I have no problem teaching someone with limited ability to learn. But a child that requires two adults to manage through the day, and the child will never be able to articulate, care for himself or herself, will never understand a ballot or make a financial transaction - I do not dispute that care should be provided. It offends me, though, to divert education dollars that way. My local school provides "para" one-on-one assistants to age 22 or 25, for those that won't graduate to unassisted living. Hiding that kind of service and expense in an education budget, under the theme of "mainstreaming" is just wrong.

I do not dispute that socially the presence of the multiply handicapped benefits every single child and teacher at the school. That is obvious. The tolerance, the exposure to, and acceptance of, "different" people is invaluable. Learning to interact with those of limited capability, to include them to their capability, is immensely powerful, for the so-called "differently abled" and the so-called "commonly abled".

I question whether school personnel, including teachers, should be allowed to organize in unions. School districts, like local and state governments, and the federal government, don't have the remedies available to other employers when the unions get too tyrannical. A school district cannot disband and move. This places the school, and the community at too much of a disadvantage.

I can remember forty (40) or fifty (50) years ago, that some politicians and educators called for abolishing the Department of Education, that it had outlived the need for it. That seems so much more true today, but no one seems invested in shutting down the Dept of Ed. I would vote to shut down the Dept. of Ed. And the Dept of Energy, and Homeland Security, too. And the ATF/BATFE. Toledo? I ain't made my mind up about Toledo! (Sorry, a Dr. Demento / Stan Freberg flashback.)

Ed Foster said...

Almost all of America's combat soldiers come from the Appalachin South, the Rocky Mountain West, or the urban Irish ghetto (Harper's lead article about four years ago, also used widely in the conservative press to refute Charlie Wrangel's B.S. remarks about minorities bearing an unfair share of the fighting). Crackers, Cops, and Cowboys.

"Welfare Class" women are disproportionately represented in supply units, as the various posed shots of Barry Bumbles with "The Troops" bear strong witness to.

Take as a given that anyone in a combat unit who didn't love what he was doing left said unit no later than 2005. Take also as a given that reenlistment rates in fighting units are all between 90% and 100%, and it would appear that the physical condition of the junk food munching, Jerry Springer watching ,potential supply corps REMF has indeed deteriorated.

This is a bad thing? It makes for a higher cyclic rate. Just don't keep them on long enough for a pension.

In fact, former military personnel from Europe and the English speaking countries could certainly do a better job as contract help, without the severe long term costs of hiring and promoting not terribly bright, usually obese, and often pregnant Inner City Lakisha and Susie Mae McCracker from North Bumfuck.

After WWII the U.S. had a program for very elite immigrants who served 4 years overseas and got their citizenship after finishing their enlistment. These men were often serving in their native countries, and were an enourmous help in maintaining efficient logistics and C3I.

For reference, the well fed yuppie puppies I see at the big name prep school down the street all look like tri-athletes, as do all their brethren at the other tony schools dotting the Connecticut countryside.

Sadly, these decendants of the people who founded this country and chased out the British haven't had anyone in their respective families in military service since their great-grandfathers enlisted for WWII. Grampa had a 2S deferment during Vietnam, and Daddy never had to face a draft.

What a waste.

Ed Foster said...

Brad K.:

I have to call B.S. on Harry Turtledove. The Roman army had the same 2 pound a day appetite for meat that every army has had since day one. It's the proven minimum (the Brits did massive trials back in the 1850's) to keep a man going in tough field conditions, all day, for weeks or months, with half his weight on his back.

While in the field, the Roman soldier drew his pay in salt (salerius, the origin of our word salary), and used much of it to buy his meat from the locals. They had to trade meat for salt, because Rome controlled every single source of salt from Saudi Arabia to Scotland, North Africa to Austria.

That, plus the excellent roads they built, meant the Romans could cover 30 miles a day when they had to, rather than the 15 miles a day every other army in the world was tied to. 15 miles is about as far as you can herd cattle in a day, and you have to provide security to the cattle and herdsmen.

Also, family and admirers would commonly bring stew as a gift to gladiators, which was allowed as long as there were no bones. Archeologists were suprised that there were no bones in the middens of gladitorial schools, and assumed they were somehow vegitarians.

Until someone checked their coprolites (petrified turds) and discovered that they were eating (suprise!) two pounds of meat a day.

The greatest athletes in Roman times were the rowers on the grain ships. Never slaves (sorry Ben Hur fans, that didn't happen until the Ottomans), the rower's union was extremely powerful politically, and almost entirely Greek.

When the Egyptian and Sicilian grain ships were late at Ostia or Marsallia, the cities rioted. If the winds were fair, the rowers got a free ride and loafed. If the winds failed or were from the north, they pulled their guts out to make up the schedule.

What did these critically important athletes eat? The records shoe the union demanded and got a diet for their men of barley, olive oil, and large amounts of lamb.

Being Greeks, they had done their own trials centuries before, and discovered the diet that gave the best strength and stamina, with the least gastrointestinal distress.

TJP said...

Brad K. said:
"If you want to see tax money flow, visit your local school, ask to visit the "multiply handicapped" class or classes. I have no problem teaching someone with limited ability to learn. But a child that requires two adults to manage through the day, and the child will never be able to articulate, care for himself or herself, will never understand a ballot or make a financial transaction - I do not dispute that care should be provided. It offends me, though, to divert education dollars that way. My local school provides 'para' one-on-one assistants to age 22 or 25, for those that won't graduate to unassisted living. Hiding that kind of service and expense in an education budget, under the theme of 'mainstreaming' is just wrong."

Though the maximum age of services and other mandates depend on state law, in-house programs and "mainstreaming" are--believe it or not--often the least expensive alternatives. Separate classes for special needs students create discipline problems (see: Lord of the Flies), which are costly in terms of staff time and also litigation. They also create a need for space which a building may not be able to accomodate. Most public schools that aren't big city failure factories spend in the upper four digits per-pupil. Quasi-private schools that specialize in certain types of disabilities usually charge from the mid five-digits, up into the low end of six digits for tuition.

Just like "health care", government subsidies have created a market distortion with services that no one can actually afford.

Charles Pergiel said...

Why is the Federal government even involved in subsidising school lunches? Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question.

Anonymous said...

Brad K:

I see. The role of the military is one of social construct, not effective national defense. And maintaining a steady influx and outflux of inept but expendable "childryn" to "absorbe ball and shotte" keeps us humble. Gotcha.

I can hear the "hell, yeahs" all the way from Iran, N. Korea, and Moscow.

Yes, "we differ on what should be"...

Al Terego

Brad K. said...

Anonymous 12:56,

Don't take it personally - the military must meet the demands we put on it. And it does. Admirably.

From the manner of recruiting and basic training, to handling veterans benefits (or lack thereof), America has been invested in a "citizen" army approach, as opposed to a professional or hereditary military, pretty much since the beginning.

I was told, in service, that boot camp/basic training is intended to make it more likely (as in 'over 50% chance') you survive your first 15-30 minutes of combat. It seems we do much better than that with limited engagements, at least when we aren't in a full-up shooting war like WWII.

The Green Berets, the Airborne Rangers, the Navy Seals stand out because they are disciplined, trained, and exercised in a manner much beyond the usual member of the military. We need those units for specific tasks. We use the rest of the military as well as we can, and define our needs for the military with the capabilities of each unit in mind.

Relying on a military with a less than 100% re-enlistment over the entire force is not a change for America, nor should it be changed. The military has to be practiced and ready to induct masses of semi-ready civilians if the need to field more armies ever arises; all segments of American society have to be familiar with what induction and service mean to the community.

I never meant that anyone was expendable. My comment is that society, at all levels and regions, has to be kept aware that using the military always costs lives. Leave that for "serious" conflicts, and you risk paralyzing the nation. It has nothing to do with who is humble or not.

As for "inept", that is likely a bit strong a word to use. I recall the story of Sargeant York, in WWI - who brought his sharp shooting ability with him when he joined. The better fitted and prepared men and women are for military skills, including marksmanship, physical fitness, discipline, and experience in all terrains and environments, the better chance each has to do well, and the stronger the unit that includes them.

As for the inept, from my boot camp company two men were released for the good of the service after boot camp. Their disabilities/limitations were real. There were reasons to accept their enlistment, and for our company to carry them through basic training. At the same time they were not, and would not be, suited for service. And, by the way, it has been illegal for judges to tell someone "We will drop the charges, if you are enlisted this time tomorrow". Has been since the 1950s, I believe. When someone in my boot camp company asked, three guys raised their hands, that that was why they were there. Those three were not among the trouble makers, at least not in boot camp.

I don't see where your criticism is coming from, about a system more or less in place for some 230 years or more. It seems to serve the nation, the national defense, and those in service quite well. The only part that isn't working as well as ever, is the preparing and motivating that communities and families could be doing.

It used to be a point of pride, for a family to equate patriotism with the number of sons they sent to serve.

Ed Foster said...

"Inept but expendable children"? Shouldn't somebody be reading Huffpost?

Nobody's arguing that the supply tail is individually underwhelming and wildly overstaffed because of the poor quality of drone being shuffled into it. But the guys in the combat units, the guys out at the pointy end of the stick, are among the finest soldiers the human race has ever produced.

I'm speaking of people I do business with or party with on a daily basis.

The combat units are still Ronald Reagan's army, men who graduated in the top third of their high school classes and were athletes to boot, led by the near supermen we graduate from the world's finest service academies.

Imagine 110 hour training weeks with ruthless discipline, gaining an engineering degree while also learning soldiering. Four years with no summers off, and a curriculum designed to fail all but the most emotionally solid, followed by the equivalent of two or three Master's degrees and a Doctorate before retirement.

A West Pointer not only serves in each branch of combat arms, he or she becomes an expert in it. What other nation can pull an infantry officer out of a foxhole and have him control effectively an artillery battery putting indirect plunging fire on an enemy 25 klicks away behind a mountain, or command a company of tanks and APC's in a combined arms action?

What is it worth to have an infantry officer facing tanks and artillery who is an experienced commander of those same instruments, who can design and build a bridge or field fortifications from locally available supplies and maintain his own logistics if he has to?

The same kind of polymath is graduated from the Naval and Air Force academies, and, if in combat, he commands troops who have been in a constant war environment for a decade, and love their work.

No draftees, no "trapped" individuals who enlisted in peacetime looking for a free ride. The winnowing has been done, and there is nothing left except but hard, skilled professionals.

Ideally, we would require military service from any man or woman who wanted to vote in a federal election. It is the ultimate voter qualification.

But you know what? Draftee armies suck, and they always have. Wartime propaganda movies to the contrary, it's the regulars that fight most of the tough battles, or the few draftees who have been in combat and discovered they like it, that they fit.

The All American "Lost Battalion" was mostly New York City police and firemen, a majority with former military experience.

From Saratoga to the Battle of the Bulge, the Indian wars to Iraq, it's the Continental, the Regular, who's picked up the ball the militiaman has dropped.

During the civil war, despite the enormous differences in wealth and manpower, the south beat the crap out of the north for the first year because it had most of the pre-war professional officers.

After that first year, with the withdrawal of most militia units and the new state units being made up of expensively bonus paid veterans, the south never won a stand-up battle of maneuver again.

We need the regulars to avoid debacles like the French involvement in Vietnam and Algeria. I would like Presidents and Congressmen with combat decorations, although I can think of certain Congressmen who have seen the elephant that I would not be willing to waste my spit on.

I served with one of them, and I have to say Washington changed him.

Still, it might offer a better track record than what we have now.

Wolfwood said...

Ideally, we would require military service from any man or woman who wanted to vote in a federal election. It is the ultimate voter qualification.

Awful idea. It would lead to either people short-timing and doing the absolute minimum to get by in order to vote (unlikely) or it would lead to class division.

Frankly, not everyone is suited for military service, physically, emotionally, or due to other constraints.

Owen said...

So what do y'all think about the military and the defense industry pushing STEM programs?

Anonymous said...

"Don't take it personally..."

It doesn't get any more personal than concern for the who's and how's of defending this nation, my friend.

"I don't see where your criticism is coming from, about a system more or less in place for some 230 years or more."

That's because there wasn't any...the concern is for the next millennium and how those wars will be fought, and the criticism is for the stupidity of top-down controls that were the point of Tam's post and their harbinger of future horrors. Yesterday at Red Lobster wifey and I were seated next to an old couple who were celebrating the lady's birthday. When their server asked about the gent's veteran's cap he was told that the fellow had entered the Navy in '42 at age 18. Because of his perfect hearing, he was assigned to sonar on a sub-hunter. His ship was sunk by a mine in '44 and he swam for two hours before being plucked up by another ship; he has tried but been unable to track down or make contact with or even find out the fate of any of his shipmates. Now, maybe he's no Ernie Pyle, but he was a necessary cog in a machine of men -and a generation- who saved the world, and I shook his hand and told him so as they left.

But we can't win wars anymore by raining troops on beaches or steaming flotillas to surprise points of attack. Future (and current) conflicts are about training and technology that is difficult to master in short stints and far too expensive to provide just to see it walk away after a few years. Ed's idea for mandatory service as prerequisite for suffrage is way wrong of course, but the prospect for a long and rewarding career will ensure quality over quantity.

He has it right that the dedicated and highly skilled officers turning out from the academies are the keys to our military securing our survival. But encouraging rank and file loyalty and dedication through the promotion of military service as a long-term career and not just a means to an end is the lock that those keys will turn.


staghounds said...

Back on topic, the comedy gold that is Shalikashvili-

Aren't portly cannon fodder better? They have that fat reserve for when the supply chain takes a break.

And shot absorption increases with lard carapace coverage. Think of it as gel Kevlar.

TJP said...

This is quite the interesting side discussion. Ed, a point regarding this:

"From Saratoga to the Battle of the Bulge, the Indian wars to Iraq, it's the Continental, the Regular, who's picked up the ball the militiaman has dropped."

The militiamen dropped the ball during the Revolution when they got a whoopin' by the Red Coats on Long Island, and when they just plain couldn't take the abuse thereafter. Old Wooden Teeth had his hands full either trying to reenlist or punish the rowdy masses.

A militia should be inclusive, and made up of the fat, the slow and the dull--but those who have just enough of a desire to defend. Consequently, they're useless for the job of going to foreign lands and killing people--and probably not helpful outside of their local area. When only five percent of the populace has the wherewithal to do military service, it's nature's way of telling us that there's an upper limit on the number of qualified humans produced by a civilization.

This really isn't different in any other endeavor. The nation as a whole is sold on the fraud that expensive education can create the exceptional from a stock of apathetic dullards. And since, "Hey, everyone needs a job, right?", and people show up at institutions of higher learning with big wads of cash, economic forces make it so engineering students are forced to take Poetry 201 and Transsexual Studies along with their technical classes. Show me any discipline, and I can demonstrate how it is stuffed with charlatans and people who are doing it because they heard the money was good.

It's is an enormous problem for the competent: they are unable to spark a passion for the job in their cow-orkers, so they must necessarily correct all the sloppiness and mistakes of the people who just don't care, so that they aren't branded with the failure that will eventually happen. That's a serious problem on a battlefield.

Ed Foster said...

AT: Very much in agreement with you. I threw the National Service bit out as something I'd heard, and tried to shoot it down with the comment that "draftee armies suck".

Given infinite money and time, or desperation, it might be a good idea to train all citizens as military, the way Israel does. Then choose the regulars from those who found they liked the life. You would have some way of quantifying the people going into the regular units.

But it ain't gonna happen here. Just not possible with the amount of loonies we have to carry.

Pity. If everyone knew firsthand what the military was really about, there might not be as much anti-military hysteria.

"Things fall apart, the center can not hold, mere anarchy is loosed apon the world".

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity".

Yeats knew what he was talking about in The Second Coming. He was writing about Communism and the death of traditional Western values, so by extension I suppose it would apply to our "Liberals" as well.

"And what rough beast, it's time come at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?".

Ed Foster said...

TJP: "Credentially" is expensive, and I think largely counterproductive, but increasingly forced on us by a government filled with Lysenko devotees.

If I could hire someone for a trainee job on the basis of an intelligence test, I wouldn't need to see a Mickey Mouse transcript from a lame Community College, showing the equivalent of a mediocre C+ from a good private High School.

But I can't, because I.Q. tests, although demonstrably the most efficient predictor of ability, aren't P.C.

With the transcript, at least I know he had the "stick-to-it-ivness" needed to sit through class for a couple of years and do his homework. Sad.

monkeyfan said...

At the risk of reinforcing the liberal penchant of hoping for some thing that cannot possibly be: I wish Robert Heinlein was king of America.

Montie said...


Just curious, since you have such a strong opinion about whether the military might make one lose muscle to conform to a fixed guideline for weight as expressed by Mister V and myself. Exactly how much military service time do you have?

Now granted I can only speak from my experience in one branch, but 2 years as enlisted and 8 years as an officer in the Army infantry do give me some basis for what I had to say, at least as regards the Army.

Unless you KNOW what you are talking about, how can you call bullshit? Unless bullshit is all that you are about.

Cond0010 said...

Ed Foster...

You have an amazing wealth of knowledge. Thanks for all the input.

... and I haven't forgot what you wrote at Brigid's website in February. You know... about the Normans, Vikings, Welsh and Irish.

Very entertaining, cousin. This too, is going in the archive.

-John Condon

Cond0010 said...

@Ed Foster:

One more thing:

In regards to those who have type O blood type being vulnerable to the Bubonic Plague:

Many Type O Blood type people receive subtle damage to their immune systems from the civilized foods that contain Gluten (Wheat, Barley, Rye and Oats) which makes them prone to being more sickly and have a variety of immune system ailments.

This understanding is gradually coming into focus since World War Two.

Perhaps they were susceptible to Bubonic Plague due to this slow poison of the Gluten Carbohydrate?

food for thought...

D.W. Drang said...

Ed R: Alexander Hamilton as Spawn of the Devil is a theme in El Neil Smith's books.

ISTR from my own stints as First Sergeant that it was possible to say "Snuffy, you is over weight by the chart, but clearly is not, fat. Therefore, hie thee off to the horsepiddle where the sawbones will conduct divers tests and analyses on you to determine just how unfat you are."
Alas, it is expensive and time consuming to do so, and many do not know this. Also, there are, frankly, not all that many personnel to whom this applies.

Disagree about "The Regular picking up the ball the militia dropped."
The troops trained by the Regulars, and frequently led by (some of) them, are to themselves Regulars. Very few regiments of Regulars fought in the War of 1812, Mexican American War, Civil War, Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection, WWI, WWII...
What you had was a few Regular Regiments, a few State Regiments, and a bunch of units of "volunteers", who, through the Philippine Insurrection, were raised by states for a fixed term, but who tended to fight with more elan and enthusiasm than even the Regulars, and at least as much skill.
Just because most of the regiments in WWII were no longer raised by the states does not make them "Regulars." Also, note that, today, a National Guard Brigade in The Sandbox is pretty much indistinguishable from a Regular Army Brigade, from an operational effectiveness viewpoint.

Ed Foster said...

Drang: We're very much in agreement. In 1812 we got our butts whipped every time we came out from behind a cotton bale (Jackson won New Orleans with massive artillery superiority). Look up the "Bladensburg Run".

In the Mexican war, we only had to fight Mexicans, led by pathetic Santa Anna no less, so anybody would look good.

Great people, the Mexicans, with cohones that drag on the ground. I'd rather have Mexican illegals for neighbors than limosine liberals.

But century old Brown Besses with poor to no gunpowder made them pike armies sent out to be massacred, not soldiers.

The fact that they almost won on several occasions had more to do with insane courage and massive numbers on their side than any professionalism. Virtually the only professionals they had were some of ther lancer units and the San Patricios artillery units that kicked hell out of Zachary Taylor at Monterrey and Buena Vista. The professionals always held and died, while the militia finally broke and melted away.

In the Civil War we trained regulars by attrition, and they then reupped for some truely massive bonuses. The north had a professional army after the first year of the war, and it showed in essentially an unbroken string of Confederate defeats from then on.

My Grandmother's Uncle was wounded at Fredricksberg as a teenager, serving with Meagher's Irish Brigade.

The Irish used to move to withih 200 to 300 yards of the Confederate lines, then kneel and get a last blessing from any priest who had survived the advance (all officers and priests were in the front rank), all while Confederate minie balls tore through their formation.

It was considered rude to cry out when hit, and most of the dead were found with their teeth buried in doubled over musket slings.

The survivors would then rush the Confederate line, firing their buckshot loaded .69 caliber smoothbores (never .58 caliber rifles) from the hip at 25 yards and rushing in screaming with their bayonets.

Very macho. I admire their testosterone level, but if I had been in charge I would have courtmartialed their commander for such a sinful waste of gallant men. A French general said while watching the charge of the light brigade? "It is magnificent, but it is not war".

The same great uncle walked up Kettle Hill with Teddy Roosevelt at the mis-named battle of San Juan Hill. The Spanish regulars took out 13 Americans for every man they lost up until the Americans poured into their trenches.

But they wouldn't have made it to the top without the skilled massed machine gun fire of Black Jack Pershing's Regular Army Gatling Gun crews.

Admittedly, it was also the Minnesota National Guard regiment Pershing had put behind his gunners to kill them if they ran, but firing black powder on a modern battlefield made them such an obvious target I wouldn't have blamed them if they had.

The true militia unit disappeared with the National Guard act of 1905, and was replaced with essentially reserve units having peacetime obligations to the states.

So I couldn't compare modern NG units to the rag tag militia of the 19th century.

The early militia was basically the old fyrd, an extension of the English law system of Hue and Cry. It worked quite well as a substitute for a professional police force, but lacked the logistic and training depth to be more than a sacrificial stopgap in real combat.

Even today, how much resistance could the New York City Police Department give against a combined arms division coming in from the Bronx and Long Island, with amphibious landings behind them in Brooklyn and Battery Park?

Again. Today, except for vestigial units like the various non-federal state guards (I'm an NCO in the Rhode Island State Guard), the militia system is history.

Perhaps because it wasn't scaleable to modern military capability, perhaps because Roosevelt remembered all the Democratic Governors who refused to send troops to fight the Spanish in 1898.

Most likely both.

Außenseiter said...


I was laboring under the impression that the US Army is a rational organisation.

Anyway, US Army regulation seems to be something called IAW AR 600-9 which has a BMI range table and some sort of tape test that measures neck and abdomen circumference and computes something that might approximate body fat percentage. Not really scientific, but probably quite just, as overweight males tend to have flab around their midsection.

As to military experience, I told the draft board that I wouldn't want to be a part of any organisation that would have me and especially not one with such a record.
Health check-up revealed a bad case of bradycardia(I probably got it from cycling too much), flat feet and need for prescription glasses.
So that's how I avoided being drafted. There are classier ways, such as making the psychiatrist believe one is insane, but I wasn't that ambitious..

Ed Foster said...

I've heard kissing the doctor and telling him what pretty eyes he has might also work. Oh, wait... That's how to get a job with the San Francisco P.D.

My ancestry is straight Celtic,or Alpine to be anthropologic rather than linguistic. Like all Alpines, I have short legs and a very long torso.

When I showed up in New Haven for my enlistment physical at age 19, I was 5 feet 11 inches, 148 pounds. My pants had a 29 inch inseam, roughly 5 inches shorter than average, meaning I had a torso 5 inches longer than average.

As a serious runner, I often clocked 100 miles a week or more and was a walking skeleton, yet weighed 10/12 pounds more than my Norse or Anglo friends of similar skinniness and height. The torso is obviously the heaviest part of the body.

After getting some serious upper body development courtesy of my Uncle Sam, the disparity increased dramatically. I once borrowed the truck of a friend, an English immigrant from the Isle of Wight.

We were exactly the same height, but I looked in the mirror and saw only my adam's apple, and my feet couldn't reach the gas or brake pedals.

I suspect there should be a sliding scale corrector for the torso/leg length ratio.

Also, West Africans have very dense bones, perhaps offset by their carrying less water in their body fat, perhaps not. I looked up the Selective Service figures, and Blacks of military age average 5 feet 8 inches and weigh 154 pounds, while "whites" (all other races combined) are 5 feet 9.5 inches and 174 pounds.

Given the multi-ethnic nature of America, perhaps a study of different physiologies might render a series of ideals, perhaps hispanic/amerind, hispanic/carribean, several varieties of european, and north and south asia.

A bureaucrat's wet dream. Or perhaps a simple pinch test for body fat content, if any of the silly stuff was needed at all.

Or perhaps we should simply judge by performance. Terribly un-PC.

Geodkyt said...


You know what works even better than BMI charts and measuring tapes? (The ONLY guy I ever heard of who got the hospital tests was a 5'5" National Guard platoon sergeant who was a mountain climber -- that brick could run the 2 mile PT test ANaerobically, practically. Looked like a bow legged troll, but he made good time. When the brigade commander realized this was the guy getting photos of himself with the division flag on tops of various tall places, a phone call was made, and to doctors were invoked.)

Let them do the Expert Infantry Badge ruck march. If they finish on time, they are fit. Period.

As the Army is NOW only admitting, 2 mile runs have a lot less to do with modern combat than long heavy marches and weight lifting. I knew a LOT of "PT Studs" who could NOT hump a ruck -- they were just skinny little runners, with little to no upper body strength and NO serious endurance. (Not that that's true of all skinny little twigs -- had one hillbilly who with a seriou slack of good teeth. When we went to JRTC, his ruck, webbing, and weapon weighed nearly as much as he did. He did not flake out, but he was pretty happy to get "killed" a week into the exercise, so he could pass his M60 off to someone huskier and head to the Dead Tent.)

But, running was adopted as the One True Standard of Soldierly Fitness in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Ed Foster said...

Hey Geodkyt, why is it the littlest shit in the squad always gets the M-60? I think that got to be a cliche by being true most of the time. Since he's second in line to get shot, right after the radioman, maybe they figured he might get missed more if he was little?

I don't want to get tangled in an ethnic discussion, but slow twitch muscle (the stamina stuff) is only found in great amounts among certain peoples.

Add in upper body strength, and you're left with the same peoples who completely dominate triathlons and bicycle racing.

Kind of explains the ethnic mix(or lack of it) in Special Forces, Recon, just about anybody who has to tump a ruck serious distance over rough ground. And Holy S--t, the rucks I see nowadays are WAY bigger than what we had to carry.

Back in '68, a full 782 loadout was a bit less than 90 pounds. A friend of mine got back from Afganistan a few montha ago, and I almost choked on my Guinness when I saw pictures of what those kids were hauling up the Himalayas.

God bless them. Those are some truely hard men.

Tam said...

"Add in upper body strength, and you're left with the same peoples who completely dominate triathlons and bicycle racing."

I'd not wager my lunch on it. Those are the same people that completely dominate 12-meter yachting, too, and there's no special "spinnaker" gene.

Regarding "crackers, cops, and cowboys", I have seen studies that point out that combat arms in the Army, and specifically elite light infantry outfits, tend to be disproportionately middle- and upper-middle-class; kids who join for adventure or family tradition, as opposed to an inner city kid who wants three hots and a cot while he gets paid to learn a trade that may be useful on the outside.

Außenseiter said...


It's not my policy, mind you. Though, your suggestion is pretty good, most modern men can't even walk twenty klicks unloaded without stopping and moaning(based on my experience with guys I know. Not me, I've been made to walk up and down the hills lot ever since I could.)

I'm an outsider, and the most connection I'll have with the US military was playing their white-washed no-gore game(for abouta week, before I found they could'nt even keep the cheaters out).

@Ed Foster
Methinks you put too much emphasis on ethnic. Mind you, four decades ago, even among runners, the level of competitivness wasn't so high as to make ethnic origin a factor.
I doubt that special forces demand current olympic level endurance. Sure, they need fitness, but not the level of fitness only one guy in ten thousand can achieve.

Geodkyt said...

Tam -- Well, my anecdotal hearsay agrees with you. A significantly high percentage of guys I knew in Combat Arms were "paladins" at heart, no matter how much they publicly denied it. Meanwhile, the purely technical MOSs had a significant majority of guys who were (originally, at least) where they were to gain valuable job skills, with college as a strong second.

Which is why to this day, I advise kids asking me about the service who just want to do one enlistment and go civilian to look for the MOS's with the highest REenlistment bonuses and figure out which of them they can see doing as a suburban civilian. (Yeah, special operations, intel, translators, and such usually have good bonuses, but high-paying civilian employment opportunities are severely skewed towards DoD work.)

Ed -- I actually preferred little guys as machinegunners, and corn fed types for ammo bitches. I noticed the little guys tended to be more thrifty in ammo useage (which is logically backwards you would think), and less likely to do something Rambo stupid, like trying to lead an assault with a GPMG. Of course, they're bringing a new GPMG online -- hopefully they'll get it into widespread use in "line" units as the primary dismounted GPMG.

The Mk48 is an M249 SAW upsized to handle 7.62 (you can swap back to 5.56mm by swapping feedtray, bolt, and barrel; but I don't see that happening outside Secret Squirrel outfits). The bloody thing only weighs about 18 pounds empty, and can hold it's own in accuracy against an M240 as a bipod gun. Lower rate of fire probably helps. . .

I have doubts as to whether or not it's as durable as an M240 (especially in high volume support roles), but the weight savings makes it attractive, despite any shorter service life issues. For vehicular use (or any role where tripod or pintle use is expected to be the primary mission), I suspect the M240 will stick around a good long while.

The sooner they get the White gas system abortion of the M60 into the scrapheap of history, the better. I loved me some Pig (even knowing it's faults) when I was in, but only Marines and snake eaters were using the M240 as a ground gun then. (Of course, many of our NATO allies had been using the FN MAG58 about as long as we had been using the M60. . . but for all practical purposes, the M240 was something for coax guns and the loader on the Abrams.)

Aussenseiter -- Well, I just read where the US Army is reverting to the traditional emphasis on ruck marches and muscles, vice marathon runners, in PT training. We'll see if they actually fix the APFT (the Army Physical Fitness Test) to suit. People forget the ONLY reason the APFT was designed with the 2 minutes of push ups, 2 minutes of sit ups, and 2-mile run in running shoes and track suits, was because they thought it was a faster way to check military fitness. But if it doesn't actually correlate to the rigors of combat, it's ineffective and a waste of time.

Ian Argent said...

"Even today, how much resistance could the New York City Police Department give against a combined arms division coming in from the Bronx and Long Island, with amphibious landings behind them in Brooklyn and Battery Park?"

Depends on how much time you give the cops to muster in from their homes in the boroughs or NJ.

More importantly, how bad does the Red Force want the bridges and port facilities intact, and how are the boys in blue resupplying?

It's been said, only half in jest, that the NYPD could give the Canadian military a stiff fight. But as anyone who's read WWII history ought to know, it's basically impossible to take an urban area by storm in the face of motivated and supplied defenders (cf the Eastern Front and Stalingrad in particular, and note that they don't have to be either *well*-motivated or -supplied, just adequately).

It'd be an interesting wargame, to be sure. But as long as the NYPD can get a mimimal amount of antitank and antiair support (such as might be available to any national guard unit) and beans, bullets, and replacements; I'd stack them up against that combined-arms division (who, incidentally, has a nightmare of a logistical tail their own selves - either from europe or down the coast from Canada)

Ed Foster said...

I was positing a combined arms division already in place north and east of the city.

The Russians were able to get beans and bullets into Stalingrad, and the Germans couldn't. Ultimately, it was a battle of logistics.

The Bronx would go quickly, as it's on the mainland, and there are so many cleared areas (already burned out and converted to open spaces in the house to house fighting we called Fort Apache).

If the hypothetical badguys had a decent base on Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn could be broken up into cleared lanes along the Island highways, which, poor design, run next to all the big parks, allowing the baddies rally points.

There would be plenty of strongpoints to be bypassed and isolated, but the place is an island, and whever controls the water eventually wins.

Staten Island might be interesting, because it's essentially a large suburban area with lots of swamps and a fair amount of forest on the Jersey side. Also, it's only seperated from Jersey by a glorified stream, and there's lots of swamp and cover on both sides of it.

And, the people who live on Staten Island are a lot different than average New Yorker. Manhattan's population would surrender en masse (aussi instante), and march obediently off to internment camps in New Rochelle, which would be a blessing to the defenders.

The Rockaways would fight, because that's where the cops and firemen live. But that would be one of the strongpoints to be isolated on the island. Give them a chance to dig in, and I bet they would hold until the last rat was eaten (lots of family in the NYPD, I know those boys and girls).

But most of them would never reach the fighting in Manhattan, and half the ones who tried would never make in. I think most of the NYPD would die in Brooklyn and Queens.

What makes you think the badguys would come from Europe or Canada? If President Barry Bumbles wins reelection they might be from Iowa and Mississippi.

Ed Foster said...

Tam, he's not learning a trade for use on the outside, he's (nowadays mostly she's) doing unskilled work for fair pay, great benefits, and an early pension.

We're both right on the combat arms enlistment thing. Middle and upper middleclass, but from cracker, cowboy, and cop areas of the country.

Most big city cops here in the north-east make 80k a year, and the cliche about the cop married to the schoolteacher or nurse got that way by being true a whole bunch.

A few years ago, son number 2 was going to school in Manhattan, and wandered down to Times Square with some other Columbia types. They wandered by the military enlistment center and walked in for a chat.

Cormac, being a conservative gun bug and scion of you-know-who, seemed quite knowledgeable, and the recruiter told him all about himself.

He said "Your father was in the service, right?" To which Corm answered "Yes, he was a Marine".

He then said "And at least one of your grandfathers was in the service, right?" To which Corm replied "Both of them. One was a career Navy Chief, and the other was a Major with Patton".

The recruiter then went on to say that lots of folks looked, but it was the people from a family tradition that made up the bulk of his recruits, and they were the ones most likely to do well in the service.

Ed Foster said...

As for the "Spinnaker Gene", we have to consider that, in objective terms, there is no such thing as a "white" race.

I had a textbook back in college that was written in the politically insensative early '60's. They detailed the extensive tests the U.S. military did on physical differences between ethnicities, with the specific strong and weak points of each. Massive diffences, consistent date.

Lavalle University up in Quebec also did similar studies back in the early '90's, which were written up in Runner's World just before the '94 Olympics.

Put simply, take every good runner in the world, tell him to run as fast as he can, as far as he can, and at 50 meters and 100 meters, the winners will always be of west African ancestry.

At 200, it will still be the west African, with someone from Scandinavia, north Germany, or the Slavic/Balt countries gaining on him.

At 400 to 800, it's the northern European all the way, with the west African fading rapidy. At the mile, it's probably going to be a Celtic/Alpine type, of an Iberian, the two great stamina phenotypes in Europe.

From the 5,000 meter to the 26 plus miles of the marathon, it will usually be a Nilotic (east African) of Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, or Somali hybrid from the mountains of Kenya.

The east Africans have as high an incidence of slow twitch muscle fiber as Alpines or Iberians, but are smaller men carrying much smaller torsos. An enourmous advantage.

People from north west Africa are also great distance runners (Berbers from Algeria and Morocco especially), and have the advantage of the massive tendons and ligaments they share with the Europeans. This gives them a real advantage in cross country running.

Beyond the marathon distance, it's Alpine types or Iberians entirely. The disadvantage of lugging the long heavy torso is increasingly offset by the lighter, more flexible bones and the stronger tendons of the western European.

If you want upper body strength in any serious percentile of the population, you are stuck with Europeans and west Africans.

So, who's the best group of athletes? For jumping and sprinting, west Africans, hands down. 5 to 25 miles, east Africans.

Beyond that distance or in the Tour De France, it's an R1b haplotype from France, Spain, three fourths of the British Isles, or the 20% to 25% of northern Europeans who share the same phenotype.

Lance Armstrong is an ethnic Scot, as is Paula Newby-Fraser, arguably the greatest female athlete of all time. Neither of them is worth doo-doo in a basketball game.

Argueably, the types from around the Baltic are probably the best all-around athletes. They can't sprint as well as the west african, but they can beat him past a quarter mile. They can't run up hills as long as the Swiss/Bavarian/Irish/Portuguese type, but they can kick his butt for the first three quarters of a mile.

Jackie Joyner-Kirsee, an amazing lady and one of my personal heroes, refused to believe she couldn't win at marathon, a sport she admired above all else.

She beat herself into a near crippled state for more than a year, and never broke 2 hours and fourty minutes.

Different sports, different people. Apples and oranges.

Außenseiter said...

@Ed Foster

Don't forget doctors. They matter nowadays. Just consider BALCO. Those guys had performance enhancing stuff that was unique, thus it went undetected for a long time.

Also, Lance Armstrong being a testicle-free man is entitled to hormone injections. I doubt they've been giving him the least amounts necessary for him to look like a man, not like an eunuch.

In due time, it'll become clear every top athlete in performance sports has been taking legal or illegal pharmaceuticals...
Probably the only sport where there is no doping are various shooting disciplines.

Ian Argent said...

Depends on the specific discipline - Biathaletes could benefit from various "performance enhancers"; and I suspect that if it became important enough you could find ways to lower your pulse rate and your twitch muscles.

The important thing is that the shooting sports are, by and large, minor. If they became important, we'd see doping

Ed Foster said...

Supposedly, Johnson of Canada, the world's champion doper, kicked out several times for massive chemical usage, has been getting injections of slow twitch muscle fiber in his legs so that he can run sprints and middle distance.

But the thought to consider is that doping is risky, and it only gives a small increase in performance. Enough to make the difference between 1st place and 3rd place perhaps, but not enough to turn a sprinter into a marathon runner. Or, God help us, an Ultra-Runner.

Those people scare me. Running 24 hours straight, night and day over mountain paths. One lady I know somewhat has beaten 140 miles in a day. She's bedridden for 5 days after a race, and it takes a month for her body to rid itself of the necrotic tissue that died in her calves during the race.

Did I mention she's hot? Also with a nice guy husband who is the size of a mountain :-( Amazing sport, in a masochistic sort of way. Again, restricted, as far as I can see, to obvious Alpines, pretty much the way basketball centers are mostly west African unless they're so tall they just walk up to the basket.

Daughter number one was telling me about a book she'd read lately on the in depth genetic study big school college coaches invest in potential recruits, and how specialized the requirements are for various team positions in football and basketball.

When the coach looks at the mandatory biopsies, IQ and DNA tests, he sees not only what the applicant is doing, but how much more development he is capable of achieving.

A basketball guard needs more intelligence and more stamina, a center needs height and/or jumping ability, and American football teams are so job specialized that daughter commented "It's like they were breeding horses".

My thought is that I prefer the Patriot League, where everyone has to first be an honor student to compete in sports. Hiring mercenaries to represent a school means nothing to me.

Where is the school spirit in saying "Our hired thugs beat your hired thugs, and next year we'll outspend you again, to make the same thing happen"?

How come baseball has minor leagues, but football and basketball get funded by the taxpayer or parent of any kid who goes to college?

Say your kid had a chance to be accepted at Harvard, Cal Tech, MIT, or Stanford. Would you send him to Ol' Miss because they have a great football team? Or UCONN because they are such a great party school (my brother will be pissed at that one. UConn/UHart rivalry in the family).

In the mean time, the borg generation spends more time on the couch in electronic nirvana, being entertained while their bodies rot.

I look at the elete kids, skiing, sailing, horseback riding, swimming and kicking a soccer ball from the age of 3, developing real world relationships and personal bonds.

And I look at the lumpen proletariat, anesthetised by one artificial media or another. Developing a caste system happens in any culture that lasts long enough. But do the cattle have to look so dazed and complacent?