Women In Combat: Making A Virtue Of Weakness

If you follow the military much you have like seen this video.

Looks impressive (and brave), doesn’t it? She worked through it to manage to complete the march. Good for her!

Thing is, this is a 12 mile, that has to be completed within 3 hours, and the load is 36 pounds. As opposed to the normal 60-120 lbs that our guys carry into battle, for that exactly what this is, an approach march. I also note that no ammunition was carried, no night vision devices, none of the things that make an that make an army patrol lethal, or even survivable.

And yet she barely finished. What kind of shape is she going to be in to fight the upcoming battle? More to the point, how many of her squadmates are going to be killed trying to protect her?

Men and women are simply different, and all the feminists in the world cannot make that untrue. We as a nation ignore it at our peril. In the linked article, Streiff makes the point with 800 meter results, to wit:

Compared with the top 49 California high school boys:

He notes as follows:

Why the top 49 times? Because the top 10 women 800m times, ever, would place between 16th and 48th place among high school boys times in California.

If you want to do a more apples to apples comparison, the top Women’s 800m time would be over seven seconds slower than the 6,258th best Men’s time.

Men and women are not physical equals. And we are playing a very dangerous and very lethal game right now by fantasizing otherwise. Testing by the US Marine Corps that pitted all-male squads against co-ed squads found that all-male squads significantly outperformed the co-ed squads even though the test had been structured to aid the co-ed squad… this is something out enemies probably won’t do:

All-male ground combat units in the Marines were faster, more lethal and less injured than units with mixed genders, according to a Marine Corps study that looked at integrating women into all service jobs.

“All male squads, teams and crews demonstrated higher performance levels on 69 percent of tasks evaluated (93 of 134) as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews,” according a summary of the report released Thursday.

via Women In Combat: Making A Virtue Of Weakness Gets People Killed | RedState.

His last line sums up this tomfoolery as well as I’ve ever heard.

You are seeing a cruel farce being perpetrated upon this young woman, upon her unit, and upon her nation.

You are seeing murder being planned.

Safety, and Personal Responsibility

I was taught from childhood on: There is no such thing as a no-fault accident, somebody always had a way to prevent it. Fault is a legal term and means something else, but all accidents are avoidable by taking (or not taking) some action, or list of actions. Let’s start here:

I’m sorry but such a list of blown safety rules, to me, makes this little less than suicide, and him a poor employer, and you know what, once he thought about it, I’ll bet his supervisor wasn’t surprised, although saddened. But that’s fine, he failed as well.

This is the overhead companion to that post the other day about fixing underground cables and is a pretty clear indication of why I like so many of my peers prefer overhead construction. Of, course it has it’s moments as well:

It shouldn’t happen, but it does, and frankly it is why you never see electrical utility crews leaning on our trucks, which we specifically do ground. The advice given here on what to do if this happens to you, is the same that I have been taught all my life.

One thing that causes us out here to lose afarmer every once in a while, is when the get something to close to a power line, note that you don’t have to touch it.

And finally, most American power companies have demonstration rigs like this that are available, and the skilled presenters that go with them. if you haven’t seen one (or even if you have) pay attention, this is the straight scoop from our side of the meter.

And yes, I have killed more than a few generators (and sometimes the tractors they were attached to, when I safed a line. DO IT RIGHT, or be prepared to kill a lineman, or trplace you generator

Find and Repair a 230kV 800Amp Oil-Filled Power Cable Fault

scattergood01Have you ever wondered what guys like I do, when we’re not telling you that you need to do some completely unaffordable thing to keep your house wiring safe? We’re telling the utilities the same thing.

I ran across this the other day, talking about fixing an underground cable from a powerplant in California. It also highlights one of the reasons why a fair number of us are not fond of underground, no matter how much prettier you think it makes the landscape. :)

How do you fix a shorted cable ? Not just any cable. An underground, 3-phase, 230kV, 800 amp per phase, 10 mile long one, carrying power from a power station to a distribution centre. It costs $13,000 per hour in downtime, counting 1989 money, and takes 8 months to fix. That’s almost $75 million. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power did this fix about 26 years ago on the cable going from the Scattergood Steam Plant in El Segundo to a distribution center near Bundy and S.M. Blvd. [Jamie Zawinski] posted details on his blog in 2002. [Jamie] a.k.a [jwz] may be familiar to many as one of the founders of Netscape and Mozilla.

To begin with, you need Liquid Nitrogen. Lots of it. As in truckloads. The cable is 16 inch diameter co-axial, filled with 100,000 gallons of oil dielectric pressurised to 200 psi. You can’t drain out all the oil for lots of very good reasons – time and cost being on top of the list. That’s where the LN2 comes in. They dig holes on both sides (20-30 feet each way) of the fault, wrap the pipe with giant blankets filled with all kind of tubes and wires, feed LN2through the tubes, and *freeze* the oil. With the frozen oil acting as a plug, the faulty section is cut open, drained, the bad stuff removed, replaced, welded back together, topped off, and the plugs are thawed. To make sure the frozen plugs don’t blow out, the oil pressure is reduced to 80 psi during the repair process. They can’t lower it any further, again due to several compelling reasons. The cable was laid in 1972 and was designed to have a MTBF of 60 years.

Finding out the location of the fault itself was quite a feat. It involved time-domain reflectometry (inconclusive), ultrasound, and radar (didn’t work) and then using an Impulse Generator-Tester (Thumper) which got them pretty close to the defective segment. What pinpointed the problem was a bunch of car batteries and some millivoltmeters. They hooked up car batteries to both ends, tapped the cable at several points and knowing the drops and resistance of the cable, got within a few feet of the fault. Finally, X-Ray equipment was brought in. Sure enough, they could see the cable shorting against the steel wall of the pipe. Cutting open, and closing it all up, required certified welders spending up to 8 hours on each section to avoid damage to the paper insulation. The welders placed their thumbs 3 inches away from the seams they were welding, and stopped when it got warm to touch, allowing it to cool off before starting again.

The failure was attributed to “TMB”, short for Thermal Mechanical Bending. TMB causes the cable to wiggle in place due to load surges. This eventually causes insulation failure due to abrasion against the pipe and separation of the many layers of paper tape. They repaired the short, put aluminum collars in most of the joints to hold the splices in place, and have added a load management scheme to reduce the current peaks. Apparently, the fix wasn’t good enough. According to this Wikipedia article, “the 315 megawatt capacity Scattergood Steam Plant (Unit 3) to West Los Angeles (Receiving Station K) 230 kV line is having to be replaced after only 45 years of operations, due to multiple failures within this rather long single-circuit, oil-filled, “pipe type” cable.”

Find and Repair a 230kV 800Amp Oil-Filled Power Cable Feels Like Mission Impossible | Hackaday.

TDR’s are one of the most useful diagnostic tools ever, they pay for themselves quite quickly but it’s nearly impossible to convince bean counters that think Radio Shack sells useful meters that a $2K plus tool, that doesn’t fix anything, and occasionally isn’t good enough is justified. Heck, I haven’t even quite convinced myself yet. Thumpers work (sometimes) on the principle of “letting all the smoke out”. It’s much easier to find a broken something than a cracked one, after all. For the rest, if you’re interested follow the links.

It’s part of the reason than the electrical trades are often so fascinating to be in.

And there’s this, from his comment stream, showing how sometimes we manage to get authorized to buy a new widget.

Economic Development: Roadblocks

Taxes (wheel of Fortune) aren't the answerPlatte Chat that came to me courtesy of the Objective Conservative, which outlines many of the tax problems which are holding Nebraska business back.

As Nebraska state senators continue to figure out whether to reform the state’s tax system and while Nebraska’s lame duck governor fights to eliminate the income tax we get a favorable view of doing so from our friends at the Platte Institute.   

Whether it is practical for the state to entirely eliminate the income tax, reform reducing its high tax rates is imperative if the state is to continue to compete fore new business.   The Platte Chat article below well supports the need to do something.

The Key to Attracting Businesses

“Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines for a bold advertising strategy aimed at four states with notoriously bad business climates: California, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut. Perry invited businesses there “to hit the emergency exit” and make a break for Texas.[1] While officials in these states dismissed Perry’s audacious campaign as little more than a stunt, Texas’ incredible success at creating new jobs demonstrates that it is more than just talk.  More people and businesses are voting with their feet to go where taxes and regulations are lower.
The success of Texas-which has no income tax-is clearly evident. In 2012 CNBC ranked Texas as the best state for business in the nation-overcome in 2013 by another no income tax state, South Dakota-and in 2013 Forbes placed seven Texas cities in its list of “Best Cities For Future Job Growth” with the top four all being from Texas.[2] In contrast, California, which has the highest income tax in the nation at 13.3 percent, was ranked 47th in CNBC’s 2013 poll and only saw one city-Santa Cruz-in the Forbes “Best Cities” list.[3]
Aside from rankings, Texas’ success in creating jobs is in the numbers. Despite accounting for only 8.4 percent of the United States’ population, Texas accounted for 43 percent of the jobs created between February 2009 and May 2013.[4] Over the past five years, Texas has added 889,685 jobs, including 303,000 in the past year alone, much more than any other state. Compare that to the high tax states of California, New York, and Illinois, as the Golden State-despite a larger population-added only 119,659 in the past five years, and New York and Illinois together lost 568,195 jobs over the same time period.[5] A 2010 article in The Economist even noted that the average New Yorker or Californian could take home between 9 and 11 percent more of their income by relocating to Texas.[6]

Continue reading Objective Conservative – The Voice of Conservative Thought in Nebraska: Nebraska Needs Tax and Regulation Reform.

Nothing in this article strikes me as wrong, in fact much of it is completely correct, and might well do a lot of good, in Omaha and Lincoln, and maybe marginally in Grand Island as well. While it won’t hurt the rest of us, I think, it’s not going to help much either. Why? Because taxes aren’t our major problem. We have other, structural problems, let’s talk about them a bit.

The big one is this: Corruption, It comes in two flavors, state and local. Let’s start with state.

Most of you know I’m an electrician, so that what we’ll talk about. Between Grand Island and Ogallala there are maybe 6 electricians that can efficiently troubleshoot industrial controls. I know 4 of them, 2 well. Good men that I would recommend to anybody. The only problem is that you’ll wait 3-9 months for them to get to you, if they’re even accepting new clients, that’s how busy they are.

Actually I know one more, me. I don’t practice though. Even though I have 40+ years of experience.Why? it’s very simple. Nebraska requires four years of experience to take the Journeyman test, the law provides for an apprentice card but, many of us out here worked on agricultural machinery (center pivots and grain handling systems) exclusively, which didn’t require licensing. Parenthetically, I’ve been here about 25 years, before that I lived in Indiana which has no state license. So, I never had an apprentice card, never needed one.

I called down to the state when I decided I wanted to branch out into general electrical work, they told me they wouldn’t accept my entire experience, at the time about five and a half years. That’s fine, it made sense, I hadn’t done residential in years. We settled that they would count two and a half years. So I hooked up with a Journeyman friend of mine who was on track to get his contractor license in about one-two years. Because I’m dumb and wasn’t doing much field work, I still didn’t bother with the stupid card.

Anyway what with one thing and another, by the time we got around to building in a job that would require us both, I was up to about six years including the agreed upon 2.5 from before. Since I do all the planning and such, it made more sense for me to take the contractor’s test, which would let me pull our permits. That requirement is five years. So, since an EC has to sign for you to take the exam, my EC buddy called down to make sure we were all on the same page. He was sitting in my office when he did and I could see the shock on his face.

The NSEB decided it wasn’t going to accept any of my experience, and they further threatened to lift his Contractor license just for asking. Luckily he was (and is) working for one of the ten largest electrical electrical contractors in the country so they didn’t quite dare try that. And that’s the story about why I have time to talk with you most days. I’m one of probably the 24 best electricians in the state, but because of *whatever* I’m not allowed to practice. And yes I’m too old, and crotchety to do another 4 years with some stupid 24 year old. I’d rather go on welfare than work for peanuts again.

Meantime there’s a factory less than a mile away from me, designed for medium manufacturing, I’d guess a few hundred thousand square feet, it’s been empty since the company moved it to Mexico, and then on to China. Very nice physical plant, I doubt it will ever be used again, even though the work force is still here, to set it up you’d need industrial mechanics, electricians (like me), pipefitters, and other industrial trades. Don’t forget to bring them with you. In any meaningful sense, they no longer exist here.

That’s part of the problems with the state, let’s talk about local for a bit, and then we’ll quit for today.

The Journeyman I spoke of earlier when he was planning to start this business before I was involved, figured he needed a shop and some storage, and maybe an office. He found a light manufacturing lot in another town, with a couple of quonset buildings and a small frame office, a bit run down but fixable. At the time he was living in a mobile home, and figured it reasonable to put that on the lot as well (it’s plenty big). So before he even bought it, he applied for a special use permit that would allow him to place his mobile home on the lot (it’s adjacent to a residential, although not fancy, area). He did the whole nine yards, talking to the neighbors, posting signs, whatever. So he was pretty confident when he went to the planning committee meeting, especially when no one complained, or even showed up.

So he was rather surprised when the mayor spearheaded a vigorous argument against allowing the permit, which was denied. That’s one thing, although nobody has ever offered a rational reason. The one that should have been a warning (he’s a bit bull-headed) was when the mayor asked the city attorney in open meeting if they could stop him from buying the property, including snide comments about raising goats which bewildered him no end. The answer was no.

So he bought it anyway, he’s had it now for better than ten years. In that time we have been cited for everything you can think of, including leaving material on trailers in our lot, which is zoned for outside storage. It has become completely impossible to function in that town, and so it’s sitting dormant, costing us money (although less than renting storage space for our stuff).

A good part of where we get whipsawed is that the city has it zoning code, which is reasonable, actually (or would be if properly enforced) it also has the International Property Maintenance Code which it enforces when it feels like it. By the way, you should read that code, it exists in most states and basically what it amounts to is that you will use your property exactly as the state and/or city says you will, not to mention that you will let their official into any or all of your property at any time, and yes it applies to your house as well.

Next time:

Solutions

 

The Supreme Court, Watchtowers, and Anniversaries

English: The Supreme Court of the United State...

English: The Supreme Court of the United States. Washington, D.C. Français : La Cour suprême des États-Unis. Washington D.C., États-Unis. ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Høyesterett i USA. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so, the Supreme Court struck down DOMUS (the defense of Marriage act. From The Daily Caller

The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.

President Barack Obama praised the court’s ruling on the federal marriage act, which he said “was discrimination enshrined in law.”

“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” Obama said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

The other high court decision was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation’s most populous state in about a month. […]

“We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit,” Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.

In the case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s liberal justices.

“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.

Both are very narrow, and in truth the one on California’s Proposition 8 was mostly that the group defending it didn’t have standing. And DOMA was also very narrow. In fact, if I understand correctly, what it does is allow equal federal benefits to people with legitimate (according to their states) same sex marriage, if I’m correct there, I actually have no problem with it.
And in truth, as a small government guy, I tend to approve of trashing it, because I don’t really think that marriage is any of the government’s (especially federal) business. And those lucky people in their same-sex marriages will be so happy to know that they, like traditional marriage partners are now subject to the Federal tax marriage penalty like the rest of us. It could be worse, it’s between $400 and $700 a year is all. Thanks for helping out guys.
cropped-desert_monast-sm-682400381Strangely, or maybe not, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when Jess and I met in the blogging world, our first comments had to do with the Court upholding Obamacare (seems like a lot more than a year ago doesn’t it?)
So while Obamacare and maybe these decisions as well are terrible for the country, they gave me a very positive benefit, a new dearest friend, whom I treasure greatly, and always shall. Thanks, Jess, so much for your help and support over the last (ridiculously eventful) year.
These are the from the first posts where we commented  each other’s blogs, on 28 June 2012, who knew it would be as important as it turned out.

Ok, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect (and read) on the decision now. I figured out quite a while ago that lawyers use words in such strange ways that you need one to translate, so I was waiting for Dan Miller, and I’m nobodies political strategist, so I lean on others.

If I’m reading this right, The Court put a limit on the Commerce clause today, that’s good, not as good as overturning Wickard, but good. In addition they told the administration that if they want to raise taxes for healthcare they could but, it would be explicity be a tax, one of the largest tax increases in history.

Continue reading The Supreme Court, Obamacare, and the Future

A word of sympathy and a prayer for all my American Catholic friends. This too shall pass.

As St. Peter reminds us:

1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A prayerful thought for American Catholics | All Along the Watchtower.

Of Mutiny and Education

Cover of "The Caine Mutiny (Collector's E...

Cover of The Caine Mutiny (Collector’s Edition)

 

Growing up one of my favorite books was The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. He wrote it shortly after the Second World War and it was pretty much his first best-seller.

It tells the story of Willie Keith a pampered young man, and a bit of a momma’s boy, as he joins the Navy during the war, and becomes a pretty good officer. Like everybody coming out of officer’s school he wants to be on a shiny new battleship or aircraft carrier, but he’s assign to the Caine, a rusty old 4 pipe destroyer now converted to a destroyer minesweeper. He’s pretty surly, and has a lot of trouble adapting to serving in a ship that looks like a wreck, and he therefore runs afoul of his CO, Captain de Vriess, usually over silly stuff.

He does notice though, that while it seems to him that a lot of Naval Regulations get ignored the Caine is always where it needs to be to do the job. He credits this to the executive officer, Steve Maryk, who before the war was a fisherman. But he still longs for the spit and polish navy of his dreams. When the Captain is promoted out, he is overjoyed to find that the new captain is a spit and polish and follow all the regulations guy. Funny part is that it doesn’t work all that well, and morale gets very bad. Eventually the ship is caught, along with the rest of the 3d Fleet, in a typhoon off Okinawa, and they are having a great deal of trouble with the ship.

Finally the Exec relieves the captain and turns the bow into the wind, with Keith concurring presumably saving the ship at the cost of a mutiny. Following on this the ship is off the line while Maryk is court-martialed for Mutiny. Keith ends up with a letter of reprimand and command of the ship with orders to return to the east coast after the war so the ship can be scrapped.

It’s a good yarn, and I recommend it highly, and like all good yarns it has a moral.

At some point on of the other officers tells Keith the secret:

“The navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.”

Think about that for a while. Isn’t that pretty much what any large organization is? If it works at all, a large organization doesn’t necessarily have to be efficient but, it cannot be allowed to fail (in the organization’s terms) in any catastrophic way. In the Navy’s case, it must win battles. It doesn’t have to promote the best man, it doesn’t even have to keep everybody alive but, It must win battles and the war. That is it’s whole reason for being.

If you’ve ever been around the military, you know there are at least 4 ways to do anything, 1) The right way; 2) The wrong way; 3) The Navy way; and 4) my way, and that comes from experience. What Capt. de Vriess was doing along with LT Maryk was doing what had to be done to remain operational while ignoring most of the rest, and it worked very well as long as they had people who understood the goals and aspirations of their unit (The Caine).

So what is my point, other than a book review of a book published in about 1948? This is how all large organizations act if they are more concerned about something other than executing their mission. They write all the details down so that a computer can do every job, but nobody has any allowance for common sense.

Sound familiar?

To me it sound a lot like suspending a kindergarten student for eating his Pop-tart into the shape of a gun and saying “bang”. Not to mention a lot of the other stories that come out of American life lately.

Mark Esposito, writing on Jonathon Turley’s blog has thought and written about this as well, and done a better job of researching it than I have, here is some of his thinking

In Maryland, a seven-year-old boy is suspended from his school under its “zero tolerance” policy because he nibbles a pastry into the shape of a handgun and says “Bang!” “Bang!” (Here).  In California,  a high school principal refuses to let an ambulance come onto a football filed to tend to a seriously injured player citing school board rules. (Here). A nurse at a home for the aged ignores the furtive pleas of a 911 dispatcher and refuses to perform CPR on a woman dying of cardiac arrest because she says its policy not to do it.  (Here). She won’t even get someone else to do it.

These grotesque examples of indifference to any form of reason are becoming all too common as we find ourselves governed more by rules than by the judgment of people.  These stories got me thinking about the need for rules in a complicated society and their limitations. It also got me wondering why wisdom and its country cousin, common sense, have been banished from most every discussion of decision making. Here’s John Maynard Keynes in his famous treatise on decision making, Treatise of Probability, discussing how to make the right decision:

If, therefore, the question of right action is under all circumstances a determinate problem, it must be in virtue of an intuitive judgment directed to the situation as a whole, and not in virtue of an arithmetical deduction derived from a series of separate judgments directed to the individual alternatives each treated in isolation.

Armed with that little tidbit, I searched the entire work and found exactly zero uses of the word “wisdom” in Professor Keynes’ detailed analysis of doing the right thing. How can that be?

Wisdom is a an old-fashioned word. It hearkens back to Solomon and Solon. To Plato and Socrates. Aristotle explained that practical wisdom is one part moral will and one part moral skill. It means a human action premised on experience or intuition that achieves the best possible moral result.  Not efficient. Not effective. Not even the most profitable. But the most moral result.

At its core, it is about the time and thought necessary to achieve deep understanding.  Both are in short supply these days as we measure our progress by how far we’ve gotten or by how much we have obtained and how fast we did it. The process by which we achieved these things is less important that the result. And it is this philosophy that has laid waste to ethics, judgment, and most importantly wisdom. In this race to “Just Win Baby,” we have ossified our capacity for wisdom under a steady stream of rules, regulations, guidelines, and protocols. But why?

Speaking at a TED conference in 2009, Professor Barry Schwartz examined the problem and offered an explanation in the context of a study done of hospital janitors. Schwartz looked at the job descriptions of  the janitors.  The explanations of employment were big on such rudimentary tasks as cleaning, restocking, and sanitation, but not one mention of anything involving human interaction. As professor Schwartz remarked “the job could just as easily have been done in a mortuary as in a hospital.” But that assessment did not match what the janitors considered the most important aspect of their jobs. In responses to questioning from researchers, one janitor, Mike,  explained the most important thing about his job was caring for patients. Like the time he stopped mopping a floor because Mr. Jones was finally up and around from surgery and had just left his bed to get some exercise.  Another custodian,  Charlene, told of ignoring the orders of a supervisor to vacuum the visitors lounge because family members of a patient who dutifully arrived every day to be with their loved one were finally getting a chance to take a nap.  And, Luke, who scrubbed the floor of a comatose patient’s room twice because the emotionally drained father at the bedside didn’t see it the first time and insisted it be done. No argument. No rebuttal. No peevishness of any sort. Just compassion. [..]

Continue reading Shackling Our Wisdom With Rules

Do you see his point? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Or is it?

Let’s take the schools for an example. What is the mission of a public school?

Is it:

  1. To educate our young in the basics they need to survive?
  2. To indoctrinate our young to be dependent on government all their life?
  3. To provide jobs for teachers
  4.  To provide jobs for administrators
  5. To provide union dues for union leadership
  6. To provide union dues for political lobbying

Or some combination.

Maybe that is part (maybe even a large part) of the problems we see in our society, is the mission of the organization what we think it is, or has it mutated into something that was not anticipated.

How do we, if this is the problem, get these organizations back to their original mission?

 

 

%d bloggers like this: