Time for Some Pilot Shit

One for us?


Well, we’ll see.


I’m with her on that, I want those big brass ones clanking so loud they’re heard from Peking to Tehran, and if they are not, the movie deserves to fail.

Then there is this, which, in truth is both annoying and offensive.

I have to admit I’m quite weary of this pandering. We used to make films for Americans, and the world loved (and still loves) them. Why this bullshit.

But OK, it does give us an excuse. Tony Daniel over at The Federalist reviews the FWS’s (Topgun) original OIC Dan Pedersen’s book.

In his engaging and succinct memoir Top Gun: American Story, Topgun’s original commanding officer Dan Pedersen argues that “what matters is the man, not the machine,” and because of this truism, pilot training will always be far more important than the technology of jet fighters for winning battles in the sky. At present, says Pedersen, “Something is rotten in Washington, and one day, sadly, we will lose a war because of it.”

Pedersen claims that the Navy lacks relatively cheap fighter jets for training such as the old F-14 Tomcats (the “Top Gun” jets in the movie) and others. He cites a price tag for the new F-35 as $330 million per plane. The service can’t buy and maintain a large number of trainers at those prices, he says. As a consequence, much of fighter pilot training must be done on simulators, which, in Pedersen’s view, are an inadequate substitute for real flight time.

More ominously, Pedersen says the Navy has once again been beguiled by the siren song of technological triumphalism and has lost the will to properly instruct pilots in dogfighting techniques. This was precisely the situation during the early years of Vietnam, and it led to devastating American losses, and ultimately to the creation of Topgun, the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (the Navy spells it “Topgun,” without the space between words).

Unfortunately, claims Pedersen, bureaucratic rot and self-destructive rivalry and jealousy have set in in the years since the 1969 founding of that “graduate school for fighter pilots.” Pedersen suggests this is partly due to blowback from the 1986 movie Top Gun, and the lasting cultural cache it bestowed on the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School as a result.

Topgun is no longer located at Naval Air Station Miramar (which is now owned by the Marines), but was moved inland in 1996 to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Although Topgun still operates as an independent command, the school has been largely subsumed within the Navy’s Strike Warfare Center at NAS Fallon.

Do read it all, he makes a good case, in an argument that has been going on since the early sixties. For the most part, he is correct, give me a properly trained man, with close to the same capabilities and he will triumph, but technology is also important. Say if Sidewinder had had the problems that Harpoon did, now what? Because the F4 did not have a gun.

We abandoned dogfight training because of the Navy’s faith in missile technology. Most of our aircrews didn’t know how to fight any other way. Yet our own rules of engagement kept us from using what we were taught. The rules of engagement specifically prohibited firing from beyond visual range. To shoot a missile at an aircraft, a fighter pilot first needed to visually confirm it was a MiG and not a friendly plane. . . . Yet three years along, the training squadron in California was still teaching long-range intercept tactics to the exclusion of everything else. Our training was not applicable to the air war in Vietnam.

And that was one of the major problems then…and now as well. We do not fight as we train. We train some of the best warriors in the world, and then our ROE force them to fight with at least one hand behind the back. The Marquess of Queensbury is long dead, and our opponents don’t fight by his rules. Time to take the gloves off.

I’d be far less opposed to using our forces if I had any idea that they would be used to win a victory, and then leave. No more of this nation-building crap, You got yourself into a war with the United States, you got the hell beat out of you, now it’s up to you to fix it, or not, not our problem. The world ain’t no china shop. It’s a place where actions have consequences and many of them are fatal.

That’s my take, anyway. Will I see the movie? Depends on what Vicki said above. But probably not in a theater, my local ones have crap sound, and if jet engines don’t shake the joint, what’s the point?

ABC= Always Be Careful

High-voltage lines for the long distance trans...

High-voltage lines for the long distance transportation of electrical energy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time of year again out here, we’re well into harvest, and everybody concerned is going full-out trying to keep up. That means nearly everyone is working till they get stupid. That’s the term I use when you keep going until you’re so tired that you’re not thinking clearly anymore. It tends to be endemic this time of year around farms, and with those of us that work in the industry.

I don’t condone ignoring safety rules but, I recognize it’s going to happen sometimes, and yes, I’ve done it too. But the thing is, I’ve been doing this work for nearly 50 years, and have pretty much of an instinctive knowledge of what can happen. I also know that some rules are not to be broken ever. If you think you know which, you don’t, so don’t break any of them.

By the way, I find that the older I get, the fewer I break, and then only for very good reasons, and not shutting down your operation is not one of them. About the only reason to for me anymore is to rescue somebody, and that I have to think about. Because it’s not going to help them if I kill myself trying to rescue them, is it? And with electricity it is quite easy to kill yourself.

In this first video, although it’s filmed on an industrial panel, it’s at a level that is available in your panel in your house. I know a lot of you like to do your own work. In truth, I’m sympathetic but, if you don’t know what you’re doing without guesswork, call a professional

Trust me, I’ve seen it in real life and you don’t want to! Luckily it was on a small irrigation pump but it was bad.

Look Up for Safety’s Sake

If your working with portable grain handling equipment, or even harvesting equipment sometimes, you can get much too close to overhead power lines. the only real solution is to pay attention This video is of a twig falling across the most common distribution voltage in the United States

You do not want your auger playing twig in this scenario. Along with that and besides winter is coming with ice storms and such, what should you do if a power line falls on your vehicle? Don’t know? Here’s a video that will show you. Watch it all, it’s important.

Remember that because it could quite easily save your life.

In fact, if you see any kind of wire laying on the ground, stay away from it, and keep others away and call the power company or 911 If you’re around industry or even a fair number of systems on the farm, you know that a lot of electricity is used at what we call 480V. It’s the most efficient overall voltage for commercial and industrial use. But it also can be a very dangerous voltage. Here’s another video

I saw a similar video years ago where the cover of the panel was blown clean across the room. There is an incredible amount of potential energy there. This is a demonstration by Progress Power of some of the things that can happen around power lines

Those of us in the industry have spent thousands of dollars on tools and education about these hazards and our rules change nearly every year as we learn more. If your interested, this video talks about some of the research that is being done

But, in truth, what makes a safe job, is safe workers. I can provide you with enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to make you unable to walk across the room. But if you are overtired, impaired, or just plain careless, it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, this is going to happen, and I or somebody like me is going to have to explain to your loved ones why you will never be coming home again.

So whether you’re a practicing professional or simply a consumer always

Be Careful Out There.

ps. You may have noticed that I never mentioned OSHA in this article. There’s a reason for that. I find some of their rules and paperwork requirements as nonsensical and burdensome as any of you. And if you read here often, you know how much I resent intrusive government. But, in today’s world, if you are a practicing electrician or lineman, OSHA is your friend. Far too many companies can not see beyond the monthly bottom line, and in a production environment, they will push you to violate every rule and procedure and even your common sense. Without OSHA you have very little protection from them. It’s definitely imperfect protection with our corrupt government but it’s the best we’ve got for now. In the last analysis your safety and that of your crew is, as it always has been, your responsibility. Nobody else’s.

FYI: Nebraska Tech Site

I just thought I’d mention in passing that I just took my company site live. It’s not done, much to do yet but I would appreciate it, if you took a look around and tell me either there or here what you think. You will find that the store is a truncated Amazon catalog, it will get better, as I have time.

I intend it to be a more focused (on electrical and energy) than this. Maybe I have the discipline to do that. 🙂

For the moment, the articles are some appropriate ones that I have crossposted from here. Enjoy.

Here is the link: Nebraska Tech. Blogspot.com

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Iron Dome

"Iron Dome" system intercepting 'Gra...

“Iron Dome” system intercepting ‘Grad’ rocket (January 2010 testings) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is really encouraging stuff here especially for Israel, and I was glad to read it. My only real question is, “Where’s the American version?”

As Little Satan appears to run out of targets and foreign peace mongers intervene in the 2nd Strip War (or is it the 3rd, 4th or Vth?) despite the world’s weeping over poor pitiful intolerant rowdy rocket rich rejectionists and their often innocent human shielding, there is a bright spot!

Iron Dome bay bee!

The number of Hamas rockets that Little Satan is knocking out the sky. Scattered reports from various officials and news media suggest that Iron Dome has intercepted more than 300 rockets fired at Little Satan”s pop pop population centers since hostilities began, or between 80 and 90 percent of rockets targeted. 

Cheese and Rice!! 

The overall success rate has been described by various officials at anywhere between 75 and 95 percent.

Calling it a conservative 85 percent success rate still puts Iron Dome in a class by itself where missile defense systems are concerned. Hitting a screaming rocket with a screaming rocket is, after all, really, really difficult.

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Iron Dome.


A Milestone

English: Map of the world showing the location...

English: Map of the world showing the location of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been a bit busy with one thing and another and not paying too much attention to my stats lately. Apparently, I’m doing OK, though with the blog, because I just noticed that sometime in the last few days, I passed 25,000 views. I have no idea (and care little) if that is above, below, or about average. I’m happy with it.

I suppose I could say it’s all because of me but, I try not to lie to you, it’s not. It’s because of you. You who inspire me, challenge me, read what I write, good and bad. It’s especially because of you who care about the path of Christianity and America, this time. I’ve been pretty focused on those two subjects lately and hope I’ll be able to deemphasize politics some in the coming months. We’ll see.

Along that line, I want to make a special note of my dearest friend, Jess, who has inspired so many of the posts I written lately that I have taken to calling her my muse.

I also want to take note of those who have been here almost from the beginning, a year ago last July, who have helped me so much, and most especially those, old and new you have given me such eloquent, and intelligent comments.

If you’re curious views here come overwhelmingly from the United States, followed by the UK, Canada, Switzerland, and Spain, and the most popular subjects are the United States, Politics, History, Conservatism, and Corruption. I suspect that tells you something both about what I write about and what you want to know about.

Thanks to you all! 🙂

Leadership and Management in America; What’s the Problem Here? Part 2

The Problem with Managers:

Management is never easy, whether you’re a journeyman electrician, a first line supervisor, in industry, a platoon leader in the Army, or anywhere else. But we’ve made it almost impossible sometimes.

Michael O. Church has been posting some outstanding articles lately on personnel management in the technology industry. I don’t always agree with his analysis but, am willing to admit that his is better than mine in his industry, and maybe better overall. First, one place where I completely agree with him is on so-called Performance Improvement Plans, which I classify as three lies for the price of one. They have nothing to do with performance, they are useless for improvement, and they indicate the lack of a plan for personnel development.

Two years ago, one of my friends was served with a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) issued to him from a large company. If there is a TPS Report Museum, there must be an entire wing dedicated to PIPs. I’ll say one thing about these: they should never be used, and they don’t work. The first way in which PIPs fail is that they don’t work at improving performance. A manager who genuinely wishes to improve an employee’s performance will address the matter, one-on-one, with the employee in a verbal meeting (or series of meetings) where the intention is discovering the cause (“blocker”) of low performance, and decide either (a) to resolve this problem, if it can be done, (b) to accept transient low performance if the cause is a temporary one such as a health problem, or (c) to determine that the problem is irresolvable and terminate the employee (preferably in a decent way). On the other hand, written negative communication about performance (formalized most finally in a PIP) is universally interpreted as an aggressive move and will lead to distrust of the manager, if not outright contempt toward him. As soon as a manager is “documenting” negative performance, the relationship between him and his report has failed and he should progress immediately to a decent termination. Never PIP. Fire, but do it right.1

We all know that there are people who will never fit into any particular setting. It’s a kindness to them and to the company to find a way to amicably separate. If you ever been that person, you know what I mean.

Speaking of this, a lot of extremely unethical things happen in American workplaces, and that is a result not of “bad people”, but the bulk of this behavior comes from morally-average people who are scared. One of the things people fear most at work is a sudden, unjust, badly-structured termination that leads to a long-term career problem. This fear motivates a lot of the bad activities that occur in workplaces that lead to unsafe products and defrauded customers. The best thing a company can do for its culture, and for its macroscopically visible good citizenship, is to establish a policy of managing terminations in a proper way– to say that, yes, we’ll fire people whose poor performance constitutes an unacceptable cost to us, but we’ll always do so in a way that ensures that good-faith low performers (i.e. decent people who are a bad fit for their role) move on to more appropriate jobs.

How does a PIP actually affect performance? First, it destroys the relationship between the manager and the employee, who now feels “sold out”. If claims in the PIP suggest that others contributed to it, it may destroy the working relationship between the employee and his colleagues, causing isolation. PIPs usually carry a biased or even inaccurate summary of the employee’s work as the motivation for the Plan. Second, PIPs often generate a lot of additional work for the employee, making it harder to perform. A PIP usually contains deadlines equivalent to a 40-hour per week work schedule. This seems reasonable, except for the fact that many work demands are unplanned. An employee who faces responsibility for an emergent production crisis during a PIP will be forced to choose between the PIP work or the emergent crisis. A PIP’d employee ends up actually ends up with four conflicting jobs. The first is the work outlined in the PIP, which is already a 40-hour obligation. The second is any emergent work that occurs during the PIP period (which is usually unspecified in the PIP, but claimed to be covered by a vague “catch-all” clause). The third is the legalistic fighting of the PIP– the employee must contest false claims about his performance or the company will represent him as having agreed with them, which damages his position if he ends up in severance negotiation. The fourth is the job search process, which must be commenced right away because the PIP usually ends in termination without severance.2

I couldn’t agree with him more.

Another thing that Michael talks about is the flatness of the organization, and I have often seen this come into play. As a first line supervisor, I can control about 5 people maximum, in my field, if I have good journeymen, which are my field’s equivalents to NCO s it might expand to 7 or 8. If they are exceptional maybe 10 but that’s the limit. And I can’t really delegate this, because from my chair, I can’t tell brown-nosing from objective reporting. If I get out into the field, remembering that I’m an expert myself, I can tell but, then I introduce a lot of lost time into my day, lengthening it beyond all reason. So, my span of control is effectively 7-8 front lines supervisors and 5 is better. With 5, I can work on developing them to the next level, teaching them and their people how to excel, maybe motivating them a bit and so forth. This is how you grow a business while maintaining quality. But this more leadership than it is management. 3

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