August 14, 2003
The Truth You Can't Handle
Yours truly is an aberration. I'm one of the few men in my family who has never done military service. Partly because my father recognized that my talents lay elsewhere and pushed me as such (I think Dad is still coming to terms with the fact that he'll probably never be able to call me "Dr. Young"). And Partly because I knew I was really, really not going to do well in a place that required following orders without question. At heart, I'm a scientist. I'll ALWAYS ask questions. I'd make a much better CIA analyst than a soldier any day.
However, I've been around enough soldiers to know that this country wouldn't even exist today if it wasn't for some very, very bad MFs in BDUs. People like my cousin, an ex-drill sargeant who gets practically orgasmic at the thought of making a new recruit do push-ups until he cries.
Which is why this essay by blood-n-guts WWII & Vietnam combat vet turned correspondent David Hackworth is so riveting. Here, he details a trip to a Basic Training base to see what a decade of political correctness and a good economy did to recruitment & training, and what it means now that our fearless leader has fully embroiled us in a brand spanking new quagmire.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. The military needs to reflect the values of the society, otherwise our values are meaningless. Therefore, we have to admit EVERYONE. And you have to train them equally, too. If the standard is 200 push-ups, and you're a woman who can't do 200 push-ups, you shouldn't be in the army. Period. On the other hand, you cannot stick a bunch of 19-year-old men and women together in close quarters in a physically intense environment and not expect them to bone like they're trying to repopulate the planet.
Those of you who know your comic book history know that The Incredible Hulk was born when scientist Bruce Banner was caught in an explosion from a gamma bomb, or a bomb that emitted gamma radiation.
Well, today, munitions scientists are within striking distance of developing the real thing, through the use of the available high energy states, or nuclear isomers, of certain heavy elements, such as hafnium.
Using the technique described in this New Scientist article, a single gram of this stuff could be more explosive than 50 kilograms of TNT. And they would not necessarily be subject to the nuclear test ban treaty.
Conan O'Brian, distinguished alum of the 3rd best undergraduate school in America (following, of course, the imminently glorious Princeton University and Deep Springs College), gave a great commencement speech on the Hah-vahd Yahd back in 2000 on the value of risk & failure.
Laugh out loud funny.