Monday, July 30, 2012

The GI Bill and Shattered Dreams

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

~Rudyard Kipling, "Tommy" 

When I got out of the Army I was told the new GI bill would pay for everything, I wouldn't need to work other than a summer job, I could just "focus" on school.  It was billed as this wonderful one size fits all that would be perfect, and see me through.  It wasn't till I got to college that I began to see some serious problems with this new GI-Bill.  I was part of the first group that was actually going to College under this new GI Bill, and while the Post 9/11 or Chapter 33 sounded great, and it was a promise that brought (quite literally) tears to my eyes.  It was proof that my country did care that I wasn't just another number another troop. 

But then the SNAFU with the first batch happened and oh gee it took over two months to pay anything, or for the VA to figure out who is going where.  It's ok, because things are going to get better right?  Well, no actually, things only got worse from there.  What proceeded was this wild yo-yo with the school not understanding that I was a non traditional student (and thus could not pay 3 months room and board in advance) and oh by the way did I mention that I was also on the hook for credit card bills that I had to dip into because of that sanfu with the first semester I was here? 

This is my experience at a traditional State College.  Now add to that the terror, headaches, or just plain shock of the poor fools that bought into the "for-profit" colleges.  To be clear if there's a university that can get you a degree that you really want, I don't care, personally, if they make a profit or not.  I'm actually pretty disgusted by most of the State Colleges spending priorities, but these colleges have charged more for less product, and the Veteran who had wanted to avoid the morass of big universities, have now taken some really good shots to the kidneys. 

And here's the really messed up part.  That money is gone.  Doesn't matter if the Congress finds these colleges guilty of predatory actions, or whatever term they're going to use, that money is gone.  No one is going to get a refund.  There was no one to warn off these troops from making a bad decision, and perhaps that is to be expected, after all a private citizen is responsible for his or her actions, and the consequences positive and negative for the same.  This does not, however, make it right.  At the very least every Service Member should be warned of what to look out for when choosing a school. 

I've seen this a hundred times, from MILES, which will sucker a private into buying a car they couldn't afford until they get promoted a few (see four) times, to the STAR Card, which can only be used at AAFES, and oh did I mention that private without any credit or transportation can get one today?  It seems there are a million little gimmicks to separate us from our earnings, both in benefits and in pay.  Troops are given these bennifits because there simply is no amount of money one can pay that would justly compensate the things these men and women volunteer to do.   What Mercenary Army would willingly go to war for a decade, without sacking some great empire to loot its treasures?  I have heard talk of the dishonesty of giving GIs these dreams of college, then to cruelly send them off to war. . . but what of the cruelty of promising them a free ticket through college that is anything but?

I knew what I was doing when I signed on the dotted line, but I didn't know what I was doing when I decided to go to College.  I've made a lot of mistakes, mostly because I didn't know any better, and now as I'm about to use up the last of my GI Bill knowing there will be nothing left for me (I can't even get student loans now) I begin to wonder if perhaps we should not take the money from the Post 9/11 GI-Bill and focus it somewhere else. 

Given the Joblessness and Homelessness of the current Veteran population, and given that a brand spanking shiny new degree from anything but Ivy League schools (which the GI Bill wouldn't even come close to paying for)   is next to useless in today's job market, and given that more than a few Veterans have fallen victim to this horrendous machine that spits out useless pieces of paper for hundreds of thousands of dollars, shouldn't we maybe think about re-tasking this GI-Bill to help Start Up companies.  There's a Veteran just down the street that opened up his own Gun Store, how about we take the money he would have earned for college, and the GI Bill, and use it to create small business that are truly Veteran owned and run?

Ultimately what I want are options.  I don't really care about the degree I get, nor do I care about the college I go to.  I want to be productive, and I'm not the only Veteran that feels that way.  I didn't come to college with dreams of getting a degree with a B-line into a career field that makes 6 figures, but I've talked to many who were given that dream.  The stark reality that faces us often makes us feel more alone than ever.  Veterans don't want success handed to them, they want a chance to earn that success.  Give us the tools, and the road map, and we will get the job done. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What happened to America being "safe"?

In the Army, the only time you are "safe" is when you are "in the rear with the gear".  Every time you go to the field, every time you deploy, you have to have security.  Every movement you make, you had better be thinking about security.  You can't stop what you're doing and just eat lunch, nor can you get a full night's rest because someone must always be on guard.  Every FOB, every COP has to have Observation Posts, manned and ready, every entry point tightly controlled and whatever barrier between the base and "outside the wire" must be constantly checked.  This is something that I think most civilians do not understand about military life, and a constant vigilance that does not go away until you are at last safe and sound in the good ole US of A. 

At least that's what I thought.  The problem is that it just doesn't seem like America is all that safe anymore.  Recruiting stations are getting shot up, and bombed.  People are trying to bomb Times Square, Major Nidal Hassan shot up a supposedly "Safe" SRP site, and a few months later Nasser Abdo nearly blew up a cafeteria full of soldiers.  Border Patrol agents are getting gunned down, and a near state of civil war in northern Mexico is spilling over into Arizona.  The most recent shooting in Colorado by a Grade A whack job, at first seemed like it was out of the blue, but now that I've had time to do my research, it seems more like part of the pattern than a truly random act. 

The most terrifying thing of all is that, once I felt safe, like I never needed a firearm in my home.  I never used to feel the need to be vigilant.  I'll admit that I used to be hyper-vigilant post-deployment, but that's natural and to be expected, once I felt that I was safe, sound and secure, so long as I was on American soil.  The crime statistics, however tell a vastly different story.  Not even three months ago I arrived at work to hear of a grandfather emptying two full magazines into his soon to be ex-Daugher-in-law, before calmly surrendering to the police.  All of this within sight of the granddaughter he was trying to protect.  This happened at a Walmart for crying out loud.  But its more than the "back parts" of West Virginia, which has some truly shocking statistics, no, while doing research post Aurora, I came to find out that the streets of Chicago are actually more dangerous than the streets of Afghanistan.  They have multiple shootings every weekend!  New York isn't much better, and DC. . . Well one has only to look at one weekend's worth of rap sheet for a city that is laughably small, to realize that you almost need a Marine Detail if you want to go into certain parts of the city.

All of these facts make me miss my M-4 more than ever, and seriously make me contemplate getting a set of plate carriers.  I would go to work with my M-4 back slung, and body armor if I could somehow get away with it.  No doubt before I even got out of my car everyone would panic and call the police on me.  This leaves the far less desirable option of a CCW and a small hold out pistol.  To be honest, pistols are fun to shoot but I like rifles for their accuracy and ease of handling.  All this brings to mind the fact that in my native state it would be almost impossible for me to get a pistol that's in anyway decent, and even more impossible to get a CCW.  At some point I wish the country would respect that being an NRA certified basic instructor for Rifle Pistol Shotgun and Muzzle Loader, and a 6 year Army Veteran with two combat deployments, might give me some perspective on how to handle guns.

But you see its all about trust.  I will trust and armed citizen that is not standing in a threatening manner, as much as I will trust an unarmed citizen.  Indeed when I first met Jonn Lilyea, the head of This Ain't Hell, he was armed, and not only did I respect that but I tried to avoid giving that fact away to anyone else, it being DC and all.  If I went to work and everybody there had an AK-47, I still wouldn't panic, because I trust them.  That, really is what it comes down to.  I would rather have literally every citizen with an open carry (with some restrictions to violent offenders, and events with alcoholic consumption) than just a few people who don't obey the law anyway, ready to ambush whomever they please whenever they please.  It all comes down to trust.  I trust that if a citizen is legally buying a gun, they will do everything they can to educate themselves, on its proper use.  I wouldn't even mind if class and range time were manditory, but I do expect my Government to trust that I a citizen of this country, would know how to properly discharge a firearm. 

It fills my hear with a kind of sadness I really can't explain, the thought that I really do need to buy a gun.  In fact that is going to be my next major purchase.  To be honest I do not care anymore where "gun free" zones are, or even the laws of whichever state I may happen to be in.  I believe the right to protect myself far outweighs any pointless legislation that will not do a damn thing to protect me after I've been wounded or killed.  When I get a gun, yes I will take it to class, hidden in my books.  The Virginia Tech shooting has made that need painfully obvious.  When I get a gun, I will cross state lines in the conduct of my business, with it readily available should I need it.  When I buy a home there will be a firearm ready to use hidden near all exits.  The only time I will disarm is when I fly, for rather obvious reasons, but if I could I would carry an asp with me.  You know the saddest part of this declaration?  People will just pass it off as me becoming just another "gun nut" and completely miss why I feel a need to become one. 

I once felt that America, my home, which I poured my heart out for was a safe place, where I need never fear.  I do not believe that anymore.  If the Police can not protect me, it is doubtful that any Law passed will prevent future acts of violence.  I believe every citizen has a right to safety, and thus I believe my right to be secure in my person superseded any law for or against the use of firearms.  I can only weep at the thought that I once held America as the place where I could rest from the state of constant vigilance, I endured in a war zone, but it has become clear that our society has decayed to the point it might well be just as dangerous as any war zone.  Oh my beautiful Country, how have I failed you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why is being a Military Spouce so hard?

While I generally beg to differ that being an Army Wife is the "toughest job in the Army" I will agree that being a military wife is just plain hard.  Now a days you're even starting to see Military Husbands, though they're usually prior service.  Still being a military spouse regardless of the branch is difficult.  There have often been many jokes inside the military community about the spouses, and the power they tend to throw around on post.  Some of it can actually be pretty funny, and having a Private's wife try to order around a Captain (which I've actually witnessed) is the kind of thing you laugh about later. 

Still, the fact remains despite the inside jokes about the FRG, or the Barracks Bunnies, FOB Wives, or Pension Hoppers (if you're married to A Service Member for 10 years you get half their pension.  Some women have done this more than once) the fact remains that the pressures on a military spouse are unbelievable, under normal peacetime conditions.  After a decade at war we have seen that the pressures of war are even worse than we could have imagined. 

To explain to the layman why the life of a military spouse is so hard, is difficult.  You really need to be in the lifestyle, before you can understand it.  First off the spouse has literally no choice as to where she is going to live.  I was lucky enough to be stationed in Hawaii, a dream post for almost every spouse, but it is an island and there are only so many places to go.  Some of the spouses I knew got "Rock Fever" in that they just couldn't stand the inability to travel.  Add in the prohibitive cost of literally everything, and it left a lot of spouses with nothing to do but sit in the housing areas.  There are other, less choice assignments.  Fort Riley Kansas' nearest major city is Kansas City over an hour and a half away, and while Manhattan KS is a pretty fun place, have you ever seen a college town over summer?  I won't even go into the weather, or how places like Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord which seems to be in a perpetual state of gray.  The point is though, you don't get to choose.  After a certain point you go where the Army needs you. 

That actually leads to another problem.  How often do you think most civilians move?  After you start your career you may travel, go on vacation, or even look at a nice retirement area, but you'll tend to stay in the area you "settle in".  For the Military family you can move every three years, and in some cases more often than that.  I had three Duty Stations in 6 years.  One, Fort Hood, I was only at for a little over a year.  Can you imagine packing up a house on a whim every couple of years?  Believe me when I say it really stinks. 

Another major problem is that it can be both utterly lonely, and utterly boring.  When I was on Rear D[etachment] I saw a lot of wives, that needed help with small things and I was more than willing to help them with anything, but I could see they were more than thankful just to have someone to talk to that wasn't a child.  Even when their husbands are there, they are on call 24/7 and might have to dash out on a moments notice.  In some cases they may work very long hours and come home exhausted.  This leads inexorably to boredom.  Even if you weren't station in the middle of nowhere, the want and need for intellectual stimulation can drive a person crazy.  Having to manage a household full of kids, and to not have your spouse there for anything more than true emergencies is frustrating. This is perhaps the number one reason that spouses tend to. . .stray so much. 

To make matters even worse the only real career path open to most is: home maker.  To be clear you can get a job at say Walmart, or the PX, in fact there are "jobs" a plenty.  But to have an actual career with progression that is traceable is very difficult if you're always moving.  You tend to end up working for the DoD or some other subsidiary, and while a "job" even if its part time is a good thing to help bring in a little extra each month, it is still not enough to satisfy the desire most of us hold to have an actual career.  When we get promoted for a job well done most of us feel a sense of accomplishment.  If we have to deal with string after string of entry level jobs we tend to get discouraged. 

There is, however one pressure unique to the military spouse.  Deployments.  The Navy is used to Deployments a bit more than the other services, but most people don't really expect anything dangerous to happen in the Navy.  To be clear what the Navy does is incredibly dangerous.  One had only to look over the side of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, to realize that a fall would be a very bad thing, and there are no hand rails.  No imagine doing this in the middle of the night, with 80 million dollar jets putting out a couple thousand pounds of thrust, and you can begin to imagine that it is dangerous.  The Army and Marine Corps kind of danger is much more graphic, and is sadly almost gleefully put all over the news.  Burning Hum-vees, troops screaming in pain after being hit, ragged infantry crossing a street under fire.  All these dangers will gnaw on the mind of a spouse to the point every knock on the door is a cause for alarm, and sleep is just as difficult to achieve as their spouses have half way around the world. 

The pressures on the Military Spouse are enormous and all jokes aside, they really do an incredible thing, being there for their husbands or wives.  The military is not for everyone and neither is marrying into the military.  Despite the fact that they might never attain rank, or be seen up front with the Soldier Sailor Airmen or Marine, they do something far more important that the public may not understand.  They giver that Service Member a reason to fight.  As Robert A Heinlein said  "the noblest fate a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and war's desolation".  It is important to remember that any action that will effect a Service Member will also effect his family too. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dark Knights Rises. . . some thoughts

I delayed this because of the obvious tragedy in Arura CO, but there are a lot of things about the new batman movie I really need to get off my chest.  Yes I will geek out.  Yes there will be spoilers.  You have been warned. 

First off I need to apologize to Ms Hathaway.  I never appreciated your innate Hotness, and thought you were a bit stuck up.  In my defense you only made chick flicks for as long as I can remember.  I tend to tune those out because they tend to be like watching a Chinese movie without subtitles, you tend not to know who is who and why the hell they're doing half the things they're doing.  Had you made a movie that Dudes might actually see you would no doubt have a throng of male non-gay fans. 

Now the set up for Bane in the first five minuets of the film is actually pretty masterful, it tells you all you need to know about his methods and tactics, without telling you really diddly squat about who he really is.  Actually more than a quick glimpse or two of him before he gets injured, and an explanation (albeit round about) of his injuries you never have any real explanation of who he is.  I actually like that.  Its good to have mystery to your villains.  That he was even a little charming after a fashion made him a worthy villain.  Still, the Bane broke Batman, comic was played out after a fashion, and I knew it was coming, so it wasn't a surprise.  How they dealt with Bane was a bit.  I'll try to leave it there, but one other thing about Bane.  He is not any veiled reference to Bain Capitol.  That was such a stretch it broke.  No Bane is Occupy personified.  So good one retards. 

Cat Woman, is just as interesting as she is never actually called Cat Woman.  She is every bit the equal of Batman in this film, with just as much, if not more, moral ambiguity, you'd expect.  This was perhaps is one of the most. . . human portrayals of Cat Woman I've ever seen.  She didn't have the whip, or any of the super skills you see in the comics, just a woman with a taste for fine things, that sadly had to live her life on the run.  I really liked how they went with the "ears" as they weren't "ears" at all but a functional part of her costume (eye protection, possibly something more) that she would flip up and give the signature cat like "ears". 

Now heres a real spoiler.  Talia.  Well yeah there had to be a twist here right?  Miranda is Talia, daughter of Ras, who was basically the driving force of the first movie.  Its not until after the reveal that a lot of stuff like "who the hell is this random woman" comes to mind.  Talia was always supposed to be exotic, and I really liked the return of Liam Neeson if only briefly.  No mention of the Lazarus Pit, which, in the comics really does make him immortal.  Talia comes off a bit crazy, and I would have loved to see the "Great Love of Batman" angle explored more.  Ah well you can't have it all.  I will say her death made no sense.  I know the Hemmit wasn't going that fast.  I know because they don't.  She didn't fall that far, and the kind of damage that would have killed her that quickly. . . wouldn't have left her without a mark. 

As for Batman/Bruce Wayne. . . I get the remorse over Harvey dent, I get that Batman might have faded to the shadows, but you seriously expect me to believe that the night Dent died is the last time Batman was seen?  no way.  I get that you don't want to mention Joker, but there is just no way that 8 years go by in Gotham city without a need for Batman.  Further you see Bruce at the beginning barely able to walk.  So something had to happen.  Explain an injury, something you can't just say that at the end of Dark Knight, Batman went into hiding for 8 years.  WTF.  They even make references to the Batcave, which wasn't even completed at the end of DK.  So why would Wayne "go down there" if they hadn't done anything in 8 years. . . I do like the decay that's shown, but it wasn't set up very well or explained.  You have this jump from successful Wayne Enterprises and kick ass Batman, to Broken Bat, and nearly moribund WE.  That's a bit too much of a jump for a sequel.  

And that kind of segways into something else.  At the beginning of the film things have gotten so bad for Wayne, and by default Gotham, that a few simple patches and you're back in business?  I'm not kidding when I say that makes no damned sense.  The Doctor telling Wayne that he has no cartilage in his knees elbows or shoulders make it almost impossible for Batman to do more than limp around in agony.  Seriously if he had half the injuries listed he should be on crutches.  They put on a magic knee brace and Poof, all better. . . but later in the prison (there's no way they'd let him keep the knee brace) there's not even a hint of a limp.  hugh?  In the movie he gets his back literally broken, has a bulging disk, that a punch to the back fixes (No.  Just no) and then he can walk.  Unless he's the damned Nazi Ubermench, there's no freaking way he heals that fast.  While its nice to see Batman do this all down and dirty without the Billions of dollars to back him up, there was just a bit too much fit into too short a time for this all to make too much sense. 

I will say one of the things I liked about Christopher Nolan's version is it seemed based in reality.  Every Bat Gadget actually seemed like it might be real.  The Bat (the bat wing or flying thingie) was pretty cool and when explained actually looked like it could work.  Granted I'm not an Aerospace engineer, but it seemed like it really might've been based on real science.  Seeing his toys used against him was a twist, but actually pretty awesome.  Still, I expected a bit more gadgetry.  Not disappointed at all mind you.  One technical aspect.  Ok most helicopters do not go faster that about 120 MPH.  There are some that can, but they're specialty.  The "Neutron Bomb" that was a main plot device was stated to have a minimum safe distance of 6 miles.  Now there is no WAY that Batman could have gotten the bomb out to sea fast enough AND gotten out, unless he somehow dived underwater to say 100 FT.  Neutron Bombs aren't big on overpressure, or "blast wave" and are remarkably "clean".  They give off massive doses of Gamma radiation and heat, but otherwise do little physical damage, so even if he had gotten it out to sea, its possible that most of Gotham still would have died, or will die due to cancer.

What I find really fascinating is that after Bane takes control, and uses some key phrases that Occupy Wall Street really likes to throw around, it plays out remarkably close to the French Revolution.  Kangaroo Courts, the rich dragged out of their homes and "judged" (see executed) and really things generally turning to shit quickly.  This is kind of what you would expect from the mob take over.  Had Occupy been armed, had it been more than a bunch of retards you can have no doubt in your mind that it really would have played out like the French Revolution.  The movie gives us an "updated" version which is chilling nonetheless.  You aren't supposed to have sympathy for rich people in a Hollywood movie, but really in the end, you see they they're just people, and bringing them low, doesn't really make your life better. 

I want to end this post on this note.  As far as a stand alone Batman movie, this is an awesome film. There was a slight tease to a possible Robin at the end that has me pissed off at Chris Nolan.  Seriously Dude, you can't do  that to me!  Also, for a batman film, you'd be amazed at how little actual Batman there is.  Still. . . if you don't see this you deserve a punch in the balls.   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A real political solution for America

We're not even 100 days away from the election and already it's getting nasty.  Obama probably can't run on his record, and Mitt Romney is just warming up.  The hangers on on both sides are gearing up for a real fight.  Money is being raised in epic proportions.  All of this would be kind of funny if it were not for the fact that we as a nation are pretty screwed regardless of who wins.  It tends to bring up one of the old South Park episodes where the school had to choose between a turd sandwich and a gain douche.  Occupy has reared its ugly head again, bringing with it a number of fools in desperate need of a shower, a bath or hell some baby wipes to run thorough their junk.  and while I'm sympathetic to some of the Tea Party's aims, they're sadly kind of a lightning rod, for the stupid and the ideologue to latch onto with all the vitriol possible.

So what do we do?  The chaos of 2008 was pretty bad and when they passed the ACA it nearly ripped this country apart, not as bad as the "good old days" of the late 60's, but pretty darn close.  I have no doubt that the many operatives, from the Unions, among other places are going to raise some serious rabble, so what are we to do?  What solution can heal some of these wounds that face us?  In a word. . .


Yes I know that sounds crazier that Mel Gibson after a DUI arrest, but think about it.  If you really want to be president, then you better be willing to fight for it.  Literally.  I'm tired of even the thought of a POTUS that won't back up his (hers or Its in the future) words.  So let's get a big hair and some chain-mail shoulder pads  on Tina turner, get those awesome bungee harnesses on Mitt and Barrak, and let them settle it like freaking men.  As an added bonus we can make it pay per view, and use the proceeds to help pay down the national debt. 

But why stop there?  The 112th Congress has done a pretty piss poor job, and the 111th was even worse before that.  So here's what I think.  Let's Hunger Games that shit.  We even have ready made "districts".  You want to be a Rep in Virginia, fine, I'm going to dump your ass along with every other candidate in your neck of the woods in the middle of a giant arena with hidden cameras, and watch you wound each other with scathing remarks and crossbows.  It might get a little "deliverance" in Southern West Virginia, but you'd have hours of entertainment. 

Perhaps we should call these the Debt Games.  As long as we are in debt, these games continue, and if you want to be a leader in congress you might have to dodge a butt stroke to the nuts.  I'm sure after a few of these types of election cycles, both Congress and the President would get pretty serious about the issues, and C-span viewership would go through the roof.  If we're lucky it might even get to see stuff like the Korean Parliament has where dudes will take flying kicks to the chest.  Imagine how much you would have watched the debate for the Affordable Care Act if John Boehner bludgoned Nancy Pelosi with her own gavel.  I'm sure Obama would have tried to pull of a Luchadores move or two, complete with mask and cape. 

We could even bring this to the supreme court.  Lets go full out American Gladiator.  Granted I don't think Ginsburg will do much on the Pugles, but it might be funny all the same.  You have to make your arguments while doing the various tasks.  My personal favorite pre-finale event was the one where they were getting tennis balls shot at them while they had to get closer and closer to hit a target above the gladiators' head.  I think I would set the tennis balls on fire for added flair.  Just imagine some guy making an argument while a Justice is shooting tennis balls at him.  You'd get a lot of these chickenshit suits the ACLU drops get torn to pieces because really the Lawyers don't believe in it, they're just doing it to be annoying. 

We protect every member of the government from potentially being harmed.  I think its about time we go the other way.  They would certainly take seriously their work if they knew that at some point in the near future, they're not only going to have to fight for their beliefs, they're probably also going to suffer an incredible amount of pain for their hubris. 

If this is successful in getting the Government to act responsibly we can back off on it, but we might keep it as an option if we have to.  I also think this could be applied to other areas of life.  You just found out your long time GF is cheating on you with some snot nosed Jodi?  Survivor bitch.  No not the cheesy game show.  I'm talking, we drop you on a tropical island with a Swiss Army Knife.  Lets see if they make a Bungalow for some hot steamy jungle love, or if they're trying to eat each other inside of a week.  If they fall in love, ok maybe it was meant to be.  If they try to eat each other. . .  well they probably got what they had coming to them. 

Of course all of this programing would be pay per view.  It may not be UFC, but perhaps that's even better.  I know it will be hard to implement.  I'm sure that there will be some protests, but really who pays attention to those anyway?  We need to get our society involved in government, and we need to get government to stop acting like there aren't consequences for their actions.  I know this is perhaps an alarming track to take, but when you think about it, perhaps we need a little Thunderdome action in our Government. 

Personally I like "Break a Deal, Face the Wheel".      : )

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What do we make of this latest tragedy?

I wish I didn't feel so cynical bout this recent shooting.  That it is tragic and senseless is without question.  Our response however is almost predictable as Rob has pointed out over at the Rhino Den.  No doubt there will be calls not to politicize this, but already there's been at least one pretty lame and pathetic attempt to link this nut to the Tea Party, even though from everything we can tell shows he's just plain wacko.  There will no doubt be much mad out of the fact that he used a drum magazine, there will be questions as to how he was able to amass so much ammo, calls for restrictions.  You know I've seen this movie before, and I have no interest to watch it again. 

Here is some facts for you to consider, if there had been someone there with a concealed carry there might have been something that could have been done, but that's a realm of conjecture that I can't really support.  Chances are it would have happened so fast that by the time you realized something was wrong it would have been too late.  Had someone fired upon him in the midst of panic they would have likely shot an innocent bystander.  I doubt highly that there would have been much that anyone could have done.

As Poetrooper pointed out at This Ain't Hell, the response time, approximately 90 seconds,while great, is about 2 minuets too damn late.  We can't really be there before it happens, so quibbling about the Police being proactive is also useless.  Up until this point he didn't do anything illegal, so how exactly to you expect the police to protect you?  You can't arrest law abiding citizens without some pretty good evidence.  Even circumstantial evidence is ok but there has to be a lot of it.  What would you do, profile every citizen in the nation.  By my count I fit at least four similarities in his psychological profile, and yet I am neither violent, nor am I dangerous (unless given reason to be so).  If I don't make a lot of friends and lose my job, should I also be arrested?

I could argue very vociferously that if every citizen was trained in how to use the M-16A2 or the M-4A1, and required by law to qualify every 3 months, and undergo training with it every 6 months, that there might actually be less gun violence/deaths.  I could argue that curtailing gun rights might actually increase the amount of violent crime.  I could make a million and one good arguments and counter arguments for every bit of half assed law that will undoubtedly come out of this.  There will be speeches made.  There will be calls to remember the victims.  They will be forgotten, and this will be added to a long list of sadly avoidable incidents.  We will find out that someone somewhere along the way had a bad feeling about him, and that there might have been some point that was missed that someone could intervene and perhaps saved a few lives.  We saw it with Nadal Hassan, we saw it in Colombine, we saw it with the Virginia Tech shooter.

We will go on with our lives.  That is all we can do.  I will, in the coming days write a review of the Dark Knight Rises, because that's what I was going to do anyway.  I do not think we should look for a deeper meaning in this incident, no more than the usual "there go I but by the Grace of God".  If we had lived in a totalitarian state we could have no doubt apprehended him before he did damage but we would also apprehend innocent people.  If we lived in an anarchist state, this would happen nearly every day.  We have the middle ground between two extremes and its not perfect by a long shot, but this is the best option we as a people have found so far.  The more freedom you have the less security you have, and the more security you have the less freedom.

Morn the victims.  Say a prayer.  Go on, and, if you truly want to draw anything from this, try to connect to people, and more importantly listen when your gut tells you "something isn't right".  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Price You Pay

One of the hardest things about being an non-traditional student, and even more so a student Veteran is that I have a lot of problems that most kids going through college do not.  Namely, that for the most part I have very little help coming and even fewer people I can turn to when I get in trouble.  There are no mentors to show me the ropes, and there are no roommates that drag me to events.  I've had to find my own way, and it has been rather like being given either a compass or a map but not either.

I was sold on the idea that the Post 9/11 GI-Bill would sent me to college with little to no debt.  Awesome.  There was just one slight problem, it took them a long time to catch up with payments, so I was months behind when they finally did pay.  In those months I'd had to dip heavily into credit cards.  It was all good though I'd gotten a really high paying job over the summer, and everything was hunky dorry.  Only it wasn't.  Things proceeded from there, and a giant yo-yo like experience made it clear that I was going to have a very hard time indeed.  When I lost that job, the second summer, and had to work at Walmart, it became clear I might be in serious trouble.

But it hasn't just been finances.  When my first spring semester came along some jackass decided to leak classified intel to the media.  The result was that a lot of mental issues, that I had thought behind me came rushing to the front, and I was nearly paralyzed for almost three weeks.  There are very few college students who have to deal with Post Traumatic Stress, and even fewer who can understand why a video that the rest of the world forgot about caused me to be filled with sheer terror.  Then in the spring semester of my sophomore year my dad died.  Everyone's dad will die, but there was so much in life that I still wanted to ask his advise on.  I may be a man, but there are still gateways in manhood I have yet to pass through that, I would hope for a role model, what man do I now consult when I become a father myself, Or how to be a good husband?

Then there has been the ever present specter of isolation.  I am older than all my counterparts.  I have seen the world, and done things most of them have only read about or watched in movies.  This makes it harder to form a bond with many of them.  To combat this I joined a fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order, and that has really helped, as has keeping up with the Veterans of West Virginia University.  Having a place of like minded, similarly foul mouthed individuals who know and understand what I'm going through, helps a lot.  But if something comes up and I fall off the grid, there will be no one to come and check up on me.  There will be no one that cares or knows my situation well enough to say "I think he's having trouble I better look in on him".  I'm greatful for the friends I've made, but being a Veteran in college can, at times, be utterly lonely.

Lastly, there is often a world view I simply do not share with any professors.  Opinion is often the basis of course work, and believe me you should have heard the back and forth between my sociology teacher and I.  That there are very few fact based courses can often lead to a lot of arguments with professors, and if not disillusionment, then a certain amount of disdain for the acedimia.  How do I hold back my tongue or find the right way to dissent with my professors, without effecting my grade?  More importantly how do I stay focused and involved in a course my university says I have to take yet clearly I see neither utility or merit in?  I would spend furious hours in my freshmen year railing on about the pointlessness of some of the general elective courses I have to take.  If I'm not a "Humanities" major what do I care about cubism or the art history from the Renaissance till now?  I have neither the time nor inclination to sit and stare at art and analyze it for a deeper meaning.  This frustration is not held by the younger students, because they don't really care, its just something they have to get through, but for me. . . it is sheer torture. 

Your typical student might have to deal with one or two of these issues, but typically they would not have to deal with them all at once.  If I were to add in that there have been days I've been nearly crippled by PTSD, to the point I simply can't go to class, or even do more than eat and sleep, it is really no wonder that college has been something of a nightmare for me.  I would hazard a guess that I'm not the only student Veteran that feels this way.  Go ask one of the Green to Gold cadets about their life.  Or even better the Army National Guard students.  You think dealing with the Social Security office, IRS, or DMV is bad?  Try calling to get verification that the school is going to be paid.  9 times out of ten you'll be passed from office to office, before someone politely tells you they have no idea who is dealing with your issue to say nothing of the paperwork your unit submitted.

The life of a student Veteran is hard.  We are often buoyed by the thoughts of our forefathers of the WWII/Korea generation, who came home, went to college and found prosperity, not only for themselves but also the nation.  Even the Vietnam Veterans, have had their tales of success.  The OIF/OEF veteran, however, faces a stark contrast.  It's a sign of the times, but the jobs just aren't there anymore.  The GI Bill might see them through college, but they may find nothing waiting for them after college.  With all these bleak realities facing them, it is hard not to feel as if somehow the American dream has slipped beyond our reach.  That the promises made will go unfulfilled, and we will simply slip through the cracks, forgotten and ignored.  No doubt, there will be more political grandstanding about these grim truths.  Speeches will be made, money thrown at the problem, and all the while, the hopes and dreams of a lot of young men and women, will, like the proverbial old soldier, simply fade away.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Age of the Insurgent

on 10:45 AM on the 28th of June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, altered the course of history and ushered in one of the most frightening era in human history.  Up until that point a man would have to be a king, or lead a great army to topple nations or set nations on a collision course.  One man, by killing another man and his wife ushered in the fall of three great nations of the time (the Ottoman Empire which was over a thousand years old, and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and Russia, but I'll get to that) would nearly ruin two others (Germany, and France), as well as wreak havoc across all of Europe.  One man did that. 

The Czars also fell to insurgency, which is all you can call the several revolutions that took place in 1917.  The result of home grown insurgents, who the "Whites" didn't take seriously until they were totally surrounded.  The truth is that the communist "Reds" didn't stop their "Revolution" there, and spent the next 60 years exporting insurgency to all over the globe.  Small peasant armies, and even children would ravage Old World powers, and make life chaotic for the rest of humanity.  They would, ironically enough be undone by insurgents themselves. 

Today we have Islamic insurgences, we have psuedo communist insurgents, we have anarchists, even the so called Occupy Wall Street can be classes as an insurgency in their aims, if not their actual accomplishments.  Indeed it seems that there are more insurgent groups then there are resources to combat them.  When one also considered that insurgents often view no extreme as too extreme to accomplish their goals.  As the insurgency in Iraq shows, such men and women are often able to wreak unbelievable amounts of damage, and stopping them requires a united population.

From a purely tactical standpoint the insurgent has an advantage they can choose the time and the place they strike.  Indeed they have the advantage in that the portability of weapons, and the mass media make it nearly impossible to avoid how easily fear is spread from even minor attacks.  Say an insurgent went to three movie theaters in one state and rolled one grenade into the building.  One M-67 grenade has a blast radius of about 20 meters and frag radius out to 50 +/- so it is certain nearly everyone would be wounded.  Now the attack might be minor in scope but the panic it could cause could be crippling. 

We are also faced with not just the tactical or even strategic insurgent, now we are also having to deal with the Technological insurgent.  Anonymous, an online group in Guy Fawks masks, have regularly hacked secure sites, some for fun, some for malicious intent.  With our reliance as a society on technology, from bank transactions, to our drone fleet for air support, the attacks of an insurgency group that was seriously committed to causing havoc in our society, could do so with little effort, and a maximum of chaos.

Indeed when one looks at the threat is is easy for us to feel a cold chill of fear down our spine.  We can't avoid on some level that there are some serious threats that could very easily destabilize and destroy our society.  there are a few advantages societies have, however that insurgents have great difficulties overcoming.  The first is momentum.  Societies that are not about to collapse completely can usually keep going just through sheer momentum.  We have seen this in the Spanish Flu pandemic, and even 9/11 even when we came very near to collapse, we kept on going just through sheer momentum.

Another thing societies have in their favor is that insurgents regardless of what they say can not create, they can only destroy.  No society ever created by an insurgency had lasted long without descending to barbarism or extreme brutality.   Indeed even in areas where insurgency is used to great tactical effect, it will only leave behind a blasted useless land.  Again one should look at Iraq circa 2007, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chechnya, or a couple of other notable examples.  Societies can use this ability to create and indeed improve the lives of the individual people, to "win the hearts and minds" of the populace that might be supporting the insurgency. 

Lastly societies have one advantage that insurgents lack until they are on the cusp of victory: funding.  Even the poorest society can in times of crisis pool their resources and better respond to the crisis' that face them.  Insurgents will have to find a clear and dependable source of funding.  Some use kidnap and extortion, others rely on "charities" to help them.  regardless of the source, if you find a way to cut off said funding, insurgencies will literally and figuratively starve.  Also if one is able to deny them a rallying cry, or anything to draw new fighters to their banner.  Its really hard to get people to pledge to die for a cause if that cause doesn't exist and their land is at peace.  

As we march towards the future, that seems to increasingly favor the Insurgent over the Society, it will be even more vital for each and every society to define itself clearly.  To have an identity.  To be clear about what that is and what that means, both positive and negative, and ultimately what a society is willing to do to preserve themselves from both internal and external threats. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Military Benefits Are Not So Clear Cut

One of the recent initiatives the President or at least the folks at the Pentagon have put forward is a 401K style retirement system.  Along with Tricare hikes it is assumed that this will somehow lower the personnel costs of the military.  The benefits that the military enjoys, or at least the Active Duty Service Members, are far better than any civilian jobs so why not cut them?  Unfortunately this might well cut at the very heart of the all volunteer force.  Again and again we have seen that the pay that SMs receive is far lower than their civilian counterparts.  Even 4-star Generals and Admirals who make about as much in a month as an E-1, the lowest rank makes in half a year, but the jobs they do and their responsibilities, were they in the civilian world would make them easily ten to fifteen times as much.

There are Sergeants Major out there that have Masters Degrees, and some even have PhDs.  Most of them have at least 20-25 years invested and to make that rank they have to be hard charging years.  Now lets take the average retiree, well talk about the officer who is better off.  The average officer will get out at 20-24 years of service if their retiring, with a rank of O-4 to O-5 (if their unlucky O-3) now regardless of branch there's a lot there that they can hang on their hat.  If you're a Major or LTC you will have at least some staff time, and you will probably have some type of command, all look good on a resume right?  Well here's the catch, the employer has to actually know what the hell kind of job you had.  You also have to ask, seriously, if the officer was Infantry, Armor, Artillery or Special Forces. . . you can't exactly translate that to the civilian world.

 Now lets talk about that healthcare.  Here you need to understand something about the military life that you will not find in the civilian sector.  Imagine you're on a semi-pro athletic team.  Doesn't matter the sport, the point is imagine the level of physical activity, and general fitness level you have to maintain.  Now imagine there is no off season.  Most football players do not make it to 20 years, and their contracts are for millions of dollars.  Imagine having to maintain the level of physical fitness all the time.  Then you have to remember that there are requirements that no pro star will have on them.  Go watch some footage of Ranger School sometime and imagine having to train like that at least once a fiscal quarter, not to mention training up for those events.  It all adds up.  If you actually make it to 20 years (which lately is becoming less and less likely) you're going to have serious medical issues that will not face your contemporaries.

 The truth is that the pay, for what is asked of them is ridiculously small.  How much do you think you would require to work on a Nuclear Submarine?  My dad told me of the dock workers who would go out on a refit with his submarine.  They would get time, time and a half, double time then double time and a half, with hazard pay on top.  Just for being there to trouble shoot problems his boat might have run into, on a three to four day cruise those dock workers would make about a month and a half's worth of pay.  How much do you ask for if you were in an environment that at any second can get crushed like a beer can, or if one of the valves fails can drown you?  Now how much would you demand to get shot at regularly?  Want to look at something outrageous?  Look at how much a State Department worker who never left the Green Zone made compared to the infantry trooper that went on patrols in IED chocked roads.  What keeps a lot of troops in are the benifits. 

The schools are, on average better on post, the PX is tax free, and if they don't have it there they can get it for you.  The Commissary is cheap, which is an absolute must for a junior enlisted-man's wife, because there isn't a lot of money to go around.  If you're bored the MWR will hook you up, and they really go out of their way to give you something to do that is at least somewhat affordable.  Lastly the housing areas, while not the greatest in some bases are at least affordable.  All these benefits offset the fact that you're usually stationed miles from civilization, you're on call 24/7, and can literally be called to go anywhere and do just about anything humanly possible with little or no warning, and may be gone for as long as the President requires, to say nothing of the potential injuries or deaths. 

With all this in mind the reason that military benefits are treated as Holy Writ, not to be messed with under any circumstances.  A lot of people who have never served see the surface realities of the benefits, "free" healthcare, housing, and discounted shopping, but they never bother to look deeper than that.  The fact that some of the Joint Chiefs have actually proposed some of the impending changes shows they're either out of touch or they're protecting their careers.  Either case is appalling.  The retirement system isn't perfect, it was made for a profession that makes young men into old men (and now women) quickly.  If we plan to keep an all volunteer force, if we plan to keep a highly professional, motivated, and skilled military, we are going to need to keep the benefits, as a boon, and even a lure to recruit and keep the quality people.

When you think of America's military in the next 20 years do you think it will be a professional force that is able to whether the storms unforeseen on the horizon?  We have managed to hold our own with nearly 11 years of constant warfare, something it was simply assumed a modern representative Republic could never do.  How many of those troops would have returned again and again to the war zone, if not for those benefits?  In this debate one should be sure to tread very lightly, lest the consequences cost more that they purport to save.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Porn, You Lied to Me

So, many moons ago, when I was stationed at Ft Hood, and was working in the Carl R Darnall Army Medical Center in the ER, I worked mostly nights, so my social life was pretty hard to come by.  I had a few close friends, and they would bring me along to their circle of friends.  It worked out pretty well, for a young man who wasn't in any serious relationship.  At some point a few months before 3rd ACR was getting ready to deploy, they sent a bunch of their Medics to the hospital to train, and I got to know a lot of them.  One of the female Medics, let's call her Amber (not her real name) was as close to a "bro" as any chick I've yet met.  She brought me to a couple of parties, and some really good times were had.

I'm not sure exactly when it came up, but she admitted to me that she was Bi.  Now this wasn't as cool as I first thought it would be, to be clear she was all over a 1st Cav trooper so I had absolutely no chance of hooking up with her, and I thought, well having a female wing-man would be alright.  Only problem is she'd say "oh I'll go lay the ground work" and me being a trusting fool, would be ok with that.  Only she would completely forget that she was supposed to hook me up, and start hitting on the chicks she was going to "lay the ground work with".  Even worse, when I went to go after a girl she'd try to make moves on the girl I was after!  Of course you're not going to get into a fight with a drunk girl whose giggling so I kinda just said "aw fuck it".  I still had a good time, and on the nights I wasn't hanging around with her, well I got plenty of dates.

Now one of her friends at some point pointed out that what she did was kinda messed up, so one day about a month before she was going to deploy she invites me to a party.

"Eh.  I guess."

"No you don't get it, this is going to be a Lesbian party."

"A what, what?"

Well she goes on to explain that a couple of her friends are full on, Lesbians, and some were Bi, and some were Strait.  This was going to be a party maxed out with chicks and minimal to no dudes, the booze will be free, and there'll be a lot of it.  This was a win win win.  I was about to go to the promised land of debauchery.  There were going to be a ton of hot and more importantly horny chicks at a party with free booze. . . DUDE!!!

I should have known, knowing Amber that there would be a catch.  I wasted no time, pre-gaming, I mean I didn't want to be completely sober when I showed up.  Amber picks me up around 1930, and she has her boyfriend in the car, it was actually the first time I'd met him, and he seemed a little. . .off.  then there was this other guy John, and he seemed pretty. . . off too.  Well Whatever I'm going to a Lesbian party!  hey maybe they'll go full out and it'll be just like a porno!  You never know.  At the very least I'm going to see some hot chicks making out!  I was so excited I could barely sit still.

It wasn't until we pulled up to this house, which was a bit in the boonies that my enthusiasm started to dampen.  Ok so this wasn't going to be a party I could walk home from, no problem.  I hadn't even gotten in the door when I saw two smoking hot blondes sitting on the porch, they were in some very tight dresses that accentuated all  the right places.  SCORE!!!

I was going to have a hell of a time!  I could hear the music, and ok it was kind of different, but what the heck.  As soon as I get inside I realize I might have just made a huge mistake.  Its like a freaking Rainbow threw up in this house.  I mean there are Cherubs and Unicorns and all sorts of cute crap, that already made my head hurt.  Ok.  I'm going to need a lot more booze.  I ask Amer where the drinks are and she points me to the indoor bar near the kitchen.  Whew.  Alcohol.  Only. . . it was all chick drinks.  Sweet stuff.  Not a bottle of whiskey to be seen in the lot.  No Vodka either.  I hate Margaritas, cuz they really give me a headache and sweet stuff holds no appeal to me.  Beer, dear God let there be Beer.

I scrounged, somewhat desperately, and found an old dusty six pack of long necks.  It didn't matter that they were only a step above Naty light, it was BEER!  I drank it down with the desperation of a man that's done a road march across NTC, and the six pack was chugged before the horrible taste got to me.  I spent the next fifteen minuets looking for a chaser, because holy crap that tasted bad.  Ok.  Game face.  There are hot lesbians here.  Remember why you come.

But as soon as I left the bar area I realized something else.  I was one of only four guys at this party that was rapidly filling with women and those other guys were. . . making out.  OH NO!!!  I had just stumbled into a real honest to God gay party.  I really wanted to kill Amber then.  I probably would have if an absolutely stunning brunet came up and started talking to me.  She was funny, got my jokes, and best of all she was single.  Ok there might be some redemption here.  That was until she said something of the effect that she had a friend that would really like to meet me.  Hey hey!   I smell a threesome!

No.  It was her gay friend who she was trying to hook up.   What.  The.  Fuck!  After the initial shock and explaining that I was very strait, and some embarrassment all around Some of the conversations started to filter in.  It was like being stuck in an endless re-run of Lifetime.  No talk about how horny they were, no talk about how hot they looked in their dresses or how they were feeling tipsy, in fact the only talk that was even remotely sexual was one woman recommending to another something to help with PMS.   I wanted to find Amber and get the hell out of there, but no one had seen Amber (I found out later that she had had a "devils trio" threesome in one of the bedrooms), and things were getting a little out of hand.

You know how, when you drink women get hotter?  Yeah the exact opposite was happening.  By the time a 300 Pound really angry looking Big Bertha walked in I decided it was time to get the hell out of Dodge.  I called for a cab, and ate the fare, cuz I just wanted to go home and forget the night.  The worst part is, while I was waiting, the only ones that were "lesing out" were Butch Cassidy and Big Bertha.  Try getting that image out of your head.  I went home, got some serious booze from the Class 6, and then proceeded to try to drink the night away.  No Lesbians are not hot nymphomaniacs that want to have sex everywhere they go.  Porn has totally and utterly lied to me.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Are You Really Sure You're Secure?

Security is a funny thing.  It is intangible yet, like freedom, something we regularly seek.  It is also *usually* misleading.  People tend to see big fortresses, castles and vaults as "secure" yet time and again every one of these "secure" systems is proven to be fallible.  Despite the fact that we keep coming up with better mouse traps, the mice still seem to somehow get the cheese so to speak.  Indeed the only thing stopping most security breaches is that it takes two things to successfully breach any secure place: Audacity and Ingenuity.  Thankfully if we find one we usually do not find the other, and while an over abundance of one may result in a successful breach it is a rarity. 

But we in America have a serious problem with security.  Namely we think we are secure.  We emplaced any number of methods to ensure that we remain secure, that not only our physical, but our information, and financial systems are secure.  Unfortunately, we have been proven time and again that none of these methods actually work, and a lot of them are just eye candy that makes us feel good but is actually counterproductive.  The Crash of 2008 showed us despite oodles of financial regulations our system can and more importantly will crash, sometimes because of our methodology used to "secure" it, not despite it.  Wikileaks has proven that our Cyber security is a bit of a joke, and that our methods of securing our information may actually make us more vulnerable.  9/11 showed us that our physical security is also at threat. 

An old military axiom states "he who secures everything, secures nothing".  Post 9/11 there were many who wanted the military to ring around the country to prevent any further threats, indeed the fact that we are separated by two oceans from the continents that are usually at war (Europe Asia, Africa) gives many of us the (false) impression that we can simply isolate ourselves and the threats will go away, or as Ron Paul might put it, bring our military home and focus on protecting our country.  Only problem is that if we put every single American, to say nothing of our actual military forces, in a ring around our country we would have a single, very thin line that would be useless for anything more than a skirmish, to say noting of actually supporting such a measure.  there are a little more than 300 Million Americans.  Our borders and shores have more miles then our nation has people.  If I were to face such a ring of people, all it would take is to kill a single person, and I would have a breach point, and there would be no way that America could amass enough people to respond to even a minor breach because they'd be, well everywhere else. 

It is also important to consider that a fortress is a prison and a prison is a fortress.  If we were able to somehow create a truly impenetrable border, we would have one slight problem in that we would essentially trap ourselves;  Now with a country as large as America that might not seem like a bad idea, but again, it would cause severe harm economically, and possibly even tactically, not to mention that there is literally no way yet known to secure our coast lines.  We will have to acknowledge at some point that our boarder security will only be strong enough to deter people who are lacking in either ingenuity, or audacity (which most border crossers lack neither of).  But even when dealing with much more serious threats like terrorists or rouge nations, if they are at our border, it is unlikely that we will be able to respond effectively, and once they are inside our borders it is even more difficult. 

On some level a defensive mindset is one that is doomed to fail.  You can not possibly guard against everything, and indeed the only real effective defenses are targeted defenses.  The Maginot line was supposed to be impenetrable, the Germans hardly slowed down when they reached it, and after they captured it, they simply turned the guns around and tried to use it against the allies, with about the same results.  These general defensive positions do little to nothing, and are often counter productive.  However, targeted defensive positions, or positions that are designed to draw an enemy into your defenses in a specific way are highly effective, provided the enemy does exactly what they're supposed to.  At the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1964 Grant nearly lost his army when he charged Lee's defensive position.  Indeed the battle was so horrific the Union very nearly lost the war right there.  These principles can be applied to all forms of security.

It is also important to consider that the things we really want secure, like Gold or Information, will be centralized and locked down.  Most of us will say that this is good enough.  However "placing all your eggs in one basket" is also a hugely bad idea.  What do you suppose would happen if say all our nuclear power stations were internet accessible.  Well if someone had truly nefarious purposes, they could easily cause say a melt down, at the very least they could shut the system down.  And what of our "smart" power grids that are forthcoming which have received much fanfare?  What would happen if those systems were somehow hacked corrupted or destroyed?  The result would be chaos.  The recent power outage following a bad wind storm on the Eastern Seaboard would be nothing compared to a country wide power outage, that systematically can not be fixed.  Here one must know their infrastructure and prioritize what needs to remain secure, and also it is vital to ensure as much dispersion as possible, so that any one attack will not cripple the whole system.  

We need to understand that our enemies will come to us, and they will attack us.  If it is not Muslim extremists, old Soviets, or some threat we couldn't possible foresee, there will be threats in the future, that is just a part of life, and we need to accept that fact.  Relying on goodwill to prevent catastrophe is a recipe for disaster.  To prevent that we must at all times thing about how we can keep them on the defensive.  Much like a boxer that is getting pummeled from all sides by a series of blows, they can neither respond, nor really do anything but put their arms up and hope that their opponent gets tired.  When speaking of security, it is vital to remain proactive, not reactive.  To seek out the threats and reduce or eliminate them before they can get in a good blow to whatever we are trying to secure. 

Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 are perfect examples of what happens when we fail in this arena.  Vigilance is the price of peace, and if we ever fail in said vigilance it is the people that will suffer, the innocent.  We as a people need to get the idea that we are  secure out of our heads.  We are not.  We will never be.  This is the cost of freedom.  We will worry more, and will realize how much we have to lose but really the Joys freedom gives us far outweigh the realization that security, really all security, is a myth.