Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Medal Database

Over the past decade or two....a number of folks noticed guys standing around and talking up their Silver Star that they won in Vietnam, or the Medal of Honor they won in Afghanistan.  A problem developed when folks learned that the guy was a cook in the Army and usually never got past New Jersey for his one and only assignment.

So Congress got called and thought they could make up a law to actually take folks to court, when they falsely claimed medals of valor.  You could still claim various Good Conduct Medals, but that didn't really matter.

The Supreme Court got involved, and decided that Congress had passed an illegal law, and that it was OK for an American to lie about medals of valor.  Call it free speech or whatever, but they had the right to lie.

So this week, the Pentagon finally stepped into the mess and said that they would start a database to make folks happy.  They had been fighting this for a decade....mostly saying that it would have a cost associated with it, pose issues with the Privacy Act, and be fairly inaccurate (the 1973 fire out in St Louis at the National Personnel Records building destroyed the bulk of records collected before 1973).  It's best to say that the Pentagon has decided to bend over backwards, and do something has fairly limited value.

Some military unit will be assigned the task now of writing this online database, with probably forty contractors helping to fill up the data and eventually it'll whittle itself down to five guys (my humble opinion).  The war in Afghanistan is wrapping up and I doubt if we award more than two hundred medals of valor now on average each year.

The problem here....if you think about this long enough....is if you claim various medals from Vietnam....you will likely get away with it because there just isn't alot of info around to populate that database.  The Pentagon is doing this service for a future situation, and eventually all of these liars from the Vietnam War will pass on.  That's the best that they can do.....considering the situation.

As for how you will use this database?  Well...when Randy down at the VFW says he won four Silver Stars....and you don't see his name in the database....you can go and call Randy a jack-ass liar in front of the guys.  You don't need some dimwit Congressman or Senator to help you.....just plain shout them out at the VFW.

The Frank.N.Stein Story

So, to the facts.  Some guys were digging around in Scotland.  They came up on the island of South Uist....way up in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  It's the kind of place that few people go and hang out.  The island lies twenty miles off the coast, and for probably seven months out of the year....isn't a place where you'd want to travel to.

They've found a pair of folks buried.  The aging process indicates they were laid to rest around 3k years ago.  Everything looked normal, and they did a DNA test with various bones.  The thing is....as they came to realize....this dead guy (two folks actually)....had body parts composed of six different folks.

Naturally, this is where the typical Brit would grin, and hint of a Frankenstein situation from 3k years ago.  The British "Frank" was reshaped with this piece from an Italian, this other piece from a Greek, and a piece or two from Germans (we won't guess which pieces).  Then the Brit would make up this fantastic story....turning it into a legend....which would have shadows, the evil doctor, some alcohol consumption, a bit of murder and intrigue, and some British humor.

The truth so far is that the scientists think that pairing up of body parts come from a cultural activity.  They can determine that some pieces came into play around 600 years after the original guy was laid to rest.  A piece here....a piece there.....and it was all neat and tidy in arrangement.

The intent?  I hate to suggest this about the British....but they are legendary at making something into a fake.  So I'm guessing that some guys ran around the island of Britain....talking up this legendary king of Uist, the island.  A bunch of Brits around the island felt like tourists.....so they ride all day, for several days.....and get up to the north coast of Scotland.  They bring up this legend they've heard about and the locals start talking about the legend, and offering plenty of booze.

You can imagine the scene....a drunk Brit with some cash.....so they finally offer up a boat ride out to the island, and this once in a life opportunity to view the King of Uist.  It's an accompanied trip and a picnic is laid out later along the beach.  A brisk wind, some mist in your face, and this million-dollar chance to view the dead king of Uist.  Some local guy recites the legend, which happens to change every six months but no one ever notices this.

Along the years.....a visitor asks to take a bone away from the burial site, for a special price.  Cash is exchanged, and the locals hunt down another dead guy's body to take a bone and replace what was removed.

At some point....a couple of the locals screw up the legend, forget the five-star story, and a couple of tourists fall off the boat going back to the mainland because they were too drunk.  The whole business goes downhill, and the legend just evaporates.

Somewhere out there.....there's some story relating to the King of Uist, and maybe his man-friend....Lawrence.  They fought off invaders.  They fought for the hand of some damsel.  They developed Scottish whiskey together.  And they died together in some great grand sword fight.

For Seven Pounds-Fifty.....you can hear the story and see the dead guys, and for an extra Pound or two....have a nifty British beer. Just make sure you don't fall off the boat, and remember....the last boat leaves Uist by mid-afternoon.  It's how legends are made.

Getting the Right Gal

For the past week or two....there's been this discussion over the mystery woman being seen with new North Korean dictator.....Kim Jong-un.  Officially, no one from the North Korean government, the media, or the CIA have been able to figure out who the gal is.

You can put yourself into the young dictator's shoes.  You need a hot lusty gal to be seen with....some gal which draws attention....someone that makes you look fit and handsome.....a swanky gal who North Korean guys sit around and wish they were Kim.

I'm guessing that there is a bureau which manages the image of the young dictator.  They probably write out a scripted deal for each week.  They have the right clothing, the right shoes, the right car, the right hat, and perhaps even the right gal....all built into this script.  It's kinda like a WWE-wrestling event.  Things have to look right, or the whole mess looks fake.  And you just can't have a fake dictatorship.

I'm guessing that "Wanda" (my name for the mystery gal) has a pretty long schedule each day.  There's make-up at 6AM, with a light breakfast.  There's probably some guy listing the top twenty news points of the day to ensure she memorizes them and demonstrates her intelligence throughout the day.  Someone comes by at 7AM to give her fifteen minutes of anti-American rhetoric and ensure she repeats the phrases often throughout the day.

Long about 9AM.....she greets young Kim and they go over the three public meetings of the day.  Hand signals are discussed, chat limits are established, and a stretched eye-brow look is shown to demonstrate the moment to leave a boring ceremony.

By 8PM, Wanda is tired and worn out.  She gets a health milkshake, some fresh fruit flown in from Mexico, and settles back to watch new Dallas series on DVD....being flown in each day from Agent Wu in Phoenix.

It's a tough life being Kim's gal.  But someone has to do it.

It's Just the Way It Is

I generally avoid discussion over the Trayvon Martin episode in Florida.  The court case may end up shocking folks in the end.....so it's best to keep things in prospective.

This week.....we kinda learned some folks down in Sanford, Florida had built up some memorial site for the teen....Trayvon Martin.   Well....this unofficial memorial was taken down on Monday.  Apparently, no one from the city contacted the folks keeping up the memorial.....so hot tempers are reacting over this.

The city manager says someone screwed up.....so an investigation has been started over this removal.

Meanwhile, the local news folks have determined that various complaints to remove the unofficial memorial have come from the local neighborhood, which they say is simply becoming some continuous reminder of a nationwide topic.

Meanwhile, as of the 4th of July.....over two-hundred-fifty individuals have died within Chicago's city limits this year.  They are well on the way to see five hundred dead by 1 January 2013.  Memorials for the two-hundred-fifty individuals killed so far?  None.  Expected memorial by the end of the year?  Well.....no.

Every week, some kid dies in Chicago....because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  No city managers involved, no community groups involved, and no fancy-pants media guys involved.  Just a name added onto a continuing list of dead folks.

There's something wrong here....but it's best not to bring up this topic.

A Modern Day Draft

This week, General Stanley McChrystal, the former top US general of Afghanistan....stood up and said if we ever go to war again.....we need to start the draft.  I sat and pondered over his commentary.  His simple belief is that not all segments of America were contributing their youth toward a national goal.....and that a draft situation would ensure "fairness".  I respect the general to some degree.....but his logic is naive, and I think he'd be fairly shocked at a modern times draft and how unfair it would eventually become.

So let's invent a new war in 2013, and start a draft....the first since 1973.

Your county would start up a draft board and meet to ensure the full listing of young men to be listed.  Lawsuits would start up, to ensure women could be forced into the draft.  You can figure that the Supreme Court would eventually weigh in, and force the draft in this modern age to fully include women. A lot of folks would be upset by this development.  Political heartburn would generate overnight.

So the first round occurs in your county with 100 young folks selected by their birth-date.  A letter would go out for the individual to appear in front of the board within thirty days.  The board would draft for the Army and the Marines.  Don't worry about the Air Force or Navy......they generally have more than enough volunteers.

Very quickly.....banking executives, political figures, and college professors would quickly move to let the board members know that their Johnny or Betsy had received a letter, and that as a good friend of the board member.....they'd like a waiver.  Somewhere in the heart of this discussion....money would of course be discussed.  You can figure half of all boards across the US.....would be easily corrupted.  Out of 100 young folks.....at least three would get their names removed from selection because of friendship.

So you move onto round two.  At least twenty parents would quickly move to enroll Johnny or Betsy into college or university....even if they were dumb as a brick.  A waiver would result out of this attempt, and the parents would fund the dimwit kid through four years of some school....even if it were a total failure.

Then you move onto round three, where two parents would get their son or daughter fixed up with a religious conversion of sorts.....so that shooting or harming a person out of the question.  More waivers.

Then you move onto round four, where various physical ailments would be invented by the family doctor, with a history invented out of thin air.  Toss another eight kids out.

So you've got 66 kids left now, out of the 100 original selectees.

Round five?  The kid gets actually drafted, given his or her notice to Army or Marine boot-camp.  Now, various congressmen or senators get notes....which they turn around and force some Army general to appear and they figure out this great elaborate scheme for Johnny to suddenly become a National Guard member, a foreign language expert who never touches a weapon, or a fancy disease is discovered in the midst of boot-camp and the kid is sent home.  Figure eight kids will get a special deal compliments of their fancy-pants political player.

We are down to 58 kids now.  Those 58 eventually make it through boot-camp and are regular Army or Marines now.  But the parents aren't done yet.  There's the old Al Gore trick....where you allow the kid in but you invent an escape clause where the kid is accepted at a fancy school or offered some scholarship.  You can figure another four kids will find an Al Gore trick.

Then we come to the malcontent group.  These are the kids who simply don't want to be there and let the Army NCO or officer know this day after day.  They refuse to do tough physical acts or refuse to take orders.  This takes four kids out.

The nuts or crazed kids?  The drug-users?  The kids who continually weigh 244 pounds and won't fit into the weight-scale the Marines demand?  This amounts to fourteen kids.  We are down to 36 kids now, out of the 100 we started with.

So here's the truth for Americans, and the General.....those thirty-six kids are the ones that would storm Omaha Beach, take Jihad guys in the darkest of night, and raise the American flag at Iwo Jima.  To be even more honest.....they'd make their parents proud and do everything asked of them in the worst of times.  They'd show remarkable courage, and demonstrate some traits that people thought were long lost in the American society.

Yes, we'd whittle down the draft, allowing people to corrupt the system as much as possible, and create a thousand ways for some dimwits to falsify the draft, and make the public think that it was "fair" and right for America.  Senators would appear on TV and talk for hours over how the draft was working, with generals commenting on TV that America was spreading out the mess over all of society.  At the end of the day.....sixty-four kids would prove them wrong, and be sitting out the war....one way or another.

It is that simple....sadly.