Retention Survey

Officer Retention Survey:

This morning, I and a bunch of younger officers had to take a survey sponsored by the Army Research Institute, aimed at job satisfaction for junior officers (junior in rank; some of us are not so junior in age). The results, I'm told, will be out in a month or two. The purpose is to help figure out why so many pre-majors leave the Army, and find ways to convince them not to.

The multiple-choice questions were about what you'd expect. There were many variants on (1) are you afraid to leave the Army because of money? (2) do you learn more from your leaders and peers as opposed to Army-provided training materials? (3) how impressed were you with your most recent supervisor? (4) how impressed are you with your current training? (5) how much do you think the Army really really cares about you and your job? and (6) do you think of yourself as a natural take-charge leader type? There were two questions I didn't like, about whether you'd advise someone else, male or female, to join the Army (insufficient data there). There were also sections on whether you think you owed the Army various things (mostly extra efforts and commitment; I answered mostly "agree" or "strongly agree") and whether the Army owed you various things (mostly personal attention, flexible work hours, recognition, etc.; I answered "disagree" or "strongly disagree" on just about everything except leadership). There were some good questions about your source of commission, whether you were from a military family, and so forth; but in the main the focus was on "What kind of things is the Army giving you?" as opposed to, "What else is the source of your commitment?"

There was a section at the end to write what you pleased about the subject matter of the survey. I put something like this:
I joined the Army to support the war effort. I don't believe the Army should attempt to attract too many selfish officers. A leader who is obsessed with his own pay, education, and benefits is NO INSPIRATION. Such people are poisonous, and I am glad not to have worked for many of them.
Frankly, I can't comprehend anyone who would sign up in wartime for benefits alone, or even mainly for that reason; but I don't think I want to be led by people like that in any event. Some years ago, I read a Wall Street Journal article on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, which suggested that the SDF had a lot of trouble recruiting when their ads emphasized pay and benefits; and did somewhat better when they emphasized the challenges and hardships.


Congrats, Doc

Congrats, Doc:

Having mentioned Doc Russia in the last post, I should point out that he has completed his internship. At last, he and his beloved wife will be reunited. I've never met the lady, but the little I've seen of her on the blog suggests that he's a very lucky man. I think she and my own wife would like each other a lot.

Another meme

Another Meme:

I have noticed that almost every one of these things that gets to me comes from Cass or FbL. So here's another one.

* Post these rules before we give you the facts.
* Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own post about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of their post, they choose eight people to tag and list their names.
* Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them they’ve been tagged, and to read your blog.

As always, I will not be tagging anyone else. Anyone who wants, however, is welcome to play.

Eight random facts (that you don't already know? Hmm):

1) I totalled my first car at the age of sixteen, while trying to take a curve at the top of a Georgia hill faster than... well, more than twice as fast as the speed limit allows. However, now that I'm older, I rarely drive over the speed limit at all.

2) I've lived in the outright wilderness, on the edge of the wilderness, in rural cattle country, in a suburb (Germantown, MD), a small town (Warrenton, VA), a small city (Savannah, GA), a medium-sized city (Atlanta, GA) and an Asian-stytle dense city (Hangzhou, China).

3) I prefer revolvers to semi-automatics, single-actions to double-actions, and knives to firearms. The simpler the thing, the more reliable.

4) I love to cheat at poker -- though not against an unsuspecting opponent, but as part of the game. If you can catch me and accurately explain how it happened, I'll be glad to forfeit the pot. (If you ask me not to cheat at cards, however, I will keep my word not to do so).

5) On the advice of Doc Russia, about two years I took up smoking cigars -- though fewer than one a month, on average. I prefer the Indian Tabacc Company's Cameroon Legend. That is to say, I almost never smoke, but once in a while on a quiet evening, with the whiporwill singing in the trees, a smoke can be a great pleasure.

6) I love to cook. I've written about cooking outdoors, but I like to cook inside as well. I most often make bread, beer, steaks and chilis, barbecued ribs (Texas style, with a dry rub but no sauce), pizza from scratch, fire-grilled vegetables marinated in olive oil, and a wide variety of Mexican-style foods. Also, chuck-wagon cookery: biscuits, beans, bacon, and beef.

7) I also love to sing. I can sing a lot of different songs, but most of them fall into one of three categories: Irish songs, cowboy songs, and patriotic songs.

8) My favorite sport is Professional Bull-Riding. I myself, however, only ride horses (although some of them are as nearly as big as the bulls), and not in the rodeo. We didn't have rodeo in Georgia when I was a kid, though it's all over the place now. I think, if I'd grown up with it, I'd have been a steer-wrestler. As it is, though, I've never learned to do more with a horse than teach it to ride trails and cross-country, and to use them for working. I can teach a dog to do just about anything, but as a horse trainer, those are my limits.

Fri Lyrics

Friday Lyrics:

I'm not sure why on Friday, but it's a habit of Cassidy's. And why not?

When I woke up I was all alone
With a broken heart and a ticket home.
And I ask you now, tell me what would you do
If her hair was black and her eyes were blue?
'Cause I've travelled around,
I've been all over this world,
Boys, I ain't never seen nothin' like a Galway girl.

Dangerous Old Men

Dangerous Old Men:

Looks like the work on improving our social harmony is proceeding apace. Let's look at some examples from just the last week.

You probably saw the 72-year-old former Marine beat down the pickpocket. There is video of that one, so it got a lot of attention.

But did you see the Vietnam-era Paratrooper who took out a far more dangerous thug? A crazed White Supremacist who had already killed a man, armed with a gun and a knife, tried to rob the sandwich shop our former soldier was in. Airborne!

And then, this story from Kim's site:

One gunman is dead and another is in critical condition after they tried to rob a sandwich store and were shot by an armed customer Wednesday night, authorities said.

Donicio Arrindell, 22, of North Lauderdale, and Fredrick Gadson, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, entered a Subway restaurant at 1949 N. Pine Island Rd. and demanded money at gunpoint about 11:17 p.m., said Detective Robert Rettig, a police spokesman.

They then attempted to rob the lone customer, John Lovell, 71, of Plantation, by forcing him into the restroom, but Lovell, who was legally armed, pulled his gun and fired, police said....

A man who said he was a friend of Lovell's described him as a "quiet Clint Eastwood-type you don't want to mess with."

"They just happened to pick on the wrong guy at the wrong time," said Wesley White of Yulee in north Florida. White said he's known Lovell for 19 years.

Lovell is a former Marine who was a member of the helicopter detail that transported Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, White said. He also was a former Pan Am and Delta airline pilot who worked out regularly and was in good condition, White said.

"He's also one heck of a shot," White, 50, said.
This is a good start. Lots more like this, if you please.
Reading Faces.

Virginia Postrel has a post on the 1930's photogragher-to-the-stars George Hurrel.

Postrel says:

...Not even the most gifted photographer can create charisma with only lights and a retouching pencil. Hurrell didn’t invent Joan Crawford’s drive or Jean Harlow’s sexuality. Rather, he encouraged the stars to reveal their innerselves to his lens. Then he intensified their defining qualities, while creating mystery with light and shadow.

True enough for clearly defined personas as Crawford and Harlow (though, as the article goes on to explain, less so for Garbo). But I'm skeptical at how reliably something as genetically determined as facial appearance can reveal character. Maybe we want to believe we can see character in a good portrait, because that would suggest we can accurately judge character from the faces we see every day.

Still, there's something to seeing a person's character in their face, I think.

Just take a look at a mug shot sometime.

This article also made me remember something I stumbled across, here. Yes, Kim, that last photo does show just that.

More of Hurrell's photo's can be seen (and even bought!) here. Check out Norma. Whoa.


Long Pause:

I know I haven't said anything here since Sunday. I have said things elsewhere; but not on the front page. I'll link back to a few of them.

I've been badgering people to study some military science. This is not a new proposition for us, as longtime readers will recall.

Although today I feel a bit bad about it, given Reid's statement on Republican obstructionism.

Senate Republicans delayed debate on Iraq for weeks… “For weeks, Republican leaders have used procedural maneuvers to delay a debate over Iraq” (The New York Times, 03/27/07)

…and 480 soldiers have lost their lives since the President’s failed surge strategy began. (Department of Defense Casualty Reports)
My customary reserve on this matter is hereby exhausted. Twelve days into the surge, a high-risk fight in which our soldiers are daring valiant things... and this piece of rhetoric is thought worthy of a minor appearance in a complaint over Senatorial maneuvers.

There are no civil words to convey my feelings about this. The man lies in his throat. Those of you who know me well enough will understand what I mean.

On a happier note, the RCT-6 email project was successful, reaching the full six thousand requested emails. That is good; that is fit.

Finally, one of my earlier pieces has apparently drawn Matthew Yglesias fans to attack an old piece I wrote on the South and Western High Culture. I've been as generous as I prefer to be, until the last answer, which was based on the foolish assertion that the American South has no more link to Western culture than to the Mongols. Seriously.
If that was your point, forgive my saying so, it is without value.

I believe one of your fellows has already mentioned Mark Twain's disgusts with his homeland. One of the particular features of that disgust was his hatred of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, and Tennyson's Idylls of the King. He was furious to find New Orleans enchanted, as he said, by it:

"Then comes Sir Walter Scott with his enchantments, and by his single might checks this wave of progress, and even turns it back; sets the world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the sillinesses and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham guads, and sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society."

So you may have Mark Twain, and his cynical opinions; I myself credit him a great writer, but do not wish to emulate his deep personal misery. But if you will have him and his critique, you must also have its foundations. The tie between the South and the great British writers of the 19th century was the tie between themselves and the Medieval order of chivalry; and the tie to that is the tie to Aquinas, and past him, to Aristotle and Jerusalem.

You are free, as Twain, to scorn it. But there it lies.
Regular readers will realize that Sir Walter Scott's collected works appear on the sidebar; Twain's do not. I am a Southerner, and a proud one; but first, a man of the West.

TX Links

Texas Links:

Miss Ladybug went to a baseball game designed to honor the military. Sounds like a pleasant few hours in good company.

A discussion at the Commissar's reminded me of the old Confederate Air Force. There has been a slight name change -- apparently senses of humor are in short supply these days -- but the organization still does some fine work.