31 August 2012

Navy SEALs vs. bin Laden: Poor sportsmanship? Nah.

The new book No Easy Day is a first-hand account of the Navy SEAL raid which killed Osama bin Laden. It is written by a raid participant under a pseudonym, but his actual identity has been published.

Several pundits have questioned the necessity or advisability of killing bin Laden.  According to the author, bin Laden came to the door of the room he was occupying and looked out at the commotion. He was not obviously armed.

The supposed goal the raid was to capture bin Laden. As you know, was killed. Again, according to the author, the first shots put him down but the raiders shot him again while he was down to kill him.

And so, some published pundits are telling us that this degree of violence was not necessary and certainly not very sporting.

Let us review some recent history:   Tapes of bin Laden himself have him discussing the meticulous plans to fly commercial aircraft into the towers of the World Trade Center. He expresses delight that the towers came down because the Al Qaeda planners merely expected a lot of damage and large loss of life.

(Some of the fire officers on scene figured out the towers would come down, but thought they had about a 12 hour window until the first tower collapsed.)

(No, I do not want to hear about anybody placing explosives in the towers. People believe that are nitwits.)

And so, with respect to the degree of violence and sportsmanship displayed by the American military people, I would like to be perfectly clear:

If Osama bin Laden had been kneeling at the feet of Billy Graham accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, repenting and singing “How Great Thou Art” in a fine tenor voice, supported by Mahatma Gandhi on one side and Mother Teresa on the other, the Navy SEALs still needed to shoot his ass dead. 

The only regret that I can think of is that there wasn’t space in that room for the 50 million Americans who wanted to be the ones on the trigger.

24 August 2012

EMS - Just Want You to Know

At least 100 people had big roles in the founding and development of EMS in Marion County.  I can rattle off at least that many names, and point out how we can see their contributions in how the system works today.

It is one of the genuine highlights of my life that I’m just one of the people in the system over the years.

Forty-five years ago in Marion County and in most of the nation, EMS was very much hit-and-miss.  The people who came, if they came, were poorly trained or untrained, had poor equipment or no equipment, and were as likely to be driving a hearse as an ambulance.  “Success” was defined as eventually getting delivered alive to a hospital.

This is not even criticism of those days.  We as a society had not put either funding or thought into a pre-hospital care system.

Flash forward to today: This evening, I saw the system work up close.  LaJ’s father had a medical event at home early this evening. [End of story: Treated and released after a few hours.] Her sister called 911.  The operator at 911 followed the procedure that took exquisite pain to hack out years ago, but now consists of a few questions and a quick dispatch.  The local fire department and the more-distant rescue company station were toned out.  Both responded immediately.  Within a half hour, LaJ’s dad was in an ambulance and on the way to the hospital and the fire crew had gone back in service.

From the perspective of the system users - us - it was neat, quick and simple.  From the standpoint of the system providers, the call itself was simple, but getting the training to answer that and many, many other calls took a huge commitment. 

EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) now have the equivalent of a college semester of training and THEN they get in the field and prove that they have the skills.  When I went through EMT training, it was a 120 hour course.

Paramedics now have the equivalent of 4 college semesters, and must be working in the field to get into the course in the first place.  There is no such creature as “just a paramedic student.”  My course?  One college semester.  They carry drugs now that I’ve never heard of (few of which are of interest to the druggie community) and can administer them with protocols that do not require real-time physician direction.

Lots of people serve their fellow man in lots of ways.  These brothers and sisters in the EMS/Fire community are among the most dedicated.

Just wanted you to know.

21 August 2012

WVU #1 Party School? Bull Shit, and Why the Princeton Review Can Kiss My Hillbilly Ass

The Princeton Review has just published it’s annual college & university rankings.  The Review purports to measure objectively the quality of the educational experience along several axes.

And, perhaps “in fun,” the Review ranks the “top party schools.”  For years, the editors have had great fun hoisting West Virginia University to the top of the list frequently and nearly always ranking it “high.”  This year, WVU is “Number One.”

This year, the Review cites the frequency of police citations for underage drinking, open containers and so forth, and the number of celebratory fires lit off by students. 

And let me say that the police do indeed issue a lot of underage drinking citations in Morgantown.  Also, one form of illegal celebration is lighting off junk out in the middle of the street.  The Fire Department comes along, hoses it down and leaves, game over.

The Princeton Review is not an academic journal.  It is a company which conducts review courses for people taking college and graduate school entrance examinations.  To quote their own website:
Founded in 1981, The Princeton Review has long been a leader in helping college and graduate school–bound students achieve their higher-education goals through our test-preparation services, tutoring and admissions resources, as well as through online courses and resources and print and digital books.

I have never used any such courses, and I have no personal opinion about them.  Apparently, this company has a lot of customers and has now been in business 30 years, so I must conclude that they know what they’re doing.

But ranking “party schools”?  That’s pure elitist bullshit.

Oh, that it’s the Princeton anything is not significant.  The website has the disclaimer that The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.  Perhaps they picked the name because the founder came from the City of Princeton in New Jersey.  Or the one in Massachusetts; or Illinois; or Minnesota.  Or even the one in West Virginia.

I’m thinking of renaming our firm “Perry Mason® Legal Group.”  No particular reason, it just came to me.

This party school thing is just another jab at us poor bumpkins back in the hollers of West Virginia.

Full disclosure: Mothers & Fathers - If you send your children to WVU, likely they are going to drink a little beer.  And maybe raise a little hell.

Let me tell you what else might happen.

First and foremost, they may find themselves liking an environment where they are encouraged not to let themselves get “sent” anywhere, but where they are expected to take some responsibility and make up their own damn minds.  And then live with the consequences. 

It’s certainly possible that they’ll smoke a little weed, but I’m telling you that the odds aren’t quite as high as they are in urban settings.  Drugs are a scourge everywhere, but in West Virginia campuses, they lack the full cachet of other places.  For that matter, lots of nitwit, contra-productive habits and activities are out of style. 

(More full disclosure: Tobacco use and obesity are epidemic in West Virginia.  Not so much on campus, but generally.)

Let’s see, what else might they run into besides the idea of drinking beer and raising hell?  Oh, right, there’s VALUES.

Work, that’s a value.  Students who attend college and do little else are not considered people of leisure or true scholars.  In this culture, they are lazy bums and need to get their asses out and work.  Mommas and Papas, if you don’t want your little girl or boy to work a little or be around peers who will be disrespectful of them if they are lazy well, hell, send them to Princeton.

Service, that’s another value.  Two or three years ago, a kid got lost in the back country just west of the Blue Ridge.  There were hundreds of volunteers, MANY from WVU, who went down to hike into rough country in bad weather to search.  That willingness is a value that is characteristic of West Virginia.  We help our neighbors.  The willingness to acquire the outdoor skills to do that is another value.  Pity the poor sissy who is afraid of getting lost in the woods.

Honesty is another value at WVU.  I did not attend the business school, and I’m wondering how many Wall Streeters came from there.  Maybe not a whole lot.  I’m not sure someone honest fits into the financial elite these days.  That’s OK with us, by the way.

Now, more full disclosure: Mommas and Dads, if you want little Miss or Mr. to learn elegance, send them somewhere else.  Oh, they’ll go, someone who wants to worry about their damn hair or how well a suit is pressed probably is the sort who will let parents pick a college.

Yup, drinkin’ and hell raisin’.

Damn sight better than being some elitist debutante or pretty boy.

Hope I’ve made myself clear.

PS - It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Rather, posted HERE.  Lots of other writing is going lots of other places.