Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Dear Ford Family,
I’ve been a Lions fan since 1993, the year Groundhog Day was released. Over the 20 years certain things are constants, or nearly constant with regard to your franchise. The list is long. In no particular order and off the top of my head (Please feel free to add):
1. Season records no better than 10-6, usually sub .500
2. If a playoff appearance, first round, loss.
3. Undisciplined football (one of the most penalized teams in league).
a. defensive pass interference calls drawn by savvy critically times deep balls by opponents
b. defensive offside calls on third and long/medium creates third and manageable for opponents
c. defensive personal fouls on third down do same
d. Offensive holding nullifies either:
i. third down conversion
ii. fourth down conversion
4. Pass defense regularly burned for long gainers. Defensive backs unable to turn around and look for ball.
5. Propensity to make opposing 2nd string QBs look like superstars.
6. Psychologically frail. Usually unable to overcome 3 (a,b,c,d,), 4 above, or following:
7. Dropped passes to open receiver
8. Interceptions off tips or overthrows
10. Mediocre draft results. Only one very talented player allowed on team at any one time.
11. Coaching carousel with attendant cycle of hope, cynicism from fan base.
12. Each year, some number of longtime fans gives up, become “Lions Free”® to some degree. (Think degrees of a Masonic Lodge here)
13. New fans take their place, counsel optimism. Begin life cycle that will end in (12)
14, Generations come and go that have not seen a championship
15. Parents attempt to impart Stoic wisdom vis Lions to children. Children eventually learn the cycle, grow up, pass wisdom next generation. Rinse and repeat
16. Some number of lower degree Lions Free® fans kick themselves for getting sucked into a season that borders on decent, after that season falls apart. They become Lions Free® higher degree fans from that point on
16. Lose at Lambert…er..Lambeau Field
17. Lose to Eagles
18. Media overestimate talent level
19. Ford family ownership
20. Ford family ownership
Due to its uniquely unchanging and repetitive nature, the Detroit Lions organization needs to replace Bubbles the iconic flyin’ lion-in-profile.
I suggest another profile, Honolulu blue and silver, with black accents, of Phil, the Groundhog.
Obviously, this choice is appropriate because Lions fan is in a situation analogous to Phil the weatherman, Bill Murray’s character in the 1993 film.
Obviously, the choice is appropriate because the Lions organization is in a situation analogous to Murray’s character.
Since I had the misfortune of becoming a Lion fan that year, I think Phil is perfect.
My primitive graphic art skills:
OK, not really Honolulu Blue, but it's the best I can do.
Just needs some black accents.
Lions Free 32nd Degree
Sunday, December 15, 2013
From Ladislas Farago's Patton: Ordeal and Triumph
"Chaplain," Patton told O'Neil, "I want you to pray for dry weather. I'm sick and tired of these soldiers having to fight mud and floods as well as the Germans. See if you can't get God to work on our side."
"Sir," the Chaplain replied, 'it's going to take a pretty thick rug for that kind of praying."
"I don't care if it takes a flying carpet," Patton said. "I want you to get up a prayer for good weather."
"Yes sir," Chaplain O'Neil said. "But, permit me to say, General, that it isn't the customary thing among men of my profession to pray for clear weather to kill our fellow men."
"Chaplain," Patton began to fume, "are you teaching me theology or are you the Chaplain of the Third Army? I want a prayer."
"Yes sir," Colonel O'Neil said. When he was outside he asked Harkins, "What do you think the Old Man wants?"
"The General wants a prayer," Harkins said crisply, because, as he put it, this whole transaction was perfectly clear to him. "He wants it right now, and he wants it published to the Command."
...The Lord was in no special hurry to answer the prayer. It was only on December
23rd that He and His inscrutable wisdom deemed it the right time to stop the rains and clear the weather. The timing was superb, because, as we shall see, Patton by then needed clear skies..
For, by then, Patton had been assigned a different task. He needed those clear skies to relieve the 101st Airborne, stubbornly holding on in Bastogne against heavy German attack..
"For the first time in weeks, the weather was actually fine. The clear skies were promptly filled with Allied aircraft - 7 groups of fighter-bombers, 11 groups of medium bombers, a division of the 8th Air Force, and a smattering of RAF planes.
Patton was jubilant. He called Colonel Harkins to his office at Luxembourg and received his Deputy Chief of Staff wearing a smile from ear to ear. "Goddamnit, Harkins," he exclaimed, "look at the weather! That O'Neil sure did some potent praying. Get him up here. I want to pin a medal on him."
Chaplain O'Neil was still in Nancy, but now he was rushed to Luxembourg on Patton's orders. The weather was still fine the next day when he walked into the General's office. Patton jumped to his feet and approached the embarrassed Colonel with hand outstretched. "Chaplain," he greeted him, "you're the most popular man in this Headquarters. You sure stand in good with the Lord and soldiers." Then he pinned the Bronze Star Medal on his chest.
"Everyone offered congratulations and thanks." Harkins recalled, "and we got back to the business of killing Germans."
And the famous 1970 film version of the prayer itself, as read by George C. Scott, accompanied by the incomparable Jerry Goldsmith's haunting score:
Sorry, that's the only version available on YouTube
Saturday, December 14, 2013
First bunch, courtesy of Buck Benny, some shows from his collection:
First, Fred Allen, from 1937 with Jack. The ‘Santa will not ride tonight’ skit was a regular feature during the holidays. Very funny. It is toward the end of the show.
Jimmy Durante Christmas show, from 1947:
Of course, a Jack Benny last minute shopping episode. One of the best, from 1947. Mel Blanc as the harried clerk, dealing with Jack, the customer from hell, Phil Harris and the southern female clerk helping him with his gift for Alice, the racetrack tout and more. The audio quality of this show is outstanding.
Next a collection from the Phil Harris Alice Faye Show from OTR Perks. 'A Dishwasher or Mink,' and 'getting a Christmas tree' episodes are the best.
1947-12-14 - Presents For Fitch Stockholders
1947-12-21 - Annual Christmas Show
1948-12-19 - Jack Benny as Santa(2)
1948-12-26 - The Christmas Present
1949-12-11 - A Dishwasher Or A Mink For Christmas
1949-12-18 - Getting a Christmas Tree in the Mountains
1952-12-21 - Alice Volunteers to Play Santa Claus
1953-12-25 - Hosting French Refugee Kids for Christmas
And some Christian themed OTR:
12-26-41, Dark Fantasy - The House of Bread via Steve Calvert
12-24-49 Grand Central Station - A Miracle for Christmas
Edward Arnold - The Man at the Gate of the World
Much more can be found in all corners of the intertubes. Here is one good collection:
500 OTR Christmas Shows from WA4CZD
Jean Shepherd, you know, the Christmas Story writer, Ralphie. Shep had a long running show in NYC, on WOR, in which he spent an hour in spontaneous story telling. He would also, from time to time, read from his published books, stories about life in the Northern Indiana during the depression, stories about 'the Old Man' the Bumpus Hounds, the Red Ryder B-B gun, etc.. The 1984 movie was culled from these writings. Shepherd was a truly gifted story-teller. Below, courtesy of the Internet Archive is a selection of his Christmas related radio ramblings. Click to listen, right click to download.:
Football, the Old Man and da Bears. 12-5-73
Gifts from Aunt Glen...pink bunny slippers. 12-20-73
Buying the Old Man a Christmas gift for a buck 12-23-74
Red Ryder Nails The Cleveland Street Kid 12-77(?)
Christmas Leave (or not) Shep in the Army Signal Corps 12-24-75
Friday, December 6, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Sanka freeze-dried defense:
USAFA contests the time at which Thomas was recruited. One year after Thomas claims.He accumulated demerits over threshold for separation well before recruitment.
AFOSI agent/contact did not appear at hearing, but met personally with Commandant and Vice Commandant. Thomas was apparently unaware of this.The written agreement Thomas signed specified that he was to break no rules while working undercover.Any rules he did break during this time period were his own choice. He was never given instructions to break rules.He was not required to repay his tuition since most of the misconduct occurred in his first and second years.He is not required to serve in the Air Force in any capacity.
There are marked discrepancies in the accounts. Thomas claims he was ordered to break rules. The Academy claims the contrary. Both claim there is a signed document outlining the terms of the service as an undercover agent. According to the original story, there is an 86 page dossier of his activities and communications with his handlers. The documentary trail should be used to sort out who is being less than truthful.
If Thomas, during his first two years, had accumulated as many demerits as is claimed, why was he not separated earlier than his senior year? Seems the answer has to be, because he looked to be useful for investigatory purposes. If so, and he had been promised that his prospects for retention were good if he took part, then we have to consider three things:
1. Whether and at what point his actions consequent to recruitment as undercover agent were deserving of separation.
2. Whether and at what point reassurances were made and;
3. Whether and at what point said reassurances ceased being made in good faith.
The defense states that he continued to break rules after recruitment, and was not ordered to do so. It also implies that the frequency of such infractions lessened in his last two years. If, as the document argues, he was not required to break rules in order to carry out his work, then it would follow, ipso facto, that he would not have accumulated any demerits for so doing, (assuming of course, he followed the orders of the OIS). It would follow that any and all subsequent demerits would have been accrued due to his own poor choices.
If so, one possible explanation: He felt he had a “pass” due to his role, and took advantage. It would also follow that a choice was made by the people in charge of the undercover operation (and oversight) to retain him despite the continued untoward activities.
So, we have two very different accounts. What does follow from the truth of either is that it is SOP for OIS to recruit and make use of cadets who are otherwise quite problematic to do undercover work in hopes of busting druggies and sexual predators.
This carries certain implications:
It must be the case that the institution believes this is a component of the best way to deal with these problems. That is a very questionable belief.
It is certainly not the only way to deal with these problems. Another way is to involve non-clandestine criminal investigative units, legal and disciplinary procedures that do not involve planting informants, all the while being above board with your student body, and making it abundantly clear that reprobate behavior will not be tolerated. Additionally, the students can be encouraged to inform command of criminal behaviors through normal channels. Apparently, USAFA came to the conclusion that these means were inadequate to the challenge. Are we to believe this? If it were true, then why is this sort of thing NOT happening at the sister academies?
Did they ever consider the repercussions of the program’s existence going public?
Consider the impact on the student body. They now know that the institution has, for some time, made regular use of fellow cadets as undercover agents. At the same time, students are encouraged to be fully forthcoming themselves, to value truthfulness very highly. So, they live in a conflicted environment, to say the least. They now know there are some peers among them who are not fully forthcoming, and in fact actively deceptive. They now know that the institution has not been fully forthcoming and deceptive. They now know that some numbers of problematic cadets are retained for law enforcement purposes. They now know that such cadets claim to have been the victims of broken promises. They now know that such cadets might be being allowed to get away with things for which others would suffer consequences in order to further investigations.
Consider the impact on faculty and staff. Consider the chain of command, which, if unaware of the program, now have to integrate it into their evaluation of the institution. They now wonder if they too are being watched by the plants. They now consider whether the institution is living up to moral standards. They now have to grapple with the question of why they were not informed of the practice. They have to consider whether they had not been trusted all along.
This seems a ripe environment for cynicism or disillusionment.
How will the Board of Visitors take this?
How will parents of past and present Cadets take this?
Alumni (both students and faculty/staff)?
How about Congress? DOD? The President?
The ends here do not justify these particular means.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I would come down on the affirmative. Several cadets tell a disturbing tale of threats, broken promises, and an OIS taking advantage of noble instincts. Violations of Kantian precepts galore.
You really must read the whole article from Stars and Stripes to get the extent to which this secret system of investigation used the cadets in question as ‘mere means’ to the laudable end of nipping bad behavior in the bud, at USAFA.
This is also, a very interesting case study in the risks taken on by institutions which condone or engage in behaviors that are in direct conflict with their stated values. In particular, the article emphasizes honesty, and the pledge cadets take, to never lie, nor withhold information. The story shows us an institution that apparently lied to at least one cadet, stringing him along (in order to use him for investigations) telling him, all along, not to worry, that they would look out for him, take care of him when the chips were down, only to abandon him when he was perceived as having no further use.
(Yes sexual predation and drug use are problems, and undercover ops are defensible, but this is not the way to do it.)
Sanka freeze dried version of one cadet’s story:
Second year Cadet Thomas was at an off campus party that included drugs, but did not partake.He was called in as witness by OIS. After three hour interrogation in which he was reticent to name names, he eventually did. After that, he was recruited as a secret informant to be used on and off academy grounds in pursuing similar cases. Signed non-disclosure agreement, threatened with brig if he broke it.Spent balance of second, third and fourth years in undercover operations for OIS. Had two contacts he would meet, often off the yard after hours (against regs).He did not have moral qualms with the work. Thought he was helping get rid of bad actors, horrible candidates for officer corps.This work required that he break many rules to not only ‘fit in’ but accompany subjects of investigations. He accumulated demerits more than sufficient to warrant expulsion, grades suffered (due to time taken up in tailing bad actors). Reputation suffered.Was required to break rules (leave campus) even when on restriction and other forms of punishment for having broken regs in service to the investigations. Did comply when ordered to do this sort of thing. All along, he was promised he would be taken care of.His chain of command was not aware of his role in investigations, considered him a “dirtbag” due to the company he kept, and the multiple infractions. The chain saw a cadet who had no respect for rules, nor the institution.After one incident in which he was tailing a sexual predator (in which he prevented a rape) the academy initiated process for separation.He kept his word, and did not divulge his status. Was promised by OIS that his contact would testify for him at a disciplinary hearing.Contact did not show. Communications was cut off.He was severely dressed down at the hearing and separated shortly before graduation. He was not required to pay back his tuition, as would normally occur. This indicates some level of awareness of his undercover role, probably after the fact.Asked OIS repeatedly to come forward in his defense. They never did. He filed FOI requests three times. The third request (routed through his Congressman) produced 86 pages of details.He remains in the Air Force, and cannot apply to any other schools.Only after all of this, did he decide to go to the press. He seeks restitution in some form.
* What Would Kant Do? He would not recruit these young people into this emotionally trying work knowing full well that he would take advantage of their ideals and trust, in order to prevent some other evils. He would require fully informed consent, and would not countenance the bullying tactics used to recruit informants. Second formulation of the Cat. Imp. folks. Come on.