Thursday, December 29, 2005

A look at predictions past

Mrs. SFC B brought out an email I had written back in 2003. I figured I'd share it because, well, if I don't learn from my mistakes I'll be doomed to repeat them. My updates and retorts to my own stupid are in italics.

From 2003:

Since it's New Year's Eve I find myself in a prognosticating mood (I can spell prognostigating right on the first try, but I need Word to correct me on January, go figure).

Dennis Kuncinch and Al Sharpton combine their quests for the Democratic Party's nomination. The result will be called the Inane and Insane ticket.
When I say "Inane and Insane" in my mind, I hear
Cypress Hill playing.

The UN will issue another resolution call for Saddam to allow weapons inspectors or face "really really severe consequences".
I think I got that one right.

In August, when, now Secretary of WAR!!! (2 predictions in 1, how lucky [you have to yell when saying the WAR!!! part]) Rumsfeld holds a press conference to announce the capture of Osama bin Laden's severed, crushed leg the NY Times will be unable to provide on-the-spot coverage because their entire news gathering team was in Augusta, GA to cover the "Story of the Year": a bunch of lesbians protesting the Masters golf tournament.
I might still be proven right on this one.

George Stienbrenner will announce that the Yankees have spent the past 25 years creating clones of the greatest ball players ever. With his announcement the Yankees 2004 starting line-up will include Babe Ruth, Willie Mays (a young version since the real one isn't dead yet), Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner. With these new-improved versions of baseball's greatest players the Yankees will cruise to a 130-32 record and an easy berth in the playoffs, then World Series. They will be swept by the Sheboygan Men's Slo-Pitch Softball League All-stars. This waste of a quarter century in research and development, as well as billions of dollars, will cause Stienbrenner to launch an inter-stellar starship in the hopes of finding the galaxy's greatest baseball players for the 2005 season.
I might have been wrong on this one. But when Brian Cashman announces the signing of Xerkplit Fligglyspat, the second baseglip of the Reulon-12 Hannananaas, remember I called first.

The Bush-Dean debate will be cut short after, in an effort to prove how tough he is, Howard Dean attempts to physically attack Bush. "Secret Service Ass-Whooping.mpg" becomes the most Googled phrase the next day; however it goes to number 2 the day after when "Paris Hilton-Britney Spears.mpg" resumes top honors.
Remember when Howard Dean had a hope of winning a national election? It really was that long ago. "Paris Hilton-Britney Spears.mpg" makes me laugh out loud.

[My sister's name] will finish her final semester by deciding to do "something that helps the world... like join Greenpeace". An intervention is planned by the rest of the family.
My super-awesomely smart sister is currently in NYC helping British people get laid. Mrs. SFC B said I shouldn't describe it like that because it sounds dirty, but I'm not going to change it. I'm assuming my readers (Hi mom!) will know that she's actually doing something very fine and upstanding.

A court will order Michael Jackson to either stop "being a complete and total whack-job" or go to jail. When attempting to enter his plea Jackson's ear will fall off. The judge will order the bailiff to "smack him out of principle" and then confine him to the Prison for the Terminally Creepy.
Who do I need to mail a donation to to start the Prison for the Terminally Creepy?

Vladimir Putin will declare himself Ruler of All Russians, and have J.K. Rowling kidnapped, tortured, and executed for the whole "Dobby looks like Putin" thing. The International Criminal Court will then issue its most stern punishment by making Putin write a sincere apology to Rowling's family after he learns that the director of the movie was a bit more responsible for making Dobby look like him.
I'm going to claim a 66% success rate on this one. I think Putin has declared himself Ruler of all Russians, and if the ICC ever actually did anything it would require someone to write an apology. To my knowledge JKR hasn't been executed, but if Book 7 isn't out in about a year someone might want to see if there's freshly turned Earth in the Kremlin's back yard... just sayin'.

France will whine about something George W. Bush does.
I threw that one out there as a gimmie. Making a prediction France will whine about something is like the newspaper horoscopes saying "You will meet someone today." So general it will apply to anyone.

Michael Moore will eat a cheesburger and become so massive that he collapses upon himself forming a black hole. Fortunately this will happen during a book signing at the Barnes and Noble near Berkeley. The combination of the super-massive black hole, and the substance-less rantings of Berkeley will cancel each other out.
I'm not sure this didn't happen. The creation of the black hole and it's immediate plugging by the rantings could have happened faster than the human eye could record. If it did I believe that the only recordable event from the collision would be a tectonic shift. Were there any earthquakes felt in CA this year? If so, has Michael Moore's presence been accounted for during each one? Hummmmmm...

Israel will be condemned by the UN for assassinating a terrorist leader in retaliation for the bombing of a bus filled with children taking puppies to entertain a nursing home. The day the resolution if passed China will execute a dozen college students for accessing USA Today from a web cafe.
I fear that one might be a bit too close to truth to be funny.

Anyway... that is what I was thinking back in the back end of 2003. With 2006 looming over like one big misdated check I might revisit the predictions game. It's a cheap way to make a blog entry. Yay easy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Found this on Strategy Page.

Can't wait to see what comes down the pipe that I can use.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Merry Christmas everyone. After 6 years in New England, Arizona doesn't feel very Christmas-y. However it is home and that's all that matters.

There are a ton of people who are very important to me who cannot be home with their loved ones because the liberty and security of the country is more important, in a macro sense, than them. They volunteered for it, and I hold them in nothing but the highest regard. Although I'm sure it's meaningless for me to say it, I wish I was overseas with my fellow Soldiers.

But since I cannot be, all I can do is wish that they and their loved ones are reunited soon and safely.

*UPDATE* Corrected some fat-finger mistakes. Oh, and I got a portable XM receiver and Mrs SFC B and I got TiVo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

There they are

Well, I was found by the Recruiting Gods I know and love. My cockiness of last month has earned their ire. The two contracts I had set up have fallen by the wayside. One to a sizable traffic fine, another to an employer who doesn't respect the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act. So now I'm in a bit of a bind. I do have people who are willing to join, but none of them is ready at this second. If I could find a virgin I'd probably sacrifice them for an IRR-TPU to walk in right about now.


Didn't work.


I'd hoped to have a projection for tomorrow, but the guy's employer is insinuating that if he joins the Army he'll lose his job. I'm 95% sure that it wouldn't happen that way. He works for a major car dealership in the area. One which is a corporation. One with a Human Resources and Legal department. The possible adverse publicity of firing someone for serving during a time of war is something I'm sure they don't want. I'm thinking my first step is to call the local command's JAG office and ask for a clarification on the SSRA for people who enlist. I've never been as clear on the SSRA as I should be. Now would be a good time to bone up.

There is also a prior service who I've been talking to for months now. He's a nice guy and is very active in his church in a small town north of Phoenix. He's been unwilling to commit because of his commitment to the church. With Christmas coming up, and his eligibility to enlist running out (he's old) he's making noises like the time is coming up. I called him last night to wish him a Merry Christmas and, after we'd talked for a while, he asked if I could call him back after the New Year because he said he'll be ready then. So I'm holding on to a sliver of hope.

I think I know what part of my problem is. I'm too willing to let someone move at their own pace. I'll push and work to get someone to enlist "now", but if they don't, they need a waiver, they're not fully committed, or whatever, I'm too willing to just let them be, and follow up a week or so later. I'm thinking that the more successful recruiters will keep someone pushing towards that goal, but I cannot bring myself to force myself to do that. I despise it when I'm pushed to do something, even if it's something I want to do, and I don't like to do that to someone else. I trace my dislike of a hard-push tactic to my first SC.

One of the first people I'd met, conducted, and tested stopped returning my calls. The SC at the time had me calling the guy constantly, going to his house and work, leaving my business card at his door, so on and so forth. Never once did those attempts result in something positive. The guy wound up joining another service a couple months later. I'd stopped trying to contact him well before he enlisted so he was less... unliking... of me when I saw him walking around the mall. We talked for a bit and I asked him why he joined another service. His answer was because I was too pushy. If I'd just given him a bit of space he would have joined the Army Reserve, but his experience with me soured him on it. I was a new recruiter and I didn't know any better at the time. I still misjudge when I should push and when I should pull back, but I'm getting better, and I will err on the side of not being a "pushy" recruiter.

Now though, I'm in a position where I need to make some calls and rattle some cages. See if anything good drops out. I've got seven days to do so or else I'm pretty positive that SFC SC2 will see just how flammable the ACUs are.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Hiya, I'm John and I'm a blogging recruiter.

I've been doing this blogging thing for a couple months now, and I started by going anonymous. Figured that if I said anything wrong or stupid I could always claim "wasn't me". Well, the "anon" bit was done for before I even really got into it. One of my co-workers figured it out and shared it with the station, and soon enough another person in the company had solved the mystery. So I'm known to the people I wanted to remain unknown to, and unknown by those who read what I write. That, for some reason, doesn't sit well with me.

So, anyway. Here I am. SFC John Bradshaw. I'm 27 years old and have been in the Army Reserve since I was 17. Joined as a HS Junior and it was probably the best choice I've ever made (it's a close run off between joining the Army, asking my wife to marry me, and getting a motorcycle). I'm approaching my one year in USAREC and have been writing about it for most of it. The other recruiters in the station know I do this, as does my SC. Sometimes it makes for some... interesting... commentary during the day. Most of it is in good fun.

I'm based out of the Phoenix area and do most of my recruiting in the western part of Arizona. If you live in the West Valley and someone called you about the Army Reserve in the past year it was probably me.

I'm not sure what effect, if any, revealing myself will have. I'm probably being a bit too egotistical to think it will have any effect, but eh... I don't care.

I just got back from Vegas. I came back with my shirt, my wife, and no unidentified rash so it was a good time. I'm back in the office tomorrow so who knows how that will go down. But I do know that my fantasy team went nuts (Tiki Barber > Larry Johnson) so I'm not buying lunch.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Where are they?

When doing a school set-up at our local community college ("Best community college in the world") we get a couple of people who like to come around and talk to us. Most of them are supportive, or at least not combatitive. People who used to be in the military, married to the military, so on and so forth. Nice enough folks, and I'll usually entertain them for a minute or two before giving them a pen and wishing them a nice day. But one guy is different. He's a professional student, always wears a boonie cap, and he likes to come to the table and harass the recruiters. It's something we're used to, and it would take a very special type of person to actually say something insightful and intelligent enough to make us pause. This guy is not that special person. His taunts run the gamut of "Stupid Army people", "Bush lied and you're fools to go along with it", "Recruiters are frauds", and his closing line before security arrives and escorts him off campus, again, is "Where are the WMDs?

A good question, and one that really deserves a better answer than I can deliver. I'm not a professional researcher or reporter. I'm a recruiter on leave who has Google. It's not a combination destined to survive peer review. That being said I think the crux of the "No WMDs have been found" camp is that, by the strict definition of the UN and the Iraqi Survey Group that searched for WMDs in Iraq, they have found none. Despite field units detecting the presence of blister and nerve agents in bunkers and depots across Iraq none of the field positives tested positive in the official lab.

I'm going to assume that it's well known that after the Gulf War Saddam decided he was going to have access to WMDs. But the inspection regime made it difficult to do so. France was probably not going to help build another Iraqi nuclear reactor, and it's freaking hard to make nuclear weapons. Especially if you don't want a mess of inspectors to find it. Biological weapons are easily hidden and very potent, but if discovered by the inspectors there is no recourse. You can't claim you were making anthrax for any reason but to use it as a weapon. It has no other use. Chemical weapons are a very different beast though.

The WMD claim made by the administration (I'm not an official source, running by memory here) is that Iraq had "stockpiles" of WMDs. To me stockpile means a whole freaking mess of them. But it's a subjective matter. One cell of anthrax or smallpox isn't going to cause any problems. One nuclear device will ruin your day in a hurry. This is where Saddam's... brilliance... comes into play.

Saddam realized that the presence of nuclear or biological weapons would be a dead giveaway. There is no hiding of them. You can't build a clandestine nuclear reactor and claim it's not for blowing stuff up. You can't grow lab-quality biological agents and claim they're for anything but killing people. You can, though, create as many chemical weapons that you want, but claim they have another use.

A quick Google search on chemical weapons reveals some wicked sinister stuff. The sort of stuff that Bond villains would do. But it also reveals that, at the base of the pyramid, it's some easy stuff to do. A trip down the household cleaner aisle at Target and a 10th grade chemistry class are all you need to close down a building because of a chemical attack. They're easy to make and easy to disguise. The earliest chemical weapons were just industrial chemicals like chlorine and phosgene. In WWI the German's just took vats of chlorine, opened them, and let the wind do its thing. The French then loaded phosgene into artillery shells and fired them on the Germans. The lesson is that chemical weapons would be a perfect weapon for a clandestine WMD program.

It's a lesson that Iraq learned well. I remember there being several reports of American forces finding stockpiles of chemical weapons. 55 gallon drums of liquids causing positive results for blister and nerve agents. The contents of those drums? Pesticides. Agricultural pesticides. Now, why these pesticides were being stored in underground bunkers, with artillery shells and missiles, and military chemical protection equipment are beyond me. I'm sure there is an explanation of why those pesticides weren't being stored on... I don't know... a farm. But I never heard it. It seems that the ISG decided that if the container didn't say "Sarin" it wasn't a WMD. Even though everyone exposed to the container came down with the symptoms of Sarin. That the administration seems to have went along with this is... depressing (my opinion, not an official statement).

At their core pesticides use an organophosphate chemical to cause their pest-killing. Basically the OP goes about shutting down some bodily function. Ceasing nerve function, breathing, muscle control, whatever. As near as I can tell most chemical weapons are highly refined OP chemicals. So, having a massive stockpile of pesticides would be a really good way to have a less massive, but still sizable, stockpile of chemical weapons just waiting for refinement and delivery to an unsuspecting invading army or dissident village.

A cake is made of flour. There are a whole lot of other ingredients that go into the cake, for sure. But without the flour you're not even going to make something that even remotely resembles a cake. Flour is a very versatile material. It can become cookies, tortillas, pancakes, waffles, and a whole host of other delicious treats. Organophosphates are the flour of the chemical weapon world. There are a whole host of legitimate reasons for a country to have a stockpile of pesticides. When those pesticides are stored in a military bunker, with military equipment to handle them, and the only delivery system present is military in nature (mortar and artillery shells, and missiles) one should make the assumption that the chemicals are for a military use. That doesn't seem to have been the decision made by the ISG.

The ISG seems to have looked at a drum of pesticides and a crate of mortar rounds and said that the two are unrelated. Sure, they could be used together, but they aren't at this second so it's totally innocent. Sure, Saddam has a history of using rounds filled with chemical weapons against own his people, but he hasn't done it in a long time so stop bringing up old stuff. This is like saying a gun isn't a gun until the bullet has been loaded, or a knife isn't a knife while it's still in the sheathe. It's insane.

It's our own fault really. We didn't move fast enough to counter the "no WMD claim". It's taken hold and now accepted as fact. That President Bush joked about it during a speech doesn't help. Instead of saying "We'll find them in the next bunker" when the ISG results came back negative for a pure CW, we should have said "Well, why the hell did an innocent pesticide trigger the alarms, and why are they being stored by the Iraqi military with weapons capable of delivering it?" Oh well, worms are out of the can, horses out of the barn, Pandora has left that box.

I can't control things on a national scale, except when I'm playing Civilization 4. But the next time that the professional student comes by I'll have more to say to him. And that makes me happy.

Hope everyone enjoys their week. Sorry that this was such a poor post. I had a much grander thing in mind, but my plans never survive contact with reality. I'm off to conquer Sid Meier's world.

A reprieve

I'm on leave for the week. Mrs. SFC B and I will be making a trip to see a couple of our friends so not sure how busy I'll be. The post I'd been working on should be ready by the evening, so if anyone actually waits to read my inane ramblings, it will be there eventually.

Today I saw that I had my very first troll. I have no problems with people who disagree with me. Hell, how am I supposed to learn anything if people don't tell me when they think I'm wrong? But this dude doesn't just disagree, he's insulting about it, and wishes me to die. So, I'm curious what the etiquette is for such a situation? I've always known you're not supposed to feed the trolls, but I don't like ignoring crazy people. Frank J. at IMAO is famous for how he handles his trolls. But I'm not funny enough to take that route. I don't feel like just deleting the comments would work either, too DU I think. Any ideas, comments, concerns, suggestions, complaints?

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I hurt in so many places right now. When I was in college I played rugby and I loved it. Great fun and I even didn't totally suck at it. After college I always wanted to continue playing, but I wasn't able to combine the motivation with the availability. Well... tonight I went out and practiced with the local club. Oh my GOD I missed that. It took me a couple of reps to get back into the swing of things, and there is no way I'm in good enough shape right now to play 160 minutes (80 minute A&B side games), but I'll get there.

I didn't actually do to bad. I've always had decent hands, and rarely made a bad pass. I still have the hands, and the knowledge when to not toss will come with repetition. Although there was a new development from when I played in college. In college I was an inch or two shorter than I am now (I now weigh-in around 76 inches) and I tip the scales around 250 now. I was 190 in college. What that means, aside from the fact I'm fatter, is I'm able to put a lot more drive into the scrum. When the coach put me in at lock I drove the hell out of the sled. I have no illusions of starting any time soon, but I can see if happening one day.

Anyway, had a great time, but man, I got tore up. Knees are shredded, back is sore, shoulder is... hurting, soul is soaring. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Going to add some stuff to the 'blog over the weekend. Or, at least I'm hoping to. Might not go as planned. I've been doing some mulling over a topic and should have it done soon. I can't say it will be good (I never think anything I write is), but it will be... something.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Recruiter over at Recruiter Confessions does some of the work that the media seems to be too lazy (?), disinterested (?), opposed (?) to doing. He pulls together a lot of the progress made in Iraq and places it into one post. It's some good stuff, and I've added the post to my links to use during an Army Interview.

I am... disturbed... by how little attention is paid by the media to the successes that have happened. The deaths of Soldiers in the War on Terror are not happening in a vacuum. They are not being blown up randomly as they're driving tankers full of sweet sweet Iraqi crude to the gas tanks of Evil Bushitler Halliburton SUVs. They aren't sitting in the open just waiting for the next poorly-aimed mortar to land in their midst, or for a suicide bomber to get lucky and live long enough to blow up a Stryker or Humvee. They're out there conducting counter-insurgent operations and trying to provide security and stability where they can.

There are places where the insurgency has been defeated, or has never taken root. Every time I hear about another insurgent attack, VBED, suicide bomber, etc I'm always curious where it occurred. How is it that a freaking personnel sergeant on recruiting duty can notice that the attacks happen in the same three places every freaking time, yet that is never discussed by the talking heads?

We have a pattern of success in Iraq. For over 10 years the Kurds in the north have been safe and protected. They have a secure territory that they patrol (under the protection of US aircraft and with US support). If we weren't more interested in preserving the 1800's construct of Iraqi borders they'd have probably seceded from Iraq and be an automous nation right now. Granted, they'd be an autonomous nation at war with Turkey because Turkey loathes the thought of a free Kurdistan, but that's an alternate univserse.

We're going to be successful in Iraq. We have been successful in Iraq already. I guess it all depends on your definition of success. Me, myself, I... I would be thrilled to see a free, democratic, liberal Iraq. A country serving as a beacon of hope in a land that hasn't produced a single, original thought in about 400 years. That would have to be the ultimate success. However, this isn't a world of two extremes where either Iraq will be a wonderful land of freedom and happiness or a cesspool of terrorist training and exporting which will lead to the crippling of the Western world.

I am... content... with the thought that there is one fewer place on Earth where people can be plucked off the streets, forced to watch their family tortured, brutalized, raped, or murdered before being executed themselves. Every time that special operators take down a cell of insurgents those are people who will not be providing muscle for the next plane hi-jacking. Every time an illiterate straps on an exploding vest and blows themself up accidentally by brushing the trigger going out the door that's one fewer crackpot trying to sneak across the Mexico-US border.

I had a poor week for PMS so I have to work today. I'm outta here.

*UPDATE* Fixed some spelling and grammatical errors. Hate when I make those mistakes.

Slight change

Maybe someone noticed a slight change to the website. Maybe not. Either way, I'm very glad to have made the change.

Friday, December 02, 2005

If you have the time

I added to my puny list of links. It's a pretty cool place that gathers Mil-Blogs together and tries to get some rankings and such. It's neat. It lists me. It strokes my ego to see lil' ol' me listed on a list. If anyone who reads this has the time (and I must face it, if you're reading this you might have too much time on your hands) check them out. People more interesting, and better spoken, written, or... whatever, can be found there.

If anyone is feeling charitable though, maybe tossing a vote to your favorite detailed Army Reserve recruiter would be appreciated.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Feeding the masses

The cluelessness. That's what makes me chuckle the most. The sheer and utter cluelessness of the people with whom I usually work. Not my co-workers, although they are all capable of moments of cluelessness (I'll confess, I'm probably the worst). I mean the people outside the office.

Earlier this week SSG Rage and I had a meeting with the senior assistant principal of one of our local high schools. This was a meeting that was called by the school to discuss their rules regarding recruiting activities. A perfectly reasonable request. One SSG Rage and I were happy to attend. Well, I wouldn't say happy. More like not violently angered. But still it was a reasonable meeting. At least we thought it would be, but then the school had to get stupid. They were the ones who had called the meeting. They. Them. They were the ones. It was their idea. The next day I got a call from their secretary saying that they wouldn't be able to make the appointment because they didn't know they had another commitment.

Yeah. Whatever.

Anyway, meeting delayed for a week. Week's up and Rage and I are off. This school is one of the worst in the state. They do poorly on the state standardized testing. Poor graduation rates, few students go on to college. Whole nine yards of bad education stories. This high school is what makes people call for the public education system to be torn down. In a sane world the administrators of this school would be begging the military to come in and give their students a chance at a future that didn't involve jail, serving fries, or some other less-than-awesome life. As I'm constantly reminded though this is not a sane world.

Anyway. To the meeting. Army, USAR, National Guard, Marines, and the Navy show up. Air Force blows them off. That should have been their first hint. This school cannot produce an Alpha, and the AF just doesn't seem to be interested in the Bravo/ Cat IV Factory that this school represents. As the meeting started I wished I had that option.

There are two things which will make it tolerable for me to sit through a meeting. One is that it's a useful meeting where important information is discussed. Yeah. Not going to happen. The other is food. Ply me with bagels, donuts, or cocktail shrimp and I'll sit through just about anything. Yeah. No food either.

So there I was, sitting next to SSG Rage who is a human anger machine, and listening as the assistant principal explained why the school didn't conduct an ASVAB. The previous year they'd conducted the ASVAB and had gotten complaints from some parents that the three hours devoted to the ASVAB were going to make their students fail. If three hours out of an entire school year are the difference between D and F... well... sorry Mr. and Mrs. Parent-of-a-Dumbass, but your kid is doomed. I refuse to believe that there isn't three hours of jacking-around time spread through the entire year that could be better served having their kids take the ASVAB. This school has like 12 half days. I'm going to make a stupid observation that going to 11 half days and having the ASVAB might be in the child's best interest.

During the meeting it was brought up to the head counselor that the time for students to apply for a ROTC scholarship was approaching. Now, these are wicked awesome scholarships. It's basically an 80-100,000 dollar scholarship followed by sering as a commissioned officer. They are hard to get. You need excellent grades, SAT/ACT scores, demonstrated leadership in community and school organizations, and athletic accomplishment. The counselor couldn't think of anyone who could meet the minimum SAT score of 1050 on Math and Verbal (ROTC isn't considering the written portion of the test right now). In a school with several hundred juniors and seniors they can't produce one, 1, uno, un, ONE freaking student who can meet the MINIMUM requirements for one of the best scholarships available. Pathetic.

My suggestion for this facility is as follows:

Burn it.
Wrecking ball the standing structures.
Plow the remains into the dirt.
Salt the earth.
Put a drop-out's head on a pike as a warning to others.

It's going to be a bad day tomorrow so I'm getting the bitter out of my system now.

Everyone have a good weekend.