Guide Posts

Response to a Protester …

Posted on July 13, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

They say the US Lost the Viet Nam War courtesy their Free Press …. Here is One Response to one such Protester …

On a rainy afternoon, a group of protesters were gathered outside the grocery store handing out pamphlets on “T he  evils  of America . ”   I politely declined to take one.

There was an elderly woman behind me and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.

The young protester gently put her hand on the old woman’s shoulder and in a patronizing voice said, “Don’t you care about the children of Iraq?”

The old woman looked up at her and said: “Honey, my father died in France during World War II, I lost my husband in Korea, and a son in Vietnam.

All three died so a naive, ignorant, self-centered bimbo like you could have the right to stand here and badmouth our country … and if you touch me again, I’ll shove this umbrella up your ass and open it.”

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Be Safe – Not Sorry …

Posted on June 11, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

There was a woman standing by the mall entrance passing out flyers to all the women going in. The woman had written the flyer herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other women.                                      .
 The previous day, this woman had finished shopping, went out to her car and discovered that she had a flat. She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat. A nice man dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and said, ‘I noticed you’re changing a flat tyre. Would you like me to take care of it for you?’                                                           .
The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help. They chatted amiably while the man changed the flat, and then put the flat tyre and the jack in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off.                                                  .

The woman thanked him profusely, and as she was about to get in her car, the man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall, and asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car. She was a little surprised and asked him why his car was on the other side.                                .

He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn’t seen for some time and they had a bite to eat, chatted for a while, and he got turned around in the mall, left through the wrong exit, and now he was running late.                                                                                                                      .

The woman hated to tell him ‘no’ because he had just rescued her from having to change her flat tyre all by herself, but she felt uneasy. (Trust that gut feeling!) Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car.                . ….
She told him that she’d be happy to drive him around to his car, but she just remembered one last thing she needed to buy. (Smart woman!) She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be. She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened.                                                                            .
The guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left. They opened the trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station.                                                                                                                                .
The police opened it (ostensibly to look for an ID so they could return it to the man). What they found was rope, duct tape, and knives. When the police checked her ‘flat’ tyre, there was nothing wrong with it: the air had simply been let out. It was obvious what the man’s intention was, and obvious that he had carefully thought it out in advance.                         .
The woman was blessed to have escaped harm. (Amen, thank You God!) How much worse it would have been if she had children with her and had them wait in the car while the man fixed the tyre, or if she had a baby strapped into a car seat? Or if she’d gone against her judgement and given him a lift?



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Contact n Connection …

Posted on May 18, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts, Searching for Success |

Contact and Connection –

Journalist to the Monk – “Jogajog &  Sanjog: Contact and Connection – Please elucidate?”
The Monk always smiling, asks – “Are you from the North?” 
The Journalist, “Yes”.
Monk – “Who all are at home?” 
The Journalist – “Mother has expired. Father is there. Three brothers and one sister. All married.”
The Monk, always smiling, “Do you talk to your father?- When did you talk to him last?”
The Journalist, “May be a month back.”
The Monk:  “Do you brothers and sisters meet often ? When did you last meet as a family?”
Journalist, “We met last – two years ago.”
Monk: “How many days did you all stay together?
Journalist, “Three days”

Monk: “How much time did you  spend with your Father, sitting beside him ?” 

Did you ask how he was? Did you ask how his days are passing after your mother’s death ?”
Journalist is quiet.
The Monk:  “Did you eat together ? 
The Journalist’s eyes show sadness..
The Monk places his hand on the journalist’s hand and says – 
 “Don’t be sad. I am sorry if I have hurt you unknowingly.
But this is basically the answer to your question about “contact and connection jogajog and Sanjog..
‘You have ‘contact’  with your father but you don’t have ‘connection’ with him. You are not connected to him.
‘Connection is between heart and heart… sitting together , sharing meals , caring, hugging each other.
Touch – shaking hands, eye contact,  spending time together.
‘You  brothers and sisters have ‘contact’ but you have no  ‘connection’ with each other.”
This is modern reality. 
Whether at home, in family, in society and every which where we have
lots and lots of contact but there is no connection. No personal communication.
Everybody is in her or in his own World. a his or her own world.
 Let’s not just have ‘contact’. Rather let’s be well “connected” …… caring , sharing , touching , hugging , spending time together with our near and dear and other like minded in our Life’s Journey.
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Four Stories …

Posted on May 15, 2018. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts |

Four Stories by Mich Cochrane – “Recently I was invited to give a special lecture at the university where I teach. I accepted the invitation though, contrary to what my sons might tell you, I don’t really like to lecture. 

But this lecture was different. It would be part of a series inspired by Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. Pausch was a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who, while facing a terminal diagnosis, spoke directly to his students and colleagues about the things that matter most.

Thankfully I am not sick (illness is not a requirement to participate in the series), but I did try to take my cue from Pausch, and from a line by Bob Dylan: “Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

Rather than deliver some brilliant thesis or clever syllogism, I simply told four stories from my heart — all of them, I hope, like the very best stories – supple and open-ended and perhaps even a bit mysterious”.

These are the four stories.

First Story

I am standing in a bedroom of the house I grew up in. I am four, maybe five years old. My sister, Sue, a year and a half older, is standing next to me, and the two of us are staring out the window into the night sky.

She is teaching me how to wish on a star. She softly says the words, a kind of incantation, and I repeat them, just as softly: “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight . . .”

Maybe for the first time I feel the strange power of rhythmic language, of poetry. Just to be hearing and speaking such words under such circumstances is magical. Sue explains that I’m supposed to wish for something: my heart’s desire, no limits.

So I do. I wish for a stuffed bear. That’s what I want, but no ordinary teddy bear — a big one, as tall as I am. It is probably the most outrageous and impossible thing I can imagine.

Meanwhile, downstairs, my family is falling apart. My father is a successful trial lawyer, by all accounts a brilliant man, but when he is drinking — which soon will be pretty much all the time — he is angry, violent, and abusive.

He throws dishes, kicks down doors, yells and hits and breaks things. In the years ahead my father will leave, return occasionally to terrorize us, but not support us.

He will cause tremendous suffering and die alone in a downtown hotel room when I am in high school.

My mother right now is in the early stages of an incurable, degenerative neurological disease, which will leave her depressed and crippled: she will die at home with my sister and me caring for her while we are both in college.

We will be poor — no car, no telephone, and, for one memorable stretch, no hot water.

Sometime after my wishing lesson — the next day, as I remember it, but that can’t be true, can it? — my sister goes shopping with a neighbor’s family.

She returns holding in her arms — what else? — one very large stuffed bear. He wears a ribbon tied rakishly around his neck. He has bright eyes and a pink felt tongue. His fur is soft and shiny. And he is big — exactly the size of a five-year-old boy.

He is named Twinkles, which is clever, don’t you think? It must have been my sister’s idea. I would have named him Beary, or maybe Mr. Bear.

Twinkles, it turns out, can talk — at least, he can when my sister is around. He has quite a lively and endearing personality. He’s a good listener, too. He cocks his head and gestures expressively.

Over time Twinkles develops an increasingly complex social life involving other stuffed animals, who also begin speaking and displaying distinctive personalities.

Jim Henson hasn’t invented the Muppets yet, but Sue’s genius for creating furry characters is equal to his. She and I start to think of this collection of animals as inhabiting a place, an independent nation. We call it Animal Town.

I’ll spare you the details, but it has an origin story, an anthem we sing together – a political structure. Twinkles is elected president year after year, term limits be damned. We have a clubhouse, sports teams — by some amazing coincidence,

Twinkles plays baseball, which just happens to be my favorite sport, too — even, I kid you not, trading cards hand-drawn by Sue. Together we create a complex web of stories, a mythology almost as rich and varied as that of the ancient Greeks.

So there is my childhood. On the one hand, confusion and fear, neglect and violence perpetrated by damaged adults; on the other hand, a couple of kids with a vast reservoir of courage, imagination, and love.

Second Story.

I am a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, a private liberal-arts school in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I am a history and political-science major: for sure I am going to law school; maybe I am going to be president. But first I need to take one more English course, and I don’t know which one to choose.

I am in Aquinas Hall, where the English-department faculty have their offices. I have heard about one English professor in particular, Dr. Joseph Connors.

Several people have told me the same thing: Take a class from Dr. Connors. It’s rumored that, on the last day of the semester, his students rise and give him a standing ovation — he’s that good.

I decide to ask his advice about which course would be best for me. It is wholly out of character for me to do this. I am a good student but pathologically shy. I sit in the back of classrooms and do not ask questions and generally cultivate invisibility.

What possesses me to knock on this strange professor’s door? I can’t say.

I should also mention that, at this time, having graduated from a high school that enforced short haircuts, I have long hair. I also have a beard — unkempt, somewhat Amish, somewhat Russian. (I was aiming for Dostoyevsky but may have landed on Rasputin.)

I am wearing boots and an Army-surplus overcoat. Probably I look like General Ulysses S. Grant after a long, bad night.

The great wonder is that, when I knock on his door looking like this, Dr. Connors doesn’t call security. He smiles. He welcomes me into his office, where the shelves are lined with books. The room even smells like books. It smells like learning.

Dr. Connors is the most deeply literate man I will ever meet. He reads all of Shakespeare’s plays each year. He also reads Boswell’s Life of Johnson — unabridged! — annually. He knows a great many poems by heart: in the middle of a lecture he will stare off into the distance and recite a Shakespeare sonnet. (I used to think there was a teleprompter hidden somewhere.)

But I don’t know any of this yet as Dr. Connors brings me into his office and makes me feel there just might be room for me in this place.

He takes books down from his shelves and shows them to me. He talks about the Romantic writers he’s teaching next semester — Blake, Keats, Byron — as if they were mutual friends of ours.

I nod a lot. These books are treasures; I can tell by the way he handles them. They contain secrets I want to know.

Dr. Connors spends a long time with me, somehow intuiting, as all great teachers do, that behind seemingly simple queries there often lie deeper, more difficult, possibly impossible-to-articulate questions.

I leave his office well on my way to becoming an English major. I don’t want to be president anymore; I want to be Dr. Connors.

He and my other professors and mentors, through their kindness and encouragement, changed my life. They gave me hope that a certain shaky, half-formed story I wanted to tell about myself just might — possibly, maybe, someday — come true.

When I did my PhD studies at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Connors took me to lunch at the beginning of each academic year at the Curtis Hotel, just as his mentor had done for him.

After Dr. Connors retired, after his wife passed away, after I had become a professor myself, my wife and I would visit him. He lived into his nineties. Though increasingly frail in body, he was always generous in spirit, as sharp and curious as ever.

Every time I knocked on his door at Rosewood Estate, part of me remembered with pleasure and gratitude that first time I knocked on his door in Aquinas Hall.

That day he treated me — a scruffy, shy, naive young man — like a serious person, a student of literature, someone worthy of the world of poetry and story. And somehow that is who I have become.

Third Story.

I am at the Gowanda Correctional Facility in western New York. It is two days before Christmas, and I have been invited here because of a program called Battle of the Books:

The inmates form into teams and, after weeks of study, compete by answering trivia questions about four novels for young readers — because the prison librarian believes these books will not be too difficult or intimidating.

Today a book I’ve written — about a grieving, baseball-loving girl named Molly who’s mastered the difficult art of the knuckleball — is one of the selections.

I’ve had my background checked, gone through security, and been given instructions on how to behave in here: Don’t reveal private information. Don’t walk between two inmates. Don’t stand too close to anyone.

I am brought into a big open room like a gym, where the men stand in groups. A couple of hand-lettered signs announce BATTLE OF THE BOOKS and list the names of the teams that are competing.

It feels a little like a high-school mixer, except everyone but the librarians is a man, and all the men are wearing green prison uniforms, and instead of chaperones there are guards. Other than that, it’s exactly like a high-school mixer.

I am here to watch the competition, which is like the bastard offspring of Jeopardy! and street basketball: nerdy knowledge wrapped in high-fives and trash talk.

These guys know more about my novel than I do. They know, for example, the favorite color of the main character’s mother. (Teal.) Numbers, food, the full names of minor characters — they have memorized it all.

They know the freaking batting order of Molly’s baseball team. And they know the other books just as well. Rarely does a team miss a question, no matter how obscure.

There is tremendous joy in the room.

The competition lasts around three hours. After a while I almost feel as if I know these guys. Before I arrived here, I had the usual preconceived notions about prisoners.

Now I see that, except for the green uniforms, the inmates look like people I might run into at the grocery store or a ballgame. I start to wonder: If the guards and inmates switched uniforms, would I be able to tell?

Then I wonder: If I were to put on a green uniform, would I stand out? Would someone say, Hey, what’s the novelist doing dressed like an inmate? I don’t think so.

I find myself rooting for one team in particular. They call themselves the Twelve Steppers, or something like that. I get the reference: they are in recovery, trying to change their lives one day at a time.

These men have done bad things. They’ve committed crimes. They’ve hurt people. But here they are, about to spend Christmas in this place. How can I not root for them?

Afterward the head librarian brings one of the men over to tell me something. He is about my age. “Your book,” he says, “is the first book I’ve ever read.”

He thanks me for writing it. I thank him for reading. He extends his hand, and even though it is against the rules — especially because it is against the rules — I take it and try to squeeze into it all the strength and hope I can.

Fourth Story.

My sister, Sue, the Jim Henson of West St. Paul, Minnesota, grew up to major in political science and French in college and studied for two terms in France.

A self-taught musician — piano, guitar, bass, banjo, harp; you name it, she can play it — she performed in various bands: bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, classical, polka, even a little punk-polka, an under appreciated genre.

She graduated with honors from law school, worked with a firm that specialized in antitrust law, drank too much, got sober, started her own practice, then switched to legal aid and worked for the St. Paul American Indian Center before being named a Hennepin County Family Court judge.

She got married and adopted three boys from Korea, one with special needs. Throughout her judicial career she was a radical force, always aiming to make the system less damaging and more merciful.

Ten years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing treatment, she moved for a time to traffic court, but she couldn’t give up her inclination to improve the system.

She founded a community-justice initiative and went into Minneapolis neighborhoods that scared even her bailiff.

She sat down with people there, without a robe, across a table in a community center, and listened to their problems, then helped them figure out what they needed to do to get their driver’s license back.

Five years ago Sue learned that her cancer had returned and metastasized to her bones and her brain. It is Stage IV, a terminal diagnosis.

Since then, I have not heard her utter a word of self-pity. She also has not slowed down one bit. She’s taken her sons on a number of trips. She’s organized and spoken at a conference on the topic of “Love and the Law” — an unlikely concept to you and me, but not to Sue.

She’s continued to cook and quilt. She’s maintained her meditation practice and still serves as a kind of personal Buddhist teacher to her sons, her friends, and one brother.

She’s also created a website to share some of her writing. If you visit it — just google “Sue Cochrane healing” — you’ll see that she arranges her writing under several headings.

There’s a section on the law, where she explores more-humane models of resolving disputes. There’s a section called Living My Life, which contains updates on her health.

And there’s a section labeled Power of Love. It contains poems, photos, and essays on compassion. To get to them, you click a link that says, “Click here for unconditional love.” It really says that. “Click here for unconditional love.” I strongly recommend you do this.

About a year ago Sue flew to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, for brain surgery.

Because her husband needed to stay with their boys, I flew down to be with her. I got on a plane in Buffalo, New York, just about the time she was being prepped.

I thought about what the surgeons were doing, with their scalpels and drills and high-tech vacuums, while I was crossing the Rockies. Not knowing what the result of the surgery would be, I arrived in Phoenix, got a cab to the hospital, found the surgery floor, and entered the recovery room as she was coming to.

She had a wicked gash across her scalp — nineteen staples long — and her face was swollen, one eye almost closed. She looked like she’d gone twelve rounds with Muhammad Ali in his prime.

The surgery, we would soon learn, was a complete success, beyond expectations.

Sue was groggy but recognized me and took my hand. She said two things, again and again, two things I would encourage you to consider saying to yourself and your loved ones from time to time. They are words you can use in almost any circumstance. She said: “I am so happy to be alive.” And: “I’m glad you’re here.”

So there you are: four stories.

There’s no thesis in any of them, no theme, no hidden meaning. If you want to draw some lessons from them, you are free to do so.

You may decide to trust in the sustaining power of the imagination. You may decide to knock on a stranger’s door, or to open doors for others if you can.

You may decide to shake someone’s hand, even if it’s against the rules. And I hope you will click on unconditional love.

Always that: click on unconditional love.


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Art of Deep Breathing …

Posted on May 14, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

From Baba Mail –
It is the belief of many cultures from around the world that the process of breathing is the absolute essence of being. A continual cycle of expanding and contracting, breathing is an example of the constant polarity that is so present in nature, much like wake and sleep, day and night, growth and decay, and life and death.

Unlike other bodily functions, breathing is used to help us communicate between each of these dichotomies, which makes it a fantastic tool for facilitating positive change in our lives, whether we’re doing it voluntarily or involuntarily.                                                                                                               …

Breathing consciously can actually be used to influence some of the sympathetic nervous system’s functions, such as the regulation ofblood pressure, digestion, heart rate, circulation, and much more. As such, breathing exercises act as a bridge into bodily functions over which we generally have little to no control.


 When we become emotionally stressed, our nervous system becomes stimulated, which ends up causing a few physical reactions. We sweat, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and our muscles tense up. If this occurs for an extended period of time, our nervous system may become overstimulated, leading to muscle pain, high blood pressure, inflammation, and other unwanted symptoms. However, all of these can be reversed or prevented by using deep breathing exercises.
You can train breathing to affect both positive and negative health influences. Being stressed can lead the muscular and connective tissue in your chest to get restricted, which will result in a decreased range of motion in your chest wall. Shallow and rapid breathing causes the chest to expand less than it would with deeper breaths, which results in ‘chest breathing’.

To find out if you are a chest breather simply place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. Take a few breaths in and out and see which hand rises the highest. If your left hand rises the most, then you are an abdomen breather, however, if it is your right hand which rises highest, then that means that you’re a chest breather.                                           …

Chest breathing is not efficient since most of the blood flow ends up taking place in the lungs’ lower lobes, areas which only have limited air expansion for chest breathers. This results in poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues and less oxygen transfer to the blood.                                                                           ..

Luckily, similar to learning to ride a bicycle or play a guitar, you can actually train your body to improve its breathing technique. By practicing regularly, you’ll be able to make your body utilize abdomen breathing most of the time, even while you sleep.                                                                                               ..

The Great Benefits of Abdominal Breathing                                                         ..

Abdominal breathing is frequently also called diaphragmatic breathing. Your diaphragm is a huge muscle which can be found between the abdomen and chest. While contracting it is pushed downwards, which results in the abdomen expanding, and forcing air into the lungs. At the same time, blood is pumped into the chest, which improves blood flow to the heart, strengthening the immune system and boosting physical stamina.   ..

By making use of abdominal breathing, you will also increase the flow of lymph in your body, which will help prevent lung-based infection and other respiratory illnesses. Additionally, you will also be constantly stimulating your body’s relaxation mechanism, resulting in a greater overall sense of well-being.                                                                                                                         .

How to Perform Breathing Exercises                                                                      ..

You should try and practice this breathing exercise at least once a day, especially if you are suffering from physical or emotional pain:                           ..

1. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.                           .

2. Exhale through your mouth as usual, then take a slow and deep breath through your nose. Imagine you are trying to absorb all of the air in the room. Hold it for 7 seconds.                                                                                           …
3. Exhale slowly through your mouth for up to 8 seconds. While the air is being released, gently contract your abdominal muscles to remove any remaining air from the lungs.                                                                                       ..
4. Repeat this cycle another 4 times, for a total of 5 deep breaths. This shouldn’t take you more than a minute to complete.                                               ..

Abdominal breathing is only one of many different kinds of breathing exercises that can help improve your quality of life. However, it is the basis of many other breathing techniques, so it would be best to master it before try more advanced exercises.

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Political Strike n Counter Strike …

Posted on May 1, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

News 18 – Political scientists Lance Bennett and Alexander Sergerberg in their seminal work on the impact of Connective Action in political communication demonstrate how timing of a political reaction effects a desired outcome in a given situation.

Power in a Hybrid Media environment – the two aver – is wielded by those who know “when to act quickly, and when to delay, when to devote intensive attention to the pursuit of a goal, when to repeat, when to act alone, and when to coordinate” an action.

 The first day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign and instant ripostes by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah are a classical example in this genre of political communication.

With limited internet penetration, news and information in India is circulated in Hybrid Media environment. Which means new and legacy media dovetail and overlap to create complex field of mass communication for the proliferation of information. The legacy media, on the contrary, operates purely on the conventional model where broadcaster wields enormous power.

Prime Minister Modi’s rallies in poll-bound Karnataka had three distinct features. In getting a Kannada translator, Modi tried to blunt Siddaramaiah’s case on Kannadiga sub-nationalism. Basically, BJP in Karnataka was attempting to avoid the ‘Bihari vs Bahari’ trap they fell for during Bihar polls in 2015..                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The second noticeable aspect of Prime Minister’s speeches was a sharp attack on the Congress on dynastic politics. In this regard, denial of ticket to BS Yeddyurappa’s son seems to be a well thought out decision.         .          .                                                                                                                                  Third, the Prime Minister by attacking Rahul Gandhi in his elections speeches has tried to drag in the Congress national leadership. In the initial phases of electioneering, BJP to some extent had played on with Congress’ tactic of making Karnataka polls a Modi vs Siddaramaiah contest.                   .                                                                                                                                 This strategy has yielded rich dividends to the party in states since 2014. With the exception of two – Delhi and Bihar – where the strong local leadership has challenge BJP’s star vote catcher to emerge victorious.          ..                                                                                                                                     In mocking Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister has attempted to temper the Modi vs Siddaramaiah binary in Karnataka polls.                                                 ..                                                                                                                                 The Congress party – despite its status quoist tendencies – was surprisingly quick and nimble in its response to Prime Minister’s statements. Karnataka CM fired the first salvo Tuesday morning when he tweeted a sarcastic welcome to the PM.                                                                                                       …                                                                                                                                This was followed by a continuous commentary on Twitter, as Siddaramaiah continually responded to all major points raised by Modi in his election speeches.                                                                                 ..                                                                                                                                 The CM was joined in by other powerful Congress voices to create a collective chorus of rebuttals on the social media and elsewhere in what would be classified as Connective Action in political communication in Hybrid Media environment demonstrated by Bennett and Sergerberg.

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Equinoxes – All You Need to Know …

Posted on March 22, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

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Army’s Command and Staff Streams …

Posted on March 16, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Guide Posts |

Maj. Stephen W. Richey, USA Ret., served as an enlisted Armor crewman from 1977 to 1979 and graduated from West Point as an Armor officer in 1984. He served in various assignments in Germany, Ethiopia, Iraq and the continental U.S. Richey holds a master’s degree in history from Central Washington University and is the author of the book Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint.

Our Army’s penchant for operations orders that are hundreds of pages, is for dull, unimaginative people who are good at slavishly following a cookbook recipe. It is not for people who possess the spark of combat creativity.

Military history is replete with examples of great Generals, with a couple staff officers at their side, writing orders in minutes, using the hood of their personal vehicle as a desk.

Our writing to cover all possible situations in our mandatory process of planning the next battle is a fruitless attempt to eliminate the uncertainties of war. Uncertainty is a basic condition of war, and the best battlefield commanders thrive on uncertainty.

We attempt to forecast what we will do if this happens and how we will react if that happens, leaving no possibility unaccounted for. Given the unpredictable chaos of battle in which an intelligent enemy gets a vote in what happens—such attempted forecasting is a waste of time and effort.

A free-thinking and active enemy, a change in the weather, an unforeseen delay or blunder, the random whims of luck—and the fact that information about the situation is never complete and frequently wrong—will inevitably combine to produce situations not dreamed of in all what we have catered for.

Far better than over scripted staff procedures is a certain quality that should be part of the mind of every battlefield commander.

The French call this quality coup d’oeil, the “stroke of the eye” that enables the great commander to look at the terrain of a future battlefield and instantly intuit how to place his soldiers and weapons on that terrain to defeat the enemy.

Napoleon had this quality. The parallel German concept to coup d’oeil is fingerspitzengefühl, the “fingertip feeling” that enables the great commander to quickly and intuitively sense how the chaotic ebb and flow of battle is playing out and to issue new orders to his forces accordingly. Rommel had this quality.

Using an English-language phrase, we could say George S. Patton Jr. had the sixth sense that enabled him to understand a constantly changing battlefield situation and rapidly act on his understanding—always faster than either his fellow American or opposing German commanders could.

His pedestrian superior officer, Omar N. Bradley, criticized Patton for being a poor planner. Perhaps Bradley envied how Patton delivered victory after victory by boldly following his inner light rather than bogging himself down in rigid staff procedures. We need to find and nurture more Pattons.

An Army Field Manual – Army Planning and Orders Production is headed by a quotation from Patton: “A good plan violently executed NOW is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Ironically, however, the following 64 pages of that chapter quash the Patton spirit by mandating a planning process of over scripted complexity. For just one example, our staffs prepare three courses of a What’s magic about three courses of action? Why not two? Why not four?

Standardized procedure wrongfully trumps an intelligent sense of what any given unique situation requires. This insistence on a point of procedure causes the common vice of staff officers creating one or two courses of action that are intentionally so bad the commander can instantly discard them in favor of the one course of action the staff already knew he wanted.

Ginning up courses of action to deliberately see them quickly dismissed is a criminal waste of time and effort in wartime situations, in which every drop of time and effort is precious and irreplaceable.

Worse, having the staff prepare three courses of action from which the commander is to choose implies a disturbing passivity on the commander’s part.

Under the time crunch of combat, a great commander looks at the ground, looks at his own forces, looks at the enemy and—quickly—tells his staff that “this” is the one course of action he has decided on. He sets his staff to work doing the coordination to make his plan work.

He and his staff win the deadly race against the enemy who is simultaneously trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Based on the above, I propose the following:

First, the Army should have two career tracks for its officers: a command track for about 10 percent and a staff track for the other 90 percent. Under this system, young captains would command a company/battery/troop either before or after doing a staff job or two.

Then, based on their comparative performance as either commanders or staff officers, they would be slotted as either commanders or staff officers for the rest of their careers. Obviously, those slotted as career staff officers would outnumber those slotted as career commanders by about 10 to one.

Second, commanders at all levels must be forbidden to possess personal computers, forbidden to exchange emails and forbidden to create PowerPoint slides. Let staff officers have ranks of computers and drown in emails and PowerPoint slides.

The rationale for my proposals flows from my observation that the personality traits that make a good commanding officer and the personality traits that make a good staff officer are the perfect inverse of each other.

Patton’s performance ratings from his staff officer times were poor. Fortunately for the Allies, Marshall and Eisenhower had enough sense to know they needed a larger-than-life battlefield prima donna, and they knew where to find him.

In time of war, necessity can make anything forgivable, and as soon as the war was over, they made Patton go away. Not even the necessity of war could rescue the brilliant, charismatic, maverick Terry Allen from the safe, solid, dull Bradley.

Furthermore, leadership by PowerPoint and email is killing our ability to ever again produce somebody like Patton. Computers, emails and PowerPoint slides are a scourge that threatens to make commanders indistinguishable from staff officers.

I propose “Richey’s law” with two corollaries:

Demands from higher headquarters for more information and more staff coordination will always expand to choke whatever new communications technology has just been invented.

If radios and telephones can’t convey enough information quickly enough, then computer networks of a certain size, speed and bandwidth will. And if that previous-generation computer network can’t convey enough information quickly enough, then a new-generation computer network of greater size, speed and bandwidth will. And so on, ad infinitum ad absurdum.

First corollary: Computers are not labor-saving devices. They are labor-creating devices in that they enable more people at more echelons to micromanage more numerous and more inane issues than ever before.

Second corollary: The deluge of extra information made possible by computers does not improve combat effectiveness, because the sheer volume of information now exceeds the brain capacity of the average human commander to absorb and use in a reasonable time.

The wise commander must now know when to turn off the deluge and revert to applying classic commander’s intuition—his “feeling in the fingertips” in the old German phrase or his “stroke of the eye” in the old French phrase—just like the best commanders have done since Alexander the Great.

Also, the extra work for staff officers made possible by computers does not improve combat effectiveness because almost all of this extra work is needless “eyewash.” An old-fashioned textual after-action report describing a recent firefight is a better and simpler tool than a high-tech, high-gloss computer graphics storyboard.

Today’s commanding general at war typically exchanges hundreds of emails a day, and any commanding general who sends and receives hundreds of emails a day is not commanding! He is chained to his computer when he could and should be out on the battlefield seeing the fight with his own eyes and influencing the fight with the power of his personal presence and example.

These two truths apply to any battlefield:

First, if a commander at any level has something to say, then what he has to say is so important it must be said voice-to-voice with a radio or telephone or, even better, face-to-face.

Second, anything that needs to be said that is less important than what the commander has to say should be said by staff officers and can be appropriately said via email.

Due to the scourge of personal computers, the character of the combat leader is debased while the character of the office bureaucrat is exalted. In today’s Army, an officer who is mediocre at staff work will be passed over for command. His personality traits that could make him an ideal commander will be lost to the Army.

Our Army has cut itself off from developing more Pattons. What precious few Pattonesque higher commanders there are reached their current positions in spite of, not because of, our Army’s culture.

In conclusion, our Army should rethink its battle planning process with a view toward streamlining the process while emphasizing the commander’s role as the guiding visionary.

Our Army should consider separate career paths for commanders and staff officers of promise. In addition, our Army must liberate its bold battlefield leaders from the shackles of personal computers, emails and PowerPoint slides. We need our Army culture to develop our next Patton, not restrain him.


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FB and Maslow …

Posted on March 9, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

Strike up a conversation about work values, and it won’t be long before someone brings up a pyramid — a famous psychologist’s best-known theory.

Abraham Maslow’s big idea was that we all have a hierarchy of needs: once our basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we seek love and belongingness, then self-esteem and prestige, and finally self-actualization.

But that pyramid was built more than half a century ago, and psychologists have recently concluded that it’s in need of renovation.

When you review the evidence from the past few decades of social science, it’s hard to argue with Maslow’s starting point.

If your basic needs aren’t met, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If you have a job that doesn’t pay enough, and you’re up all night worrying about survival, chances are you won’t spend much time dwelling on self-actualization.

But Maslow built his pyramid at the dawn of the human relations movement, when so many workplaces in the manufacturing economy didn’t have basic physiological and safety needs covered.

Today more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies.

They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need, providing conveniences like meals and gyms, and competing to be the best places to work (from 1984 through 2011, those that won outperformed their peers on stock returns by 2.3% to 3.8% per year).

In those environments, survival isn’t in question.

And once you get past that layer of the pyramid, the rest of it falls apart. People don’t need to be loved before they strive for prestige and achievement. And they don’t wait for those needs to be fulfilled before pursuing personal growth and self-expression.

If Maslow were designing his pyramid from scratch today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? That’s a question we set out to answer at Facebook, in collaboration with our people analytics team.

We survey our workforce twice a year, asking what employees value most. After examining hundreds of thousands of answers over and over again, we identified three big buckets of motivators: career, community, and cause.

Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.

In the past, organizations built entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract. You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career or a close-knit community or a meaningful cause. But we’ve found that many people want more.

In our most recent survey, more than a quarter of Facebook employees rated all three buckets as important. They wanted a career and a community and a cause. And 90% of our people had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets.

Wondering whether certain motivators would jump out for particular people or places, we broke the data down by categories. We started with age.

There’s a lot of talk about how different Millennials are from everyone else, but we found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups.

Contrary to the belief that Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose, we found that younger people cared slightly less about cause — and slightly more about career — than older people.

In fact, people ages 55 and above are the only group at Facebook who care significantly more about cause than about career and community.

This tracks with evidence that around mid-life, people become more concerned about contributing to society and less focused on individual career enhancement.

But overall, the differences between age groups were tiny. And that’s not just true at Facebook. In a nationally representative study of Americans across generations, Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers had the same core work values — and tended to rank them in the same order of importance.

As we’ve said before, Millennials want essentially the same things as the rest of us.

We also didn’t see any major differences by level, or by performance reviews: people valued these three motivators whether they were exceeding, meeting, or falling short of expectations.

And when we compared office locations, it was clear that career, community, and cause were all prized around the globe.

Finally, we turned to function. “If it weren’t for the people,” Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “the world would be an engineer’s paradise.”

Survey says: false. Our engineers care a lot about community, giving it an average rating of 4.18 on a 1-5 scale. And just as we saw with age and location, across functions people rated career, community, and cause as similarly important.


“To know what one really wants,” Maslow argued, “is a considerable psychological achievement.”


Our data suggest that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same things. When it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, a community, and a cause.

These are important motivators whether you’re 20 or 60, working in engineering or sales, in Luleå or São Paulo or Singapore or Detroit. We’re all hoping to find a what, a who, and a why.
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Official Assassinations …

Posted on March 8, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

Most Countries with the needed power and expertise have assassination programmes aimed at elimination of perceived political threats.

Here is a Review of an authoritative Book on the Israeli Enemy Assassination Story.

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