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SPECIAL EDITION: Coast Guard Survival Guide for the Government Shutdown

in Life Hacks/Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

<sits down at computer, takes deep breath, and prays he can get through this with a straight face>

On 9 January, The Washington Post reported that the Coast Guard was trying to help its members cope with not getting paid during the government shutdown. The Coast Guard Support Program published some financial advice to its members on how to make a little extra money on the side.

Coast Guard brothers and sisters! If you needed advice on how get your side hustle on, why didn’t you just say so?! I GOT YOU!

Here are some innovative moneymaking tips for those of you feeling the pinch while the government sorts out its business:

  • Climb a cellphone tower and strip out the copper to sell on the black market. Apparently you can also cut down power distribution poles to get the copper out of the transformer. Fingers crossed the breaker trips and the pole falls away from you!
  • Respond to various ads on Craig’s List. The most lucrative opportunities are going to be in the sections people warn you about. Take risks.
  • Sell your organs on the black market. You don’t NEED two kidneys, and better to get paid than wake up in a Bangkok hotel room in a tub of ice with shoddy stitching and a note to call 911.
  • Start a bitcoin mining operation. Admittedly, this would have helped you more last year but you can’t afford to be choosy!
  • Pretend to be homeless, stage an incident where you help your civilian buddies as good Samaritan, put it all over the internet, set up a Gofundme account, and ask for donations. Bonus: you may not have to pretend to be homeless much longer!
  • Sell your kids’ social security numbers on the dark web. They don’t need good credit if you’re going to be bankrupt anyway.
  • Steal Amazon packages from your neighbors’ front porches. Just watch out for glitter bombs!
  • Sell your . . .

OK! Nope! Can’t do it! LISTEN UP: Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, all of you . . . STOP ACTING LIKE CHILDREN! DO YOUR JOB! You are four days away from breaking a sacred contract with our men and women in uniform, and just because it’s happened before and they’ll likely get backpay (yes, Baby Boomers, we’ve all heard about your late paychecks during the 1995 shutdowns) doesn’t make it ok! Take a look around you! You literally could not have gooned this up any worse. OK, well except for maybe global thermonuclear war, but even that I’m hearing some of you talk about like “oh, well maybe that’s what needs to happen to get fill-in-the-blank country to act right!” WTF?!? The fabric of our Republic is becoming almost unrecognizable. And to those of you saying the shutdown is a good thing: cool, cool, let’s see how it works out for you not paying the people who secure our borders. Read that again. Wait, wasn’t this all about border security in the first place?? Forget it, never mind. You’re done, move aside. You’ve abdicated your responsibilities. We’ll take it from here.

We Talkin’ About Practice!

in Rants
Y’all need to listen to this man. He speaks the truth.

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Seventeen years ago, Allen Iverson gave one of the most epic press conference rants in NBA history. Yes, Baby Boomers, I’m old enough to remember it. In fact, I agree with every word he said!

We are the United States Navy. First round draft pick. Undisputed league MVP 28 years running. Back-to-back world champs. We do not need to worry about PRACTICE!

Come at me, bro.

Fleet exercises? C’mon man! We gotta get these ships on deployment for the real deal! Just certify them like we’ve always done it: scripted scenarios, serialized training events, predictable adversaries, zero risk, check the block, done, see you in nine (maybe ten) months! All this talk about challenging high-end exercises? Totally unrealistic, we’re too busy. Just get the ships underway and they’ll reach basic proficiency halfway through deployment—then extend them on station and, voila, you’ve got a combat ready force! And now CNO wants to conduct a “Large Scale Exercise 2020?” Fine, as long as it’s a one-off event that only uses non-deployable assets, includes lots of photo opportunities, and haphazard lessons learned are locked away in a vault. That would be OK. Hey, maybe we should call Lieutenant General Van Riper out of retirement again!

SWO Training? I hear people like these junior officers saying we need to improve our training pipeline. Gimme a break. Our ensigns need to toughen up, report to their ship, and hit the ground running. This is the best navy in the world and we’re focused on hitting 355 ships before the Great Power Competition! We don’t have time to train every little butterbar running from one mistake to the next!

We literally do not.

Some have even suggested we give newbies a full training regimen with stick time on Yard Patrol (YP) craft. Others even going so far as to suggest SWOs earn their pins before they report aboard their ship. What are we, aviators now? So what if the flight school model has contributed to developing the most lethal and proficient naval air force in the world? We are black shoes! Twin reversible screws, 100,000 horsepower, automatic plotting radars, electronic charts with GPS input, and coffee are all we need!

The next thing you’re gonna tell me is we need to send our best SWOs to be instructors, like aviators do! Don’t be ridiculous. We need to send our top performers to be detailers in Millington so they can optimize the personnel management system and give us the perfect next set of orders!

We got this detailing thing on lock down!

In the end, maybe there’s one thing on which we can all agree. Allen Iverson said it best: this is not a game.

When Resignation Feels Like Divorce

in Rants
Image Credit: CNBC (

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Its fine. Whatever. Go. I don’t care.

How do I feel about this? I’ll tell you! Why did you have to go and make a big deal about Syria? Mommy said we defeated ISIS anyway! Mommy also said ISIS remains a threat to the rest of the world, so I’m confused. Whatever, I don’t want to talk about it.

Oh, also, Mommy said you are Democrat. Is that true? I just don’t know what to think anymore.

I read your stupid, not genuine, not heartfelt, not professional, not amazingly eloquent letter. Just go. No, I’m not crying. I got something in my eye.

How am I supposed to deal with all the bullies at school without your help? And I’m nervous about this Great Power Competition coming up next semester. Grandpa and Great Grandpa won the last two, but I don’t know if I’m ready! Mommy said she might cut my allowance! Everything sucks. Get out of my room!

Wait, STOP! DON’T GO!! I take back everything I said. I didn’t mean it! My brothers and sisters and I will do better. No more UCMJ violations, we promise! What if we can beat the Taliban in one year? Will you stay? PLEASE! Also, Mommy’s new boyfriend scares us. It’s the mustache.

I Can’t Even

in Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

As a millennial, I am easily triggered. I often lack the emotional self-control to react appropriately to disturbing opinions or information, especially those that run contrary to my well-established worldview. As Captain Peter “UGH” Ryan so eloquently argued in his recent article “Technology: The New Addiction,” my addiction to my smartphone and social media have sapped my ability to handle the challenges of everyday adult life. In fact, he notes my egregious rate of personal technology usage (PTU) has made me more likely to commit suicide and beat my children (I must admit, I did not see any evidence of causality between PTU and these behaviors in his article, but I long ago lost the ability to think critically about the things I read online). So, you won’t be surprised to hear that I was uncontrollably outraged when I read the September 2018 USNI Newsletter email, titled “Dead Reckoning, Video Game Addiction, New Navy Uniforms, Ship to Shore: September 2018.”

First of all, Captain Ryan’s article is about technology addiction, not video game addiction. This may have been an innocent editorial mistake, but it comes across as tone deaf as your parents yelling “hip hop, doo wop, bee bop a loo bop, whatever it’s called, just turn it down!!” If video games were the problem, I think we’d need to look further back than my generation (and question why we’re integrating Xbox controllers into our combat systems). No, the problem is much broader, and Ryan argues convincingly that PTU has caused younger generations to become more isolated and less resilient. As a whiny snowflake, I understandably crumbled into a puddle of tears upon reading this assessment. Of course, now I have to question the wisdom of a commanding officer ordering his entire crew to join Twitter and follow the official command account, or the Navy relegating almost all engagement with families to Facebook. Hmmm . . . Captain Ryan goes on to lament that we youngsters prefer to be glued to our screens rather than interact with the opposite sex. I’ll bet this seems odd to older generations, so it must be bad, right? Perhaps there’s a concern of population decline? Come to think of it, whenever my ship hits port most sailors head straight to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. Maybe we should go back to the days when sailors all headed to the nearest bar and other “establishments!” I bet that would improve our health!

Another article that flew straight over my technology-addicted, entitled head was Captain Dave Kurtz’s article “First Impressions of the Navy’s Test Working Uniform.” I particularly enjoyed this perspective from the generation that so marvelously has managed Navy uniforms for the past decade. His best point was his argument against the Navy’s stated intent to satisfy “a desire on the part of sailors having served less than ten years for an untucked uniform, as they wear their civilian clothes.” On a personal aside, I’ll have you know that, as a millennial, I refuse to follow your suffocating rules and tuck in my shirt under any circumstance, even in military uniform. I don’t respect the need to look presentable, ever. That’s just, like, your opinion, man. It’s the same reason we want beards, man buns, and uniforms that actually fit women (in decreasing order of likelihood). Returning to Kurtz, he argues that “majority rule is not the best route.” Well said. Then, in the very next sentence, he writes “As we can see from the pictures and comments on Navy Times . . .” Wait, what? Internet comment boards are not just majority rule, they are mob rule. Then again, Kurtz is not a millennial so he doesn’t spend 18 hours a day on the internet like I do, so he may not have realized that.

These articles reminded me of another nugget from our senior leaders: we’re not tough enough. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson tells sailors they need to get tough. The Commander of Naval Surface Forces issued a force-wide message titled “Toughness.” Fleet Forces Command even called out toughness in its comprehensive review of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions. Then, in a follow-on internal review, the surface Navy found that only 16 percent of the most newly-qualified officers in the fleet could pass a basic skills test (I wonder how many commanding officers would pass the same unannounced test?). My issue is that “toughness” is being used a dog whistle to place blame on younger generations. Wait, I’ve got it! We’re all worthless and weak! But . . . why are we focusing on the individual toughness of our most junior officers and sailors as the problem? Isn’t it a symptom? Not that I know anything about toughness as a millennial, but I’ve heard it is the byproduct of a system, such as physical conditioning or team training. Maybe we need to focus on the system that produced those of us who lack toughness and competency? Maybe we need to critically examine the generation of leaders who were responsible for cultivating and developing that system? Maybe we shouldn’t take a report on two incidents that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors, and PUT FREAKING ARTWORK ON THE COVER?!? Ah, who am I kidding? What do I know, I’m a millennial.

I need a safe space.

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