June 23rd, 2008

Enterprise Bridge

More of what's wrong in America

This shit really pisses me off, badly. I ought to be in bed right now, but I'll be too amped up to sleep until I get this off my chest.

It's not news that I'm an Obama supporter, nor should it be a surprise that almost everyone else I vote for this fall will be a Democrat. Not because I'm actually partial to that party, but because the alternative can only perpetuate the problems we're facing. The Republican party has aligned itself too closely with corporations and religious zealots to be of any fruitful purpose anymore. They need to spend another couple of election cycles reinventing themselves. The Democrats have had to do this, though they are by no means done. You have Obama, Dean, and the netroots doing the dragging, while Pelosi, Emmanuel, and the DLC kick, scream and claw at the status quo ante. But at least they're far enough along to be capable of progress.

One of the cornerstones of the current incarnation of the Republican party is the cover-up. It dates back to at least Nixon. The greater a person's power, the less responsibility they have. Image is everything, and anything that would reflect poorly on said powers is to be concealed, denied, and distracted from. If someone has to take the fall, it's someone as low as can be found.

Sadly, this has also become a cornerstone of the US military. Covering your ass is undoubtedly as old as organized armed conflict. I'm a pragmatist, I understand that in some situations, the absolute best, right thing is just not practical given limited time and resources. Sometimes a little white lie moves things along for good intentions. But we've moved way beyond that. It's now harming our foreign policy and reputation, it's harming our government's ability to function, and it's getting people killed.

Remember Pat Tillman? The professional football player who walked away from that lucrative career, following the 2001 terrorist attack, choosing to answer a call to service, who was later killed by friendly fire. Someone on the blue team fucked up and killed a fellow soldier. Except that's not what his family or the public was told. The brass said he was killed by enemy fire. It took more than a year to find out (resisted by Army and Pentagon brass, and the administration, at every turn) that was a conscious lie.

Well, it doesn't stop there. Kamisha Block was a 20 year old soldier from Vidor, Texas. She died in the summer of 2007. It was reported in the press and to her family, by the Army, that she was killed by friendly fire. A fuckup (an "accident") by an ally had cost this young woman her life. Is that what actually happened? Of course not. (If it was, why would I be writing this?)

And for a moment, let us remember that officially, women don't serve in combat. In reality, that's a lie too. Don't tell ginmar to her face that women aren't knowingly sent into combat. If you're lucky, she'll just let the cats shred you to death with their claws. She's been there, done that, and got the PTSD to show for it.

So back to Specialist Block. The fire that killed her was indeed from a "friendly" soldier. But it wasn't in battle, and it wasn't in training. Specialist Block was a victim of sexual harassment who was murdered by her harasser. (Who then killed himself.)

Look, another coverup to protect the image of the outfit!

(Insert another rant here about cases like Haditha, Hamdania, and Abu Ghraib, for which no one with any seniority has suffered.)

This culture needs to die. Not merely change, but die. Extremely, prejudiciously, terminate. This culture is the work of few, but it casts suspicion upon everyone in uniform. (You can't often tell a sleazebag from an honset soldier or sailor just by looking at them.) And this culture is a hazard to everyone in uniform.

There's a little boy who I think would very much like to serve in the military one day. I understand his motivations. I understand his attraction to duty and service. (I laugh in light of his complete dereliction of present duty and responsibility.) I think I've succeeded at convincing him that enlisting is not a good option for him at all, that if he goes that route, he's better off doing it through one of the academies, or getting his degree elsewhere and applying to Officer Candidate School. But in light of this culture, I'd prefer he not go at all. People like that are not worthy of his service or sacrifice.

And I really don't ever want to find myself in a place where I'm contemplating becoming the instrument to inflict suffering upon people who have so richly earned it.

Step to face, I'll break your ass in two, bastard
You... rather swim in some fuckin' hot tar
Before you fuck wit' Willie D
'cause what I got for... your ass will make you shit your meal
'Cause it's die motherfuckas, die motherfuckas, still
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Enterprise Bridge

The axe falls again

It was a bit over a year ago that I was laid off from Mercury. More of that was detailed separately in an entry I kept locked at the time. If I hadn't been cut, I would've found another job and quit. I wasn't happy, and I thought that if things didn't get better for the company, that the next layoffs would be sudden and not at all generous. There was no reason to stick around for that.

Well, things didn't get better, and I just got word that they basically killed the operation today. Over the succeeding months, several of my old colleagues left. Two contractors were hired on full-time to fill the gap. Several of our manufacturing people had their retentions extended, several times. The plan was to transfer all manufacturing to Massachusetts, but that proved too difficult, so they wound up keeping it in Carlsbad. Three of them finally said "no more" and left. One of them was our materials specialist, who they eventually lured back by offering his boss's old job and a significant pay bump. I just saw him at Poway's graduation two weeks ago, and he was damned happy with things. Well, he's making out like a bandit now. He's on retention again, with a tremendous bonus involved, for the next couple of months, to oversee the final transition of manufacturing, for-real. Apparently all of engineering has been laid off. Boom. Two weeks per year, have a nice day. (So if you're looking for a pretty senior hardware engineers--PPC, x86, MIPS, or a senior software engineer--VxWorks, Solaris, emphasis on driver development, I can get you in touch with them. I don't expect any of them to be willing to relocate from north San Diego County.) They had no warning. They walk in this morning to find the executive VP and our regular HR specialist sitting there with the news. I got a call from a recruiter just last week who said she was filling contractor reqs from my engineering director there. (Yes, he was cut too.)

The two sales guys are staying, and the field support engineer, and I guess a couple of techs to handle RMAs. Everyone else is gone, and all the tribal knowledge goes with them. I expect that all our old products there will be end-of-lifed. That makes sense--I understand there was no new development work going on, and nobody was left that knew those products to support them. In the end, Mercury's purchase of Momentum seems to have been a waste. Matt described it best: "They bought a case of good ice cream, and let it melt." We had business in markets that they weren't in, and they threw it away. We had products based on architectures they hadn't used, and they canceled them all. We had experience and knowledge, and they either laid it off or drove it to quit. All I think they walk away with is four years' worth of revenue. *shrug*