Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

February 2010 - Posts

Women On Subs, Dumbest Idea Ever

Horrified. That is the only word I can use to describe what I felt when I read that the military is going to allow women to serve on submarines. News on this potentially catastrophic decision can be found in many places and here is a link to just one of them. (LA Times)

At the outset, to avoid any confusion, let me make two points. First, I served on submarines so I know what I'm talking about. I wasn't the captain or anything like that but I did a patrol on a boomer and spent my time underwater. Second, it has nothing to do with whether or not a woman can do the job. In some ways a woman might be better on a submarine. No, the issues have nothing to do with ability and everything to do with suitability.

Allow me to first establish context. A submarine is a 500+ foot-long, steel cylinder that travels underwater at greater than 22 miles an hour at depths greater than 400 feet. Rumor has it that some Russian subs are capable of more than 55 miles per hour in a sprint. Most submarines have one or more nuclear reactors that provide power. All submarines carry torpedos laden with high explosives and fuel that catalyzes into cyanide gas if accidentally exposed to air. Accidents have happened. FBM's, or Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines, often called 'boomers', carry 24 Trident missiles, each tipped with 8 independently targetable nuclear warheads of 500 kilotons each. One Ohio Class submarine could destroy 192 cities. The mechanical systems on submarines, aside from the nuclear reactor, are dangerous and often filled with poisonous chemicals like oils and hydraulic fluids. They remain submerged for months at a time with the crew, composed mostly of young men under the age of 25, completely isolated from families. Submarines have been, and remain, the first line of defense for not the just the United States but the free world. Can a woman do the job? It doesn't matter, and here is why.

Put young women and young men together and what do you get? Six thousand years of recorded history and 6 billion people answer that question: Sex. Isolate them for months at a time and you just get more sex. Anyone who denies this is simply an idiot and has no argument. I have laid in a bunk on a submarine at night, in the dark, and heard sailors crying for their wives and girlfriends. I have heard them masturbate. You get two hot kids all alone in lower lever Engineering II and they're going to be screwing instead of watching a critical gauge. It only takes a few minutes to have sex. And a few seconds to lose a boat along with it's entire crew. And with sex comes a powerful emotion that Hollywood is all about exploiting. No, it isn't love, it is tension. A sub is tense enough. Do you really want to throw gasoline on that fire?

Lust is a powerful thing. Lust has brought down the lowliest peasents and the greatest kings. Women will be raped aboard ship. It already happens on surface ships. And rape has a special place in our society, as it should. But on a surface ship you can get the offender and the victims off the boat and away from each other. What do you do on a submarine? There's not even a brig. A boomer's job is to go underwater and stay hidden so if they get a launch order they won't get a Russian torpedo up the screw. So do you just terminate the mission? Pull into port and offload the problems? A woman can take the most level-headed man and turn him into a ravenous beast, and in many cases she won't have any clue about what has happened in his head and will have done nothing to make it happen. Her very presence is enough.

How about the opposite side of that coin? I've known a few women who use their sexual influence in inappropriate ways. Lot of sucky jobs on a submarine. Climbing into the battery well. Wiping up an oil spill in the mechanical spaces. Diving torpedo tubes after a water slug. How long is it going to take for some E-2 to get pissed because some girl is ensuring that she doesn't get the shitty job? You can factor the captain right into this one too. Captains have egos and some women work in ego the way a potter works with clay. Let your imagination run wild with this one, it will probably arrive at a realistic conslusion. And is it a stretch to see this kind of woman submitting some spurned lover to a life of hell? Trust me, it's bad enough already, throwing sex into the mix will kill these boys.

Here's a fun scenario for you. Take a look at that LA Times story above. There's a great picture of the 'bridge'. Pretty tight space there, huh? What you have are the helmsmen/planesmen driving the boat, the buoyancy control officer adjusting trim, the chief of the watch making sure they point that 500+ foot long, nuclear powered, nuclear armed, steel cylinder in the right direction. That's probably the officer of the deck staring through the periscope. Assorted squids like the quartermaster or the XO are standing around behind them. Replace one of those guys with a cute, young, E-3 who's screwing the helmsman and the buoyancy control officer. Personally, given the nature of a submarine, I'd prefer the helmsman be paying attention to course and speed.

So what do you do when that cute little E-3 gets pregnant? Are we going to billet gynecologists and obstraticians on submarines? Or just retrain the corpsmen? What if she's a nuke and decides she doesn't want her fetus around a nuclear reactor?  Or maybe we should just carry RU-486 and force them to abort the baby? Got kind of a Nazi sound to it, doesn't it? And if you don't abort the child, and if it winds up with birth defects, the first thing that woman is going to do is blame the nuclear powerplant on the boat. So does the Navy now have to support that child for the duration? And what if she has a child with birth defects on down the line? Is that the Navy's fault? Male sperm gets constantly replaced so defective cells are far less likely to persist. Women carry the same eggs from birth to death. Send a stray neutron through an ovary and ten years later you've got Down's syndrome. At least a slick lawyer is going to convince a jury it could happen. So is the Navy (read: taxpayer) liable? Or do you just sequester the women forward of the control room and hope that holds up in court? You want to get crazy. Pimps and prostitution. Will it happen? It already is. Imagine it on a submarine.

Women also experience something that men don't. A menstrual cycle. So now we've got an enclosed space with a continuous supply of biohazardous waste that will require an whole new set of processes. And will the submarine carry a generic Mod. I, Mk I, tampon? Women are very particular about their feminine products as well they shoud be. Do you poll them and then send the supply officer to Target with a list? And what about PMS? PMS in a sardine can.

Submarine duty is perhaps the most stressful duty of all for families. Almost total isolation. It is better than it was when I was in but soldiers in Afghanistan have far more contact that bubble heads. It rips families apart. And with women on submarines we get a whole new list of worries. At least women back home haven't had to worry about their husbands cheating on them. And boomers don't generally make port calls. And as a husband how are you going to feel about your wife locked in a tin can with 200 horny men? We used to listen to training tapes and sometimes the narrators were women. Boys would come all the way from the engine room just to sit and listen to her voice. Are men going to want women on submarines? Hell yeah! But what man in an isolated, difficult environment doesn't want chicks around? Does this mean his recommendation is good?

And why in the hell would a woman want to go on a submarine in the first place? Why would a man? You've got to be crazy to stay with it. Two-minute showers. Zero privacy. Horrible conditions. The food is good, but why would a woman want to do this? What kind of woman would want to get locked up for months at a time with a bunch of hormonal men? Hmm?

You want to put women on subs, fine, I'm sure they'd do a great job. But make it an all female crew. Don't mix them on what amounts to a spaceship with the power to destroy the planet.


Health Care: Where is the Money Going?

We've all heard about the soaring cost of health care. And that the only solution is for the government to step in. Only through a public option can health care costs be held down, they tell us. But what I don't understand is why costs are rising so much faster than everything else.

A Wall Street Journal article today predicts that without government involvement - as if they aren't involved already - health care costs will amount to nearly 20% of GDP by 2019. This year the tab was $2.5 trillion, or 17.3% of GDP. My question is, why is it going up? I'm not saying it shouldn't, but before we decide it's a job for Uncle Sam, somebody should figure out the driver.

The money has to be coming from somewhere and going somewhere and so far I've heard virtually nothing about either end. And there are really only two possibilities: either a lot more Americans are sick, or it costs a lot more to treat a sick American. Or perhaps its a bit of both. I do know that aging baby boomers will begin to draw more on health care as they grow older. This means that more Americans are getting sick and using the system but it doesn't necessarily mean that the cost of treatment for an individual is going up. So while total cost is going up simply because there are more people using the system, it doesn't mean that each 'unit' of health care costs more.

Talking about something like this in a collective sense bothers me and may well be a sham. In a collective sense everything is going up in cost simply because the population is growing. Total food costs are going up because more people are eating. The total amount of money spent on energy is rising because more people are on the grid. Cell phone costs are rising too because everyone has to have one. And what about death costs? As the population grows more people are dying meaning the total amount of money we spend on boxes, plots, and funerals is going up. So why isn't the government talking about a public option to hold down any of these costs?

Because it isn't about costs. It is about control. And how do you control people? You frighten them, just like lemmings. Scared people will run whatever direction you herd them without stopping to see if there's a cliff. How do you make health care look like a crisis? Why you talk about the total cost of health care.  This is the crux of the matter and I urge you to read the next few sentences very carefully to understand the cause and effect at play here. With a growing population of elderly citizens, total costs are rising even though per unit cost is flat or even falling. But people who don't even use the health care system are paying ever higher premiums for their health insurance. So medical costs are not rising. It is insurance costs are rising. Read on.

So why is insurance going up? In a nut shell, because of government meddling. Because thanks to various laws medical insurance doesn't work like every other type of insurance on the planet. Car insurance, life insurance, home owners insurance, you name it, actuarial tables and personal behavior affect the price. You buy a BMW 4000 GTX with the optional 25,000 pound thrust Rolls Royce jet engine and your insurance is going to go up. Buy a house in the hood and your home owners insurance will go up. Open an amusement park and see what liability insurance costs. Decide to take up skydiving or motorcycle racing and see what happens to your life insurance premiums. But for some reason meth-heads and people addicted to food and cigarettes pay the same for their health insurance as health nuts. That's what's driving up costs and spreading the pain to everyone - even those responsible enough to walk up the stairs at work and forgoe that ninth slice of pizza. Somewhere along the way health care became a right! A right that is already being funded through confiscatory taxation except in this case it goes to a private agency.

You want to hold health care costs down? Put market forces back in control. Take all insurance except catastrophic off the table and link the premiums to personal behavior. If no one can afford to go to the doctor, prices at the doctor will have to come down. Because if the doctors have no patients how will they pay for their summer homes, or vacations to Europe, or their kids Ivy League educations? The problem with health care isn't the price, it is the quasi-socialist system currently in place. And adding more government laws is only going to make things worse.

Don't be a lemming. See the cliff! See the idiots driving you towards it!

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