Amidst all the news about the military housing children illegally entering the country (because somehow that relates to fighting our nation’s wars??), the story about the abrupt resignation of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), the most senior enlisted leader in the Navy, seems to have received little press coverage. But it’s a big deal. He was under IG investigation for having a toxic work environment, and the resignation is seen by many as acknowledging that the charges are at least partially true. We now have a vacant MCPON seat, the first time in the positions 50+ year history.

Should we even bother filling it?

Continue reading “Why exactly do we have a MCPON?”

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) President and CEO Stephen Hayes CCA Chairman of the Board of Directors and Symbion Power CEO Paul Hinks February 2, 2016

President Trump has been making news with desire to close trade gaps with China, Europe, Mexico and Canada, attempting to counter trade practices that make it significantly more difficult to export to these countries and have resulted in a significant trade gap with the world. While we keep focusing on these big countries, I think we’re missing opportunities that are presenting themselves in Africa.

Continue reading “Since we’re talking trade, let’s talk about Africa”

I really liked Anthony Bourdain’s shows. And while I don’t know Kate Spade, I didn’t like the news that she also committed suicide.

But I’ve written before on suicide (here, if you’d like an older article), and I’ve been watching young people over the last ten years. I honestly don’t think it’s going to get any better in the short term.

Continue reading “Fiddling with the edges of suicide”

US Navy 080203-N-0411D-019 A student at the Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school breaks birch bark to start a fire, from Wikipedia

A friend of mine that was ordained last year happened to be passing through the area, so I invited him to join my family for dinner. He’s visited us before, and every time he does my kids and wife line up questions galore about Catholicism, what they hear in school, and other topics. After the kids went to bed, I asked Father what the latest challenge he’s had with things the Pope says.

Plenty of people like and don’t like Pope Francis, but similar to President Trump, I think he gets misquoted a lot. Anytime I have non-Catholic friends gleefully tell me they heard the Pope support homosexual unions, or abortion, or some other crazy thing, I normally do a bit of digging first before finding that they referenced a CNN article instead of actually reading source documentation.

Continue reading “On being uncomfortable”

I’m lucky. This week, I’m at a Navy veteran’s group to present a well deserved award to one of my Sailors. It’s held in a nice hotel, and the group of veterans are great to hang out with. You’d think everything would be great.

But there are problems, specifically one problem: I’m the youngest person in the group. This veteran’s group, like so many others, is struggling to attract new veteran’s into its membership. Young enlisted Sailors, and especially young officers, just aren’t joining groups like AMVETS, American Legion or the VFW like they have in the past. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming a big concern now as our World War 2, Vietnam Conflict and Korean Conflict veterans are passing away in large numbers. These groups are at risk of disappearing altogether.

Continue reading “Our Veteran Groups Are Dying”

From http://www.thinkhero.com/2010/02/26/star-wars-propaganda-artwork-pics/

One of my side jobs is helping nearby Navy commands understand Operational Security (OPSEC), a term used to describe protecting unclassified information from the enemy, which they might use to get some sort of military advantage.  Given the speed and connected nature of today’s world, it is significantly harder for the military, and especially military spouses, to keep information protected.

A few nights ago, I was asked to talk to a command’s family readiness group.  This command’s schedule had been leaked from at least a few spouses and Sailors, and the captain was having a tough time getting people to understand the seriousness of these leaks.  So I gave my normal presentation, walking through how OPSEC issues had killed ISIS members, destroyed Army helicopters, and are increasingly used to target service members.  It gets a bit scary, because it’s not hard to show how Facebook, Twitter and other apps sell data to anyone, making it increasingly hard to argue that they aren’t evil in some way.

Even Hakim agrees with me

I took questions at the end, and for once, I was surprised.

Continue reading “You’re worth a story”

I joined my local student parish my freshman year of college, and I spent most of the next four years volunteering as an usher. I wasn’t a particularly hard-core Catholic, but my belief system had served me well enough that I didn’t see a reason to change it. Luckily for me, I fell in with a decent crowd and managed to make it to Mass every Sunday, and while I had plenty of philosophical debates on a liberal campus, it only served to make my faith stronger.

I now get asked if I’m saving every last penny for my kids to go to college, and when I reply “No,” people sometimes act like I’m clinically insane. But truth be told, I don’t see how a $200K degree helps in most cases.

Continue reading “Should you send a Catholic kid to college?”

Yesterday was my first time volunteering for Junior Achievement, a school program designed to teach kids about setting themselves up for economic success. My coordinator was more than happy to give me the more difficult crowd of 24 7th graders. Luckily, we were at a Catholic school, so the kids were pretty well behaved.

As a cryptologist, I often get asked to talk about social media and technology, so it was no surprise that the topics came up. I didn’t know what to expect 12 year olds to know, and quite a few things surprised me.
Continue reading “Talk to your middle schooler”

The Haikou during RIMPAC 2014. U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda M. Emery, from Wikipedia

It wasn’t too long ago that the US invited China to participate in the RIMPAC Naval Exercise. It was pretty amazing to see Chinese warships, including the Type 052 destroyer Haikou, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station. Access to the Naval Station included allowing foreign Sailors to purchase items from the Naval Exchange. The exchange had a massive boom in sales, such that they even chartered a bus to move Sailors back and forth.

When I walked into the NEX I saw the normal purchases of alcohol, cigars, Hawaiian food and the like. I was really surprised to see Chinese Sailors purchasing baby formula. I was absolutely baffled, so I walked over and asked one of them why. He explained that he planned to sell it at home, because nobody trusted Chinese-made baby formula.

Continue reading “You can keep your Chinese steel”

My last duty station was Hawaii, and now I’m in the north east. In both cases, the local government treated me like a criminal for owning a weapon. For example, I had to pay 16 dollars and 50 cents (in exact change!) in Hawaii to have them do a background check. Despite the check being essentially instant, it took the Hawaii PD an hour. While I sat there, the guy said “You know it’s fairly intensive,” to which I replied “The government gave me a clearance, I’m really not too worried about my background.” Low and behold, I cleared.

It was almost impossible to find a range on the island and shoot regularly without paying an arm and a leg. So I didn’t. And for many service members, that’s what happens too. We get into an intensive job and in our time off try to spend time with a young family, and before long it has been years since we hit the range for anything but a mandatory once a year pistol shoot to stand the quarterdeck watch.

So if you’re slightly older and remember the days when kids had shotguns in the car so they could bird hunt after school, then you have some responsibilities.

Continue reading “You need to take your friends shooting, hunting and to Mass”