The 21st century isn’t turning out so well for millenials.  They are making less than their parents did at their age.  Home ownership, one of the key markers of financial success, is down for their age group.  And, apparently, in general they are unhappier and more narcissistic.  It’s declined to the point you can now see how poorly you compare to other countries (although I can’t vouch for the data).

But hey, we got that going for us!

Why is this?  Most blame the recession.  But plenty of millenials have done well, despite a recession.

Me when I realized this while writing this article

My current job gives me some insight.  I work with junior Sailors on a daily basis, most in their early twenties.  As their commander, I get to interview them and get a peek into their lives.  I also keep copious notes, and as an engineer, I look for trends.

I see one big, ugly trend: most Millenials come from broken homes. 

Almost 85% of my Sailors come from divorced parents.  These are people from across America, from every state in the union.  I was astounded by this.  In many cases, at least one parent (mom or dad) is completely out of the picture.

These broken homes don’t produce broken people.  My Sailors are hard working Americans, and they arrive with a very deep love of their country and wanting to do right.  In many cases though, their broken home hinders them.

How I feel sometimes

I take for granted that my parents cared about my education and well being.  While they didn’t pay for college (thank you Uncle Sam!), they did set me up pretty well, and helped me cover emergencies until I got on my feet.  My parents taught me about debt and savings.  I didn’t have a credit card until I was in college, and even then, I paid it off every month (and still do!).

Many of my Sailors don’t have this.  Too often they go to boot camp with very little in their pocket.  Many arrive with little to no furniture.  Plenty come in with credit card debt.  Luckily, we have free classes on financial management, and most turn themselves around.  For the average person though, these free classes don’t exist.

Broken homes break down other assumptions.  Driver’s license?  How to dress for an interview?  How to speak without using obscenities?  How to shake hands properly?  Speaking in public?  These basic skills can’t be assumed anymore.  Anyone who has worked with millenials would agree.

Although I enjoy watching my Sailors grow and develop these skills, I worry that in other parts of society, these skills are not being developed.  Yes, we should continue to work on our economy, but perhaps we’ve forgotten what a big influence good family life is on success.


Obviously I’m in the Navy.  In case it’s not obvious, this post only represents my views.  It doesn’t represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.  But you’re smart, so you already knew that…

If you enjoyed this, check out my blog, and drop Da Tech Guy some money!

President Clinton coming aboard the USS INDEPENDENCE in April 1996.

A larger version of the picture above sits on the wall inside the intelligence portion of US Pacific Fleet’s headquarters in Hawaii.  One of my side tasks when I worked there was to find historical pictures to decorate our walls.  This picture drew a lot of heads, as most service members weren’t fond of Clinton’s time as President.

The picture reminds us of an important time in history.  China had already caused plenty of problems with Taiwan, and in 1995 they started the Third Taiwan Straits Crisis.  In response, President Clinton put two Carrier Battle Groups near the straits.  This caused a lot of shame to the Chinese, because their Navy was unable to do anything about it.

There was a marked shift after that moment.  Chinese military focus was almost solely on the Army, with the Navy as a mere sideshow.  This changed.  China began focusing on building a blue water Navy after 1996.  It’s taken them 20 years, and they certainly aren’t done, but now the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) has modern destroyers and submarines, and their navy now exceeds the size of all of our allies.

This week, China moved its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Straits.  The carrier itself represents little threat to Taiwan, much less than the thousands of land-based missiles sitting on the other side of the straits.  But that’s not the point.  China is doing to us EXACTLY what we did to her in 1996.  The Liaoning transit was likely timed to minimize the chance of a United States response and maximize messaging to their people and President-elect Trump:

Whether it acknowledges it or not, the US is declining-otherwise Trump would not need to declare he wants to “make America great again”. And, like it or not, China is still rising, although its economy has slowed. The first Chinese aircraft carrier has become operational and a second one is in the works. 

Trump’s Presidency is going to be interesting indeed.


This post represents the views of the author and does not represent views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.


Check out NG36Bs blog here, and be sure to donate to Da Tip Jar!


My wife is frustrated.

Over Christmas break, I watched her constantly working. Despite the holidays, she would get up at 5:30 in the morning and was working constantly until 8 pm. At that point, she collapsed onto the couch next to me, maybe making it through an episode of “The Man in the High Castle,” and then going up to bed right after.

After a few days of this, I saw an opportunity for us to just sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Her response was “I need to dust upstairs.” Now, I’m sure there are some dust bunnies hiding in the crevices, but overall our house is fairly clean, and certainly dusting wasn’t on the priority list. So I asked her to nix that. She looked stressed, which I didn’t get. I mean, I just STOPPED her from doing work so we could relax together. How is that not…relaxing?

My wife’s reply was telling. “If I’m not working, I feel lazy. But if I work all day, I’m exhausted and tired.”

A catch-22 if I ever saw one, exacerbated, I think, by social media.


Social media has done great things to connect people. One big problem is that it is only a snapshot in time. For every cute baby picture there are a thousand moments of baby’s crying, screaming, puking and otherwise doing things you DON’T post on Facebook.

Every parent of multiple children knows this. Every new parent that grew up with social media does not. We mistakenly view our friends social media as the truth and compare ourselves to this ideal constantly, despite knowing that not everything on the internet is true. It isn’t helping us one bit.

The other brutal truth is that work is not the same as having purpose. We continue to tell ourselves that if we just made enough money, or had a nicer house, or did a bit more to discipline our kids, or whatever, then we would be happy. And yet, we can spend our entire lives working hard and never get any happier, even if our income rises.

So we get stuck in a nasty loop. We’re told that our success is measured by having the perfect kids, perfect house, perfect job, etc. And yet, none of us do, and what’s worse, we see others that we think “have it all.” So we work harder, driving ourselves further into the negative reinforcement loop. Are we surprised that Facebook makes us sad?

This isn’t new, in fact, it’s as old as the Bible:

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” – LUKE 10: 38-42

We can get purpose out of work, but that requires placing work as an offering to God, as a way to find meaning. We short circuit this when we use work to elevate ourselves over others. We get into a comparison war, even if it’s only in our heads, and we always wind up as the loser.

Martha vocalized her comparison war. Jesus reminded Martha that work is no substitute for purpose. We all likely need this reminder more often than not.

If you haven’t watched “Man in the High Castle” and you’re an Amazon Prime member, put it on your weekend “To Do” list.  I’m only on the first season, but it’s an amazing dystopian view of an America that lost World War Two.  One of the most intriguing characters (to me anyway) is John Smith, a Nazi SS agent that is hunting down members of the American resistance movement.

Warning: Spoilers below from Episode 8 of Season 1.

In previous episodes, little things crop up indicating the Nazis continued their ethnic cleansing efforts.  One episode features ash raining down from the incinerators due to a weekly burning of the infirm and cripples.  Other Nazis make references to “cleansing” of all the Semites in Europe.

John Smith gets a nasty surprise in Episode 8. He travels to his son’s school to find out why the school nurse keeps pulling him out of sports.  The school doctor shocks him with news that his son has a form of muscular dystrophy.  As a degenerative disease, this means John will have to kill his son, since he would be crippled by the incurable disease.  It’s definitely hard to watch the doctor pass John vials and recommend that he “take care of this at home.”

Thankfully, we live in a better world, where we wouldn’t make such decisions…or do we?

Currently in Europe, 88% of pregnancies that screen for Down Syndrome are terminated.  Even though people with Trisomy-21 can do everything from hold teaching jobs to swim the English Channel, European families have decided these “infirm” aren’t worth living.

For fans of abortion, this kid isn’t worth fighting for

In America, abortions take on a more genocidal role for African Americans.  Only 13% of the population, African Americans account for about 35% of abortions in America.

Going by the latest CDC data, there were at least 664,435 abortions in 2013. That’s more lives lost than heart disease (see page 5), and that’s without accounting for the fact that not all states report abortion data to the CDC, which would only drive the abortion number higher.

We’ve managed to win the war against the Nazis only to allow part of their ideology to take over. As we sit on the cusp of a new year, perhaps we can find ways to use our medical advances to save lives instead of ending them.


This post represents the views of the author and does not represent views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other agency.


Check out NG36Bs blog here, and be sure to donate to Da Tip Jar!

The F-35 upon takeoff…those are 100 dollar bills

Trump recently came out against the high cost of the F-35 (as well as the replacement for his soon-to-be Presidential jet).  Critics were quick to dismiss his complaints, saying that ship has sailed already.  While Trump can’t fix the years of program mismanagement, he can certainly set things straight.

The F-35 competitor, the X-32 was not selected during the 2001 flyoff

As a quick history lesson, the F-35 started off on the right foot.  The concept was to get rid of a lot of different aircraft types and shift to three aircraft types that used about 70% of the same parts.  Two manufacturers had a fly-off in 2001, with the F-35 winning the competition.  The F-35 contract allowed it to go to a number of other countries (mostly NATO allies), as well as Japan and Israel.  It also relied on a very dispersed supply chain, which put jobs in 45 states.

After the flyoff, we don’t hear a lot about the F-35 until 2006, when the GAO starts worrying that the program’s accelerated timelines won’t work.  Then the cost overruns happen, and the cost per plane soared to about 200 million per copy (contrast with the original 98 million).  This caused not just a kerfuffle in Congress…key countries are now interested in ditching the program altogether.

So what is President Trump supposed to do?  If you’ve read the Art of the Deal, you can already guess:

  • Hold people accountable.  Exactly one person has been fired over this entire mess, MajGen David R. Heinz.  Most of the military leadership is still around, and despite problems, Congress has been approving them moving on to other jobs.  Trump is much more likely to hold them responsible for cost overruns.
  • Renegotiate the deal.  I doubt Trump will cancel the F-35, because the concept is good.  Most weapons programs have issues, including successful ones like the Arleigh Burke destroyer.  Trump will find where the government is getting ripped off and likely target a few key areas to renegotiate.
  • Get even.  Trump is not nice to those who make him angry, and he actively advocates getting even when someone hurts him.  Expect him to take an active interest in flag officer selections for major programs in the future, and likely shake up the defense acquisition process.

The biggest pushback will be from Congress, the same Congress that openly complained about the F-35 but ultimately did nothing to fix the contract or punish people.  Trump will use the bully pulpit on them, in order to get this major reform through.

It’ll be a nasty fight, but if anyone can do it, Trump can.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.


NG36B is a military blogger who regularly blogs at The Navy’s Grade 36 Bureaucrat. If you love your kids and America, you should buy his Kindle book about the Navy and read it to them every night.

And hit Da Tip Jar!

Note: I just saw Rogue One last night, and this post will not contain any spoilers.  Go see the movie in theaters, it is awesome!

When I heard a remake of Ghostbusters was coming out, I was intrigued.  I hadn’t loved the original Ghostbusters, but it had been a good enough movie that a reboot could be awesome.  So I watched the trailer with my wife.

And we both were like…seriously?  It was terrible.  I had a few friends see the movie, and they hated it too.  Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t kind, and if you click the Top Critics vs. All Critics, it gets worse.  IMDB was even less kind.

But the criticism of what is obviously a terrible movie suddenly exploded into charges of sexism.  Obviously male audiences rated the movie poorly because it had female leadsObviously, males are inherently sexist and can’t stand to have a strong woman in a film.  The same critics conveniently tied in Donald Trump as the continued their rage on the internet.

If you need a perfect counter example, see the recent Star Wars films.  Both Episode 7 and Rogue One have female lead characters, and have done outstanding.  Episode 7 had Rey, General Leia and Captain Phasma, and while you could argue that the movie splits attention between Rey and two male characters, Rogue One’s Felicity Jones is definitely the star and main focus of the film.

So why the difference?  Why did Star Wars, which has a cult following like Ghostbusters, do much better?  Sexism can’t explain it, but I think I can, contrasting Ghostbusters with Rogue One.

Rogue One stayed true to what made previous movies great.  People like Star Wars because it has space battles, blasters, aliens and the occasional Jedi with a lightsaber.  Rogue One never broke from this.  They then created characters (bad and good) and pitted them in a good vs. evil environment, adding a few twists to keep you on your toes (did I mention you need to see the movie yet?).

Ghostbusters was a hit because it was a comedy.  Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and the rest of the cast are funny people, and their dry sense of humor appealed to audiences in the 1980s.  The new Ghostbusters, while they tried to make it funny, focused too much about the fact they had a female cast.  They added social justice to a movie where people wanted to watch a team of four people fight ghosts and save New York City.  When people blatantly saw this in the trailers, they immediately turned hostile (the YouTube trailer has over 1 million down thumbs so far).

Rogue One had a diverse cast.  Besides the aliens, it featured lots of non-white actors and actresses.  But it doesn’t shove that in your face.  It lets you draw the conclusion that the Rebellion embraces diversity while the Empire looks more uniform.  Letting people develop their own answers makes them more powerful in the end than providing the “obviously” right answer.  In contrast, Ghostbusters gives you the answer, and treats you like an idiot if you don’t like it.

The last point is that Ghostbusters did a terrible job using stereotypes.  In Ghostbusters, the stereotypes are connected to the actresses gender and color.  Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, is a loud mouth black female because apparently that is how black females are, or at least that’s the stereotype we use to judge her behavior in the movie.  Contrast that with Ernie Hudson’s character, who played a pretty upstanding guy in the original movie.  Rogue One ties stereotypes to the character, not the actor.  Jyn plays a hardened rebel.  She’s tough, hates the Empire and has no problem shooting Stormtroopers.  There isn’t any mention of her being a woman.  Again, letting the audience come to the conclusion that a female lead is awesome makes the message more powerful.

My advice to aspiring social justice warriors trying to champion a cause is to stop shoving things down people’s throats.  If you want to champion diversity and women’s issues, look to the example set by Rogue One before you make another terrible movie.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Galactic Empire or the Emperor.


If you liked this post, donate to Da Tip Jar at the bottom, and maybe you’d like my analysis of why Darth Vader is an operational genius.

asrSo there I was, in a shouting match with one of my Sailors about his latest evaluation.  Suddenly, he pulled out a gun and shot me. Twice. As I fell to the ground and slowly bled out, I watched him proceed to walk through our office and shoot other Sailors.

Except it wasn’t real.  It was our first active shooter drill.

The news tends to sensationalize active shooters, like it devolves into some sort of action video game.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  After the drill, my team watched our security camera footage to see what really happened.  We also had someone following the shooter around and take notes.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the difficulty realizing you were in an active shooter situation before it was too late. The shooter has ALL the advantages. Even though we used a cap gun that simulated the sound and smell of a 9mm pistol, the sound doesn’t always carry down a hallway. Plenty of people heard popping, but only a few realized it was a shooter.  By the time they realized it, the shooter was pointing a gun at them at close range.

notsureifgunshotI can validate Fry’s thoughts on this…

The Department of Defense provides active shooter training.  Once you realize there is an active shooter, if you can’t escape your goal is to barricade yourself into a room, lock the door and stay quiet.  That works surprisingly well.  Our shooter, intent on finding easy victims, got bored banging on doors that wouldn’t open.  It also delayed him, giving base security more time to respond.

Stopping the shooter because you’re Superman?  Unlikely, at least in the initial moments.  The shooter already has the aspect of surprise. Unless you catch him reloading, he can kill you in a fraction of a second.  Watching our surveillance footage, any Sailor that came within arms reach of the shooter was shot before he could react. When I go back and read other people’s accounts of active shooters, the ones that tackled the shooter typically did so while the shooter was reloading, or it was after the initial shock was over.

active_shooter_exercise_aims_to_strengthen_response_160401-z-bc699-098If you don’t have a gun, you wind up like the guy on the floor. Image from Wikipedia

An active shooter is absolutely terrifying to contemplate, but inside the situation it’s actually more confusing than anything else.  I’m glad to see the DoD is now allowing personnel to carry weapons on base, because it is frightening how quickly someone can kill multiple people before the police show up.  Our shooter was only walking and had to reload manually, yet he managed to kill a lot of people before the police response time.  Luckily, we identified areas we can fix, and I think the body count the next time won’t be so high.

My only wish at the end was that I share my experiences with non-military members, so that if they found themselves facing an active shooter, they could learn from my drill mistakes and perhaps save their life.


This post represents the views of the author and does not represent the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or any other agency.  Please pray for the victims of active shooters, including the knifing victims recently at Ohio State.  And if you’re in the military, take your Active Shooter training seriously…it might just save your life!


If you liked this article, check out my blog.

trump_china
Trump’s recent phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen has sparked a not too surprising response from Beijing:

“We must point out, there’s is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory,” read a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website Saturday afternoon.

Anyone who has been watching Chinese-American relationships in the past decade isn’t surprised by this.  To an American, Taiwan has been de-facto separated by China, and many people don’t understand why they don’t just give it up at this point.

trump_taiwan

The biggest problem with this thinking is that China has sold itself on the reunification with Taiwan.  It’s not just a lot of press, it’s written into their constitution:

Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.

To put it into American perspective, it would be like giving Florida back to Spain, despite it being an American state for so long.

Although the phone call appears almost random, I’m guessing it’s not, and that it’s a deliberate overreach by Trump.  He knows that President Obama has too often gotten the snub by China.  China plays the long game, and doesn’t deliberately piss people off unless it feels it has the upper hand.  After watching the US fumble foreign policy with China and give them essentially what they want, China feels like it can push the US around to a certain extent.

Trump gets better deals negotiating from a position of power.  If he approached China in a normal manner, they would seize upon every diplomatic way they could to undermine his legitimacy as President.  So instead, he hits them between the eyes by pounding on a very sensitive diplomatic button.

I predict the following:

  • China will do something to show they still “control” Taiwan.  A military exercise, shoot off missiles, cyber attack…something like that.  Enough to get attention, but small enough to be diplomatically written off by the US if they want to.
  • This action will let China reassure its people, and plenty of people will advise Trump to just let it go.
  • Trump won’t, because he knows if he does, he starts off at a place of weakness.  So, he’ll do something out of the box that will scare the Chinese:
    • He could dismantle the alliance China has built up over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  If the US stops the UN from helping the bank, it would be a massive blow to Chinese pride.  Trump could selectively woo countries away from the bank and leave China holding a large bag of debt.
    • He could conduct a military exercise that would scare China.  A freedom of navigation drive-by would be too lame.  If President Trump practiced a maritime blockade of China, and deliberately built an alliance (think Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, all of whom have reasons to hate China), it could rattle the Chinese.  They want to win in a short, sharp conflict, and know that a long, drawn out blockade could strangle them in the long run.
    • He could buy off Chinese overseas investment.  China has put considerable money in African and Asian countries to try and break out of the First Island Chain.  Trump is the master deal maker, and if he dismantled those deals one by one, it would damage the international image that China wants to portray.

Make no mistake, Trump is walking into the China-Taiwan situation deliberately, and it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with to negotiate from a position of strength.


This post represents the views of the author and does not represent the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other organization’s viewpoints.


You should hit up Da Tip Jar, and check out my blog while you’re at it.

openfloorplanLook at any listing for a modern house. I’m willing to bet that two things are present:

  1. An open floor plan, meaning that on the base level, one room opens into another.
  2. Almost all listings will have multiple pictures of the kitchen and almost no pictures of the garage.

kitchenThat’s a nice kitchen…but what about the smoking room?

The modern home listing is, frankly, very sexist.

Think about it. In almost every family I’ve seen, while both husband and wife cook, the wife organizes and runs the kitchen. If you don’t believe that, try (as a man) to reorganize your kitchen. Most women will have a serious issue with that. I know my wife did when I tried to clean up numerous drawers in our kitchen recently.

The open floor plan is terribly detrimental to men. For most men, if they get overwhelmed, they have to withdraw to a private space to gather their thoughts and de-stress. Try doing that in an open floor plan. Essentially, I’d have to lock myself in my bedroom, which I (like most) share with my wife.

Complicate this with the desire by many women to kick men’s hobbies out of the home and into the most undesirable rooms like the garage and basement. I see most guys hanging out in the garage because that is the only place they can store their hobby. Personally, I think garages are unheated storage for cars, not your quiet space.

garageAlthough if your garage looked like this and had an easy chair, it might not be so bad

The average guy today is probably told by his father that his house is his castle. He also probably doesn’t feel like that, at least in today’s world.

Layer on top of this:

  • That more men come from families broken by divorce, or in many cases a cohabitating couple that later splits, and lacks a good male role model
  • That society continues to change the bar for men, so it’s hard to define what is “good”

  • That all-male or predominantly-male institutions, including our veteran’s groups and church groups, are increasingly in decline

  • That our stagnant economy makes it hard to get a job, which is a critical expectation of men

  • and we shouldn’t be surprised that young men still commit suicide more often than women and have a lower life expectancy.

    We’ve setup a system that doesn’t inspire creation of good family men. It’s caused more than a few to go on strike, and single, angry, unemployed men don’t work well for any government (just ask Tunisia). The anger may have contributed to many men switching their votes to Trump this last election. It’s my hope that as the dust settles, we as a society take a serious look at what expectations we place on our young men.


    This post is the work of the author and does not represent any other organization’s views. And yes, rearranging things in your kitchen is a good way to stir up marital strife, so proceed with caution!


    Check out my blog when you get a chance, and drop a tip in Da Tip Jar!

    obiwanLike most military members, I was delighted to hear that James Mattis and Mike Rogers were being considered for key positions in the Trump administration. What you’ll hear the next few days is that Mattis is a blood-and-guts Marine and Rogers is an outgoing spook. The media misses the bigger reasons why Trump would want these men on his team.

    First, Trump’s biggest concern is ISIS. Mattis and Rogers have been fighting Islamic terrorism the entire time they’ve worn stars on their shoulders. Both were effective too: Mattis won hard fought victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Rogers retooled the Signals Intelligence system to root out extremist networks.

    mattisWords of wisdom to follow

    Both men are incredibly smart. Mattis is incredibly well read about history, and in his words “there is nothing new under the sun.” He’s often thought of as a modern day Sulla, or if you want a Star Wars reference, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Rogers has been in cyber and signals intelligence his entire career, and from working with him personally, he can follow any technical discussion thrown at him.

    uncryingIt’s probably true…

    Neither man hesitates to shake things up, including firing people. Sadly, our military has grown accustomed to never firing officers unless they drive drunk or surf porn at work. Mattis fired a colonel in Iraq that wasn’t pushing his men hard enough to take Baghdad. Rogers shook up the National Security Agency by redesigning it in the NSA-21 initiative, including identifying poor performing structures and personnel.

    Trump can’t go wrong with either of these men. If he gives them the tools to run their respective organizations, including expanded powers to fire people, he’ll be well on his way to winning America’s wars again.


    This post solely represents the views of the author and does not represent official views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, National Security Agency, or any other portion of the US Government. It’s also slightly biased because I worked for Admiral Rogers before, and he’s awesome.


    If you want more memes of Admiral Rogers as a total cyber badass, try checking out my website.