Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dreck and Drivel

I had to read an article for a homework assignment. In all due respect to the author, gorging on poo and drinking pee, relatively speaking, would have been more enjoyable and a more productive use of my time. As Martin Luther once responded to a Catholic opponent: How dare you waste such innocent paper! It’s like the author (a charitable term here) swallowed up a bunch of acronyms, jargon and techno-babble only to spew them out all at once, leaving a poor sap like me to read this vomitous mass. I guess this is what happens when you give laptops to primates. I felt like a part of me died inside as I subjected myself to this sterile gibberish. Unworthy of my arse, this toilet-paper of an essay had me literally writhing in agony at the coffee shop as I read it.  I feared people would think I'm demon-possessed or about to have an epileptic seizure.  Listen, I’m a nonfiction reader for the most part, and what others consider dry I can actually enjoy, depending on the topic. This article, however, was an unpleasant mixture of dreck and drivel.  Currently I’m choosing some new textbooks for my courses this spring semester and while I always endeavor to strike a balance between readability and scholarly credibility, I’ll be doubly sure now that my students don’t read anything boring and dry.

Honestly, I never read Army publications. One time I was chewing the fat with a battalion commander in his office.  A lawyer in the civilian world, he was highly educated and sharp as a whip.   Although he outranked me considerably, he knew I had a Ph.D. and wanted to get my take on things.  He handed me a typical glossy Army magazine and had me skim through an article. “What do you think?” he asked. He told me that it really doesn’t explain anything. To be sure, many of these Army magazines provide plenty of glossy photos, colorful text, and generic information, but they don’t really educate the soldier. That’s government bureaucracy for ya! Great way to use federal dollars! If Defense Secretary Gates is cutting back on excess, I say get rid of these worthless editorial boards and publication committees

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Der Viator has to slog his way through a syntactical nightmare. Here, check out some of this bone fide Scheiß: “Shortfalls in personnel services operational support were acknowledged and remedies were put in place to correct these.” I’ll try to overlook the passive voice and ending of the sentence with a demonstrative pronoun, but personnel services operational support? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!  How about this doozie:

The discrete TOE BCT/BDE S1 is the basic building block within the Expeditionary Force concepts of modular, scalable, flexible organizations capable of providing responsive, sustained support across the full spectrum of military operations with the minimum but effective number of personnel located within the battle-space based on the unique requirements of the battle-space.
Looks like Shakespeare was going for the Guinness record on how many prepositional phrases one could cram into a run-on sentence.  Elsewhere he writes that the S1 section of a battalion is an “existence based structure.” Huh? I wonder if one could say this using normal human discourse. Just a thought.  I'm not sure if the author, an asshole based entity, understands the King's English.  Would that I could take back the half hour I wasted in reading and re-reading this five-year-old "update"!

Actually, I’ve been a bit harsh, for the Army could put this essay to good use. Instead of water-boarding, we should have prisoners at Guantanamo read this torturous article. I tell you what you want to know, yes? Please! No more of this drivel? Allah help me. These acronyms! Such syntax! We planted bombs at harbors in Florida and New York, okay? Please, please!  The horror!  The horror!