MSNBC leans forward until it falls on a really bad tagline

MSNBC seems to be the network for people who are angry at other people for being angry at something in the first place. I think. This would at least explain their struggle to find an audience. To help them in their audience-finding effort they’ve unleashed a new tagline: Lean Forward. As in, “Lean forward but try not to fall asleep.”

MSNBC All you have to do is compare that with Fox’s “We report, you decide” to see what an epic fail this is.

The problem is that the tagline is in perfect keeping with the brand: It sums up the sort-of-but-not-quite-left-of-center liberals whom both the Right and the Left can’t stand. It’s like they really want to be for something, but not if it’s going to upset you. Lean forward, don’t actually move there. Which is really odd given that MSNBCs two most (only?) successful shows are Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow – neither of whom can be said to lack for fire. And one of whom, Maddow, is actually intelligent, too!

Congrats to MSNBC on producing one of the three worst taglines currently in use. The other two:

  • Army strong. With a half-a-trillion dollar budget you’d think they could afford at least one verb.
  • Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. I still can’t believe someone got paid for coming up with that.

US Army can’t hide the fact that its camouflage stinks

The Army Times reports

The Army’s Universal Camouflage Pattern (right), now under scrutiny by soldiers and Congress, is “significantly” worse at concealing soldiers than the Marine desert digital and MultiCam (left) camouflage patterns, according to a two-year Army camouflage test.

So far the Army has spent $5 billion on putting the camo on uniforms and equipment. Are they going to claim they can’t see where the money went?

Well at least we didn’t waste that money on something silly like health care.

And to lose to the MARINES!!! Oh the shame.

UCP-Dark    multicam-crye-background

via ProPublica

The Iraq War: 10 Lessons Learned During My Brother’s Deployment

1: I can hold my breath for six months. It’s not that hard, really. I just inhaled when my brother shipped out and exhaled again when he returned for R&R. I did it again when he went back until he returned from his tour. This is a convenient literary description of what it felt like – but in my memory it is the literal truth. I know people who’ve done it for 15 months, several times.

2: How to listen to the news. A mental flow chart I followed whenever I encountered any reports about Iraq. An answer of “that’s not my brother” at any step allowed me to return to my daily life.

  • Has somebody died?
  • Iraqi or American?
  • Civilian or military?
  • Was it someone in the Army?
  • What part of the country?
  • Is this near Fallujah?
  • Is it my brother?

When I reached that final question, I felt relieved and then horrible. I knew my reprieve was someone else’s loss.

3: What to send. Batteries. Hot sauce – MRE’s are bland. Hard candy. Chewing tobacco – it’s a form of currency. DVDs. Baby wipes – help people clean off when they’re in the field. My son sent some of his toys and stuffed animals to give to Iraqi kids.

4: What not to send. Don’t send chocolate. It will likely melt during shipping because of the temperatures in Iraq. There have been many reports that the military is trying to develop a chocolate with a higher melting point. Officially you’re not supposed to ship porn, alcohol, and/or anything with pork in it. While there are serious doubts as to whether or not anyone actually checks for these things, people at home disguise them anyway. A friend of my brother’s got some mouthwash in a box from home, screwed the top off and took a swig out of it. He spit it out and said in total surprise, “It’s mouthwash!”

5: Nothing bigger than a shoe box. That’s the optimum size for shipping. Anything bigger than that will take forever to get there. For some reason speed of delivery mattered even when he was going to be there for a year.*

6: The USPS is very helpful. When shipping overseas you have to fill out one of two different customs forms depending on the weight of the package. I was always filling out the wrong one. No matter how long the line behind me, when the clerk saw the address on the package he or she invariably said something kind and didn’t mind waiting while I filled out the right one.

7: People are very kind. You send things because there’s nothing else you can do. I asked other people to send things, too. And they did. Lots of things: packages and dozens of birthday and Christmas cards and prayers. Always prayers. You send those, too, because there’s nothing else you can do.

8: I don’t care what you think about the war. Before you tell me that, tell me if you’ve had someone over there. If you know what that constant dread is like or what it’s like to be terrified when the phone rings late at night, then I’ll listen to what you have to say. I’ve disagreed with people who’ve been through this, but I’ve never argued. We have too much in common. It’s irrational, but I think we are the only people who should get to discuss the topic. Anyone else – even the ones who agree with me – I tend to view as a clueless fool.

9: Many people have it worse. And it’s not just the families that have had someone killed or injured. He is my brother but he is Stacy’s husband and my parent’s child. The times they were awake at 3 AM were much darker than the times I was.

10: I am a hypocrite. If truth is the first casualty of war, then the first truth to die is the fact that your opponent is human, too. I passionately believe that all human lives are equal. For the entire year my brother was over there I didn’t care how many Iraqis died or what else happened to them. Now that he is back, I am compassionate again.

 

*This was written in 2005. This size restriction is no longer accurate.

Soldiers say Purell© is their own personal napalm

No one loves discovering new uses for an existing product more than consumer packaged goods companies like Unilever, and P&G. “It’s not just a floor polisher, IT’S A DESERT TOPPING!” Even so, I doubt Johnson & Johnson is going to make a lot out of a new way to use Purell©. At the great blog Kit Up, where military folk swap ideas on all sorts of gadgets to use in the field, one writer suggests applying a match to

the waterless hand cleaner gel that every grunt should be carrying. I love playing with that stuff.  It puts out a blue/clear flame (read extremely hot) and it is a gel, so handles well.  Put that in the middle of your tinder and you are good to go.

While a good reliable fire-starter is a must have for our servicemen and women it should be noted that, as seen below, they are exploring other possible uses for the substance – which is 62% alcohol.

Judging by the above (and other evidence on YouTube) actually setting your hands on fire with Purell© seems to be “relatively” “safe.” However, this phenomenon has actually sparked an urban myth. Snopes rebuts a legend that some worker suffered severe burns on his hands when he lit a cigarette after using a “hand sanitizer product.” J&J media is quoted as saying that incident is “not something they would expect to happen with their product” – which is definitely not a denial that it could happen. Although it evaporates so fast on skin I think it almost requires the intentional and quick application of fire to get a reaction.

Wonder why the TSA allows the stuff on airplanes? Snopes points to a 1998 FAA study that reports hand sanitizers are difficult to ignite and relatively easy to extinguish. To which both Snopes and the US Military might respond: “What brand are you using?”

(For those of you wondering – it’s not all that hard to create actual napalm. Just mix Ivory Snow (or other soaps) and gasoline in the right proportions and VOILA you’ve got it.)

Army licenses insignia to Sears for clothes

The US Army has sold Sears the rights to use the insignia of one of its most renowned divisions for use in an Army-inspired clothing line, reports Stars & Stripes.

The distinctive “Big Red One” insignia and colors of the 1st Infantry Division are part of an Army-inspired clothing line being rolled out this year for the department store.The Army licensed the 1st ID insignia to All American Apparel in June 2007, according to Army spokesman Paul Boyce. Under the licensing agreement, the Army will receive royalties on any profits beginning in 2009.

Surprisingly, this has not been that well received by current and former service members. From Stars & Stripes:

“Unless someone’s related somehow [to a unit], they shouldn’t wear it,” said Pvt. Chris Latona, 19, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Special Troops Battalion out of Bamberg, Germany. “It’s not like a sports team.”

From SSG Big Brother CollateralDamage: “I think this is reprehensible … we should sell advertising space on tanks, gunships, Hell sponsor patches on individual soldiers’ uniforms.”

Sears, to its credit, has responded to concerns from the Society of the 1st Infantry Division about this. Also the fact that the company is offering to pay for the use of the insignia is almost unheard of (any royalties the Army gets will go to programs for troops and military families). Many companies use military insignia in their products — from movies to clothes to games — without offering recompense, such as Activision which put the division’s name intoCall of Duty 2: Big Red One, a game set during WW II.

Although I don’t see any harm in Sears doing this, I would defer to vets and service members on the topic. FWIW, a few years ago I purchased a patch of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team at The Japanese American National Museum to show my admiration. If you are not familiar with the 442, a thumbnail:

[It was] an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during the Second World War. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients, earning the nickname “The Purple Heart Battalion.”

Man, not a single snarky comment. Wow. I must be getting soft.

Can you help a couple of friends of mine?

When Big Brother Sergeant First Class CollateralDamage was in the sandbox many friends sent him stuff. On his birthday or Christmas or something he got so many cards that he actually cried. (He does it once a century whether he needs to or not.) I have two buddies currently serving in the George Bush Desert Classic. One is in playing on the course in the mid-east, the other is on the course in the far east. (Full disclosure — one is a buddy of SFC CollateralDamage whom I’ve never met but who he says is really neat despite being a lieutenant.) Both could use some care packages. If you have a moment and would like to help make a soldier cry for a good reason then please post a comment below or drop me an email.

My further thoughts on the topic, below:

IRAQ: My 10 Lessons Learned

1: I can hold my breath for six months. It’s not that hard, really. I just inhaled when my brother shipped out and exhaled again when he returned for R&R. I did it again when he went back until he returned from his tour. This is a convenient literary description of what it felt like – but in my memory it is the literal truth. I know people who’ve done it for 15 months, several times.

2: How to listen to the news. A mental flow chart I followed whenever I encountered any reports about Iraq. An answer of “that’s not my brother” at any step allowed me to return to my daily life.

  • Has somebody died?
  • Iraqi or American?
  • Civilian or military?
  • Was it someone in the Army?
  • What part of the country?
  • Is this near Fallujah?
  • Is it my brother?

When I reached that final question, I felt relieved and then horrible. I knew my reprieve was someone else’s loss.

3: What to send. Batteries. Hot sauce – MRE’s are bland. Hard candy. Chewing tobacco – it’s a form of currency. DVDs. Baby wipes – help people clean off when they’re in the field. My son sent some of his toys and stuffed animals to give to Iraqi kids.

4: What not to send. Don’t send chocolate. It will likely melt during shipping because of the temperatures in Iraq. There have been many reports that the military is trying to develop a chocolate with a higher melting point. Officially you’re not supposed to ship porn, alcohol, and/or anything with pork in it. While there are serious doubts as to whether or not anyone actually checks for these things, people at home disguise them anyway. A friend of my brother’s got some mouthwash in a box from home, screwed the top off and took a swig out of it. He spit it out and said in total surprise, “It’s mouthwash!”

5: Nothing bigger than a shoe box. That’s the optimum size for shipping. Anything bigger than that will take forever to get there. For some reason speed of delivery mattered even when he was going to be there for a year.

6: The USPS is very helpful. When shipping overseas you have to fill out one of two different customs forms depending on the weight of the package. I was always filling out the wrong one. No matter how long the line behind me, when the clerk saw the address on the package he or she invariably said something kind and didn’t mind waiting while I filled out the right one.

7: People are very kind. You send things because there’s nothing else you can do. I asked other people to send things, too. And they did. Lots of things: packages and dozens of birthday and Christmas cards and prayers. Always prayers. You send those, too, because there’s nothing else you can do.

8: I don’t care what you think about the war. Before you tell me that, tell me if you’ve had someone over there. If you know what that constant dread is like or what it’s like to be terrified when the phone rings late at night, then I’ll listen to what you have to say. I’ve disagreed with people who’ve been through this, but I’ve never argued. We have too much in common. It’s irrational, but I think we are the only people who should get to discuss the topic. Anyone else – even the ones who agree with me – I tend to view as a clueless fool.

9: Many people have it worse. And it’s not just the families that have had someone killed or injured. He is my brother but he is Stacy’s husband and my parent’s child. The times they were awake at 3 AM were much darker than the times I was.

10: I am a hypocrite. If truth is the first casualty of war, then the first truth to die is the fact that your opponent is human, too. I passionately believe that all human lives are equal. For the entire year my brother was over there I didn’t care how many Iraqis died or what else happened to them. Now that he is back, I am compassionate again.