New Military Acronyms

Everybody knows that the US Military has a thing with acronyms. We pile up acronyms on top of acronyms, multiple acronyms that mean the same thing, multiple things signified by the same acronym. We add excess words to the names of things, just to ensure we can shorten it to an acronym later.

Recently, I was thinking about some acronyms we have for a special class of meeting: BUBs and CUBs. A Battle Update Brief, or Command Update Brief is a daily or twice-daily meeting designed to coordinate the efforts of a large group of people working on a single project. Usually they happen during a deployment or other intensely time-sensitive activity.

The thing about CUBs and BUBs is that there is no difference between these two acronyms. Some people theorize that they signify meetings at different echelons of organization. A Brigade would have a Command Update Brief, while a Battalion would have a Battle Update Brief, for instance. But in reality, the difference is arbitrary. You pick one term for your meeting in order to distinguish from some other meeting of a similar name.

The key word is “update.” Everything else is excess, added just to have enough letters to form an acronym. “BUB” is fewer syllables than update. But honestly, we would have preferred an acronym even if that meant more syllables.

So. Since the letters are irrelevant, I’ve made up a few meetings of my own:

This is the Readiness Update Brief, in preparation for an upcoming event. Slogan: “Aye! There’s the RUB!” It is considered inappropriate, in the event of a poor delivery, for the commander to redo this meeting, as that would constitute a back RUB.

Data Update Brief. This is a coordination meeting between the intelligence and information sections.

Forward Logistics Update Brief, for support units deep in enemy territory. Slogan: “Fall Forward!”

Staff Notional Update Brief. This is a practice meeting among the staff, in order to prepare for the upcoming BUB. All actual products are made up, or stand-ins. Leadership participation is strongly discouraged. Slogan: “You’re not invited.”

Combined Logistics Update Brief. Large coordination meeting between multiple units. Usually meets off site, and after normal duty hours. If you know about the meeting, attendance is mandatory.

Philanthropists, who decry the lash, ought to consider in what manner the good men, – the deserving, exemplary soldiers, – are to be protected; if no coercive measures are to be resorted to on purpose to prevent ruthless ruffians from insulting with impunity the temperate, the well-inclined, and the orderly-disposed, the good must be left to the mercy of the worthless; and I am glad to say, there are many good men in the ranks of the army…. The good soldier thanks you not for such philanthropy; the incorrigible laughs at your humanity, despises your clemency, and meditates only how to gratify his naturally vicious propensities.

– James Anton, Retrospects of a Military Life, 1841

Obviously, I’m no proponent of the lash. But how to deal with “worthless” people has been a perpetual challenge for military leaders. Some people improve drammatically with a firm rebuke and a little training. But a lot of people have no intention of improving, and their behavior can be a drain on, or even dangerous to their fellow servicemembers. It’s been a long search to find means of motivation that don’t require force. One advantage we have over the 1840s is a greater ability to remove from the organization those persons who cannot be motivated with anything other than force.


So this is a little geeky but:
There’s a thing called the Hugo Awards, which gives an Oscar-like prize in various categories of the best science fiction stories of the year. And for the last few years, there has been some controversy over the kinds of works which have been winning.  I’m very much an outsider, but the impression I get is that the conflict is between one set of people who think that popular fiction ought to win more often, and another who think that something more literate ought to win.  I’m not exactly sure even who is on what side, or if I have the sides right.  But that’s irrelevant to my point.
Because there has been such controversy, I’ve learned a few things about the process that gets me interested.  The big difference between the Hugo awards and something like the Oscars is that the Hugoes are actually pretty easy to get in on.  To vote for your favorite book, you have to be a member of the World Science Fiction Society, which membership costs $40 a year.  That’s a pretty low entrance fee.  But here’s the icing on the cake:  In order to vote, you need to have read all the nominated works in each category, and in order to do that, the WSFS makes a solid attempt to provide its members with a digital copy of every nominated work.
So, for $40, you can get a copy of the best science fiction of the year.  Yes, it’s probably more than it would cost to get a copy of everything at the library. It’s a lot cheaper than Amazon.   And perhaps your local library doesn’t keep a ready copy of the 70 best science fiction works each year.  Perhaps you are not a master of the interlibrary loan system.  Maybe the thought of redefining “the best science fiction” amuses you.
Anyway, if you read science fiction, you should join.  It’s not a bad investment.  This year’s nominees were announced today, here. It looks as though the popular fiction crowd is in the ascendancy.

Room Enough in Bag End

When all was at last ready Frodo said: “When are you going to join me, Sam?”

Sam looked a bit awkward.

There is no need to come yet, if you don’t want to,” said Frodo. But you know the Gaffer is close at hand, and he will be very well looked after by Widow Rumble.”

“It’s not that, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam, and he was very red.

“Well, what is it?”

“It’s Rosie, Rose Cotton,” said Sam. “It seems she didn’t like my going abroad at all, poor lass; but as I hadn’t spoken, she couldn’t say so.  And I didn’t speak, because I had a job to do first.  But now I have spoken, and she says: “Well, you’ve wasted a year, so why wait longer?” “Wasted?” I says. “I wouldn’t call it that.” Still I see what she means.  I feel torn in two, as you might say.”

“I see,” said Frodo: “you want to get married, and yet you want to live with me in Bag End too? But my dear Sam, how easy! Get married as soon as you can, and then move in with Rosie.  There’s room enough in Bag End for as big a family as you could wish for.”

It’s been so long since I read Lord of the Rings, that I had forgotten Rosie was in the book at all.  I had taken her as one of Peter Jackson’s additions, specifically for the point of demonstrating that Sam and Frodo weren’t gay.  I do remember reading that Jackson felt obliged to play her up a bit, and I think the difference is in our culture, rather than the needs of the plot.  Today the assumption is, that if a man isn’t think a certain way about a woman, then he is most certainly thinking womanly thoughts about another man.  Tolkien’s assumption, that he puts in Sam’s mouth is that, if a man isn’t thinking about a woman, it’s because he has some more urgent business to attend to, and that it isn’t nice to burden a lady with commitments and then forbid her to fulfill them because of other requirements.

So Claudio says:

O my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
That liked but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love.
But now I am returned and that war thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.
Today, of course, we think both more and less of the cornerstone act of making families.  The act itself is sacred: nothing more important, to be fulfilled on earliest occasion.  But the commitment, the promise, the house itself, is fleeting, unimportant, effervescent.

Just Wishin’

I know that the hard theological differences between the Textus Receptus (i.e. “King James”) and modern critical versions of the Greek New Testament are basically nil, but when you get down into the details, there are a lot of little differences.  Here’s one:

Jude 1:22-23
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire,hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

The differences are there, even if they are subtle. So no matter what your preacher or your professor tells you about the superiority of the modern translations, I think there’s some benefit to preserving the text that 500 years of English readers have understood. The TR is also the text that Greek speaking Christians have used for 1500 years, and possibly nearly 2000.

And yet, I’m becoming persuaded that the NKJV, regardless of the quality of the original text that it is based on, is just not as good a translation as some of the newer versions, like the ESV and HCSV.  So here’s what I want: a new English translation based on the Textus Receptus for the New Testament, and (just to stir things up a bit), based on the Septuagint for the Old Testament.  After all, the Septuagint was the version of the OT that Jesus and the apostles used.  No seriously, it was.  We usually translate the OT from he Masoretic Hebrew, because it’s in Hebrew, and therefore more authentic to the original Hebrew text.  But all the quotes in the NT are from the Septuagint.  I figure, since I’m already wishing, I might as well shoot for the moon and ask for a Bible that’s internally consistent, so that my New Testament quotes actually match their Old Testament references.

However, I have a suspicion that the market for such a Bible is pretty thin.  If I ever want to see such thing, I might have to make it myself.


I am getting really tired of the theological misuse of prepositions. Today I listened to a theologian tell me yet again that the Bible is not about me. Correct: I am neither a character in scripture, nor am I personally a major theme. The Bible is not about me; it is for me. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction…”  “Is it for oxen that God is concerned?” Etc.

We get the same problem with “for” and “to.” “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous…”  “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace…” Jesus came for sins, for adoption, to praise. The glory is an after effect, not the primary purpose. Was God short of glory and praise, that he created the world?

Then again, maybe it’s just the word “for” that theologians have trouble with.

It would be different, anyway

Richard Fernandez on Christian Militias in Iraq: The Odds Against.

  1. Yes to the God-created right of self defense and all government codes that recognize it. Self defense, and the arms that go with it, is always in the absence of stable government, or in support the lesser magistrate against an overweening empire. Militias against the police are called something else, since any legitimate militia would begin its recruitment among its most likely volunteers – the police.
  2. Requiring some kind of overarching political coordination of the final collapse of the Ottoman empire by some Western administration strikes me as that very sort of overweening empire. I’m conflicted on this one: As a Christian and a Soldier, I recognize some responsibility for us as Americans to act as the world’s police, especially in support of obvious non-negotiables, such as religious freedom. By all means protect the saints! On the other hand, as an American Soldier, I’m not really interested in picking sides as a civilization collapses. I’m not sure that liberty is a vine that can survive well on the trellis of a foreign military power.
  3. Here’s a thought experiment: Islamic civilization is collapsing (and good riddance). Who knows what will spring from the ashes? But European civilization collapsed once, and what came after was much better. Now imagine what would have happened to the West if China in its golden age had stepped in and rescued Europe from the barbarians. Would we exist at all today?

On that point, probably not much

2 Peter 2:1

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bringin destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

I take this to mean that false teaching in the church replaces the danger posed by false prophets in the old covenant. From that premise, I think it’s safe to conclude that teaching in general replaces prophecy as God’s primary means of communicating to his people. You can see this in church history: where prophecy has been practiced, its influence has been insignificant compared to teaching in the church.

However, you can’t conclude that therefore prophecy has ceased. Was there no teaching in the old covenant? I think a better conclusion is that prophecy and teaching switch places in terms of relevance. Formerly, false teaching was relatively less significant, because any new doctrine would have to be ratified by prophecy, or it would be considered prophecy, and subject to prophetic tests. Now, any prophetic word has to be ratified by the guardians of church doctrine, or it is considered teaching and is subject to doctrinal tests.

The result should be that we are relatively free with prophecy and relatively reserved with our teaching. Suppose a man prophesies that it will rain on Wednesday, and lo! it doesn’t rain. Is he a false prophet? Not really. He’s a silly man, attempting to be obedient to the scripture that says to pursue prophecy. He should be advised that he blew it, but to keep trying. Suppose again that a man teaches that no one may prophesy regarding rain on Wednesdays. Well that man might well be on his way to becoming a false teacher. He should be answered directly, on doctrinal grounds, paying close attention to how great a risk, really, he poses to the life of the church.