Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Military Responds to Emergencies—Sometimes

On October 25th, 1999, the day that golfer Payne Stewart died, the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard were ready. When air traffic controllers lost radio contact with Stewart’s Learjet 35 only 25 minutes after take-off from Orlando, a pair of F-16s—flying a routine training mission out of Tyndall AFB—gave chase, but didn’t catch it. An F-15 fighter, flying out of Eglin AFB, took up pursuit of the wayward Lear, keeping it in sight for 25 minutes before diverting to St. Louis for fuel.

A few minutes later, four Air National Guard F-16s and a KC-135 refueling tanker, out of Tulsa, took over the chase, but barely got within 100 miles of the ill-fated Learjet before handing off to two Air National Guard F-16’s from Fargo, N.D., which kept the doomed aircraft in sight until it ran out of fuel and hit the ground.

The point I’m trying to make here is that when a single small commuter aircraft carrying six people goes off-track, the military responds (appropriately) by deploying no less than 10 aircraft of its own, but when four commercial passenger aircraft carrying scores of people are hijacked by terrorists, the military can’t seem to find its ass with both hands.

It just seems terribly convenient that on the day that terrorists decide to strike, military jets and fighter pilots on the eastern seaboard are engaged in training exercises. But, then, I guess training for an emergency is easier than actually dealing with one.

Does this lack of military response on 9/11 prove conspiracy theory? Naw, it only hints at one. It’s just another piece of the puzzle.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Multitasking Madness

Over the last 10 or 15 years, multitasking has become the darling buzzword of the corporate hire-archy (I know, but it’s an intentional misspelling). Don’t even think about applying for a job in a corporate setting unless you have excellent multitasking skills.

What are multitasking skills? Essentially, they’re the abilities to do several things at the same time while maintaining the illusion of competence.

Employers that hire on the basis of multitasking skills are delusional. While they imagine they’re getting an employee that can churn out a project in 1/3 of the time, or work on three projects at once, what they’re really getting is someone who can turn a relatively easy project into total chaos or screw up three projects simultaneously.

To be an effective multitasker, one must be able to focus on two or more thoughts at the same time. Also, the left hand must know what the right hand is doing at all times. That’s why I never became a juggler or a pianist; both of these activities require advanced multitasking skills. Picture me as a juggler: Apple, bowling ball, chain saw; apple, bowling ball, chain saw; apple, chain saw, bowl . . . oops! There goes my arm. As a concert pianist, I’d be equally inept, what with my left hand playing Swan Lake and my right hand playing Chopsticks.

Do I multitask? Of course I do. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can smoke a joint and watch TV at the same time. I can drink coffee and think about what to write next at the same time.

And that, my friends, pretty much defines the limits of my multitasking skills. Any additional effort on my part requires additional pay.