Saturday, October 16, 2021

Facebook Jail for citing the Bible

 I left the following as a comment on a FB friend's post. He is a somewhat progressive Methodist minister whose post was about how the Bible does or does not inform us on our obligations regarding immigrants illegally entering the United States. (That the same obligations would apply regarding those entering legally is not ever brought up, of course.) 

Below was my sole comment, which FB deleted because it "violated" Facebook's nebulous, never-public and ever-changing "community standards," which means it somehow presented a point of view that FB does not want to permit. 

See what you think. This is the verbatim, unedited comment except that I have deleted the name of the FB friend who posted it, nothing else. 

I am not disagreeing with you. But I am going to point out what a quite progressive pastor of my conference said at a ministers' meeting some years ago, I do not recall the context but I do recall her response. It was, "We are all biblical fundamentalists; it just depends on the topic."

There are definitely teachings, requirements, and admonitions in the Tanak about how the people of Israel were to interact with resident aliens. Should we adopt ALL of them as in force for our modern day and time? For example, there are clear, unambiguous mandates that marriages of Jews to foreigners is strictly prohibited. Can we go all fundamentalist with that today?

Then there are modern-day Jewish scholars of biblical Hebrew who say that the term "resident alien" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word "toshav."

And finally, to close this comment, this article: "The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate."

Here is the link to the article about the toshav by Joram Mayshar  of The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. 

So what exactly are the "community standards" that this violates? What are the biblical-interpretation credentials of the FB "fact checker" who yanked the comment (or more likely, what algorithm of FB's scanning software got triggered)? 

There is no logic or rationality to how or why of Facebook's cancel culture. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Military snipe hunts

Originally posted in 2014

Got to admit that in my military career I never personally knew a private who was sent on a military snipe hunt for turn blinker lubricant. Junior enlisted soldiers - and airmen, sailors and Marines - are sent off on such snipe hunts by slightly more senior and experienced troops. Some of the non-existent items they are sent to retrieve are tent locks, range fans to blow the fog off the rifle range, 50 feet of chow line, left-threaded kanootin valves, a can of radio squelch, bayonet extensions and the like. It's a sort of rite-of-passage thing for noobs. So Pvt. Snuffy is told to see the supply clerk for the item. 

The supply sergeant has been around and he immediately understands what's happening, so he says, "I just issued my last propellant regenerator to base piece, try them." So off Snuffy goes to base piece, where he is informed they gave it to the mess section to clean. And the mess section had it just an hour ago, but they sent it to the maintenance section for repair. And around and around and around he goes, never, of course, finding such an item.

Of course, some clever young troops figure out the score pretty quick and realize that they can take a whole day just walking around uselessly while the rest of their section are up to their elbows in grease working on some truck or tracked vehicle. 

A perennial-favorite snipe hunt is to send Snuffy off for a box of grid squares. Now, a grid square is a real thing. Military maps are printed with terrain features overlaid with thin lines forming boxes, representing to scale one kilometer squares. The squares are numbered by their easting and northing, so it makes perfect sense to refer to grid square 1436. Even new privates know this, so when some authority figure - a soldier of a rank or two higher - invents a need for a box of grid squares and sends him off to get it, then he does. But the grid squares are printed on the maps; they are not separate items. So there is no such thing as a "box of grid squares."

Usually. But in the artillery . . .

When I was a second lieutenant in Korea, I was an artillery battery fire direction officer when my battery took duty at fire base Four Papa One at the DMZ. One day Pvt. Snuffy, a mechanic, comes to our bunker and says that the Chief of Smoke (an E7, Sgt. 1st Class, whose duty position was Chief of Firing Battery) had sent him to get a box of grid squares. 

Now an E7 has no business starting this nonsense. These kinds of practical jokes are played by E4's on E2s, not on E2s by E7s. I looked at the buck sergeant who was the fire direction chief, he looked at me, and we both said almost simultaneously, "Wait right here." 

In those days, artillery ballistics computation was not much computerized. We computed firing data manually, using "charts and darts," as we said. We had two large, inclined tables. On one we mounted a large map of the potential targets areas. To keep the map clean we laid over it a sheet of unmarked, transparent plastic that was manufactured gridded in the same scale as the map. We would notate targets and other pertinent data on the plastic overlay and derive terrain information from the map. The other inclined table had no map, just the overlay plastic over white paper. This chart was used only to compute direction data for firing. All the targets were marked on it as well. 

The plastic overlays got scuffed and worn from constantly being written on, erased, and written on again. After about three days they had to be replaced. So we had a bountiful supply of used overlays. We'd keep them for several days then burn them all together. And all the overlays were gridded into squares. 

So my sergeant and I went to the back of the bunker and retrieved a used overlay. Using scissors, we carefully cut out 12-15 of the grid squares from an unused section. We put them in an empty pencil box, marked it "Grid Squares" with a Magic Marker, and gave it to Snuffy without the slightest hint of irony. He thanked me profusely, since he had been sent from the motor pool to the mess hall to the CP section to the base howitzer to the ammo section and finally to us, all with the stern admonition from the Smoke, "Don't come back here without the grid squares." Now, he had them. He was a happy young man. 

I was told by another NCO the next day that Snuffy, innocent as a lamb, went back to Smoke and gave him the box, saying, "Lieutenant Sensing said he can give you all the grid squares you want." And that the look on the Smoke's face when he opened the box to find - sure darn enough, grid squares - was worth taking a burst of six to see.

Jesus is served

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