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Archive for May, 2011

SEAL Team 6

SEAL Team 6


SEAL Team 6, whose existence has never been officially acknowledged, is the group of men who entered Pakistan and killed Usama Bin Laden at his home. They are just like the super quiet helicopters used to fly into Pakistan undetected, just 1 hour from its capital city.

Vanity Fair has an excellent article with excerpts from a book by former SEAL Team 6 member Howard E. Wasdin. The whole article is worth reading, but here are the highlights.

On the first morning of indoctrination into BUD/S, we had to do the physical screening test again… That evening, the SEAL instructors stood before us and introduced themselves. At the end, Lieutenant Moore told us we could quit if we wanted to by walking outside and ringing the bell three times.

“I’ll wait,” Lieutenant Moore said.

I thought the lieutenant was bluffing, but some of my classmates began ringing the bell.

The O-course helps prepare a man for that kind of work. It has also broken more than one trainee’s neck or back — climbing over the top of the 60-foot cargo net is a bad time to lose arm strength. Much of our training was dangerous, and injuries were common.

A number of the race horses were the biggest crybabies. They’d probably been No. 1 much of their lives, and now when they had their first taste of adversity – BUD/S style – they couldn’t handle it.

Losers would pay with their flesh — it pays to be a winner.

Our boat climbed up the face of the wave. I saw one of the other boats clear the tip. We weren’t so lucky. The wave picked us up and slammed us down, sandwiching us between our boat and the water.

As the ocean swallowed us, I swallowed boots, paddles, and cold seawater.

I realized, This could kill me.

Drown proofing

Drown Proofing

We arrived at the pool located at Building 164 and stripped down to our UDT swim shorts. An instructor said, “You are going to love this. Drown-proofing is one of my favorites. Sink or swim, sweet peas.”

I tied my feet together, and my swim partner tied my hands behind my back.

“When I give the command, the bound men will hop into the deep end of the pool,” Instructor Stoneclam said. “You must bob up and down 20 times, float for five minutes, swim to the shallow end of the pool, turn around without touching the bottom, swim back to the deep end, do a forward and backward somersault underwater, and retrieve a face mask from the bottom of the pool with your teeth.”

The torment continued throughout each day — push-ups, runs, push-ups, calisthenics, push-ups, swims, push-ups, O-course — day after day, week after week. We ran a mile one-way just to eat a meal. Round-trip multiplied by three meals made for six miles a day just to eat!

We did squat thrusts, eight-count bodybuilders, and all manner of acrobatic tortures until the sand rubbed our wet skin raw and nearly every muscle in our bodies broke down. It was my first goon squad — and the only one I ever needed. I may die on the next timed run, but I ain’t doin’ this crap again.

As my upper body hung over the valley in the V of my homemade trouser flotation device, I felt relief. I had been so concerned about drowning that I had forgotten how frigid the water felt. Now that I wasn’t drowning, I started to remember the cold.

In psychology this belief is called self-efficacy. Even when the mission seems impossible, it is the strength of our belief that makes success possible. The absence of this belief guarantees failure. A strong belief in the mission fuels our ability to focus, put forth effort, and persist.

“All of you have to swim 50 meters underwater. You’ll do a somersault into the pool, so no one gets a diving start, and swim 25 meters across. Touch the end and swim 25 meters back. If you break the surface at any time, you fail.”

Our world is a meritocracy where we are free to leave at any time. Our missions are voluntary; I can’t think of a mission that wasn’t.

Related:
Discovery Channel: BUDS Class 234

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show was interviewed for about an hour by Rachel Maddow regarding his perception in the media, The Rally to Restore Sanity, media biases, and politics.

Why is one of our most insightful social commentators a comedian?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Best quotes from the interview

RM: “Why did you want to talk to me?”

JS: “After the rally…whenever you go out there you can only control your intention, you can’t control its perception or how people receive it.”

JS: “and to see that with the Capitol Building, which normally in our studio is a picture because we are fake.”

We’d done 12 years of the show, I’d earned 10 minutes of just rank sincerity.

I think the point of the rally was, this is as far as I can go… a satirist is… I can always criticize but I can’t actually do anything… we have no responsibility. [David’s note: really good segment, listen to the whole part]

I feel more of a kinship with Jerry Seinfeld than what you guys do or what CNN does or what NBC does. He’s able to comedically articulate an intangible for people.

Because we are parodying a news organization… but the process the material goes through is not a news process, it’s a [comedic process.]

We’re commenting on the news comedically.

Both sides have their way of shutting down debate and the news networks have allowed these two sides to become the fight in the country. And I think the fight in the country is corruption versus not corruption, extremist versus regular.

again we have to define our terms… we were talking about tone there not content.

We have a tendency to grant amnesty to people we agree with and to overly demonize people we dont.

It all comes from the perspective of defending your guy or your turf. What I’m saying is, let’s stop defending teammates and get an organization and tenacity and the kind of heart and the kind of intelligence… and look at it from a slightly different perspective, which is not we’re saying they’re crazy, but corruption is everywhere. It’s on the left, its on the right.

But Fox is not partisan either, they’re really not.
They are ideological but not partisan.

The problem with the 24 hour news cycle is that it’s built for a very particular thing: 9/11. Other than that there really isn’t 24 hours of stuff to talk about. The problem is, how do you keep people watching it? OJ isn’t going to kill someone everyday, so that’s gone. So what do you have to do? You have to elevate the passion of everything else that happens that might even be somewhat mundane and elevate to the extent that this is breaking news.

I think the conflict to develop a news network would be corruption and non-corruption.

I don’t care where it comes from; if it’s right, it’s right.

Let’s try and fight on the most precise and proportional terms we can.

In my life I try to get on the field and help people, just not through the show.

Summary

Comedy has to contain some element of truth or it isn’t funny. There may be a joke about the Polish invention of a submarine with a screen door, but there isn’t one about the MIT PhD Physicist with the same invention.

Jon’s whole point is that news is moving towards him as a social critic / satirist. He believes intelligent people should be able to discuss ideas without quickly jumping into polarizing argument that instantly kills quality discussion and debate.

During the height of the 2008 credit crunch, Lehman Brothers, led by CEO Dick Fuld, was not bailed out by the government. Instead, it was allowed to fail and become the largest bankruptcy in history.

How did this 150-year old firm that survived the Civil War and the Great Depression fail?

The short answer is, the firm was obsessed with growth so it chased returns with little regard for prudent risk management.

Their business model during the 2000’s economic growth period relied upon:

  • Excessive leverage (40 to 1): a couple percent drop in asset prices renders the firm’s balance sheet without equity.
  • Being the largest securitizer of sub-prime real estate mortgages.
  • The overnight repo market to fund daily operations.
  • Accounting gimmicks such as Repo 105 to make the balance sheet look good for quarterly reporting.
  • Unrealistic modeling with faulty assumptions such as real estate prices only go up and the overnight repo market is always liquid.
  • Believing “this time is different” and not preparing for the inevitable market cycle to reverse course.
  • Retaining ownership in some securities they created to increase their profits.
  • Incorrectly believing they would get a bailout from the government like Bear Sterns (after rejecting a bailout from Warren Buffett before late 2008).

What lesson can individual investors learn from this?

Be wary of investments requiring excessive leverage and market conditions remaining the same in perpetuity.

Source:
Barry Ritholtz – Dick Fuld’s Fantastic Revisionism!

Startup businesses are often toughest on the owners because they have to overcome so much adversity on the road to eventual success. Online shoe retailer Zappos, led by Tony Hsieh, endured about a decade of failures before its successful acquisition by Amazon Inc.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-Sir Winston Churchill

Inc. Magazine’s “10 Steps to Zappos’ Success” highlights Zappos’ struggles and eventual success:

  • Being in a bad business with a track record of failure.
  • Running out of money multiple times.
  • Tony selling his San Francisco home to pay for a distribution center.
  • Tony taking an annual salary from $24 to a high of just $36,000.
  • Rejecting Amazon’s first buyout offer of $370 million.
  • Eventually selling to Amazon after a decade of hard work for $1.2 billion and being able to remain as CEO and keep the company independent.

For entrepreneurs, even the path to success is filled with mostly failure after failure.