Thursday, December 31, 2015

The New Year: 2016


As this upcoming year represents my half-century mark, it is a time to take stock.

Am I where I thought I would be, doing what I thought I would be doing? Are there people in my life whom I thought would still be here? Am I living in that awesome place where I thought I would be at this age so long ago?

Well, as that list goes, I am not looking too badly. Not shabby at all. But, life didn't go the way I expected to get here, and most of my big plans for myself fell apart at one time or another. So, while I may be in that space, that place, where I thought I would be -- I took the strangest route I could have imagined.

Isn't that what life is anyway? Like the old saying goes: Men make plans and God laughs. Well, with me, he must have been rolling on the floor. So, why couldn't I have just taken the wide, easy path to where I am now? Why did it have to be so damn hard?

Well, adversity builds character, real character. When things get hard and times are trying, those are the moments when people learn empathy, forgiveness and real determination. No, it is not the kind of determination that Rocky showed against Draco in the montage scenes of Rocky IV. It is not the kind of determination to climb K2 or Mount Everest. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do for someone is to lose something they loved and treasured and then just wake up the next morning and get out of bed.

You know, as time clicks by, I have had a few friends and loved ones leave this world. Of course, being at about the same age, there are some of these friends and loved ones who died young. I noticed, though, that something my friends who passed early have in common is that they smoked and drank to excess. They lived life badly, being angry or scornful. They refused to change inwardly from their youth, and growing old and living crazy is not a match made in heaven. Not finding peace with yourself and living healthy will send you to heaven, for sure, but dying because of something like smoking too much is just prolonged suicide.  Someone is just biding their time, in that case, to leave this world as soon as they case.

For the past three years I have been working hard on my recovery from alcohol and anger, both of which consumed me for many years. I believed I was unfairly cheated, robbed of things that were precious to me. Well, there is something else about life we each learn at some point or other: It isn't fair, not in this world. Not yet. But, the knack to living is being able to go on and still search for whatever makes us happy.

More than money or position, land or jobs I always wanted peace and peace of mind. It has been a successful life in that I have found my piece of peace. I do not wish to to great things anymore, and while I like to work no one could characterize me as ambitious anymore. I learned that it is better to be at peace with one's self and their surroundings than to be fighting for the top spot.

In the end, somehow I have always knew, that we will not judge ourselves on how much money is in the bank, how big the car was, or how grand one's house was. In the end, what we each will judge ourselves is how we lived our lives, what we learned from those lives and how much peace we were each able to find in our hearts. Don't get me wrong -- big houses and cars are great. Yet, they are only things, which rust and breakdown and they do not shine forever. Only the human spirit shines for ever, and making that spirit brighter will shine forever.

Happy 2016 for everyone who visits the Chronicles, enjoy the year and blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 28, 2015



These days, I regard the expressions and concepts surrounding patriotism by some people as more of a symptom of a serious underlining mental health problem or a cry for help rather than anything remotely involved with serving or protecting one's country.

You see, in the America I grew up in, which included many years in military academies early on, I was taught and came to believe patriotism was unconditional. It was the kind of love that one may have for a parent or child. It is unshakable. Whether the parent or child was right or wrong, had lost their way for a time, or was having a wonderful success -- everything came back to that unconditional love. Later on, and for many years, I served the United States in the Army, and what patriotism is became an everyday concept for me. Patriotism isn't a few minutes of putting your hand over your heart at ball games, it is a way to live and a system for loving your country come what may.

As an American, I have prayed very often for God to show His grace over our nation. Never once did I expect it, or demand that God do this, much less order him to bless America, regardless of how we conducted ourselves as Americans. I do not think God would like that too much, you see. As He is the boss and not me, it strikes me that he might get upset by me believing I was the boss and telling him what to do.

Well, now the scene has been set.

If patriotism was unconditional love, the kind of which one felt for their mother and father or child before, patriotism today is demonstrated by many as the love one might feel for their new boyfriend or girlfriend. It is the kind of "love" that is new and unpracticed; the kind of love that has not yet weathered hard times and may well not stand up to any significant test. It is the kind of love where a man tells his girlfriend, 'If you don't wear that blue shirt instead of the red shirt then I will not love you anymore.' If the boyfriend wants to go to a Knicks game, it is the love where the woman will tell her man that she does not wish to go to the Knicks game and, if he does, he can sleep on the street.

You see, when someone believes that they must be furious with their country because a black person, or a Conservative person or a Liberal person is elected as president, then there was actually never any love for this country from that person in the first place. Either someone will support and defend their nation all the time, no matter if something is happening they do not like or something they like is happening -- then they are not a patriot.

A wonderful example of patriotism that has stood the test of time for me dates back to ancient Macedonia and the rule of Alexander of Macedonia (b. 365 BCE) (commonly called "Alexander the Great"). Well, Alexander was making his case to the people of Athens about why they must, collectively, fight the Persians for there to be any real safety in the world for the Hellenes. He said he intended to launch a great invasion of Persia, and he wanted Athenian support. Well, there was a politician and orator in Athens, by the name of Demosthenes, who disagreed vehemently with Alexander, so much so Alexander and Demosthenes were considered political opponents of the highest order.

While Demosthenes' isolationist argument did find friends in government and in the people, ultimately Athens sided with Alexander and the invasion was planned. Now comes the part of the story that is hard to find today. Rather than march off and grumble under his breath about the injustice of his failure, Demosthenes did not denounce his country, its leaders or the state. He did not wish to usurp the state because the greatest number of people did not find virtue with his point of view. Instead, Demosthenes the Athenian did what Athenians did during times of war: He joined the Army as a private soldier. He fought in the first rank of Greeks against the Persians, and he died in the war he fought so hard to attempt to avert. You see, Athens was the home of Demosthenes, whether the state was right or wrong. Demosthenes was a citizen of the Athenian state, without any doubt, and his love for his homeland was not counted in how many times he got his way, but instead by how many times he served his community, in war or peace. This is not the love of country that occurs in the United States today by reactionary people.

God will not love America first, before all countries, if America makes torture its policy, intolerance its calling card, ignorance its first response to the unknown. If America is still an empire, as some still argue, then any empire whereby torture, intolerance and ignorance, matched to wars of convenience and commerce, cannot stand nor will it be considered an empire for the better. Rather, such an empire is an 'Evil Empire,' right out of Star Wars. I believe I know a thing about being an America. She is the great love of my life and I have served her in uniform and out and appreciate my homeland very much. God blessed me by allowing me to be born here, and I am thankful.

I appreciate my homeland so much, I would never torture for her, not hate for her or fail to serve in her Army should she call. I love her so much, I would lose a political argument and then, in the wake of my loss, come back together with my rival for the sake of a stronger country, a united country.

I will not bark at my Creator, the God of my understanding, as a yappy dog or a petulant child trying to hold my breath and have my way about who is president, or who is elected to the Congress. I would say my piece, do what I could and love my country throughout.

Where it involves the policies of war crimes and torture, race hatred and ignorance of some, I could not, as a Christian, sanction these; nor would I countenance protecting anyone at any level of office in my land, or in anyone's land, being protected from prosecution nor exempted from punishment where found guilty. And, if candidates in political forums run on these things to get to office, are elected and do these things as part of their positions, I say the same only louder.

Patriotism is unconditional love of the land someone comes from, and such love is focused through the right decisions of actual Christianity -- not hysterical Christianity, pro-Christian cults or fringe Christian groups who deny the written word of their faith, nor the fanatical preachings of their own conscience. Patriotism must be viewed through the lamp of conscience and God, and when it is not it becomes dangerous fanaticism and a harmful thing -- a wildfire through a forest.

In the good old days, people feared the Lord and lived their personal lives as an example, or they tried. They did not try and force the word or wisdom of the Lord on others, as the greatest sin is to pretend to know the mind of the Lord God. They did not bark at God. They did not seek war for its own sake and they did not seek to commit crimes in war, outlawed by world agreement. No, this nation does not look or sound or act like the nation I knew growing up: it is radicalized, indignant, diminished, mad at times and drunk with greed. Still, it is my nation. Like a wind, people and causes come and go. However, I will celebrate when these terrible times have gone, and look to that day.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

America's Revolutionary Past Not a Comic Book


I am distressed about the past. Not my past. The past of our United States, and how some people attempt to turn events that took place into a comic book, worse yet they sometimes try and turn it into a coloring book. American history can be 'dumbed down' to the point where it can be depicted in a few blocks of cartoons with some quotes placed in white bubbles over the heads of drawn characters.

When I was at Georgian Court University, as a young man, I studied history. In time, I would go to seminary in New York and, certainly, there are great examinations of the past there as well. But, always, there was this fire to know what happened yesterday, and many yesterdays ago.

History is political, though. It serves as the motivation of actions for people today. Nations and people fight wars over the past. If everyone were to get collective amnesia tomorrow, Jews and Arabs would have nothing left to fight over. Blacks and whites would get along throughout this and every other country. The Chinese might actually work in friendship with India, and maybe India and Pakistan would operate together for a change. But, it is the past that binds people to it, like prisoners on a chain-gang. So, the mightiest person in that situation is the one who owns the chains, meaning the one who owns the history of what happened, when, with whom, for what reason, what purpose.

There are groups of people, with various political, industrial, business and religious viewpoints, that stand to profit if history suits their needs. It is for this reason that so many people attempt to, and sometimes successfully, re-write history. It is a fool who says, 'I don't care about history. It has nothing to do with me.' Well, I disagree. From the style and fabric of the clothes you wear on your back, to every morsel of food you put in your mouth, from where you work, to where and how you live and down to whomever you might go to bed with at night, history invades every fabric of our being. There is a lot of power at stake for the man, woman or group of people who control the edit function of history, people.

For example, there are neo-Conservative political faction in the United States who would attempt to re-write the American revolution so as to have precedent for turning our once-loved republic into a theocracy, which is unlike any theological likeness the Founders would have known or understood. But, when a political party is able to point to the Founders and say, 'Look -- we're just like them! So, don't enact laws because of what we say. No, change your laws because we -- we Conservatives -- are only following what the Founders would have wanted.'

First, who are the Founders? Well, they are the Class of 1775. They are the leaders, followers and people who founded this better-than-all-other United States of America behind their blood, sweat and tears -- and intractable optimism. "The Founders" are not just Gen. George Washington or his aides, not John Hancock nor just the 2nd Continental Congress, not just Patrick Henry or John Jay, or Thomas Paine or Benjamin Franklin. If you were to walk up to one of the leaders in that fine company and ask them who founded the country, they would not have forgotten to point to those muddied, bloodied, oil- and sweat-stained men pushing artillery through the middle of the night, fighting battles as half-trained volunteers, nor forgotten so many women who overnight became single-parents and sole-breadwinners for families while their men were busy moving artillery, fighting battles -- being all 'Revolutionary.'

You see, the Revolutionary Era, according to Elise Wilson, was a movement during a century or so, which involved generations of people, who primed the Revolutionary Generation, then there were the contributions of the Revolutionary Generation, and then finally there was interpreting the lofty ideals of the Revolutionary Generation within a governmental entity, which was the not insubstantial mission of the Post-Revolutionary Generation (which, it could be argued, in my opinion, actually ended with the Civil War and not in 1800, as is commonly discussed).

The real "American Revolution" was the central theme of generations. Understanding what that meant, in all of its complexity and simplicity, cannot be easily done -- let alone in comic book form for Fox News viewers.It is neo-Conservatives today in Texas who do not wish the specific contributions of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, former consul to France and author of the Declaration of Independence to be taught to school children. How does one do that? The Declaration wrote itself, the French just gave us stuff because they were intuitive, the Louisiana Purchase was a fluke? However, in my opinion, by not involving the contradiction of who the public and private Jefferson was, slave-owner and revolutionary for the freedom of "all men" what is achieved? Well, for one, as a society, it makes it easier by having less pointed conversations about slavery. Yes, the hard questions about how Founders allowed slavery become easier to talk about if we do not examine, in any detail, the life of Thomas Jefferson.

Like African-Americans, by not being reminded in school about slavery, will forget about it? Like anyone cold or should forget about slavery, its causations and impact upon American history and in our news today.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, that intellectual heavyweight from South Carolina, will tell you, as his has publicly that "Moses wrote the Constitution." Well, Mr. Graham knows a lot better than that. It took the Founders between 1776 and 1786 to come up with a workable, compromised document that enough people could live with unhappily to vote for. Neither the Whigs nor the Democratic Republicans were all that happy with the result. However, it would do. It would be close enough for two very different political mindsets to be able to do business with. Moses was long to the earth when that document was forged. However, the 'short-hand' that Mr. Graham is attempted to overlay upon that entire convention that produced the Constitution was that it was somehow: A. Jewish, B. divinely inspired and C. part of Divine Providence, as it is accepted in many circles religiously. He is attempting to turn a secular political convention of ideas and thought by humans and place a religiosity upon it, and translate the decade-long effort of people who did not agree with each other's politics very much as the authors of a religious document.

Well, I am a Baptist. I have a hard enough time with the real Bible, without Sen. Graham and his cohorts over in Fox News trying to create an annex to the Bible. Perhaps the only thing the Constitution and the Holy Bible have in common is that neither Sen. Graham, nor any of the cast of young, blond female commentators over at Fox, have ever read either of those documents. And, if they did, they couldn't understand a word of either. Mr. Graham was, as a matter of fact, a lawyer for the National Guard in South Carolina, who no doubt dealt with Constitutional issues somewhere along his tenure. However, as a professional, for Mr. Graham to try and pass along compromise political agreements as bona fide God-given law informs not only about his quality as a lawyer, but also his worth as a scholar, an American and an alleged leader of the people.

History should be a tool to learn from, not re-packaged to become a bumper sticker for the Grand Old Party. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hard Times in the 'Heartland'

I am writing a new short story, as well as a flash fiction piece, about my experience as a homeless veteran. I love my time in the military itself, but I think the most powerful story I can recount is finding myself with no place to live, no car, injured and unable to work and no support systems -- in the middle of a Nebraska winter in 2012. As much as it is a story about hard times, it is also a piece that focuses on the failings of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the VA there, to have someplace for veterans to turn so they don't have to experience the harsh "Heartland" temperatures and perils first-hand by living outside. It was certainly an experience that changed me, and a lot of veterans I have known since.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Military Technology: Not Everything Should Be Automated


I was never a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, but I was a buck sergeant, and a corporal before that (after going from PV1 to Specialist 4th Class prior). I served as a grunt, 11C Mortarman, then as a 96B Intelligence Analyst (HUMINT) and then an 11B Infantyman. I was in for almost 11 years in all, and, during my time in, I was assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division, 7th Infantry Division and the 2nd Armored Division. So, I know a little bit about being a grunt.

With that said, technology is the wellspring of the military services, and this is intractable. However, there are things that should not be replaced. Not being on active duty for more than 20 years, I have stayed up on those things that were in the news about the military, which is hardly a lot but it is something. I have even gone out of my way to stay atop some of the advances coming out from arms manufacturers and places like Boston Dynamics, among others, where they announce Beta-Testing for promising weapons systems. Overall, I think soldiers will be safer and more effective with the enhancement coming down the pipeline.

However, the soldiering trade should not, at its core, be altered -- only enhanced, in my opinion. I was in a low-tech Army of the 1980s and early 90s. In my day, soldiering was much the same as it had been when my father, uncles and cousins served from the 1940s through 1970s. Yes, there were weapon systems upgrades. By the same token, soldiers of my day still used the M16A1 (into the late 1980s), still used bayonets, wore the same clunky LBE that the Army had been wearing since Korea, wore tropical 0G-107 uniforms of the Vietnam Era (along with BDU's -- it was optional on posts like Ft. Bragg) and wore Corcoran jump boots and jungle boots (again, not all posts authorized the jungle boots). I received a steel pot helmet when I initially entered and after a year or so I received the first generation kevlar helmet, while our flak vests were tragically inefficient and were Vietnam vintage. At first, I ate C-Rations in the field, then MRE's (and can still taste both to this day). There were no very significant technological breakthroughs for individual soldiers, just major weapons systems. In my day, the big changes were Bradley M2 vehicles instead of M113s, TOW AT systems and the very first fielding of the M1 Abrams tanks, which replaced the M60A3 Main Battle Tank, as well as MLRS.

Today, the very foundation of what the force will look like in 20 years is being decided. I do not disagree that robotic infantry support and direct support elements are good ideas -- they're awesome. Anything that improves the range, accuracy of fire, ability to maneuver and secure a strip of real-estate is fine by me. Still, I think that the old way of learning map reading: one soldier, one map, one compass is something that should never be changed, nor the regular training of hand-to-hand (inclusive of knife) and bayonet should change either. Meanwhile, I have heard there is a helmet being developed that would allow soldiers to play music on headphones on patrol and would channelize their vision with its wearing -- now, that is nuts. Patrol techniques, individually and as part of teams and squads, is the most fundamental skill a grunt possesses and the old way of doing it (low and slow, quiet and with a head on a swivel) is just the plain old way to do it.

I understand there exists so much technology out there in the Army today that soldiers have almost a brand-new experience over their forerunners. Yet, improving and enhancing should never edit or delete the essential skills of soldiering, which included long field stays over months some time in training. Meanwhile, live-fire trainings, like in Doughboy City, in Berlin, back in the day kept soldiers the kind of sharp they needed. It was told me once that the only way to make a grunt is outside in the rain and cold for a bunch of months, with as much 'pain-in-the-ass' the brass could add. I agree with this, as much as I hated it when I was a young soldier.

I believe in technology, and want the very best for our kids when they have to go to the dance, but not at the sake of training the individual soldier in some of the more traditional pillars of the old school, be they infantry or something else. Soldiering is perhaps the second-oldest profession in the world, and it is experiencing a renaissance, but the core needs to stay strong. The best parts of soldiering are timeless. Add the old with the new and it's a powerful combination. But, keeping some of those core aspects of training should be an enduring priority, which resides right next to adding the best and newest technologies.

In conclusion, I want to applaud all the wonderful guys and gals who are serving our nation in uniform and for their dedication and invaluable service to our country.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Boston Dynamics All Prototypes

For a look at what is next in military security and combat systems, check out Boston Dynamics. It is a glimpse into the future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DARPA Tests Exoskeletons on Soldiers

In a federally funded initiative, DARPA is testing a flexible exoskeleton that has been developed for use by American servicemen and women. Rather than the "Iron Man" version of an exoskeleton, the direction instead has been toward flexibility. For more information, see the link at:

All I know is that, as a former Infantry grunt, I wouldn't have minded a little electronic help with the rucksack.

-- Rev. Jim Purcell

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Electric Car Available in 2019!

The Apple electric car is said to begin being available for sale in 2019. Follow the link for the latest and greatest;

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Inside the Army's 82nd Airborne Division: Hand-to-Hand Combat Training

Though many parts of the "Old Army" are gone, it is fortunate that at least some traditions live on in the 82nd Airborne Division, America's "Guard of Honor."

American Paratroopers have been known  for hand-to-hand skills since the inception of the force, in the 1940s. An integral part of being a paratrooper is being physically confident enough to sustain themselves in unarmed combat.

Things and times may change, but the need for hand-to-hand is something that should not, in my opinion. It is the basic skills of the Infantry soldier, not technology and 'soft skills' upon which the Army builds its foundation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Military Technology: Never Standing Still and Always Advancing


Years ago, when I was a history major at then-Georgian Court College (now Georgian Court University), in Lakewood, New Jersey, the Great Depression and World War II eras fascinated me. One of the things that fascinated me most was the great leaps of technology that happened between Peal Harbor to the signing of the Japanese surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri, on September 2, 1945.

Iowa class battleship
I think the best way to discuss technological improvements, well perhaps the most obvious, is to talk battleships. The improvements of the Iowa class dreadnoughts from the earlier Pennsylvania class ships (among them the USS Arizona) are staggering.

Similarly, in the Charge of Krojanty, on Sept. 1, 1939, the clash of the past over the future was visible when Polish cavalry, some of the best in the world, were broken in the face of German panzer tanks.

Military technology cannot stand still because not only the safety of soldiers and civilians at stake, but also the course of nations and republics.

Today, it is robot, laser and nano-technologies that have inspired the creators of the next great wave of military weapons systems. I think technology's advancement is far. At the same time, though, it is more imperative on people to work on communication skills and non-violent means of resolving conflicts because the ante has been raised so high.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

'Terminator' arm is world's most advanced prosthetic limb

The future is here -- U.S. Navy fields laser weapons on carrier


There is no doubt we are at the portal of a new age in warfare. Lasers are in full operation on U.S. warships at sea. It is a new day, indeed, because once made practical lasers will never again fail to be valuable weapon systems in the Armed Forces.

I do not lament this. As a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, I understand a few things: the force embraces technology, the future and enhancement of its weapons systems and believing it should be some other way is not sensible. Consequently, I am interested about how this technological edge will be translated into the nation's ground forces. But, that is a post for another time.

The main way the United States projects its powers throughout the world, on a day-to-day basis, is through the Navy. If there is a way to protect our sailors and ships, not to mention win battles at sea or on land, then it should be done.

The U.S. Navy has long been a technological trend-setter, creating ships and weapons that have played important roles during times of peace and war. That lasers are now an everyday thing means the advent of warfare on a new level on the seas.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Russian Military unveils SUPER DEADLY military assault rifles

Know the Enemy...and that means his rifles and order of battle as well. Frequently, Russian weapons are found in 'secondary markets' throughout the world so any step-up in technology is worth the look. --Rev. Jim Purcell

Boston Dynamics Military Robots and the Future


The advent of advanced robotic technology in the Armed Forces offers new possibilities, some welcome and some not, in my opinion. Where it involves protecting the force from hostile entities, it is a win -- no question. However, the question begs answering: Can a robot effectively replace a sentry from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard?

This video will show you the robotic technology being decided upon, and it is a considerable asset -- let's face it. Being a forward-looking country, and because it is incumbent on the military to move ahead and not stay behind, I think these robots will be fielded at some time in the future.

Do I have qualms? A few. But, I hope they are nothing. If an asset like this is given to tactical formations, especially the infantry in the Army and Marines, the upgrade in force efficiency would be amazing.This has the possibility of transforming important parts of the Airborne, Air Assault and Light infantry. I will reserve my opinion somewhat where it involves airborne use until I see how this thing handles a drop, though.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Future Wearable NanoTechnology 2015 - (Future Are Here)

STEALTH Main Battle Tank set to take on Abrams, Merkava


A main battle tank is the basic tank of an army. For example, in the U.S. Army today the M1A2 is the MBT for the force. The MBT is that tank that a nation's armor theory and tactics is entwined with. With each new generation of armor, product improvement and peripheral systems (e.g. porcelain, depleted uranium, layered or Chobham armor systems), the ability of the armored force expands.

When the M1A1s were initially fielded in the 1980s, that one change sparked the creation of accompanying weapon systems that also required an upgrade due to the MBT for the U.S. changing from the M60A3 to the M1A1. Consequently, this gave rise to the MLRS system, as well as the dawn of the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M-3, which was essentially an M-2 fitted for specific use by scout units. The Abrams was faster, heavier and required much more support than its predecessor. So, recovery vehicles like the behemoth M88 Recovery Vehicle were necessarily put into production, MLRS systems were developed and fielded for field artillery, so the pace and punch of artillery units could keep pace with the new needs dictated by the advent of a new American MBT.
Photo by Jim Purcell

When some company talks about challenging an army's MBT, it is an expensive change, albeit necessary to keep track with the times. Still, any possible retirement of the M1 series would likely spark retirement for many other classes of armored vehicles. So, new innovations are always worth taking a look at, if for no other reason for force logistical and tactical weapons changes.

Armored divisions are the 'gold standard' of the U.S. Army. The more armored divisions an army has, the better trained its crews and the more advanced the basic MBT, the more possibilities are given to commanders at all levels for facing a wide range of potential and actual threats. This impacts not just military policy, tactics and procedures, but also political thinking relative to matters of war during either peace or war. So, the replacement of an MBT is a 'macro' move that has ripples throughout the Army as a force.

When he served in the United States Army during the 1980s, Rev. Purcell served in the 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division (Forward), which was among the very first units to receive the then-newly fielded M2 and M3 Bradleys. In addition, then Sgt. Purcell was temporarily assigned to both the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry and the 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Battalion as an Intelligence Analyst (96B) during various training periods. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The 4 Best Drone Stocks To Take A Look At

Writer Sam Matera has written a piece about the four best stocks to look into for companies producing drones. He is definitely worth a read, for drone background if for nothing else.

Article segment:

"Unmanned aerial vehicles -- or drones, as they're commonly known -- remain in their infancy. Although the U.S. military has used them in various capacities for several decades, their civilian and commercial use remains limited. That should change soon. Research company The Teal Group believes spending on drones will double over the next 10 years, totaling more than $91 billion in the process. 
"For investors, the coming drone revolution represents an opportunity. Although it's impossible to pick the winners and losers at such an early juncture, the following four stocks could benefit as drones become more widely used.
"A drone manufacturer
"AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) is the closest thing investors will get to a true, "pure-play" drone company. AeroVironment designs and manufactures drones, and a significant percentage of its revenue comes from the sale of these drones, primarily to the U.S. Department of Defense. That said, not all of its revenue comes from drones. AeroVironment also has an energy business -- it supplies charging systems for electric vehicles. In fiscal year 2014, roughly 17% of AeroVironment's revenue came from the sale of these systems.
"Still, that means more than 80% of AeroVironment's revenue is coming from its drone business, which should allow it to benefit as the demand for drones surges in the years ahead. Currently, AeroVironment is largely a government contractor, with little exposure to the commercial drone market, but management sees the commercial side to be an area of great potential growth."

For more, go to:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Search Engine Optimization and Blogging, Pt. 2

Part II of III


I am going to begin this segment where the last one left off. My basic take on Search Engine Optimization is to allow Google blogs to do the heavy lifting, so to speak. Why? Well, it's cheap (as in free) but it is manpower intensive. So, if someone has no money and a lot of time then they can achieve maximum result without having to spend a lot of money.

For the record, I am not saying that using social media like Facebook or Twitter can ever hurt your SEO, but it is not going to help it as much as staying and living within the 'Googleverse,' which is saying stay within Google's paradigm for best results.

I am not addressing the Bing algorithm in this segment, because I do not know much about it beyond some basic observations and there are similarities to the Google algorithm insofar as architecture, if not search imperatives.

OK, with that said. We know Google promotes its blogs over anyone else's: without exception. We know that the Google blogs that are promoted first among those are blogs that: 1. Update frequently; 2. Use photography; 3. Hyper-link to other Google products; 4. Are tagged at the end of posts (so the algorithm can find that post); and, if you really want to bump your SEO, use a YouTube segment (also a Google product).

Now, we are ready to go: Go where? Do what?

Well, I want to talk about, for example, Pluto not being considered a planet anymore. I want to be the No. 1 reference online for the controversy about Pluto, or at least get the best SEO placement I can get.

I might name my blog with a name that has "Pluto" in it. I would use Blogger accessories to the greatest degree. I will install a YouTube video bar on my blog that references YouTube pieces on Pluto. I may emplace another video bar that discusses the Pluto controversy. Then, I would install links on my page to other blogs, all of which were trusted blogs by Google. Then, as a greeting for the blog, I might hyperlink to something about Pluto in the text so it is there permanently. I would certainly add an RSS feed that discussed Pluto and the Pluto controversy. Perhaps I will select one YouTube video that distills my point of view on the subject permanent along the margin of the blog. Awesome start.

My imaginary blog will specialize in Pluto, and it will bring in distinguished scholars' video posts or I will break down news offerings about it (and hyperlink to the original works). I will not digress in my blog, and my blog is ALL about Pluto. You see, even on this blog, I do not specialize, per se. I write what I want, but in writing what I want I trade point of view for location in Search Engine Optimization and know it.

So, my blog frame is done. Looks great. It's on point and now I am blogging. Every day, I am going to blog about Pluto, the controversy and use all of the rules I know I have to use in order to capture favorable SEO on Google.

I am also commenting on those other blogs, we previously discussed, that are also discussing Pluto and the Pluto controversy.

Now, and only now, do I look outside the blog at Facebook, for example. Why? Glad you asked. Having a blog configured in this way is the equivalent of a billboard placed on a highway near the Lincoln Tunnel, but just having a Facebook account dedicated to my subject is like having a lemonade stand along the same highway. Now, having a lemonade stand and a big billboard is wonderful, but I would not trade the billboard for the lemonade stand. Same for Twitter.

 I want to make an argument for good morals here. No one respects a site that has smut on it. Kids like to put filth on sites because they think that it's witty. It's not witty, it's garbage. If you are running a blog, the first thing it should be is 'family friendly.' I count that as meaning that a five-year-old can go to your site and read it. If they are bored, then fine. But, they shouldn't learn anything online that their parents wouldn't want them to know. the by...Google treats family friendly blogs a lot better SEO-wise than those blogs that do not use good common sense and decency.

Rev. Jim Purcell is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary. He received his M.P.S. there and wrote frequently about Search Engine Optimization and Digital Ministry.

AlphaDog, U.S. Marines Robot Pack Animal - Legged Squad Support System

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blogging, SEO and Subject Placement in Searches

Social marketing will not be a practical business tool
until there is a finite way to measure its successes.


I had an interesting discussion with an art professional today, who was searching for a company to pay a vast some of money to in order to improve their name recognition and placement on Google. I tried to explain that one's SEO status is dependent on a set of Online behaviors, using and cross-referencing various Online entities. It isn't as simple as going to a window at the DMV and giving some bored civil servant a check that they stamp. The business person was determined still to find someone to pay a large sum of money to in order to accomplish what they could not believe could be done without breaking their personal bank: such is life.

There is so much social media going on every minute of every day that trying to get hold of an advantage in Twitter, like trying to catch a horse that broke out of its pen and is running loose. If you spend enough time and lose enough weight, I suppose you might make a dent (by throwing yourself into it for 80 hours a week or more). I am not saying anyone should ignore social media....heck no. But, I do think that trying to be everywhere at once without having a plan is pretty weak plan.

I believe in Search Engine Optimization.

Rather than trying to run around like a chicken with their head cut off, I suggest another course of action. At the end of the day, all that anyone gets by using gosh only knows how many social mediums is a relatively higher rating on the Google and/or Bing search engine than otherwise. And, the process these search algorithms use are, by design, enigmatic. However, it makes more sense to study the Google and Bing algorithms and use one's time wisely and with efficiency, rather than spending a whole bunch of time achieving absolutely nothing.

Even today, Corporate America can be confused as all get out about what exactly they are attempting to do with social media and SEO. So, I would like to offer a rock solid mission for companies looking to invest in social media. The goal is to use social media (e.g.blogs, Facebook, Instagram) to secure the highest possible SEO one can get; use it to bolster name identification and additional placement for your name in the top pages of these search engine results. And, the good news about this mission is that it is very attainable without breaking the bank at all.

The problem: Right now someone is asking themselves 'what SEO is' after I have already given the spelled out acronym -- this post probably isn't for you. Still others do not understand the basic idea of what optimizing search engine placement is about. This is not a '100 level' discussion, so this isn't going to benefit you either.

If a social media effort doesn't make it to Main Street why do it?
This is about capturing the first pages of Google and Bing using common sense and hard work, and maybe a smidge of creativity. Oh, it costs nothing but labor. There is nothing to buy, nothing to hire anyone about (unless you are very busy or horribly lazy).

I see the alleged 'work' of many "Social Media Advisors" sometimes, but it is obscure. Being the number one Twitter page for @buyanewcar isn't going to move the marketplace. OK, a few people might be interested -- but social media anything doesn't or shouldn't amount to a hill of beans next to bona fide high placement on the Google or Bing search engines. Personally, I have very little respect for social marketing 'gurus.' I can wrap my head around improving SEO standings by being active in Blogger, or Google, or Facebook, Linkedin and a handful of other sites -- because those sites are Bang for your buck. I cannot see getting wrapped around the axle for Twitter or Instagram, etc.

It isn't because there aren't a lot of eyeballs on Twitter I do not like it for commercial applications -- there are a ton of eyes on Twitter. I just don't think there is enough 'there' there to be putting a commercial effort into it.

It's easier to throw one's self at social media, though, rather than formulating a plan (and executing it) with the intention of raising the profile of a company on search engine pages. Why? Because if someone is succeeding or failing on a mission like raising a company's profile, the result can be enigmatic and hard to measure without being very grounded about just what should be a positive result of a company's efforts. It is easier, by far, to give employers a line of bull about some site that 12 year olds are flocking to today rather than actually getting in the trenches there and raising a company's brand in a practical way.

Here, let me unearth some of the confusion: Google wants to promote its blogs (out of self-interest). Hence, Google gives a better ranking to its blogs than by those of other blog providers: common sense stuff here. There are finite ways to determine if a blog is 'good  ' or 'bad' for helping a commercial effort, and they are not based on subjective 'how do you feel' criteria by bloggers. In fact, what is a good or bad blog, for Google purposes, is apparent in the search for the blog. If a blog is showing up on the first page, or any of the concepts tagged in it insofar as originating pages...then the blogger is doing something. And, if they aren't getting that done then they are full of malarky -- straight up and flat out. The age-old belief is that 'the more people visit you site the higher its SEO is, so 'we should do everything possible to get people to go to the site to raise its Google or Bing profile.' Here is the logic problem with that, though: If Google isn't helping your company or service with a positive SEO profile then how are people going to find your blog in the first place.
Tags on posts are beacons for the algorithm.

In fact, Google has 'rules,' if you will, about awarding blogs favorable placement in searches, and here are some of them;

1. The more frequently you post entries, the more Google will reward the blogger. Ideally, Google would like to see people post daily;

2, Use photos to make points and/or YouTube (another Google product) and these efforts will get rewarded as well;

3. Tag, tag, tag! At the end of every post, the blogger should ensure that pertinent concept are tagged. The reason for this is because those tags become road signs for the algorithm to find;

4. Use Google ads for your site, and Google will reward this with better placement in searches; and

5. Use hyperlinks to go to other Google products (e.g. Google News, websites, other blogs) and there will be a reward of placement.

It does not matter what someone blogs, from technical information to tinker toys, if a blogger uses all of the concepts discussed here then their blog will receive amazing placement in a short time and, instead of having to come up with elaborate dog-and-pony shows to gain viewer interest, it is the algorithm that does the heavy lifting.

I am going to write some more about this, but this is my opening shot.

Rev. Jim Purcell is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary, where he earned an M.P.S. in Parish Ministry. During his seminary days, Rev. Purcell wrote frequently about Search Engine Optimization and Digital Ministry: driving viewers through strong placement on Google and Bing. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

President Jimmy Carter: The United States is an Oligarchy...

I think President Carter has hit the nail on the head this time. It's not what people like to hear, but sometimes the truth goes down hard.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Donald Trump is going to make 2016 memorable



Donald Trump running for President of the United States is going to make the 2016 Presidential Campaign can't-miss-television.

Politics has been theater since the first caveman decided he was going to run the show. But, mankind has made it more and more entertaining until now -- when the shark has been jumped with "The Donald" running for the Oval office.  In most cases, it's been the same old thing on America's biggest stage -- Republicans and Democrats going at it with lefts and rights.

In 1992, there was some commotion when H. Ross Perot ran as an independent candidate for President and placed himself right in-between incumbent President George H.W. Bush and upstart Arkansas Governor William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton. As an aside, a lot of people don't know Clinton was actually born with the last name of "Blythe."

Anyway, I didn't have any white-knuckled terror about any one of those three men being elected. They were all sane, well-educated and had impressive records of leadership. It just so happened Clinton won and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, turning our attention to this coming race: Yes, this horse race has me terrified all the way down to my dress socks. America is ambling out of two catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were fought for questionable reasons, at best. Our country is being torn apart by politics, some Liberals (like me) believe Conservatives these days are bordering upon sheer insanity and the back-and-forth going on with them and basic issues like Social Security, healthcare, military action, Medicare and worker's rights. Conservatives are terrifyingly aggressive about nonsense.

Enter Donald Trump.

I would easier trust the country with the Crips or the Bloods than with anyone in the GOP line-up these days, especially Donald Trump. Frankly, I am not the greatest fan of Hillary Clinton. However, I believe she is sane and that is all it takes to get my vote this time out.

I wouldn't care if the GOP came up with a surveillance video of Hillary robbing a liquor store with an Uzi -- she is better than any alternative the Party of Lincoln can produce. At the very least, though, it will be a show, particularly if Trump decides to go the route of Perot and become a third-party candidate should the GOP bounce him.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The road to recovery can be a hard one


I ran across a story one of my former friends penned, and there are striking similarities to my own story and the main character in her story. Though this story was crafted as a work of fiction, I certainly recognize the truth of a time in my life in its paragraphs. And, reading this very good work reminded me of some very hard times, indeed.

Today, I am an alcoholic in recovery. As well as being in recovery I also deal day-to-day with psychiatric illness, which is a struggle (though it is a struggle I beat every time I make good, positive life choices, exercise and diet appropriately). Anyone can become an alcoholic. There are always a thousand 'good reasons' to take a drink. But, there is only one excellent reason for not drinking: Alcohol was not made for all people and some people are alcoholic and others aren't.

This main character "Eric" is a broken man, reduced to living in the streets, a victim of his own demons. The story the author penned is not 100 percent accurate, and the author, I am sure, never intended it to be so or regarded as a work of non-fiction. Nowhere in this work does the author say I was an inspiration to her, but I have a 'psychic twinkle' about this one -- because this is a hard story to make up (and an even harder one to live). This tale does bear a very close resemblance to a reality I lived, while in my addictions and being untreated for PTSD while living in Keansburg.

I was there during Hurricane Sandy and was one of so many who faced the blunt-force trauma of that storm's fury. This is not a sympathetic treatment of the "Eric" character, and that is fine because (if this was based upon me) in those days there wasn't much to inspire very much sympathy about me in others. 

After I lost a child, whatever shred of sanity I had was buried with him in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2012. I became lost; heck, I was lost even before that, I suppose. This story would, if it followed my actual timeline, take place about the same time I actually did move back to Keansburg in the wake of that great loss. 

I have to say, this is wonderfully written by the author. This can be a story to inspire people about what a true 'bottom' might look like in one's life. If for no other reason, this tale can be a cautionary tale for those who are wandering down the path to addiction.

You see, addiction grabbed hold of me and destroyed who I was and mental illness was there at every turn, making the world around me someplace dark and menacing. As you read this story, I want you to keep in mind that there is a lot of truth in these words and those who view it should know that, if anything, the author made this tale more palatable for mainstream audiences and that the actual truth of those times for me, and others like me who I knew, was even darker than in her pages. 

I came back to life through recovery, which is available to all of us. All any of us have to do to recover is be tired of being sick and tired of addiction. Similarly, to those who suffer from mental illness and refuse to take meds, I ask how illegal drugs or alcohol helps to put their life back on track. Fixing substance addiction problems without addressing psychological disorders is as useful as fixing a funnel but leaving a whole in the bottom of the bucket you are trying to fill up.

Recovery works and is available in any one of thousands of meetings that take place all across this great nation and even the world every single day. 

I wish the author all success and praise their work. There is no better story than the one that has the possibility of touching the lives of others. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Power of Caring

Essential for healing to occur

By David H. Kerr                  July 23, 2015

Instincts plus a balanced Caring Relationship developed with your client, may far out way what is learned by the traditional assessment, diagnosis and rote application of recommended counseling techniques.  This is the belief of Psychiatrist Allen Frances who wrote the essay published in the July 7, 2015 issue of the “Psychiatric Times” – see Addendum below.  I would agree with Frances but how you apply what you have learned to develop a natural conversation and relationship is “the art of healing.” 

There’s no training that can overshadow the power of caring and the subsequent healthy and healing relationship that is established between counselor and client.  Common sense?  Sure but let’s not forget to use it!  What we learn by life experiences and from books and formal training must be absorbed and communicated in a most natural way as if you are talking to your brother.  If you apply “common sense” then your relationship will be guided and focused and “healing” rather than intimate or detrimental or pontificating.  Every counselor must understand that “healing” comes from the heart, not the books or the libido.

Dr. Allen Francis concludes that "the major focus of the fact of therapy should be to establish a powerfully healing relationship and to inspire hope. Specific techniques help when they enhance the primary focus on the relationship; they hurt when they distract from it."…

Francis goes on to say that "The paradox is that the therapists are increasingly schooled in specific techniques to the detriment of learning how to heal. The reason is clear; it is easy to manualize technique, hard to teach great healing."

Fanny Marell, an experienced Swedish social worker, licensed psychotherapist and friend of Francis, shares her input; "many therapists worry so much about assessing symptoms, performing techniques, and filling out forms that they miss the wonderful vibrancy of a strong therapeutic relationship."

Marell goes on to say that "If we focus only on troubles and diagnostics, we lose the advantage of capitalizing on the personal strengths and resources.  Therapy without conversations about strengths and hopes is not real therapy."

Dr. Francis concludes his meeting with the following: “Thanks Ms. Marell, for terrific advice.  Some of the best natural therapists I have known have been ruined by psychotherapy training, becoming so preoccupied learning and implementing technique that they lost the healing warmth of their personalities.

I think that public funding and regulatory bodies should understand the truth expressed by Dr. Francis and Ms. Marell.  Talking and listening to your client is informative and essential.  However, without establishing a relationship with your client and expressing the healing warmth and human caring of your personality we may miss the basic ingredient of the healing process.  Those effective psychiatrists and counselors whom I have known, understand that a caring relationship with their clients is essential for healing to occur.

My next blog is entitled:  “An alternative to a degree as a measure of caring and competence”


Psychiatric Times

The Magical Healing Power of Caring and Hope in Psychotherapy[1] July 07, 2015 | Couch in Crisis, Psychotherapy By Allen Frances, MD

 “Allen J. Frances  (born 1942 in Thessaloniki, Greece) is an American psychiatrist best known for chairing the task force that produced the fourth revision of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) and for his critique of the current version,DSM-5. He warns that the expanding boundary of psychiatry is causing a diagnostic inflation that is swallowing up normality and that the over-treatment of the "worried well" is distracting attention from the core mission of treating the more severely ill. In 2013,  Frances said that "psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests.”

There are 3 consistent research findings that should make a world of difference to therapists and to the people they treat.

1. Psychotherapy works at least as well as drugs for most mild to moderate problems and, all things being equal, should be used first
2. A good relationship is much more important in promoting good outcome than the specific psychotherapy techniques that are used
3. There is a very high placebo response rate for all sorts of milder psychiatric and medical problems

This is partly a “time effect: People come for help at particularly bad times in their lives and are likely to improve with time even if nothing is done.  But placebo response also reflects the magical power of hope and expectation. And the effect is not just psychological —the body often actually responds to placebo just as it would respond to active medication (/basics/psychopharmacology)..

These 3 findings add up to one crucial conclusion—the major focus of effective therapy should be to establish a powerfully healing relationship and to inspire hope. Specific techniques help when they enhance the primary focus on the relationship; they hurt when they distract from it.

The paradox is that therapists are increasingly schooled in specific techniques to the detriment of learning how to heal. The reason is clear—it is easy to manualize technique, hard to teach great healing.

I have, therefore, asked a great healer, Fanny Marell, a Swedish social worker and licensed psychotherapist, to share some of her secrets.

1Ms Marell writes: Many therapists worry so much about assessing symptoms, performing techniques, and filling out forms that they miss the wonderful vibrancy of a strong therapeutic relationship.

Thinking I can help someone just by asking about concerns, troubles, and symptoms is like thinking that I can drive a car solely by looking in the rearview mirror.  Dreams (/basics/dreaming), hopes, and abilities are seen out of the front window of the car and help us together to navigate the road ahead. Where are we going? Which roads will you choose and why? It surely will not be the same roads I would take. We are different; we have to find your own best direction.

If we focus only on troubles and diagnosis, we lose the advantage of capitalizing on the person’s strengths and resources. If I am to help someone overcome symptoms, change behaviors, and climb out of difficult situations, I need to emphasize also all the positives he brings to the situation. Therapy without conversations about strengths and hopes is not real therapy.

And often most important: Does the patient have a sense of humor? Laugh together! Be human.  No one wants a perfect therapist. It is neither credible nor human.

Symptom checklists and diagnoses play a role but give me no understanding of how this person/patient understands his world and her troubles.
And don’t drown in manuals, missing the person while applying the technique.
People come to me discouraged and overwhelmed, their hopes and dreams abandoned. Early in our time together, I ask many detailed questions about how they would like life to change. What would you do during the day? Where would you live? What would your relationship to your family be like? What would you do in your spare time? What kind of social circle would you have? By getting detailed descriptions I get concrete goals (e.g. I want to go to school, I want to argue less with my parents, spend more time with friends).
Almost always, working with the family is useful; sometimes it is absolutely necessary. What would be a good life for your child? How would it affect you?
Sometimes dreams are big, perhaps even too extravagant; sometimes they are small and and perhaps too cautious. But dreams always become more realistic and realizable when they are expressed. Sharing a dream and making it a treatment goal helps the person make a bigger investment in the treatment and to take more responsibility for it.  He becomes the driver and the therapist may sit in the back seat.
Because my first conversation is not just about symptoms and troubles, we start off on a basis of realistic hope and avoid a negative spiral dominated by troubles. Problems have to be faced, but from a position of strength, not despair and helplessness.
Having a rounded view of the person's problems and strengths enriches the therapeutic contact and creates a strong alliance. 
Thanks, Ms. Marell, for terrific advice. Some of the best natural therapists I have known have been ruined by psychotherapy training, becoming so preoccupied learning and implementing technique that they lost the healing warmth of their personalities.
Therapy should always be an exciting adventure, an intense meeting of hearts and minds. You can't learn to be an effective therapist by reading a manual and applying it mechanically.
I would tell therapists I supervised never to apply what we discussed to their next session with the patient, lest they always be a week behind. Therapy should be informed by technique, but not stultified by it.