Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on September 29, 1987 · Page 4
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 4

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Ukiah, California
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Tuesday, September 29, 1987
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Page 4
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THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL OPINION TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29,1987 EDITORIAL All-Volunteer Force works When the United States abandoned the draft and adopted the All-Volunteer Force 14 years ago, critics charged that the reform would erode the nation's military readiness. Specifically, the naysayers said the services would be dominated by minorities and the culturally disadvantaged. To the contrary, the AVF currently is comprised of a cross-section of capable young persons who are performing their duties in an exceptional manner. A statistical breakdown of the four branches shows why the Department of Defense is particularly high on both the number and the quality of recruits. The Army is enjoying its most successful recruiting year ever. Approximately 91 percent of its recruits are high school graduates, compared with 75 percent of the overall youth population. Nearly two-thirds of the recruits rank in the upper echelons in the armed forces aptitude test. That quality translates into a better fighting force because the Army is spending less time on disciplinary problems and more time training troops. Similarly, the Navy is having no problems fillings its ranks with talented young persons. Approximately 90 percent of its recruits have high school diplomas, and most of them score well on the armed forces tests. Not surprisingly, the likelihood of these well-trained sailors getting into trouble is far less today than it was 10 years ago. Nearly 98 percent of Marine recruits are high school graduates and their success in the aptitude tests mirrors that of the Army and Navy. Likewise, the Corps reports a sharp downturn in discipline problems during the last 10 years, which bears witness to the higher caliber of its recruits. The Air Force, which has never had a recruiting problem, boasts a 99 percent high school completion rate among its enlistees. As one of the more specialized of the services, the USAF has an extensive training program for men and women and can afford to be quite selective in its recruits. Moreover, service retention programs continue to be successful,, with all .branches reporting a steady increase in re-enlistments. Of course, persons in technical specialties, particularly fliers, are frequently lured into the private sector once their tour of duty is completed. Nevertheless, recent increases in military pay and benefits, combined with a resurgence in patriotism, have made service life more attractive than it was during the 1970s. The ability of the military services to attract and retain quality volunteers depends to a large degree on economic conditions and the pool of youth available for active duty. Accordingly, the various "branches have mounted an aggressive recruiting campaign to meet their quotas in order to counter the declining number of 18-year-olds forecast through the mid-1990s. Although the percentage of blacks has increased somewhat in all of the services, whites still account for approximately 75 percent of the recruits. So much for the myth of the minority mercenary force. The success of the All-Volunteer Force notwithstanding, there still are those who would bring back the draft. Sen. Ernest Rollings, D-S.C, has introduced a bill to that effect, contending that citizenship carries with it certain burdens as well as benefits. We are all for citizens meeting their responsibilities, but conscription makes no sense when the four branches are flush with highly qualified and motivated volunteers. Our national security is greatly enhanced by these capable men and women who want to serve their country. Congress, for its part, should ensure that they are fairly compensated for their service. Letter policy LETTERS QEORQE WILL A messy desk is simply rational WASHINGTON — The Divinity (a.k.a. Victoria Will) will soon be seven, which philosophers call the age of reason. Fat lot philosophers know about young girls. I have shared a small desk with one for several years and now am sharing a huge desk, and she and I are wrestling with the intellectual problem of desktop tidiness. For the Prodigy (a.k.a. the Divinity) and me this is a problem, because some afternoons after school we now sit across from each other at an old (new to me) "partners desk," one of those enormous constructions with drawers on each side. The top, on which an F-15 could land, can hold a lot of clutter. Father favors tidiness. Daughter finds clutter congenial. And it turns out she is correct: Science proves that it is rational to have a messy desk. In Discover magazine Hugh Kenner, professor of English at Johns Hopkins and a confirmed advocate of chaos, last year wrote a spirited defense of the messy desk. Kenner considers tidiness not only evidence of an unattractive character ("clean-deskers measure their vermouth with an eyedropper, walk their dogs by the clock, succor their spouses by the calendar"), but also a practice invalidated by the 80-20 rule, a.k.a. Zipfs Law. Kenner says: Consider my desk. I take a reference book from a shelf and, knowing I will refer to it again soon, I leave it on my desk for now. And this letter inviting me to a conference. I'll leave it next to the book for now because I'll be refer- ring to it when I make travel arrangements. These notes for the essay I'm writing — I turn to them frequently so I'll leave them here for now. The "for nows" accumulate and so does the stuff. For Kenner, a messy desk is a matter of principle, not sloth. The principle is: What you need now you're apt to need again, and again. That is why the paring knife is left on the kitchen counter, and the nutmeg grater is not. The principle pops up all over the place, as in our use of words. Kenner sa>s we make more than 50 percent *of our normal talk by recycling about 100 words. Feel inarticulate? Cheer up. Shakespeare's works contain 29,066 different words, but 40 words make up 40 percent of the texts of his plays. James Joyce's "Ulysses" contains almost the same number of different words — 29,899 — but just 135 words ("the," "of," "and," "to," etc.) make up half the text. Such words are the utility infielders of discourse. We keep them handy on our desktops, so to speak. They illustrate this principle: Most of every activity uses only a small fraction of available resources. The common words are like paring knives: They perform many functions. The rarely used words (Kenncr's example: "colubriform," meaning snake-snaped) can be defined in a few lines. But in the large Oxford English Dictionary, an all- purpose word like "set" (get set to set the table with the dining set, then set the alarm so we can set out ... etc.) requires an OED entry two-thirds the length of "Paradise Lost." Like the clutter on a cluttered desk, such words are the ones we reach for frequently. The clutter on our desks is the stuff we strew there in accordance with (whether we know it or not) "the principle of least effort." That was expounded in 1950 by George Zipf, a Harvard philologist who became the ideologist of clutter. He established the rationality of the messy desk with this law: Frequency of use draws near to us the things that are frequently used, so some messes accumulate for good_ reasons. Kenner says that intelligent secretaries have long known that files in heavy use should not be rc-filcd — that 80 percent of the action involves 20 percent of the files. But the 80-20 rule actually inconveniences cluttcrologisls such as Kenner because, as noted in the 1963 "IBM Systems Journal," the 80-20 rule applies, in turn, to the active 20 percent. That is, if you keep 1,000 files, of which 200 bear most duty, then 20 percent of the 200—just 40 files — get most of the use, as do eight of those 40, and two of those eight. Two files make for a tidy desk. Victoria gets her way because her father thinks she is perfect in every way and is becoming more so day by day. Unfortunately, Victoria consents only to one application of the 80-20 rule to her 175,000 Crayolas, stencils and other instruments of the serious business of being seven. Editorial Sampler The Journal welcomes letters from our readers. However, we reserve the right not to print those letters we consider may be libelous, in bad taste or a personal attack. Letters must not exceed 300 words m lensht and should be typed and double-spaced. Addresses will not be printed, but the writer's name will appear. Sept. 11 The Detroit News on federalism: A bipartisan group commissioned a Gallup Poll recently on public attitudes toward local, state and federal government, and the answers were clear-cut. Voters trust their local government the most and Washington the least, with the state government in between. Though the respondents probably didn't think of it that way, they were confirming that federalism is alive and well. The Founders took great care to preserve competing political entities within the United States. They granted certain powers to the federal government and reserved all other powers to the states or people. The Federalist Papers, written to argue the case for adoption ol tne new Constitution, whose bicentennial we are now observing, reasoned that state and local politicians would be more trusted because they are closer to the people. ... When considering the checks and balances built into our constitutional system, we lend to Uiink of the separation of powers within the federal government. We should also remember the crucial checks and balances built into the federal system as a whole. It's a work of art — and the public knows it. Sept. 10 The Herald, Everett, Wash., on Star Wars and the ABM treaty: If there is anything Congress must do this year besides passing a budget (hat achieves major deficit reduction, it is prohibiting the Rea§ an administration from conducting tar Wars activities that would violate the traditional interpretation of the ABM treaty. The traditional interpretation of the 1972 treaty is straightforward enough. Under the treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union may not proceed beyond laboratory research to test,' develop or deploy any system or component of a space-based defense against ballistic missiles. ... The treaty, moreover, bans a nationwide missile defense, but allows each side to maintain an ABM system to defend one military base or city using the stationary land-based technologies of the early 1970s. ... Working to right a wrong To The Editor: Many of the arguments used to support abortion today could have been used to support slavery prior to the Civil War. In those early years of America, at best only half of all Americans believed that slavery was wrong. Most people who came to oppose slavery did so on religious grounds, so passing a law outlawing it was an "establishment of religion" prohibited by the first amendment. The law then left a person who believes that slavery was wrong free not to own slaves. The law also left a person who didn't believe it was wrong free to own slaves. I wonder why people weren't happy that they had a constitutional right to practice what they believe and also respect other people's constitutional right to do the same? Tolerating other people's beliefs is part of the American way. Why didn't the abolitionists desist for the good of America? I hope the answer is obvious. They opposed slavery then as we do now because it is morally wrong. Slavery devalued a whole class of people; it ^ made them les$ than human, and denied them the * rights humans deserve. But abortion does exactly the same thing to another class of humans, the unborn. The Supreme Court once ruled slavery a lawful right, but we all realize now that they were wrong. The same has happened with abortion. Those who oppose abortion hold the same moral high ground regarding the dignity of all human life that those ; who opposed slavery did, and will continue to work ; toward correcting the Supreme Court's error. We care too much about America to do otherwise. „ Randy A. Moehnke ' Ukiah Big Brothers/Sisters needed To The Editor: An open letter to the parents of children enrolled in the Big Brother/Big Sister program: We appreciate and understand all the reasons that led you to seek a Big Brother or Big Sister for your child. Having a non-parental role model can be very important to a child, especially when one parent is not in the home. We regret that we have been unable to find an adult volunteer to act in that capacity. All loo few people volunteer for anything nowadays and the extensive screening process we put them through seems to scare others off. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters added to the program in the past year arc outstanding examples of the exemplary people we seek to act as role modcl/counsclor/fnend to your child. With this letter, we arc publishing an urgent appeal for volunteers to be Big Brothers and Big Sisters. It takes a special person who is willing to make a firm commitment. The rewards to the adult are satisfying — the benefits to the child are great. In the interim, we will try to provide your child with a variety of activities and counseling services to justify your having placed your faith — and your child — in our program. Volunteers are urged to call 463-4916. Ron Foreman Coordinator Big Brothers/Dig Sisters of Mendocino Co. Thanks for the support To The Editor: Thanks Ukiah for your wonderful support of the American Cancer Society's 2nd Annual Jail & Bail (Sept. 18 and 19 at Ihe Pear Tree Ccnier). H was a resounding success! Afler expenses, 512,100 was raised for our local ACS Unit. The whole community got behind the event with represenialion from the medical, legal, and political sectors as well as from the Ukiah Unified School District and the business communily. It's impossible to thank everyone who helped, but here we go anyway: Thanks to Bill Stcelc and his cohorts at K-WINE whose sense of humor made the -. entire event great fun. Conditions in prison were ;I much improved this year thanks to Domino's Pixza " and Toni Harris who supplied our "arrestees" with 'pizza and soft drinks; to Sandy'Sage for decorations; and to Al Lyly for the flatbed truck. Our lhanks lo Police Chief Fred Keplinger, Sgl. Chuck Durfee, and fellow officers of ihc Ukiah Police Department who gave up their free time to round up 68 of the best sports in the Ukiah Valley. These "arrestees" took it all in stride and raised funds that will support ACS research and local programs of education and service to cancer patients. Thanks also to our committee, to Pat Denny and John Behnke, and to those who served as judges, courtroom officers, photographers, and drivers. We very much appreciate the Journal's helping us get the information out on this "wild and crazy" fund raiser. We are equally gratified by the way the community good naturedly responded. And to our surprise "arrestees" a word of advice lor next year — turn about is fair play. ! Lee Adams, Chairman Jail & Bail Committee: Barbara Buckley, Co-Chair Ukiah Daily "Journal •^ *UrWocmo Bounty, I'alifgn *UrWocmo Bounty, Donald W. Reynolds, Chairman of the Board Thomas W. Reeves, General Manager John AnasUsio Managing Editor Bruce Schlabaugh Advertising Director Eddie Sequeura Display Advertising Manager Claire Booker Circulation Manager Denue Hall CompotinK Supervisor Victor Martinez rttM Supervisor Yvonne Bell Officer Manager /' ^ Member Audit Bureau ^A*y> O f Circulations LOCALLY OPERATED MEMBER OONREY MEDIA GROUP —DOONESBURY •By Garry Trudeau : I987COSTOFA SLICE OF TH£ Briefly... OoESBSSSSSa

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