So it was a 3 anna half hour flight from Chicago to LAX and they put me next to a 19 year old girl who starts the conversation with "I like your tattoos Are you from California? I'm from Texas I never flew on a plane this big before I'm in the Navy Who does this bitch think she is?".
So, yeah, I knew immediately I was about to have a 3 anna half hour conversation. Or at least hear a 3 anna half hour monologue.
She alternated explaining (how to properly attach bombs to the bottom of an F-18 Hornet, how to treat your dress uniform if you're not a fucking dirtbag, how to salute a superior officer if you're not a fucking shithead, how great her all-marine corps family was even though they didn't let her join the marines, and what all her favorite (completely emopop damaged) hardcore bands were) with complaining (about: her ex-fiancee, "all authority", not having had a drink in 5 hours, how hard it is to get in to see bands on the weekends from the base, the inability of her stupid slutty drunk lazy bomb-attaching dirtbag subordinates to follow her Friday quitting time speech re: keeping their shit together on the weekends, her all-marine corps family, how hard it was to get a fake ID). So, basically: the kind of fantasmagoric museum of articulate cognitive dissonance you only ever get in 19 year olds and very inebriated senior citizens.
In addition to the terrifying information that this young woman was in charge of making sure explosive ordinance did not accidentally fall out of the sky onto parts of the state in which I currently reside and type and that she was actually in charge of other people, it occurred to me that this is the kind of individual they are talking about who really needs the whole brassy shindig of the US military to protect her--not from Osama Bin Laden, but from herself.
On the other hand, I once had a drink with Alex Macris--who you may know as the author of the most aggressively researched econocore parts of the Adventurer Conqueror King RPG--and he explained the brevity of his tenure with our esteemed armed forces at West Point on the following grounds:
So, f'r'example: we had to polish our boots all the time. But--well you used to have to polish your boots to waterproof them. That was the point. But now the boots are made of completely waterproof material. There's no point, it's just busywork. I could have been doing--anything. That stuff just drove me crazy. I left.
One could make a decent argument that our military could very well use Alex Macris. But he did not need it.
(I ran Alex's waterproofing parable past the 19-year-old. Her only response was: "Yeah, you gotta keep your boots spitshine. Hey, d'you know Jimmy Eat World?")
Now me myself personally I didn't ever understand about the army and its rules-obsession until I read about the Civil War. And then I got it: Oh, you have these rules and chains of commands and these lines and orders because 5 minutes into genuine combat you are going to have to rebuild all the wagons out of chicken wire because they've been torched, and make new gunpowder out of bacon grease and horse spit, and then eat the horse, and then replace a now-decapitated commanding officer with the closest native english speaker in the next 8 seconds. Because war.
So yes, there are sometimes good reasons for rules--or, as PJFalsemachine says here:
Warfare is very difficult and produces enormous stress in the people who undertake it. As a consequence, the organisations that are directed to warfare develop rituals, manners and structures that are designed to control, displace, channel, and otherwise deal with stress. Because these organisations develop such qualities they then attract individuals who find themselves in personal need of these qualities in normal life. (Italics mine.)((That is, anti-italics representing PJ's italics . -Z))
In Dixon's own words “..those very characteristics which are demanded by war – the ability to tolerate uncertainty, spontaneity of thought and action, having a mind open to the receipt of novel, and perhaps threatening, information – are the antitheses of those possessed by people attracted to the controls, and orderliness of militarism. Here is the germ of a terrible paradox.”
And then he goes on to draw the parallel you are probably already expecting to GMing which I'll try not to repeat too much of.
The most strenuous and obstinate arguments against the games I want to play always end up going "I've been playing RPGs for 300 years and the way you want to do it always ends in horrible badness because (someone at the tale who is an idiot or 12 does something only an idiot or 12 year old would do) and the game crashes and burns and everyone is sad and scarred with napalm and cries. The rules need to be like (some whole other boring endless thing about sucking and extra new rules that suck)" and you wonder Where are you that you know anyone who does that and needs to be told not to and why do you play games with them?
Rules. Rules are ok. The kinds of rules shape the game, as the kind of armies shape the war. But there are many other factors at work in a war: the terrain upon which it is fought, the politics that started it and surround it, the objectives of the war, and, naturally, the kinds of people fighting.