The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 30 – Rick Ros, Rick Loss (1)
December 22, 2018
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What’s up? A distraught day.
Richard Rosner: So, I found out yesterday that my younger brother, who’s just turned 53, has died. He was found in bed; he is a healthy guy. He had he just gotten out of the Marines after a career in the marine reserves including a lot of active duty that expanded more than thirty years.
Starting a new job as a civilian consultant at the Pentagon, there was just no reason or there was no indication that this would happen. Reading the coroner’s report, maybe, he had an accident with the medication.
He was not a big drinker. I didn’t know he was a drinker at all. He was not a druggie. He kept himself in shape. He was very focused on his health and had to be in good shape to remain in the Marines. So, everybody is shocked and super sad. I
‘m 58 and a half and thinking about the possibility of death anyway. My wife has plenty of friends who’ve lost their husbands; my wife and I are at that age range where that happens. Also, my wife and I have lots of parents, uncles, and such.
We’ve been somewhat lucky so far. We’ve each lost a dad, but we have plenty more parents, step-parents, and uncles who are in their 80s pushing 90s. So, it is just a thing that middle-aged people, if they are lucky to have to deal with.
My brother, he did a lot of stuff; he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines, which is two ranks below General. It goes Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, and General. He was a stand-up comic who did more than 1,500 gigs.
You don’t get good until you’ve done hundreds and hundreds, maybe even a thousand gigs, but he was good. He was an observant Jew or what you’d call an Orthodox Jew and that combination of observant Jew stand-up comic and marine Lieutenant Colonel; I mean that’s just a crazy combination.
He liked people. He liked messing with people. That’s one reason he liked being an observant Jew in the marines because they are very few and there are plenty of rednecks in the Marines. And he likes people who call it a beanie on your head. He is able to say, “Sergeant, what are you calling a beanie?”
And he was funny, he was fast on his feet. He would call up other officers and impersonate the general’s voice and then order the officers over to the general’s office. They wouldn’t figure it out until they showed up in the general’s office. He was pranky. He was good at making fun of everybody’s foibles.
He did a lot of stuff. He lived in Israel for nine months. He toured Australia for a year as part of the team of stand-up comedians. He fought in Gulf War I and in Gulf War II. He was stationed over in Korea. He became an Intel analyst.
He started off when he first became active in the Marines. He just got married and didn’t want to put himself at war in harm’s way, then he had to as a newlywed. And after about a year, the first thing he did as a newlywed was go over to fight Gulf War I and then the marriage only lasted a year. His wife left him for a woman.
And after that, he regretted that he had chosen a less dangerous specialty in the Marines and then he tried to change specialties and eventually ended up in Intel and became a Red Team analyst. The red team, it is something that was started fairly recently in the armed services and probably in industry after some huge failures to anticipate things that could go wrong.
For instance, the failed raid under Jimmy Carter to rescue the hostages in Iran where the helicopters sucked sand into their engines of the rescue. The SEAL team types who are there to get the hostages out.
Their helicopters crashed because they’ve sucked in the sand and the rescue was a failure. The hostages stayed hostages for, I think, 444 days. It ended Jimmy Carter’s presidency. And then 9/11 which is a product of a clever, in a way, low-tech terrorist plot.
But at the same time, low-tech that the terrorists are only carrying box cutters; they didn’t have to do anything high-tech to hijack a flight. But it is a failure of complacency. It was a failure of lack of interagency communication where the CIA wasn’t talking enough.
The NSA wasn’t talking enough to the FBI. It was a failure to have enough Arabic specialists in all these agencies. It was a failure to anticipate that this attack could be made even though at least one fiction writer has written the novel. Well, actually more than one, I think Tom Clancy had a novel where somebody crashed a plane into the capital.
So, anyway, red teams are the teams that look into situations and possible operations and try to come up with every possible way they could go wrong so that you have contingency plans that are already in place.
I mean you can look at the aftermath of Gulf War II as the failure to have any contingencies where the neocon to Cheney and Rumsfeld who planned the war said, it is close to an actual quote: Iraqi civilians would greet the U.S. topplers of Saddam with flowers in the street.
I’m sure there were plenty of people who were glad to be rid of Saddam, but there was no post-war plan. They fired the entire military. He just fired and that left hundreds of thousands and maybe a million soldiers and officers without jobs.
And those people, this led to a civil war where up to a million Iraqis died. The fired officers often became the nuclei around which guerrilla organizations including ISIS formed and most of this was a failure to anticipate or they didn’t figure out how to guard the museums after the government was taken down. So, Iraq’s museums were robbed of stuff that’s 5,000 to 8,000 years old.
Iraq is one of the earliest settles in settled areas in the world; earliest areas in the world with civilizations, the Fertile Crescent; that is the fricking Fertile Crescent. And so, stuff from the very beginning of civilization was just looted by just people running amok in the streets.
And you can consider it a failure to use Red team thinking ‘what could go wrong?’, ‘what do we need to do to plan for all this stuff?’ I mean, the war itself was based on bullshit, but the war was much less damaging than the aftermath of the war with no plans in place to stabilize the country and the whole thing destabilized the Mideast and that area is still dealing with the consequences.
So, anyway, he became a red team guy and a futurologist; a guy who looks at what we do here, except he was doing it for the Marines: looking at the future and seeing what we’re going to be the threats and also the good shit in the next few decades.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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