Thursday, May 2, 2019
Seven Skinny Cows: The cost of Chaos
Innovation growth is “factorial” in nature since most innovation results from novel combinations of existing innovations.
That means innovation can grow even faster than compound interest. The time for new knowledge to be "created" shrinks as the amount of "known" knowledge increases.
Conversely, chaos is a tax on the principal. A chaos-tax that is sufficiently high results in a negative growth-rate as witnessed that fact that some demographics LOSE reading ability between grades nine and high school graduation.
The chaos sown by Cameron Duckworth caused the training to stall-out. With him gone the learning rate exploded.
The morning after Cameron left the pot of oatmeal did not burn nor did it tip and fall into the fire. Nobody woke up to find the damp laces of their boots knotted and frozen. Nobody found their socks knocked off the drying line and trampled into the snow.
The same number of spoons were in the drawer that had been washed and put away the night before. Nobody went the the shooting range only to learn that some of the rounds were loaded into their magazines backwards.
Chernovsky was in an expansive mood. The squads were on the practice field a full hour earlier than they had ever managed before. An hour of daylight is not trivial when you only have eight to work with.
Not only that but they showed up ready to work. There were no arguments nor was there foot dragging or “forgotten” items.
Chernovsky started the exercise with a short treatise on screen passes and the draw play. “That is how we are going to run our set-piece battles.” Chernovsky said. “Draw them in. Have them hyper-focus where WE want them looking. Get them to over-commit. Then run the play from where they are not looking.”
As a linebacker he had unique insights into the toughest plays to break. He hated draw plays and screen passes.
They ran through the play a few times when Chernovsky had to tell the offense to “dumb down”. “Our advantage is that we have seen this play and will have run it a hundred times before we do it for real. Their disadvantage is that they will have never seen these plays before.”
“But to make it work, we gotta be perfect.” Chernovsky lied. These plays even worked when people dropped assignments. In programming language, they were fault tolerant. That is why Chernovsky chose them for his set-piece engagements.
The offense had to slow down to about 1/4 speed before Chernovsky was satisfied.
“What has to happen next?” Chernovsky asked part-way into the slow-motion ambush.
“Everybody on the blind-side needs to start shooting.” Quinn said.
“How are you going to communicate?” Chernovsky asked. "You are a leader, that means you need a way to command-and-control."
Chernovsky did not have any strong opinions. He was giving them the problem to unravel.
“I could start shooting.” Quinn said. “Everybody would hear the AR.”
“You could, but you would be tipping your hand. You would lose the advantage of surprise that the silenced .22LRs give you and all the hostiles would know where the second threat was coming from.” Chernovsky observed.
After thrashing through the options the fire-teams decided that radio clicks were the best option but when it was windy or the radios were in-op to have the team-leader start the party with the AR with the caveat that that the team-leader was positioned well away from the body of the team, preferably biased toward the distraction so the hostiles would think it was part of the distraction.
Chernovsky then said “Those are reasonable proposals. Test them. Try to make them break. Make them earn their place in the play-book.”
The young men threw themselves into the challenge of making the proposals fail. As they worked through those issues they also solved issues with the optimum spacing between team members and optimum spacing from groups of hostiles when executing ambushes.
More was accomplished in one day than had been resolved in the two prior weeks.
After lunch a group of the young men were talking about Duckworth.
“Why?” Pepperoni asked. “I don’t get it. Why do people act like that?”
Pepperoni's last name was Prestigiacomo, which was a mouthful. Everybody called him Pepperoni except for Chernovsky when he was really, really angry.
Donnie, who had been in counseling and knew a bit about psychology suggested “Maybe his head is filled with chaos and it just leaks out.”
Quinn said, “You are WAY too kind. He is just a piece of shit.”
Dean, the young man with shoulders that made him look like a school bus said “I have a younger brother who is ADHD and he always stirs-the-pot. My mom things that chaos is normal to him and he is just leveling the playing field.”
Quinn objected to that. “I think Cameron is just a mean-shit. I mean, maybe he keeps people off-balance and jacked-up because he can grab more of what he wants behind the smoke screen. But mostly I think he is just mean.”
Walt Shaw was Shadrack’s older brother. “Nope. It is because the devil is in him.” Walt said.
Donnie scoffed. He believed in science, not folk tales written in a four-thousand year old book.
“I don’t care what other names you give them.” Walt said. “The Bible says ‘Your name is legion’ of demons. Whatever the name of the demon, it is going to make itself right at home as long as the sinner invites him into his soul.”
That was tough thing to argue against. Nobody was likely to change if they didn’t want to.
The afternoon was spent practicing retreating out of prepared positions.
“Suppose you tore off a bigger chunk than you could chew.” Chernovsky said. “You are shooting it out with hostiles and reinforcements keep adding to their number.”
“Who is going to decide it is time to pull the plug? How is it going to happen?” Chernovsky asked.
Then he let them walk through it. It quickly became apparent that the positions the defense chose to fight from became death-traps when they tried to retreat from them.
“So, what do you have to change to make the positions survivable?” Chernovsky asked. “Do you change where you position people? Do you change the playing field?”
Quinn was baffled. “What do you mean, ‘change the playing field’?” Quinn asked.
Chernovsky rolled his eyes. “We have chainsaws. We have more than thirty people to cut and move brush, to open up lines-of-sight or create concealment. We have shovels. We can move logs. We can get sand-bags. Use your brains. How can we totally stack the deck against the hostiles?” Chernovsky asked. “We get to pick the fields of battle. Let’s make it work to our advantage.”