The infinite divisibility of people

These are old thoughts inspired by this comic

"the new crowd is heavily shaped by this guy Eric, who is basically the Paris Hilton of the amature crazy straw design world."

click to link to “xkcd” the best webcomic in the universe

There’s a human tendency to an Us/Them mentality that will apply itself to sort any group of more than 4 people.  In the navy it really struck me how incredibly flexible these groups are.  Among Navy Nukes the mechanics were naturally aligned against the “wire rates,”  but when there were no mechanics around the Electricians divided themselves from the Electronics technicians.  Once we were on the submarine those divisions remained as strong as ever, but all 3 subsets of Nuke (who worked in the Engine Room) would instantly align themselves together against “the coners” who worked in the front end of the boat.  Of course the coners had many subdivisions among themselves, and in all honesty a sonar tech wasn’t that different in mentality from a Nuke electronics tech, and a nuke mechanic might have more in common with an A-gang-er (auxillay mechanic) than with a dice-chunking twidgit (D&D playing ET).  Separate from all these divisions was a fault line that ran perpendicular to it.  Workers vs Bosses.  In this case Blueshirts vs Khaki.

 Aside:  Traditionally the Navy working uniforms had officers dressed in head to toe Khaki and enlisted dressed in “Dungarees” which were dark blue pants and a light blue shirt, not unlike a gas station attendent.  When a sailor made the rank of “Chief” (E-7) he shed his dungarees for the khaki of leadership.  Recently the Navy has been changing the uniform scheme so that all enlisted would wear a khaki shirt and black pants for office type work.  I can’t imagine this not pissing off everybody E-7+8+9, which taken together are quite an influential group’ though they are technically outranked by the most junior officer in the fleet.

  • Sub vs Surface
  • Navy vs Army
  • Military vs Civilian

One of my favorite things about Nuke school, was when 2 guys met in class and only knew eachother in uniform.  Hung out on campus.  Played volley ball together.  Then after 6 weeks or so they’re allowed out into town in civilian clothes.  You see them walking in-step around the mall together, one in a plaid shirt with cowboy boots and hat, and the other looking like “HotTopic” threw up on him… and these 2 guys that would never have talked to eachother in the civilian world both agree that they can’t stand those knuckle-dragging wrench monkeys that call themselves mechanics.


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