The Plunging Morale of America’s Service Members – The Atlantic

Source: The Plunging Morale of America’s Service Members – The Atlantic, by Phil Klay

If the courage of young men and women in battle truly does depend on the nature and quality of our civic society, we should be very worried.

interpersonal attraction—the qualities someone has that, under normal circumstances, make you want to spend time with them outside of work—had no reliable impact on unit effectiveness. In fact, high social cohesion could even hurt unit effectiveness, by shifting individuals’ priorities from the organizational to the social. Instead, the most important element was a shared commitment to a task. Emphasis on unity—rather than divisions along gender and race—as well as on the importance of the mission, was the crucial factor.

When a threat is existential, the qualities you value in an individual shift. Marines like Decaul weren’t willing to work with a Klansman and a drug addict in spite of the fact that their lives might be on the line—they were willing to work with them because their lives were on the line.

Which means, when talking about making a military unit effective, we’re not just talking about a grudging choice. … They need a mission—one that is achievable, moral, and in keeping with the values of the society they represent and whose flag they wear on their uniform.

In the long term, the strength and legitimacy of the military will be a function of the perceived strength and legitimacy of the project it is supposed to represent. The clarity of purpose so central to bonding men in combat cannot emerge purely from the military itself.

Can service members maintain a sense of purpose when nobody—not the public, or Congress, or the commander in chief himself—seems to take the wars we’re fighting seriously?

This is reminiscent of what one officer said of the later stages of the Vietnam War: “The gung-ho attitude that made our soldiers so effective in 1966, ’67, was replaced by the will to survive.” It’s not that those troops lacked courage, but that the ends shifted. … if you think the mission your country keeps sending you on is pointless or impossible and that you’re only deploying to protect your brothers and sisters in arms from danger, then it’s not the Taliban or al-Qaeda or isis that’s trying to kill you, it’s America.

The Neolithic Toolkit – Archaeology Magazine

Source: The Neolithic Toolkit – Archaeology Magazine, by Andrew Curry
Also See: Recreating The Neolithic Toolkit, by ArchaeologyTV, on YouTube

How experimental archaeology is showing that Europe’s first farmers were also its first carpenters

Not too long ago, archaeologist Rengert Elburg found something that convinced him that “Stone Age sophistication” is not a contradiction in terms. It was a wood-lined well, discovered during construction work in Altscherbitz, near the eastern German city of Leipzig. Buried more than 20 feet underground, preserved for millennia by cold, wet, oxygen–free conditions, the timber box at the bottom of the well was 7,000 years old—the world’s oldest known intact wooden architecture. Elburg’s team at the Saxony State Archaeological Office removed the ancient well in a single 70-ton block, and brought it back to their lab in Dresden for careful excavation, documentation, and preservation.

When Elburg examined the wood, he could see not only tree rings but also tool marks. But with nothing to compare these ancient tool marks to, this evidence was hard to understand. Thus, he and a motley collection of archaeologists, amateur woodworkers, historical reenactors, and flintknapping hobbyists have been gathering each spring since 2011 for a most unusual workshop. Held in a forest just outside the town of Ergersheim in the southern German region of Franconia, it’s experimental archaeology with a serious purpose.

It turns out that “Stone Age” is something of a misnomer. It might be more accurate to call the millennia before the development of metallurgy the “Bone Age,” says Probst. “Bone and antler were actually the most common tools in the Stone Age. You’re already hunting or eating meat, so there are always bones around. Stone was more difficult to get, and had to be transported over many miles.”

Color: From Hexcodes to Eyeballs, by Jamie Wong

Source: Color: From Hexcodes to Eyeballs – Zero Wind, by Jamie Wong