You May Fire When Ready, Gridley

We live in an age of information overload, when the sensors outnumber and outthink (after their fashion) their human operators. At some point there will be no human operators or interpreters at all, for the information will be arriving in the engagement queue so fast and so chaotically that only super computers will be able to assemble, interpret and act on the information. There was a simpler time, when the Mark 1 eyeball was the only engagement queue that could be relied upon. Such a time occurred at the Battle of Manila, 1898, when Admiral Dewey ordered Captain Gridley of the cruiser Olympia to fire when ready. There was a human tempo then, but now I’m not so sure the information overload might not lead to calamity, as the chaotic state of information arrival could lead to deadly miscalculation. (In the following, it must be observed that Captain Gridley never served on the USS Maine. His placement there is purely poetic license on my part.)  



You may fire when ready, Gridley

Said the skipper of the Maine

Though why he gave the order

He deigned not to explain

For he sat in Havana harbor

Not an enemy in sight

It was just an errant bumboat

Not one looking for a fight

Today of course it’s different

Info out the old kazoo

That stumps the hierarchy

And swamps the info queue

To where instead of making

The situation clear

Confusion reigns as sensors

Tell us all the end is near

In that simpler time when Gridley

Left the sinking BB Maine

He joined the old Olympia

And was ordered so again

For the task at hand was simple

Spanish ships were up ahead

In a time before engagement queues

Get the most of us real dead



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