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PowerPoint Patch

Wear your new patch with pride . . . you've earned it!!!!

MEMORANDUM FOR All US Army military personnel:

(Ensure widest possible dissemination.)

The US Army uniform board has just released a new patch for those trapped in staff positions and who have served above and beyond the call of duty in making time consuming POWERPOINT presentations day after day, week after week, month after month without recognition.

The new "PPT1000" patch, shown above, is authorized to those who have put in at least 1,000 hours on PPT presentations. Subsequent awards for 2,500 hrs, 5,000 hrs, and 10,000 hrs are to follow. Posthumous awards for those putting in over 25,000 hrs will be presented to the next of kin, upon request.

The patch may be sewn on the right shoulder of the battle dress uniform or affixed to the flight suit/ACU with Velcro. A special pin version will be developed for the Army Class A uniform. Subdued versions are not authorized at this time.

Similar patches have been authorized in the past for serving in combat, but since our real mission today is to beat the other services out of $$$ by creating spectacular PPT slides, the Board deemed this was absolutely appropriate at this time.

Please submit your request to your commander or servicing MILPO for issue.

A similar patch and pin is under development for qualified Excel operators. Microsoft Word operators will not be recognized because the Army chooses to avoid the preparation of written products, particularly with signatures.

Combat Briefing Badge

News Update: Army Unveils New Award

Subject: Combat Briefing Badge (CBB)

Recognizing the need for an award for troops assigned to headquarters units during combat operations, the Army today announced the approval of the Combat Briefing Badge, or CBB.� "People don�t realize that being in a major headquarters can be just as stressful as going on patrols or convoys," said MAJ John Remf.� "When you�re briefing that many General Officers, your career can end in a heartbeat.� And it can happen to anyone at any time, not just combat arms soldiers."� DOD statistics note that CSS personnel are more likely to suffer career-ending incidents in rear areas than Combat Arms Soldiers.� "This just reflects that reality," said Pentagon spokesman LTC Roger Pogue.

The award ranks in precedence below the CIB and CAB, but above the EIB and PowerPoint Ranger tab.�

The criteria for the award is still under discussion, but preliminary guidance authorizes the award for 30 days of continuous briefings of officers at least two grades higher than the briefer without incident while serving in a theater of operations in which the awardee is eligible for hostile fire and hazardous duty pay.�

Contributed By:� MAJ Mike Harris, US Army, 9 Jul 05, from the Iraqi Frontier

Jack Speaks on PowerPoint

Jack Speaks on PowerPoint

My PowerPoint

This is dedicated to John "Slidemeister" Wilwerding. Remember the Marines' rifleman creed (This is my rifle...)? This was created by a Marine at WESTPAC. (I don't know who this guy is but it was on the e-mail I received....)

This is my PowerPoint. There are many like it but mine is 7.0.

My PowerPoint is my best friend. It is my life.
I must master it as I master my life.

My PowerPoint without me is useless.
Without my PowerPoint, I am useless.

I must format my slides true. I must brief them better
than the other J-cells who are trying to out brief me.
I must brief the impact on the CINC before he asks me. I will!

My PowerPoint and myself know that what counts in this war
is not the number of slides, quantity of animations, the colors
of the highlights, or the format of the bullets. We know that it
is the new information that counts. We will brief only new information!

My PowerPoint is human, even as I, because it is my life.
Thus I will learn it as a brother.

I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its fonts,
its accessories, its formats, and its colors.

I will keep my PowerPoint slides current and ready to brief.
We will become part of each other. We will!

Before God I swear this creed. My PowerPoint and myself are
defenders of my country. We are the masters of our subject.
We are the saviors of my career.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy,
but peace (and the next exercise)!

PowerPoint Ranger

Download the PowerPoint Ranger Presentation. !

Ballad of the PowerPoint Rangers

--an S3 theme song

'PowerPoint Ranger' is a derogatory term for a desk-bound bureaucrat more adept at making slides than tossing grenades.

(To the tune of "The Green Berets")

Requests are made, from day to day,
Briefings held, and changes made.
Graphics slides, a must they say,
and PowerPoint is the only way.

Computers crash, and printers stall,
Overloading protocol.
Network's down and soldiers cry,
Briefing's late so heads will fly.

Pin PowerPoint Slides upon my chest,
Full-color slides, they look the best.
One Hundred Slides were made that day,
But only 3 were ever displayed.

A smile came on the General's face,
Slides were done and looked just great!
T'was up all night, worked really late,
Just to hear, the General state:

My soldier son, your slides were great,
Briefing's done, slides up to date.
One problem son, the color's wrong,
One more chance, or you go home.

So tell my mom, I've done my best.
Pin PowerPoint Slides on my chest.
One hundred slides were made that day,
But only 3 were ever displayed.

History of the song.

It was written on July 4, 1996 in Taszar Hungary at about 3 am in the office of the ODCSENG USAREUR (FWD) during Operation Joint Endeavor/Guard.� LTC Jorge Guiterriez was setting at a desk trying to get a slide brief done on his computer�and had about 250�slides he was trying to reduce.� It was just too much information for one brief of about 15 minutes.� So he had to chop them down to the bare minimum.� So the song was dedicated to him.� I know because I was the one who wrote the song.� Since that time it has�been�all over the world,�and I take great pride in the song.� I was the night Engineer TOC Operations Officer for COL Johnson.� He was�from the 130th�Engineers in Germany.� Our staff came from the 412th Engineer Command in Vicksburg, MS.��I was just an�E-6 at the time.� We gave�LTC Guiterriez his retirement party yesterday in Vicksburg, MS and I dedicated a part II to the song just for him at his retirement, along with the remaining staff from that operation.�There are only two in the unit now from then, the rest that were there with us�are gone to play in the sand.��

MSG Steven W. Rowland
412th Engineer Command
10 March 2003
(Power Point Ranger)�

The Crash of the PowerPoint Briefing

�* Sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
(And with all regrets to Gordon Lightfoot�)

The legend lives on from the Fifth Corps on down,
of the thirty meg PowerPoint briefing.
The software its said never gives up its dead,
when the God of Electrons grows angry.
With officers galore, maybe a hundred or more,
it was said that no one could outbrief them.
The good ACE and crew was a bone to be chewed,
when the God of Electrons came calling.

The ACE was the pride of the German countryside,
when they left Wuerzberg bound for Tuzla.
As MI units go, they were bigger than most,
with a battle captain well seasoned.
Major Holden in lead, quite a large man indeed,
and a master with mouse and a laptop.
In charge of the ACE, he set a fast pace,
and demanded his graphics and bitmaps.

The fingers on keyboards made a tattletale sound,
and the Bubbavision TV only flickered.
The network was taxed, always pushed to its max,
but the Term Shop was bound and determined.
The dawns came late and the sleep had to wait,
with the turnover of April upon them.
When mid-April came, it was analysis time,
or the G-2'd be left with no briefings.

When BUB time came round, LTC Rapp came in,
sayin' "Fellas, the room is a'fillin".
At six PM, the main hard drive crashed,
he said "fellas it's been good to know ya".
SFC Taylor called down, "we got generals coming in"
and the good ACE and crew was in peril.
And later that night while the troops ran in a fright,
came the crash of the PowerPoint briefing.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes,
when the briefings turn minutes to hours?
The G-2, they say, would've made Colonel that day,
if he'd put ten less meg on the hard drive.
He might have compressed, or he might have zipped files,
He might have enlarged his server.
But all that remains is the faces and names,
of the spouses, the sons and the daughters.

In a musty old tent in Tuzla they prayed,
In the room that houses the Great Bubba.
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times,
for each meg in the PowerPoint briefing.
The legend lives on from the Fifth Corps on down,
of the thirty meg PowerPoint briefing.
The software they said, never gives up her dead,
when the God of Electrons grows hungry.

Written By:� CPT Joe Paschall, USMC, JAC LNO to Task Force Eagle�s ACE, 18 Apr 97
Contributed from the Bosnian Frontier

PowerPoint Ranger Tab

From a recent e-mail:

"Someone needs to come up with an SF Tab for PowerPoint because we all know that there is no one more powerful with a computer than a PowerPoint Ranger with an SF Tab.� SF meaning Slide Flipper of course!� When put in charge of such a highly prestigious mission as being the Slide Flipper, one deserves to be wearing such a tab to show off their special talent."
- LT W.P. Frederick
Webmaster's note: The "slide flipper" ASI is automatically awarded to all chemical officers upon successful completion of the basic course.

PowerPoint Jedi

PowerPoint Haikus

PowerPoint Ranger,
Army of One Techno-geek,
Revered by the brass!

PowerPoint briefing,
Eye candy for the big cheese,
Sycophant's wet dream!

G3 smiles and grins,
Panders to PowerPoint sluts,
Staff oxygen thief!

Brief CG at noon,
Animated slides and sounds,
Cartoons for morons!

Cheese-meister to brief,
Proud to wear PowerPoint tab,
Future General!

QTB this week,
Hundred slides to make today,
I am Sisyphus!

OPLAN brief today,
Eyes glaze, heads droop, heartbeat stops.
Death by PowerPoint!

PowerPoint Ranger

Power Point Ranger, Hell of a Man!
Walked into the 'Gon with his brief in his hand.
Lined a hundred slides up against the wall,
Made a two dollar bet he could brief them all.
Briefed 98 'till his screen turned blue,� *
Then he backed off, rebooted and briefed the other two.
When he died, he went to Hell,
Briefed the Devil himself and Billy Gates as well.
On his tombstone it can be seen:
"Here lies the human PowerPoint Machine!"

Written By:� Dave (MAJ, FA, USAR) with some help from his friends
Hopefully you're "old soldier" enough to remember the original.

Here's a funny PowerPoint song and video:

PowerPoint Ballad: Submitted by: M. Chipster

PowerPoint Centric Terms

bulletize: To highlight supposedly key information using bullet points. "To help explain my idea, I've bulletized the main points on the next slide..." Often used by people who can't explain themselves in complete sentences.
- Charles Mitchell
DBT: �Death by Tweakage. When a slide fails to convey its intended meaning due to unnecessary tinkering or too many last-minute revisions. "Why did the new slide fail?" "It had the DBTs."
- Anonymous
deck: �A staple of every military meeting -- the PowerPoint "slide" show. "There were only 12 slides in the deck, but the presentation lasted an hour."
- Margaret Wilson
Eye chart: �An information-laden PowerPoint slide with small type. Often introduced with: "I know this slide is tough to see, but..." Example: "As we showed on the bottom line of the eye chart I covered a few minutes ago, we had a 31% increase in net revenue."
- David Kingsley

PowerPoint Quotes

"As a professional Army officer, I don't know if I can brief without PowerPoint."
- MAJ S, DTRA, 18 May 07
Comment made by a DTRA staff officer when ask to provide information about his mission space.
" Preparing a PowerPoint presentation will give you the sweet, sweet illusion of productivity."
- Anonymous
"I hope these viewgraphs don't insult your intelligence - they were prepared for management."
- Conference speaker
"I generally believe that PowerPoint is the spawn of Satan. It breeds passivity in the students and it disconnects the speaker from the audience."
- John D. Arras
Professor of biomedical ethics and philosophy at the University of Virginia.
"It's like a plastic banana�looks good but provides no nutritional value or sustenance."
- O-5, National Capital Region
Quote relates to many PowerPoint briefings he has seen.
"PowerPoint � nothing to say and hour in which to say it."
- Howell & Childress
Point-CounterPoint: PowerPoint and the Dumbing Down of America.
"No useful information is every conveyed in a Power Point Briefing."
- Mike
311th Theater Signal Command
"Officers know that the more warning one has for a briefing, the more cheese one can provide for the briefing. Improving content is secondary."
- Mike Aitken
"Powerpoint Jedi use their skills at PowerPoint to make difficult concepts clear. Me, I�m a PowerPoint Sith. I use my PowerPoint skills to confuse and obfuscate. If my boss doesn�t have a glazed look of bewilderment, then the brief isn�t complete. Embrace the dark side."
- Mike Aitken
"I must say I started to see more bad�plans with good slides approved over good plans with no slides."
- Robert Walsh
A long time ago, on a planet far away, SF brief-backs were given on flip-charts.� Not many, regardless of how complex the mission might�be... say 10-15 max. But then came PowerPoint...
"I get to play PowerPoint ranger for a few weeks every quarter� sux."
- Were Kitty

"I am happy to report that Memorial Day 2005, in Southern Baghdad Iraq was fairly boring.� Aside from having to generate countless PowerPoint slides unnecessarily repeating information that could very easily be relayed over the phone.� Why communicate in a 2 minute conversation when you can generate an 18 megabyte presentation that the near dial-up speed bandwidth we call internet access can't handle sending?� Ah, yes progress."
- LT C
LT C's Blog
"While you were making your slides, we would be killing you."
- Russian Officer
Submitted by C.M. Coglianese

In a discussion between US and Russian officers serving in Bosnia as to who would have won if we had ever actually fought in Western Europe.
From the 24 March 1997 edition of US News and World Report
"Despite the level of cadet complaints about the 'Death by PowerPoint� phenomena, I have found that they (cadets) are quite willing to inflict this upon their colleagues."
- LTC J.B.
USMA Faculty
"PowerPoint presentations are a new form of anesthesia and torture. They were even used at the Abu Ghraib Prison."
- Anonymous
"His knowledge on that topic is only PowerPoint deep."
"PPT is a triumph of process over product.� Knowing what you are doing is more important than getting the right answer."
- Tom Lehrer
"I recently exchanged comments with someone on a similar briefing (earlier version?). I told him that Power Point briefings do nothing but obfuscate. If you cannot explain what you are doing in three pages of text, you are BSing. That's what the slide show is: BS."
- Senior Army Officer
"The genius of it is that it was designed for any idiot to use. I learned it in a few hours."
- David Byrne
formerly of the Talking Heads
"Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely."
- Vint Cerf
Internet pioneer
"My belief is that PowerPoint doesn't kill meetings. People kill meetings."
- Peter Norvig
Google, Inc.
"Using PowerPoint is like having a loaded AK-47 on the table: You can do very bad things with it."
- Peter Norvig
"If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant."
- Edward Tufte
Professor Emeritus, Yale University
"PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play - very loud, very slow, and very simple."
- Edward Tufte
"PowerPoint is designed for making a slide show a little more attractive with images and text that move, but when an idiot makes them all move, interest is lost."
- Anonymous
"You can't speak with the U.S. military without knowing PowerPoint."
- Margaret Hayes
National Defense University
"Shelton's order is only the Pentagon's most recent assault on a growing electronic menace: the PowerPoint briefing."
- Anonymous
"The idea behind most of these briefings is for us to sit through 100 slides with our eyes glazed over, and then to do what all military organizations hope for ... to surrender to an overwhelming mass."
- Richard Danzig
Navy Secretary
"Navy Secretary Danzig announced late last year that he was no longer willing to soldier through the slide shows. He maintains that PowerPoint briefings are only necessary for two reasons: If field conditions are changing rapidly or if the audience is 'functionally illiterate.'"
- Anonymous
"The PowerPoint syndrome isn�t just the misuse of specific technology. It�s a cultural disease."
- Giancarlo Livraghi
"We had 12.9 gigabytes of (Microsoft) PowerPoint slides on our network. And I thought, 'What a huge waste of corporate productivity.' So we banned it. And we've had three unbelievable record-breaking fiscal quarters since we banned PowerPoint. Now, I would argue that every company in the world, if they would just ban PowerPoint, would see their earnings skyrocket. Employees would stand around going, 'What do I do? Guess I've got to go to work.'"
- Scott McNealy
Sun Microsystems, quoted in the San Jose Mercury News, January 27, 1997
"Funny. I always thought that PowerPoint was already at least as destructive as macro viruses to corporate productivity. You ever watch a suit fiddle with his presentation?"
- CmdrTaco
"One of the criticisms that's been raised about PowerPoint is that it can give the illusion of coherence and content when there really isn't very much coherence or content."
- Edward Miller
"At a place like IBM, there's an infinite world of products that you can create. But, too often, management would say, "Great, you big-idea guys, go go go." But then they give all the money to the people who control the revenue streams, the people with the overhead projectors and PowerPoint slides."
- Ted Selker
"Flash is the PowerPoint of the internet."
- Anonymous
"My plan for improving the quality of presentations used to be two-fold: DESTROY EVERY COPY OF POWERPOINT (and assorted functional clones) in existence, and GIVE OFFENDERS REMEDIAL "HOW TO TALK" CLASSES, emphasizing the content-based logical mark-up portions of HTML as a mechanism for making slides. (The hardcore hopeless cases would be forced to learn TeX.)"
- John S. Jacobs Anderson
"The 'PowerPoint syndrome' is a well known disease, clearly diagnosed not only by brilliant cartoonists such as Scott Adams, but also in a variety of analyses of corporate efficiency and communication. It�s called 'disinfotainment.'"
- Giancarlo Livraghi

Links to PowerPoint Articles

  • The PowerPoint Society: The Influence of PowerPoint in the U.S. Government and Bureaucracy Gregory S. Pece, Masters Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic, 10 May 2005.

  • Point-CounterPoint: PowerPoint and the Dumbing Down of America. Childress and Howell., Emporia State University, 4 August 2004.

  • Absolute PowerPoint: Can a software package edit our thoughts? Ian Parker. The New Yorker , Annals of Business Section, Pg. 76, May 28, 2001.

  • Nobody Asked Me, But... Order a PowerPoint Stand-down Captain E. Tyler Wooldridge III, U.S. Navy (Retired), Proceedings, December 2004.

  • Does PowerPoint Make Us Stupid? CNN article. Rock star David Byrne turns PowerPoint into art.�

  • PowerPointitis: Glitz Over Content By Giancarlo Livraghi. Visionarymarketing.com Article.�

  • PowerPoint Is Evil. (Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.) By Edward Tufte. Wired Magazine, Issue 11.09, September 2003.

  • Humorous Cover of "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" by Edward Tufte.

  • PowerPoint Makes You Dumb By Clive Thompson. The New York Times Magazine, December 2003.�

  • Does PowerPoint Make You Stupid? By Tad Simons. Presentations.com.�

  • Absolute PowerPoint (Can a software package edit our thoughts) By Ian Parker. The New Yorker Magazine, 28 May 2001.

  • The Level of Discourse Continues to Slide By John Schwartz, The New York Times, September 2003.

    Check out Squad-Leader.com�s tongue-in-cheek salute to all the PowerPoint Rangers ! You can also order Power Point Ranger Tab t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, etc.

    Ditch PowerPoint!

    Can�t we say �that�s all folks� to PowerPoint presentations?

    It saps the will of the toughest combat leaders.
    It burdens even the most highly conditioned elite soldier.

    It causes immense suffering, agony, sleeplessness and fear.

    It consumes priceless time, energy and attention. And if something isn�t done to stop it, it will eat away at our Army like a cancer from within, ultimately jeopardizing our ability to execute our primary mission � to defend our nation and win our nation�s battles on the ground.

    I am referring, of course, to Microsoft PowerPoint � perhaps the deadliest weapon ever deployed against our Army. It is fifth column software that destroys us from within.

    The first step is to admit we have a problem. Someone has to say it � we�re hooked. We have PPBD � PowerPoint Briefing Dependence � and unless we break the vicious cycle of addiction, our finest NCOs and officers will continue to succumb to that most fearsome of enemies, �the slide.�

    It started out innocently enough. We used to get our orders verbally; maybe a mimeographed operations order if we commanded elements (even now I get a little jolt from that ditto smell). Then came the index cards � just experimenting, mind you, just to "jot a few things down."

    Then we moved on to stronger stuff � butcher paper. Desk-side flip shows. Just "talking" our main points. No big deal. Let me just write this up for you.

    But soon butcher paper didn�t give us the high we�d come to expect after graduating from staff courses and instructor training. We�d learned to do the "flip" with acetate film and jury-rigged bits of cardboard on our overhead projectors, and we liked it. The sixth point of performance became "Check screen for white light and extinguish."

    But the buzz got harder and harder to find. Some wise guys who had computers at home started showing off around the War Colleges and Joint Staff, bringing their "presentations" to the briefing, scoring points with the high-and-mighty. Now, all the generals and admirals, the colonels and the captains, started telling their staffs, "I want that."

    Pretty soon, PowerPoint images were showing up in our doctrinal publications. How many times have we seen that same image of the captain and the sergeant, looking manfully off into the distance? Pointing out an enemy observation post?

    The addiction filtered down the chain, to brigade, then battalion, then company.

    And still we chase that buzz, importing GIFs and JPEGs, sound and animation. From the halls of the Pentagon, the conference rooms of the CinCs, the company day rooms, you can hear the addicted moan, �Just let me print out these slides.�

    Well, I say, no more slides! How many hours of labor have gone into VIP briefings? Staff recommendations? Do we really need 100 possible courses of action cost-benefit analyzed and PowerPoint-ified, especially when we�re only going to recommend one or two? Does the boss really need to know why Course of Action No. 57 ("Surrender to the enemy and make paper dolls.") didn�t make the cut? And does it merit a slide?

    I�m proposing a quixotic campaign against the received wisdom. I�m an apostate staff puke, and proud of it! Information operations? Try information overload.

    But it wasn�t always thus. The Combined Chiefs� order to Gen. Eisenhower to commence offensive operations in Europe is 30 words long. The Gettysburg Address, perhaps the finest piece of oratory in American history, is 266 words long and takes 90 seconds to recite.

    Is a Humvee with a flat tire so much more important that it needs to be briefed?

    The slide is supposed to be an aid to a briefing, not the focus of it. PowerPoint is supposed to be a tool � not an additional skill identifier.

    Somewhere along the line we lost sight of this simple fact: The brief is a means, not an end.

    Let�s kick the PowerPoint habit. Let�s discriminate, judge, assess. Let�s focus on what�s useful, productive and important, and get rid of the electronic cholesterol that is clogging the system. And for Pete�s sake, stop copying to me every slide show that comes your way.

    Well, I feel better. Now let me get back to updating the weekly slide update before the quarterly slide update suspense hits. Otherwise, I�ll never get around to the annual slide-update slides.

    By Russell A. Burgos

    All Hail� Cheezus Maximus!!!!

    Cheezus Maximus

    All Hail� Cheezus Maximus!!!!


    COAT OF ARMS: Chester the Cheetah with sunglasses and thumb on left hand elevated.

    CREST: On a wreath and vert, issuing from a wavy cheeto.


    SYMBOLISM: The principle colors of the shield are those of cheese. Chester the Cheetah is presented as a strong, stealthy, and super cool dude with cheezy colors and black specks. These specks of black charged on Chester�s body represent the number of changes of the slides prior to the briefing. The dark sunglasses positioned across the distinguished cheetah�s eyes represent the thermo-nuclear protection needed to safeguard his vision from all the bright f@#$ing ideas (BFIs) the directorate endures. The blue roundels represent the directorates ability to jump through its ass on multiple tasks. The footprint at the bottom signifies the stomping the staff regularly receives and the fact that they will �beat feet� to the �real Army� at the first opportunity. All the G3/S3s meetings, training resource management briefs, and other significant emotional events are alluded to by the wavy crispy cheeto with its cheezy colors. The streamer and latin motto "cheezus maximus" emblazoned on the bottom of the crest symbolizes that no product was ever produced without the maximum cheese effort it truly deserved. The ever present thought of Chester echoes loudly throughout the directorate even today��


    Pentagon cracks down on ... PowerPoint

    By Greg Jaffe, WSJ Interactive Edition
    April 26, 2000 7:44 AM PT

    WASHINGTON -- Earlier this year, Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued an unusual order to U.S. military bases around the globe.

    His message: Enough with the bells and whistles -- just get to the point.

    It seems that e-mailed military briefings larded with electronic "slides" of booming tanks and spinning pie charts were gobbling up so much of the Defense Department's classified bandwidth that they were slowing more-critical communications between headquarters and units in the field.

    "The chairman basically told everyone that we don't need Venetian-blind effects or fancy backdrops. All we need is the information," says one senior Defense Department official.

    Shelton's order is only the Pentagon's most recent assault on a growing electronic menace: the PowerPoint briefing. Sure, business executives complain about the seemingly endless PowerPoint presentations put on by overeager middle managers in darkened boardrooms across America. But in the military, the Microsoft program, which helps users create computer-based graphics and sound effects, has become one of the most dreaded facts of life.

    And it's even shouldering the blame for at least some of the armed forces' ills.

    PowerPoint-induced coma Congressional support for new weapons programs isn't as strong as expected? Army Secretary Louis Caldera suggests that PowerPoint presentations are alienating lawmakers. "People are not listening to us because they are spending so much time trying to understand these incredibly complex slides," he says.

    Too many bright, young junior officers are leaving the military for the private sector? A recent survey of captains at Fort Benning, Ga., cites the "ubiquity of the PowerPoint Army" as a prime reason for their disaffection.

    "The idea behind most of these briefings is for us to sit through 100 slides with our eyes glazed over, and then to do what all military organizations hope for ... to surrender to an overwhelming mass," says Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.

    Old-fashioned slide briefings, designed to update generals on troop movements, have been a staple of the military since World War II. But in only a few short years PowerPoint has altered the landscape. Just as word processing made it easier to produce long, meandering memos, the spread of PowerPoint has unleashed a blizzard of jazzy but often incoherent visuals. Instead of drawing up a dozen slides on a legal pad and running them over to the graphics department, captains and colonels now can create hundreds of slides in a few hours without ever leaving their desks. If the spirit moves them they can build in gunfire sound effects and images that explode like land mines.

    "There is an arms-race dimension to it," says Peter Feaver, a military expert at Duke University and frequent PowerPoint briefer at various war colleges. "If there are three briefings in a row, and you are the one with the lowest production values, you look really lame."

    PowerPoint Rangers PowerPoint has become such an ingrained part of the defense culture that it has seeped into the military lexicon. "PowerPoint Ranger" is a derogatory term for a desk-bound bureaucrat more adept at making slides than tossing grenades. There is even a "PowerPoint Ranger Creed," a parody of the Marine Corp's famous "Rifleman's Creed":

    "This is my PowerPoint. There are many like it, but mine is [PowerPoint] 97. ... I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its fonts, its accessories and its formats ... My PowerPoint and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our subject. We are the saviors of my career."

    The parody is zapping around the Defense Department as a PowerPoint slide complete with the sound of explosions and featuring an animated John Wayne in Army Ranger garb wielding a laser pointer.

    How did a piece of technology that was supposed to improve communication become a barrier to it?

    Some military sociologists say the endless presentations are a product of the military's zero-defect culture, in which one mediocre review by a superior can torpedo a career. "Young officers are worried that they might leave something out of their briefing, and a supervisor might say something about it. So they pack their presentations with every detail that they can think of," says Charles Moskos, a military-culture expert at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

    Others blame the problem on the absence of a formidable enemy. "We crave something that explains who we are," says retired Army Col. Henry G. Cole. "The PowerPoint game creates the illusion of control. All those moving arrows and graphics become reality for a military that is trapped in this permanent state of shadow-boxing an enemy that no longer exists."

    Frontal assault whatever the cause, a handful of senior Pentagon officials have decided to attack the PowerPoint problem head-on. Navy Secretary Danzig announced late last year that he was no longer willing to soldier through the slide shows. He maintains that PowerPoint briefings are only necessary for two reasons: If field conditions are changing rapidly or if the audience is "functionally illiterate."

    "In the Pentagon the second seems to be the underlying presumption," grouses Danzig, who now asks to get all his briefings in written form.

    Danzig's Army counterpart, Caldera, says he, too, would ban the presentations if he thought he could get away with it. "For some of these guys, taking away their PowerPoint would be like cutting off their hands," he says. Caldera's strategy is to interrupt the show with questions when he gets bored.

    Despite such countermeasures, PowerPoint is showing no signs of retreat. Indeed, it seems to be spreading. James A. Calpin, an officer in the Naval Reserves, just returned home from duty in Operation Northern Watch in Turkey, where PowerPoint has just begun to surface in officer presentations. "I was able to come in and spruce up their briefings, and they were just wowed," he says. "People over there just loved it."

    Foreign armed services also are beginning to get in on the act. "You can't speak with the U.S. military without knowing PowerPoint," says Margaret Hayes, an instructor at National Defense University in Washington D.C., who teaches Latin American military officers how to use the software.

    Unfortunately, Hayes admits many foreign officers, including those fluent in PowerPoint visuals, still struggle to understand their U.S. counterparts' complicated slide presentations. "We've gotten away from inviting our colleagues from the Department of Defense to brief our visiting officers. Some of their presentations are a little bit too complex and too inhibiting," she says.

    All of which makes Duke University's Feaver wonder if the U.S. military is misusing the technology. "If we really wanted to accomplish something we shouldn't be teaching our allies how to use PowerPoint," he says. "We should give it to the Iraqis. We'd never have to worry about them again."

    PowerPoint Maven

    Written by MAJ Dave Bennett

    PowerPoint Clipman

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Struggling with the PowerPoint QTB slides I was working o�er,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of something gently rapping, rapping through my hard drive door,
    ��Tis some hiccup now,� I muttered, �from behind my tower�s door,
    �Only this and nothing more.�

    Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak September,
    And the flickering, lamplight�s ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow -- vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my slides surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for the silly Corps--
    Since the slides that I had been preparing for the silly Corps--
    Soon its Generals would bore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of the dust cloth curtain
    Made me think depressing thoughts that I had often felt before:
    So to re-engage the beating of my heart, I stood repeating.
    "This infernal, boring briefing that I�m making for the Corps--
    Working late at night so that my boss can brief the silly Corps--
    Is it lost forevermore?"

    Presently my soul grew stronger as self pity whined no longer,
    "Well, �said I, "o, gods of PowerPoint, your forgiveness I implore:
    But the hard drive I was mapping has just crashed, my briefing crapping,
    So that now my head I�m tapping, tapping on this plastic door,
    And I scarcely thought I�d heard the noises coming from the core��
    So I opened up the door.

    Deep into that dark hole peering, long I squinted, wondering, fearing,
    Doubting, dreaming nightmares no staff weanie�d ever dreamed before:
    But the whirring of the drive now broken gave me not a token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered, "Oh, you whore!"
    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words "You whore!"--
    Merely this and nothing more.

    Back to-wards my flat screen turning, all my soul within me burning,
    Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    "Surely," said I, "surely that is something from my Outlook status;
    Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore--
    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore--
    'Tis an e-mail, nothing more!"

    Open here the PowerPoint paper clip I clicked, and hoped that vapor
    Would not be my hopes, as there appeared before me �help� galore;
    Paperclip Man, vacuously winking forth, miraculously
    Offering to help me with the fault behind my hard drive�s door--
    Perched beyond a wall of plastic, just behind my hard drive�s door--
    Blinking, smiling, nothing more.

    Then this skinny clip beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the glib and slick decorum of the countenance it wore,
    "Though thy bar be thin and graven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
    Ghastly skinny, Help Screen Maven, dancing o�er my lamp-lit floor--
    Tell me what thy real screen name is on this night when others snore!"
    Quoth the Clipman, "Who�s the whore?"

    Much I marveled this ungainly icon, answ�ring me so plainly,
    Though its answer no assistance -- little hope of helping bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing Clip that really helped before--
    Any twisted, goofy, smiling Clip that really helped before,
    Spouting words like "Who�s the whore?"

    But ol� Clip Man dancing lonely on my placid screen, spoke only
    Those three words, as if his soul into those words he did outpour.
    Nothing further then he uttered, no aluminum he fluttered--
    Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have �helped� before --
    On the morrow he will laugh at me when there is hope no more."
    Then the Clip said, "Who�s the whore?"

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
    �Doubtless,� said I, �what it utters is it only stock and store
    Caught from some programming master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one message bore --
    Till the promises of hope to others he would just ignore,
    Taunting all with �Who�s the whore?��

    But the Clip, now NOT beguiling any fancy into smiling,
    Made me wheel a cushioned seat in front of Clip and screen and door,
    Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous clip of yore--
    What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous clip of yore
    Meant in croaking, "Who�s the whore?�

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
    To the clip, whose bubbled eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my aching neck inclining
    Off the cushion's padded lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er
    But my cushion with the lining and the lamp-light from before,
    Was now comforting no more!

    Then I felt the air grow denser, as I let, without a censor,
    Streams of foul obscenities bounce off my cold linoleum floor.
    "Knucklehead," I cried, "you spent the last twelve hours here but saved the
    File to just the wretched hard drive that retrieves the file no more!
    Why did you not back the file up on a disk just once before?!"
    Quoth the Clip Man, "Who�s the whore?"

    "PowerPoint!" said I, "thing of evil! -- PowerPoint still, if clip or devil!
    Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee heretofore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, with this geek, alone, unwanted --
    In this office clearly haunted -- tell me truly, I implore --
    Is there -- is there hope I�ll find the briefing? -- tell me, I implore!"
    Quoth the Clip Man, �Who�s the whore?"

    "PowerPoint!" said I, "thing of evil! -- PowerPoint still, if clip or devil!
    By that Heaven that bends above us -- by that God we both adore--
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    Files are backed up and not fadin�, so I still can brief the Corps --
    Backed up and retrievable so I can brief the silly Corps."
    Quoth the Clip Man, "Who�s the whore?"

    "Be that word our sign of parting, clip or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting --
    "Get thee back into the tower and my hard drive�s churning core!
    Leave no echo as a token of that curse thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit this game and smile no more!
    Take thy face from off my screen and disappear behind that door!�
    Quoth the Clip Man, "Who�s the whore?"

    And the Paper Clip, not flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid screen invalid, blinking just beside the door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon�s that is dreaming,
    And the screen-light through him streaming throws his shadow on the floor,
    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted -- nevermore!

    E-mail me if you have any more PowerPoint Humor!

    Copyright (c) 2001-2011 Placke & Associates.

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