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Saturday, November 19, 2005
The Unfounded Fear of Extras

Extras, which is short for 'extra duties', is an informal punishment many full-time national servicemen (NSFs) dread and fear. Almost everyone has to perform duties once in a while. It is only when one is being punished that he receives more than his normal share of duties, hence the term extra duties.

Most army personnel are afraid of getting extras. Extras are such a good disincentive that they are used by officers quite often as a motivational tool. In reality, many people do not realize that extras are actually not as scary as they sound.

There are two kinds of people in an army unit - those who get some duties and those who get an insane amount of duties. For the former, getting some extras isn't that bad because there is always the knowledge that there are people (in the second category) who are not being punished but are doing as many duties as you are. So really, there isn't anything to complain about.

For the latter who is already saturated with duties, getting extras is like trying to pour water into a glass that's full. There are only so many days in a month and you are not allowed to perform two duty roles concurrently. This is, in fact, the best situation you can be in because you can screw up as badly as you want, and all they can give you is more extra duties that cannot be fulfilled. By the time you ORD, you'll just have this huge debt of unfulfilled extras which is instantly erased upon ORD (since it is an informal punishment system after all).

Another thing people tend to forget is the Law of Conservation of Duties. The total amount of duties is constant; you can change the assignment of duties to different people but not create new duties. Hence the effect of everybody getting a hundred extras each is the same as nobody getting any extras at all. This idea was used by many in my university; if everybody agrees to slack and not study for an exam, then nobody will get a score that's far below the average (since the average is so low).

Moreover, if you don't mind being an asshole, you can even use extras to reduce the number of duties you have to perform. An implication of the Conservation Law is that the more extras other people get, the less duty you get!

So there you have it, love extras and you'll love NS. Whoohoo! I love guard duty!!

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
10:37 AM


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