Goldbricking fictional Army private Beetle Bailey will mark 60 years on the comics pages this coming weekend, as 86-year-old Mort Walker, having long outlasted Charles Schulz, keeps on grinding out the nonlethal military gags. The Associated Press quoted Walker about his eternally drowsy protagonist:
“He’s still pretty much lazy,” he said. “I haven’t changed him a tremendous amount because I think that’s his character that I want to keep. He represents the little man in all of us.”
Meanwhile the New York Times reports on how life has changed for nonfictional low-ranking service members:
Though the Army screens out the seriously obese and completely unfit, it is still finding that many of the recruits who reach basic training have less strength and endurance than privates past. It is the legacy of junk food and video games, compounded by a reduction in gym classes in many high schools, Army officials assert.
So in the new physical-training protocol, this generation of recruits has been excused from situps—poor nutrition and sedentary habits led to too many “stress fractures of the pubic bone”—and from endurance running, in favor of sprinting and “a variety of side twists, back bridges and rowinglike exercises.”
The next step, the Times reports, is to revise the Army’s fitness test, to reflect the readjusted fitness techniques and goals.