aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, May 20, 2007
It’s Patriotic To Criticize
I’ve been meaning to read the full Armed Forces Journal piece by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling entitled A Failure in Generalship, pointed to again last week after the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. “Randy” Mixon, said that he did not have enough troops.
I have read Fred Kaplan’s piece in Slate, It’s Patriotic To Criticize: How our generals got so mediocre. It’s conclusion:
Of the five extra brigades that President Bush ordered to Baghdad as part of his “surge” back in February, only three have arrived; the fifth won’t be on the ground until late summer. Why not? Because they won’t be ready until then; they won’t be fully manned, trained, or equipped. When critics and retired officers say that the U.S. Army is at the end of its tether, they’re not exaggerating. If a crisis in another hot spot erupted, and if the president wanted to send ground troops to deal with it, he couldn’t without transferring units from Iraq or Afghanistan. There is no slack.
And here is where the messages of Maj. Gen. Mixon and Lt. Col. Yingling intersect. Yingling makes clear that it’s the political leaders who decide whether to go to war. Once the policy-maker receives military advice that there aren’t enough troops to achieve the war’s strategic objectives, he or she “must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means.”
President Bush has done neither. He has evaded this calculation from the beginning and continues to do so now that everyone plainly realizes there are not, and never were, enough troops. The next president will have to take up the big questions: What kind of threats do we face? What kind of military forces-and military leaders-do we need? How much will that effort cost? If we don’t have the resources (in troops, money, or will), should we whip up the passions to get more-or scale back to a more realistic policy? The current course-pursuing grand global visions with depleted means-is a surefire road to disaster.
How’s my driving for everyone
Back in January I listened to the podcast of a Chicago’s Best Ideas talk by Lior Strahilevitz on his idea for a “How’s My Driving?” program (like the ones you see more and more on the rear of commercial vehicles) for all of us.
Now, I did not intuitively take to this idea but, rather, was won over by the power of his arguments:
Before buying a product from an eBay seller, a prospective buyer is likely to examine the seller’s feedback score and peruse the comments of others who previously dealt with that merchant. A strong feedback score enables merchants to fetch more money for their products, and the fear of negative feedback helps keep the overwhelming majority of eBay sellers on their best behavior. Imagine if every driver on the roads had a similar sort of feedback score and these scores were made available to insurance companies. Would aggressive and unsafe behavior on our roadways be reduced? Could drivers and pedestrians do a better job of keeping the roadways safe than the police? Would the feedback be reliable enough?
He answers each and every one of those questions in copiously footnoted detail (you can download the full 68 page articulation of the idea here). How’s My Driving? for everyone is easier to implement and closer to reality than you might think.
To use the service, which goes live on Monday, drivers register their cellphone and license plate numbers with SameLane, which sends them bumper stickers identifying the drivers as part of the SameLane network. After spotting a member, drivers dial a company number, punch in the license plate number of the car they want to reach and wait for SameLane’s computers to connect the call. [...]
Vince Waterson, part owner of Delta Meridian of Dallas, which is offering the service, said he wanted to bring to driving the feel of waiting at Starbucks, where customers have casual conversations and even strike up friendships.
“You have this wall of steel and glass between you and the guy in the next lane,” he said. “Sometimes people see someone with a bumper sticker of things they enjoy, and sometimes they just want to talk to someone to keep from falling asleep.”
Mr. Waterson, who has worked in the telecommunications industry for about 40 years, has tried to address some of his service’s biggest potential drawbacks. Callers do not see each other’s real cellphone numbers, which preserves some of their anonymity. They can also block calls to prevent pests from turning into stalkers.
The same but different, I wrote Professor Strahilevitz to find out what he thought. If he writes me back, I’ll let you know what he has to say!
LATER: Strahilevitz writes, “Thanks for writing… I wasn’t familiar with samelane, so I appreciate the heads up and will follow the program with interest.”
Life’s little pleasures
Jake just now…
If the Bible is classified as indecent only those over 18 could buy it and it would be sealed and wrapped with a warning label:
More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on authorities to reclassify the Bible as “indecent” due to its sexual and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a university student journal.
A spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Television and Entertainment Licensing authority (TELA) said it had received 838 complaints about the Bible by noon on Wednesday.
The complaints follow the launch of an anonymous website which said the holy book “made one tremble” given its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest.
The website said the Bible’s sexual content “far exceeds” that of a recent sex column published in the Chinese University’s “Student Press” magazine, which had asked readers whether they’d ever fantasised about incest or bestiality.
Not exactly the equivalent of standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square but kudos to the students. Imagine if they actually succeeded. Manna for cable news heaven: “Communist authorities classify the Bible as porn.”
Via Ann Bartow.