Sunday, March 29, 2009
Prague's Franz Kafka International Named World's Most Alienating Airport
Saturday, March 28, 2009
So, my point is the numbers don't tell the whole story... The vast majority of those who haven't deployed can be reasonably explained based on current personnel policies. Yes, some people are avoiding deployment, but nowhere near all of them.Here's my own suggestion: find the flexibility to make use of those soldiers who are chomping at the bit to deploy again and again. I would happily have spent my entire contracted service in Iraq, with maybe a few months between tours at most. I know I'm not alone in this either; a goodly proportion of my buddies are of the same mind. Many of us have never planned anything but a five-years-and-out Army career path, so burnout or interrupted career advancement are irrelevant. It doesn't make the news, probably because it's far more difficult for civilians to identify with, but for every soldier profiled on CNN, burnt out and struggling with the separation from his wife and kids after his third or fourth deployment, there's a single soldier languishing in garrison who would give anything to get back to the desert. I know the Army isn't a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but it really grinds my gears to see soldiers with critical skills that are desperately needed in theater scraping paint and pulling weeds in garrison, particularly when those soldiers would give anything just for the chance to do their jobs. I've heard of soldiers in my unit get denied a transfer to sooner-deploying units because their job is listed as "Critical Need", so they had to stay here and pull weeds for a year before we deploy again. Rather than wrap their minds around that one, most of them just left the Army instead. Fighting multiple long wars isn't going to "break" the Army. Hopelessly squandering the human resources we need to win them just might.
Current personnel policies are the true problem... We are operating our service personnel programs under a peacetime model. There is no appetite for creative thinking. There is no willingness to examine and understand the issue. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that manpower management does not exactly attract all-star players. It's hard to think outside the box when you don't really understand what's inside the box.
Is there an answer? Maybe. We could throw some money at the problem. If we are going to deploy Soldiers and Marines we could come up with interesting ways of taking care of families without jerking them around with unnecessary PCS moves. We could force the G1s [personnel branch] and G3s [operations branch] to talk to one another. Maybe if the 1s understood the scope of the operational requirements they would have a greater motivation to provide viable solutions. We could also take a chance that non-traditional career patterns won't hurt chances for promotion and retention.
In reality, there's no reason for this to be a necessarily partisan issue. Last time I checked, the Republicans weren't in hock to Big Cul-De-Sac. And the New Urbanism is, at its roots, profoundly conservative. It is saying "lets build cities the way we did 100 years ago". Yglesias's final point is also a conservative one, or at least a federalist one: "Fundamentally, though, the role of state and local agencies is always going to be important to this kind of decision-making, and things will only improve if people pay more attention to politics at this level." Agreed.
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!
--Rudyard Kipling, "The Young British Soldier"
Things haven't changed much since Kipling's day, and we soldiers still love our drink. In the last few months, a collective fashion for Carolina wines has hit our barracks. A buddy of mine (who we know by his nickname "Ice") recently picked up a suspiciously cheap bottle of North Carolina "Pomegranate" wine.
Me: So whatchya drinkin' on tonight?
Ice: Some of this here "Pomegranate"?
Me: Wait, how does that work? Is it actually made from pomegranates?
Ice: Hmmm... label says "real grape wine with added flavors".
Me: Wow, that sounds pretty sketchy.
Ice: Yeah.... Not sketchy enough for me not to drink it.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
How did it happen, in the absence of any media coverage? The answer is that political reporters no longer get to decide what's news. The days when a minister gave briefings to a dozen lobby correspondents, and thereby dictated the next day's headlines, are over. Now, a thousand bloggers decide for themselves what is interesting.All Hail the New Media!!
Breaking the press monopoly is one thing. But the internet has also broken the political monopoly. Ten or even five years ago, when the Minister for Widgets put out a press release, the mere fact of his position guaranteed a measure of coverage. Nowadays, a politician must compel attention by virtue of what he is saying, not his position.
It's all a bit unsettling for professional journalists and politicians. But it's good news for libertarians of every stripe. Lefties have always relied on control, as much of information as of physical resources. Such control is no longer technically feasible.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I aspire some day to achieve Daniel Hannan's mastery of dretful scorn. Is there any way we could lure this guy over here? Maybe we can offer him asylum if Britain sinks beneath the waves, as seems likelier by the day.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Along the way: open-faced turkey sandwiches, the Plymouth lighthouse (which is literally just a house with a light on it), an ironclad replica, a German tourist commenting to her husband how much she liked my hair, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Wright Brothers' memorial on Kill Devil Hill (not actually in Kitty Hawk!), far too many billboard innuendos, the Bodie Island lighthouse, several completely inappropriate posed shots with said lighthouse, driving on the beach, some remarkable multi-colored sand dunes, a big bridge, a bromantic sunset, ribs and shrimp with some very friendly (and very drunk) rednecks, an invitation to go deep-sea fishing with aforementioned drunk rednecks, a very dated motel so lovingly maintained it was like going back in time, a delicious breakfast on styrofoam plates, the most iconic lighthouse in the country, more adolescent photo ops, another beach, off to the ferry terminal to see if the schedules might line up for us, a decision to go for it, a short ferry hop to the next island, then a furious drive down the length of it to arrive just as the next ferry is loading up for our trip back to the mainland, and an uneventful return trip. What a weekend, and a highly-recommended itinerary for anyone road-tripping in the area.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Randall Monroe has great commentary, as usual:
Of course, when you live to be outraged, it's a lot more fun to pretend the latter.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Incidentally, this is a great lesson to conservatives who defended the Bush administration's stance on wiretapping. Any increase in government power &mdash even when wielded for good by an administration you trust &mdash will be inherited by future administrations, for good or for ill. And then they might just go and one-up you in the process.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Bush, as I recall from being here previously, did not enjoy any such popularity, and for good reason. He dropped by Benin in 2008, but is said to have spent all of three hours in the country, never once leaving the airport.Oh, really? What do you think, Ms. Jardin, are the odds that President Obama will find his way to Cotonou in his presidency? I'm going with slim to none, seeing as Bush was the first US President ever to visit Benin, (not to mention a host of other heretofore neglected statelets). Were many Beninoises disappointed he only spent three hours in their country? I'm quite sure they were, but that in itself is a measure of how remarkably well-liked Bush was in most of Africa. You don't hear many Europeans complaining a Bush visit was too short, after all.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
If an economist didn't see it coming, why listen to anything he says about how to fix it? If you had a heart attack, would you go to the curmudgeonly, slightly bonkers doctor who had been warning you about an impending heart attack for the last two years, or go see the affable, soft-spoken guy who gave you the 2nd opinion and told you everything was fine?And on the microeconomic side, consider this radical program to revolutionize your family's finances:
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
President Obama -- in whom I still have great hope and confidence -- has been ill-served by his advisors and staff. Yes, they have all been blindsided and overwhelmed by the crushing demands of the presidency. But I continue to believe in citizen presidents, who must learn by doing, even in a perilous age of terrorism. Though every novice administration makes blunders and bloopers, its modus operandi should not be a conspiratorial reflex cynicism.Paglia actually understands what opposition is all about.
Case in point: The orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys... Has the administration gone mad? This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants.
And I'm sick of people impugning Rush's wealth and lifestyle, which is no different from that of another virtuoso broadcaster who hit it big -- Oprah Winfrey. Rush Limbaugh is an embodiment of the American dream: He slowly rose from obscurity to fame on the basis of his own talent and grit. Every penny Rush has earned was the result of his rapport with a vast audience who felt shut out and silenced by the liberal monopoly of major media. As a Democrat and Obama supporter, I certainly do not agree with everything Rush says or does... Nevertheless, I respect Rush for his independence of thought and his always provocative news analysis. He doesn't run with the elite -- he goes his own way.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I am not sure what China is up to in Africa. But I have the nagging thought that we will figure it out in 15 years and be sorry.Yeah, that thought's been more than just nagging me.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
To my mind, the real scandal is not that a large corporation doesn't pay people more. The scandal is that so many people have so little economic value. Despite (or because of) a free public school system, millions of teenagers enter the work force without marketable skills. So why would anyone expect them to be well paid?"The truth hurts.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Postscript: If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire, please do. It's easily the best movie I've seen in several years.