Strength

…through dithering:

OK, I get that the political piece is vitally important, and for Eikenberry, up to his armpits in scheming warlords and bureaucrats in Kabul with his frontline diplomats daily engaged in pitched and desperate note-passing against an entrenched corruptancy, the light at the top of his own well probably is awfully dim and far away. This is a highly complex situation. Thinking outside the box, maybe it does make sense to put the cart ahead of the horse. It is intriguing, though, that in the middle of a hot war in which a determined, murderous enemy is making gains, there are ”options beyond military planning” that are so pressing that they actually trump military planning. Sounds like the president, in a show of resolve, wants to signal more firmly to Karzai and the scheming warlords that the United States is prepared to hold its breath until the Afghan people turn blue, or that the United States might even take its bat and ball and go home. Also, to signal to the United States military that he won’t be pushed around if it kills them.

One bright spot, in the Vietnam avoidance agenda. Remember how they accused LBJ of picking targets from the Oval Office? Can’t accuse Obama of that. He’s actively not picking targets from the Oval Office.

Amazing.

This Is Like A Bad Joke

Time has named the Ares-I the “Invention of the Year“:

TIME’s best invention of the year may send Americans back to the Moon and put the first human on Mars.

Do they even know that it can’t deliver people beyond earth orbit? On the other hand, it is really tall…

This kind of technological illiteracy is pathetic, but it’s what I’ve come to expect from the likes of Time.

[Mid-morning update]

From a reader:

My company was selected for a Time “Invention of the Year.” Hooray, we thought. Then the phone calls from Time started. A bored 20-something with a false Valley girl accent called to talk to the inventor of the thing we had been nominated for. We responded that there was no one person, it was a company-wide effort. It took, and I do not exaggerate, at least 30 minutes to get it through her head that “company” meant “more than one person.” Then the so-called fact checker wanted to know how the one person got the idea for the invention. We patiently explained that it was the company’s job to make such products and that more than one person had contributed to the idea and the building of our nifty little gadget. The fact checker did not know the difference between a pound and a kilogram, had no knowledge of basic chemistry, had never heard of the founders in our field, and didn’t even know what our gadget looked like. Subsequent calls did not remove the impression of careless indifference. Time never did get the story right.

Since that day I have never trusted a single story from Time. Not one. If the writers and editors can’t understand the difference between a pound and a kilogram, what else are they missing?

A lot. It’s a lot easier to just grab a press release from NASA PAO than to have to actually understand what the hell you’re talking about..

[Mid-afternoon update]

More thoughts on the cluelessness of this from Keith Cowing.

Remember The Doughboys

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Note that the number of WW I vets has dwindled down to a tiny few (my paternal grandfather was one, who died in the early sixties). Barring some miracle medical breakthroughs, in another decade they will all lie (at least metaphorically) in Flanders fields. Honor today the few who are still with us, and their compatriots who no longer are. And thank, silently or otherwise, those in harm’s way today overseas.

[Note: this is a repost from two years ago. You can now count the number of remaining on a single hand. I may update later if I have any further thoughts in context. I’ll be keeping this post at the top of the blog all day.]

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s a worthy donation cause, if you have money to spare.

[Update a while later]

Every day is a bonus:

I Never Believed The Letters In Penthouse

…until it happened to me. An amusing publishing tale by Claire Berlinsky. I loved this:

I wrote the article, along with a sidebar about Sifu Emin’s top ten tips for defending yourself in hand-to-hand combat. It was a great assignment. I got to call people like Bob Wall and Chuck Norris to ask them who, in their view, was the most lethal man in the world.

Actually, to be honest, I couldn’t get through to Chuck Norris. I tried, but his secretary got frosty on me when I said I was writing for Penthouse. “Chuck,” she said sniffily, “is a conservative.”

Now, when I heard this, I was a bit surprised. I’m not really used to the insinuation that there might be a problem with my commitment to conservatism. “Ma’am,” I said finally, “I’m a conservative, too. In fact, I think my conservative credentials will impress him. Please let him know that I’m Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, okay? Really, I’m on his side.”

“You’re what?”

“I’m the author of ‘Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.’ In fact, I’m more conservative than Chuck.”

“Well” (doubtful). “I’ll give him the message.”

“I have a subscription to National Review, for God’s sake.”

“I’ll let him know.”

“Seriously, Ma’am, I make Chuck look pink.”

I think my tone probably put her off, though; she refused to put me through. Probably for the best. I mean, who wants to deal with Chuck Norris’s socialist nonsense?

Read all.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!