Category Archives: War Commentary

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

Bellicose Airline Passengers

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s a guy named Don Detrich who’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more. He’s started an organization called the Flight Watch Hijacking Resistance League. Hmmm, doesn’t make for a very pronounceable acronym…

They offer passenger training, and are lobbying for legislation (H.R.3150-Secure Transportation for America Act of 2001) to provide liability protection for passengers who assist in thwarting hijacking attempts. Apparently, the airlines have mixed feelings about this, but I’d like to see more of it. I think I’ll bookmark this site.

So Much For “Massive Civilian Casualties”

The Telegraph has an article on how impressed Kabul inhabitants are with the precision of the US bombing.

So accurate were the hits on the Antonov transport planes that only the aircrafts’ tails, wings and some of the cockpits were left. Their fuselages had disappeared. The official supervising the runway repair, Farid Ahmad, was impressed by the Americans’ work. He said it certainly outclassed the efforts of the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who destroyed much of the city and the airport 10 years ago.

“I have been through the Russians,” he said. “I have seen Hekmatyar in action and the Northern Alliance. This is just incredible. The Americans appear to have been 98 per cent accurate.

“Hekmatyar tried for six years to destroy the TV signal on Television Mountain. The Americans managed it straight away.”

It’s a little surreal reading some of the descriptions by people as though they’re scoring a game, but to the degree that judges of such things exist, given what they’ve been through in the past quarter century between the Soviets and the various civil wars, the residents of Kabul and Afghanistan at large have to be the best-qualified people on the planet to issue points.

So Much For “Massive Civilian Casualties”

The Telegraph has an article on how impressed Kabul inhabitants are with the precision of the US bombing.

So accurate were the hits on the Antonov transport planes that only the aircrafts’ tails, wings and some of the cockpits were left. Their fuselages had disappeared. The official supervising the runway repair, Farid Ahmad, was impressed by the Americans’ work. He said it certainly outclassed the efforts of the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who destroyed much of the city and the airport 10 years ago.

“I have been through the Russians,” he said. “I have seen Hekmatyar in action and the Northern Alliance. This is just incredible. The Americans appear to have been 98 per cent accurate.

“Hekmatyar tried for six years to destroy the TV signal on Television Mountain. The Americans managed it straight away.”

It’s a little surreal reading some of the descriptions by people as though they’re scoring a game, but to the degree that judges of such things exist, given what they’ve been through in the past quarter century between the Soviets and the various civil wars, the residents of Kabul and Afghanistan at large have to be the best-qualified people on the planet to issue points.

So Much For “Massive Civilian Casualties”

The Telegraph has an article on how impressed Kabul inhabitants are with the precision of the US bombing.

So accurate were the hits on the Antonov transport planes that only the aircrafts’ tails, wings and some of the cockpits were left. Their fuselages had disappeared. The official supervising the runway repair, Farid Ahmad, was impressed by the Americans’ work. He said it certainly outclassed the efforts of the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who destroyed much of the city and the airport 10 years ago.

“I have been through the Russians,” he said. “I have seen Hekmatyar in action and the Northern Alliance. This is just incredible. The Americans appear to have been 98 per cent accurate.

“Hekmatyar tried for six years to destroy the TV signal on Television Mountain. The Americans managed it straight away.”

It’s a little surreal reading some of the descriptions by people as though they’re scoring a game, but to the degree that judges of such things exist, given what they’ve been through in the past quarter century between the Soviets and the various civil wars, the residents of Kabul and Afghanistan at large have to be the best-qualified people on the planet to issue points.

Asymmetric Diplomacy

Much has been made of the asymmetry of the war, but until now, no one except Dr. Krauthammer has explicitly pointed out the diplomatic asymmetry. Why indeed should we have to continue to demonstrate our religious tolerance, in light of the continually-demonstrated religious intolerance in the Middle East?

Imagine if 19 murderous Christian fundamentalists hijacked four airplanes over Saudi Arabia and, in the name of God, crashed them into the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, destroying the holy Kaaba and killing thousands of innocent Muslim pilgrims. Could anyone doubt that the entire Christian world — clergy and theologians, leaders and lay folk — would rise as one to denounce the act? Yankee Stadium could not hold the trainloads of priests and preachers, reverends and rectors — why, even rabbis would demand entry — that would descend upon a mass service of atonement, shame, ostracism and excommunication. The pope himself would rend his garments at this blasphemous betrayal of Christ.

And yet after Sept. 11, where were the Muslim theologians and clergy, the imams and mullahs, rising around the world to declare that Sept. 11 was a crime against Islam? Where were the fatwas against Osama bin Laden? The voices of high religious authority have been scandalously still.

From The Duuuuhhhhhhhh File

Reuters reports that the US State Department has issued a warning today to travelers that “it was not a good idea to travel to Afghanistan right now because of war, banditry, political instability and an acute food shortage…”

Dang, they just blew my vacation plans right out the window. And I had such good fares, too…