News Brief, Caribou Edition

Cross-posted to The Conjecturer.

Defense & the War

  • While recognizing the horror of Blackwater’s atrocities being so common they’re… common, Mountain Runner points out the very real, very messy problems that arise when the Iraqis start to raid contractor compounds. As he said, “Phase out contractors or bring under our wings, don’t let them hang outside because things will get ugly fast as both contractor and opportunist escalates to defend or attack.”
  • Getting over the Hitler analogy, or why Norman Podhoretz needs to familiarize with Godwin’s Law and get over his curious decades-long obsession with homosexuals.
  • Oh, so there is a perverse logic to suicide bombing in Halo 3? Of course there is—prospect theory has spent the past thirty years unraveling the calculus behind risk taking, and is apt at explaining why some causes resort to suicide bombs (i.e. operating in a domain of loss). Pretending it’s illogical, or totally irrational, is a mistake… which is why we also tend to critically misjudge the enemies we face. Congratulations, Clive Johnson, on discovering something the much-hated liberal disconnected academic elite has been exploring for longer than I’ve been alive. Maybe someone will actually listen to you.
  • Well, I suppose the anti-intellectual cant is understandable in the context of the anthro-freakout over the Human Terrain System.

Around the World

  • Not to brag, but at Registan.net, we are ahead of the curve. I was one of the first to be discussing the very real steps Iran is taking to gain a dominant position in Central Asia, and I’m getting some inside news on what’s bubbling in Kabul after the nasty suicide attack at Baghlan. Even better? Nathan was able to scoop all the major news organizations about the brewing presidential crisis in Georgia. Sorry for glowing about this, but I’m proud of that. Oh, and don’t miss our take on the latest machinations in Pakistan, either.
  • Matthew Eckel, writing for Foreign Policy Watch, explores what it could mean if we used cannabis as an alternative livelihood crop in Afghanistan. Though he hedges far too much (what policy realist wouldn’t happily trade pot for heroin as a social ill?), he is generally right on. We’re left with trying to mitigate the problem while causing the least amount of pain to ordinary Afghans. The grey market is a good idea.
  • It’s a familiar story to regular readers: Bush’s diplomatic… err, infantilism cost us dearly with Iran.
  • How a band of Russian bloggers broke a predatory scam on pensioners.
  • I don’t know about you, but this Kazakh gangster film looks pretty damned sassy. I hope they subtitle it, and release it region 1, please.
  • Quote of the day? “Hey, if I were introduced to him as a urologist, I wouldn’t hesitate to let him stick his finger up my butt.” That was GQ’s Style Guy, Glenn O’Brien, discussing who else but Pervez Musharraf.

Back at Home

  • Prerna Mankad at Foreign Policy seems to think Pluto is 6 light years away—making it further away than Alpha Centauri, Barnard’s Star, and almost as far as Wolf 359 (site of that infamous Star Fleet battle with Locutus-of-Borg). Umm, Pluto is really, at its utmost, 50 AU from the sun, or about 4.5 billion miles (or about 5.4 light-hours). A single light year is 5.87849981 × 1012 miles, which is like, a lot more than that. Six lightyears? Well, you do the math—Mankad clearly didn’t.
  • Okay, Mankad updated the post. Even so, I liked my Star Trek reference.
  • I want one of these, because without it I cannot continue to be hip and indie and… well, we’ll stay with ‘hip’.
  • Imagine that: changing business models to deal with piracy, as opposed to scattershot suing relative bystanders and treating all customers like criminals.
  • The State Department hates your passports.
  • Like anyone worthwhile in this damned town, Anthony Bourdain loves the Ben’s Chili Bowl.
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