Wednesday, July 30, 2008
War has its myriad lessons, not only for the military tactician and the armament specialist, but for the student of statecraft. War brings its tests, as well of the morale and the intellect of the contending nations as of the fabric of their political institutions. While despotisms are supposed to be more efficient in war, and democracies slower to take up the gage of battle, in general it may be affirmed that that nation will do best in peace and in war whose governmental machinery is most sensible and best administered.
Midway between despotism and anarchy is our ideal government of well-knit efficiency consistent with individual liberty. The star of free government under fixed fundamental law is in the ascendant. Constitutions originally devised to limit the power of unjust aggression by a tyrannical monarch came to be recognized as essential to curb the excesses of a temporary majority. |Amendment of Constitutions and Recall of Judicial Decisions - Constitutional Review (1917)|
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Here's an excerpt from an ominous tale of massive Taliban attack on a US outpost in Afghnistan from Stars and Stripes.
"I’ve never seen the enemy do anything like that," said Walker, who was medically evacuated off the FOB in one of the first helicopters to arrive. "It’s usually three RPGs, some sporadic fire and then they’re gone … I don’t where they got all those RPGs. That was crazy."I think it's absolutely criminal the way Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan so he could make a clusterfuck out of Iraq.
"Normal humans [don't fight like] that. You’re not supposed to do that — getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head … It was a fistfight then, and those guys held ’ em off."
Stafford offered a guess as to why his fellow soldiers fought so hard.
"Just hardcoreness I guess," he said. "Just guys kicking ass, basically. Just making sure that we look scary enough that you don’t want to come in and try to get us." |Soldiers recount deadly attack on Afghanistan outpost - Stars and Stripes|
Researchers at UCLA have developed a wearable artificial kidney that could make dialysis obsolete. I wonder if this technology might be useful to help remediate first responders that have been exposed to chemical or biological warfare agents.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The Urban Word of the Day is Ask Me Out Boots. At the risk of being totally dour and humorless, this whole concept strikes me as yet another manifestation of the rape society we live in where women are seen as objects for men to molest and not as full human beings.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
One of the theses of the documentary Outfoxed was that Fox News set off a race to the bottom in television journalism because no one would counter-program against Fox, so instead all of the media outlets just emulated them.
I think this helps explain why the media was AWOL during the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq and failed to ask serious questions.
But MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has been taking on Fox News and Bill O'Reilly and counter-programming against them as the New Yorker's Peter J. Boyer reports.
When “Countdown” was still new, in 2004, Rick Kaplan, then the president of MSNBC, told Olbermann that he wanted the program to be the cable network’s “newscast of record.” Largely owing to the license that Olbermann took in his on-air duelling with O’Reilly, it has become more like a nightly political insult-comedy routine. Olbermann’s Fox-bashing struck a chord with a core audience deeply sympathetic to the view that the conservative-leaning Fox News (“Fox Noise,” Olbermann calls it) has degraded journalism “in the same sense that George Bush lowered and made even more disreputable the Presidency of the United States.”....While I often agree with Oblermann, he's a bit heavy-handed for my tastes.
Olbermann’s success, like O’Reilly’s, is evidence of viewer cocooning—the inclination to seek out programming that reinforces one’s own firmly held political views. “People want to identify,” Griffin says. “They want the shortcut. ‘Wow, that guy’s smart. I get him.’ In this crazy world of so much information, you look for places where you identify, or you see where you fit into the spectrum, because you get all this information all day long.”|One Angry Man: Is Keith Olbermann changing TV news? - New Yorker|
But I do think it's good that someone in the mainstream media (MSM) is willing to take on Fox News and mock them for their obvious faults and not imitate (and amplify) Fox's worst tendencies.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I can see why the Canadian Privacy Commissioner wanted to view this records, but the Supreme Court's rule of separation of powers makes sense.
It goes to show that the overweening use of administrative power isn't unique to the Bush administration.
The [Canadian Supreme Court] decision is believed to be the court's first pronouncement on federal privacy legislation, passed eight years ago to protect personal information collected and used by the private sector, and gives individuals the right to access their own personal information, subject to several exceptions.
The case began six years ago when Annette Soup was fired from her job at the Blood Tribe Department of Health in southern Alberta. Soup sought access to her employee file to review certain information about her she said was inaccurate, and had been improperly collected and used to discredit her.
When her employer refused, Soup filed a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner. When investigating the complaint, an assistant privacy commissioner requested the records from the health department.
The employer refused to hand over correspondence with its lawyer, saying it was protected by solicitor-client privilege, despite assurances from the privacy commission that the information would not be shared with Soup and would be viewed only to verify the privilege was properly claimed. |Top court upholds solicitor-client privilege - Canada.com|
Susan Perry has an article at Minn Post about donating your old house to your local police and fire department if you're doing a "tear down" later.
Turns out the IRS takes a very dim view of deductions for these training events, which strikes me as poor public policy.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Robbyn Brooks' article, Think about 911 before Ditching your Landline, lists several things you should consider when thinking about 911 service.
For instance, if you pay for an elderly parent's phone service, make sure the phone company knows that the billing address is not the same as the service address, lest first responders be sent to your home, rather than your elderly parent's home during a crisis.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Summer is way too short.There are all these projects floating around the law school that professors want finished before school starts and then my garden is just exploding all around me...
So my blogging has been virtually non-existent. I've also been busy taking care of Sarah while she recuperates from her reconstructive surgery, but she's making a miraculous recovery, so I'm delighted.
Posted by Safety Neal at 11:30
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I love the Danger Room blog at Wired, even though the world is a scarier place every time I read it.
A recent post discusses the potential use of microwaves as a brain-frying death ray, almost as an aside.
There are health risks... the biggest issue from the microwave weapon is not the radiation. It's the risk of brain damage from the high-intensity shockwave created by the microwave pulse. Clearly, much more research is needed on this effect at the sort of power levels that Dr. Sadovnik is proposing. But if it does prove hazardous, that does not mean an end to weapons research in this area: a device that delivered a lethal shockwave inside the target's skull might make an effective death ray. |The Microwave Scream Inside Your Skull - Danger Room|