Monday, February 25, 2008

Bring our Troops Home?

Senator John McCain has said that it would be fine with him if our troops maintained a presence in Iraq for 100 years. Senator Hillary Clinton has lambasted of McCain's statement, and has stated that she'd start bringing our troops home from Iraq within 60 days of her election. Likewise, Senator Barack Obama would immediately begin bring our troops home.

I respectfully submit that those who are crying for immediate return haven't given much quality thought to the problem. Senators Clinton and Obama know little about peace and nothing at all about war. First of all, if you're going to bring troops home, fine. But be consistent. If we've been in Iraq too long, we should begin not there, but in the other places we continue to occupy after war. World War II ended over SIXTY YEARS AGO. We are still in Germany. We are still in Italy. We are still in Portugal. We are still in Japan. The Korean War is long over. We are still in South Korea. When do Senators Clinton and Obama propose to bring these troops home? Hmmm?

The answer is, of course, that we are not at war with these countries. Ours is a friendly presence purely for defensive purposes. Tcha!! And the answer to why we're not at war is that our parents weren't cowardly wimps who rolled over to beg for defeat with a change of administration. They stuck with it, through real hardship both in battle and at home, their reward was victory. In other words, we're not at war because we won.

McCain is the only contender in this race that gets it (and who has a realistic chance of being nominated). To make things better you have to win. And you will never win if you only cut and run, as both of the Democrat candidates propose. And when we win, we stay, not as a hostile occupying force, but as a welcome and valued partner. Those places in which we've maintained a presence for a long time are peaceful; they are friendly towards us and their neighbors; they enjoy bustling economies; respect human rights; have democratic rule; and a general improvement in their quality of life.

Here is an alphabetical list of some places our troops still occupy overseas:
  • Germany (since World War II)
  • Greenland (since 1953 - the Cold War)
  • Guam (since the Spanish-American War in 1898. That's before we got into the habit of giving our conquests back, so we just kept it.)
  • Italy (since 1954)
  • Japan (since World War II)
  • The Azores (Portugal. Since World War II)
  • Spain (since 1953 - the Cold War)
  • South Korea (since the Korean War)
  • Turkey (since 1951 - the Cold War)
  • United Kingdom (since World War II)
At least one of these occupations has lasted over 100 years. Several have lasted more than 60 years. I personally "occupied" a foreign country in exactly the same fashion that John McCain has in mind for post-war Iraq. Senators Obama and Clinton pretend this is a bad thing. That's because they're clueless, and they hope you are, too.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Artificial Intelligence at Human Level in 20 years.

Inventor Ray Kurzweil predicts that machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029, reviving the same predictions made 20 years ago for the year 2000.

Of course, this will be almost entirely accounted for by the dumbing down of humans rather than the improvement of machines.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Journalist-Bites-Reality!

The title of this blog is unabashedly stolen from Steve Salerno from his excellent piece in this week's eSkeptic magazine. I urge you to read it, read it, read it.

I'll let you in on a secret. I really wanted to be a newspaper reporter. My stepfather worked at The State newspaper in Columbia, SC (he was foreman of the engraving department... back when they engraved). I was editor-in-chief of the my high school paper for two years. I was a Journalism major, and spent a brief stint on the college newspaper.

But a funny thing happened in class... I realized that everybody around me was an asshole of the first order. See, I wanted to report the news. As Steve Salerno so eloquently points out, the business of reporting has very little to do with reporting actual news. My asshole classmates were much better suited to the business of reporting. They didn't want to report the news; they wanted to change the world. No fooling. That was the phrase bandied about.

Lou Grant was on television at the time. Everybody wanted to be Joe Rossi (or Billie Newman). Everybody wanted to inject himself into the story. I wanted to report the truth. And the truth is, most of the time things are pretty OK. Of course, that wouldn't dissuade a true reporter from reporting a crisis anyway. But that's Steve's story and I'll let him tell it.

My story is this: having realized that my prospective colleagues were assholes, I decided to quit and join the military while I thought about what Plan B might be. But that's a whole other post that I won't relate here.

Having borrowed Steve's headline, I'm going to close by borrowing some of his stats, too. Think about this the next time you watch the Disease of the Week, the Tragic Disaster, the Head-Shaking News:
  • The current employment rate is 95.3 percent.
  • Out of 300 million Americans, roughly 299.999954 million were not murdered today.
  • Day after day, some 35,000 commercial flights traverse our skies without incident.
  • The vast majority of college students who got drunk last weekend did not rape anyone, or kill themselves or anyone else in a DUI or hazing incident. On Monday, they got up and went to class, bleary-eyed but otherwise okay.
And That's the Way It Is, Wednesday, February 13th, 2008.