March 4th, 2002


Brad would hate this quote.

"Technical skills are less important than creative thinking. The epoch of the generalist has arrived -- again. Any fool can program and most do. Software engineers are emotionally inept. In today's unstable + dynamic environment they do not stand a chance." - Netochka Nezvanova from an article on Alternet.

I love the quote, and mostly agree with it. Coders can't do it by themselves. Between the head and the hand lies the heart. People talk about artists not being understood, but how many people really understand software engineers?! Yes, they are uniquely developed/flawed people. Cut them a break, 'k?!

Still, Netochka Nezvanova sounds like such an annoying fabrication. Glad I don't have to deal with that non-entity on a regular basis. I'd just have to suspend them, most likely. I love creative, talented individuals, but if Jackson Pollock pissed in my fireplace, I'd still kick his ass out of my house. There are places for such displays, and they usually involve large warehouses and lots of rubber sheeting, a la Throbbing Gristle. Who knows? I just might pay to see it... somewhere else.

I find this quote ironic, since while I was writing an earlier post, I actually deleted a somewhat off-topic paragraph where I was describing how I primarily defined myself (other than being a bisexual, kinky polyamorist...)

It went something like this:
At heart, I am a person that likes to enable others to express themselves creatively. I am a generalist, because specializing in any one thing bores me. I would probably be good at being an artist, but their work is entirely too exacting for me. I can't draw to save my life... if I were an artist, I would paint with a big, big brush. I'm far more interested in creating big concepts that enable others to do their thing. In a sense, that is what I try to do with LiveJournal. Perhaps I should be called a macroartist.

Sometimes when trying to be a "Business Manager", I find that I censor myself. I try to be tactful. I try to smooth over the rough spots, calm things down, and impart a sense of perspective (i.e. The Big Picture). I have this inherited proper English propriety and many years of social rejection telling me that I should be restrained... as such, I am repulsed by drama and pretense, but at the same time, I can't be an observer all the time... Sometimes I like to participate and to create - to be a part of the drama and to risk being branded as part of the pretense of it all. Sad to say, but the drama and the pretense is where it's at sometimes, you know?! Mostly though, I just want to be left alone, in peace... until I decide that I don't want to be left alone anymore. At that point, I want intensity, decadence, and depravity. I want a good night out.

Yes, I am more knowledgeable than most, and yes I am a manager. If that makes me a backseat driver or an armchair general, sobeit. I'm not infallible, but my advice is on target far more often than not. Still, here goes the know-it-all...

The nice thing, however, is that people can call me on it. I am sick of reading websites where "technical experts" pontificate on matters, yet don't allow their readers to comment. They're a bunch of cult leaders and soap salesmen... I like a good debate, and in most situations, I can rip my critics a new one. Why?! Because I form opinions based on all the credible information I can gather. I don't need to tell people to talk to the hand; they can check the facts instead.

When I occasionally stop writing for days, I'm probably sick of reading my own words... a pretense in itself. (Either that, or I am catching up on the decadence and depravity... in which case, my lips are *mostly* sealed.) Still, words are a key part of my job, right? Might as well be me doing the job. I'm better at it than most.

Nevermind my previous concerns..

Guess that's now a total of 9 US troops killed, 40 wounded in this little mountain debacle battle.

Taking a look at the history of this engagement, it almost appears like the US is playing this battle like a seedy gambling addict with a nervous tic, "doubling down" and losing on both hands. Here's why...

The US started the battle with a brief amount of bombing near the town of Gardez, followed by the arrival of 1500 Afghanis and about 60 US troops, broken into several different spearheads. One group was supposed to attack from the front, another from the rear, etc. Unfortunately, they went into battle in pickup trucks, not armored vehicles, and the convoy made a great target. Turns out military intelligence might have underestimated the enemy's strength by a factor of ten. Chalk up about five dead (including an American) and apparently well over a dozen wounded (including six Americans). The convoy bade a hasty retreat and serious bombing soon commenced.

Now, bombing doesn't, in itself, control territory, but the obvious question here is whether this mountainous territory needs to be held by us. (Short answer: it doesn't.) The things a really good bombing campaign does (besides kill a lot of your enemies), is destroy your enemy's ability to operate as a unit, to supply themselves effectively, or to exert control over an area. Basically, people being bombed (or shelled) have little choice other than to hunker down, watch others around them die, and watch tensions grow and nerves fray as people start to wonder whether they are next. That is why some of the happiest people the world has yet seen were those Iraqi troops who were fortunate enough to surrender to a US soldier (or a reporter, or a cameraman...) in the Gulf War after over a month of ferocious bombing.

It's worth noting that in WWII, General MacArthur was outnumbered by Japanese ground forces in the Pacific for most of the early part of the war, yet managed to successfully win battle after battle. He did it through a technique called "island hopping", where enemy strongpoints were simply ignored. Instead, the focus was to cut off supplies to these strongpoints, bomb them regularly, and let them "wither on the vine".

Obviously, even al Quaeda troops need supplies. Well, there aren't a lot of supplies to be had up in the mountains. Either these supplies must be gathered, sent in to them, or they must be supplied by the locals. Simply surround the enemy, relocate the nearest locals to a "safe distance from the battleground", and create a no-man's land, where it's open season on anyone who enters. (i.e. A good use of night vision goggles.) Meanwhile, bomb, bomb, bomb!

What makes little sense is to immediately resume a military operation against an enemy whose strength was considerably underestimated, presumably in the hope that doing so will make people overlook a previous blunder. Instead, the US military has compounded one blunder with another. Of course our enemies know how to shoot up convoys and shoot down helicopters. We trained and equipped them to do precisely that to the Soviets, and they were very good at it. My question is, why are we using the same failed tactics that the Soviets used?!

Leave your racism overseas

One of the things about politics that is most interesting (if not primarily an exercise in evil) is seeing how politicians remake themselves for the roles they play.

Case in point - I was watching an interview today with the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, David Ivry. This guy comes off as a mild mannered commentator, but he is a hawk, through and through and has been a part of the Israeli military establishment for well over 40 years.

On the surface, he comes off like an American politician. For someone born overseas, he's obviously worked very hard on developing an American accent. He actually sounds surprisingly like Dick Cheney... however, every now and then it sounds like he's channeling Dr. Strangelove for half a second.

What concerns me is that he said on CNN, while trying to adopt a seemingly unbiased political analyst's stance, "Those people aren't Western thinkers. They don't think like you and me. There's no reasoning with them."

If that's not a racist statement, I don't know what is. It reminds me of the kind of arguments made a century ago to support colonialism. "Those people can't think and they can't even govern themselves. We're doing them a favor..."

Perhaps the media is better off not featuring comments by any biased foreign party if they are just going to propagate hatred and racism in our country. Does it concern Mr. Ivry that Arab Americans have to pay the price of the hatred and distrust that he would have the US foment against the Arabs? I think not. Apparently the ends justify the means.

The contemptuous use of the phrase "those people" is one of the ugliest things that anyone could possibly utter. It is a sad thing that in a new millennium, this phrase is still spoken publicly.

In an ideal world, I would like to think that Mr. Ivry would show the people of our country the common courtesy not to foment racism against "those people" within our borders... because this is the United States, home to one of the world's most culturally and ethnically diverse cultures. Over here, the phrase "those people" is just another way to say "fellow Americans".