That was quick. 7-0 Bears. Nevertheless, I predict that Indy will prevail.
Consider this a Superbowl open thread.
That was quick. 7-0 Bears. Nevertheless, I predict that Indy will prevail.
Consider this a Superbowl open thread.
I’m not sure why I found this article so irritating and compelling at the same time. I’ve known for years that the losers of major sporting events have their “championship” t-shirts swiftly dumped on Romania or Thailand, so the substance of the piece isn’t really surprising. What struck me, however was the degree to which the NFL wants to flush the offending apparel down the proverbial memory hole.
By order of the National Football League, those items are never to appear on television or on eBay. They are never even to be seen on American soil.
They will be shipped Monday morning to a warehouse in Sewickley, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where they will become property of World Vision, a relief organization that will package the clothing in wooden boxes and send it to a developing nation, usually in Africa.
This way, the N.F.L. can help one of its charities and avoid traumatizing one of its teams.
There’s a side of me that loves counterfactuals, and so I would probably pay decent money for a 1997 Cleveland Indians shirt or a 1980 Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl hat. I would pay even more for New York Yankees’ shirts from 2001 or 2003, or Atlanta Braves merchandise from 1991 or 1992 — though my motives there would be of a purely spiteful nature.
There’s also a side of me that thinks this is one more reason that terrorists are correct to hate our freedoms. Post-championship marketing is so aggressive that we can’t wait a few minutes to see the MVP in his victory paraphernalia? How long can it possibly take to silk screen a fucking pile of t-shirts?
The Times didn’t mention whether Larry Summers is behind this, but I have my suspicions.
Re-reading Michael Walzer has got me to thinking about Cylons and justice in war. Simply put, what methods of combatting the Cylons are impermissible under a common understanding of justice in war? I should add that, while this formulation applies specifically to organized conflict against the Cylon, a serious discussion of the applicability of the rules of warfare is necessary to any preparation for the inevitable robot revolution. Minimal Spoilers Ahead.
Is it war?
Is conflict with the Cylon properly termed a war? Fighting a disease, or a horde of locusts, or even an army of non-sentient machines does not necessarily rise to the level of war, which is conventionally defined as armed conflict between two organized groups with political purpose. If the Cylons have no political purpose and no capacity for reason, then the conflict is not a war, and no rules of war can apply. The Cylon, however, exhibit every characteristic of sentient beings capable of moral reasoning, and none of a virus or natural disaster. Individually and as a group the Cylons can feel pain, anger, rage, disappointment, humiliation, and embarassment. The Cylon also have a concept of right and wrong.
Given this, a common conception of justice seems possible. Indeed, while Cylon morality is different from human, it is not completely alien, and seems to share some roots. Cylon religion is related to human religion, and the Cylon patterned themselves on human beings. Consequently, war between human and Cylon is a social phenonomenon, potentially governed by convention. All of the reasons that two groups of human combatants might have for regulating and evaluating morality in warfare exist between the Cylon and the Colonies. Thinking of the Cylons as moral beings also enables condemnation of their actions. Cancer, for example, does not commit atrocities. Cylons do, but pointing out their atrocities creates a responsibility on the part of the Colonials to avoid such atrocity themselves.
Does the combatant/non-combatant distinction apply?
Many of the rules of war are dependent upon the combatant/non-combatant distinction. It is impermissible to directly target civilians as part of a military operation. The doctrine of double effect and the priniciple of proportionality help govern the circumstances under which civilians can be harmed in pursuance of a separate military objective. If, however, there is no distinction between civilians and combatants, none of these rules apply. Although we know that Cylon society is pluralistic (although not quite in the same way that human society is pluralistic), there is no indication that any militarily meaningful division of labor exists among the Cylons. Although some Cylon models (raiders, centurions, hybrids) appear designed specifically for combat operations, all of the models appear capable of engaging in combat in addition to whatever other duties they may have. As far as we know, there are no Cylon civilians. Thus, any Cylon is a legitimate target for military action, with the possible exception of prisoners and the wounded.
What of the treatment of prisoners and wounded?
When a soldier surrenders, he or she becomes a non-combatant, gaining some rights and surrendering others. As a non-combatant, the prisoner can be confined but not attacked. The same applies to wounded unable to defend themselves. As individual Cylons have surrendered, the rules regulating their treatment would seem to be the same as the conventions relating to any other prisoner of war. However, while prisoners of war gain some rights, they do not receive immunity from criminal prosecution. As the Cylon system of governance seems to rely on consensus instead of hierarchy, and since the Cylon conception of the individual remains dramatically different than that of the human, it’s relevant to consider whether ALL Cylon are responsible for war crimes. From the evidence available to us, the decision to destroy the Colonies was not made by a small cabal of leaders, or even by pluralistic voting as we would understand it. Rather, the Cylon arrived at consensus as to end and means, then carried out the attack. As such, it seems to me plausible to argue that every Cylon prisoner should be treated as a war criminal, and thus made subject to prosecution and punishment.
What of conventions regarding tactics and weapons?
Most conventions banning the use of certain weapons and tactics (mines, chemical weapons, and torture, to provide a few examples) do not depend on reciprocity. Use of chemical weapons is understood to be simply wrong, and doesn’t become less wrong if the other side uses them first. However, the restriction on weapon types depends upon convention, and some sort of explicit narrative for how the weapon is immoral. We don’t have enough context to understand which weapons are allowable and which are not, although it seems that there are some restrictions on the use of biological weapons. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, appear to be useable on order of the battlefield commander, which suggests a more liberal set of restrictions.
Are the Colonies in a situation of Supreme Emergency, and thus unfettered by any just war restrictions?
The situation of the Colonies certainly approaches Supreme Emergency. The Cylons have annihilated the bulk of humanity and have expressed a desire to annihilate the rest. The Cylon represent a genuinely existential threat that goes beyond the defense of a province or “way of life.” This would seem to free the Colonial Fleet from the need to adhere to some of the jus in bello restrictions. Even if justified, however, declaration of supreme emergency does not amount to writing a blank check. Effective means of resistance are allowed if they are the only way to resist immediate, existential danger. If alternative, just means of resistance are available, or if the unjust means are unlikely to have an effect, then the rules still apply. The murder of prisoners, for example, is unlikely to have any noticeable effect on the Cylon war machine, and therefore could not be justified. Torture for reprisal would also be impermissible. However, torture of prisoners for information might be justifiable. Colonial knowledge about Cylon society, culture, warmaking capacity, and order of battle is so slight that virtually any interrogation could reveal useful information. The same rules would apply to human collaborators. The caveat is that some expectation of success would be necessary; if torture cannot provide useful intelligence (and opinions differ on this question), then it would be impermissible.
How has the show treated these concepts?
The rules of war have structured some Colonial action. Colonial activity has probably been most questionable in the area of prisoners. The Colonial government commonly disposes of Cylon prisoners through summary execution. This is emotionally satisfying but tactically questionable, as most of the Cylons thus disposed simply resurrect. The Colonial government also engaged in the summary execution of human collaborators for a time, although that process was later halted. One collaborator has been tortured prior to trial, although both means and intent might well be justified under the supreme emergency exception. On Pegasus, a prisoner was tortured well beyond any possible justification. Galactica has used nuclear weapons on one occasion and threatened use on another, both at the behest of the military commander. I suspect that, since nuclear weapons appear to be commonly used in capital ship combat, that their tactical use is not subject to civilian approval. The Colonial government also attempted to use a biological weapon to destroy the Cylon, a tactic which, again, could probably be justified under supreme emergency. Notably, most divergence from the laws of war has come at the behest of civilian rather than military authority.
The Cylon have had observed virtually no constraints on their warmaking capacity. The initial attack involved a direct nuclear assault on Colonial civilians. The Cylon occupation authority on New Caprica ordered the imprisonment and summary execution of undesirables without any obvious procedure. The Cylons have also pursued rape on an industrial scale as a matter of policy.
The Cylon decision to moderate their political goals (from complete annihilation of humanity to its mere domination) suggests hope that they might, at some point, moderate their warmaking behavior. However, as long as the Cylons continue to seek Earth and to pursue genocidal goals, supreme emergency would seem to hold on the Colonial side. It’s important to remember, however, that this ought not be considered a blank check for the Colonials to do whatever they wish. Under no circumstance, for example, can the treatment of Pegasus Six be justified.
The Hohenzollern are first mentioned in the eleventh century. Holding lands in southern Germany and the Black Forest, the family slowly expanded its territory until it acquired Brandenburg in 1415. The center of Hohenzollern power moved north, and Berlin became the chief city of the realm. The Hohenzollerns took advantage of the decline of the Teutonic Knights to expand into east Prussia. In 1525 Albert I converted to Lutheranism, took the lands of the Teutonic Knights, and assumed the title Duke of Prussia. A later Duke converted to Calvinism, and House Hohenzollern became known for its religious tolerance. Frederick William I, also known as the Great Elector, helped build the army that Prussia would become renowned for in later years. In 1701 Frederick William’s son Frederick declared himself King of Prussia, which helped sever the ties between Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland. Frederick II, or Frederick the Great, used the army to good effect against overwhelming odds in the First and Second Silesian Wars, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years War. Frederick the Great also patronized Voltaire and Kant, and granted Jean Jacques Rousseau refuge from France.
In the 1860s Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor to King Wilhelm I, engineered wars against Denmark, Austria, and finally France. Victory in the last catalyzed German nationalism, bringing Wilhelm the title Emperor. After the ninety-nine day reign of Frederick III, Wilhelm II assumed the throne. Although Wilhelm II wasn’t the only source of Germany’s militaristic approach to the international system, he certainly didn’t help the situation. In 1890 he fired Bismarck, and through the last decade of the nineteenth and the first of the twentieth he lent heavy support to German plans for colonial and naval expansion. Trauma during birth left Wilhelm II with a withered arm and may have caused some brain damage. Nevertheless, Wilhelm cannot be held solely responsible for World War I; there’s enough blame to spread around liberally.
Germany’s situation began to deteriorate rapidly in November 1918. With revolution in the air and the Reichswehr at the breaking point, pressure grew on Wilhelm to abdicate. Although he realized that holding that Imperial crown might become untenable, he hoped and believed that it would be possible to remain King of Prussia. One can sympathize with this feeling; having lost the war, Wilhelm at least hoped not to undo all of the work that his family had accomplished over the last five centuries. Nevertheless, under the advice of Paul Von Hindenburg, a committed royalist, Wilhelm abdicated both crowns and fled to Holland. Wilhelm II’s most significant redeeming quality was a loathing of Adolf Hitler, although he did send Hitler a congratulatory note after the conquest of France in 1940. Of Nazi policy toward the Jews he may have written “for the first time I am ashamed to be a German,” although the source of that quote remains questionable. Although the Allies had requested the Wilhelm be turned over for prosecution, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands refused. Wilhelm II died on June 4, 1941, and was given an honor guard of German soldiers, an act which almost resulted in the firing of a general by an angry Adolf Hitler. Although Hitler wanted to bring Wilhelm’s body back to Berlin for a state funeral, the former Emperor had explictly provided that his body not return to Germany prior to the restoration of the monarchy.
The actions of Wilhelm II should not prejudice us against Georg Friedrich, the current head of House Hohenzollern. He seems like a very nice young man. Great great grandson of Wilhelm II, Georg Friedrich does not claim the imperial throne, but does use the title Prince of Prussia. He served two years in the Bundeswehr, and has travelled extensively. An anglophile like his great-great-grandfather, he finished college in the United Kingdom, later studying business economics in Germany. Chances for restoration appear extremely grim, as there is almost no sympathy for the monarchy in the contemporary German political scene. Georg Friedrich is, however, 150th in line to the British throne.
Trivia: What deposed monarch is also an Olympic gold medalist?
Brad makes a point that isn’t made often enough here:
I’m also curious to know why it’s always and everywhere considered “pro-Israel” to support military strikes that won’t, in all likelihood, destroy Iran’s nuclear program, but will, in all likelihood, destroy international support for sanctions on the country, entrench the more radical factions in Tehran, and make future conflicts in the Middle East more, rather than less, likely. As if opponents of such a thing are “anti-Israel.”
Right, even if pointing this out means that Phillip Roth will be writing a novel about a hypothetical Plumer presidency. One can say something similar about the Iraq war. Whatever impact they had on the decision to go to war, it’s mind-boggling that anyone in the “pro-Israel” lobby could have thought that 1)a pro-Israeli government would emerge from the ashes of razing Saddam, or that 2)replacing a secular dictatorship with a Islamist quasi-state would be in the interests of Israel.
The truck bomb that killed 130 today in Iraq is said to have wounded over 300. As is the case with American casualties, we focus on the dead. We should think more, though, about the wounded. If we assume that Lancet was accurate, we’re probably closing in on 700000 or so excess dead since the war began. I don’t know of any estimates of the wounded, but two injured for every one killed seems plausible enough, which gets us close to a million and a half Iraqis wounded in the war and ensuing strife. That’s about one in every twenty Iraqis.
Can you imagine what that does to a country? People in the US are already worrying about the long term expense of the Iraq War in terms of medical costs for veterans. Iraq likely now has 30 times the number of wounded as the US in absolute terms, and roughly 300 times as many corrected for population. Add to this the surviving injured from the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War, and you have a health care disaster of almost unimaginable proportions. How is it possible to build or manage a national health care system under such conditions? This isn’t a problem that’ll be gone in ten years, even if some sort of stability is achieved. The Iraqi state and its successor(s) is/are going to be caring for the wounded for the next forty years, an obligation which is going to prove onerous even for a state with oil revenue.
I don’t think we’ve begun to grasp the extent of the disaster.
Billy Harper, a 2007 (!?) Kentucky gubernatorial candidate, has a big ad campaign that’s notable chiefly for the fact that it fails to mention that he’s a Republican. He’s willing to self-describe as “a conservative businessman”, but apparently the Republican label is so poisonous in Kentucky that he’d prefer to approach by stealth.
…not related, but worth mention; I’m currently blogging from Buffalo Wild Wings so that I can catch the USC-Oregon game. Some dumbass put “Rocky Top” (the Dolly Parton version) on the jukebox, and the idiots around me clapped along instead of finding the offender and beating him severely. What ever happened to Kentucky pride?
As at least a partial antidote, some episodes of the anti-Studio 60 will be coming out on DVD. (It’s funny! The satire has actual teeth! The characters don’t all talk like moderately liberal political essayists!) It’s actually a very mixed blessing, since it’s just a best-of, and Season 2+ of Larry Sanders must be the best non-recent seasons of American TV not on DVD. (I try to throw out my VCR, but…) Still, better something than nothing.
I have been, ah, less than optimistic about the quaility of Reading Outtakes From Persuasive Speech Competitions While Walking In Offices On The Sunset Strip and did not even have my low expectations met when I saw the thing. But while I can’t stomach it anymore, some people are still watching. And:
Wait, I’m confused: was it Sorkin’s dream to write for “SNL” or to write for “Three’s Company”? Because between the Two Dates On One Night and Locked On The Roof, all the episode was lacking was the Misunderstood Overheard Phone Conversation where Matt started to believe that Harriet was pregnant. Doesn’t matter if you have Danny comment on the hackiness of the roof situation; it’s still hacky, and no amount of highbrow name-dropping can disguise that. Commedia Del’Arte, this ain’t.
I’ll go with the cell phone issue, as the latest TCA press tour was held at a top LA hotel where you could only get reception in the strangest of places, and being outdoors wasn’t always a help. But Tom lying to Lucy about the dinner was the most idiotic of Idiot Plots, a decision made for no reason except that the plot wouldn’t work without it.
Seriously…Two Dates On One Night? Gawd. Lance is also on the case.
Via Lance, I also see another good post by Ken Levine. (Speaking of which, we need to persuade Dave to tell the story of Levine doing color with the Fredo of the Carey family.) Levine is right that it’s hard to take pleasure in the show’s failure; to have someone given a high level of creative control fail is not really good for the medium, because for too many execs the lesson won’t be “Aaron Sorkin is horribly overrated” but “Let’s send that script to the CSI factory for some focus-grouping.” But I think this can cut the other way: look at the bizarrely positive reviews this pretentious train wreck has received. (It could be that these critics all just have bad taste, but I think there was a lot of wishful thinking going on; many of the critics proclaiming it a classic in September couldn’t even find room for it on their Top-10 lists by December.) Creative autonomy, while better for TV on balance, is not a guarantee of success in any individual case (ask Steven Bach); I don’t think it does anyone any good pretend this show is anything but terrible.
Shorter Practically verbatim TIDOS Yankee:
“I took a few geology classes 17 years ago, and I’m pretty sure that experience — in addition to some information gleaned from a website compiled by an amateur plant fossil hunter who used to work for West Virginia’s Office of Miners Health, Safety, and Training — qualifies me to describe actual climate scientists as a ‘group of idiots.’”
Interview in the Frankfort State Journal. They seem to have printed the complete transcript of the tape recording; apparently I need to add more punctuation when I speak. I’m also pretty sure that I said “non-aggression” rather than “non-proliferation”, but I suppose that the tape never lies… The photo, incidentally, was taken about ten minutes before my office exploded.
“The Question Settled” is a print by the E.B. and E.C Kellogg Company, which ranked among the more popular producers of mass-market illustrations. The image, which dates from either late 1864 or early 1865, depicts “Old Abe” — the white cat — displacing “Jeff [Davis]” from the milk dish, which rests atop a map of the rebellious South. Cowering behind Lincoln is a cat labeled “Contraband,” which refers (I am assuming) to slaves captured from Southern plantations or black refugees spirited beyond union lines.
What thrills me here is the depiction of Abraham lincoln as a fluffy white cat. I can’t recall ever seeing an American president depicted in feline form.
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