Dream of the Dragon

Month: June, 2010

Scratched Coin

by Justin

Even the sudden evidence that journalists can wield great power and exert great influence can’t change that I associate the word coin exclusively with Two Face. And that association lands somewhere between Arkham Asylum and Tommy Lee Jones.

I’m a little late in addressing the remarkable piece Michael Hastings wrote for Rolling Stone that achieved no less than the resignation/sacking of the chief director of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama appointed McChrystal barely a year ago to lead a calculated escape from the Afghanistan imbroglio – the revelation of insubordination and the firing of a four-star general should have placed Obama squarely in GOP cross-hairs.

But the man who literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency tactics (this is the COIN we hear so much about) stepped into more than fill McChrystal’s shoes. Upgrade time, really. And it may be that the firm move by Obama to remind the general of the relationship between civilian government and its military arm ends up showing some needed steel. Who knows, this debacle may change things for the better. That’s just politically, mind you, and just for Obama’s reputation in the immediate future. The Rolling Stone profile of General McChrystal resulted in not only a changing of the guard but a sudden, piercing spotlight on the entire counter-insurgency strategy.

That’s the exciting bit, really. Read the rest of this entry »

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Poison Gets Palatable

by Justin

The focus of the Gulf spill damage has understandably been upon the crude drifting on the surface – it takes no expertise to recognize the dying marine life and the swells of copper and black floating along or lashing the shores. The effects are immediately visible and visceral to communities of both people and local wildlife.  Statistics are always useful in gauging the scale of disaster, but the photographs of Deepwater Horizon’s wake have been especially stirring. There’s no lack of material, but the Boston Globe’s website killed it yesterday with its Big Picture account of recent events. The copper tendrils are really quite beautiful, if ultimately terrible, in photos like the one below – more painting than ecological catastrophe. Please follow the link. It’s incredible work.

Unreal. The amazing revelation today in the NY Times, however, is that the poison ballooning onto the surface may have the opposite effect in the abyss below. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Rape More Dangerous

by Justin

This beast speaks for itself: http://www.antirape.co.za/intro.htm. Rather than explaining the way it operates, I suggest getting the info direct from the source – complete with an uncomfortably straight-forward animated gif.

The anti-rape condom is being given out in South Africa right now in an effort to curb the grotesque and effectively unchecked prevalence of sexual assault in the country. In 2002 South Africa ranked second globally for instances of rape followed by arrest with 54,000, though it ranks 26th for overall population – the same site ranks it number one per capita. The United States has nearly double the number of convictions, but ranks 3rd in total population and 9th per capita. What’s worth noting is that in the US we have a broader definition of what constitutes rape, significantly more effective and accessible venues to report sexual assault, and a far less corrupt justice system. It’s worse in South Africa than the numbers suggest.

A 2009 study by South Africa’s Medical Research Council produced more revelatory results after anonymously polling 1738 men: Read the rest of this entry »