Friday, July 30, 2010

The Article

You can find it here; it's a good read.  It's very narrowly aimed at the issue of women's rights, which makes a lot more sense than my initial reaction of, "Is Time actually advocating a 'stay the course' attitude???"  It's important to remember that there are more issues at stake in any decision than the most obvious one.  I think about it now, actually, and NPR spends a *lot* of time talking about the women's rights issue in Afghanistan as well.  Like Time, however, they tend to couch it in terms of how dangerous Karzai's reintegration plan is for real democracy.  It's definitely a valid point though.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On That Note

Time's cover photo this week:
In my cynicism, I'm surprised this is their lead story.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

The Only Acceptable Outcome

It is becoming apparent that, as suspected, PFC Bradley Manning was the source for WikiLeaks' latest document dump of classified Afghanistan data.  That information, if you were not already aware, includes descriptions of Afghan informants, to include name, father's name, and village.  (Those three things combined are the closest thing you can get to name, phone number, address, and SSN for an Afghan, and really, are just as good.)  Those people are now dead men.  In the event that they're yet walking around, that is a condition the Taliban is actively taking steps to rectify at this very moment.

From a "big picture" perspective, the even greater harm is how this has the potential to prevent any effective HUMINT collection in theater ever again.  Imagine someone telling a potential informant their identity will be protected now.  Bottom line, PFC Manning has murdered hundreds of innocent Afghans who were trying to help us make their country a better place, single-handedly sabotaged Afghan trust of the American presence in their country, and potentially has kept us from ever winning that war.

I am not a fan, at all, of people who like to throw the word "treason" around every time someone's actions make our job in Iraq or Afghanistan harder.  But in the case of PFC Manning, I cannot think of any other appropriate charge.  He has betrayed his country from a position of extreme trust, causing literally incalculable damage that almost certainly includes the deaths of several critical allies.  He has done this to show "how the first world exploits the third."  His actions have given a significant tactical and strategic advantage to our enemies.  Beyond Adam Gadahn and Anwar Al-Auwlaki, I cannot think of anyone else who's actions more accurately describe treason.

PFC Manning is a traitor.  He may argue that he was not fully cognizant of the consequences of his actions, and that may be an argument in favor of leniency in sentencing, but it does not change the validity of the charge.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Again? Sure, why not?

Because I find myself bored, and marginally frustrated that I don't have enough people to coerce into listening to my rants, I return again to blogging.  Ah, interwebs, were it not for you, I would have to come to terms with the knowledge that nobody cares what I think.

So, the Chevy Volt has a sticker price, and as an interesting experiment I decided to really figure out what your trip costs in a Volt.  The best estimates I was able to find suggest an average power consumption rate of 0.25kWh/mile and uses about 8kWh for its 40-mile range. After that the hybrid engine gets an average of 50mpg.  The average price of electricity in Arizona is $0.099/kWh, and the average price of gas $2.76/gal.  So how good is that?  Well call the Volt comparable to a luxury Cobalt, which has an MSRP of $24,500.  To make it worth taking a Volt for purely economic reasons, you'd need to save $16,500 over the life of your car.  How long will that take?  As long as you drive it at least 40 miles every day, the answer is as long as $16,500 of gas would last you at 40 miles/day, which at the current prices is 31.92 years.

As my coworker helpfully pointed out, GM is not known for making durable, lasting vehicles.

But wait!  What about peak oil!  Someday gas will be way more expensive than the current (no doubt recession-deflated) prices!  Let's go w/ a mind-blowing $6.00/gallon.  Congratulations, your Volt only has to last 11.28 years now!  And don't forget to drive it 40 miles every.  single.  day.  If you skimp on Sundays, it'll just make it take longer.

No doubt you will be joining me this evening to demand its hastened production and release.  I look forward to seeing you.