Jimbo Is On The Absinthe Again

You know Jim and I have a history

…and now, he’s at it again, with a bunch of rich-ass “no bullshit, there I was” talk about – wait for it – his CELL PHONE.

Now, I’ve gotta point out that status-seeking through possessions is kind of lame to begin with. I have a friend who pays more than my mortgage in monthly payments on his hopped-up Turbo Porsche. It’s embarrassing; he won’t drive it anywhere because it might get stolen. But damn, he owns a TURBO PORSCHE. I’m trying to talk him into getting a Prius so he can actually leave the house. So I admit that bragging on owning stuff is a lame characteristic that (we) guys sometimes have.

But Jesus and Mary the weeping Mother of Christ…bragging about your CELL PHONE? That’s like being the kid in fifth grade who brags about his lunchbox.

What next? Talking about how cool your Bluetooth headset is?

Yeah, so your phone ran some missions for you…in your dreams…let me lay some truth down for you Jim, my man…let’s start with infrastructure:

Why on earth does the 4G coverage, of the so called “NOW” network, suck so much. Unless you are right in the middle of a capital city, you’re stuck on 3G with the pitiful 5Gb per month cap.

They were supposed to have WiMax in Boston late 2008 I believe, then they said, sometime in 2009. Well we are almost halfway through 2010, still no WiMax in Boston.

The funny thing is, despite the fact that less than 10% of this country is covered by WiMAX, Sprint continues to advertise nationally that it has a 4G network up and running. That’s false advertising, plain and simple. Sprint hasn’t built out any 4G network (and technically speaking, WiMAX is super-3G, not 4G), Clearwire is. And simply put, Sprint claiming to have a 4G network just screams to me that Sprint management lacks integrity in a major way.

I wonder what Verizon will do when they light up a majority of their LTE network at the end of this year…will they claim to have a 4G network as well? and will they cover at least as many people as Clearwire currently does.

So you got no infrastructure…and you know, amateurs talk technology, pros talk infrastructure.

And that phone…please. What self-respecting guy would have a phone like that? It’s almost as bad as an iPhone, all sleek planes and gentle ergonomic curves.

A man – an old-school man like Walt Kowalski – doesn’t want ergonomic curves. He wants a phone that looks like Craftsman made it. Carved from an unbreakable block, with sharp corners that will gouge your knuckles when you’re emailing tough emails to vendors. No predictive ‘virtual keyboard’ on the screen…a man’s fingers are too battered and calloused to tap daintily on little icons.

Sharp corners, sturdy, a keyboard…sounds like…my Motorola Droid!! And…I’ve got a network that works!! My network works so damn well that I can take my phone to Hiroshima, take pictures, and email them back to Los Alamos. Hellfire that, Jim!!

Afghanistan As A Strategic Sinkhole

I’ve been scarce on the blog front for a while; both this blog and my work blog have suffered badly. Sorry about that – work has been ridiculous (which is a good thing) for the last few months, and I have a client who wouldn’t be happy with me blogging too much about what I’m doing. We’re leaving for three weeks in Japan in a week, and getting work squared away, planning (and budgeting!) for that has been intense.

Plus there’s the malaise…just looking around at the scenes (California, the nation) that interest me – it’s all bad news all the way down.

But BG got Internet, and we’ve had some great chats, and – I’m embarrassed – I look at the fact that he goes to work every day and risks everything when he’s as upset about everything as I am and get pretty deeply ashamed. It’s not like I do much, but throwing the seeds of ideas out there and trying to trigger discussion is what I have and can do. So I need to do it, and – once I get back from Japan, I will. Or maybe even a bit before then.

Right now, I’m thinking about Afghanistan and Vietnam, and while no it isn’t Vietnam, the parallels to the way we’re approaching it are becoming frightening to me.

So I’m thinking about working my way through ‘On Strategy‘ and seeing what maps to what we’re doing today. My gut answer is: a lot.

What to do about it? I honestly don’t know. I know smart people who think we withdraw now, and smart people who (frighteningly) seriously think we withdraw through Tehran.

But we can’t keep doing what we’re doing. We’re spilling blood and treasure and don’t know why or what for.

Here’s Summers quoting Clausewitz:

Not every war need be fought until one side collapses. When the motives and tensions of war are slight we can imagine that the faintest prospect of defeat might be enough to cause one side to yield. If from the very start the other side feels that this is probable, it will obviously concentrate on bringing about this probability rather than take the log way round and totally defeat the enemy.

– On War 1:2


Brendan Neenan, KIA


Godspeed to Brendan and all our sympathy to his parents.

Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.
They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.
– Archibald McLeash – ‘The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak’


The Zen Of Not F**king Up

The attention to detail at a base like Restropo forced a kind of clarity on absolutely everything a soldier did until I came to think of it as a kind of Zen practice: the Zen of not fucking up. It required a high mindfulness because potentially everything had consequences.

In the civilian world almost nothing has lasting consequences, so you can blunder through life in a kind of daze. You never have to take inventory of the things in your possession and you never have to calculate the ways in which mundane circumstances can play out – can, in fact, kill you. As a result, you lose importance of the importance of things, the gravity of things. Back home mundane details also have the power to destroy you, but the cause and effect are often spread so far apart that you don’t even make the connection; at Restropo, that connection was impossible to ignore.

From “War” by Sebastian Junger. I just finished it and will try and do a review before I travel this weekend. Let’s just say it’s good enough that I need a day or so to process before writing about it.

Mickey Kaus

If you’re a Californian, and a Democrat, I want to ask for one vote – for Mickey Kaus for U.S. Senate.

It’s gonna be a symbolic vote – Boxer will crush him. But if he gets a decent percent…5 or even 4 percent, given the thinness of his self-managed campaign, it’ll send a message to the Democratic powers-that-be that there’s an audience for a message that isn’t trimmed to suit the institutional powers that own the party.