Creative Destruction

June 15, 2006

Anger Management

Filed under: Blogosphere,Humor — Brutus @ 11:25 pm

Here's a brief (thus far) but interesting blog by a guy who thinks that we're all too complacent and could use some heartfelt anger about the way things are going in the culture. Never mind that anger is unhealthy, unwholesome, negative, and causes high blood pressure. He's got a big list of rants, some of which push him over the edge from angry to furious. Two of them in particular caught my attention.

The Missile Shield
It's really not a shield at all, is it? It's actually just a bunch of other missiles. If you thought someone was going to throw a dart at your head, would you defend yourself with intercept darts? Hitting a mid-flight dart with another dart or a missile with another missile is hard, and it pretty much never works in either case. I wouldn't declare my head dart-proof based on a system like that. And I sure as hell wouldn't spend billions of dollars trying to dart-proof my head in response to having a brick thrown at my crotch on September 11th.

This just makes so much sense to me I wish I'd thought of it first. It was true in Reagan's day and is no less true today now that Bush has resurrected the project. It's also so laughingly foolhardy it's tragic, considering the public funds spent chasing so elusive a chimera.

Standing Ovations
I shouldn't have to hate standing ovations. But good lord do I ever. Tony Blair, when addressing the US Congress received 19 standing ovations during his 32 minute speech. George Bush received 6 in the first six minutes of the last state of the union address. A standing ovation is meant to be reserved for the best of the best. This should automatically exclude the following from receiving them: 1) all school productions (I've seen your kids, they're not that cute) 2) speeches by presidents who say "nukular" 3) concerts from local musicians 4) amateur plays. Most performers and speakers aren't that good and you devalue those who are when you arbitrarily dish out standing o's. I propose that everybody get a lifetime quota of three ovations that they can bestow on performers. No more. It might make people think twice before they stand up and start clapping like idiots for a kid hitting a tambourine.

This one has been a peeve of mine for a long time. I think one underlying cause is that we're all out to maximize our enjoyment of things, and to do so, it becomes necessary to validate our experience with standing ovations at every turn. I once took part in a staged riot at a classical music concert, which was a very modest recreation of a real riot in 1913. The looks of utter horror on the faces of the audience before they realized what was happening — that someone might disapprove of a public performance and be disruptive — was remarkable. Were I to really boo a performer these days, I'd probably be sanctioned for expressing my judgment.


  1. The dart-dart analogy doesn’t make much sense, at least not without a great deal of additional elaboration. If someone were throwing darts at you from so far away that it took several hours for them to reach you, and if you could detect them with plenty of time to spare, and if you could use radar and computers and a bunch of other fancy stuff to control your dart, and if it exploded on contact, then it might actually work pretty well.

    Or it might not. This is one of those things that actually does take a rocket scientist to figure out. But the argument actually presented is pretty weak.

    The crotch-brick thing is semi-valid. The lesson to be taken from September 11th is that we’re vulnerable in many ways, not that we’re vulnerable in one specific way. If a burglar breaks in through a window, a reasonable person might consider adding a deadbolt to the front door as well as bars on the windows. But I do agree that ICBMs probably aren’t as high on the list of threats as they were during the Cold War.

    And Bush wasn’t the first to resurrect the project, if it ever died in the first place–I remember tests during the late ’90s.

    I once took part in a staged riot at a classical music concert, which was a very modest recreation of a real riot in 1913.

    That’s the nerdiest thing thing ever. I love it!

    Comment by Brandon Berg — June 16, 2006 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  2. Well, I’m not a physicist but I do have common sense. Anti-missile missiles seem like a case of letting your opponent set the ground rules. You MIGHT still win, but you’ve lost the initiative.

    It seems like it would be far more effective to militarize low earth orbit, and deploy high-energy beam weapon stations capable of striking ballistic missiles immediately upon detection.

    Let’s get those laser stations built, guys!

    Comment by bobhayes — June 19, 2006 @ 12:53 am | Reply

  3. So Bob, the missile shield stills works for you if we substitute lasers for missiles? Maybe in some (not so) far off future that will be possible. I can’t exclude the possibility. In the here and now (and foreseeable future), it still strikes me as foolhardy.

    I thought you were going elsewhere with the idea of losing the initiative. In other areas of international politics, you have written before that we’re in a new kind of struggle and need new tools to respond. Yet the idea of arraying military might against our opponents is such an old idea, notwithstanding any new technologies used to do it.

    I sense that initiatives are available to us to acheive our goals without committing ridiculous sums of money to unworkable weaponry, but I’m not yet sure what they are. Of couse, I’m not paid to work out those issues, as our elected officials are, so my failure to propose something to supplant our current misguided thinking is only a modest failure.

    Comment by Brutus — June 19, 2006 @ 7:56 am | Reply

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