Just Curious

Please state the answer in the form of a question... Just Curious is the occassional blog of Andrew Nelson. In an attempt to balance the polemical tone of most of the blogosphere, all entries hope to pose at least one useful question. Many entries simply advance useful memes. Personal entries may abandon the interrogative conceit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

overheard at Randolph and Michigan

...about a week ago, but I've forgotten to post it.

Mother: "Honey, sometimes when mommy is driving she says things she wouldn't normally say."
Daughter: "Like cuss words?"
Mother: "Oh no, not cuss words, but names for people she wouldn't normally call them."
Daughter: "Like doo-doo head."
Mother: "Yes, like doo-doo head."

Big Brother India: coincidence or conspiracy?

only joking... but funny that these headlines appeared at the same time on the BBC

India bloggers angry at net ban

India to get 'chaste' Big Brother

Sunday, July 09, 2006

overheard outside Celtic Knot

"I'm telling you, she's not a soldier, she's a scout. Do you understand?"

Perhaps someone trying to convince a relative that the Girl Scouts are not a paramilitary organization?

For some reason, this made me think of the game Stratego. As you may recall if you played this game and weren't captured by aliens, pieces of different ranks do battle (as in, say, the card game War). But you have no idea what rank all of your opponent's pieces happen to be until they are attacked (think of Battleship). The weakest piece is the Scout, sort of the equivalent of a pawn, whose main role is to sacrifice himself to reveal the rank of superior pieces. My favorites, though, were the "Miners." These pieces were also weak, just one rank above a Scout, but could defuse enemy bombs (which can kill any piece that attacks them). Great game on the whole.

Friday, July 07, 2006

but it's better than a video game, better than the movies*

Slacktivist asks "when is a war not a war?" More specifically, does it matter that Congress has not actually declared war since 1942, and if so, how? I think it certainly does matter. Not all American military actions were declared wars in the past -- I think in particular of Andrew Jackson's forced resettlement of the Cherokee, which occurred in direct defiance of the Supreme Court. But at the same time, I don't think it can be argued that every undeclared war since WWII should be rejected on that ground alone. While I would argue for strong congressional oversight in any case, it's not clear how having been "at war" with Afghanistan or Iraq would help clarify our mission there now. I know that what I would prefer would be some sort of international police authority based in international law. It seems that thinking of these military interventions as police actions might have helped the American people develop more realistic expectations (you don't "win" a police action, just as we will never "win" the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq -- though it is still remotely possible that these conflicts will have positive outcomes).

But still, I can't help thinking back to Chris Hedges's book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. I can understand how the sort of war he describes might make sense in the Homeric world or the Middle Ages, when war was just an extension of the existing civil order. But in our world, it seems like the war metaphor just confuses things, even if the violence is deserving of the name.


*see these lyrics

overheard in a Potbelly's

(man gestures at LaSalle street) "If this is a hamlet, I came from a crackerbox."