Serious Miscellanea

The Atlantic, November 2012

When I read the magazines I blog on, I’m always on the lookout for a common theme, no matter how tenuous. In this case, I found no satisfaction in that; still it’s one of the better issues I’ve read. It is, after all, the “Brave Thinkers” issue for this year, and that portion of the magazine  should give us all a lot to think about and emulate.

There’s a feature article here on Mike Bloomberg, hizzoner of NYC. Given a confidence that borders on braggadocio, I have to wonder how muted his responses would be following Hurricane Sandy.

Perhaps the best article in “The Shocking Decline in Army Leadership,” by military pro Thomas Ricks. From his reporting we see an officer corps that has calcified in a manner not unlike the Republican Party, in which officers are promoted to the general ranks, well, because it’s their turn. There’s little adaptation to new military situations and innovators are shunned. And Ricks backs up his claims with performance vignettes of a number of general officers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Big deal, you may say, we’re still the best. No, Ricks’ implications are enormous and important – with more innovation, less foot dragging by the generals who were ordered to perform the difficult and problematic tasks involved in stabilizing two countries, both wars could have been shortened significantly – along with a consequent reduction in lives lost and money wasted.

Then there’s the near-sci fi what-if of biologic hacking and weaponizing that could be the next terroristic threat.

And, of course, a super piece of short fiction by Edward J. Delaney, “Clear.” Here, the author uses a faux second person narrative of a boy/man who kills the suitor of a girl he has his own eyes on. His expertly spun tale builds suspense along with the narrator’s paranoia, this being both his punishment and his prison.





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