02 May 2005

Just a couple of quick notes while I try to dig out from under this stack of e-mail and notes from being gone. And when the snailmail gets here…

The Japan Times has two interesting items this morning. The first concerns dress codes in Japanese government. The government is encouraging men to dispense with coats and neckties during the air-conditioning season by prohibiting them except for official functions. (The real question is what constitutes an "official function.") Apparently, however, women will be allowed to continue wearing high collars and their own coats. Oh, that's right: There aren't any in Japanese government. Well, almost, anyway.

Somewhat more disturbingly, both the Japan Times and New York Times have items concerning Americans' ignorance of other cultures. The JT notes that, at least according to Russians, the US didn't win the Great Patriotic War all by itself. The NYT item is an editorial concerning American ignorance of and insensitivity to Arabic culture. Even if elements of Mr. Delgado's account are later discredited—I'm not saying that they will be, but they will certainly come under strenuous attack, perhaps from the "Unarmored Hummer Veterans for Truth"—the overall situation rings true. That he succeeded in obtaining objector status in a war zone says a helluva lot about the strength of his beliefs—and his CO's willingness to follow the [unbelievably foul string of expletives deleted] regulations instead of just throwing him in the stockade for "cowardice."

Update, 1603: Phil Carter's Intel Dump blawg has an excellent item today that reinforces this second issue. And, if nothing else, it should give one pause and make one wonder whether the US military academies have outlived their usefulness. Their populations are so inherently limited in diversity that the concept of "other cultures" is at best a vision seen from inside the monastery walls—and that, as history has shown, is not a good thing, and is not calculated to allow the Lt Harrisons of the future the courage and courtesy to engage the populace with words instead of with ordnance.