The next war . . .

From the NYT:

“I don’t pursue every attacker, just the ones that piss me off,” Mr. Ben-Oni told me recently over lentils in his office, which was strewn with empty Red Bull cans. “This pissed me off and, more importantly, it pissed my wife off, which is the real litmus test.”

Memorial Day

When you’re a kid, a lot of things that are real don’t seem real. War is one of them. Movies and TV shows about war, books and comics about combat, all exist in some place other than “real.” You get some of the emotion maybe, but you don’t really understand the depth of what fighting and sacrifice truly mean.
I first began to realize how much there was to learn when a friend’s older brother died in Vietnam. I was far too young to truly understand what had happened, let alone comprehend how great a sacrifice he and his family had made for our country, but this first shock of realty has stayed with me.
These many years later, I am grateful for his sacrifice, and for all the thousands and thousands of other young men and women, stretching back to the Revolutionary War, who have made my life of freedom possible.
I’ve learned a lot of things over the years, witnessed and felt sacrifice and sorrow myself. I know a lot more about the “real” world and its entertainment analogue. But the willingness of others to give their lives so unselfishly continues to fill me with awe.

Projecting power

The Chinese launched their first home-grown carrier today. It will likely take two years (or more) to be fully operational, but it's a critical piece in the drive to increase Chinese presence in the South China Sea.

While the ship's function (and expected air arm) is more akin to, say the Italian Cavour than to American supercarriers, published reports of its dimensions show it's larger than the Cavour, and in terms of length - not necessarily a good measurement - it's close to the Nimitz class vessels.


(A fictional version of the carrier and its still-building sister ship make brief appearances in the Red Dragon series.)

AI and the news . . .

. . . not "in" the news, writing it:

The dispatch came with the clarity and verve for which Post reporters are known, with one key difference: It was generated by Heliograf, a bot that made its debut on the Post’s website last year and marked the most sophisticated use of artificial intelligence in journalism to date.

Dictatorship . . .

. . . AI's break-through app.

Riffing off Maciej Ceglowski at Philly Ete April 18:
A question few are asking is whether the tools of mass surveillance and social control we spent the last decade building could have had anything to do with the debacle of the 2017 election, or whether destroying local journalism and making national journalism so dependent on our platforms was, in retrospect, a good idea.

What the United video really shows

Jacob Silverman in the WP:

We are told that this is the era of the empowered consumer . . .This vision is a lie. Air travel is the most concentrated version of an essentially authoritarian experience that can be found throughout today’s economy. We live, work, shop, and travel under a system of grossly asymmetric power relationships, in which consumers sign away most of their rights just by purchasing a ticket and companies deputize themselves to enforce contracts with hired goons.


Spies & lies that changed history  . . .

. . . The Zimmermann letter, America's entry into WWI, and some thoughts on What-If: Great entry by John Schindler:

Counterfactual history is a hazardous game, but it’s easy to imagine a very different Europe coming to pass without American intervention in April 1917. Some sort of peace would eventually have emerged out of the Great War stalemate that was broken by the Americans. It would have been a German-dominated Europe, but we have that now anyway. Importantly, it would not have given prominence to murderous madmen such as Bolsheviks and Fascists, while Adolf Hitler might have died, penniless and forgotten, as the aspiring artist-manqué he really was.