Linky Post: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nothing personal on the menu today, so here’s a dish of links & commentary:

‘Underwear bomber’ was working for the CIA. The Guardian’s headline confused me. Like you, probably, I thought they were talking about the underwear bomber of 2009. This is a new underwear bomber, with exploding BVDs made by the same terrorist who was behind the 2009 attempt. My takeaway is a grim one: they’re still out there, trying to bring down airliners with variations on tactics they used before. Nothing has changed, and we can never let our guard down. Those who dream of a return to pre-9/11 airport security are terminally naive.

Pilot Shortage: Story Time. Air Force pilots have to be the whiniest pack of entitled snots this side of the United States Senate. Back in the 1970s, one of my contemporaries wrote the original “Dear Boss” letter, which became an instant classic. Every generation of USAF pilots since has tried to improve on it, and today’s link is the latest. I quit reading when I came to this paragraph:

Despite having been a mission commander responsible for the success of 80 ship packages encompassing a wide array of mission sets, and being able to effectively and efficiently integrate platforms and effects as a Weapons Officer, you don’t have enough ‘leadership experience’ as those who babysit 10 or so 18 year old airmen.

Babysit airmen? BABYSIT? USAF pilots don’t command officers and enlisted troops until they become lieutenant colonels, and that’s only if they land a coveted squadron commander slot. Meanwhile, their contemporaries in the other military services have been commanding troops since their lieutenant days. To belittle command by calling it “babysitting” is incredibly offensive, not to mention the demeaning message it sends to the enlisted force. Go fly for the fucking airlines, you coddled little shit.

DOJ expanding controversial asset seizures programs. This sure looks like a return to the bad old days of just a few years ago, when police departments in small towns across America financed new patrol cars and fancy equipment through the time-honored practice of highway robbery. Looks like it’s going to be official policy now, thanks to Jeff Sessions. If I read it right though, DOJ may just have given an enterprising New York attorney general legal justification for seizing the assets of a prominent real estate developer who’s under investigation for fraud, money laundering, and espionage. Swords have two edges, no?

Fran Lebowitz on Race and Racism (from Vanity Fair, October 1997):

The way to approach it, I think, is not to ask, “What would it be like to be black?” but to seriously consider what it is like to be white. That’s something white people almost never think about. And what it is like to be white is not to say, “We have to level the playing field,” but to acknowledge that not only do white people own the playing field but they have so designated this plot of land as a playing field to begin with. White people are the playing field. The advantage of being white is so extreme, so overwhelming, so immense, that to use the word “advantage” at all is misleading since it implies a kind of parity that simply does not exist.

It is now common—and I use the word “common” in its every sense—to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, “Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?” the answer is invariably “Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you’ve got to perform, you’re on your own.” This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That’s how advantageous it is to be white. It’s as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at—or actually in—their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don’t have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like—other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That’s the advantage of being white. And that’s the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.

I don’t think I have anything to add to that.

Donald Trump Jr. is reportedly “miserable” and can’t wait for the next four years to end. Get in line, buddy, get in line.

– Administrivia: I quit coding external links to open on new pages or tabs. Giant pain in the ass. Use the “back” button to return to Paul’s Thing after visiting links.

© 2017, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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