Friday, April 30, 2010

Power-point, bullets, and parliamentary procedure

I feel like talking a little news this morning. There is so much interesting stuff going on. That's probably always true, but I seldom have time to read newspapers. First of all, I have to say that I am terribly proud of the military for they way they are questioning their current excessive use of power-point. Yeah, I didn't even know that the military used power-point, I thought it was more like point and shoot for them--okay that was dumb, sorry. Anyway, apparently they use power-point in high-ranking military councils, debriefing troops etc. Why not? That makes sense.

Everyone else is using power-point, why not the military? Plenty of people in my field (oh, let's face it, I don't have a field) think of the military as a gathering of mindless automatons, but I am happy to report that they are not. No, they are not thinkers because they use power-point, but because they very responsibly analyze their use of it, and its effect on humans. According to a New York Times article about it, Brigadier General H.R. McMaster said that power-point can be an internal threat: "It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control." He also said, "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable." Sure, all of his statements have that definite and laconic feel of your iconic tough guy, but with his frequent use of the word, "illusion" and his knack for creating new words for the English lexicon (bullet-izable) I would almost suppose that he has been reading philosophy--at least Baudrillard.

He dislikes bullet-points (no one in the New York Times article picked up on the irony of how often the Military was using the word "bullet" in a non-combat sense) because of the way they de-humanize a situation and take away from the interconnected social, political, economic and religious factors: "If you divorce war from all of that, it becomes a targeting exercise." I don't pretend to understand, in these contemporary conflicts, when exactly war is necessary and when it is not, but I think this shows at least the beginning of some fairly responsible thinking.

In other news, if you haven't seen the brawl that broke out in Ukrainian Parliament you ought to check out one of the videos on it. It's almost surreal. You see a completely normal-looking parliamentary room and people are behaving like it is junior high--at least my junior high. I'm not saying that people have always behaved in parliamentary rooms, but there aren't many bar-room brawls in them. It was like a John Wayne movie. People where throwing eggs--seriously, who brings eggs to Parliament--that the house speaker was deflecting with umbrellas (PS they don't have the superstition in Ukraine about opening umbrellas indoors). There were choke-holds, punches, kicks, bloody noses, and head slaps. I kept waiting for the three stooges to come out with pies.

One New York Times article about it was titled, "Fight in Ukraine Parliament Reflects Turmoil in Politics." No, really? You think? Isn't there something else it could reflect?