27 October 2005

Free Speech

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff in the U.S. State Department from 2002 to 2005, gave a speech on October 19, 2005, in Washington, DC, at a program sponsored by the New America Foundation. His topic was the Bush administration's national security decision-making process. Excerpts of the speech have been widely quoted in the news media, especially Wilkerson's remarks about having seen a "cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made." During his talk, Wilkerson encouraged the audience to read The Assassins' Gate, by George Packer, which Salon's Gary Kamiya called "the best book yet about the Iraq war." You can find Col. Wilkerson's speech in its entirety right here.

20 October 2005

Turn Style

Have you noticed that no one uses turn signals anymore? It's true. I do a lot of informal surveys when I'm driving--checking the next 10 cars that turn, say--and I have found that most drivers don't signal their turns. Soon new car models won't come with turn signals; they're obsolete. Talking this development over recently with a friend, I wondered why it was happening. He pointed out that using turn signals gives information to the enemy--i.e., other drivers. He may be on to something. People are driving a lot more aggressively these days--especially SUV drivers, who apparently think they're invincible inside those grotesquely oversized gas-guzzlers. Another road hazard, one that's gaining traction by the day, is spontaneous U-turns. These occur when someone misses his turn and is too impatient to drive to the next intersection and find a safe way to turn around. Instead, he abruptly executes a midblock U-turn right in front of you, endangering every other vehicle in the vicinity. But what does he care? He's the only driver on the road, so he can do anything he wants.