(Screencap source)

Dear media,

The general public/yours truly didn't have a clue about what radation levels constituted "dangerous" or "normal" before the Japan Quake, and since most people aren't as hyperactive news-readers as I, most don't know today that minute amounts of radiation are everywhere, and no cause for concern.

But when you report that there are "trace" or "minute" amounts of radiation in milk or in the air, people don't know that radiation also comes from flying cross country, or even from eating a banana. And because you don't tell them that, (instead saying that "government experts say it wont hurt us"), what you're really telling people to do is to freak out unnecessarily, and from what we know about stress, I'm fairly positive that the media attention to this is going to cause more economic damage in worry and reduced buying of COMPLETELY SAFE PRODUCTS than the radiation ever could.

The fix is simple: compare the radiation level in milk to a "normal" level, or use some sort of relative figure, for example that a person would have to drink 6 billion glasses of milk to get a dangerous dose. These are easy. Sadly, your duty to alert/alarm works, in this case, against the public interest, and it's one of the few times I'm quite disappointed in the modern media.

Obama has embraced the Bartlett Doctrine

If you watched The West Wing, you might recall a plotline in the fourth season revolving around "Equatorial Kundu," where there was a tribal genocide occurring, and where President Bartlett decided to intervene, saying that until that day, the United States had never before practiced a doctrine of military intervention on purely humanitarian grounds.

That line, broadcast in 2003, can no longer be said to be accurate. We have fundamentally involved ourselves in a tribal conflict; acting to protect a population from oppression and murder at the hands of its own government and leadership, where our fundamental interests were based on conscience and a "common humanity," instead of essential interests.

Obama's line is that he skirted the full responsibility by placing this on international backs, but no one can doubt that we've seen American leadership at full display in the courtyard of international relations. We own this struggle now, and my greatest fear is that we will now be perceived to be in a proxy war, requiring more resources until our patience with the rebels has ended.

Possibly, possibly, they may succeed. But if the fundamentals of this conflict are geographically based on tribe, then I think al-Qaḏḏāfī will remain, and every day he stays in place will weaken perceptions of American power. I could be wrong - God willing, the President has intelligence that says otherwise, and may those events come to pass, but this is a big risk, and one that will have to be paid for, one way or the other, by Americans who never voted for any of the people that go us into this.

Perhaps all of our bombings have been about preventing genocide, but last I checked, many of the tanks we hit weren't on their way into Benghazi.

"Tradition, Family, Prosperity" and Brown University Collide

First off, this video is INTENSE. It's the direct clash of two very different ideas about marriage and homosexuality, and I felt quite uncomfortable watching, even as someone who has been near and involved with discussions on this issue for years.

Second, I think the pro-gay folks comported themselves much better than the anti-gay folks, considering what TFP published on their YouTube page that generalized all of the counter-protesters as "violent," when many of them behaved exactly as the TFP folks did.

Third, I think destroying the banner was foolish and fool-hardy (and from a PR standpoint, stupid to do when filmed), because it doesn't communicate any willingness to engage, and ultimately, you don't reach people by destroying their stuff.

But ultimately, the video is the sign that we can disagree - strongly - and have no one get hurt (just spat on, grumph), and that's something for which I am proud to be an American. The ACLU gal in the video was also great; while these people may think that counter-chants aren't ok, they are the perfect counter to this sort of protest, and I commend the many Brown students who stood up for their beliefs, as well as the marchers who made the opposite case who behaved appropriately. I do NOT commend the editing of the video, which is simply pretentious, and the roughshod descriptions of what occurred, which I think are written to get more fund-raising.