Sink all pirates!

November 29, 2008

I’m not sure exactly how many ships have been boarded by Somali pirates in the past few years, but some reports put the number in the hundreds.  I’ve read a couple articles recently to the extent of “what should the world do about Somali pirates?”  The arguments range from “Private security services onboard all ships” to “Nothing” to “The U.N. should attack the Somali pirate home port.”

I’m certain humans have dealt with this exact problem before.  Something about eye patches and big floppy hats and “arrrgh!”  In those days, the general policy of world navys (navies?) was to hunt down all ships controlled by pirates, and sink them.  Could this idea work today?

There would be several main arguments against sinking:

1.  We won’t sink the cargo.  This could range from environmental reasons with oil tankers to civilian reasons like hostages.  In some cases, certain corporations will argue not to sink other valuable cargoes (gold, MRI machines, communications satellites).  These arguments will have to be listened to.

2.  Make love, not war.  Don’t shoot them, don’t shoot anyone.  Talk everything out.

3.  We don’t have the authority.  Um, did you think Obama was going to go on an embassy tour giving group hugs?  He knows he is the commander in chief of the most powerful economic and military nation in the world.  I’m pretty sure Somalia would be okay, especially if we asked in a really nice voice and already had all the Tomaharks armed and targeted from our warships in the harbor.  After what the mortage crisis has just put the world through, some foreigners would probably rather be invaded:  “At least we’d have great TV.”  Feel free to add comments for any other good jokes to make.

But making a general policy to sink all ships that had been captured by pirates would be a good idea.  We would make exceptions for oil tankers, lots of civilians, or particularly persuasive entities that could make it worth the U.N.’s while.  But for your run-of-the-mill trawlers or cargo ships that are captained by 10-15 pirates?

A couple torpedoes should do it.  We’ll have the prison ships ready to pick them out of the water and marines waiting on the beach to capture the swimmers.  Think they’ll be excited to be turned over to Somailia and take their chances in the Somali legal system?

This would be brutal, and gruesome, especially as the world sees the CNN shots of dead pirates.  But the world is plenty rich to cover any sunken non-essential vessels that get captured by pirates.  Economically, the shipping corporations would have to cover the increased cost by a combination of insurance premiums and armed mercenaries onboard.  But if followed, pirates would sure get the idea and I think this would mostly solve the growing problem.  Please comment and tell me why this is a stupid idea.


US Embassy bombing in Afghanistan

November 27, 2008

Yep, that happened this morning too.  Clearly the U.S. is under attack, but abroad this time not at home on the East Coast.  This actor is telling the U.S. a clear message: stay home.

Bombay burning

November 27, 2008

This is no couple guys with their fertilizer bomb.  This is a whole army attacking in a coordinated strike.  I’d say this is the furthest yet we’ve come when a non nation-state (eg. Hamas, Al Qaeda, Haliburton) really acts like a nation, aka attacking a major city with their army.  The world will probably be a more chaotic place 50 years from now than it is today.

As of now, there are still hostages at the Taj hotel, which last we saw burning like a tinder box.  Now there are 100 dead.  What kind of intelligent species solves their problems like this?

Surgical Oncology Hospital

November 27, 2008

There isn’t a lot of research about how Anesthesia techniques impact not just surgical but cancer outcome.  The bit that you can find is fairly recent and seems to indicate that epidurals can help (maybe by decreasing the unconscious pain/stress response during surgery?).  It would be good research to figure out more techniques that can help, and good business to run a hospital that specializes in cancer patient outcomes.  Different anesthesias and surgeries The facility would take referrals from oncologists, operate, track outcomes, and discharge patients back to their home oncologists.  You could mix your practice bulding with any amount of outcome improvement measures and research your practice did in the burgeoning new field.  But the first hospital chain would basically get to set the standard.  With a good anesthesia based quality improvement program in place, it wouldn’t be hard to to get fellowship-trained surgeons to come work for you.  Especially if you already had a base of patients and referral providers.  Business or academics?  Both (and we’re going public).  Now this, I think, is tying it all together.

Mumbai Attacked!

November 27, 2008

I have no current news to add, other than to comment that holy shit are the amateur reporters owning this story.  It’s all CNN and the New York Times can do to quote them, and basically send you to their websites.  Check out wikipedia for a phenomenal, evolving description of this story.  This attack is similar to 9/11 in worldwide scope to me, in part because of its far superior organization.  9/11 was 20 guys again Delta ticket agents.  This is hundreds of well-armed men destroying the downtown center of the largest democracy in the world.

Further research about Mumbai (which of course used to be Bombay):  It’s the financial capital of India with 13 million people.  It’s the largest port in India, handling half of the trade volume and corresponding import taxes.  It pays 40% of the nation’s income tax, with a population of 13 million in a sea of 800 million people.  Mumbai scientists built India’s atomic bomb. 

India is a much different nation than the U.S., and I’m sure Mumbai’s relationship with the rest of the country is far different as well.

Here’s some of my personal commentary about this event, as posted on New York Times:  At this early stage of this story it is crucial not to jump to conclusions.  But when we step back we see that this is a leftist group attacking India’s version of Wall Street, as Mumbai is the financial center and largest, richest port city, and in a very organized and dangerous way.  We may need to soon consider that international terrorists has moved its war towards the financial crisis of 2008 as a rallying cry.  This would be a replacement of earlier frustrations with American global military reach (eg. bases in Saudi Arabia).  In this scenario, I wonder if the next step could be America’s cultural influence: where are the symbolic centers of McDonald’s and WalMart?

Karma for South Carolina

November 5, 2008

If you made a movie about how George Bush smeared John McCain in the Republican primaries before the 2000 elections, it would be pretty depressing.  The way, after a victory by an upstart in the independent, spunky, and tough state of New Hampshire, maybe there was a real chance for change among Washington politicians.  After all, McCain was for campaign finance reform as one of his signature issues, and “taking on the special interests.”  This was great, especially since McCain was so well-liked, and the rules would have really given an advantage to the best candidates, and no longer money.

In short, the rest of the movie is about McCain getting smeared by the stupid, obnoxious guy with more money, unbelievably calling voters and telling them that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child.  This against a guy with more character than any republican in decades, who served 5 years as POW and tried to serve his country as best he could when he got back.

Flash forward 8 years through the Bush fiasco and McCain is losing, mostly as a result of Bush.  Bush has so disgusted lots of reliably republican voters, that McCain is crushed in a landslide by a brilliant African-American, who inspires the nation to hope for something more than the incompetence of the man McCain seemed poised to defeat 8 years earlier.  A beautiful black family waves to adoring crowds of tens to hundreds of thousands.  If that isn’t Karma for the ultimate low for Republicans in racist, lying politics.  I guess “W” gets off into the sunset scot-free.

If one wanted to flash further forward than that, they could show a Reagan-like effect and decades of dominance by the Democratic party.  In particular, you have the entire generation of young professionals with a mob-like mentality to support Democrats.  Bush insulted both our education and our intelligence for eight years!  This one is going to be tough to recover from, for Republicans.

Goodbye, John McCain

November 5, 2008

You would have made a very good president.  But your time was in 2000, and I’m sure even, especially Republicans wish you had won then instead of “W.”  America needed you back then, but now we need someone else, for reasons of inspiration and getting this country’s global self-respect back.