Monday, March 19, 2018

My response to Ryan Zinke

On March 15th, Hawaii Representative Colleen Hanabusa spoke to a Congressional hearing to ask about continued funding for a grant program related to the Honouliuli internment camp, which President Obama designated a national monument in 2015.

To stress the importance of the program, she recounted her grandfathers' experiences in internment camps during World War II -- they were imprisoned without charge, solely because of their ancestry, despite being U.S. citizens. [Source]

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, as the head of the department in charge of overseas national parks and monuments, responded to her question.
Rep. Hanabusa begins her story at the 10:05 mark, but the really interesting part happens at the 12:15 mark.

Responding to her story about being singled out for one's ancestry, Zinke then singles her out through her ancestry with a bright, "今日は [good day]," shocking a woman in the background. Hanabusa corrects him with a terse, "I think it’s still ‘お早う御座います’ [good morning], but that’s OK.” Zinke is shaken, but recovers, and the hearing goes on.

Several lawmakers and Asian-American civil rights groups criticized Zinke’s ill-timed greeting. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) slammed the secretary for what she called his “flippant” and “juvenile” comment. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) addressed the story by tweeting that “racism is not ok.” And Hanabusa accused Zinke of perpetuating racial stereotypes. [Source]

Astonishingly, Zinke responded to the criticism by doubling down on his comments. “How could ever saying ‘Good morning’ be bad?” Zinke told reporters following a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border. [Source]

Well, Mr. Zinke, let me tell you what I've learned from my mistakes over the years.

It's bad when you use someone's ancestry to treat them differently. As Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., explains, "Whether intentional or not, his comments invoke the offensive stereotype that Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners regardless of how long their families have lived in the United States." [Source] That's Bad, Level 1.

But then, to do it when that person is talking about a painful chapter in their family's history, and with a smirk on your face (like you're cool sporting that ONE word you happen to know), that's multiple levels of bad. "The internees didn't talk about it, the pain was so deep," said Carole Hayashino, the president of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. "They didn't share their own camp experience with their families." [Source]

And given that Hawaii is still dealing with the trial of Christopher Deedy over the 2011 shooting death of Kollin Elderts, it's downright embarrassing. (Great podcast series on this by Hawaii Civil Beat reporter Jessica Terrell here.)

So while this simple linguistic faux pas this may seem like "no big deal" to you, it's exactly this kind of thing that causes folks to think the Trump administration is full of racists. You might want to fix that.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

You had one job!

Near the Don Quixote in Waipahu.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Same number of fish, smaller pool

The promotion numbers that came out in January were pretty grim for logisticians. The Army selected only 235 out of 369 primary zone logistics captains for promotion to major, a mere 64 percent. This, compared with about 72 percent Army-wide. It fits with the Army's efforts to better shape the force -- drawing down the total number of soldiers on active duty, and pushing logistics units more toward the Reserve -- but it means tight competition for promotion. It has also led to some overly simplistic methods on what constitutes "our best Human Capital."

This got me thinking. My year group's promotion board meets this coming summer (YG2009). Do I face the same level of competition as this past year group? Having survived a tighter promotion rate to captain, then an Officer Selection Board that thinning us out even more, how many of us are there? So, I asked my brigade's S-1 how many YG2009 logistics captains are in the Army right now.

It turns out there are only 285, a 23% smaller pool compared with the previous year group.

Assuming the end promotion numbers stay the same, this year's board could be much more generous than the past four.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Who are today's drug dealers?

The Washington Post reported, "President Trump on Saturday again called for enacting the death penalty for drug dealers during a rally meant to bolster a struggling GOP candidate for a U.S. House seat here." [Source]

This got me thinking. For the past 40 years, the prison population has increased sixfold. Whether the increase is due solely, principally, or only somewhat due to the War on Drugs is debatable, but one thing's for sure. We're not only catching drug-law offenders, we're also catching a lot of other types of offenders. The prison business is booming.[Source]

We've got the highest per capita prison population on the planet. So, clearly, we're doing something right, aren't we?

Nevertheless, the president still thinks we need harsher sentences for drug offenders, and "his call for executing drug dealers got some of the most enthusiastic cheers of the night." [the Washington Post source]

Yet for some reason, all the people we've put in jail haven't stopped the opioid problem from developing. It makes me wonder if, perhaps, the drug problem can't be solved by harsher sentences. If anything, we'd just be spending more money on prisons, locking up more people that could be productive, and possibly executing more innocent people.

In a different story, CNN reported that "the more opioids doctors prescribe, the more money they make." [Source] And not just linearly more -- exponentially more.
The drug companies' greatest advocates make money from the drugs they prescribe.

The solution to the drug problem doesn't lie with harsher sentences. We need to address the economics of drug prescriptions.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Loss, love, and skydiving

Journalist Hanna Rosen had a great story on NPR today that made me tear up a bit. I didn't cry -- just tear up. You know how it is.

When Death Rocks Your World, Maybe You Jump Out Of A Plane

I think the audio podcast is more compelling than the text. Click on the "play" button next to the headline on the linked page.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The best sources for actual news

In a recent blog post, Dilbert author Scott Adams lamented that "The common view we see from the mainstream media is that President Trump is a monster and there is no doubt about it." In the title of his post, he wonders, "What if the News Reported Only Facts?" [Source]

Well, good news! To help us identify news sources that report facts, MarketWatch made this nifty chart (click to expand). [Source]

Among the most fact-based, unbiased sources are Reuters, Bloomberg, and Associated Press. Others, like The Economist, offer more analysis but are still fairly neutral. And then you've got Fox News, which is considered "hyper-partisan" and "contains misleading info."

For example, compare these two stories:
Fox News: "Trump said this, and here's something distracting"
Washington Post: "Trump said this, and here's how he's wrong."