Monday, April 14, 2008
Wired magazine's "Danger Room" blog is full of all kinds of interesting posts about national security. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email today from my editor, telling me they'd written about Krog's New Weapon, an article I co-wrote with my buddies Quaid & Gabe.
The comments readers submitted to that post range from bizarre ramblings (What do you know of Virtual Reality for Real via the Astute NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive Portal) to the mildly insulting (i think they need to take a creative writing course) to the slightly more insulting, combined with dismissiveness (I think they need to take a course in subtlety too. Like, can you beat me over the head with your point any harder? Whatever happened to "show, don't tell?" Anyway, that's a little harsh. After all, what can you expect from Air Force officers?) to a lengthy non sequitur rant "The modern USAF is a joke. I cannot think of a more parochial, self-serving military service anywhere in the Western world. The USAF constantly seeks to improve upon its relative position..."
Sigh. Fortunately, one commenter, Klebert L. Hall, made a very good point. Kle. wrote:
It's often just as easy to make fun of a good idea, as it is to make fun of a bad one. This is why politics-by-satire isn't such a good plan.
Well said, Kle! Thank you for the thoughtful, insightful comment. Politics (or policy) by satire is probably a bad idea, for the reason you stated. I think satire has an important ability to point out truth, but it shouldn't be used exclusively. Sincerity is important too - and most of my previous articles fall solidly in that category.
Sure, we're sort of lobbing spears at a particular AF system (any guesses?), but in the end Krog is a story (possibly bad/overly obvious) about a high-tech, alien program manager who a) asks the right questions about his project and b) has the courage to face the answers and c) makes a good decision, thanks to his high-tech program management approach (an approach we earthlings have apparently not developed yet). It was a fun, experimental attempt to make a point in an unusual, attention-grabbing way. The jury's still out on whether or not we succeeded.
But our point is, it'd be great if every program manager,military or otherwise, honestly answered Krog's questions: Does this thing work? Do we need it? If the answer to both is no, then the project should be canceled.