Archive for July, 2010

  Normal As The New Abnormal

Posted by Chris van Avery on 30Jul10.

Proving the slippery slope argument is not always wrong, social commentators like myself have been predicting this for a long time:

Leading mental health experts gave a briefing on Tuesday to warn that a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is being revised now for publication in 2013, could devalue the seriousness of mental illness and label almost everyone as having some kind of disorder.

Citing examples of new additions like “mild anxiety depression,” “psychosis risk syndrome,” and “temper dysregulation disorder,” they said many people previously seen as perfectly healthy could in future be told they are ill.

“It’s leaking into normality. It is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle,” said Til Wykes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

Looks like Dr. Harris has some serious editing to do. Maybe there’s an opportunity for a support group for us, though. Call it “Normals Anonymous”.

“Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m, well,  normal .”

  What “Standardization” Means In The Navy

Posted by Chris van Avery on 30Jul10.

Here’s something that always frustrated me during 13 years aboard ships: “standardization” never seems to mean what a normal person would think. For example, read this post to one of the forums to which I belong:

SUBJ: [7-meter Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats] come in 4 Different Sizes

Did you know there are 4 different manufacturers of 7M RHIBS? And each boat has a different hull profile which means it won’t rest properly in the skids unless it has the boat davit shoes meant for that particular hull. I didn’t know this until we found a ship that had the improper boat davit shoes held in place with duct tape. If you change a boat out, it’s up to the ship to recognize whether you got a boat from a different manufacturer and the procedure is to put a 2K [a request to change the configuration of your boat cradle] in to get new boat davit shoes made.

This doesn’t make sense to me as that means you’ll have the wrong shoes for a couple of months until the 2K gets acted on. [emphasis added]

At a more fundamental level, it doesn’t make sense to me that we have four different boats built to the same spec and represented as interchageable, that aren’t actually…you know… interchangeable . As a veteran of two tours as a 1st LT, though, I saw this sort of stupidity all the time.

  Too Much Time In The Navy?

Posted by Chris van Avery on 29Jul10.

I haven’t worked around civilians much for the last decade, and I’ve never worked at a place where civilians are in the majority. But, it seems to me the folks I work with are much too quick to turn off the warmer under partially-full, perfectly good pots of coffee.


  Poking China In The Chest

Posted by Chris van Avery on 27Jul10.

After backing down on initial plans to operate George Washington in the Yellow Sea as part of the initial round of US-RoK exercises in response to the sinking of the Cheonan, State and Defense seem to have come back with a counterpunch that will no doubt knock policymakers in Beijing off balance.

Opening a new source of potential friction with China, the Obama administration said Friday that it would step into a tangled dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors over a string of strategically significant islands in the South China Sea.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at an Asian regional security meeting in Vietnam, stressed that the United States remained neutral on which regional countries had stronger territorial claims to the islands. But she said that the United States had an interest in preserving free shipping in the area and that it would be willing to facilitate multilateral talks on the issue.

Though presented as an offer to help ease tensions, the stance amounts to a sharp rebuke to China.

You can say that again. In all, this is an excellent move and should help disabuse any notion in Chinese planning circles that they have the initiative in this dispute. The big question is, however, will Washington keep the press on, or is this just a one time poke to get Mr. Hu’s attention? I would bet most of the Asia-Pacific hopes we keep pressing .

[Update] No surprise, China’s government is up and spinning on the governor:

The Chinese government reacted angrily on Monday to an announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Washington might step into a long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its smaller neighbors in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China warned the United States against wading into the conflict, saying it would increase regional tensions.

“What will be the consequences if this issue is turned into an international or multilateral one?” he asked in remarks published on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site. “It will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult.”

The state-run news media were far less diplomatic, describing Mrs. Clinton’s speech as “an attack” and a cynical effort to suppress China’s aspirations — and its expanding might.

“America hopes to contain a China with growing military capabilities,” ran an editorial Monday in the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper.

Global Times, an English-language tabloid published by People’s Daily, said, “China will never waive its right to protect its core interest with military means.”

Chris van Avery is a Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views represented herein are his own.

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