Many people make a list of all of the things they are going to tackle in the new year. I am not that stupid (OK I am, but go with me on this). So instead I thought I would put out a different kind of list, and you are invited to add to it. Or debate its merit. Or just make it better. But here is my list of books/movies/topics that were most worth the mental energy I expended being engaged. Most of the rest of the year amounts to hours of my life wasted that I will never get back–can any one say Angry Birds?
In no particular order of importantosity:
“The Way We Get By”
A must see for anyone who has ever passed through Bangor and bummed a smoke or a cell phone, for anyone with an older relative in their life, or for anyone who is confused about the meaning of grass roots patriotism and is in need of a tangible example.
In Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s documentary, you see combat Soldiers as they are: dirty, scared, aggressive, brave, and young. They stated their self-funded documentary was meant to be raw, un-biased, and revealing because they wanted the families of Soldiers to know what really happens on the front lines. They succeeded.
“It Might Get Loud”
Watching Jack Black turn a bottle, scrap-wood, and wire into a functioning musical instrument was jaw dropping. His genius is infuriating. He makes music that anyone could make, if they only they could tap into themselves. It reminds you the smartest people in the world are the ones who know absolutely nothing can be turned into something.
See above on Junger, only more of the great people featured in the documentary. Doing both in tandem was brilliant.
We are currently obsessed as a society with two things: technology, and what happens when we don’t have any. In our lives we depend on it for everything, but we entertain ourselves with books and movies extolling survival skills at their most base (think “The Walking Dead” or The Passage). It also delves into what it truly means to be a father. This is particularly close as I have two boys. What would you do to ensure your kid’s survival while trying to keep his humanity intact? This book forces you to contemplate survival with no hope of success. Even the wake of 9/11 had stories of humanity and hope. The Road asks you to go beyond what is hopeless without using the last round in the chamber.
John M Schofield and the Politics of Generalship
There are tons of generals out there that need to read about this overlooked officer and learn about true professionalism. His ability to fashion civil-military relations and professionalize the officer corps is fascinating. Junior officers and NCO’s need to read it so they can identify the type of leader that is worth keeping. Remember Schofield’s rules of discipline. Nuff said.
The Starfish and the Spider
Ori Brafman combines an intelligent, creative thought process with an approachable writing style and laser attention to detail. He has a storyteller’s ability to take the complexities of human interactions and provide compelling examples of how creating human networks can generate powerful changes. His book made me less ashamed of establishing human networks, and actually moved me to re-establish some long dormant relationships.
Wikileaks: Wow, so much material here, where to start. The ego. The audacity. The unmitigated gaul, the lack of a condom. And that doesn’t even include the soldier who started it all. Traitor.
Leadership development: Something that is always talked about, but the only guy with the gumption and balls to make a tangible change is General Dempsey. His untiring efforts will pay big dividends for future leaders in the Army.
China and the Koreas: I won’t even get into how batshit crazy Norks are. They have almost ignited a war. They’ve installed the fat son of the leader, while their people starve and the Norks go on alert when a train derails carrying Kim’s boy’s birthday presents. Reminds me of a former girlfriend–nothing to offer but illogical raving. China, on the other hand, has entered the world stage but has realized it ain’t so easy to be a world power. Their ham- fisted diplomacy has shown they aren’t ready for primetime, but the US better watch their 6.
Pakistan and the jihadi petri dish: if you think Pakistan is on our side, you’re nuts. Until Pakistan kicks their India fetish and realizes that their deal with the Taliban will be their undoing, nothing good will happen. Paraphrasing Exum, to fix Afghanistan you have to cure Pakistan too.
Stuxnet: Oh, that beautiful, complex and destructive weapon (a cyber Angelena Jolie), from whence did you come? You have changed the playing field. The U.S. (if they don’t own it) better get hopping and develop a cyber offensive capability on par with this bad bitch.
Matthew Snyder’s father, for confronting assholes falsely hiding behind the First Amendment. The Patriot Guard, for allowing soldiers to be buried in peace and expecting nothing in return. And Westboro Baptist, because they just suck.
That pretty much sums it up from the Area. In hindsight, 2010 has been a total cliche after all. The best and worst in people and policies were on display in all of their glory. Here’s hoping next year we have more thinking and fewer face palms.
You must be logged in to post a comment.