Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Japan is joining war games being held by the US and Australia. The move is significant since Japan has long forsworn the military. The move also is PR targeted toward China and its ambitions in the South China sea. There is no doubt that China is expansionist, and it is willing to use military action to get its way. This has put all the island nations of Asia on alert. While China says it is protecting territory it has long claimed, its neighbors beg to differ, but they are powerless themselves to halt China's growth. Japan is only just now beginning to expand its military after 70 years of self-defense forces. Taiwan has designed defenses to repel China should it attack but it has little offensive might. The Philippines have neither solid defense nor offense. All these countries are dependent on the US to help and carry the day. Hence, the war games and a military message to China. There will be more of these in the years to come.
Monday, May 25, 2015
It is an irony that we celebrate Memorial Day with sentiment and thanks. Those of us who remember leaving the military during the Vietnam conflict recall that finding a job was not easy. We were "baby killers", bent and warped by daring to join rather than resist. Looking back, one might say we were not treated badly, but we were. I had to bury my service on my resume even though I put in nearly four years. I would not bring it up in interviews because that stopped the process. Since then, there has been a 180 degree turn in public sentiment. Part of that is due to the all-volunteer services. We let others do our fighting and we thank them for that. That is not healthy in the long-run because the public gets out of touch. One can dislike the draft but it brought ordinary citizens to the reality of warfare and reminded them that citizenship means more than grilling burgers on a day off. On this Memorial Day, I salute those who served in spite of public sentiment. It was doubly hard for them.
Friday, May 22, 2015
This is PR for an ongoing,culture change. Some day, not far into the future, a car will drive itself. The public is not ready for it -- yet. They need to be by time the first robotic cars reach dealerships. Major automakers are edging into the technology by providing elements of self-driving without offering the whole package. Thus we see lane guidance, rear driving sensors to prevent collisions, automatic braking to avoid striking another car. Only a few companies are striving to provide the whole package -- notably Google whose bug-like vehicles self-drive at a speed of 25 mph. It is interesting that none of the major auto manufacturers have entered into partnership with Google. That is either NIH (Not Invented Here) or caution. Google's cars drive 10,000 miles a week and have had 11 accidents -- none the fault of the car. The idea that one can safely sit in the driver's seat and text, chat on the phone, watch a movie, scan through one's e-mail is still too new to transportation agencies and law enforcement. But that day is coming quickly.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Osama Bin Laden understood the value of propaganda. That is why until the end of his life he urged Al Qaeda to continue to attack US targets. The value of showing US weakness was greater than capturing a city or territory in the Middle East. The US has been the leader in trying to rid the world of terrorists, and to show that it could not through spectacular assaults was success. It would provide terrorists with the hope that they could win in the end. It would demoralize Americans and their allies. It might convince the US to leave the Middle East as the Soviets did before them. Bin Laden didn't live to see his wishes carried out, but the files retrieved from his compound paint a picture of a determined enemy. Instead, Bin Laden himself became a propaganda symbol of the progress the US has made in warring with terrorists.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Ride-sharing services, such as Uber, are causing a collapse in the taxi medallion market. It's about time, and publicity about medallion holders being hurt is expected. The dirty secret of medallions is that they forced artificial scarcity. That caused the price of owning one to rise out of reach of almost all taxi drivers. Medallions were going for a million each in New York City not long ago. A driver working 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of his life still couldn't afford to own one. The original idea for shields was to regulate the market for passenger safety and to provide a solid income stream to drivers. Neither objective worked well, and the artificial monopoly took a life of its own, One might not like the way Uber operates, but if it serves to bring the cost of medallions down, that will be enough.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Apparently the police warned the manager of a Waco, TX restaurant about having rival motorcycle gangs on the premises. The ensuing rumble left nine dead and a state of chaos the police had to break up. Now, 170 bikers are charged with capital murder and the restaurant is shut for the time being. One wonders what the restaurant manager was thinking. It couldn't have been good for public relations to have swaggering gang members downing beers among regular customers. The ensuing melee was a mortal danger to diners who are unlikely to return. There is a chance that the restaurant will go out of business, and if it does, the company only has itself to blame. There are times when refusal to serve customers is a matter of safety. This was one. At very least, the manager should have ordered that weapons be checked at the door.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Appearances lend to or subtract from credibility. That is why this ABC anchor is in trouble. He should have known that by donating to the Clinton charity he was compromising the perception of objectivity that reporters try to maintain. He also should have known that failure to disclose the significant sums was putting himself in the crosshairs of the Republican Party's wrath. So, what does he do now? ABC says that it stands by him, but by his own admission, he can't report on Republican candidates during this campaign season. How could such an intelligent individual made such a gaffe? He probably didn't think much of it when he wrote his checks. He has been close to the Clintons for a long time. If he survives this uproar, one can be sure he will be more careful in the future.