Re: The Afghan National Police

1

"the erotic undertow of law enforcement"

Not a phrase I expected to read, ever.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
2

I just don't believe the description of the incompetence of the recruits. Illiterate, sure, but there aren't any non-disabled adults out there who you have to spend ten days teaching to wash and use the bathroom -- you may not be pleased with their standards of hygiene, but however they were managing beforehand can't have been an emergency. "Half of them couldn't walk in a straight line"?

The story's probably describing something that would be recognizable to someone who was there, but I doubt it's giving anything like an accurate picture of the training problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
3

Perhaps I was being gullible. It just seems so wildly bizarre that if it's true, some explanation is being left out.

But maybe it's because they're so strung out on drugs?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
4

I think she may have meant undertone.

This sort of thing has been coming back for some time. See the (free) article I mistakenly linked to in the other thread, which gives a similar picture a year ago.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6721176.ece

To forestall other obvious comments: yes, a lot of the Taliban seem to be like this too; their fighting positions are frequently littered with syringes, etc. Eyeliner is a big thing among Pashtun men generally.

I wonder whether the ANP training camps have simply become a sort of care provision for the mentally ill or terminally confused in Afghan society. If Bashir's had a blow on the head or hit the smack too hard, send him off to join the ANP. He'll be fed and watered for six weeks at least, and we won't have to look after him. And he's too daft to stay at home and help on the farm.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
5

Or that they're not committed to the training for whatever reason -- not incompetent, just disobedient. That I'd believe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
6

Not to mention that, however dopey Bashir is, he'll still get paid during his time training.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
7

5: that could be a big part of it. You join the ANA because you want to fight the Taliban. You join the ANP because you want to set up a checkpoint and take bribes off jingly truck drivers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
8

2: Yeah, I wondered how much of that was unmotivated trainees who may have been happy to draw a paycheck, but weren't particularly motivated to try to walk in a straight line. "Dude - you want me to do what?"


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
9

They're having an election in Afghanistan at the moment. Apparently it only wants the Duchess of Devonshire kissing the voters to match the finest traditions.

But according to a comment at that link, the Afghan National Police is mentored by the Turkish army, who you wouldn't think would stand that sort of stuff for long. Not nice, the Turkish army, but very professional.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
10

3: And I didn't mean to call you gullible -- it's probably true that the training program is all fucked up, and the ANP is a mess, so the article's about something interesting. I was griping more at the reporter, who seems lacking in a spirit of inquiry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
11

8: applies doubly to contact drills. "Manoeuvre under fire? Dude, I don't plan on doing any of that. I'm going to be sitting somewhere shady with six of my buddies, eating sunflower seeds, smoking the good stuff and collecting $10 off every truck that goes past. Why do I need contact drills and marksmanship to do that?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
12

according to a comment at that link, the Afghan National Police is mentored by the Turkish army

Only in Kabul province.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
13

If their jumping jacks are any indication, the article is completely believable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
14

I had to look up "cack-handed."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
15

I'd actually thought it just meant left-handed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
16

It is probably unnecessary to point out that a good, reliable local police force is considered vital to a successful counterinsurgency. These guys are a long, long way from being the Malayan Special Branch.

http://aseasuk.org.uk/v2/bookreviews/MalayaSecretPolice


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
17

14: Because you're planning to make a cack joke?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
18

My opinion of what Douglas Adams called "the shouting and killing-people industries" could not fall, but it darkens every time I read a newspaper.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
19
cack
(slang) faeces (feces); nonsense or rubbish: "what a load of cack" could equally be used to describe someone talking nonsense or as a criticism of something of poor quality.

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
20

Christ free alcohol at art galleries is bad. ((formerly)-btock-style) *Arguments against modern liberalism!

AS far as the Afghans go, disobedience rates higher than incompetence I think.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
21

Cack-handed is apparently a less sinister way to slur left handed people:

http://www.aolsvc.merriam-webster.aol.com/dictionary/cack-handed



Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
22

Christ free alcohol at art galleries is bad.

Christ-free urine at art galleries, on the other hand, is good, if you're Rudy Giuliani.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
23

And I didn't mean to call you gullible

I'm incredibly gullible. Pretty much any time someone speaks, my first instinct is to try to bend my worldview to incorporate what they're saying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
24

Christ free alcohol at art galleries is bad.

I only go to galleries that serve the consecrated stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
25

You still owe me $20, heebie.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
26

Christ free alcohol....

Yes, the Big J was the Way, the Truth and the Life of the party.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
27

13 - Heh. I can imagine a whole lot of things going on in that video, including people wondering what the fuck jumping jacks are for and why Americans do such ridiculous jumping about.

But "Half of them couldn't walk in a straight line"? Have I mentioned that it took me two weeks to teach motivated Berkeley students to stand in straight lines? "Look at your toes. Are they on the same board as the toes of the person next to you?" Can you see yourself in the mirror in the front of the room? You shouldn't. You should see the back of the person in front of you." I spent hours on falling into lines and running in lines. Berkeley students! Moving in unison takes months to teach.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
28

25: I'll get that right out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
29

Moving in unison takes months to teach.

As all former marching band alumni can attest. Though, ~25 years after the last time I participated in any such activity, I can still measure off 5 yards within a few inches by taking 8 "marching band" steps.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
30

13 reminds that the quality of my life has improved over the last 25 years due to the complete absence of jumping jacks.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
31

I do think the quoted bit of the article does poorly in separating "Foreigners, huh. It's like they have a different word for everything," from "The ANP is a useless mess." That Afghan coworkers hold hands, wear makeup, and eat sugared almonds may be interesting, but it hasn't got a lot to do with whether they're good police. I'm sure they're a nightmare and the training is horrible, but the rest of it is appealing to cheap xenophobia.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
32

"Sir? How, exactly, do the jumping jacks help us catch criminals?"


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
33

31: But the sexuality and lurid parts of them are looked at very askance, within Afghan culture as well. Or at least, it's super complicated, with heavily conservative forces running up against newfound porn and freedom.

It's not just us pushing our noses up against the glass in the zoo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
34

Americans spend a lot of time from kindergarden on learning how to do pushups and situps and jumping jacks and walking on straight lines and balance beams and such. I can imagine that if you had never done any of that before, it would be difficult and awkward to get the coordinated movements together.

Maybe like trying to get a bunch of working-class men in [appropriately stereotypical Real American place] to do this?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
35

31: "Foreigners, huh. It's like they have a different word for everything,"

Is there a word in Pashtu for the surreal quality your life takes on when, on the same day, you are offered a chance to interview one of your favorite authors, and several people you know have their pictures on Perez Hilton's blog?



Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
36

Great video, Especially. I like the dancer who never loses his cigarette.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
37
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
38

34: Blue Guy spots like a champ.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
39

33 I remember reading stuff like this about the mujaheddin way back when. It also seems pretty damn common in any community with very strict long term sexual segregation, from navy ships to Saudi women to single sex boarding schools.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
40

The "male friends casually holding hands" thing is also pretty common around the world. I saw a lot of it in China, and I remember reading accounts by US soldiers in Vietnam that frequently mention the fact that Vietnamese men hold hands and how disturbing they found that.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
41

34: I'm not persuaded the UMC would do any better.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
42

41: they totally would, because they took a semester of dance in college.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
43
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
44

40: Yeah, I was going to say that. Also various Mediterranean and Carribbean countries. I had a male Haitian friend in the U.S. who really missed platonic physical contact with other men.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
45

42 con't, and their girlfriends probably make them go salsa dancing on Fridays. So they're, like, comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
46

I mean cont'd, probably.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
47

42: Only the ones who were trying to get into feminists' pants in touch with their feminine side.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
48

45 & 46: Comity.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
49

I love this whole genre of articles -- "we would love to win this war and leave, but we can't because our native auxiliaries are so primitive and incompetent". If Afghans are so primitive and incompetent, then how come they're fighting the U.S. army to a standstill?

There were a lot of these articles in Iraq too. I'm sure there were a bunch about ARVN in Vietnam as well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
50

42: I'm going to become a Men's Rights Activist just to get out of salsa dancing. There needs to be a dating service expressly designed to help men find women who don't want to salsa dance.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
51

how come they're fighting the U.S. army to a standstill

THEY CHEAT! Also, home field advantage.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
52

I'm not persuaded the UMC would do any better.

You're probably right: Methodists aren't know for their dancing chops. Good hymns though, and great potlucks (especially compared to Unitarians).

How do you think the USMC would do?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
53

Samoan men are all same-sex platonic snuggly too, and they're butch and physically competent as all get out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
54

especially compared to Unitarians

It's like you didn't even see heebie's tower-of-donuts cake!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
55

Natilo, I don't know what you've written lately but I'm very intrigued by all these hints and glad you're overcoming whatever qualms you have about halfway promoting it here! I look forward to more hints and the time to fit them together into being able to read this piece.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
56

54: That wasn't at a potluck.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
57

That Afghan coworkers hold hands, wear makeup, and eat sugared almonds may be interesting, but it hasn't got a lot to do with whether they're good police.

Sure, maybe not the sugared almonds, but a lot of that like the drug use and geisha boy shenanigans are directly at odds with running any kind of structured professional organization.

That stuff can be hugely disruptive when it's a few people are engaging in it and trying to keep it a secret so they don't get fired or demoted. Having an environment where the bosses are openly heating their heroin spoons at their desk and then cruising the offices to get a bj would be chaos.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
58

great potlucks (especially compared to Unitarians)

You got a problem with vegan cupcakes and squash casserole?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
59

56: Yeah, but it could have been.

Of course, you could also spread it with mayonnaise frosting and bring it to a Lutheran potluck. (I can say that because some of my best friends are Lutherans. I swear!)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
60

If Afghans are so primitive and incompetent, then how come they're fighting the U.S. army to a standstill?

Apo's right. Also, they're trying to do something different from what NATO's trying to do. If it was the Taliban in charge in Kabul and NATO running around in the ulu trying to destabilise them, the Taliban wouldn't stand a chance. In fact, when it was, they didn't. See late 2001.

Creating chaos is fairly easy. It's order that's the bitch.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
61

Having an environment where the bosses are openly heating their heroin spoons at their desk and then cruising the offices to get a bj would be chaos.

The Big Law Firms discussion is in the other thread, gswift.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
62

We have regular dance parties at my house. It isnt really salsa though bc none of us are capable of moving are hips that way.

More like, tango for the stiff-hipped.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
63

CHASING CARS IS FUN BUT ONCE YOU CATCH THEM THEY WILL DRAG YOUR ASS RAGGED


Posted by: OPINIONATED NATO DOG | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
64

geeez. are s/b our


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
65

cack-handed = "holding your cack"

"we were caught cack-handed when johnson asked to confirm our certificate.

also, no once has noted that this clearly reflects the first time a western imperialist tried to train up some afhgan troop, the greeks.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
66

Having an environment where the bosses are openly heating their heroin spoons at their desk and then cruising the offices to get a bj would be chaos.

True fact. But someone who's writing an article that lumps the drugs, the catamites, the handholding, the eye makeup and the sugared almonds all in together as evidence of decadence doesn't really convince me that they're keeping their eye on the real problems. I'd believe that all Afghan police stations are populated by hand-holding almond-eaters with their eyes rimmed sultrily with kohl, no problem. That doesn't mean that all the police chiefs are shooting up and screwing their subordinates -- might be, but I wouldn't rely on the article for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
67

Creating chaos is fairly easy. It's order that's the bitch.

Tell me about it.


Posted by: Maxwell's Demon | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
68

Machiavelli would say that Afghanistan is much more France than it is Turkey.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
69

67: YOU AND ME BOTH, PAL.


Posted by: OPINIONATED IMP OF THE PERVERSE | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
70

That doesn't mean that all the police chiefs are shooting up and screwing their subordinates

Or, equally probably, screwing up and shooting their subordinates.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
71

Yeah, if only they wanted victory for themselves as badly as we want victory for them. The comparison isn't the whiny lawyer thread, it's the helicopter parents dropping off their kids at college . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
72

The buttsex thing I believe; I've seem mention of Afghan hierarchical homosexual relationships in accounts of like four different wars over three centuries.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
73

66: The article isn't claiming that the cuddling implies the chaos, or that chaos can't exist absent of cuddling. But why isn't it a complete picture worth painting, if that's what's going on?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
74

|| Ron Paul statement on "ground zero mosque": opposition to mosque all about hate, Islamophobia, and demagogy. You can really tell how racist and isolationist he is. ||>


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
75

71: well, victory for them means, as I alluded above, something different - not so much liberal democracy and women's rights, more a quiet checkpoint underneath the bough, / Kalashnikov, some sunflower seeds, some decent weed and Thou/ Sitting beside me near Highway 1 / and wilderness is paradise enow.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
76

72: Oh, I'd believe 'much more likely than in a US police department', I've seen similar mentions about Afghan culture (wait, aren't we supposed to believe that male homosexuality isn't culturally determined at all these days, unlike those vacillating lesbians?). I'm just thinking that someone writing the sort of article that gets all excited about handholding probably isn't collecting particularly useful data about to what extent intra-police sexual relationships are actually a problem for ANP efficiency.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
77

But why isn't it a complete picture worth painting, if that's what's going on?

Because if the reporter is someone who looks at men in eyeliner being platonically snuggly with each other and sees incompetent freaks, which he seems to be, I doubt that he can tell the difference between a competent Afghan policeman (assuming there are any, which there probably aren't) and an incompetent one. Finding the handholding newsworthy, rather than a trivial bit of local color, is diagnostic of the reporter being really confused.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
78

I'm just thinking that someone writing the sort of article that gets all excited about handholding probably isn't collecting particularly useful data about to what extent intra-police sexual relationships are actually a problem for ANP efficiency.

Huh? Of course the hand-holding is mostly being sensational. What exactly useful data are you expecting this journalist to document? It's just a descriptive article about the ANP.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
79

76: anecdotally, it's a problem because it's all they do on a Thursday night, so good luck trying to get any actual policing done. Also, massive problems if it doesn't stay intra-police, because Afghan attitudes towards consent are (surprise!) mediaeval. This is supposedly how the Taliban got going in the first place, back in Spin Baldak.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
80

or that chaos can't exist absent of cuddling.

That's funny. John Emerson has a bumper sticker that states "NO CUDDLING, NO CHAOS!"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
81

77 to 78. The point of the article is "Look what an incompetent mess the ANP is" (and I'm sure it is). The attention to the handholding and eyemakeup means that odds are the reporter couldn't spot a competent Afghan policeman if one bit him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:05 PM
horizontal rule
82

Because if the reporter is someone who looks at men in eyeliner being platonically snuggly with each other and sees incompetent freaks, which he seems to be, I doubt that he can tell the difference between a competent Afghan policeman (assuming there are any, which there probably aren't) and an incompetent one.

(First, the author is a woman.)

Second, the part describing incompetent freaks leads the author to believe they're incompetent freaks. The incompetent freak excerpts are entirely separate from the cuddly make-up lovers excerpts.

It really feels like you've got something else which is bothering you about this article, but I have to go teach now, so I can't respond for a while.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
83

Norms from different cultures are so hard to understand.

"Bedtime Story: 1-in-4 Grown Men Travel With a Stuffed Animal"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
84

odds are the reporter couldn't spot a competent Afghan policeman if one bit him.

Her, actually. The author's Christine Lamb, who's got a decade of experience writing about Afghanistan from the country (including a few very hairy trips into Helmand) and so can probably judge the competence of Afghan policemen a lot better than, eg, us.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
85

82:Well, I'm bitching about the article, but I haven't read it because I'm cranky about paywalls, so I'm relying on your quotes (and didn't know who wrote it). I'm genuine annoyed by an article that combines "The Afghan police are an incompetent mess, and they're all so busy screwing each other they don't do any work" with "And they wear eyeliner and hold hands with each other!" -- the kind of thinking that connects those two thoughts seems xenophobic and confused, and means that I don't trust the writer's judgment or reporting skills.

It's not that anything about the substantive complaints are implausible, the rest of it just seems to me to discredit the article.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
86

There's a lot of stuff about the wacky homosexual stuff in "Charlie Wilson's War".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
87

86: War s/b Stuff


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
88

Having an environment where the bosses are openly heating their heroin spoons at their desk and then cruising the offices to get a bj would be chaos.

AFNIE


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
89

"the erotic undertow of law enforcement"

Not a phrase I expected to read, ever.

You were expecting "underwear", weren't you?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
90

I think you're cutting them too much slack, LB. This whole Thursday night thing isn't consensual in any sense we'd recognise. (Would you believe it was, if the person involved was a woman? "Oh, yes, the junior woman has to dress up nicely and wear makeup and brings us all tea, and then on Thursdays all the men who outrank her get to have sex with her." That wouldn't trigger alarm bells?)

And wouldn't you think that having a police force with a tradition of, basically, institutionalised rape might impact on its efficiency?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
91

90.1: Good point.

90.2: Not when the laws being enforced by the law enforcement are like this.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
92

89 was me.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
93

91.2: horrible. I can only hope that the police are as ineffectual in enforcing that law as they are in enforcing all the others. Sadly, it doesn't seem like one where police incompetence will come into play.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
94

What does "AFNIE" stand for?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
95

91.2: Jesus fucking christ. (An obvious opening for a joke, I know, but it's hard to find an equivalent secular expression.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
96

No, I'm not cutting the Afghan police any slack at all. I am saying that the article appears, from the excerpts I've read, to lump neutrally harmless behavior that has no necessary impact on police efficiency but looks really weird to a Westerner (eyeliner, handholding in a non-sexual context, gun decoration) together with behavior that is likely to be quite harmful to police efficiency and a bad thing regardless, like sexually exploiting junior police.

Then I am saying that someone who confuses those two categories of behavior, as, from the excerpts of the article I've read (only those quoted in the OP) it appears Lamb does, seems to me to show poor judgment and a willingness to cater to xenophobia, to the point that I don't trust her reporting on the subject.

Sexually exploiting junior employees is a very bad thing. I'd just rather get my information about the extent to which it's happening from someone who doesn't think of men wearing eyeliner as all that noteworthy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
97

95: "Judas fucking priest"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
98

A very fine expression indeed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
99

Judgements of xenophobia should probably wait until you've read a bit more of her stuff...

http://christinalamb.net/


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
100

I'd just rather get my information about the extent to which it's happening from someone who doesn't think of men wearing eyeliner as all that noteworthy.

I've been busy. I'll see what I can do.


Posted by: Opinionated Gene Simmons | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
101

67, 69: Chaos, dancing star, etc.?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:43 PM
horizontal rule
102

Especially given she's probably been reporting from Afghanistan longer than some of us have been alive.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:43 PM
horizontal rule
103

I'll accept on your word that her full body of work makes it clear that she's wildly knowledgeable about and sympathetic with Afghan culture and the Afghan people.

But still, on this article -- does the point I'm making about how screwy it is to be conflating Afghan cultural practices that look really odd to Westerners, but don't make much difference one way or the other, with Afghan practices, whether culturally determined or not, that are screwing up the ANP, make any sense to you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
104

Anyone who thinks 98 is wrong has got another thing coming.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
105

103- I agree that the kind of conflation you describe is bad. I'm not as convinced as you are that the OP excerpts indicate that the author is guilty of it.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
106

Let us learn from this thread that nobody should ever, EVER attempt a thread about something that they can only post excerpts from instead of the whole article.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:08 PM
horizontal rule
107

105: Things like this bit:

Symondson's photographs show the chai boys lounging suggestively on cushions, one minute languorous and sultry, the next boiling water in a big kettle, passing round big bowls of sugared almonds, making the evening meal of fresh chillies, yoghurt and cucumber, or mending the commander's hat on an ancient sewing machine. They are an alluring hybrid of geisha and gofer.

So, we've got pictures of the junior guys at the police station doing the cooking and uniform repairs, and looking all sultry lounging on the cushions, being 'an alluring hybrid of geisha and gofer.' I read that and I think "Do we know that all the junior guys are being sexually exploited? How would we tell the difference between a police station where the junior officers were concubines, and ones where they just got stuck doing the cooking? If you're telling me that there's an explicit cultural code where 'making the evening meal' also means 'I suck cock under duress', because non-concubines never cook for other men, make that clear. If that's not the case, why are we talking about who does the cooking?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
108

I get your point, LB. I read the excerpts, caught whiffs of Orientalism, wanted to know more about just how sultry the chai boys were and still didn't know exactly why they're bad cops. Are they not deterring crime? Is that the problem? Are they doing too much racial profiling and sodomizing people with broomsticks? Are they taking bribes? In what manner are they bad cops.

Then I thought about sultry men lounging about on thick rugs some more.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
109

107- "Geisha" and "gofer" are listed as two separate roles, and these particular guys happen to be filling both of them. Then the rest of the article either does or doesn't talk about these roles in general and whether or not it's unusual for men to take them on, cooking, gender, etc etc. If it doesn't, you're right, the author has skipped important stuff. But you can't know whether she skipped the important stuff if you're just looking at the excerpt that Heebie chose on purpose to illustrate how weird the setup is.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
110

If the furniture you've got is cushions, is there a way to relax on them that's not suggestive, particularly if you are, through no fault of your own, the possessor of heavily-lashed kohl-rimmed eyes?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:25 PM
horizontal rule
111

John Burdett's wildly popular books show how common it is to be both a sultry androgynous male prostitute and a tough cop who gets results.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
112

Semi-relatedly, my dad (who just got done being in Afghanistan for 10 months) said that the (US) army guys on his base were similarly complainy about Afghani men's hygiene & trainability. He didn't know if they were right, or if they were being dumb and xenophobic. But most the excerpts in the OP, to me, seemed more like they were reporting on what other people saw/said/thought than the author herself. I completely believe that the US people trying to train the ANP think that the ANP trainees are incompetent. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with whether they actually are or not.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
113

109: I can't know what she skipped. But I can tell from lines like this:

Nobody has much to say about the chai boys, the eyeliner and the erotic undertow of law enforcement,

that she thinks (or writes as if she thinks) that men wearing eyeliner is as worthy of comment as junior police officers acting as concubines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
114

Just read the most recent of John Burdett's books on sultry male prostitute tough cops. It was fun.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
115

110: "He deserved it. Did you see what he was wearing lounging on?"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
116

But most the excerpts in the OP, to me, seemed more like they were reporting on what other people saw/said/thought than the author herself.

That's fair, but she seems to be an expert on Afghanistan. She couldn't come up with some information that would explain the trainers' perception of the trainees? Maybe interview someone in the Afghan police force to talk about what makes the training not work for Joe Illiterate Afghan Village Guy? Flatly reporting that trainers perceive these guys as unhygienic, cack-handed as small children, and incapable of walking in a straight line without looking for some explanation as to why presumably functional-in-their-own-context adults are coming across like that seems like bad reporting to me.

Maybe that's in a bit of the article that wasn't quoted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
117

110, 114: I have not seen these. I should look them up -- I'm always up for a sultry androgynous male prostitute good time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:36 PM
horizontal rule
118

I'm always up for a sultry androgynous male prostitute good time.

Yay! (pretty much nsfw. i have the full movie.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
119

always up for a sultry androgynous male prostitute good time

New mouseover text?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:44 PM
horizontal rule
120

118: See, M/tch? I'm not the only one who covers the numbers on the phone with fake jewels.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
121

(I should say that I have no reason to believe that Lamb tops Jimmy Carter as History's Greatest Monster. I'm not familiar with her work generally, but I'm sure she knows vastly more about Afghanistan than, say, I do. To the extent I'm coming off as on a crazed vendetta against her, it's that I'm trying to explain the source of my negative reaction to the quoted bits by giving examples and being specific about what's bothering me about them, and that gets voluminous and intense sounding very fast.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
122

LB is articulating everything I've been thinking about the OP. Perhaps someone should violate copyright and e-mail it to her so she can tell me what else I think.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
123

I don't know of a modern, effective military or police force that allows its members to have intra-unit sex (whether hetro or non), let alone injecting sex into the hierarchic structure. Maybe there is one, but I don't know of it. So, while there surely is a hint of orientalism in the article, the fact that the troops are regularly allowed to sleep with one another, and do so in a manner cut off from the rest of Afghan society, is pretty good evidence that we are not dealing with a professionalized police force.

And marching in a straight line really is hard.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
124

Yeah, but look. When an article is behind a paywall, you're forced to trust that my sentences between the excerpts represents real material between the excerpts.

Of course I picked especially lurid passages to quote. I felt some twinge of obligation to get at least some people to pay for the article.

I'm getting defensive because this criticism at the author should more accurately be lobbed at me, since no one has read the full article, and I don't have time today to actually engage in what I did wrong.

Plus, fuck that, I had twenty minutes to throw something up that I thought would be interesting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
125

LB, you're looking for the series starting with Bangkok 8. Lots of exoticism; definitely fun.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
126

hetro

When a man and a woman do it like we did it back in the day.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
127

When an article is behind a paywall, you're forced to trust that my sentences between the excerpts represents real material between the excerpts.

I did, really, assume that -- that the rest of the article talked about concrete ways in which the ANP is an unprofessional mess. And I don't actually doubt that the ANP is an unprofessional mess -- I'm sure it is, given everything else I know about Afghanistan (like Will Rogers, only what I read in the papers).

But the lurid bits quoted still seemed exploitative, and in a way that makes me doubt the writers judgment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
128

I had twenty minutes to throw something up that I thought would be interesting.

Gross.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
129

Further to 124: And dude, from my point of view, a post that sends me into a crazed frenzy of nitpicking? Is an excellent post. I live to nitpick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
130

Hooray! Comity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
131

She's a chimpanzee, not a lizard! Shocking footage at 11.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
132

131: "Shocking" s/b "Sultry".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
133

116: Flatly reporting that trainers perceive these guys as unhygienic, cack-handed as small children, and incapable of walking in a straight line without looking for some explanation as to why presumably functional-in-their-own-context adults are coming across like that seems like bad reporting to me.

B-b-but, don't you want reporters to be objective?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:37 PM
horizontal rule
134

125 is quite right, although I remember enjoying the second in the series less than the first and third.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:37 PM
horizontal rule
135

I liked the one with the elephants and the training camp least, but can't be troubled to remember which book was which.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
136

@57 Having an environment where the bosses are openly heating their heroin spoons at their desk and then cruising the offices to get a bj would be chaos

Yeah, wouldn't you want the bj before doing the heroin? My impression is that heroin doesn't pump up the libido or anythng else.


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
137

Brits, how much should we take into consideration that the Sunday Times is a Murdoch paper?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:04 PM
horizontal rule
138

"There is a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach, but alas, I cannot swim!": cited all over the place as an Old Pathan/Pashtun army marching song. George MacDonald Fraser quotes it -- and describes stuff like this -- in more than one of the Flashman books: he also consistently refers to the Pathans as the toughest and most fearsome warriors the Imperial Brits had to face. This doesn't make it historical or sociological fact, but it does possibly make it a British army belief.

Fearsome warriors not necessarily especially good at effective democracy-facing policework, of course...

Cack is from the Greek prefix kako- meaning bad or evil or harsh, isn't it? Left-handed, sinister, crap -- it's a continuum!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:49 PM
horizontal rule
139

As usual, all the internet stuff on this song looks like it's coming from the same small number of sources -- Flashman or The Far Pavilions -- but this is a 1956 source, a memoir of British army life in the 30s and 40s.

It claims the song is called Zakhmi Dil -- Wounded Heart -- but Zakhmi Dil is also the name of a Bollywood movie, which makes it hard to google. I'm pretty sure Hindi and Pashtu are different languages, so I'm not sure what's going on here.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
140

Guns, drugs, and pederastic sex: Afghanistan sounds like a book by William Burroughs.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
141

Also the Pashtun are apparently one of the lost tribes of Israel, like the Welsh.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:37 PM
horizontal rule
142

The ANP is a disaster because the most of the money intended to maintain it was siphoned off by PMCs -- like DynCorp, which was supposedly training them -- before it reached the Afghans. ANP recruits don't give a shit, and are corrupt and incompetent, because they are literally not paid enough to put food on their tables. That's why their weapons and uniforms get sold so quickly; they're fungible, and worth more than notional membership in the ANP. The quotes from trainers sound like dishonest excuses being made by corrupt organizations to paper over their own responsibility for the mess.

This, at least, is the upshot of what Tim King alleges and seems a more coherent and convincing narrative to me that the quotes from the article.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
143

(The question of the "chai boy" subculture is still interesting, though.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:40 PM
horizontal rule
144

Cack is from the Greek prefix kako- meaning bad or evil or harsh, isn't it? Left-handed, sinister, crap -- it's a continuum!

OED cites the Latin verb cacare. I don't think that has to be related to kako-.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:49 PM
horizontal rule
145

I looked up the whole article. It seems to be pulled in two directions.

One thread appears to be written to accompany a series of photographs showing life among the police force. Most of the stuff about sexuality is in this thread. The other thread is about corruption, incompetence, and lack of skills. This is a smaller part of the article, but it's tied more closely to performance. This includes a really fascinating section about using cell phones to distribute pay without having to go through the commanders, who apparently often steal from their subordinates. Low levels of literacy play a huge role in this thread. Occasionally the two threads cross, but the transitions aren't all that smooth.

There's a lot that's lurid in the article, but the concentration of the excerpts in the original post make it sound even more lurid and negative. Here's the paragraph right after the one about walking in a straight line:

For the British trainers they have been hard to respect. Personal hygiene was low on the to-do list: they had no showers or detergents, and squatted to use a corner of any empty room as a toilet. But according to Symondson, gradually disgust has been tempered with admiration for their courage, many risking not only their lives but the safety of their families by aligning themselves against the Taliban.

And this is the first half of the paragraph excerpted at the very end of the post:

"Our success with them," continues Captain Ben Stephens, of the 1 Mercian regiment, a senior police trainer, "has come from accepting who they are, including all their faults. It's like... you know, you can't choose your family. Some are as bent as a nine-bob note, some are horrible pieces of work, but they're in a position where they have to provide a service, however much it galls you".

As heebie says, there's very little in the way of explanation of why many on police force engage in the behavior described, but there is a brief mention that similar behavior (at least with respect to decorating weapons) was found among the mujaheddin (as someone commented on above). The stuff about the Germans and DynCorp doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with sexuality - it just happens that a lot of stuff is being lumped together in one article.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
146

|| Someone I went to hs with was just arrested for murdering her ex-husband, and her dad was arrested for helping her. Her FB status currently reads:

XXX XXXX Life Sucks!!!!!! I kn/ow I ha/ve wond/erful little girl bu/t I also have an awf/ul ex-hus/band who mak/es everyt/hing sooo diffic/ult! And it wo/n't get be/tter he just gets wor/se every time I have to de/al with him. He is a m/iserable pers/on who wants to make eve/ryone else, espe/cially me mise/rable too.

Yikes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
147

|>
Oops. Carry on.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
148

Murder: The ultimate thread-killer?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
149

Just for the record, I did not go to hs with oudemia.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
150

As I think I've mentioned here before, I went to school with (and knew pretty well in a kind of friend/acquaintance way) two people who are both currently in prison for murder: one for a contract killing, the other for slashing and then murdering prostitutes and an ex. So I've got that going for me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
151

149: It's true. And you definitely would not have put the body in your mom's car when you set it on fire. Sheesh. (Oh golly, and now her FB page is garnering comments like "Good luck!" and "Hope everything works out ok!")


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
152

151: My mom would have killed me!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
153

151: huh, Blood Simple was right!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
154

(Dislike!)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
155

There is an old friend of mine who committed homicide and with whom I was FB friends. He was never convicted of murder, only related minor crimes. I had to unfriend him for a white supremacist status update. I suppose with motorcycle gangs and prison behind him, I shouldn't be that surprised.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
156

and now her FB page is garnering comments like "Good luck!" and "Hope everything works out ok!"

Dear god. Presumably people don't know what else to say, but still.

I don't know any murderers. Well, not that I know of, at any rate.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:16 PM
horizontal rule
157

156: Oh, MC -- I left out the many, many smiley faces.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
158

8=/ /=3!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
159

Is there an emoticon for "feeling murdery"?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
160

That's the worst warlording ever, sifu.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
161

#146. Is she twittering it, too? If she twitters her way through the trial and prison, she can probably get a book deal out of it.

I don't know any murderers, either. A few felons, but all for non-violent crimes.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:36 PM
horizontal rule
162

140: turns out that Michener wrote it.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
163

149: We assume you could be more discrete. In the unlikely event you couldn't avoid arrest, at least you'd avoid facebook.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
164

If she twitters her way through the trial and prison, she can probably get a book deal out of it.

I'm thinking reality TV show.

I left out the many, many smiley faces.

A powerful argument against the use of emoticons in general, I think.

I dunno. I guess online communication is...different, for lack of a better word...than face-to-face conversation. I've had email correspondence with a couple of people who use exclamation points after every sentence! and also after every sentence fragment! so that even the most straightforward and banal of statements carries an air of excited frenzy! LOL! And I find it puzzling and irritating!! And when combined with an OVERLY GENEROUS USE OF ALL-CAPS, it is DOWNRIGHT UNBEARABLE TO READ! LOL!! And yet these same people seem otherwise sensible, I swear!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 7:58 PM
horizontal rule
165

WELCOME TO MY HEAD HOLY CRAP THINGS ARE WEIRD WHEN YOU'RE ME


Posted by: OPINIONATED MARY CATHERINE'S E-MAIL CORRESPONDENT | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
166

(A):-@ 8o| :-S :'(


Posted by: OPINIONATED MARY CATHERINE'S E-MAIL CORRESPONDENT | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
167

I suffer from over-exclaiming in emails.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
168

You do?!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
169

I generally fear that any sentence that expresses a remotely positive or encouraging or complimentary emotion looks sarcastic if I end it with a period instead of an exclamation point. I blame Daria.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
170

HOLY CRAP THINGS ARE WEIRD WHEN YOU'RE ME

Shearer? Is that you, James?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
171

How utterly horrible for the little girl.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
172

Yes, but at least she didn't try to take a whole Burger King or Post Office out with him. Women tend to be very specifically homicidal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:48 PM
horizontal rule
173

The population of Afghanistan, like that of several other Muslim nations, trends very young.

43 % of the population is under 15 years of age.
(source: CIA Factbook)



Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 12:18 AM
horizontal rule
174

I don't know of a modern, effective military or police force that allows its members to have intra-unit sex (whether hetro or non), let alone injecting sex into the hierarchic structure.

Well there was the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War, in which most senior officers helped themselves to "field wives" from the women in the ranks. Whether you regard them as effective or not may depend whether you go by results (they won the fucking war) or by the ideals of an Anglo/American general with a head full of West Point/Sandhurst ideas.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 1:42 AM
horizontal rule
175

The population of Afghanistan, like that of several other Muslim very poor and mainly rural nations, trends very young.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 1:58 AM
horizontal rule
176

the Pashtun are apparently one of the lost tribes of Israel, like the Welsh

The Israeli government is currently funding DNA research to find out if this is actually true.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/17/israel-lost-tribes-pashtun
The Pashtuns themselves have always believed it to be the case.
Key quote:
"Pashtuns themselves sometimes talk of their Israelite connection, but show few signs of sympathy with, or any wish to migrate to, the modern Israeli state."
No kidding.

I don't know of a modern, effective military or police force that allows its members to have intra-unit sex

I find this surprising. It's not allowed in police forces? It's OK in quite a few armies, AFAIK, as long as it doesn't involve the chain of command.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 2:13 AM
horizontal rule
177

The Pashtuns themselves have always believed it to be the case.

I'd be prepared to consider this proposition for values of "always" which cover much less time than has elapsed since the Babylonian exile. Also for values of "the Pashtuns" which are constrained to the 1% or so who have ever considered the idea.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 2:23 AM
horizontal rule
178

OK, "it has been anecdotally reported as a widespread belief among Pashtuns since at least the mid-19th century. I cannot adduce any opinion poll data in support of this." Wikipedia has links.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 3:12 AM
horizontal rule
179

not that I'm so likely to know more about afghanistan than this woman, but a book I read on the subject recently said that kohl-rimmed eyes is a look favored by the especially religious, taliban in the original "student of islam" sense. i.e. not makeup for the purpose we would usually imagine.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 3:22 AM
horizontal rule
180

I think the Pashtun interest in being a Lost Tribe developed in two stages: first in reaction to the imperial wave of Islam, as it moved across -- modern -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and India; second in response to the British Empire. The Jews are a people mentioned in the Quran, of course: as connected to but distinct from the Islamic faith, almost like the "official opposition"...

Meanwhile the entire British-Israel fable, which is primarily Victorian but has Civil War roots, fascinated many of the ethnological scholars attached to the imperial machine, who, when they came across these odd -- if perhaps not widespread --myths of racial provenance and symbolic allegiance, no doubt couldn't help asking questions which brought the issue far more to the foreground than before.

Anyway from what I can discover by googling, there's records of the belief going back to the tenth century, but it gained significant traction in the nineteenth century.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 3:48 AM
horizontal rule
181

re: 174

Not entirely unknown in the British Navy, during periods of peak imperial world-striding, either, as far as I know.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 4:19 AM
horizontal rule
182

Someone I went to hs with was just arrested for murdering her ex-husband, and her dad was arrested for helping her.

The question is, did they do it? At this stage is seems a bit presumptuous to assume so, so solidarity doesn't appear out of order.

I remember when I was a lad, a guy I knew got off a ferry at Calais and was arrested for murder by the French police and everybody was, "Shit, who did he murder?"

A duty lawyer had him sprung within 24 hours with fulsome apologies for wrongful imprisonment. Mistaken identity. So I tend to be careful with this stuff.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 4:47 AM
horizontal rule
183

169: Yep. I tend to write emails to co-workers with a final exclamation-point editing stage, making sure I have enough to look pleasant, but few enough that I don't look demented. Goodness knows if I succeed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 5:07 AM
horizontal rule
184

Slightly relevant to the OP:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/asia/23taliban.html

Summary: CIA and ISI grabbed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a senior Taliban commander, seven months ago.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8518127.stm
At the time it was announced as a lucky break, but there was speculation that he was a hardliner who'd been arrested to clear the way for peace talks.
Really?
No.
In fact it seems he was arrested because he was conducting peace talks, and the Pakistani ISI (our allies, remember) didn't want him to.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:22 AM
horizontal rule
185

183. Kind of strange. I don't naturally use exclamation points in any circumstances. Occasionally I make myself go back and put them in rather self-consciously if I think they'd be well received. But I really don't see what purpose they serve. Either what you say is particularly important or striking or it isn't; punctuation isn't going to change that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
186

When someone texts a last-minute change of plan, if you respond "ok" they will assume you are annoyed at the change. If you respond "ok!" they can see you are fine with it. Exclamation-point free emails and texts can easily come across as brusque and offended.

This can lead to needless friction and social catastrophe. Fact!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
187

174

Well there was the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War, in which most senior officers helped themselves to "field wives" from the women in the ranks. Whether you regard them as effective or not may depend whether you go by results (they won the fucking war) or by the ideals of an Anglo/American general with a head full of West Point/Sandhurst ideas.

No Anglo/American generals had mistresses during WWII?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
188

"punctuation isn't going to change that"

This is nonsense in any case: otherwise no one would even notice exclamation marks or all-caps or whatever. Of course they make a difference -- the problem is, as with all writing, judicious use in respect of likely context.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
189

No Anglo/American generals had mistresses during WWII?

Certainly they did. Most notably Eisenhower, whose troops at one point believed (wrongly) that he was delaying the advance into Germany to play with her. But I've never heard that any Anglo/American generals straightforwardly coerced women into sex.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
190

As for LB's objections they seem to boil down to the common liberal complaint that reporters shouldn't include facts in their stories that their stupid, ignorant readers might misinterpret. With which I disagree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
191

This is nonsense in any case: otherwise no one would even notice exclamation marks or all-caps or whatever.

Well obviously you notice them, because they're there. But do you notice them and think, "That enhances the point being made", or do you notice them and think, "Why is this person using pointless visual effects in their text?"


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:54 AM
horizontal rule
192

Naturally you disagree, since your entire contribution to unfogged is based round tendentious misinterpretation. If writers were more careful, you wouldn't get to play at all!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
193

Were PPZhs coerced? I admit to limited knowledge, but I got the impression from Antony Beevor that they were just straightforward mistresses, like Ike's driver.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
194

193. I think it varied. I've read some accounts that suggested there was coercion.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
195

189

Certainly they did. Most notably Eisenhower, whose troops at one point believed (wrongly) that he was delaying the advance into Germany to play with her. But I've never heard that any Anglo/American generals straightforwardly coerced women into sex.

Your earlier comment did not necessarily imply coercion. I doubt this was Red Army policy although it may have been common practice. I have seen it claimed that raping enemy women was policy.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
196

If they didn't have an effect, you wouldn't notice them. The point is to harness the effect they do have -- which anyway varies from reader to reader anyway -- rather than rely on effects they don't have.

Essentially the argument you're making is that people who speak beautiful sentences in a nerveless monotone are not signficantly different from people who know how to deliver when reading.

There's a famous Lester Bangs review of a Sham 69 gig -- or record? -- in which every sentence ends with an exclamation mark. It's very funny, precisely because marks of emphasis have an effect you can't simply rationalise.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
197

Do you notice them and think, "Those two anyways enhance the point being made", or do you notice them and think, "Why is this person saying anyway twice in one sentence so pointlessly?"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
198

195. My apologies then. I thought coercion was implied by the discussion upthread. I too doubt it was policy. A policy that specifically encouraged senior officers to sexually abuse junior ranks is rather hard to imagine. A policy that encourages ignoring such behaviour is regrettably more plausible.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
199

197. I notice them and think, "Oh, he's typing in a hurry." I also think you think that the analogy between real life interaction and typing into a box on a screen is closer than I do.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:18 AM
horizontal rule
200

I have to admit, I use exclamation marks in some work emails as, rightly or wrongly, there's a modern convention among some correspondents that a smattering of exclamation marks judiciously used can make the email less abrupt in affect. I also use them with a couple of friends who use them in a similar way.

On the other hand, a little like chris y, I don't naturally use them by default. Instead it's a fairly conscious choice to employ them in just those circumstances where they are going to have the desired effect.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
201

Well it probably is closer for me, as I proofread humourless tin-eared up-itself text for a living -- it IS a lot of my real-life professional interaction. [And here is where a sadface would be handy: to indicate a) I AM sad: sense1, and b) I am aware others will consider me sad: sense2]


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
202

201. You manage a team of technical authors. My god, you deserve a medal !!!ELEVEN! SHRIEK!!!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:32 AM
horizontal rule
203

There should probably be a question mark in 202 somewhere. If not an interrobang, indeed.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
204

It's not really modern: Victorian letters are littered with them -- it's a somewhat gendered tonal thing, a convention signalling hoped-for comity, or some such.

All-caps is sanctioned by the works of Nigel Molesworth AS ANY FULE kNO


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
205

I do deserve a medal.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
206

All-caps is sanctioned by the works of Nigel Molesworth AS ANY FULE kNO

molesworth was also given to writing in no-caps, of course.

Queen Victoria, IIRC, didn't use caps so much as underlinings (generally transcribed as italics). eg "I am most displeased".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
207

re: 204

Yes, re: hoped for comity. I do it when I am dropping some lengthy email on some poor sod who normally sends single phrase emails.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:55 AM
horizontal rule
208

I make a lot of faces and wave my hands around when I talk, so I feel sort of let down by punctuation, as it doesn't do enough for me. I need some Greek particles.*

*I saw a great thing translating various particles into emoticons, but I can't find it now.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
209

higgsbosonface!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:02 AM
horizontal rule
210

||

There's a thread running on CT at the moment where I'm finding it very hard to resist doing some drive by swearing of the most extreme variety. Fucksfuckingsake.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
211

All-caps is sanctioned by the works of Nigel Molesworth AS ANY FULE kNO

A SERIOUS ORTHOGRAPHIC CONSERVATIVE WOULD ARGUE THAT LOWER CASE LETTERS WERE A DAMN SILLY CAROLINGIAN INNOVATION ANYWAY.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
212

210: You're trying to tell me you've never been threatened by an ethnically undesireable perfumemonger in the bathroom of a pub? I'll take your word for it, but it seems implausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
213

211: ASISUNNECESSARYSPACINGBETWEENWORDSPUNCTUATIONASWELL


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
214

re: 212

I have in fact been threatened in just such a manner.* But Jesus, the CT commentariat never seems to catch on to when they are being trolled by transparently egregious fuckwits. The only right and proper response to those wankers is invective and physical menace.

* no, really, I have.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
215

208.*: Ooh, please share if you do find that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
216

214: Really? What a weird business model. (Pub-bathroom perfume-mongers, not CT trolls.) Is it a recognized code for drug sales or something, or do people really buy perfume from them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
217

215, 216: Agreed. Yes, please!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
218

re: 216

You get them in some nightclubs. Sometimes they can be pretty aggressive. I can only remember seeing them in two particularly skeezy clubs, though. So it's not universal.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:20 AM
horizontal rule
219

I assumed he was just referring to bathroom attendants. This is a different phenomenon?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
220

What I don't understand about CT is that in some cases they have a hair trigger for banning people, and in other cases they let people consistently troll for months at a time with no penalty.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
221

re: 219

They are just noisy blokes pressing scented stuff on you. I remember one had a fairly noisy and deeply sexist patter -- to the effect that a squirt of whatever it was he was purveying would ensure sexual gratification from many grateful women* -- which was, nevertheless, pretty amusing.

* only, you know, not put in that sort of a way.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
222

210. Do you mean that Cato thing I stopped reading? Delendum est filamentum.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
223

Oudemia, do you mean this?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
224

223: Yes! But I saw it somewhere else, maybe Scott Ai/kin's blog or something.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
225

Isn't all perfume advertising pitched along the lines of use this and you'll be sexually irresistible?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
226

221, the only time I have encountered that was at Penn Station in Manhattan. Lizabrfath must have been there countless times so she just needs to go into different bathrooms.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
227

Lizabrfath

Saving this for the next time I'm Btock-style.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
228

It's quite wonderful isn't it? But particles were surely used as punctuation in the absence of dots and dashes weren't they (except when they obviously translate as er... and um...)? So reinterpreting them as emoticons isn't really a big stretch.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
229

re: 222

No, I meant the whole "Europe" thread.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
230

229. Oh the guy calling himself sg trolls all over the place. It's best to regard him as an avatar of ToS.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
231

re: 230

That and the tool calling himself/herself "libertarian". I have CT in my feed reader but basically never comment because I can't stick most of the comment threads. They annoy me just as a reader; participating would lead to apoplexy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
232

Lizabrfath

FPP at Unfaffed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
233

231: "libertarian" first started pissing me off in this thread back in March. I'm amazed he hasn't gotten himself banned in the intervening months.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
234

205. Tierce?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
235

Hee. But no, not really: my main bane is a kind of cultural journalist who associates intellectual seriousness with a jargonised expression they haven't actually mastered; leaden circumlocution to deliver utterly conventional opinions, about stuff they haven't convinced even themselves it matters much. I'm very starved of the pithy and the silly -- or at least, the work being discussed is often both, but the discussion is terrified of either.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
236

I'm pleased with myself, as the last email that I sent of any length only has one exclamation point. I tend towards using them with friends; if I'm discussing work, not so much. I will occasionally use them to indicate a joke. But mostly, I just like unnecessary punctuation.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
237

At an impressionable age I read an essay on punctuation that compared the exclamation point to a small child jumping up and down to get attention, so I generally edit them out if I happen to use them.

I wonder if Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! should change its name to Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!!!11!!!!!1!!ELEVEN!! in order to keep up with the times.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
238

Since the thread is still going, I'll note that my immediate reaction to the article excerpts that heebie posted was "How gullible and lacking in discrimination that reporter seems. Why include all that extraneous content if not for titillation?"

Then I read the thread.

Which changed my question to: "What incentives would cause a seasoned, unusually well-informed reporter to throw in all of that salacious distraction? Isn't the problem big enough already without adding in a bunch of explosive and exoticizing accusations, with no context or perspective about how much consent is actually occurring?

And now, having looked briefly at her website, I figure some of it was probably thrown in there by an editor. Who probably worries less about inflaming inflammatory situations, and more about selling pageviews.

(Too bad none of the Londoners went to hear her yesterday; we could have found out from the horse's mouth.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-25-10 1:53 PM
horizontal rule