Master of Boggle, there is none higher, I gets eleven points off the word 'Quagmire'.
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Here’s how much of your life the United States has been at war

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Somewhere in the ever-flowing river of flotsam that is Twitter, a simple data point offered by a college commencement speaker jumped out at me before being borne away on the tide of immediacy. This bit of data:

The speaker was ABC journalist Martha Raddatz, and the point is the key one in the intro: The graduates have spent half their lives with America at war.

It's a startling idea, but an incorrect one. The percentage is almost certainly much higher than that.

Using somewhat subjective definitions of "at war" -- Korea counts but Kosovo doesn't in our analysis, for example -- we endeavored to figure out how much of each person's life has been spent with America at war. We used whole years for both the age and the war, so the brief Gulf War is given a full year, and World War II includes 1941. These are estimates.

But the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan in (late) 2001 means that anyone born in the past 13 years has never known an America that isn't at war. Anyone born after 1984 has likely seen America at war for at least half of his or her life. And that's a lot of Americans.


These figures shift easily. An end to the conflict in Afghanistan (and, if you include it, the overlapping fight against the Islamic State) means that the percentage of time those young people have lived in a state of war will decline quickly.

But that state of war, we are told (I am too young to know better) feels different than America during World War II or, particularly for the college-aged, Vietnam. Moreso than those wars, war today is distant, fought on our behalf.

That's Raddatz's other, perhaps more important point: Young Americans have lived in a country at war for almost their whole lives, but they have to be reminded of it.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

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Chris Cillizza · May 18

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jhamill
935 days ago
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War today is a lot different than war 20 or 30 years ago.
California
zwol
936 days ago
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Not counting the Cold War seems like a mistake to me. If it's included, the U.S. was continuously at war from 1941 through 1992.
Mountain View, CA
superiphi
936 days ago
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that's a scary graphic...
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom

January 06, 2015

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Whee!
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K'pla!
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gho'Ti!
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toddgrotenhuis
1074 days ago
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Ok, I'm usually against "call your congressperson" nonsense, but this one is pretty good. ;)
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jlvanderzwan
1075 days ago
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Yes please!
Dadster
1075 days ago
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call your senator!
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In 2007 I rode a motorcycle from Utah to Panama and back. It was...

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In 2007 I rode a motorcycle from Utah to Panama and back. It was about 13,000 miles. These are the gloves I wore during that trip.

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My Night in Solitary - NYTimes.com

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COLORADO SPRINGS — AT 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 23, I was delivered to a Colorado state penitentiary, where I was issued an inmate uniform and a mesh bag with my toiletries and bedding. My arms were handcuffed behind my back, my legs were shackled and I was deposited in Administrative Segregation — solitary confinement.

I hadn’t committed a crime. Instead, as the new head of the state’s corrections department, I wanted to learn more about what we call Ad Seg.

Most states now agree that solitary confinement is overused, and many — like New York, which just agreed to a powerful set of reforms this week — are beginning to act. When I was appointed, Gov. John Hickenlooper charged me with three goals: limiting or eliminating the use of solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates; addressing the needs of those who have been in solitary for long periods; and reducing the number of offenders released directly from solitary back into their communities. If I was going to accomplish these, I needed a better sense of what solitary confinement was like, and what it did to the prisoners who were housed there, sometimes for years.

My cell, No. 22, was on the second floor, at the end of what seemed like a very long walk. At the cell, the officers removed my shackles. The door closed and the feed tray door opened. I was told to put my hands through it so the cuffs could be removed. And then I was alone — classified as an R.F.P., or “Removed From Population.”

In regular Ad Seg, inmates can have books or TVs. But in R.F.P. Ad Seg, no personal property is allowed. The room is about 7 by 13 feet. What little there is inside — bed, toilet, sink — is steel and screwed to the floor.

First thing you notice is that it’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise — other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments. I couldn’t make sense of any of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not shut off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.

For a sound mind, those are daunting circumstances. But every prison in America has become a dumping ground for the mentally ill, and often the “worst of the worst” — some of society’s most unsound minds — are dumped in Ad Seg.

If an inmate acts up, we slam a steel door on him. Ad Seg allows a prison to run more efficiently for a period of time, but by placing a difficult offender in isolation you have not solved the problem — only delayed or more likely exacerbated it, not only for the prison, but ultimately for the public. Our job in corrections is to protect the community, not to release people who are worse than they were when they came in.

Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist and expert on confinement, described in a paper published last year the many psychological effects of solitary. Inmates reported nightmares, heart palpitations and “fear of impending nervous breakdowns.” He pointed to research from the 1980s that found that a third of those studied had experienced “paranoia, aggressive fantasies, and impulse control problems ... In almost all instances the prisoners had not previously experienced any of these psychiatric reactions.”

Too often, these prisoners are “maxed out,” meaning they are released from solitary directly into society. In Colorado, in 2012, 140 people were released into the public from Ad Seg; last year, 70; so far in 2014, two.

The main light in my cellblock eventually turned off, and I fell into a fitful sleep, awakening every time a toilet flushed or an officer yanked on the doors to determine they were secure. Then there were the counts. According to the Ad Seg rules, within every 24-hour period there are five scheduled counts and at least two random ones. They are announced over the intercom and prisoners must stand with their feet visible to the officer as he looks through the door’s small window. As executive director, I praise the dedication, but as someone trying to sleep and rest my mind — forget it. I learned later that a number of inmates make earplugs out of toilet paper.

When 6:15 a.m. and breakfast finally came, I brushed my teeth, washed my face, did two sets of push-ups, and made my bed. I looked out my small window, saw that it was still dark outside, and thought, now what?

I would spend a total of 20 hours in that cell. Which, compared with the typical stay, is practically a blink. On average, inmates who are sent to solitary in Colorado spend an average of 23 months there. Some spend 20 years.

Eventually, I broke a promise to myself and asked an officer what time it was. 11:10 a.m. I felt as if I’d been there for days. I sat with my mind. How long would it take before Ad Seg chipped that away? I don’t know, but I’m confident that it would be a battle I would lose.

Inmates in Ad Seg have, of course, committed serious crimes. But I don’t believe that justifies the use of solitary confinement. My predecessor, Tom Clements, who was as courageous a reformer as they come, felt the same way. Mr. Clements had already gone a long way to reining in the overuse of solitary confinement in Colorado. In little more than two years, he and his staff cut it by more than half: from 1,505 inmates (among the highest rates in the country) to 726. As of January, the number was down to 593. (We have also gotten the number of severely mentally ill inmates in Ad Seg down to the single digits.)

But Mr. Clements had barely begun his work when he was assassinated last March. In a tragic irony, he was murdered in his home by a gang member who had been recently released directly from Ad Seg. This former inmate murdered a pizza delivery person, allegedly for the purpose of wearing his uniform to lure Mr. Clements to open his front door. A few days later, the man was killed in a shootout with the Texas police after he had shot an officer during a traffic stop. Whatever solitary confinement did to that former inmate and murderer, it was not for the better.

When I finally left my cell at 3 p.m., I felt even more urgency for reform. If we can’t eliminate solitary confinement, at least we can strive to greatly reduce its use. Knowing that 97 percent of inmates are ultimately returned to their communities, doing anything less would be both counterproductive and inhumane.

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srsly
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superiphi
1369 days ago
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most people want to make the world a better place :)
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chrishiestand
1371 days ago
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//kludge
San Diego, CA, USA
alliepape
1371 days ago
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I'm really grateful that some people in the prison system are starting to hold themselves accountable for the utter torture that is solitary confinement, and to empathize firsthand with the incarcerated.
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1387 days ago
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So ronrey!
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Now

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This image stays roughly in sync with the day (assuming the Earth continues spinning). Shortcut: xkcd.com/now
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miah
1389 days ago
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Why is there not an app for this that looks like this?
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Ludwig
1389 days ago
It's called a "globe."
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ddc0660
1384 days ago
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Pretty cool.
jth
1387 days ago
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I want a wall-sized real-life version of this where the time circle rotates and I can put a dot on my current location. Also, a puppy.
Saint Paul, MN, USA
ooter37
1385 days ago
I have a clock like that.
jepler
1389 days ago
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all these comments and no criticism of the projection used?
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
llucax
1389 days ago
I also thought about that...
rclatterbuck
1389 days ago
Why would there be? The Azimuthal Equidistant Projection is perfect for displaying approximate timezones. I guess some people might have a problem with it being centered on the South Pole, but they are just showing a Northern Hemisphere bias.
llucax
1389 days ago
On the countrary, being centered in the South Pole is a Nothern Hemisphere bias. It shows Europe bigger than South America and as big as Africa... Intersting insight about projections in The West Wing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVX-PrBRtTY
rclatterbuck
1389 days ago
It also shows them ridiculously distorted in a manner unusual to those familiar with the typical cylindrical and pseudo-cylindrical projections. Size isn't everything. What is easier to pick out? Uruguay or Germany?
AlexHogan
1388 days ago
This is the TIME CUBE
Dadster
1387 days ago
Bottom-up is always good....
Michdevilish
1389 days ago
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Like
Canada
JayM
1389 days ago
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.
Atlanta, GA
wffurr
1389 days ago
Alt text: " This image stays roughly in sync with the day (assuming the Earth continues spinning). Shortcut: xkcd.com/now"
MourningDragon
1389 days ago
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There should be an award for great ideas like this!
yashimii
1389 days ago
:) Ausdrucken
MourningDragon
1389 days ago
Kann ich Deinen ePaper Drucker haben ;-) ...oder ich klebe es an den Stundenzeiger. Cool, jetzt bekomme ich einen Award!
bogorad
1389 days ago
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Да, мощно.
Moscow, Russia
growler
1389 days ago
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brilliant
hananc
1389 days ago
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DST?
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