In January 1864, some strangely dressed men with odd accents arrived in the camp of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, whose troops had been reeling from shortages of arms and supplies. They demonstrate a new weapon – an amazingly high powered accurate “repeater” rifle – and offer it to Lee.
He accepts. And the arming of his troops with AK-47s brought to him from 2014 changes the course of the Civil War. As the reports read, “With the new weapons, the South wins the war and history is changed.”
In the genres of alternative history and science fiction, there is no greater example of a “game changer” that this example in Harry Turtledove’s novel “Guns of the South.” So today, perhaps with a nod to this high benchmark, we hear again and again the term “game changer” to refer to weapons or actions in the ongoing bloody fighting in Syria.
So let us ask now, and let us be clear: What really constitutes a game changer? How many times can the game changers change the game? When do they cancel each other out? And are they really game changers, or are we once again latching onto a catchy phrase that is rapidly becoming a cliché because of ease of use and needing little thought?
Here is what we have in the last few weeks.
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U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers chairs the House of Representatives’ panel on intelligence, which this week overwhelmingly approved a new cyber security bill designed to enhance data sharing between the government and private industry to protect computer networks and intellectual property from cyber attacks.
Yet the day before it passed, Rogers had a more novel idea on how to deal with those stealing information from U.S. firms and government entities: name names.
Rogers noted that nations like China have little for the U.S. to steal back since, to paraphrase him, they stole everything of value they have from the United States. The one thing the U.S. could – and should do – is make public compromising communications and other materials, Rogers said.
“We are in a cyber war and we just don’t know it,” Rogers, R-Mich., said at an event on the cyber threat sponsored by the American Center for Democracy. “We had better do something now” or cyber terror will ruin the U.S. economy.
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It is over the hill where he had to go. Samuel Burroughs squinted hard at the horizon and his eyes thought he saw wisps of smoke rising. His heart told him it was smoke, maybe his silent, incorrect wish. His head said they were merely dirty clouds.
Over the hill was where the tip from Carla Hudson said to go, the one that came to him almost by accident, the way the beginning of most true scoops, true stories come. He had been back to Berlin, where he lived, and was in the Cafe Paris with an out-of-town buddy, and during dinner an old girl friend of the guest dropped by. She worked for an aid group, was worried about the war and told Sam and his chum that her group was deeply concerned about rumors of Bosnian villages where Muslims lived being destroyed – along with the Muslims. She was heading down there to see what her group could do.
So Sam’s friend went home with her that night, but two weeks later she showed up in Belgrade, at the Hyatt, where Sam’s friend had thoughtfully told her where to find Sam. The friend was back in Boston and had no interest in burning villages. Sam had no interest in the woman but a lot in burning villages in Bosnia. Carla actually came through. She got him a seat in a humanitarian convoy and paperwork and he did not have lie or break any journalistic vow, just keep his mouth shut. Then, the plan was when they got to the village, he could ask away.
But that was over the hill, or perhaps several hills. The seven hours from Belgrade had produced many zigs and zags, numerous checkpoints and already a very bad back. But each village they went through was still standing and, although there were not a lot of people, each village felt like it was alive and moderately well.
And then suddenly is changed. As the collection of trucks and autos turned the next corner, there were people on the road. At first, Sam did not take note, lost in thoughts and the eagerness of the hunt. Then, the paces of the people quicken and thickened and the convoy slowed to a crawl, then stopped.
Chapter Four — “That’s Righteous, Brother”
Six word stories: Hemingway did it, so can you.
What will your obit say?
The basic interview methods. Then how to build on them.
Writing in one’s own voice.
Why the rules matter – and why they don’t.
Checkpoint K-Y: The Value of Marlboro Reds and their friends
Should Your Trust Anyone? Should you trust AND verify?
What will you do to “succeed?” Who and what will thwart you?
“That’s Righteous, Brother” — The importance of words and punctuation.
What is the scariest moment you have had in your life?
Is it ever okay to lie?