Mao's Little Red Aircraft Carrier

Freakonomics readers know that a baby's name reveals more about its parents than about the baby. That's also true of naval ships. The Christian Science Monitor reports that China's online community has taken a strong interest in naming that country's first aircraft carrier -- if it ever gets built. The most favored name? Mao Zedong. China's state newspaper approved, with one caveat: if an aircraft carrier named after Mao is damaged in battle, "it might hurt ordinary people's feelings."

Surprising Facts About Child Soldiers

The problem of children used as soldiers has been gaining visibility since, among other things, former child soldier Ishmael Beah published his memoir. But the image of the child soldier as a young African boy with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder isn't as descriptive of the problem as you might think.

The Army's Not Coming Up Short

NPR reported last month that, for the first time in five years, the U.S. Army had more than met its recruiting goals. This happens every time unemployment rises, and it should be absolutely no surprise. People choose military service after high school partly out of a desire to serve the country; but there is strong […]

Embracing the Meshugganah

This piece from Tom Ricks, the military correspondent at the Washington Post, has some excellent stories about creative anti-terrorist strategies used by the British to fight the I.R.A., including a laundromat where they run the clothes through a machine that tests for bomb residue before they dry clean the clothes. To pin down where the […]

Who Serves in the Military Today?

Three of the four candidates in the upcoming election have a son who has either served in Iraq or soon will: Jimmy McCain, Beau Biden, and Track Palin. (And the children of the fourth candidate, Barack Obama, are a bit too young for military duty.) Is this sheer happenstance? I am guessing that when Obama […]

War Is …

According to the Yale Book of Quotations (whose future editions are being improved by Freakonomics readers), war is: “hell” (Napoleon Bonaparte), “too serious a matter to entrust to to military men” (Georges Clemenceau), and “a condition of progress” (Ernest Renan). What follows below are 12 replies to the question “What do you think about war […]

Swimming Pools and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: A Guest Post

With the Democrats in control of Congress, and with the prediction markets suggesting a Democratic presidential victory, there has been a lot of talk about ending sexual orientation discrimination in the military by repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (“DADT”) policy. There are always two ways of ending de jure discrimination: you can level up, […]

Eat By the Numbers

A friend of mine went through Naval Officer Candidate School a while back, and I recently stumbled upon an old e-mail he’d sent me that included the following: It has been eight weeks, and my training class is about to become the “senior class on deck,” which means that we are responsible for running the […]

The FREAK-est Links

Do people consider social concerns when making economic decisions? Found a wallet on the street? Be careful, you may be on film. Woman found liable for $222K in damages in file-sharing suit. (Earlier) Organizations for wounded soldiers offer free handbook for injured vets. (Earlier)

Restore the Draft? What a Bad Idea

Levitt discusses the economics of reinstating a draft.