No, Really - We'll Meet Again
Paul Tibbets, commander of the Hiroshima bombing mission, died five years ago at the ripe old age of 92 – with no regrets. “I never lost a night’s sleep over it,” he often said.
To a civilian, that may seem callous, but soldiers make their peace with their missions long before they’re accomplished. As so many dignified white-haired veterans have told documentary crews over the years, as though it sufficed as an explanation: It was war.
The fact is, that’s what war is: it’s fighting, it’s killing, and sometimes it’s dying. When you’re in one, the best that you can fairly be expected to do is to come out alive. Considering how many of our soldiers didn’t, it’s not as surprising as all that to find out that Tibbets wasn’t sorry his trigger finger ended the war.
In my mind, aside from being a Brigadier General in the United States Air Force and a decorated war pilot, Tibbets is the most famous delivery boy in history. He brought a weapon of heretofore unimaginable destructive power – a weapon that was still volatile and poorly understood – over a vast distance, and deposited it at its destination successfully. A hard truth, a painful truth, but a proud truth nonetheless.
The image of a single delivery altering the course of human history was so outlandish that it entered the popular imagination as a kind of existential boogeyman – the duck-and-cover, the flock of seagulls, and perhaps most potently, Stanley Kubrick’s haunting image of a cowboy riding a rocket to oblivion.
It’s the bizarre-o world history lesson most of us half-expected in the wake of an event like Hiroshima. Some of it is common sense: it doesn’t seem quite right to us that a package can exist that can never be delivered, or that something can be carried that can never be dropped.
Most of all, though, it’s the chilling thought of just how deeply important it is simply to transport weapons of such incomprehensible power. For many of us, as much as we may want the process to succeed, fundamentally it’s a burden we don’t even want to consider.
We get stuck on the magnitude of the situation – the sheer cosmic absurdity of a man being charged with delivering a package that can potentially destroy almost all life on Earth. It’s a lot to take. “God,” said Einstein in a moment of tragic wishful thinking, “does not play dice with the universe.”
Paul Tibbets was a soldier in a terrible war, as well as a man who had to make a delivery. History could well have gone the way Kubrick envisioned in Dr. Strangelove, with the world ending in an emptily ironic joke – but it didn’t. In the sole instance that a human being used a nuclear weapon against other human beings, the soldier who’d lost a lot of friends and the delivery boy who got a very big assignment both did what they had to do, and they did it well.
Hundreds of thousands of people died – men, women, and children, all at once. It wasn’t a nice thing to do. But war is war, especially for its soldiers. And sometimes, God does not play nice with the universe either.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.