Where There's A William

there's always aweigh

Archive for the month “December, 2009”

Be Strong, Rush

Get well soon.

I’ve still got 6 months paid up on my 24/7 membership.


Umm, Bacon

Fellow Tyler blogger Robert Langham put up a post last Saturday that illustrates the inescapable quandary faced by those of us carrying concealed handguns – we can never be prepared enough.

I initially intended to note that it would be useful to know if unprocessed sausage here was immortalised out back of beyond or beyond my backyard fence, but I see from a subsequent update that this was likely from Robert’s deer lease, so the in-town green belts probably aren’t this unsafe yet.

My point still being that, no matter how much pistol and ammo you pack about your person, you simply are not going to be able to carry enough for every likely threat scenario, never mind the merely plausible like that captured by Robert’s typically excellent photography above. To coin a phrase, carry your damn gun, people; indeed, carry as much gun as your circumstance permits. Spend what’s required to load it with quality, effective ammunition. Most importantly though, never forget that you’re carrying a defensive weapon for use in escaping the immediate threat, not attacking it. Whether it’s ribs-n-hocks here or Hugger the Mugger down the alley, your CHL doesn’t empower you to go forth and challenge the potential threat, never mind initiate combat.

That’s the line between defense and offense.

I’m all for good challenging training. Just be sure that the correct (as defined by the terms of your state’s license) mindset is a prominent part of it. I know; judged by 12 instead of carried by 6, blah blah blah. I say, better to get it right in the first place so that the long and the short of it afterwards is the pork processing fee.

Long. Pork. Get it?



How come I never get spam like this? I blog from the same town.

It’s a plot against the unphotogenic, I tell you!

Sheet Music Distribution

Robert Stacy McCain expands on an initial RedState report concerning an unprecedented conference being held in Israel throughout this week (27-31 Dec). All Israeli Ambassadors, Consuls General and Heads of Mission have been ordered to attend, something which has never occurred in the country’s all too turbulent history. RedState poster Kenny Solomon makes it plain he believes this to be a precursor to Israel taking overt (and presumably military) action in the near future – probably in the general direction of Iran.

Given who all else is known to be invited, I’m not so sure just how highly that legitimate concern is actually going to rank on the itinerary. The presence of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer (head of the country’s central bank) makes me fairly confident that concern over the reliability of the US$ as the benchmark currency has to be in the low single digit section of the topic priority list. While Israel’s reliance on US aid financing (not to mention civilian investment) is likely part of Mr Fischer’s presentation, the precise nature and degree of dependency all three of Israel’s cross-border neighbors, not to mention at least 6 other arms-length regional powers, have on US financial support has to be of even greater importance. None of the 9 or 10 other countries (I potentially include Gaza in amongst this number) involved is led by especially stable political regimes. The question of just how likely any (or what association of them) might be willing to seriously consider the short victorious war option will be greatly influenced by their separate and shared financial condition, should the US$ indeed go TU in the near-term.

Whatever comes under discussion, I think it most unlikely that anything is being actually scheduled for unilateral action by Israel’s leaders. Were that the case, we’d be seeing a great many more El Al flights in-bound to Ben Gurion, with a noticeable passenger compliment of people in the age 20 to 50 range, than we do so far.

The Israelis are worried enough to start getting their ducks all in a row; that ought to be worrisome enough for the rest of us all on it’s own. Let’s hope at least some of Pres. Obama’s Hawaii vacation briefings cover this development with greater confidence of accuracy then I can offer.

I am Immortalised

Well, digitally anyway.

I’ll just go check my hat’s fit again. 🙂

Confirmation of Principle

It is a premise of strategic thought that confrontation can best be reduced/minimised/avoided by resorting to the technique of re-framing the context within which the conflict is structured. IOW, to alter the conditions that permit or support a fight taking place. I have written on this topic before.

I have just been introduced to a blog called The Last Psychiatrist. Not seeming to have a traditional “Who is …” link, there is this in the archive section: “A blog about mercantilism and fourth generation warfare.”, which sheds light on what follows.

In the post titled Intentionality of Treatment, our anonymous author cites an experiment testing the validity of the influence preconception and belief have on the physical outcome resulting from some stimulus to an individual (Link to the actual experiment report). The experiment is structured to measure the difference in perceived as well as physiological response to intentional and unintentional pain stimulus. My belief is that individual pain is also a viable substitute for individual threat or strategic positional challenge, even though the experiment didn’t specifically address that supposition. The Last Psychiatrist identifies the result as cognitive reframing and offers this initial observation:

“Cognitive reframing can be used everywhere.

There are plenty of examples related to pain, but it’s better if this can be applied more generally. When things are bad, is there a way to experience them as less bad? Instead of studying something as vague as “sadness” or “anxiety” let’s look at something concrete: losing money.”

Follow the link for the specifics, but what is demonstrated is that how one views an action, the context within which one considers or responds to something, has a measurable effect on one’s response. This complies with the strategic premises addressing competition and conflict between positions. Following from Sun Tzu’s dictum, “the best general is one who wins without fighting”, it can be seen that cognitive reframing is a summation of the combined tactics of alliance and maneuver to defeat an enemy by less-direct means.

“But the important part of this message is that a person’s experience of anything is very much influenced by context, presentation.

Psychiatry has adopted a policy of pulling aside the curtain: letting the patient in on the language usually reserved for practitioners, which is fine, except that it is almost always misunderstood.”

The bing fa, the philosophy that underlies Sun Tzu’s strategic treatise, is very much applicable to the individual, but is structured such that it expands quite smoothly up through the group to the civilizational level of implementation. It would seem that it also extends into the therapeutic realm as well, both in application as well as general misunderstanding. I submit that at least some of the psychological conditions people consult psychiatrists and psychologists for might be positively addressed by inclusion of the philosophy Sun Tzu promulgated into the individual context we each consider the world from.

Thanks Labrat.

@ Venessa Miemis

Who’s work I discovered at Future Blogger.

The Young Miss (I suppose – she doesn’t make that degree of personal data obvious on her blog [Note to self: just how obvious does she have to make her “Who is …” link anyway? Venessa is indeed married]) is a Master’s candidate ” in New Media Studies at the New School in NYC, [where] she has been passionately thinking and writing about the future for seven years”. She indeed writes well and clearly gives thought to her topic du jour, but I suspect her passion may be creeping into an overly dominant influence on her thinking process; there is a noticeable lack of criticality in some of her writing.

An example of this is evident in a post of hers from late Sept of this year, in which she said:

“How can the power and scope of social networks, combined with human capital metrics, be used to facilitate shared creation and innovation?

It’s becoming more accepted that collaboration, not competition, is a more effective avenue towards producing emergent, innovative results. Now that millions of people participate in online social networks, it seems high time to develop a system of matching people’s skill sets with common values and goals in order to bring about positive change.”

Any student of strategy recognises that collaboration only occurs as a result of the demands imposed by competition. Only competition provides the stimulus necessary to obtain control over that beyond our individual needs of the moment; to stockpile against future requirements potentially threatened by the competing needs of others or acquire allies in our efforts to do so. Even at the most basic biologic level, the requirements of the competitive process leading to successful procreation are the principal social (and other) drivers of enduring relationships between individuals (and seem the likely progenitor motivation of familial community from which tribal structures appear to have developed).

So, in a word, “No”, collaboration is not replacing competition. Indeed, the former is a direct derivative of the latter; an expression in response to it.

It is important that competition be recognised as the fundamental human (and arguably mammalian) default position of interactivity, especially if one seeks to gain insight into (and from) the interaction displayed on Twitter as Miss Miemis does.

A better grasp of the distinction between strategy and tactic would also be helpful it appears. Hint: in the nifty chart provided, before and after both depict a transactional process between seller and buyer; the strategy is identical. The tactical difference between them is indeed profound, but it’s not a strategy.

All props to Mr. Scoble (or possibly Mr. Sagolla), but how is this in any way structurally different (other than the message character limitation) from the pre-existing multiple blogs to coordinate different areas of interest already developed on Blogger and other platforms? I suppose my question is, does the added transparency Twitter brings to the digital connectivity process actually rise to the level of difference that seems to be implied by this and other posts at Emergent By Design?

And then there’s the magical thinking that always seems to creep into these speculative essays. Frankly, there is no mechanism whereby independently innovative thought (that is, innovative data/conceptual representation originating independently from any of the individual – and all-too-human – twitterers) (tweeters?) can be formulated within the existing communication infrastructure within which Twitter and other digital communication networks/platforms exist. As well, Our Venessa seemingly displays an incredible lack of skepticism towards establishing the veracity and/or reliability of twitter content. This is not a personal criticism but a comment directed at the seeming lack of recognition she displays regarding the shallow-to-nonexistent mechanism for content verification such social interface mechanisms offer in their existing iteration.

And, to pre-empt the obvious retort (that the communication metaverse is actually a simulacra of a physical mind), might I recommend that she add Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money to her current holiday reading list. I further suggest paying particular attention to his discussion of the contributing factors and development process of the intellectual construct known as the economic or financial “bubble”. I contend that the current state of unverifiable data integrity that both twitter and it’s predecessor blogosphere currently labor under are nothing more (nor, potentially catastrophically, less) than the digital equivalent of the same intellectual failing Ferguson describes so understandably.

It is necessary that many people undertake the challenge Miss Miemis has; she is quite correct in her evaluation of the speed and scope of technologic and conceptual change we humans hopefully face over the next few decades (at least). As well, the successful incorporation of this technology into our social and business processes will rest largely on how well she and others achieve that transition. I’m quite impressed with her documented progress to-date and intend to consult her work in future. A measure of passion and enthusiasm for one’s topic is certainly helpful, most especially when it is balanced with a corresponding tincture of skeptical criticality. A bit less of the scientific wonderment along with a dose of engineering rigour, if you will, would add some structural integrity to her researches I think.

Writing at his blog Metamodern, Eric Drexler (yes, that Eric Drexler) recommends the book Infotopia by Cass R. Sunstein saying, “Sunstein explores how groups and societies succeed and fail in what is arguably their most vital task: drawing out and assembling pieces of knowledge that are scattered among many minds.” This would seem a likely format upon which Venessa and other researchers might base their efforts to extract pertinent data from the Twitter data stream as well as formulate a standard protocol whereby data might be evaluated for reliability and validity within the Twitter format.

The war’s not over yet it seems

It appears that the enemy isn’t willing to just roll over and wait for us to give up all on our own.

ABC News link
Fox News link

I thought the following from the Fox report telling:

Passenger Syed Jafri, a U.S. citizen who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said the incident occurred during the plane’s descent. Jafri said he was seated three rows behind the passenger and said he saw a glow, and noticed a smoke smell. Then, he said, “a young man behind me jumped on him.”

If “young man” is never publicly identified, he’s likely an air marshal; either way, well done you. [Update 12/26: per CBS News, the gentleman in question is Mr. Jasper Schuringa from Holland. And again I say, “Well done, Sir.”]

I suppose the pressing question of the moment has to be, is this a one-off, or only part of an al qaeda-trademark multiple attack operation?

h/t to Fire Andrea Mitchel blog, via The Other McCain/Hot Blogs sidebar

Update ~ 30 min later: Drudge is linking Bloomberg.com saying in headline; Obama Orders Heightened Security After Disturbance on Plane, which seems a small but significant escalation of response from earlier. Or, at least as likely, an example of how early information is often wrong in ways both small and large. As is usual with circumstance of this nature, cautious patience is the smartest option.

Update part deux: In related news, these guys obviously don’t spend much effort reading the more conservative portions of the US blogosphere apparently. Way to stiff’n a politically snivelly lip there fellas. Hold tight Pfc. Bergdahl.

Yo, Tam

Is this a Turse?

Happy Xmas to me.

Is Al Gore In Town?

It’s Global Warming here now. It’s not quite cold enough for it to stick to the ground yet, but the roof and car tops are all turning white. I doubt tomorrow will actually qualify as a Snow Day, but even an inch or two is unusual around here.

Happy Christmas to all two of you (assuming Alvis is still extant :)) and anybody else who happens to wander through.

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