09 March, 2007

Demography isn't everything, but it's important

ZenPundit has a talent for crossing disciplinary divides. This time it's neurophysiology and nation-building.

What I infer from this data and the Neurolearning Blog post is that the most favorable time for any effort, external or indigenous, to engage in a positive restructuring of a nation's societal rule-sets may be when a given country's youth bulge hits their early twenties. A narrow window of time when the most physically vigorous and largest section of the population has reached mental maturity in terms of accepting, comprehending and processing abstractions yet are most open to new ideas and desirous of a productive future for themselves.
This reminds me of another point that annoys some of my students: prior to about twenty-one, a person's brain is still growing and developing. There is, in that sense, a physiological basis to the notion of "adulthood" beginning in the early twenties (call it twenty-one for convenience). That in turn, gives us a reason to postpone the legal age to drink or to vote. Thus, when someone tells me "if I'm old enough to vote I should be old enough to drink," the proper reply is "you shouldn't be allowed to vote."

It's hard to keep a network down

Then again, I could be wrong...

Signs of Qaeda resurgence - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Bin Laden and Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Zawahri, the analysts said. Bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

Officials said the training camps had yet to reach the size and level of sophistication of the Qaeda camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men are being trained at the camps, the officials said, and the Qaeda infrastructure in the region is gradually becoming more mature.

(March 10 is OBLs birthday. Remember to send a card.)