13 November, 2017

The Poland march shows the normalization of the country's far right

In my memery, Poland has always been a country with a love of freedom, and a love for the Catholic Church.  But now we see what happens when nationalism means that freedom only applies to "my" people and "my" church.  The idea there could be universal values doesn't seem to register with these marchers.  I can understand wanting to protect your sovereignty, especially when it has been so hard to win and to keep.  The strong cosmopolitanism of the EU is a hard sell, and it will remain so for a long time.  But that doesn't imply a celebration of hate, and that is all too often what we are seeing.

\

Poland has a long liberal tradition, but we may be asking more of them they they are ready to handle.  If Britain can leave the EU, Poland can too.  Not NATO--I've found Poles far more interested in NATO than in the EU.  A Catholic Turkey seems to be where this is headed.

How the Poland march shows the normalization of the country's far right - The Washington Post

08 November, 2017

What the End of ISIS Means

In the immortal words of Han Solo (Star Wars):  "Great Kid!  Don't get cocky."

What the End of ISIS Means

This looks interesting--follow this space

Sometimes people forget that a younger Benjamin Netanyahu, while staying in the United States, would share a bedroom with a very young Jared Kushner.  These two go back a long. long way. 

Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something

07 November, 2017

The United Nations Will Send Its First Mission to Space in 2021

The UN plans to have its own space program.  No word on how they'll pay for it.  But I wonder, how would the jurisdiction for manned flight work?  Would it be similar to the rules of the Headquarters Agreement? 

The United Nations Will Send Its First Mission to Space in 2021

Not for the faint of heart

If you have a vivid imagination, you might not want to read this.  It's a small look at just how bad it was to be ruled by the Islamic State.  Just a peek, but it may be more than you want to know.

Secrets of the Black Stadium: In Raqqa, Inside ISIS’ House of Horror

Secrets of the Black Stadium: In Raqqa, Inside ISIS’ House of Horror

Urban Terror

John Robb, again, does his typically brilliant work.  Our networks, as currently constituted, are vulnerable.  But it doesn't have to be nearly as bad as it is.  Design for self-sufficiency and resilience, at least as back up systems, is essential for life in the 21st Century.

Urban Terror: Why Cities Are Uniquely Vulnerable in 21st Century | National Review

05 November, 2017

Two popular conservative Twitter personalities were just outed as Russian trolls

I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of this in the months to come.  This was multi-front assault (to several, often contradictory, sides) to provide apparent "support" to people who want to believe, rather than think about, their agenda.  It wasn't always for Trump--although many of his supporters were ideal targets for this sort of thing, and even if there wasn't "collusion" the campaign went out of its way to spread the memes.  Sometimes it went to Bernie believers.  Sometimes it went to NeoNazis.  Often it made its way into more "respectable" (read "gullible") media.  What are we to take away from this?  Don't assume that someone is who they say they are on social media.  Get to know the people you talk to by other means.  Trust people you really know more than people you only "know" on-line, and check where they get their information (repeated, circulated emails are a dead give-away of a manufactured story).  Each of us has access to more information than a major intelligence service could have dreamed of accessing a few decades ago.  Most of it is noise, at best.  Some of it is carefully-designed crap.  Approach everything critically--and that includes, of course, everything you hear from me.  Think for yourself

Two popular conservative Twitter personalities were just outed as Russian trolls

04 November, 2017

It's not the crime; it's the cover-up

Yet another batch of JFK files out today.  I always find it interesting to learn what was redacted in earlier versions of the same document: what was the big scary secret they felt they had to protect?  Often, it turns out to be about protecting egos and reputations.  One new piece today: previously redacted sections of a memo showing Oswald to be in Mexico City at the Soviet embassy indicate that (1) he was talking to a man in the KGB assassination department, (2) that fact had been reported to James Jesus Angleton, the legendary genius paranoiac sociopath in charge of CIA counterintelligence, and (3) Angleton didn't act on the information.  A simple heads up might (I repeat might) have changed history.  So what were they hiding?  The Russian connection?  Or the fact that Angleton blew it?  We've already known about a Russian connection, although I can understand trying to get people to not jump to a conspiratorial conclusion and worsen the Cold War.  I've read that LBJ was personally convinced the Russians were involved, but didn't have the evidence or the inclination to push the point.  The Warren Commission, "for its own good and the good of the country" was led to its conclusions--and set up a cottage industry for conspiracy theorists.  Whatever.  If the Russians did do it, we'd have proof by now: enough of the KGBs files leaked out around the end of the Cold War that something that big couldn't remain hidden.  (Although I'm sure there are some Americans who will always remind us that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.  It's in their interest to keep the meme alive.)  So I can't help but wonder how much of the "conspiracy" surrounding the JFK investigation was an attempt to bury the fact that those who were tasked with keeping the president alive weren't doing their job very well.  Cover Your Ass--a common rule in any bureaucracy.

The same is probably true of 9/11, as well.  We already know that people failed to communicate and connect the dots.  There was evidence of what was coming, but the alert wasn't sounded.  So today people read it as evidence to enable (or commit) a crime, when it makes more sense to read it as bad analysis, people taking advantage of a disaster, and a lot of CYA.  Hanlon's razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."  In my experience, there is much more stupidity in the world than competent (let alone super-competent) villainy.

New batch of JFK assassination files: Oswald in Mexico City and the Watergate burglars - The Washington Post

Blackout or Ham Radio Drill?

Wow.  Some people will believe anything, so long as it fits their agenda (or serves as clickbait).

Blackout or Ham Radio Drill? - FactCheck.org

11 July, 2017

Reality guide: A poster of how everything fits together | New Scientist

If you have any interest in how everything may hang together, this is useful:

NewScientist_A1-Poster_Reality

Where it's most useful, however, is reminding us how little we actually know.

Reality guide: A poster of how everything fits together | New Scientist

10 July, 2017

China’s biggest ally in the South China Sea? A volcano in the Philippines — Quartz

Interesting connections--between Mt. Pinatubo, Typhoon Yunya, and China replacing the US in the South China Sea.  In one sense these events just accelerated some long-standing trends, but the impact of natural disasters on international relations is seldom given enough attention. 

Clark Air Base after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

China’s biggest ally in the South China Sea? A volcano in the Philippines — Quartz

Fatalities of firearms vs motor vehicle by U.S. State

Fatalities of firearms vs motor vehicle by U.S. State
This is interesting.  A comparison of fatalities by firearm versus fatalities by motor vehicle.  Clearly, it's not a random distribution.  I wonder why?  Any ideas?

Fatalities of firearms vs motor vehicle by U.S. State

The world by income (2017)

 
I like it when a map helps me to see connections I'd otherwise overlook.  I know North Korea is poor, but putting it in the same box with South Sudan and Afghanistan is something I hadn't thought of.  Likewise, Singapore and Seychelles.  It also raises some obvious questions:  why is French Polynesia so much better off than American Samoa?  Better administration?

The world by income (2017)

What the Largest Battle of the Decade Says about the Future of War


Mosul has some interesting lessons.  But we shouldn't get too focused on this one case.  Urban warfare is in transition.

I was interested in the over-reliance on special forces in the first stage of the war.  They're good, but but they're expensive, and grabbing and holding territory is not their job.  This looks like the sort of mistake the US might make with its own forces.

Most important: this is not over.  Daesh is not defeated.  It isn't even driven out of all the territory it holds.  And a coalition is most likely to fall apart when people are more worried about the post-war environment than they are in finishing off the original enemy.



What the Largest Battle of the Decade Says about the Future of War