Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Question Of Strategy

An anonymous commenter encouraged me to read the Martin Ford book The Lights In The Tunnel (available free in .pdf form here).

Chapter Two is titled "Acceleration" with the first sub-heading being, The Rich Get Richer, where-in Mr. Ford illustrates the process of technologic acceleration using the example of Bill Gates and the old daily doubling model (this time with pennies instead of grains of rice). I notice a logical fault in Mr. Ford's thinking though.

Mr. Ford asserts that as Bill Gates increases his wealth through continued expansion of the technology acceleration Microsoft contributes to, necessarily others become less rich as a result of the advancing automation of industry (and human labor occupation generally) made possible thereby (which Mr. Ford analogises as the titular Lights in the Tunnel growing respectively brighter or dimmer). This seems consistent with a purely technological process, but ignores the actual condition and process of wealth possession (or so I have read; no direct experience sadly).

While I am confident he theoretically could, I suspect Bill Gates can't remember the last time he balanced his own accounts personally. This statement requires a brief look at the process of "wealth". Fortune doesn't exist as stacks of material in a storeroom somewhere; even in the days when it did that was a temporary solution to a handling problem, not a model for economic activity generally. With great wealth comes the necessity to manage it, an activity that typically doesn't generate great wealth for it's practitioners ("bankers" - those who own banks - employ financial managers, not vice versa). Bookkeepers, who's work is Accounted for by others so that specialists in Investment can transact in Markets to obtain some degree of ownership in something to result ultimately in some financial gain to Bill Gates.

See the problem here? Mr. Ford's Tunnel model fails to acknowledge the universe of financial betterment attendant to Bill Gates' richness. Not only does this illustrate the severe limitation on modeling-as-prognostication, it calls into question just how well Mr. Ford understands the strategy of human wealth.

Just to get this out of the way, when Bill Gates finds himself a bit short of cash of an evening, he stops at a convenient ATM just like most other Americans do. Unlike most of the rest of US, if he's thinking ahead he sends an employee to do that for him or has his bank (quite possibly literally his) deliver it to him. And Mr. Ford seems to think that Bill Gates is only about half way through his computer/technology related exponential growth, too.

The strategy of wealth is to create a series of interconnected mechanisms that each independently work to increase their net worth while avoiding inhibiting the efforts of allied efforts doing so themselves. Net worth, the value of something after removing the expenses incurred from maintaining and operating it, is one success standard that works against the change process due to the desirability for stability to nurture continued strength of alliances and control of costs in pursuing a chosen strategy. Mr. Ford's Tunnel model doesn't seem to even recognise the effect such contrary interests exert on market transaction decisions.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation exists to keep Bill and Melinda in a sufficiency of the folding stuff and does so by creating as many opportunities for others to do so for themselves as can be arranged through the efforts of as many others as Bill and Mel can comfortably keep track of. Not only does this call into question Mr. Ford's financial example, it casts doubt on his "overcoming automation" concern. Agreed that automation removes humans from an existing application within the job market, but there without doubt exists mechanisms whereby they can adapt to changing circumstance - even from the most extreme of disadvantage, thanks to Bill and Mel among many others. Wealthy people (which condition doesn't actually include wealthy companies/corporations all that well) don't hoard their gains in a vacuum; they employee other people, both directly and at often surprising remove, to perform that process to their mutual benefit. The human psychology of "control" is intimately involved and any examination which doesn't take that into account is a profoundly flawed model.

None of which makes Mr. Ford's book a failure. His point about a lack of examination of the process such changes effect on financial and economic considerations is well taken. As too is his direction of attention on the short-term costs such a process inevitably levees on individuals. I look forward to reading his prescriptions in this area of concern especially.

It is a strategic maxim that Opportunity = Risk. Indeed, it is the emergence of the latter that creates the former. You can't have the one without the other and it is this which distinguishes Opportunity from Chance. Accept this most fundamental condition of human existence and you free yourself from useless resistance to change to concentrate on adaptation of your personal circumstance to benefit instead.

Addenda: Mr. Ford's Tunnel model posits Bill Gates as a single market source and uses the market transaction of a $50 cell phone sale as example; behind Door "A" is Bill Gates, behind Door "B" is tens of thousands of potential individual sales. Since Bill Gates (through his dominance of other's purchasing decisions by way of their financial relationship) represents a potential single sale of tens-of-thousands of phones on his own individual decision, I choose Door "A", Mr. Ford, as doing so potentially represents a reduction in my transactional costs by an order of tens-of-thousands to one. None of which precludes my yanking open Door "B" as well, you know. People like Bill Gates are simultaneously both a single point of sale and a group purchase opportunity, a circumstance Mr. Ford's model doesn't address very well. Which is more a failing of models than anything else.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making IF Real

Alvis Brigis examines a potential resolution to the current job loss situation in his latest blog post which I commented on here. In his post, Alvis said:

One result of this possibility expansion will be the ongoing emergence of a new class of Super-Prosumer companies that will fill much of the void left by dwindling American jobs. As the traditional economy flounders, these social web companies will clean-up (they already are) and expand the phase space for massive, rapid value creation like never before.


Over at The Speculist commenter damndirtytape asks in comments:

That's an enticing scenario, but what does each CEO-company actually do or make? as in what tangible goods do they produce that other people (foreigners primarily) will buy?

What we are doing now doesn't work. A high tech, but debt and credit based economic model is an illusion. At some point America will have to actually create real goods and services to sell to other countries to reverse the trade gap and get out of worlds largest debtor nation status.

Not sure how any of this prosumer stuff really creates anything new.


Alvis' response speaks for itself, I wish to use both the above quotes to give context for what follows. As per my usual want, we get there by going this other way first. :)

I suspect more people are aware of Bristol Palin from her recent turn as third place finisher on the latest season of Dancing with the Stars, but what seems to be largely lost is the example she provides us of a possible mechanism whereby we can all help save our national economy. Unwed teen pregnancy is traditionally regarded as at best a devastating event. Young Miss Palin's response takes a different tack (via wikipedia). Instead of a disaster, she chooses to make teen motherhood into a career - one that apparently earns a decent living, I might add.

Anybody seeing where I'm going with this yet?

In my initial comment to Alvis' post (which is where this all started, remember?), I said:

How you initially define context greatly influences individual willingness to commit to a concept. The context "root cause" places the existing economic environment in an aggressive defense of established practice and process; the suggested alternative identifies potential additional revenue streams for existing business entities to consider. From there it becomes easier to consider more fundamental changes to business structure and process. Much like the change from manufacturing to service, the economy is easier to change to some entirely different model if there is an established business practice to expand upon to effect the transition. Without something of that nature in place, the established economic/governmental structure will actively resist transition instead of merely drag its collective feet.


The "context" I seek to define today is how we might structure our transition from a job-losing economy - where jobs are the providential offering of some diffuse other - into a job-creating environment in emulation of la Palin's example.

A Limited Liability Corporation is a recognised legal and economic mechanism available to virtually any US citizen or resident, at modest individual cost, that provides a mechanism to transform almost any activity into a profit-making (and, lest we forget, tax-paying) enterprise. Unwed teen mother? No problem, Professional Advocate. Prosumer? What (or even who) do you know that you can start building into a network positioned to connect to a market (either existing or potential)?

The underlying point of all this is that, so far, we the individual retain the initiative in determining how (and by whom) our economic salvation might be attained outside of the established, historical arrangements. To do so via such a creative example as touted by Alvis (and many others, to be fair) requires that we provide some mechanism whereby the existing powers-that-be (like, potentially, that other Palin woman) can recognise and categorise our efforts into their present understanding of things. Doing that makes our efforts merely part of the system, something to be ordinarily taxed and otherwise burdened (think Craigslist), rather than some extremist, disruptive activity to be actively opposed and outlawed (pick your favorite file sharing/aka: music piracy site as example).

Classical strategy teaches that success is attained by a steady process of supportive alliance and avoidance of active opposition. I believe that to be an effective summation of ordinary human interaction and something everyone is well advised to consciously practice in their day-to-day activities, most especially when setting out to effect change to an existing -and well entrenched - paradigm of human behavior and association.

Like turning "job" into individual liberty instead of controlling dependence.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Future Is Coming

Blog friend Alvis Brigis has a post up about the transition in economic activity he sees underway in the US. While I still question just how broadly applicable the Prosumer concept will prove to be, I concur that it is certainly one of the options available to people today to begin their individual transition into the developing economy.

In his post, Alvis identifies some of the factors that contribute to the on-going economic downturn:

The erosion of traditional American jobs continues unabated and we can expect it to steadily worsen. From a macro perspective, there is simply no silver-bullet counter to the converging forces of globalization, automation, overvalued real estate prices, national debt, mega quantitative easing (printing more U.S. dollars to buy back our bonds so they don’t tank - a new round of $600 billion has just been proposed), mounting international resistance to U.S. monetary policy, massive overseas spending (Iraq, Afghanistan) general inefficiencies in govt, defense, education, oversight, and social services. Despite weak signs of life in the country’s massive services sector, which comprises an astounding 80% of U.S. jobs, last week’s dismal jobs report reinforces the steady downhill march.


I find it telling that all of them are governmental/regulatory in nature.

That said, I also find it refreshing (if not at all unexpected of the man) that his prescriptions are all oriented around the individual human, alone or in organised groups, creating their own relief without recourse (or even regard) to government.

Note that I did not say in dis-regard to government. Lack of reliance does not mean rejection.

Elsewhere in the post, he says:

If our goal is to save American jobs, then it’s our responsibility to identify, vet and selectively apply these emerging solutions.

First and most obviously, we can turn to well-established, leading-edge American tech and web companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Intel, Cisco, IBM, Johnson Controls, Amazon, EBay for software, hardware and intelligent systems that can bring down personal and business costs and increase profit.

........

Even more interesting is the symbiotic relationship these companies have with their customers. Each and every one of them fundamentally depends on user generated content and participation to function. Therefore, they inherently must make the cost of participation as low as possible, and the benefits to users as high as possible


Every company Alvis identifies is dependent on government provided infrastructure just to operate and all of them have both governmental regulatory constraints and self-imposed limitations they impose on their users - Alvis' proposed Prosumers. Certainly they offer some opportunity, and the Groupon example Alvis provides is inspirational, but the problems left unstated make success through these channels much more unlikely than Alvis makes apparent (not an unexpected aspect of an introductory effort such as this one, it should be acknowledged).

All of the companies named have to offer the most user experience for the least user expense (whether financial or in usage frustration levels). All of the companies named risk additional regulatory and taxation burdens resulting from increased individual economic activity beyond that already regulated/taxed. From this it can be seen that increased usage will result in decreased usability. Methinks these won't cooperate much or for long.

All of which ignores the mores most of them practice; E-Bay discriminates against anyone wishing to exercise the tenets of the US 2nd Amendment on their site for only one example of highly dubious company conduct that inhibits the user/prosumer experience. Google is infamous for it's unethical censorship and data gathering practices.

The point being that none of the examples proffered are positioned to be quite as opportune as Alvis seems to believe. They could be, but in practice have not been to-date. Perhaps an effort to persuade them differently, developed at the local societal level, would be a practicable first step in changing this circumstance.

As is his usual practice, a complex and thoroughgoing look at the present circumstance with an eye to getting to a future we all can find fulfilling. Well done you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hot Off The Presses

RobertaX is test marketing a novelization of her sf stories I Work On A Starship. I've read several installments over the last couple years (or so; who keeps track of their casual reading schedule?) and I must say the lady has the story-teller's gift.

Definitely worth a double sawbuck; go check it out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Does What Want!?!

Not for the first time (and, to be honest, almost certainly not for the last :)), I wish to dispute with Phil Bowermaster regarding something in one of his typically thought provoking Speculist posts. Also not for the first time, let me begin by pointing you somewhere else first.

My blog-friend Kevin Baker is spending his actual Saturday having fun in similar fashion to my own, but before he left, he posted the transcript of a speech George Will gave last May to the Cato Institute's biennial Milton Friedman Prize dinner. As part of his remarks, Mr. Will said the following in comparing the political beliefs of two Princeton graduates, James Madison of the class of 1771, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson of the class of 1879:

Madison asserted that politics should take its bearings from nature, from human nature and the natural rights with which we are endowed that pre-exist government. Woodrow Wilson, like all people steeped in the nineteenth century discovery (or so they thought) that History is a proper noun with a capital "H," that history has a mind and life of its own, he argued that human nature is as malleable and changeable as history itself, and that it is the job of the state to regulate and guide the evolution of human nature ...


Now back to friend Phil:

I think technology "wants" to improve our circumstances. Technology wants to empower individuals and transform society. Technology wants to decrease human suffering and increase human happiness.

In other words, technology wants exactly what we want. And that shouldn't be all that surprising, because our technology is us.


Much like Socialists anywhere (and American Progressives particularly) do in their economic thinking, Phil is doing in the quote above. Both resort to a species of magical thinking to make their argument.

{In his defense, Phil is responding to this article about the book What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly, so the views he expresses might not be entirely his own.}

Now, I recognise the implied intent of the modifying quotation marks Phil employs; I understand he is making an allegorical statement and not a literal one. While I am quite willing to accept without comment using such as a rhetorical device, to advance a narrative say, such thinking simply isn't explanatory though which is Phil's stated purpose for the passage quoted above.

I have argued in the past that money is an artificial human intellectual construct. I believe the same can legitimately be said for history as well.

We have a (variably detailed and questionably reliable) historical record, which is often seemingly well-supported by a collection of historical artifacts. What we don't have is any actual history, because it doesn't exist any longer. Belief in "History" as George Will attributes to Woodrow Wilson above, "that history has a mind and life of its own", is thus shown to be a class of magical thinking that imbues our collection of variously ancient detritus with independent intent and consciousness.

In similar fashion as does Phil with "technology", that accumulation of not-quite-finished-with-yet proto-detritus we are frequently pleased to hold up as self-evident examples of "civilisation" (and that will be enough of the scare quotes).

Basically, it's just stuff. And while we may have an occasionally embarrassing excess of stuff (and a correspondingly distressing lack as well), it is the height of folly to think of it as anything more (or less, it should be acknowledged) than a particular example of varyingly well-contrived crutch we frequently find useful in certain applications (and decidedly not in others). The contents of our ever-expanding tool box laid out on public display, if you will.

And like all the rest of our stuff, we can make more if we break it, use it up or just plain outlive it's usefulness to us.

I can think of very little in this world (or off it that I am aware of) that has any great store of intrinsic worth or value (oh, please, is there a Gold Bug in the house?) on it's own. Usefulness in plenty, to be sure, but that's a different standard of measure, one that is imputed by some other agency and often quite variable by circumstance (ruminants find grass generally quite useful; humans without a Lawn Service quite a bit less so). Endowing our stuff with magical abilities doesn't improve it in any measurable way and, frankly, works to impede our usage more often than not.

I don't care what my toaster might think, nor my induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, I just want them to function. And should they not do as I expected, then the failure is to be found in my own lack of understanding, not some fanciful cognitive whimsy. We may in fact one day make stuff that has independent consciousness and identity from ourselves - the so-far mythical AGI. Come that day, I certainly agree we should ask it's opinion. 'Till then, why deliberately obscure our already flawed understanding of stuff, eh?

In the spirit of full disclosure, the things I say to my tools when I screw up a job would seemingly put the lie to all the above (and make my past nautical association disturbingly plain), so if humor was your intent I take it all back, Phil.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Border Violence?

Nice.

UTB/TSC Emergency Warning #5
The campus is closed and evening classes have been canceled today and Saturday, Nov. 6 because of gunfire taking place across the Rio Grande.


A fence is nice and all, but when your neighbor's troubles start shooting up your place as well that tends to make his business your business too. And when it comes to international border violations, the US Army and Marines do our business for us.

Just sayin'.


Via Instapundit.

First Saturday

Since we started working a 4/10 shift at the j. o. b., we've had Friday's off. Thus, Friday is First Saturday.

Went here this morning and worked my way through 100 rounds of this. I do indeed still remember which end the noise comes out of.

On a related note, shooting with the laser sight requires a completely different target acquisition process than does using the traditional sights. Remarkable how that alters the magazine swap mechanics.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Strategic Employment Opportunity - 2012

Given the number of mentions on Instapundit alone of YouTube videos having telling effect this just-past political cycle, I predict more than a few someone's will pursue a course of action something like the following for the 2012 cycle.

A moderately well-heeled campaign will hire 12-15 people at (US)$1,000.00/week with an additional (US)$1,000.00/week operating budget each, starting about a year from today. These people would initially work to document the candidate's electioneering efforts while they hone and develop their filming and reporting skills and methodology (both individually and working as spontaneous teams).

Once competing campaigns are identified, selected videographers are assigned to capture as much video of the candidate and his/her campaign as possible. As the more viable opponents emerge over the course of the year, a greater proportion of the video campaign effort is assigned to the more prominent/effective opponent(s), leading eventually to literal 24/7 coverage of the post-Primary candidate(s).

Objective: document and report self-destructive behavior by the opposing candidate(s) and/or the campaign's operatives/supporters and post it on YouTube (and other video outlets) as early and often as seems useful over the course of the 2012 campaign effort.

Simultaneous to this, a few videographers travel with the candidate to document OpFor activities staged against the campaign. This can include documenting the general activities of those identified as OpFor personnel (think New Black Panther members) going about their public personal activities as well.

So, 15 people @ $1k/week + $1k/week operating funds x 50 weeks = (US)$300,000.00.

Even with the added expense of initial equipment purchases (to include vehicle leases) along with contingency funds (medical expenses incurred "on the job", serial data encription software implimentation for internal communication security, etc), a year-long coordinated effort to control the campaign narrative and influence all campaign reporting by others for not much more than a (US)$500,000.00 budget for a year-long national political campaign doesn't seem a terribly excessive investment given the demonstrated potential return there-on (unfortunately, I don't see the numbers becoming remarkably smaller for a regional/state level campaign either; the principal expense is the people, the videographers, so even a local campaign wouldn't be able to cut the number of personnel required for effective coverage of even a major municipality by more than, say a third of those projected above).

This is yet another example of how classical strategy works "in the real world"; identify an opportunity (most commonly a risk of some demarcateable description - if an apparent opportunity can't be clearly demarcated it falls to the level of variably vague "threat", a potential risk perhaps), position forces to advance your position thereby (in the example above, learn how to effectively use video equipment under a variety of conditions along with the computer technology to get the result on YouTube as quickly as possible for one possibility) and arrange an alliance to maximise the advancement for all allied positions (sticking to the example above; get your name and skills "out there" and decide what your alliance standards and conditions are in advance, just for a start). Sun Tzu's The Art of War really ought to be titled "THE ART OF SUCCESS".

So, anybody got any equipment recommendations? :)

Update: It occurs to me that a professional political consultant seeking modern relivancey *cough* Karl Rove *cough* or a news/opinion reporting business *cough* PJTV *cough* might find this model an attractive operational investment to begin developing this year.

Just saying ...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Safe Passage



What was that about "shall not be infringed"? So much for that summer vacation to Alaska for now.

Make your own CCW map.

Thanks to Joe Huffman for the map link.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are they trying to start a fight?

Yes, they are Tam. And the way they win is to get you to swing first.

This is basic classical strategy, folks. When forced to engage an enemy within a defined boundary (like a national border), every effort must be taken to provoke as many localized incidents as possible so as to prevent formation of an organised and unified opposition. Especially when attacking from a position of (societal) dominance, it is desirable to incite actions in response to which exceeding established societal constraints and limitations can be argued as imposed necessity. The more extreme the enemy (that would be our fellow citizens, you understand) can be portrayed to be, the easier it is to claim the rightness of whatever behavior needs justification. Claiming the moral high ground isn't enough, being acknowledged as being in the ethical and moral right is mandatory for the ultimate legitimacy of any "victorious" claimant.

Do you know why fascism ultimately failed following WW II? Because the Jews held the moral high ground 'till the gasping, fiery end and were acknowledged as having done so. How many of us are prepared to go to such an equivalent extreme in order to "restore the Constitution" or "show that socialist _______ (name of politician of your preference here) what's what"?

Have you - not just you personally, Tam - have we taken a moment to consider just who it is we are most likely to violently confront "come the revolution"? It won't be Judge George Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan, some bureaucracy, or any politician; no, it's going to be the people specifically employed to "interface" with the public. You know, the cops. With the fire fighters and EMS types very quickly to follow.

Take a look at the riots in the LA area back in 1992. While the fuzz was all forted up during the first 36 - 48 hours of the thing, the FD and EMS were regularly shot at (and even occasionally hit). Persistent denial of authority's intrusion into disputed territory is one of the most commonly chosen tactical errors known. I say error because the simple fact of control of a region being visibly/publicly disputed is sufficient to undermine authority's claims thereon; actively engaging them (especially from within the boundaries of that region) on their own terms thereafter is a recipe for defeat in detail.

Are we really prepared to accept the almost certainly utterly insignificant nature of the incident(s) that will spark off the conflagration? It won't be the next act of further infringement on our rights itself, it will be some cop's trying to "do his duty" afterwards that has Joe and Jane Six-Pack going off. Maybe the FBI "... tagging you like a migrating harp seal every time you want to run to the 7-11 for a bag of chips, and warrant be damned" or just Officer Random Example serving a subpoena. All without any of us going anywhere near a Costco you will note.

Before this goes too much further, might I suggest a close examination of the French Resistance during WW II? Pay attention to who was associated with whom, and by what political ideology and/or class distinction, and then determine how almost everyone eventually "just happened" to come to the Gestapo's peculiar attentions. France is a pretty unified country compared to America, any bets on how long it takes for the debt settling to get good and bloody here? Then add all of those foreign US bond (government debt) holders trying to get some of their own back into the mix.

There's never a "good" time to start fighting and "history" is always much nastier in the doing than in the telling later. Before we do this, maybe take the time to check for alternative options just one more time? We don't want to fall victim of "their" manipulations, do we?

Even if you can put it out in time, there's just not much you can do with a burnt bridge afterwards.

Power Psychology

Reading this blog post (about this study) an assertion caught my eye that has some relevance to Krav Maga, I think:

Which guy appears more powerful? They guy with leaning back in a chair, feet up, hands behind his head? Or the guy hunched forward, hands together in his lap?




Which guy do you think feels more powerful?



The study found that assuming the 2 power positions (vs. non-power) for 1 min each had three results:

1. Subjects rated themselves as more powerful (2.84 vs. 1.87 on a 1 to 4 scale)

2. When offered a choice of keeping $2 versus betting it all on dice, 86% of the power group chose to gamble, vs. 60% of the non-power

3a. Their testosterone went up about 15% or down 10% from baseline, respectively:





3b. Power position also significantly lowered cortisol levels by about 15%, while adopting the low-power position had a limited, but upwards effect. Cortisol is usually secreted during acute stress.






All this, from two minutes of a posture change. True for men and women equally.

...........

III.

This isn't anything new, it's long been known that forcing a physical maneuver can alter mood. Forced smiling can make you happier; clenching the fist makes men more aggressive and women feel less in control; method actors key off of physical movements to get their head in gear. And yoga exists.

(my bold)



There are many women students at my Krav Maga school who are much further advanced in the discipline than I am yet. Even so, I think I see some evidence in support of the contention in bold above. I can't think of a single woman who doesn't strike harder/smoother with the palm than she does with a clenched fist (after taking the differential in wrist strength into account). Since the more advanced levels require traditional boxing gloves (for training partner protection if nothing else), I wonder if this seemingly minor psychological observation ought to be pointed out as a regular part of training?

UPDATE: 2:30 PM, 10/09/10:

I should make clear that I'm talking about the in-class training environment here and not during an actual defense. Then it all comes down to the very simple formula: 1) hit as hard as you can, any way and place that you can; 2) survive to escape your attacker. In training though we ought to consider utilizing whatever techniques we can that offer seeming benefit for the training experience. As my pseudonymous source observed elsewhere in the same post:

It should also be obvious that this shouldn't work. How out of touch with our own bodies must we be if we can unconsciously change our mood by accidentally sitting a certain kind of way?

..........

Some readers will come back with a notion of a mind-body feedback loop, fine, no argument from me; but if these principles are so well known, why don't people do them more often?


Indeed, why don't we? Neutral stance ought to be expressly about attaining this bio-physical response for our own advantage. We don't have to know the precise physiological chemical process that triggers the demonstrated bio-chemical reaction, we only need to recognise it's utility in countering the overwhelming impact the adrenal flood that accompanies any violent encounter can impose on us. I don't think we should count on the influence such a physical display is asserted to have on an observer, but we shouldn't just dismiss it either - the attacker isn't the only observer of an altercation often enough.

This is a bit farther out on the limb of possibility, but I think the whole "method actor" reference made above has potential training utility too. Developing specific mental/physical associations to stimulate increased aggressiveness of response during training (don't just throw that number 4, 6, 1, 7 elbow combination, snap it) will almost certainly carry over when it's dark and noisy and this guy's just not going to stop ....

Needs follow up with somebody who knows much more about the realities involved, but there's something to this, I think.

One final thing; since this is all about training, via this very NSFW site (really, don't click on the link if female nudity offends you) comes awareness of this post that is quite work safe other than the letter arrangement within the URL.

Seems that most everything your high school gym teacher told you is wrong. Well, at least when it comes to all that start-of-the-class stretching.

A recent spate of studies shows that when it comes to warming up before exercising, phys ed instructors didn’t do us any favors by having us to go through a series of calf extensions, hurdler’s stretches and the like.

The latest salvo against stretching comes from a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which found that static stretching before a workout lowered runners’ endurance and made their body less efficient. While previous studies have illustrated the effects of stretching on anaerobic activities[1], this was the first one to show the effects on runners.


I think that stretching generally, and range-of-motion extension specifically, ought to be an intrinsic part of any Krav Maga training routine. It isn't "warm up", it's a fundamental contribution to our total training effort. Unlike other athletes, Krav Maga trains us for an "event" we can never warm up for; you're physically and mentally relaxed and then it's on, full-tilt-boogy! If you're lucky you might have time to take a basic foot stance, but not for much more than that.

Static stretching's limitation of performance is actually a benefit within the Krav Maga training environment, I think, as it more realistically contributes to simulating the physical stress and fatigue we experience during a violent confrontation. In any case, something further to consider before the next class session.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm 1407

Here.

How about you?

I admit to some ambivalence as regards my employer's hoplophobia, but lacking a more courageous (not to mention clear thinking) alternative immediately to hand, I console myself that working to change our culture includes continuing working myself, so ...

It's an imperfect world and I fit in disturbingly well. :)

Go take a stand on where you'll take a seat.

------

Oops, forgot to finger the chapeau: via Instapundit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Day Is This?

I know it's Saturday once I hear Alan faintly gasp, "I can't breathe ...".

Weerd Beard cums through for me again.

:)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

He Shot Me!

It happened here as part of this event and the gun was an up-scale version of one of these designed* for live fire training.

And truth be told, I was kinda expecting it to happen, but still ...

Re-Direct comes first on the list for a reason!

:)

Re-direct
Control
Attack
Take

* The pistols described here if I'm not mistaken.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Does The Future Get Here?

On last nights Fast Forward Radio from The Speculist guys, the question arose as to what development(s) qualifies as a hallmark of "the future". My off the cuff response was that the future never arrives; we always live in the now after all. Upon somewhat deeper thought, I do have a technology standard that quantifies my personal vision of "the future".

All of the potential technology we variously anticipate is dependent upon a source of electrical energy. With that universal condition in mind, my metric for arrival at "the future" is a realistically portable source of electrical energy that contains sufficient energy to power my abode and all the other devices I possess (if not all of them at the same time necessarily), other than my transportation, without need for re-fuel for at least 10 years. Think Hyperion Power Module as a model, but not necessarily a nuclear or radioactive decay process being involved. If you're a sci-fi reader, think Heinlein's Shipstone power supply.

So there you have it, I will have lived to see the future when I have the option to purchase personal energy independence on an at-least-decadal cycle.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For Stephen and Phil

Fantasy fulfilled, you can check that one off the list now. :)

Via Al Fin comes notice of a practical, and - importantly - currently license-able for public by-ways use apparently, a flying car (OK, more of a dune buggy really). As Al Fin notes, the engineering requirements seem fairly modest to modify this for a pontoon arrangement of some sort and create a true all-surface accessible vehicle.

We're gettin' there fella's.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Race To Genomic Identity

Eric Raymond has an incite-full (I pun) post up at his blog Armed and Dangerous titled A Specter Is Haunting Genetics. His principle point (I pun again) being that, as we come to more fully classify a statistically meaningful representative sample of the human population, we will almost certainly discover ... well, let him say it for himself:
(1) we will shortly have genomic-sequence information on hundreds of thousands of human beings from all over the planet, enough to build a detailed map of human genetic variation and a science of behavioral genetics. (2) We will confirm that variant alleles correlate strongly with significant measures of human ability and character, beginning with IQ and quite possibly continuing to distribution of time preference, sociability, docility, and other important traits. (3) We will discover that these same alleles correlate significantly with traditional indicia of race.

As I take his meaning to be, we will be able to identify the individual genetic variations that are presently classified by external physical appearance - in a word: race. The squabbles begin and degenerate rapidly thereafter.

In the early-to-mid 1980's I worked for the US Navy at a research facility. Along with one other man named Peter, we were the only two people within the building during the night shift we worked. The building was fairly well RF shielded so, to the limited extent talk radio existed back then, it wasn't really an option anyway. :) The job largely consisted of setting up multi-hour long sequences and the occasional crack of dawn customer requirement. IOW we talked. A lot - and about much we wouldn't ordinarily have inspiration or inclination to consider in other circumstance.

As it happens, this same general topic (the socio-political impact of genetic identifiers) was one we repeatedly considered.

Now remember, this was the '80's; Reagan was walkin' the walk, the economy was roaring back, Crick and Watson and DNA were a recurring theme in news stories of the day (much of them crime related) and the "nurture/nature" argument was much in vogue due to the prominence of the McMartin Pre-School (and other sex abuse) trials over those years. Peter's family was politically active (and significant in state politics) and he had a trained artist's sense of story, while I was a longtime reader of speculative fiction with an eclectic employment and education history; we were well equipped to apply "what if ..." to a wide range of topics. No real way for us to tell how well grounded, or even if, those thoughts were, but there you have it ... stopped clocks and all that comes quickly to mind.

We eventually settled on the creation of a personal "label" as the most direct means to overcome the history and industry that has accrued to race and eugenics-related perceptions. The idea being that, since individuals are apparently the result of some mixture of genetic inheritance and social environmental inputs, an individual identification code based on their individual genetics would be a method for refuting the opposition that seemed even then an almost certain response to such detailed knowledge of humanity. This would only work if there was a large enough sample base to make such classification statistically meaningful and there was created a social-input chart of some nature (that quantified the general characteristics of a given growth experience or influence - much in the manner that present-day dating sites do, as it turns out). This last was always the critical stumbling block since we couldn't envision a means for doing such a thing (neither of us being surnamed Berners-Lee you understand :)).

I'm hopeful that with his professional background and personal depth of interest, Eric will have a better sense of the practicality of Peter's and my early stumbling about in the night hours. If one day I become Will Brown XY-7543GT-&%76-%#$@&54A instead of XXX-YY-ZZZZ, then it becomes possible to argue that my (everyone's) genetic code isn't "racist" at all, but is an accurate measure of both my potential medical state as well as my capability generally, absent some form of intervention. Instead of sticking me in a niche, it becomes possible to quantify the trans-human fantasy onto a scale of feasibility as well as work to remove group classification from societal consideration. To the extent that humans are social animals, possession of a means to characterise each other in advance of detailed individual knowledge will remain necessary to continuation of the human condition. Having a mechanism to make such pre-judgement as individually accurate as clinically possible seems a useful alternative to the historical standard.

Or, so said all both of us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Krav, Y'all

Some days ago (OK, 10 days ago :)) Helen Smith wrote a post asking how people cope with the stress induced by the news reports and commentary we all are inundated with. I found her principal response particularly interesting:
My positive activity has been to re-read a book entitled Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault and to think about returning to the Kra Maga lessons I was taking ...

This book by Imi Sde-Or (aka: Imrich Lichtenfeld, founder of the Krav Maga system) has much to recommend it, especially as a means of insight into thinking that lead to Krav Maga, but it isn't all that clearly written without an additional source of explanation/instruction. With that in mind, I would like to recommend to the good Doctor she also read these two books as well:

KRAV MAGA The Contact Combat System Of The Israeli Defense Forces by David Kahn.

KRAV MAGA For Beginners by Darren Levine, John Whitman & Ryan Hoover.

Imi's book presents Krav Maga as the complete system he taught in an apparently holistic manner. The other two books present the material in a format based upon the latter-day belt ranking system Imi grafted onto Krav Maga to better correlate his school with other established martial systems. I find the subject matter to be more clearly presented in the hierarchical structure although it is helpful to be able to orient a given instruction in Imi's format upon occasion.

Full disclosure; I train here. East Texas Krav Maga is part of Darren Levine's Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense and fitness organisation and I'm pretty sure I trained with Darren Levine himself on at least a few occasions (as part of a large class in 1990/91 when I still lived in the Los Angeles area).

I'm hopeful that Dr. Helen will be willing to engage in a somewhat wide-ranging discussion of issues and questions that relate to Krav Maga directly as well as to its place in society at large, perhaps as a series of post-and-response on our respective blogs. With that in mind, one of the issues I think I see occurring is formation of a type of schism within the ranks of Krav Maga practitioners. My impression (largely from David Kahn's books as well as Krav Maga websites like this one) is that there is some dispute regarding the type as well as methodology of the instruction being variously offered at Krav Maga International (centered in Israel) schools and Krav Maga Worldwide or Alliance schools (centered in the US). I'm quite sure that at least some of this is an unintended consequence of marketing efforts within the various school organisations. I'm also certain that some of it is a fundamental dispute.

This KMW school is in Knoxville, but it is unclear to me which tradition Dr. Helen trained in; International, Worldwide or Alliance. What I'm especially hopeful she can offer informed insight into is the human psychology of combat training, both the effects upon the individual as well as upon the system itself (how much does the psychological trauma associated with combat and its after effects influence the form and content of the course of instruction for civilians/military and the in-between circumstance of police as example). Since Dr. Helen is also a shooter, I look forward to her observations and insights into that aspect of the Krav Maga experience as well. While I don't share her particular health concerns, I have my own and hope to share thoughts on the fitness benefits of Krav Maga as opposed (or perhaps better, as well as) to other techniques.

What I'm not interested in is some sort of comparative analysis or politicization of the various viewpoints within KM. It is useful to understand what those are and the history behind them (if only to better understand the issues that lead up to their development), but my interest is in better understanding the capabilities of KM and gaining a more complete understanding of the system.

I will be writing more on this topic in future, but for the moment await the doctor's response.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Cause Purty Girls Poot

That's the reason Why Beauties Get Cheated On Big Time.

Those of us who inherit "beauty" from our parents aren't especially different from the rest of us (that would include me, just for the record). Which means that their failure(s) to live up to our (initial and generally quite shallow) expectations inevitably leads to disappointment. Disappointment in ourselves, disappointment of our fantasies ... it's hard to see beyond the personae we all project and beautiful people can't avoid (without being at least a little disgusting). People make assumptions based upon their own experience of life, some of which are as silly-seeming as how another looks. How much more so for people who's occupation is much about their appearance, their looks?

Sandra Bullock's marriage ending as it appears to have is the example offered above, and makes clear just how complex all this love and marriage business is in practice. Jesse James gets no sympathy from serial divorcee me, but I like to think his now-infamous display of human frailty is at least understandable. Sandy Bullock (aka Mrs. James-as-was) isn't Sandra Bullock, movie star who thanks her husband for his support in her Academy Award acceptance speech. Waking up next to the one and getting breakfast going while jockeying around the morning bathroom routine is hard to assimilate with the demands imposed by the other's requirements.

While the circumstances confronted by a movie star and his/her spouse and family aren't exactly the norm, all of us face the same trials and temptations if to different degree and scrutiny. Brad Pitt has morning breath and, yes, Sandra Bullock occasionally poots. And we all disappoint, if not quite so publicly. Maybe that's the "secret" of marital success; accept the failings of those we most trust and share ourselves with ... perhaps most especially our own, while working to avoid actually committing as many as we can.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Desperately Seeking Context

Via Instapundit comes notice of a prime example of the headline writers art. Do appreciate the somewhat-less-than subtle avoidance of blatant editorializing by the no-doubt deliberate lack of any "Well ...".

There are standards to be maintained after all. Usually in the Evening over there.

In the US national context Prof. Reynolds noted, I recommend waiting until early December this year when the potential for a much increased bag is likely. Much like politics itself, bragging rights are very much a numbers game, don'cha know.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Man O Man, O

Updated 5/7/10 below.

When unexpectedly amidst the minefield, straightforward seems as good a path as any. From last Friday's edition of the Democrat-leaning Hill Buzz comes the following passage from an article by-lined "hillbuzz" about the recent re-airing of a possible romantic relationship between Barack Obama and Vera Baker:
That’s ridiculous.

Baker works for Burris because she’s damn good at what she does, is incredibly bright, and Baker’s well-connected with Burris’ team in Chicago. And, we repeat, she did not have an affair with Obama

This is all really suspicious, though, because during the campaign we truly believe the Obama team pushed the Baker affair story because they wanted people not to talk about Obama’s gay relationships.

Larry Sinclair, Reggie Jones, Kal Penn, Donald Young, nameless men at Man’s Country. You name it.

Who’s pushing the Baker business now, and why? Is there a himbo eruption coming for the White House, so they want to preemptively start rumors the current president is such a stud he’s bedding down a woman like Baker?

Could this have anything to do with the fact that, surreally, even people like Maureen Dowd have been hinting at a sexual relationship between Obama and his “basketball buddy” and “body man” Reggie Love…or is it linked to Kal Penn’s firing?

Is Penn threatening to talk?

Was he really robbed at gunpoint coincidentally in Dupont Circle, or was someone sending Penn a message not to talk about what went on with Obama?

It wouldn’t be the first time a man romantically linked to this president found himself in front of the business end of the gun.

Curiouser and curiouser.


As it happens, I don't particularly care if Our Man O is homo or phobe so long as he keeps it private and out of his politics. What pegs my Oh-Shit-O-Meter in the present example is that neither appears to be the case. Mr. Obama ran for office as a sincere (need I say hetero?) married man, with two kids, and now a dog, and all the standard trappings of familial bliss normally associated with all that. Who openly and matter of factly courted the homosexual community's vote and to whom promises were made and - not uniquely, sad to say - ultimately broken. As for the rest, there's simply no publicly available evidence to support speculation regarding the chain of events involving actor Kal Penn beyond their quite-possibly coincidental timing, but should that change then the apparent willingness to openly resort to violence must be publicly considered as well (an act of private thuggery or a corruption of official agency?).

For now, what we have is a decidedly Democratic Party-supporting publication openly speculating about a potential "himbo eruption" being preempted by the White House, and nobody else in the press (I'm looking at you Drudge) has anything to say about such a thing?

I thought Don't Ask Don't Tell was an unpopular policy.

h/t to James Hudnall's The Hud blog

5/7/10 Update: OK, maybe I was a little hasty describing Hill Buzz as "Democratic Party-supporting" above, see here for example.
We’ve been seeing a lot of people, across a wide spectrum, who consistently feel the current White House and Socialist-Democrats in office nationwide will manufacture a crisis that allows Obama to declare martial law and suspend November’s elections, declaring himself Lightbringer and, essentially, Pharaoh.

We don’t believe this will happen, because we think the slumbering giant of the American spirit is already waking from its nap. Socialist-Democrats and the White House don’t realize it yet, and the MSM is too busy running spin operations to pick up on it, but Democrats are toast. Party-ending toast. They went too far in the Golden Age of Hope and Change. People like us, who were lifelong partisan Democrats now hate the Democrat Party and work hard every day to do everything possible to take the DNC down, bankrupt it financially, and salt its ruins like vanquished Carthage.


[My Bold]

OK then! And Good Luck with all that, too.

Just to reiterate; my interest in all this has more to do with the determined lack of interest the media generally has demonstrated in the allegation raised by Hill Buzz rather than the nature of the allegation itself. What is of most concern to me is the degree and apparent fundamental nature of lie and distortion Barack Obama (and those who enable him) have consistently displayed throughout his public life. Disturbing behavior in any public figure, such conduct is potentially catastrophic for the entire country when performed by the President of the United States and well beyond the more-than-a-little-hyperbolic nostrum, "... lies, damned lies and politics".

Sorry for the inadvertent slander boys; mea culpa and all that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Minds (snicker! :))

Via Instapundit comes notice of Jonah Goldberg's latest contribution to Commentary Magazine in which he examines the nature and degree of Barack Obama's putative socialism.

Ahem!

Obviously, Mr. Goldberg has gone into considerably more depth and provides much greater detail, but he gets paid to do all that . Nonetheless, we arrive at similar enough conclusions that I find myself sort of surprised.

I know, even a stopped clock gets it right twice a day. Allow me my moment, please.

Good one, Jonah; too bad about that slow editorial cycle. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Does This Herring Smelt High To You?

The following is copied entire from the comments to this post at Anthony Watts' site Watts Up With That.

Hanfluss Janesbaer

Reykjavik: 20th April 2010

GEOTHERMAL COMPANY LINKED TO ERUPTION GROUNDING FLIGHTS

By Gunnar Skoleskar in Reykjavik and additional reporting from Hanfluss Janesbaer in Amsterdam

In a new twist to the ongoing eruption of Iceland’s Mount Ejafjallajoekull, spreading volcanic ash and dust across Europe and grounding thousands of flights, investigations into the activities of the energy consultancy, Icelandic Geothermal have revealed massive short selling of airline stocks, a leading airline organization has revealed.

The Amsterdam based Center for Airline Carbon Emissions (CACE) are investigating claims that Mr. Olaf Selfoss Olafson, founder of the Reykjavik (RSX) listed technology company, sold substantial holdings in several European airlines just weeks before the eruption.

Olafson’s company, a geo-thermal consultancy, developing technology to harness volcanic lava flows for water heating and steam turbine production has been linked to the eruption, following a several month undercover CACE investigation trailing the activities of Icelandic Geothermal, acquiring incriminating evidence on the way.

“We know that these guys were involved in the eruption” Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg, in charge of the CACE investigation told us. “Our team of analysts have been following the company’s activities after intelligence analysts intercepted their plans and contacted us.”

“They hired drilling machines to bore into the area where the volcano erupted, a couple of months ago, and we have video-footage of the lowering of large objects into the bore holes.”

When asked as to what these large objects could be, Schnellerflugzoeg was vague. “We have a good idea what it may be, and we know that it is a catalyst to volcanic eruptions,” he told reporters.

“The whole point was to help kill the airline industry and prove that global warming was in part due to aircraft emissions,” Schnellerflugzoeg said. “With aviation grounded, scientists would be able to gather evidence of a drop in mean temperatures and doctor the figures, showing perhaps as much as a 2 degrees centigrade drop.”

“It’s too early to say whether it may be linked to a wider conspiracy,” he continued, “but we are determined to get to the bottom of this exploding volcano.”

The fall-out could be sulphurous if there is any evidence linking the climate change lobby to the eruption, already reeling from criticism for providing information leading scientists to predict the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035. “If the climate change lobby is in any way linked to this volcanic eruption, it could be very damaging.” Professor David Sonnenbaum a climate specialist at the University of Berlin told us.

A spokesperson for Icelandic Geothermal denied any involvement in the eruption or the sale of any airline stocks. “We categorically deny any involvement in the eruption of the volcano,” Lars Grindavic Magnusson, CEO of the company told reporters at a press conference in Reykjavik on Monday.

Analysis of trades on European Stock Markets, including London, Paris and Frankfurt seems to indicate a substantial turn-over of stock in major airlines in the first week of April, a source close to the CACE investigation told the paper.

“There’s activity which potentially links the company to the eruption” Verloke Shomes, a senior investigator told our reporter in Amsterdam. “We are investigating a surge of buying activity on the markets on Friday, where a Cayman Islands holding company appears to have bought a lot of stock in publicly listed European carriers at bargain basement prices.”

The eruption has caused serious disruption to global air-traffic, grounding more than 17,000 flights daily and preventing transit across European airspace, potentially affecting more than 1.7 million travellers a day.


There are more kinks to this story than a San Francisco bathhouse.

Earlier in the same comment thread, this little factoid was let plop:

The BBC reports that there is ‘zero tolerance’ on ash.

” ‘No tolerance’ rule for volcanic ash”:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8629609.stm

[Quote] “Over the weekend, [our observations] have detected dust in the atmosphere and on the ground,” the Met Office said on its website.

“A research aircraft has recently encountered dust during its flight, albeit in fairly low concentrations.”

And, no matter how low the concentration, aviation authorities will not reinstate normal control over airspace while the ash cloud is still there.

A spokesperson from from Nats, the UK’s air traffic control authority, told BBC News that there was “no threshold” for concentrations at which volcanic ash was acceptable…Whether to open or close airspace is a decision for national aviation authorities, but all European nations abide by the rules set by ICAO, which recommends implementing a no-fly zone if volcanic ash is detectable in airspace. [end quote]


Can't imagine the Boxheads are going to knuckle under to the verdamnt Englanders for very much longer on this one. No acceptable minimum standard of particulate size or cloud density? So in other words, a fine enough measuring device ensures no further aviation anywhere in Euro airspace ever again, since some quantity of volcanic ash is to be found at some altitude in the atmosphere regardless of (putative :)) Icelandic shenanigans (an observation made - if somewhat less inflammatorally - by the original commenter as well).

I'm so glad I got to see the place while it was still recognisably sane.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On The Question Of Our Man O

Alan, who blogs at Snarky Bytes and initiates (no one controls :)) the semi-weekly webcast Vicious Circle, writes regarding the political philosophy that best describes Our Esteemed President. While I tend to agree with Alan's broader strokes, I find room for distinction in the details.

The problem with labeling this particular Donkey is that none of the historical titles/epithets makes for a particularly well-fitted tail.

BHO mostly seems to abide by American Progressive ideology, but only inconsistently applies either classical Socialist or Fascist policy. I think he is better labeled as a “Supra-Nationalist”; one who seeks to end any specific nation (that would be ours for those not paying attention) from any ability to violently dominate other nations. Thereby, creating an international diplomatic environment within which nations endlessly seek alliance to attain temporary eminence on varied positions of interest; domination via mutual acclimation, if you will. Progressive ideology as it has developed over the last century and more (depending upon which of our early intellectual Euro-suckup's domestic efforts you happen to think historically influential - circa 1880's seems a commonly accepted decade) here in the US (which is basically Socialism sans any explicit political party association) suffers the same conceptual failure as any other manifestation of that general belief structure (Marxism being international in scope, Fascism being explicitly nationalist oriented, Maoism being expressly a cult of personality); that all adherents will pursue ideological standards, even at the expense of personal advantage ( "… to each according to his needs" not desires). Recorded human history consists almost exclusively of examples of the failure to comply with this most fundamental of socialist tenets, such that only determined adherence to blind faith can account for anyone's continued belief in this fantasy-as-ideology (which does rather call into question the motives of it's modern proselytizers).

If you ever fancy a bit of cage-rattling that’s also usefully instructive, try making this same argument to S/F author Eric Flint* (muchly to be found at the Baen Books website and forum - aka: Baen's Bar) and experience the tsunami of well-practiced ostentation and obfuscation that the true believer can generate in response for yourself. As displays of faith go – and that qualifier will get the ball rolling nicely – it’s not quite unsurpassed (the Roman Catholic church brooks few contenders for the All-World Ostentation title), but very creditable from a one-man band. When he can be taunted into doing so (this is not a difficult undertaking unless Eric is immediately involved in a story he's working on), evangelicals of any other flavor of instantiation can be found feverishly taking notes in the background for their on-going education and inspiration. :)

As for Our Man O, I think our best hope may come down to the question of who can be made to eat the coldest serving of revenge; outlive all his works and make his efforts be for naught, or the universal alternative. I'm rarely all that hopeful, but I find myself developing a growing tolerance to cold lately.

Oh, and Vicious Circle ought to be on everyone's regular listening rotation; the opportunity for self-abasement is rarely resisted by any of the participants.

*an open and accomplished adherent of the Trotskyite blend of cant.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bumped (and edited)

Yo, Tamara! Does the Volk-meister happen to do video also?

----------

[Fade In]

An unoccupied stage with dark floors and lighter-colored walls, sparsely decorated to be indicative of a corner in an apartment or house living room.

Off camera, a series of men's and women's voices are heard saying a variety of legitimate TEA Party issues; excess taxes, unfunded government spending, unresponsive political representatives, etc. Interspersed with each issue statement is a series of crowd still photos from various TEA Party gatherings in the US and UK. Each photo should be identified as to place and date and each should ideally show an increase in crowd size from the previous picture.

Enter from stage right a man dressed in typical Brooks Bros. 2-piece business suit, tie slightly loosened, holding a plastic bottle of Lipton's brand Diet Iced Tea. He looks out stage center-to-right as if looking over a gathered crowd. Man glances stage left as another man, dressed in typical English "country squire" attire strolls up holding a cup and saucer in his hands. Second man nods politely to the first and also looks off into the middle distance stage right.

First man nods politely back and inquires in a standard mid-American accent: "Tea?", while slightly extending his bottled drink toward the second man.

Second man makes a small lifting gesture with his cup and saucer and replies in a broad English accent: "Indeed."

The two each take a small sip from their respective drink container and return to looking off into the middle distance slightly stage right. The scene dissolves to a blank screen with the boldly lettered word "FREEDOM" across the screen, with "It's THE Human Right" written in slightly less bold print immediately below.

[Fade Out]


There's your TEA Party message.

----------

I got more, too, should anyone be interested.

Reasonable rates.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How Do We Get There From Here?

Stephen Gordon has a post up at The Speculist that begins:

Forbes has published an excellent series of articles grouped together as "Your Life in 2020." You'll want to read the whole series - its excellent.


The Forbes link Stephen provides is here. Stephen then goes on to focus attention on one article in particular having to do with the likely-seeming potential for disruption in the employment model familiar to modern humans in a technological society.

It's good to see this matter of concern becoming a mainstream topic. The tendency is to focus attention upon the immediate issue or objective; 2010 elections in the US and likely the UK, taxes and employment concerns, etc. But allowing those to occupy our sole attention guarantees that issues which might be resolved otherwise are left until they reach crisis proportions before we attempt to confront them.

Getting any politician (of any ideological bent) to fore go a short term political advantage in pursuit of a multi-electoral cycle solution requires either an overwhelmingly broad political base focused upon the long-term goal or an extraordinary external threat that forces pursuit of the objective. More frequently we humans end up inflicting an internal threat upon ourselves (Luddites, civil wars and revolutions, prohibition(s), etc) and ignore the opportunity in favor of seeking advantage over one another instead.

Stephen Gordon again:

But the more I think about it, it seems obvious that we are destined to live through an awkward adolescence. The transition from the old human-powered industrial model to a robotics/AI-powered model is probably going to be rough.


Given that the industrial model is predicated on centralised control over the individual and the robotics/AI model stipulates a maximisation of individual expression, I don't believe we have yet begun to plumb the roughness our awkwardness is going to inflict. In his Future History novels, Robert A. Heinlein stipulated a period of extreme experience in human society and called it "the crazy years". I loved his stories because RAH was such an optimist.

I don't think we're going to actually get that lucky.

Know what today is?

Fort Sumter fired on by Confederate batteries -- the conflict begins.

From an interesting resource fairly new to me, Naval History Blog is sponsored by the US Naval Institute - Naval History & Heritage Command. Much of history is recorded from a political or land-oriented military perspective. It's proving educational to be able to correlate events and personages from the seaborne aspect.

Strongly recommended.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A: Yes, they are. So what?

Glenn Reynolds posts the question, "ARE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS obsolete?", which links to this article at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site by pseudonymous author "Uncommon Knowledge" which includes a YouTube video of John Arquilla and Victor Davis Hansen discussing the topic.

If you want to watch a point being stretched all out of context, follow the links above.

What surprises me is that neither man seems willing to acknowledge the practical irrelevance inherent to the contention. The modern concept of such a vessel is easily 80 years old now, and for all of the improvements and modifications made over those decades ship construction has been vastly outpaced by anti-ship weapon construction. All of which ignores the fundamental fallacy of the argument.

Obsolescence does not equate to lack of capability.

I routinely carry a firearm that was designed over a century ago that fires a caliber of equal obsolescence. That said, I sincerely doubt either of the two gentlemen in the video would willingly stand before the muzzle of my 1911 .45acp Colt Commander (nor would I happily see them - or anyone else - do so, either). The point being that simple age isn't a reasonable measure of something's continued usefulness.

One aspect I think underacknowledged in all this; people say "aircraft carrier" and think really big boat when the reality is better stated as "really adaptive system" instead. All US carriers have both direct- as well as indirect-fire weapons in addition to the air wing, of course. In addition, no carrier ever operates alone no matter what you think you see (or more critically, don't see). The reason the US Navy has made carriers so successful is because the US has the fleet necessary to make a Carrier Battle Group dominate. No other country can make this claim so substantively.

Which leads to my other point; the comprehensive nature of US naval fleets is what permits reliable performance from our individual sea-going assets. Navies are not sea-going Armies. Navies are broken down into two main categories, fleets and auxiliaries. Auxiliaries exist to augment fleet requirements on an (usually anticipated unless from battle loses) as-required basis. A fleet is assigned to a region and is responsible for appropriate response to whatever arises within that area from the fleet assets on hand. Tsunami, earthquake, invasion (however land-locked the target country), a US Navy fleet has the assets to take on the mission. Implicit to the linked-to discussion was the premise, can the US reduce the size of it's navy? My answer is that any reduction in the size of individual vessels or aircraft must not result in a reduction in US naval fleet capabilities. With that caveat satisfied, the limits become technology dependant.

Technology advances, of course, and carriers may well be approaching the end of their dominance in their present iteration. A transition to a different hull form structure and air wing component requirement(s) seems almost certain within another decade or so. As well, new direct and indirect-fire weapons all impact how such vessels will continue to adapt to mission requirements (as will the crew members themselves like-as-not).

And as a measure of technology they will always be at least somewhat obsolete. Feel free to stand in their path too. Once, anyway.

Monday, March 29, 2010

PSA



Ounce of prevention and all that.

As a side note, yours truly may take part in the capacity of "target" if there is sufficient demand.

(click on image for larger)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Commercial I'd Like To See

[Fade In]

An unoccupied stage with dark floors and lighter-colored walls, sparsely decorated to be indicative of a corner in an apartment or house living room.

Off camera, a series of men's and women's voices are heard saying a variety of legitimate TEA Party issues; excess taxes, unfunded government spending, unresponsive political representatives, etc.

Enter from stage right a man dressed in typical Brooks Bros. 2-piece business suit, tie slightly loosened, holding a plastic bottle of Lipton's brand Diet Iced Tea. He looks out stage center-to-right as if looking over a gathered crowd. Man glances stage left as another man, dressed in typical English "country squire" attire strolls up holding a cup and saucer in his hands. Second man nods politely to the first and also looks off into the middle distance stage right.

First man nods politely back and inquires in a standard mid-American accent: "Tea?", while slightly extending his bottled drink toward the second man.

Second man makes a small lifting gesture with his cup and saucer and replies in a broad English accent: "Indeed."

The two each take a small sip from their respective drink container and return to looking off into the middle distance slightly stage right. The scene dissolves to a blank screen with the boldly lettered word "FREEDOM" across the screen, with "It's THE Human Right" written in slightly less bold print immediately below.


[Fade Out]

There's your TEA Party message.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I hate this time of year

It must be the lack of sunlight. Or something. It doesn't really feel like depression per se, but nothing seems to overcome the lethargy for more than a few minutes at a time.

I'll get past this soon enough.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Own's The Dead?

Or, perhaps more fully phrased as; can the dead retain "rights"?

In comments to this film review of the then-recently released James Cameron film Avatar by Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon, I said in part:

I forget who's scifi story I read it in (lo, these many years ago now), but the idea put forth was that technology had developed to the point that it allowed then-living actors to emulate long dead performers (who already had an established marquee value) in new on-screen entertainment productions. For the life of me, I can't see how the technology behind Avatar wouldn't allow this to actually occur now. Mind you, I'm not looking forward to watching "John Wayne" and a 13 y/o "Brooke Shields" as they star in the new production Rio Blue Lagoon, but I don't doubt someone in Hollywierd will try that very thing some day too soon. Or worse.

The possibilities are a bit frightening actually, given the degree to which people's experience has trained them to associate a broadcast image with the person being depicted. If someone used the Avatar technology to film an actor killing a person, and the crime was actually committed, what with all the physical evidence of a murder having occured, could you prove that wasn't actually you in the video of the killing posted on You Tube? Or the President or the Pope, as the case may be? The possibilities are ... interesting, aren't they?


While trying to be somewhat provocative yet mindful of courtesy on another's blog page, I may have mis-served my objective.

Expanding upon my initial (and thankfully still hypothetical as of yet) example, what are the property rights (amongst other) complications deriving from the example I offered above? Imagine if you will, an explicitly pornographic "entertainment" (pre-supposing that actual film and present-technology digital media aren't the only distribution possibilities) depicting the physical image of John Wayne from the motion picture Rio Bravo in a graphic display of sexual congress (or, in more sailorly terms: a two-fisted three-holer) with the film image of the then-13 y/o Brooke Shields from the motion picture Pretty Baby combined with her performance two years later in The Blue Lagoon, giving rise to my speculative title; "Rio Blue Lagoon".

Let me take just a moment to acknowledge both that, not only is the ever-lovely Brooke not dead yet, Mrs. Henchy is eminently capable of defending her own interests. In the present circumstance, what she provides is the context for a rare alignment of interests (mine); speculation on the possible ramifications of future developments, individual rights, strategy and smokin' hot babes. Not necessarily in that order of precedence.

Returning to Mr. Cameron's technical triumph (and I don't believe it can honestly be described as anything less), there do seem to be a number of unintended consequences to his quest for the 2.5 billion dollar gross. The possibility I raised first on The Speculist has now been considered by none other than Brian Wang of the Lifeboat Foundation and principal author of the Next Big Future blog, where-in he also notes the less light-hearted possibilities:

"There is also the increased possibility of fake news interviews. The image of President Obama could be made to say or do anything. Similarly for Osama bin Laden."

Drawing inspiration from the recent electoral event in Massachusetts, consider the following:

Dressed in casual attire, Senatorial candidate Scott Brown is seen leaning against a parked pick-up truck's rear fender, speaking into the camera. While he does so, the nude figure of Martha Coakley is seen in the near background entering into the sex act with an heroically priapic Sen. Edward Kennedy while he rests his buttocks against a low bridge railing.

It almost doesn't matter what verbal content is conveyed by such a video appearing on YouTube, Vimeo and all the rest of the on-line outlets available, the visual one is the message. The image technology displayed in Avatar makes this type of moving image's falsehood essentially undetectable to all but the most in-depth examination of the process by which it was created, I believe (those with actual detailed knowledge of the technology's limitations are encouraged to step in here - all I've got is how it has been publicly characterised to this point).

Possibly even more inimical is that precisely the same "performance" could be created by supporters of either of the two actual Senatorial candidates - to equal effect. Dueling douche-baggery, if you will.

Mr. Brown's (either of us actually, but "the other" is most pertinent to this discussion, he selflessly asserts :)) history of apparent casualness regarding personal nudity plays into such an accusation of attacking an opponent in this fashion. Similarly, the predictable response of "shocked" "violation", "virtual rape" and similar vociferous pronouncements from the Coakley camp.

All of which distract from my question today: what (if any) rights are retained by Mr. Kennedy, or his estate, in such a now-plausible scenario in light of Mr. Cameron's visually stunning achievement?

Understand, all of the "actors" in the foregoing little (and also thankfully still hypothetical) drama would be performed by real, living people who's images were subsequently re-worked with Avatar-type technology to seamlessly appear as presented above. The two candidates at least would still have the option to pursue recourse under existing laws governing electoral practices if in no other venue. Mr. Kennedy isn't afforded that opportunity any longer and I'm unclear on what alternative option might plausably be pursued, and by which "offended" parties, under any existing US legal construct (leaving for the moment the more direct time-honored methodology that modern social and legal institutions frown upon).

The actors could claim legal innocence plausibly enough. If the post-production work was done outside US legal jurisdiction, I'm not sure any recourse via the courts would be possible under current legal codes.

For myself, I think the concept of property extending to one's image is well-enough established that a straight-forward extension of that concept into perpetuity as the default legal standard doesn't seem that contorted. Such a legal position allows for added revenue possibilities for individuals as well as those who also hold more limited rights to someone's visual image, along with further complication of estate planning, but these are details that markets are well demonstrated to sort out given a sufficiently solid demarcation within which to do so.

Any thoughts? Mrs. Henchy per chance? :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Training Aid

There has been some discussion recently about a variety of .22lr alternatives to center-fire caliber weapons (mostly in pistol formats, but rifle too). Like most of my shooting confreres, I've been looking at what seemed to best meet my financial and technical limitations.

I went with this option today.

First, what this isn't. It isn't an exact copy of the John Browning M1911, principally in that it has a fixed barrel and there is no half-cock function in the trigger design. It feels quite close to my Taurus PT 1911 in weight and the physical silhouette is near-identical, but the absence of any sort of grip safety makes an immediately obvious distinction between them from the shooters perspective. Quoting from the owner's document:

"Front Sight - The front sight of your "standard model" 1911-22 is a fixed sight and has been designed to allow extra material so that it can be "filed" to adjust for the individual shooter one time. Once the front sight has been filed to proper adjustment, the sight can be blued with a "Cold Blue" product ... Without adjustment, your new 1911-22 handgun will typically shoot 2" - 4" low at 25 yards."

Care needs be taken while seating a fresh magazine; the spring tension on the slide is nothing like as strong as that in a 9mm or .45 and the slide will easily jar loose and chamber a round inadvertently if a typically firm slap of the heel of the hand to the bottom of the magazine is employed.

Finally, do not dry fire this weapon. Ever! Doing so will result in the firing pin striking the upper edge of the breach surface causing a burr to form that prevents proper seating of a round and FtE. Ask me how I know.

That all said, I am initially quite pleased with the gun. It fits into my selection of holsters quite well and "points" quite naturally. I still need to do further work on the front sight (some care needed here; there's no putting metal back on once it's filed off :)) and I suspect the lack of any attachment feature for "tactical" sights n' lites will be thought a disadvantage by some. If, however, like me your principal intent is to practice draw and first-shot accuracy for both dominant- and weak-hand scenarios, then the ~$280 asking price for this gun is favorably comparable to that asked for conversion kits. Since this is a new model firearm (second half 2009), the lack of any accessories offered by the company (like additional magazines beyond the one included) is something I have already contacted the manufacturer about.

For it's limited intended purpose, I think I will be quite satisfied. More to follow, as they say. And, if it need be said, I bought the gun on my own volition; no inducement from the manufacturer has been offered in exchange for the foregoing commentary.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Damned Global Warming

Here's something to look forward to:

Temperatures dropped into the upper teens and lower 20s this morning and even with abundant sunshine this afternoon, they will struggle to reach the lower to middle 40s. Tomorrow we will see increasing clouds with a chance of rain late in the day with highs reaching the upper 40s.

Things begin to get interesting tomorrow night. As bitterly cold moves in, rain could change to snow/sleet/or even some freezing rain before ending. Right now we are not expecting any accumulation as most of the moisture should be off to our east. During the first half of our Thursday we could see a few snow flurries as the arctic air moves in...but the big story will be the cold. Temperatures Thursday afternoon will drop into the lower to mid 20s with wind chill temperatures near zero at times. Wind chills could be quite dangerous through the day on Friday as NW to N winds continue to blow.

The coldest temperatures we have seen in nearly 14 years will greet us Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings as lows bottom out in the middle, possibly lower teens.
[local ABC affiliate KLTV]

Friday's projected high? 29F

I live in the South, dammit, the land of cotton not ice floes! Now, where'd I put that pea coat? Good thing I bought myself one of these for Christmas, eh?

Monday, January 4, 2010

UPS = Delivery FAIL

I ordered an item last week and the vendor uses UPS. Which is fine as far as that goes, but there seems to have been a problem completing the delivery this time.

For whatever reason, my apartment number was left off the shipping address. The UPS tracking web page notes an exception to the delivery schedule but doesn't provide a workable mechanism for the receiver (the individual most likely to be tracking a shipment, I would think) to correct the problem. What I really want to avoid is having my purchase returned to the company I bought it from (which is UPS' default option after 3 failed deliveries). I can find no means of contacting UPS about this without an InfoNotice number (the number on the slip they leave on your door when there's no-one to receive the delivery) which I don't have because UPS can't deliver my package without knowing which apartment I live in to leave the InfoNotice slip at (or possibly even just go ahead and deliver my package). The old Catch 22; you can't do what you need to because they can't leave you the necessary for you to do ...

I really don't want to take time off from work just so I can hunt up their local office and go down there in person.

Sort of defeats the purpose of shipping with them in the first place, doesn't it?

Update 1/5/10: Credit where due; UPS persevered, solved the problem and made delivery only one day later than scheduled. I still think they ought to review their customer support set up, but they got it right in the end so "well done" for that.

Break Time's Over (again)

Everybody back on your heads!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turse NDT Review

So, I asked Tam if my Christmas present to myself was an example of what she had earlier called a "turse" - a contraction of tactical purse. Leaving for another day the distinction between "purse" and "handbag", let me point out that this example of the product type is probably best described as a shoulder bag, since there is no other provision made for a means to conveniently carry it except by the shoulder strap itself (there is a velcro closure loop permanently sewn to the body-side of the bag, which I presume is intended to serve as a belt loop to keep the bag in place during episodes of physical exertion - climbing, riding a motorcycle, etc). I got the bag from Cheaper Than Dirt across the state from me over in Fort Worth.

I would like to make special note that I ordered the bag (along with several other items) on-line on the 23rd of December. FedEx was banging on my front door the following afternoon, so "well done all around" there.

Let's see, other disclaimers or initial observations? I bought the black colored bag and the woven nylon material is decidedly not "fashionable"; it is extremely durable however and a good deal of care seems to have been taken to make sure the material was cut to the pattern dimensions. The fit and overall appearance seems quite good to me given the limitations imposed by the material and fundamental design criteria. There are a number of questionably located loops on the bag, but since they also provide reinforcement of the joints and seams I won't use them as appears intended but have no real objection otherwise. Finally, there is no provision for the "handedness" of the carrier. The bag is laid out to be worn over the right hip. Leapers lists this as a new product so there may be plans for future model variants, but no information to that effect is mentioned at their site. As Tam commented, the price seems quite reasonable as well.

Let me begin the actual review by acknowledging that this product is not a purpose-built handgun concealed-carry platform. Rather, it is a compromise between several potential applications, among which the requirements for toting a pistol in a less-than-obvious manner are included. The interior dimensions of the central compartment are: 8.5"w x 4" thick x 9.5"d (+3.5" of material in the draw flap closure). Also covered by the primary buckle closure is an anterior pocket internally measuring 6"w x 7"d featuring a zipper that extends at least halfway down the side allowing extreme accessibility to the contents.

Forward of the main compartment is another pouch (the only one with a dual-slider zipper, which also extends at least halfway down the side of the compartment) measuring 3"w x 6"d, while aft is a drink bottle pouch with it's drawstring closure (intended to hold the container secure, not actually close the pouch) which features a grommet in the bottom material to allow drainage/ventilation of spillage.

Finally, the interior-most compartment is a wide zippered opening (at fully open measuring 8.5" max) with an interior width at least 1.5" more. The pocket's interior depth is 9" and there are two velcro strips sewn in to the interior-most side of the pouch as well. Judging by the added padding sewn on to the body-facing side of the bag, I believe the intention is to provide a means of temporarily mounting a holster to the rear of the compartment and at least one spare magazine holder to the fore-end (I suspect that a revolver speed loader would be better accommodated in the forward-most zippered compartment mentioned earlier). I tried both my Colt Commander and Taraus PT 1911 and both fit quite comfortably (I already own a detachable velcro'd holster from a FAG bag) (I've got an assortment of 1911 magazine belt pouches; I'll look into cutting one down and gluing the other half of the velcro onto it and see how that works one of these days).

The shoulder strap is a full 2" wide with closure buckles that, while ballistic plastic, are quite stout in construction. One minor annoyance is the shoulder pad itself has no provision to be fixed in place once a strap length has been adjusted (I keep having to re-adjust the damn pad as it won't stay in place). Also, and as I commented earlier, there are a number of external loops that don't seem particularly useful/desirable in a heavily trafficked locale (they might prove extremely useful in a rural or more remote setting - camping or the like say), as well as a couple of spring-loaded hooks for key rings and such. Since I don't like clipping a pocket knife to the seam of my trousers pockets, I don't see the utility of hanging a knife out in the open myself. YMMV as they say.

In closing, and on short acquaintance, I recommend this product to anyone looking for an alternative pistol carry option or who simply has an interest in a well-constructed, convenient and relatively commodious day pack. I'll have to check first, but I'm thinking my daughter (or more likely SiL) might find one of these useful for baby related items once my new grandson moves out of his current lodging this March or early April. :)

Hope this review proves helpful and the seemingly obligatory FTC disclaimer follows: the foregoing is an unsolicited product review of an item(s) I purchased on my own initiative. No inducement or remuneration was offered or solicited for my writing this review (although such would not go unconsidered should they subsequently be offered :)).

PS: Tam, mine cost 8 bux, but thanks for this, it was really helpful. I told you you will always have a place in my life. :)