Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just Bad Strategy

Via Say Uncle comes notice of recent events in Houston (actually, the north-west outskirts of the city).
The mission was supposed to be a textbook “controlled delivery” — a routine trap by law enforcement officers using a secret operative posing as a truck driver to bust drug traffickers when their narcotics are delivered to a rendezvous point.

Instead, things spun out of control. Shortly before the marijuana delivery was to be made Monday, three SUVs carrying alleged Zetas Cartel gunmen seemingly came out of nowhere and cut off the tanker truck as it rumbled through northwestern Harris County ...

Leaving for another time the whole issue of structuring a war so as to inflict the greatest amount of damage upon your own territory and people, let's focus our attention on what is reported in the Houston Chronicle story linked above and some of the known behavior of the participants mentioned there-in.

Skipping right past the obvious willingness of US law enforcement officers to resort to apparently unrestricted rules of engagement as regards their own firearms, not to mention their shameless willingness to place a non-LEO citizen in such an obvious high profile target position, we have self-identified Mexican national criminal gang members operating within the US just as they are accustomed to doing in Mexico.

So let's look at that for a moment. Both of the major gangs operating in N. Mexico routinely target law enforcement personnel (and their families) who display even the slightest willingness to oppose their activities. The newspaper makes a good effort to clearly identify as many of the cops (or at the least their agency) involved in this incident as could be fit into the story.

How long can we expect to wait for the news report on the execution of any of these officers and/or their family members by other elements of the Zetas as is that group's long established practice?

What might the 1st Amendment consequences be throughout the United States as a result of such an obvious occurrence?

What is the likelihood of such an organisation (Zetas) being willing to spread cash around to politicians and senior cops (pardon the redundancy) so as to not overload their limited personnel's ability to inflict damage on an enemy without interfering with "business"?

Any "strategy" that doesn't clearly articulate both recognition of obvious problems like these as well as obviate them via conceptual structural organisation is an exercise in deliberate failure. Or a false-flag operation to disguise some other intended objective, depending on your preferred flavor of kool-aid or hat materials.

The cops named in this story (along with their families) are now all under death sentence per long established Zetas protocol and the Houston Chronicle has obligingly provided the initial target list for that groups all-too-experienced killers with the willing cooperation of the targets police themselves.

Well done all.

The only "improvement" this story could have is if it should turn out that Fast & Furious guns (those provided to Mexican drug gangs with the active connivance of US federal law enforcement) were used in this gun fight too.

This is all the fault of ordinary American's unwillingness to refrain from any activity their government decides they shouldn't be doing, you understand, so take up your share of the blame and send more money to your government as restitution for your failure as a citizen.

Or not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Staking Claim To My Position

Kevin Baker (who hasn't been on Vicious Circle in too long) has his faith in human failure reinforced by a series of expository posts by Mike-istan. In a comment to the third post, I wrote:
One aspect of the position the police might choose for themselves that hasn't been overtly examined in your series to-date is the degree to which law enforcement (in general terms, the armed segment of every level of the US civil and criminal courts system) might gravitate into creating its own "estate" (recalling your earlier reference to medieval societal demarcations). What if they effectively choose, "We The Cops, The Estate; To Protect And Serve Ourselves"?

On a different tack, "we who don't need to be ruled" are always going to be confronted by a comparatively overwhelming force in any such dystopian (un)civil confrontation with organised government forces. An Army Of One was a stupid recruitment slogan and in the context of your series is a certain loser in any conflict opposing a coordinated group effort. S/He may not go alone, but ...

Freedom and independence are wonderful experiences for an individual when viewed from within the mutual support and association of a like-minded group; they're a wonderful goad for one to dominate and lead as many others as you can otherwise. The people who have already made the choice to join the effort to provide for themselves at the expense of the rest of the citizenry (which is an admittedly unfair description of government employees) are actually faced with the subsequent choice of destroying their personal lives or continuing as they have already chosen to do. Does anyone really think there's much question as to their likely resolution of such a quandary?

Personally, I think it's bad strategy to position any potential rival with an us-or-them threat (even if only metaphorically, as in the case above). Much better to present a selection of potential (and often interdependent) options for mutual assistance between positions. Ideological arguments are best confined to discussions with one's self, or at most a select - and very private - group. Using them as a basis for positional identification is a virtual guarantor of violent reaction (and likely of actual violence too).

Never force someone into choosing for or against you; even if he picks you, he'll still resent you for it and be an unreliable ally. Better to present yourself as an attractive choice potentially available to the right proposition instead.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Electoral What-If-ery Fiskiness

Brian Wang links to an electoral analysis post on the Conservative page of the broad-spectrum political commentary Nolan Chart blog. Contributing columnist Abraham Hamadeh addresses the question, “What if Ron Paul runs as an independent?”.
Ron Paul could potentially capture enough Electoral votes to prevent both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from reaching the 270 Electoral votes needed to become president. If this scenario plays out, the presidential election would be decided in the House of Representatives with the top three highest electoral vote getters being decided on who becomes president. In 2012, the House will most likely still be Republican controlled, leaving Mitt Romney and Ron Paul vowing for the highest office. With the growing number of tea party representatives in Congress, the election could look more similar to a European parliament vote, in building coalitions with many factions to support a prime minister.

Where to start?

Mr. Hamadeh notes several times in his article that Dr. Paul has repeatedly stated he isn't considering a third-party run for the Presidency, so it seems clear from the outset that this whole effort is an example of making the known facts fit a premise to illustrate a preconceived notion and not any sort of critical analysis.

Mr. Hamadeh's seeming conviction that Gov. Mitt Romney will be the presumptive GOP candidate is inconsistent with his own observation elsewhere in the article that, "Mitt Romney can barely capture 20 percent of Republican primary voters ...".

Mr. Hamadeh makes clear his shallow grasp of US electoral procedures (or the most basic of data searches) with his attempted description of the role played by the US Congress in an election in which no candidate secures sufficient Electoral College votes to attain the office. From wikipedia:
Pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President if no candidate for President receives a majority of the electoral votes (since 1964, 270 of the 538 electoral votes).

In this event, the House of Representatives is limited to choosing from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each state delegation votes en bloc - its members have a single vote collectively (and the District of Columbia does not receive a vote). A candidate must receive an absolute majority of state delegation votes (currently 26) in order for that candidate to become the President-elect. Additionally, delegations from at least two-thirds of all the states must be present for voting to take place. The House continues balloting until it elects a President.

The House of Representatives has chosen the President only twice: once under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 (in 1801) and once under the Twelfth Amendment (in 1825).

And, as provided for by the referenced Twelfth Amendment:
Under the Twelfth Amendment, the House has the power to elect the President if no presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College. The Twelfth Amendment requires the House to choose from the three candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. The Constitution provides that "the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote." Electoral College deadlocks are rare; in the history of the United States, the House has only had to break a deadlock twice. In 1800, it elected Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr; in 1824, it elected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford. The Senate elects the Vice President if the Electoral College deadlocks.

{I seems fair to note that two distinct constitutional issues were addressed by the House in the two historic occasions it had the duty to resolve an electoral question. Jefferson and Burr were the two candidates running on the same (and then new political concept) party ticket, for President and Vice-President respectively. They each won the same number of votes from the Electoral College which had no legislative authority to determine which to award what office to. The House wisely agreed that each man was entitled to the office he had campaigned for, making Jefferson our second President. Adams, Jackson and Crawford were from competing parties, so the House fulfilled it's intended 12th Amendment function in this instance.}

From this it can be seen that, quite unlike a parliamentary coalition to determine a prime minister, each state's delegation (however many members of the House that may entail) gets one vote and a majority of all the states (again, that would be a minimum of 26 for the Obama supporters amongst us) must vote for a candidate for him/her to attain office. In the event the House is somehow unable to resolve the issue "before the fourth day of March next following", the newly-elected Vice-President fills the office of President until the electoral conflict is resolved. In no case is there any form of party coalition, nor is the President's (or VP's) term of office in any way dependent upon retaining Congressional support. Mr. Hamadeh's allusion to parliamentary procedures and conditions is misleading at best.

And all this from only one paragraph.

Next Big Future disappoints this time

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Health Care Update

Via Instapundit comes notice of just how drastic the lack of health care coverage is in the US. Only 25% of the total patient pool receive the treatment they so clearly need. There does seem to be an effort underway to correct that defecit though, which should go some way toward relieving the stress inflicted upon the remainder of the national population.

Can't happen soon enough in my experience.

Friday, November 18, 2011

FTL Is Real

As I noted a couple weeks ago, there was a re-test of the charged neutrino transmission test scheduled by CERN. The results have been announced as Brian Wang reports:
The new tests, completed 6 November, did away with the statistical analysis by splitting each pulse into bunches just 1- to 2-nanoseconds long, allowing each neutrino detected at Gran Sasso to be tied to a particular bunch produced at CERN. These tests were carried out over 10 days and provided 20 events. The researchers confirmed that the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds early, with an uncertainty of about 10 nanoseconds, comparable to that of the initial result.

[My bold.]

I still don't get the time travel part of all this, but the fact (apparently) that we still don't know all there is to be learned about our universe isn't a surprise at all (and an idea I'm confident Albert Einstein himself would have agreed with).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Modern Chemistry

I wonder what this product does to a garment material's breathablility? If NeverWet turns my tee shirt into a rain coat, does it simultaneously turn it into a sauna? If you build your next bathroom shower stall out of ordinary plywood and spray a coat of this stuff on all exposed surfaces, will it keep the water inside the stall ('till it goes down the drain) and out of the rest of the house?

If this product does what's claimed there would seem to be a long list of potential applications to consider, many of which rise to the level of "game changing". One example; constructing houses out of compressed earth is an economical and structurally robust design if you can keep water out of the building material. A coating of NeverWet would appear to achieve that requirement, making mud pies the building material of choice for at least single and two story structures.

Almost anywhere on Earth.

That strikes me as "game changing". NeverWet is supposed to become available through retail sources next year. If so, this is a product to investigate for yourself.

Via Instapundit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are You Ready For Some "News"?

I'm gonna get a jump on the whole end-of-year prediction silliness and make mine now.

For the next 10 months or so, we in the USA can expect to be treated to a steady stream of "news reports" about college sports-related stories of debauchery, crime and moral titillation whenever either major political party (or their media allies) feel the desire to deflect public attention away from the latest act of stupidity committed by the Criminal-In-Chief and his cohorts or the GOP's contender for the title.

Call it the College Sports Proctoscopy Strategy.

Fast & Furious? Shocker In The Showers!

Rising Unemployment? Cheerleader Upskirts!

And if the rate of revelation of political disgrace should cause the media to burn through too many schools too quickly, expect the Olympics and the professional leagues to be offered up as well.

I mostly watch the movie channels these days anyway. That Roku box is looking a more and more attractive alternative to cable every day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

China To Revolve Ushan

That's revolution according to this guy's read of the 8 November economic forecast from The Conference Board. I took a quick look and didn't see much mention of the endemic financial corruption and blatant market manipulation that is the PRC economy, so I have to think that the next few years self-inflicted antics and outrages ought to be quite entertaining from this more-or-less remove.

For a given value of "entertaining".

Via Instapundit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Housing Bubble Bursts

In China.

All over mainland China at that.

Residential property prices are in freefall in China as developers race to meet revenue targets for the year in a quickly deteriorating market. The country’s largest builders began discounting homes in Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen in recent weeks, and the trend has now spread to second- and third-tier cities such as Hangzhou, Hefei, and Chongqing.


What started slowly in September turned into a rout by the middle of last month—normally a good period for sales—when Shanghai developers started to slash asking prices. Analysts then expected falling property values to move Premier Wen Jiabao to relax tightening measures, such as increases in mortgage rates and prohibitions on second-home purchases, intended to cool the market.

They were wrong. After a State Council meeting on October 29, Mr. Wen affirmed his policy, stating that local authorities should continue to “strictly implement the central government’s real estate policies in the coming months to let citizens see the results of the curbs.” Then, the selling began in earnest as “desperate” developers competed among themselves to unload inventory.

One presumes that none of Premier Wen Jiabao's family are financially invested in the Chinese residential real estate markets. One does wonder how many of his potential opposition within the CCP are?

In any case, in Mr. Wen's strategic context he and his are the only one's "too big to fail", everybody else's balls bounce along as his little baton directs.

h/t: Instapundit

Saturday, November 5, 2011

500,000 Manufacturing Jobs Lost

In China.

To robots, no less.

So, if we buy/build under license our own robots, does that mean the manufacturing jobs sent out of the country over recent decades can be brought back to the US?

Here's a thought; how about we form a consortium to buy some of these robots and have them manufacture stuff for sale so that we can avoid having to have a job ourselves? Since robots don't have any use for money (though I admit they can account for spending a good deal of it), anything they make we can sell and divide the money amongst ourselves.

What a strategy!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Second Try At Breaking Universal Speed Limit

Those not-so-wacky boys (and, presumably, girls) at CERN are going to repeat the experiment they announced last month. The speed of light was apparently exceeded by the charged neutrinos released in a comparatively lengthy stream by the CERN experimenters, so a slightly different format (two short bursts released separately over a measured time period) will be used this time to test for that outcome specifically.

The maths are all well beyond my fuzzy calculations (fuzzy, math; it's a math funny :)), but this seems to me a most honest and transparent method to check their earlier results. I may not understand the process, but it's obvious even to a mathematical ignoramus like me just how profound a change in humanity's supposed understanding of our universe is potentially put to the question here.

Exciting stuff.

h/t: Instapundit