August 31, 2006

Den Beste! Yay!

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:23 pm

My favorite amateur strategist comes out from his anime shell to adroitly summarize the changed face of warfare. Notice the complete lack of the term “net centric”.

Why Designers Drive Me Nuts, In A Nutshell

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:23 pm

See this picture? Kinda dramatic and interesting, right?

Metropolis magazine highlighted this design project as a runner-up design winner in their magazine. Apparently the designers figured out a way to harvest some energy in a waterway, then samples for impurities and then glows green or red depending on the “pollution level”.It’s almost a good idea. Except for something that anybody who spends time on the water knows–red and green lights are already telling people something on the water–and it’s a lot more immediately important than what the designers want. Lights and sound signals and shapes in the water indicate where safe water is, and what the other vessels are and what they might be doing. You know, that’s something one could find out by asking someone using the waterway if putting random red and green lights on the road is a good idea. I would bet there’s not too many people in RISD or the editorial staff of Metropolis who have had to field day a boat, compared to the nearest marina.

So here we have a Great Idea–executed in a manner that will cause people to die if implemented. Great work, designers.You can look at the above picture, with a blurb, at this link–which resizes your browser, and then assumes you want a slideshow at a particular speed so that if you flip to another window, or spend too much time actually reading the type you get inconveniently redirected to that resized window again with a different Great Idea.

You can also look at the project at this link–which is a group of photos (even the text is in a photo) that forces you to click through in the order the designer put together.

Sometimes I wish for a designer who spent more time thinking about the humans using the thing and how to mitigate the Law of Unintended Consequences than thinking about how pretty the thing is, or the importance of deconstructed modernism to the message their design will communicate. There are a lot of unhappy people having to live in bad Le Courbusier knockoffs…

I Know, I Know…

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:23 pm

…it’s just a demo, they’re not building more than one, it wouldn’t be available for years if they were, it’s not as if I’m in the market for a new car anyway…

but I want one.

August 29, 2006

Yeah, I Shook His Hand

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:07 pm

I’m glad the Vice President took the time to come talk to us.  I’m puzzled how I wound up less than ten feet from the podium–we were trying to hang in back and they forgot to fill the front up until almost too late.  I’m amazed at the two little Scouts that were there (they saved someone from drowning last week and were honored guests).  I’m frustrated by the measures the local guys took–there’s only so many times in a man’s life he needs to hear I’m Proud To Be An American while waiting for the guy’s helo to show up, and I hit that limit a couple of decades ago.  I can’t stand fluffers, and no you guys with the cute little earpieces don’t get me all hot and bothered, thanks.  I’m very unhappy the four service flag bearers had to stand there at attention for almost an hour in the sun before the man showed up–what, flagstands too expensive?  We want our guys to fall over or cowboy it out when they don’t need to?

So.  Anyway.  I’m glad the Veep was nice enough to come out from the secret lab he has at the center of the Earth to come talk to us.


Still More Analysis With Which I Strongly Disagree

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:47 pm

Apparently I’m Mister Contrarian today.  Foreign Affairs has some letter writers disagreeing with one of their articles on the US nuclear weapons capability.  I agree with the letter writers, with the exception of the Russian because he’s clearly not correct in saying there’s been no strategic weapons reductions.  (There’s been a dearth of interminable meetings with negotiations, sure, and that’s mainly because an agreement that’s nontrivial is already in place, albeit without customized logo mugs for all the participants.)

I shan’t go into details for obvious reasons, but the original FP article is pretty alarmist and not consistent with publicly available info from as far back as 1962.

Here’s the deal, from the guy at OSD who might know something about it:

This administration has continued the policy of previous administrations in that it does not rely on the ability to conduct a nuclear first strike to ensure the survival of the United States. The Department of Defense’s force posture of dispersed ICBMs and survivable ballistic missile submarines is designed to make clear to any adversary that might contemplate a first strike against the United States that in the aftermath of such an attack the U.S. military would retain the ability to respond with such devastating force that an aggressor could not stand to gain. This is not a first-strike posture.

PETER C. W. FLORY is Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.

How more clear can that be?  Where’s Herman Kahn when we need him?

More In Depth Analysis

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:24 pm

Evil Neocons! Oil Profits! The Evil Office’O’Special Plans! Claiming Negative Proof As A Logic Error!

It’s all here

Cheney, Rice, Bolton and others who constantly remind us about Iran’s nuclear weapons program offer us nothing by way of tangible evidence that such a program actually exists, and consistently bat away any and all requests that they provide such proof.

Yup, no proof at all. Except for what the Iranians actually tell us, alternated with insistence that it’s all for peaceful use, and except for that new heavy water reactor, and except for that missile work, and except for those yellowcake buys, and except for the centrifuges, and except for that IAEA inspector they threw out, and the seals they broke, and, you know, other stuff.

No, wait! There’s more! It’s like living in early 2003 over there during the World’s Longest Rush To War or something.

I would like some serious discussion that advocates something achieveable that shows how keeping from making war directly on Iranian soil is a great idea. Being as this timing is likely to put me in the sandbox about then, I’m all for staying quiescent if it’s achieveable. I’d love to see some discussion on how to optimize the path away from nuclear strikes, unattributed, on US soil, that being something we’re trying to do. The post I referenced above, however, ain’t that discussion.

Update: Links got gafunga’d. They’re fixed.

Fodder For Navy Discussion

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:41 pm

I got sent a copy of this PDF today from the Congressional Budget Office.  It might be of use to folks like Phibian who dig arguing the numbers game–a comparison of future fleet mixes.

Unclas, 29 pages but at least 15 are filler.  My initial reactions:

  • CBO studies are usually done because some congresscritter told them to; they’re not always impartial because of the way the question is framed–but that congressman always says they are.
  • Ron O’Rourke has strong opinions and if you really dig this stuff I recommend you interview him if he’ll let you.  I don’t know Eric Labs, who wrote it.
  • I would be very interested in how they got the ship numbers they did.  I suspect shallow analysis, and likely slightly more rigorous than the last set of numbers.
  • The document addresses different ship mixes, but doesn’t begin to talk about the problem behind the problem of why we only can build about five to seven ships a year with the funding we can get.  This is the lede; this is the key; this is what needs to be addressed before anyone talking about ship types can get anything done.  Look at this stuff or be irrelevant.
  • Someone looking at what MPF(F) is might get a good discussion out of it.  I’d recommend they talk to one of the guys at the Center for Naval Analysis or Marine Corps Combat Development Center for more current info.

August 28, 2006

Easy Decisions In Executing Strikes In Urban Environments

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:58 am

Or maybe not.  (Via Allah.)

August 27, 2006

Valuable In Depth Analysis

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:39 pm

Brief quote from Clausewitz?  Check.  Is it evocative yet too brief and unconnected to be useful?  Of course.

Quotes from Rumsfeld without a better understanding of the changing nature of war against a thinking enemy (first quote),  complete miscontextualization of a quote initially talking about Navy force structure as something else entirely (second quote), and an advocative position du jour that is contested among different players right now (third quote)?  Check.

Finish with a recommendation that Rumsfeld read a book, without explaining that the authors were hired by Rumsfeld and get to influence Runsfeld with their ideas regularly; without explaining why, without discussing how much of this “read the book” is important now vice twenty years from now when today’s acquisitions begin to come on line; without describing the balance needed between one type of warfare and another type of warfare, given that both types will be on our list of things for which to prepare? Check.

Is this what passes for thoughtful critique these days?

Here’s a challenge.  Do the same thing for the end of 2007 and then see if your critique is useful then.

August 25, 2006


Filed under: — Chap @ 9:06 pm

Lex is right.  This is quite a hearfelt essay.

With posts like Cassandra’s above, and the Pat Dollard video, and the LTC White speech, and LTC Grossman’s “sheepdogs” essay, I see a theme of separation.  These writers, to include the family members here, aren’t like civilians.  Others–actors, medical professionals, journalists–mimic the feeling of that term when they use the term as a synonym for “outside our group”, but those professions also know they’ve borrowed the term from military folks.

I guess the feeling of being apart, of being misunderstood, of seeing something the others don’t, and feeling dutybound to act where others don’t, is a symptom of being Tommy Atkins.

Admiral Ackbar Warned Us About This

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:30 pm

Making the rounds of the email today without attribution (I’d love to know where it came from), a warning that the bad guys will stop at nothing

Ackbar says....It's a TRAP!

August 24, 2006

You Have No Chance To Survive. Make Your Time.

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:55 pm


August 23, 2006

A Response To An Andrew Sullivan Fan Club Member

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:25 pm

Enrevanche preaches from the Gospel of St. Andrew of the Blessed Heartache:

Mr. Bush has done more damage to the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general than many conservatives are yet prepared to accept and acknowledge.

Wouldn’t know about that, much, myself, but the John Fund article to which Enrevanche links is an article which laments the ability of the CinC to channel the oratory of Winston Churchill on a regular basis, and decries that Rs get no slack. Not exactly a damage assessment for the “conservative movement in general”.

Enrevanche continues:

And by the way… when the Wall Street Journal turns on you, and you’re a Republican president, your relevance is officially over.

One of the things I like about the WSJ is that they publish op-eds with different viewpoints. Would the Ned Lamont op-ed a few weeks back, or the Kerry op-ed before that, have similar portent? Or is Andrew hogging the coffee again?

If you haven’t followed any of my posting in ’04 or cheerleading of the book The Case For Democracy, then perhaps this next link is worth your time.

Norman Podhoretz, the next day or so, same paper. Makes a point to discuss the Second Inaugural, to which I point to people at work who haven’t yet read the National Security Strategy. Some commentary on the Podhoretz article is at Protein Wisdom. I’m not sure how that exactly affects the President’s “relevance” to have Podhoretz’s article a day after the Fund article.

Of course, you could also listen to the president saying it his own self.

Related links, sorta, to this discussion. Almost all are from the center-right to Ralph end of the spectrum; I’ve not seen much on the left discussing these things strategically and would take inputs if you got ’em. This week saw a lot of people discussing Israel-Lebanon, writing about how will is important in warfare. You could read Ralph or you could read Belmont Club; either remind us that if you’re going to knife someone to death, you don’t stop halfway.

  • Kathleen Parker revises and extends Fund’s points.
  • Power Line reminds us that personal charisma is also important.
  • Bruce Bartlett, saying the opposite as Fund in a slightly related op-ed
  • Rich Lowry, saying I’m gonna miss the current policy when it’s gone
  • Shelby Steele on Western guilt vs. Islamic extremism (excerpts here since it’s subscriber only)
  • Zalmay Khalilzad on what’s going on in Iraq
  • General Abizaid on what’s going on in Iraq, via Hugh Hewitt
  • Thomas Sowell on what’s going on bigger picture
  • Edward Luttwak on what IS-LE means in the long term, the first guy I’ve seen writing about long term
  • Ralph Peters on the current IS-LE state of play
  • Belmont Club on will to win, Keyser Soze, and a parable in the comments

That should get you through ten minutes of boredom…

I Don’t Think I Saw That In The Intel Brief

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:03 am

Slate gets all USA Today in their political graphics.  It’s a grid of who hates who in what country.  Sorta.

August 22, 2006

I Think There Is A Work Parallel In Here Somewhere

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:37 pm


(If, by the way, you follow all the links, this youtube puts the whole thing together as a summary.)

August 20, 2006

Reason #439 Why I Hate Power Point

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:06 pm

Here you go.  Good design is good thinking.  How do you like design of the first graphic?

I may have an eighth dan Power Point black belt, but I know when Power Point should not be used for thinking.

August 19, 2006

“Smart Power”?

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:57 pm

Joseph Nye is a Harvard professor who’s been beating a drum over his concept of “soft power”–the apparently heretofore unknown concept that influence between countries isn’t done solely through force of arms.  He’s been much like the “Long Tail” guy in that everything ever written or done fits into this great concept.

Even Nye can’t quite force fit the latest developments in the Middle East into his taxonomy, because now he’s got a new term.

The ability to combine hard and soft power into a winning strategy is smart power and, thus far, Hezbollah seems ahead on that score. All that Hezbollah needs to win is not to lose, and to be able to tell the story that it was the only Muslim force brave enough to stand up to Israel.

The rest is almost Friedmanesque.  This is the best we can do in terms of analysis?  No wonder I turn to the blogosphere.

Snarkfest Saturday

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:41 pm

Is it the weather this week that’s causing it?


the USAF is pushing the wildly expensive F/A-22 – the A stands for “Aquisition strategy” I believe –



The United Nations is investigating a suspected child prostitution ring involving its peacekeepers and government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. mission said on Thursday.

Among accusations being investigated is that pimps are using the presence of U.N. peacekeepers to lure vulnerable girls to go and work as prostitutes in areas of South Kivu where they are deployed, the mission said in a statement.

I’m sure that Lebanon will be a success.

John Podhoretz:

Who Will Speak Truth to Power…

…now that Andrew Sullivan has gone on vacation? Who will uncover the amazing plot that Cheney and Rumsfeld actually consciously planned a failure in Iraq? Who will argue that there was no British terror plot? Who will use the word “waterboarding” in place of the word “the”? Who will publish long e-mails of tribute to Andrew Sullivan for his bravery and courage? Who?WHO?

Christopher Muther:
I’m flummoxed that people are eagerly paying $35 to enrobe their feet in Crocs when they could be spending their money on more aesthetically pleasing fashion options, such as the stretch pants sold in the back of Parade magazine.
Very Zen, proving you can even deliver the snark when getting videotaped singing in the bathroom:
And you can make fun of my accent all you want, because I’m country, and this is how we talk in the country. And when I get done with the singin’ I’m gonna sleep with my first cousin just to spite you.
And to get pregnant.
(This is the woman who in her “About Me” says:)
I’m not just saying that because I’m jealous, I’m saying it because I’m bitter.
And of course the folks here and here like to hit the easy targets, repeatedly, with a brick.
— — —
Here. Have a record store cat to make you feel better.

August 17, 2006

An Odd Connection

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:19 pm

Austin Bay, in discussing the Nazi Nobel writer, begins by channeling Jeff Goldstein’s semiotics post-lectures.

Update: I tried to be too clever in my Goldstein link.  Hit the main page and put “semiotics” in the search box; you’ll get all sorts of interesting arguments.

That’s About The Size Of It

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:53 pm

Horatius At The Bridge.

Via Blackfive, who hits a little close to home.  My moustache is kempt, thankyew.  I have my pride…

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