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This story is not at all surprising. Educational institutions, and particularly school districts - and I speak here from lengthy professional experience - hire ppl who often have two characteristics: a) A control freak personality and a lack of respect for opinions that differ from their own. b) Little or no knowledge of the principles of the US Constitution, due process or statues governing school personnel acting as agents of the State. These characteristics are even more pronounced among school administrators.
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"[JR] the new levels and tools that would actually be earned would be real and not playthings/artifacts." Very interesting. One thing such a MMOG-Company/Community would have to do that that MMOG's generally do not is aggressively defend themselves from intrusions by parasites and exploiters from outside the system. Sure, Game companies deal with nuisance hackers and player-cheaters but they'd have much more serious problems if their players were moving billions of dollars of real products or money around. Nor does Everquest have to fight off an invasion by World of Warcraft but such a company will have to deal with states, especially if their in-game token system is de facto money. Maybe the home location of such a company would be incorporating as a bank in a state with very strict bank secrecy laws? BTW finished reading DAEMON the other day - it was great!
Your friend has excellent taste in reading John. This might also be of interest, more in association with Quigley's book you wrote on the other day.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2010 on BYZANTINE STRATEGY at Global Guerrillas
Hi John, Strongly recommend John Julius Norwich's _A Short History of Byzantium_ as a companion resource ( this was distilled from Norwich's 3 volume history). Great for fleshing out the broader context of Luttwak's examples.
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2010 on BYZANTINE STRATEGY at Global Guerrillas
The most popular ideas each party has are not actually intended to be implemented. They are the carrot on a string on a stick to goad the horse (voters) to move in the direction the party wishes them to go. The Democratic Party, for example, has a superpopular idea in ending pre-existing condition exclusions. That does not require a mammoth bill to pass and it appeals to everyone except insurance company executives. It will sail through the Senate on its own. However, the politicians want pass the special interest crap buried in the thousands of pages of the bill because that's where their career incentives are. Same thing for the GOP, just different set of fig leaves.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2010 on Doomed at Fables of the reconstruction
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I've met Rick once and sat and talked to him for about an hour. He's basically a nice guy and a Reagan Republican. He struck me as conservative on most issues but fairly pragmatic in how policy ought to be executed. And contrary to the commenters at Tbogg, Rick didn't rant about liberals or hate them in any way that I could discern.
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John, you are doing very stimulating work here at GG lately. " De-escalation should be the first response in anything but an acute existential emergency" True. However we have a situation not unlike 19th century Russia where society spawns a superfluous pool of informed and educated intelligentsia who have no power or participation in governance, beyond gaining attention with their public commentary or criticism (most of which is redundant noise). The self-esteem and validation for this group's marginal political importance is vested in alarmism, not cool-headed analysis, original insights or practical problem solving. One advantage for de-escalators might be that the media upon which alarmists rely for hyping events is terribly subject to distraction compared to prior decades. Even a truly existential crisis can be knocked off the national media radar by, say, trivialities such as the death of Micheal Jackson or a sex scandal involving a pro golfer. De-escalators in positions of power or allied private groups can always move indirectly by ginning up fake issues that are flashy enough to captivate media and online attention (think Terry Schiavo case hiding the movement of changes in legislation favorable to special interests, which it did)
I will add there was also a tradition of self-governing corporations - Hudson Bay Company, Virginia Company, East India Company (roughly 180 year run - not bad). Renaissance Venice was a maritime superpower interested in safeguarding and expanding its trading network, not acquiring vast territories that are costly to hold and govern. Again a run of centuries.
Regarding "expanded venues"... Looking forward, someday, for the "heroic" lone passenger or bystander to morph upward into "angry mob" that tears the next incompetent suicide bomber into little pieces. Expand the venues wide enough and eventually you get into the kind of neighborhood with young men hanging out on the streetcorners that spontaneously generates its own "first response".
Toggle Commented Dec 31, 2009 on FAILURE AS A STRATEGY at Global Guerrillas
Cut the HQ staff by 70 %. Restrict "approval" to operations where the possibility exists of engaging the enemy in a mass where thesize that is over that of a couple of companies, and then only from the appropriate combat commander, not everyone with a title and a desk. The idea of 11 approvals to go into a village is simply nuts. D-Day had fewer required sign-offs.
"It just seems bizarre to me to think that killing someone is somehow more just and is going to make the victim's family and the public feel better, and that life in prison with no possibility of parole would be a gift to the murderer." I'm not sure if capital punishment helps some victim's families feel better or not. It's probably a very personal matter in that regard. It gives some families peace but not others. Capital punishment is a political breakwater against a trend though. The death penalty's existence helps prevent absurdly light sentences for murder from becoming commonplace because without it, we'd have a movement to abolish life without the possibility of parole. Or whatever the maximum sentence would be for 1st degree murder. Some ppl are just psychologically uncomfortable with punishment per se as a judicial policy and are motivated to mitigate it. That's certainly not all opponents of capital punishment but it represents the motivations of some.
Toggle Commented Nov 27, 2009 on Cop Killers at Fables of the reconstruction
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Nice post. I'd suggest that Coase reinforces rather than replaces Boyd because information transactions within an org strongly correlate with ppl's sense of satisfaction/inclusion and psychological reinforcement for participation. Monetary payment alone (if applicable) does not always secure the "above and beyond" behavior that orgs require to thrive and expand. Many professions, for example, are predicated on the non-monetary reinforcement provided by status, deference, autonomy or simply, mere membership
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2009 on TRANSACTION COSTS AND WARFARE at Global Guerrillas
Hasan seems a mix of the standard disgruntled loner workplace shooter with a bit of last minute Islamist self-justifying facade. Normally a single bad performance review is enough to kill an officer's military career in the "up or out" personnel system. Doctors may get kid gloves though in that regard due to the heavy financial investment the pentagon makes in their educations. Even so, that bad review had to be a significant career low point for Hasan and - I suspect - the primary reason he was transfered out of Walter Reed. I'll add more spreculation. When Hasan started weirding out at work - the military's official CI/security channels moved more slowly than normal in part because he was a)a Muslim and b)a psychiatrist. Hasan may or may not have been harrassed by peers but that's different than opening an official, documented, security investigation where the CO would not want to be accussed of profiling his Muslim subordinates. That has to be justified if an IG or a Congressional committee wants to look at it. Nor are doctors quick to identify their psychiatric collegaue as having mental health problems and being in need of counseling, even if red flag stress behaviors are in evidence.
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2009 on Mortification at Fables of the reconstruction
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The Populists were de-railed on two questions: Race, which split Southern agrarians into 3 groups ( White Democrats, White Farmer's Alliancemen and radical Agricultural Wheelers) and "Free Silver", which siphoned away support for the SubTreasury Plan ( liberal credit based on agricultural commodity futures)to the Democrats. The left-center has gone for authoritarian technocratic oligarchy in a velvet glove. They're not coming back to actual, pre-1974 liberalism. The conservative movement is having a nervous breakdown with their Id running away from the intellectual conservative supergo
Yeah, but real purpose cause people to pick up automatic weapons and storm buildings. Maybe we should just let them have the frigging portable DVD blue-ray disc compact player and call it even. ;)
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2009 on Consumer products (things).... at John Robb's Weblog
Hi John A high enough IQ compensates for a lack of capital to execute a superempowered attack. Truly brilliant people see interconnections and leverage points within systems to exploit that are non-obvious. This comparative advantadge in knowledge can translates in far lower costs and the element of surprise. We are quite fortunate that most super-smart people, say the top .01 %of IQ within the world's population, are usually benign or at least more absorbed with pursuing their personal interests than deliberately tinkering with society with violent means.
Time travel should work on the cosmological macroscale, at least according to Kurt Godel's contribution to Relativity theory. Nothing we could use in any practical way but still a possible phenomena. If Godel was right, why not time travel on the extreme nanoscale of subatomic particles too?
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"Zen, not more formal versions of Buddhism, such as Tibetan, is resilient." Duncan, I agree. :)
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2009 on RC JOURNAL: The Dollar Crump at Global Guerrillas
" a day after he had participated by video link from London in a White House strategy session on the war that included President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an array of senior advisers" Disagree. I realize the Left is hopping up and down about this but this situation isn't like Adm. Fallon who freelanced his comments to my friend Tom Barnett and was duly fired by Gates, who has zero tolerance for nonsense. McChrystal's appearance to an important audience like that one was something that would be pre-approved by DoD and State/WH, and very likely discussed either at the strategy session itself or afterwards with Gates and Petraeus as to what could and could not be said. I'm very dubious that McChrystal "winged" those comments.More likely he was given talking points by CENTCOM or OSD. I suspect the WH is having key players lay out cases for different options. Holbrooke is "COIN on steroids nation-building", McChrystal is COIN (really COIN plus Counterterrorism), Biden is Light Footprint-Counterterrorism. I expect somebody, probably Hillary to offer up "regional talks and status quo" very soon. The reason for all this kabuki is that we have no real strategy for dealing with Af/Pak/India or with al Qaida. McChrystal should be planning a *campaign* within a strategy he's given, he's too junior a figure to devise a strategy for the USG. It's like FDR in 1944 asking one of Eisenhower's subordinates to come up with a war plan for the US to fight WWII.
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Agree with you on the future of war hub idea. Note the Army has just embraced crowdsourcing:
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2009 on Bloggers driving print? at John Robb's Weblog
I subscribe to the Atlantic on Kindle. I'd pay another dollar ot two or accept ads in Kindle periodicals if that keeps the content provider going.
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2009 on Bloggers driving print? at John Robb's Weblog
Social complexity is an evolutionary pressure/stimulus.
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2009 on Humans Rapidly Evolving? at John Robb's Weblog
Hi Mithras, I cannot say that I usually get 60 comments on a post. Nor are the issues of some my commenters the same concerns that I have here. To use an analogy, how comfortable would you be in practicing law with an "attorney" who had never graduated law school? Or having your child be their client? Or having your child attend a law school where roughly 80% + of the professors were not lawyers? That's the state of history ed. in public schools. Most social studies teachers have neither a major nor a minor in history or a social science field. I find that to be problematic. To me, basic professional competence begins with at least a BA in the field being taught ( it doesn't stop there but it is a minimum expectation). Math teachers should have degrees in math. English teachers should have degrees in Lit or grammar. Spanish teachers should be expected to have fluency in Spanish and instructors of history should have actually studied it. Standards are important but they matter little if they do not reach the students. NAEP, whose scores cannot be gamed by state Ed. officials like state tests frequently are, reveal that only 17% of 8th graders are "proficient"" for their grade level in history ( "proficient" means "average" in NAEP-speak) virtually none are "advanced" and the vast majority are at the remedial level of "basic" - meaning a very large percentage of their answers are wrong. Interestingly enough, the 17% is a rough correlation with the percentage instructors who have at least a minor in a social science field. The problem isn't that students are not reading about Alan Greenspan because of the Cesar Chavez unit or infusions of "Whiteness Studies" or other ideological zaniness - the problem is that history is being spottily, if at all, taught at elementary levels and is being presented haphazardly at the secondary level, mostly be folks who are qualified to teach something else.
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"For one thing, it would single-handedly make the magic number 51 votes, not 60, since it would be suicidal for the GOP to filibuster the culmination of the last Kennedy brother's lifelong crusade" Much like Ronald Reagan dying did not stampede Democrats into voting 180 degrees against their general belifs. Does he actually know any Republicans?
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That was right out of GG. States need to shift away from primarily relying upon coercion to attracting non-state allies who will take the initiative and forcefully stifle would-be disruptors who are "bad for business". The emphasis needs to be on Boyd's theme of vitality and growth.
Toggle Commented Aug 23, 2009 on SYSTEMS DISRUPTION IN RUSSIA at Global Guerrillas