July 2007

Cheap technology can have a big impact. In this case, adding green lasers to Humvees can reduce civilian casualties and improve military relations with the communities.

The laser signals civilians to back away from patrols or to stop at checkpoints.

The Arab Governments are running “educational” program to de-radicalize Islamists. At first, this seemed designed to placate angry Westerners. But now, it is showing results.

Sayid Imam al-Sharif, one of the major ideological figures for al-Qaeda recently converted away from radical Islamism and now believes that violence will not achieve the goals of Muslims.

The Iraqi Army continues to expand and grow more capable. It is the leading security force in almost all of Iraq. This is one of the most important metrics in Iraq. The second most important is provinces under Iraqi control. Currently, Iraq is in control of 7 of the 18 provinces and will take control of 15 provinces by the end of the year.

The Iraqi Army supports coalition forces in the remaining zones. This includes the cities of Basra, half of Baghdad, Mosul, Baqubah and the province of Anbar. Anbar remains the most problematic region, but it has been turned around by the Anbar Salvation Front. Anbar will not be under real control for another two years. The rest of Iraq has made very good progress.

Strategy Page describes how the US is beating the IEDs in Iraq.

Intel is discovering the IED-cells and eliminating them. The insurgents are losing skill as time goes on while the US is more proficient at minimizing the threat. More and more routes are secured. The military has contained the insurgency to a few specific regions in Iraq and are making progress at eliminating IEDs in these remaining pockets.

Mathematics offers precise logic. Functions accurately describe relationships between objects and sets. Language, consisting of words, lacks mathematical rigor and logic. It seems to be based upon estimations. It is less accurate – indeed, this sentence shows the lack of precise knowledge. Estimations are useful if we do not need precise information.

Artists deceives us because art lacks functions. It describes nothing. To truly understand reality, we must use mathematics. In the words of Galileo:

“Philosophy is written in this grand book–I mean the universe–which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering around in a dark labyrinth.” – Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore (The Assayer, 1616)

I commented on this idiot before.

Private Beauchamp has been exposed. Now he may be prosecuted for participating in warcrimes and sentenced to jailtime. Military bloggers investigated this story extensively by fact-checking Beauchamp and identifying his unit. If he is telling the truth, soldiers exposed him as a criminal and he will be severely punished. This will improve the integrity of the Army by removing a rotting apple.

Or Beauchamp is a complete liar. None of his stories are checking out, so the Army investigation will probably not find war crimes. In that case, he will probably be discharged for dishonorable conduct, violating OPSEC, and defaming his unit – thereby removing a rotting apple and improving the integrity of the service.

He will likely be exposed as a fabulist who has no merit as a journalist. This is a bad situation for Private Beauchamp and the New Republic. Really, pick your poison. In the most likely case, TNR has another Glass on its hands. TNR should investigate the accuracy of its stories before publishing. The fact that they are only now investigating means they are not journalists and their paper is no better than the National Enquirer.

Hillary Clinton said Sen. Obama’s plan to personally meet with the dictators of the world was “irresponsible and naive.” She is correct.

There is a widespread misconception about diplomacy. Diplomacy is a bargaining game where there are conflicts of interest. If there was a perfect coincidence of interest, there would be no need for diplomats, as states would naturally agree on mutual courses of action. This is never the case as two agents will never have the exact desires.

Diplomacy is not based on ideals of justice. They are hard-bargaining games to resolve conflicts of interest. It involves threats, rewards, and deception. Diplomacy should be done by professionals, not Presidents. Presidential summits are nothing more than photo-ops.

The predator prey dynamic is a classic non-linear system. This creates the Feast and Famine Cycle. If the prey population grows, it causes the predator population to grow, which causes the prey population to fall, etc. The Lotka-Volterra differential equations describe oscillations in the populations.

These equations appear to describe historical cycles. The Hudson Bay Company recorded prices of furs that measured lynx and rabbits population. The prices show there were booms and busts in the population.

 The severity of terrorist attacks follows a power-law distribution.

The writers used the MIPT Terrorism Database. Between 1968 and 2004, there were 19,907 terrorist attacks resulting in 7,088 attacks that killed at least one person. They compared the frequency and severity of the attacks and discovered a universal pattern.

There has been a breakthrough in solar power. A new design of solar cells achieves 42.8% efficiency. This may make Solar a viable energy source that can compete with nuclear and fossile fuel.

The current junk models are in the range of 10% efficiency. The weakness of solar power was due to its low efficiency. It required a large number of expensive cells, lots of manufactoring resources, and lots of space.

The dynamics of particular classes of war may be universal. In a guerrilla war, the guerrillas tend to organize and fight in a specific pattern. This contradicts olders studies which emphasis cultural or ideological differences.

Guerrillas create social networks that self-organize into attack squads of different strengths. Cells can merge together to form larger attack groups and they can fragment and disperse.

Neil F. Johnson measured the casualties per attack in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia and discovered a power-law coefficient of 2.5. This graphs out the causualty patterns within a war. The full article is here:
Universal patterns underlying ongoing wars and terrorism

The US is not corrupt. When you compare large economic blocks, the US does very well. Japan is the least corrupt, then the US, then the European Union.

The problem with partisanship is that it leads to false accusations of corruption. In the long-run, this harms the public’s trust in government. It also results in prosecutorial abuse and political vendettas to ruin individual’s lives.

So-called green technology sounds better on paper than in practice.

Windmills, ethanol, and other sources of energy require vast amount of lands and are inefficient energy sources. Ethanol is particularly bad, since it harms our food supply.

Nuclear is the only true environmentally friendly energy source.

Politics follow a “Boom and Bust” pattern with an experimentation stage, an elimination stage, and a standardization stage. There are situations where conflicts of interest emerge that block cooperation. Factions compete for control, employ political violence, ending in victory for one faction over the others.

This places the idea of warfare within the context of political evolution.

There are dynamically stable and unstable systems, sometimes called robust and fragile systems.

Dynamically stable systems have internal dampening mechanisms that return the system to equilibrium. Unstable systems lack a controlling force and cannot restore themselves to equilibrium.

This has a number of uses. Unstable systems can exceed performance levels of stable systems, but lose stability. This seems obvious when applied to machines. Stable systems are a useful concept in the political sciences as well.

From a prospective of intellectual history, the Republicans and Democrats share some of the same roots. Both are Liberal Parties.

The parties focused their efforts on different issues. The Democrats were the Free-Trade Party, and the Republicans were the Free-Labor Party.

Here are the top 10 discoveries of the two Mars Rovers. The rovers were expected to last only three months, but they are still rolling three years later. Dust Devils, which are like small tornados, are cleaning the solar panels on the rovers.

Number One Discovery: Mars had Water

IraqSlogger marked the locations of sectarian killings. The majority of killings come from just 5 districts. The Baghdad Security Plan has reasonably secured most of the city.

Overall sectarian violence in the capital had declined over the past few months. Maps like this help visualize where the remaining hotspots are, so Coalition Forces can refocus their efforts there.

Pew Global Attitudes find that Muslim support for suicide bombing is dropping dramatically across the Islamic world, excepting Palestine.

Only a minority support this form of terrorism. In Egypt, the number has dropped to 8%. In Pakistan, it dropped from 33% to 9%. In Lebanon, it dropped from 74% to 34%. There is still a long way to go, but many Muslims realize that the tactic is self-destructive.

Tigerhawk discusses the coercion and intelligence dilemma.

There is a tradeoff between intelligence and firepower. The less intelligence a counterinsurgent has, the more coercion he must use. Greater intelligence allows surgical use of force that kills more insurgents and fewer non-combatants. Restoring law and order to a warzone gains greater cooperation, because local populations respond negatively to arbitrary violence.

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