29 January 2008

Darfur - Account of American Eyewitness


Note the use of helicopter gunships.

Antiaircraft capability needed.

Good part: gives advance warning.

28 January 2008

The 10 Essential Functions of the State

1. Legitimate monopoly of the means of violence.

2. Administrative control.

3. Management of public finances through wealth creation and involvement of the citizenry in taxation and redistribution.

4. Investment in human capital.

5. Provision of citizenship rights through national social policies.

6. Provision of infrastructure.

7. Management of the tangible and intangible assets of the State through regulation.

8. Creation of the market.

9. International agreements, including public borrowing.

10. Provision of rule of law, including the subjection of the State to the rule of law.

- Ashraf Ghani



Markets don't happen by themselves.

- Eleni Gabre-Madhin


27 January 2008

Why Did Saddam Not Deny He Had WMD?

For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong and defiant Saddam … He thought that (faking having the weapons) would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq.

—FBI Special Agent George Piro, chief interrogator of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.


25 January 2008

human-terrain team

Next door to his office, a group of anthropologists and sociologists known as the “human-terrain team” provides him with valuable intelligence, not on the enemy but on the society in which they mingle. Colonel Schweitzer says what he needs is not more troops but more “non-uniformed instruments of power: diplomatic, information and economic”, especially agronomists and water engineers.


15 January 2008

Review: The Lucifer Principle

Read this book.

5 stars.

"The Lucifer Principle is a complex of natural rules"...

From the book itself:

1. The principle of self-organising systems - replicators - bits of structure that function as minifactories, essembling raw materials, then churning out intricate products. These natural assembly units (genes are one example) crank out their goods so cheaply that the end results are appalingly expendable. Among those expendable products are you and me.

2. The superorganism. We are not the rugged individuals we wuld like to be. We are, instead, disposable parts of a being much parger than ourselves.

3. The meme, as self-replicating cluster of ideas. Thanks to a handful of biological tricks, these visions become the glue that holds together civilisations, giving each culture its distinctive shape, making some intolerant of dissent and others open to diversity. They are the tools with which we unlock the forces of nature. Our visions bestow the dream of peace, but they also turn us into killers.

4. The neural net. The group mind whose eccentric mode of operation manipulates out emotions and turns us into componments of a massive learning machine.

5. The pecking order. The naturalist who discovered this dominance hierarchy in a Norwegian farmyard called it the key to despotism. Pecking orders exist among men, wasps, and even nations. They help explain why the danger of barbarians is ral and why the assupmtions of our foreign policies are often wrong.

06 January 2008


Suicide is an option only when it is reasonable to be certain that one only has a slow, painful death to look forward to.