Wednesday, November 28, 2007
In The Doldrums
Perhaps it's just the time of year. I slept most of Sunday away and awoke with a splitting sinus headache. I didn't get any of the reading or studying I had planned to do. I mostly cleaned all day today, and I still have another day to go if I want to make a dent in the mess I call an apartment. The cats are content. That's a good sign. Nosey is staying close to me which is a bit unusual, but maybe it's the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. I'm not able to take the usual nap before my shift begins at 1:00 A.M.. It's gonna be a long night.
Julie is silent on her blog. That's okay. She's got a lot going on. Not too mention, things come and go in life. Maybe her silent blog is part of life's ebb and flow. My output has dropped this month as well. Well, I still have an hour to kill before I have to get ready. Why does time fly when you are off and it drags when you are at work? Why should my perception of time change due to the circumstances of where I am located and what I am doing?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Weeds in the Laboratory
Labels: trust lack of standards
FBI - Federal Bureau of Incompetents
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who watches the watchers?
Juvenal (wikipedia entry)
I've been reading bad tidings of late for the FBI. It's seems that their Criminal Behavioral Profiling Unit is a sham. The New Yorker article makes for interesting reading and concludes that criminal profiling analyses are as ambiguous as psychic readings. Then I find out that their forensics lab did shoddy work that sent innocents to jail, and the FBI didn't care. The FBI abandoned bullet-lead analysis as a forensic tool in 2004, after the National Academy of Sciences found that bullet chemical composition wasn't a unique marker. One couldn't use it to trace a bullet back to a batch of bullets owned by the defendant. The FBI quietly downplayed the issue and stalled attempts by the Forensic Justice Project to obtain a list of the 2,500 bullet-lead analysis cases. Before these latest revelations, it turns out the FBI hired an illegal alien and gave her a Security Clearance. The woman had ties to Hezbollah which means that the FBI, and subsequently the CIA, were possibly penetrated by a known terrorist group. I say possibly because giving money to Hezbollah could mean many things. Was the money used for charity or was it used to train or recruit terrorists? Basically, this woman just showed that the Security Clearance background checks are practically useless. The FSB must be rolling on the floor laughing.
Labels: authority masking incompentancy
Sunday, November 18, 2007
There a trick to making the dancer change direction. Can you figure it out? Can you alter your perception? The original article is here. It seems most people are left hemisphere dominant. I'm in the majority. I am left hemisphere dominant, although I can switch perceptions almost at will. (I'm right handed, so I'd expect these results.) A better opinion and analysis is here.
Another interesting left/right brain perceptual illusion is:
Other optical illusions are at wikipedia.org.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Credit Card Data Breach
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The Evolution of Leadership
Keegan looks at Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Adolf Hitler. Each illustrated the four types of leader:
1. the heroic - Alexander the Great who led his troops from the front always.
2. the antiheroic - the Duke of Wellington who led his troops from the front often.
3. the unheroic - Ulysses S. Grant who led his troops from the front a small percentage of the time, and
4. the false-heroic - Adolf Hitler who never led his troops from the front and who never cared about them.
To be fair to Hitler, he was a Head of State at the time, and Heads of State seldom visit the front lines, although Lincoln did during the Civil War. Hitler was also a WWI veteran and one of very few enlisted men to win the Iron Cross, First Class. Keegan uses Hitler to make a point though, that leaders evoke the heroic ideals of our cultures and traditions to motivate people to do their bidding.
Keegan believes that command leadership depends upon five imperatives:
1. the kinship imperative - persuading the troops that he or she is one of them.
2. the prescription imperative - giving clear and precise orders.
3. the sanction imperative - giving the troops rewards for approved behavior and punishments for unapproved behavior.
4. the action imperative - attacking or retreating at the proper times as the tactical or strategic situations warrant it.
5. the example imperative - sharing the same dangers that your troops do.
These qualities exemplify our best tactical commanders throughout time even up to today.
Keegan's point is that as the lethality of battle increased in range and effectiveness through better technology, the necessity of better long distance communications and observations arose to allow leaders to stay out of harm's way while directing their armies. Consequently, leaders have become more like administrators of huge organizations and increasingly detached from the common soldiers and people they lead as well as the dangers that the troops faced. The technology of war has outpaced our ethos of war such that there are no front lines any more with nuclear weapons. There are really no armies either since everyone is a target on the business end of a nuclear or thermonuclear weapon. Once you become a nuclear power, your leaders have to become detached and moderated in their responses because there is too much to lose at the push of a button. Diplomacy becomes a major player in negotiations between nuclear powers. Therefore, what Keegan is trying to say is that the idea of leaders being heroes at the level of Heads of State is obsolete. The only false-heroic leader he used, Hitler, is the only loser among his examples. Dwight Eisenhower would be a modern example of the Duke of Wellington. Kennedy and his handling of the Cuban Missile crisis exemplifies how leaders of Russia, China, and the United States must act in times of crisis using moderation, deliberation, consensus, and understanding of the other adversary (empathy with the other leader's situation).
I believe that George W. Bush is a false-heroic leader. Unlike Hitler, he cares about the people he leads, but he seems to have little understanding of or empathy with other political leaders. He is not moderate in his actions, nor deliberative. Indeed, his "heroic" actions tend to verge on recklessness which is the flip side of heroism as David Gergen has pointed out. His foreign and domestic policy solutions are causing more problems than they are solving. I don't know what the answers are, but I can only hope that we as a people are wise enough to choose the most capable leaders and not be swayed by emotional appeals to our heroic ideals in matters where the heroic is obsolete and leads us down dangerous and uncertain paths to our destruction as a society.
1. Time, Otto Friedrich, "Heroism's End? The Masks of Command", November 9,1987.