Monthly Archives: August 2006

Now That’s Strange

picture of an onion
Am I getting onions now?

I just posted an article on DIgg (the Transactional Warfare piece.) Usually I watch an article for an hour after I post it — people have questions and comments, and I want to be able to provide immediate feedback. Sometimes I also proof the article.

Looking at the logs, I get this:

Server logs showing a page being loaded from multiple places on the internet simultaneously
Here’s a page being loaded. The weird part is that the load happens from many different IP addresses at the same time

I wonder how one person could load a page and appear to be on multiple IP addresses at the same time? Looking some of them up, all of these hits are coming from AOL, but the IPs are vastly different. I wonder if this has something to do with gettging hit from onion routers?

No, they’re not throwing rotten vegetables at me, at least yet. But an onion router would be kind of cool to have in your living room. Don’t like an article? Thow an onion at a box on top of the TV and it comes out on the other side and hits the poor schmuck who wrote it.

Onion routers are:

The focus is on practical systems for low-latency Internet-based connections that resist traffic analysis, eavesdropping, and other attacks both by outsiders (e.g. Internet routers) and insiders (Onion Routing servers themselves). Onion Routing prevents the transport medium from knowing who is communicating with whom — the network knows only that communication is taking place. In addition, the content of the communication is hidden from eavesdroppers up to the point where the traffic leaves the OR network.

The site is maintained by the U.S. Navy. Perhaps this is just something that AOL is doing — some kind of massive node web traffic balancing. I’d be more likely to buy that if they were all part of the same IP adress block.

Who knows. I’m just glad they’re not real onions.

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Goodbye 4GW, Hello Transactional Warfare

There have been some great books lately on how warfare is both returning to its desultory roots and evolving from Mao’s war to a decentralized trans-national threat. One buzzword is 4GW, which stands for Fourth Generation Warfare. The general idea behind all of these works is that war keeps evolving, and understanding how it is evolving is essential for winning it.

Indeed, “What war are we fighting?” seems to be a popular topic among armchair Generals, and real Generals too. In a recent article in Armed Forces Journal, Major General Bob Scales, Ret, after digging up the ghost of Clausewitz for yet another trip through the briar patch, says it’s World War IV and we need to understand what the “amplifying factors” are. Amplifiers are not “multipliers” or “enablers” in that their influence on the course of war is nonlinear rather than linear; amplifiers don’t simply accelerate the trends of the past, they make war different.

For example, World War I was a chemists’ war in that the decisive strategic advantage on the battlefield was driven in large measure by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. The war should have ended for the Germans in 1915 when their supplies of gunpowder nitrates exhausted. But the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three horrific years. World War II was a physicists’ war. To paraphrase Churchill, the atom bomb ended the conflict, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of the wireless and radar won it for the allies. “World War III” was the “information researchers’” war, a war in which intelligence and knowledge of the enemy and the ability to fully exploit that knowledge allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union with relatively small loss of life.

So what does General Scales and the academic he quotes think is going to be the amplifier in WWIV?

…controlling amplifier will be human and biological rather than organizational or technological. From his theory we can postulate a new vision of the battlefield, one that shifts from the traditional linear construct to a battlefield that is amoebic in shape; it is distributed, dispersed, nonlinear, and essentially formless in space and unbounded in time. This war and all to follow will be what I would call “psycho-cultural” wars.

The General goes on to say that sociologists are going to be needed in the new war along with scientific psychology “Cultural psychology can teach us to better understand both common elements of human culture and how they differ. An understanding of these commonalities and differences can help gain local allies, fracture enemy subgroups, avoid conflicts among allies, promote beneficial alliances and undermine enemy alliances. ”

I think the general is on to something here. Populations and attitudes play a critical role in our next war, even if it gets a lot hotter. The goal of any war is to make the enemy stop fighting, whether that enemy is one guy on the internet or an entire national command structure. There are obviously roles that culture play, and psychology and the way people think is an important part of all of this.

In short, I think the general is so close it’s a crying shame, as we say in the south. But a war for social scientists and scientific psychology? It seems that the general would keep the Armed Forces the same, and just “smarten up” the way we select and train people, sprinkling some little buzz words from the towers of academia over them as they head off into battle.

I know I’m new to the party, and I don’t have any stars on my collar, but I beg to disagree. Close, but no banana. The general is so close — the answer is sitting right under his nose.

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Those Weather Channel Guys

Weather channel page. Title bar says we're in Ely, Minnesota
Come on guys, it’s the stupid title bar! Surely you can check that when you do a build

Ok. I’m going to start getting all of my news from the Weather Channel website.

I’ve already blogged about how the Wednesday was coming after Friday. Now it seems that Huddleston, Virginia, my hometown, is actuall located in Ely, Minnesota.

Who knew? Gosh. I hope we get more snow this year. I wonder if we’ll have to learn how to speak Minnesotean? (Minnesotite? Minnesonian? Minnie-Mouse? Was Minnie Mouse from Minnesota?)

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Pluto Out. Neptune Next?

Picture of Neptune
When will the madness stop?

From Scotland on Sunday:

THE solar system’s biggest planets are at risk of being stripped of their status after the world’s top astronomers voted to downgrade Pluto into the dwarf planet category.

Experts claim that the definition for planets adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) could also see Neptune downgraded.

But critics claim that the IAU vote, which was passed by a majority, should be abandoned as only around 400 of the union’s 10,000 members took part in the vote in Prague last week.

Martin Hendry, a senior lecturer in astronomy at Glasgow University and member of the IAU, said: “Unless the science underlying this is rigorous, how can we expect to agree on a definition that will be not only understood by ourselves, but other forms of life if and when we encounter them?”

Planetologists have now started a campaign to have Pluto reinstated.

Astronomers leading the Nasa New Horizons mission that will explore the distant regions of the solar system including Pluto, described last week’s decision as “muddled”.

Harold Weaver, from the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a New Horizons project scientist, said: “Since many ‘Plutinos’, including Pluto, cross Neptune’s orbit, I’d say Neptune’s neighbourhood still needs some clearing.”

Only 4% voted? And Neptune might be out next? Say it ain’t so, astronomers. Say it ain’t so!

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Morgellons: The Circus Ramps Up

Humorous cartoon about Mad Cow Disease
Is Morgellon’s Disease a disease like this?

Recently I posted an article about Morgellons Disease, which I find interesting concept. Especially of interest is how, since we don’t know what it is, how do people deal with this uncertainty? Most doctors think Morgellons sufferers have delusions. I guess I can kind of understand that. I mean, after reading a lot about itchy, scratchy, fibers and bumps, I kinda started feeling itchy myself! Sounds like a mild case of “Medical Student’s Disease“, where for decades students studying various diseases suddenly become convinced they have them.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
Or is it a disease like this?

I don’t know. Is it all in people’s heads? I mean, at the end of the day, all we have is our perceptions of reality. If I think I have bugs crawling around in my skin that’s bad no matter what, right? Which, I think is what the doctors are saying — “since we can’t figure it out, we’ll just assume it is inside your head, not outside”

That sounds like a cop-out to me, but what do I know? I DO know that the news stories around Morgellons are getting wackier than ever. Take a look at some of what’s been going on recently:

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Pluto Voted Out

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) — Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

Pluto is now considered a “dwarf” planet, along with Ceres and UB313, aka Xena.

Pluto, Ceres and Xena as dwarves? Everybody knows there were seven dwarves: itchy, scracthy, lumpy, dumpy, icky, snotty, and JimBo. What a bunch of morons. According to one guy:

Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didn’t deserve planet status, saying that would “take the magic out of the solar system.”

“UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. That’s kind of cool,” he said.

Kinda cool. Right. Let’s see how he feels when the rest of us meet and decide to change the name of astronomers to “Arrogant Blockheads” — just because we like it better. Shouldn’t the Plutons, or the Plutonians, or the Pltuo-ites, or whatever-the-heck-you-call-people-from-Pluto have some sort of say in all of this?

Vaya Con Dios, Pluto.

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Pluto: Fighting for Life

Movie poster from
Pluto — You’re Going Down!

Word from the International Astronomical Union today is that Pluto is about to get voted out of planet status. There was a committee that recommended earlier that Pluto be kept in the fold of planets, that any object large enough to make itself circular through gravity would be considered a planet. This would immediately bump the planet count up to 12, with maybe dozens more to come.

But those astronomers, they’re a feisty bunch. The committee’s recommendation looked good until all of those astronomers showed up in Prague. Once they got a few belts in them, soon the hard work of the dedicated and wise committee was thrown out the door.

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Hello. I’m Your Local Crackpot

Recently I wrote an article suggesting some new ways to look at the Global War On Terror. As a result of that article, several readers contacted me asking me to expand the idea. So I’ve been working on that, putting in probably too much time and effort. I think the synthesis of ideas is important, however, so I’ll work on a bit more. Perhaps somebody smarter than me can pick it up and do something with it.

Only that’s where the problem begins.

I read an article in Armed Forces Journal by Maj. Gen Robert Scales Jr. and thought, “This guy is thinking along the same lines, he just hasn’t taken the thread far enough.”

A friend read the same article and told me I should contact the General. Ask him if I could give him my idea for evaluation. Here, however, we run in to the crackpot problem.

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Philosophy’s Smackdown Match

Sir Francis Bacon
I’m lookin’ for you, girlie boy! I’m going to kick your %$#!

Recently I had a heckuva time listening to some of my tapes. I get collegiate-level courses on CD and then put them on my I-pod for listening when I have time. My most recent is “Great Minds Of Western Tradition” which is something like 84 lectures on the top thinkers in the western world. It’s great stuff, but I couldn’t figure any of it out the other day.

The professor started talking about Sir Francis Bacon and went on a bit about him, then there was this strange segue and then he started making some points about Galileo Galilei. That continued for a while, but I think I got the connection, then the guy was talking about how Bacon created inductive reasoning. I had to listen to that a few times to figure it out, then we were off to a different topic. It was a strange lecture — points from different thinkers and about different topics. I was sucking wind trying to keep up.

I was having a terrible time figuring out where all this was going. What? Had some of that beer I had in college finally killed my last two brain cells? Was old age finally setting in? Was I having a stroke or something?

Then I realized I had the I-pod set on shuffle.

Yep.

But I think what I went through is a good example of why a lot of people don’t find much usefullness at all from philosophy.

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