Quality 5, The Magic Cloud

Note: This is a selection from Quality, a tdaxp series.

Photo Courtesy Despair.com

I. Introduction

This post is headlined “Globalization is Water,” but of those three words “is” is the most important. This work ties together my thoughts on Quality that I left of with “The Frictional Sea” to include analogy. Along the way many topics are touched on, the most important being the Magic Cloud.

Stylistically, Globalization is Water: The Magic Cloud resembles Dreaming 5th Generation War. But if Dreaming was an exposition, Magic is a rumination.

While long-winded, this work is not incoherent. It is full of what Dr. Kiera would call internal connections. My ramble might even be mapped:



II. Orientation

Will I get better or stay the same?
I find I always move too slowly.
Can’t lift a finger, can’t change my mind.

Guster, “Two Points for Honesty”

Stay the way I am today and serve to more disaster
He could tell a fairy tale that’s happy ever after
Just relax and green of grass will grow here for a change
Maybe then we’ll last a million years or more..or more..or more

Guster, “All The Way Up To Heaven”

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm ’til you discover how deep

You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it

U2, “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives

Snow Patrol, “Run”

And if you throw any American sass his way, he will snap your back and your neck like they were twigs, and that will be the story of you.
“Bill” in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2”

III. Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy logic is a new type of mathematics that acknowledges that some things are somethings are indeterminate. For instance, when some says “I will arrive at 2 o’clock,” in standard math that means “The person will be at 2 exactly

Fuzzy math, though, would know that the person meant “I will be there at 2-ish.” Possibly before, possibly after, with a strong but not 100% possibility they will actually arrive at 2

(To rush ahead slightly, fuzzy logic is to numerical precision what magic clouds are to procedural precision.. but you’ll need to read ahead for that! 🙂 )

In my home state of South Dakota, this difference is a cause of ongoing American-Indian tensions. The sense of time is socially constructed, with the predominate American sense seeming to originate to north-west Europe in the early modern era. Because the Sioux Indians were only pacified recently, many Sioux tribesmen retain a much fuzzier concept of time… So when a Sioux may (correctly according to Sioux customs) understand a 2:00 doctor’s appointment to begin sometime around 1 and 3, and a “modern” physician will understand it to mean that the patient has to be in the office at 2:00:00, hard feelings can be created.

With time, there is no objective “right” answer — only several rule-sets to choose from. As long as everyone more-or-less agrees on one standard, not too many people should lose their jobs or die over misunderstandings.

However, many things are not fuzzy. Physical phases, for instance. While you can have cold water, or water mixed in with ice, you cannot have something that is both water and ice. H2O is one or the other. In fact, if you have a body of ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and you add heat to it, the temperature of H2O will not increase until the ice has been melted into water. The non-fuzzy nature of phase changes are enforced by reality

H20 is not “A Little Icy” or “A Little Watery”
H2O is water OR H20 is ice, exclusively

IV. Phase Changes

Another term for a “phase change” is a “tipping point.” As Tom Barnett wrote in an old presentation

In a nutshell, we’re employing the term tipping point to mean a pinnacle moment in the adoption of a new understanding or perception (i.e., a paradigm shift), beyond which we can speak about a “new rule set” becoming thoroughly embedded in a country’s (or region’s) political and economic culture.

So the tipping point of H20 at 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the point at which H2O can no longer bear to understand or perceive itself in an icy way, and instead jumps to a watery paradigm.

Barnett visually illustrates the tipping point by imagining Sisyphus rolling a bolder up hill: the tipping point is where the boulder reaches the top and begins rolling down hill again. So in the context of the world becoming so dependent on oil that the globe falls to a gas-based strategy, the “tipping point” may be illustrated as:

An Example of the Tipping Point

Boydian strategy also includes concepts of phase. A 1995 paper published by the National Defense University even argued that phase-changes are central to John Boyd-style war

But what shorter cycle times really achieve is to let U.S. forces to select the right time to engage the enemy so as to maximize differences in relative combat capabilities. Phase-Dominance builds small advantages into decisive victories. DBK informs commanders of the natural operating cycles and rhythms of enemy forces (as well as their own) and ensures that actions can be executed exactly when needed.

After the article I asked an anonymous expert for some clarifications. He seems to view Barnett’s “states” as fuzzy rather than phases.

Originally, Boyd and the fighter community defined the “state” of a fighter as its airspeed, altitude, and direction. “Maneuverability” was defined as the ability to change state, that is, airspeed, altitude, or direction in any combination. This is what E-M (energy- maneuverability) diagrams show. “Agility” was then defined as the ability to change maneuver state, which would make it the second (time) derivative of the state function. So A = d2(S)/dt2.

So if you equate “phase” with “state” you can see what I mean.

V. The Magic Cloud

The anonymous expert continued his explanation of “phases” in Boydian warfare

As Boyd started considering forms of conflict other than by air-air fighters, he broadened the definition of agility to asymmetric fast transients (not just second derivatives) and then OODA loops: “the ability to transition from one OODA state to another or equivalently, the ability to transition from one orientation state to another, more quickly than an opponent.” I’m not sure, incidentally, that I buy that the two parts of that definition are equivalent.

One reason for the ambiguity of whether OODA state and Orientation state are the same comes from the nature of the OODA loop itself. Even though in another post I have drawn the loop as:

The OODA Loop

It is incomplete. John Boyd clearly described several interlocking elements of Orientation, including analysis/synthesis, cultural background, genetic heritage, new information, and previous experience.. So a more “accurate” representation of the OODA loop would be:


But this becomes a mess — we don’t really understand how the different parts of Orientation work together, and all the excess information confuses the eye. Plus, each of the new boxes are truly unknown themselves — genetic heritage is an area of new research, not known facts, etc. We know each of the new boxes are sub-processes — genetics don’t “stop,” nor does reconstruction of old experiences, but how do they work? Unknown.

One solution — which doesn’t pretend that we understand Orientation yet acknowledges that Orientation exists — would be to draw it with a “magic cloud”


Tom Barnett has experience with the magic cloud

In Pentagon briefings, when planners don’t know how something is going to work out, they tend to put the “magic cloud” on the PowerPoint slide that signifies a sort of black-box experience where it all works out—we just can’t describe it in advance. In economic planning, the equivalent is the “negative wedge,” or the magical cost savings that will appear in the future. Why? Because we desperately need it, that’s why!

Dr. Barnett believes that the “nationbuilding” parts of the Iraq War were a magic cloud:

But the Pentagon hates MOOTW [military operations other than war], and bringing up the realities of that sort of necessary follow-on effort is enough to get you canned, as Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki found out during the run-up to the war. His predictions about needing far more boots on the ground were obvious, but the Pentagon does not hold that two-part conversation when it plans for war. It plans for war within the context of war and hopes the everything else that follows will work itself out—like the magic cloud icon on a PowerPoint slide.

The Pentagon’s Plan for Iraq

It’s called a “magic cloud” for a reason:

The Pentagon’s Plan for Iraq?

VI. Object-Oriented Programming

While Dr. Barnett disparages the “magic cloud,” that idea is a major and widely praised aspect of object-oriented programming (OOP), a very popular form of software design. To mix and match from two different definitions,

  • abstraction – A model that includes most important aspects of a given problem while ignoring less important details
  • encapsulation – Hide implementation from clients (Clients depend on interface)
  • inheritance or hierarchy – building off a simple base
  • polymorphism – The ability to hide many different implementations behind a single interface


Inheritance or Hierarchy

What do these four definitions have in common? The Magic Cloud. Every aspect of modern software development hides complexity from the user, putting up “magic clouds” and pretending that is how things work.

This simplification of models is good, because models are supposed to be simplifications of reality. But if we are remember what we don’t know, and what we have put aside for now, any diagram of the relationship between two objects

Two Related Entities, or Boxes

should instead be written with magic clouds

To Related Processes, or Clouds

VII. Quality

Earlier I analyzed the affection by European judges for slutty singers, in the context of ER diagrams (which are very closely related to Object-Oriented Programming). Our simple cloudy OOP diagram above can be extended into something similar but more relevant for American audiences — the graphics of the XBOX 360.

We can now fill in — or instantiate – “Object 1” and “Object 2” as Microsoft and the gamers.

Likewise, by taking a representative screenshot from gameplay


we can quickly fill in their relationship — find the Quality or meaning that holds them together


For simplicity’s sake, let’s try to see into the magic clouds by looking at only one gamer and only one Microsoft programmer. We see that those clouds are themselves composed of other clouds – that the “gamer” and the “programmer” are ongoing processes that are composed of ongoing processes:


Yet as with the OODA loop, too much information is presented. And this is just for a one-to-one relationship between a gamer and a Microsoft employee — a real chart would be much more complex. Still the lesson is clear: information is hiden from models all the time to make them easier to understand. But almost everything is made up of processes that are themselves made up of things.

VIII. Constructivism

The idea of “magic clouds” within “magic clouds” is known in political science, and other fields, as “constructivism”. Just as Tom Barnett calls the Global War on Terrorism: “war within the context of everything else,” constructivism can be “Anything within the context of everything else

When the feminist Jill Steams writes that

Those who adopt critical approaches view the state in dynamic rather than static terms, as a ‘process’ rather than a ‘thing.’ The ‘state’ does not exist in any concrete sense; rather it is ‘made.’ The state is made by the processes and practices involved in constructing boundaries and identities, differentiating between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside.’


Alternatively, militarism can be viewes as a social process which involves the mobilization for war through the penetration of the military, its power and influence, into more and more social areas


Peace, therefore, is also seen as a process which must reproduce itself.

She is merely saying that the State / Militaralism / Peace are “magic clouds” made up of other magic clouds.

Reflecting on the Constructivist, or “magic cloud,” victory in Political Science, Marc Lynch wrote

Constructivism has won, at least in the security policy realm. The key tenets of its research program have become the conventional wisdom in the public realm: that ideologies and ideas (such as Islam) matter, that the significance of ideas can not be reduced to material power, that norms (such as a norm against terrorism) matter, that public arguments and discourse (such as Muslim condemnations of terror, or the ‘war of ideas’) matter. Given that constructivism was long dismissed as too soft and fuzzy, insufficiently rigorous, and lacking in policy relevance, this has to be a surprising outcome (but see my note at the bottom of this post).

IX. Analogy

Earlier this semester I had my recitations read the transcript of Voice of the Caliphate, al Qaeda’s news magazine. Near the beginning of one of the read-through’s a student interjected, “This is crap.”

Ah ha, a teachable moment.

“What do you mean by crap?” I asked. It wasn’t an idle question. I remembered an excerpt from Sean J.A. Edwards excellent thesis on swarming

Swarming is not just a military phenomenon. Swarming exists across a spectrum of environments — from the military, to the social, to the biological (see table x). For example, bees, wolves, and ants conduct swarming. It is no surprise therefore that men facing swarms in battle tend to draw analogies to nature. Both the Crusaders in the 11th century and American soldiers in the 21st century referred to enemy swarms as “bees” or “flies” that could be beaten off but not driven away.6 The Russians thought the Chechens attacked them like “fleas on a dog” and “wasps on a ripe pear.”

When Edwards looked for words that recall insects, or I caught my students refering to al Qaeda propaganda as excrement, we both recognized the power of analogy.

As Anja-Karina Pahl wrote:

Analogy is recognized as perhaps one of the most important teaching methods, especially where some linguistic difference exists between speaker and listener. As a symbolic representation, it is natural to many cultures, important as a means of popularizing or guiding complex, abstract concepts. It creates a shortcut or ‘fast-track’ to comprehension, as it offers the advantage of drawing on some pre-existing capacity to see similarities and differences, rather than assuming a lengthy education is necessary. It may have a central role underlying the architecture of all thought.

The world’s great scientists have recognized analogy as being important in their research and variously labelled it as: a useful story, hypothesis, assumption, model, theory, standard, proof, reference frame or framework. The Collins and Macquarie dictionaries describe analogy as a ‘plan, blueprint, template, definition, concept, representation’. The Encyclopaedia of World Problems and Human Potential adds to this list with; allegory, synecdoche, metonymy, parable, symbol.

In short, the modern Western world regards analogy as an abstraction; a vague aesthetic, linguistic, symbolic, visual or mechanistic approximation. It supposes analogy is a ‘state of being something’, occurring at a single point in spacetime. It demands analogy to be a singular event, mental state or observation, even though this greatly limits its usefulness…

In the strictest sense however, analogy is not any of these things.

Analogy is a mathematical relationship, responsible for the repetition of individual and group elements in natural and artificially produced systems. It is the means whereby music, art and architecture achieve their precision and complexity. Related to stereology and also known as projective geometry, it is classically a technique whereby all conceivable 2D and 3D geometries can be compared at a single scale of observation: actually distorted in 2D, in order to be apparently preserved.

My faculty advisor for my thesis was extremely skeptical when I wanted to apply the chemical concept of electronc clouds. He became much more supportive when I changed the term “cloudy” to “fuzzy” — an established computer science concept — even though nothing else changed. A way of doing things that one field called “cloudy” another called “fuzzy.” Different terms, same analogy.

Analogies highlight the semantic similarity between two concepts . But hmmm… analogies are called “vague” and an “approximation”… That sounds like fuzziness… or cloudiness…

This does, too:

Classically, according to the ancient Greek philosophers, analogy does not just ‘exist’. It is formed. Analogy is a process, achieved via a certain sequence of steps

Analogy is like a Magic Cloud?

Indeed, in describing horizontal thinking (his term for the creative thinking caused by analogy and contradiction), Mark Safranski writes

John Boyd wrote a laboriously researched, epistemological theory he called ” Destruction and Creation ” where he advocated ” smashing ” the conceptual borders of domains – i.e. Horizontal thinking directed synthesis – as the key to learning and the discovery of new ideas and this process was a continuous cycle, a ” dialectic engine “. I believe that Boyd, without benefit of any advanced brain research data, came very close to finding the actual process of insight.

Where Boyd fell short was primarily in developing the details of his cycle. Horizontal thinking does not occur in a void but against an established body of knowledge with which every individual frames their interpretation of sensory information and symbolic communication. In other words, the data provided by Horizontal thinking must be integrated with a person’s Cognitive Map – the repository of Vertical knowledge and past experiences – to become of use.

Piercing the Magic Cloud

The point is that while constructivism, the “magic cloud,” and fuzzy logic make sense in distinct vertical disciplines, there is tremendous horizontal overlap between them.

So if constructivism, fuzzy logic, and the magic cloud are so similar, other than some realists who have since made their peace, who are the enemies of the Constructed Fuzzy Cloud?

X. The Fundamentalists

An implication of a recent presentation by Dr. Michael S. Heiser is that an early title for Lord Jesus was Cloud-Rider. If so the Sadduceses and Pharisees were early critics of “Cloudy Thinking.” Indeed, a simple coat-rack analogy

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 23:34-40)

led to a stony silence

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42″What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”

‘If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
(Matthew 22:41-46

and arguably unkind words from the Lamb (words, ironically enough, full of analogies)

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
(Matthew 23:33-36)

Today, very few religionists are fundementalists. For instance, Catholics accept that dogma is a process — is a “magic cloud” — under the idea of “unfolding” and the Development of Doctrine. Likewise, even the “far-right Christian recognized the importance of change: as he said in the 2004 State of the Union Address, “We can trust in that greater power Who guides the unfolding of the years.”

Instead, excepting a few lunatics like Jack Chick most fundementalists are secular. Curtis Gale Weeks, for instance, recently commented that

As long as gaps are built in the process of globalization, it will not be globalization — even if the gaps are made diffuse throughout the world rather than allowed to follow the “old borders” of the “old, unglobalized world” as they now do.

Globalization, a word whose suffix “ization” means process, is denied of meaning unless some element is absolutely maximized: unless the (apparently) fundemental property of “no gaps” is achieved.

Yet while the term “fundementalist is thrown around, a more dangerous form of absolutism is threatening to destroy science and globalization…

XI. The Rejectionists

65 million years ago gigantic dinosaurs roamed the world, stomping on mammals at will. On Thansgiving, the tables are turned. Why?



Or more “scientifically”


What is evolution? How exactly did it happen? Was it gradual, like Darwin said, or often “revolutionary” as implied by Gould (who apparently worked on Kuhn and Shumpater). What’s with crazy stuff like the panda’s thumb? Or eyes?

Not surprisingly, it appears that all the original debators on evolution — Lemarck, Darwin, their theologically-driven foes, were wrong. New material is constantly introduced, ideas change both normally and revolutionarily, and better theories tend to prevail. Science, at her best, junks old ideas for better ideas, and does not engage is hagiography.

Not that anti-Magic-Cloud absolutists — anti-cloud Rejectionists — desperately want evolution to be an “established fact”


and are willing to pervert science – to treat her like a bitch – to get their way.

The New York Times recently stuck up for turth cand criticized the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit, “Darwin,” for this sort of ideological blindness

Perhaps in reaction to the various attempts to get notions of “intelligent design” taken seriously in science classrooms the exhibition ends up minimizing scientific questions about the theory as well. “For 150 years,” the wall text states, “the theory of evolution by natural selection has not been seriously challanged by any other scientific explanation.”

But the point would have been even stronger had the museum acknowledged that Darwin’s theory has indeed been subject to scientific modification, and still is. The exhibition does not draw attention to these issues, though Mr. Eldridge’s own biography on the museum’s web site points out that he was one of the scientists (including Stephen Jay Gould) “challenging Darwin’s premise that evolution occurs gradually,” asserting instead that it occurs in spurts with long periods of stasis. Doesn’t this modify the idea of the survival of the fittest in any important way? It would have been worth pointing out, too, why this modification was proposed: the fossil record doesn’t provide the plentiful examples of continuous evolution that Darwin’s theory predicts.

Similar drivel is taught in “science” classrooms throughout the United States, and the world. The ministers of the very Mystery that focused on uncovering mysteries confuse facts with theories, models with reality, mathematical elegance with metaphysical meaning.

If we are not careful, the fundementalists will free science and globalization to death. Or burn it to the ground.

XII. Heat

Indeed, even the otherwise laudible NYT article ignores the Magic Cloud.

Recall the line:

The exhibition does not draw attention to these issues, though Mr. Eldridge’s own biography on the museum’s web site points out that he was one of the scientists (including Stephen Jay Gould) “challenging Darwin’s premise that evolution occurs gradually,” asserting instead that it occurs in spurts with long periods of stasis.

Curtis Gale Weeks also talks of stasis

With greater connectivity between societies (and even, within societies), static world views also undergo such perturbations; and, with the increase in the rate of information being transmitted between societies, the cognition loop of controversy — remodeling — stasis cycles at an increasing rate.

Stricly, it’s not a loop at all, because statis is the end of movement — absolute zero — death — from which nothing can emerge.

A Broken “Loop”

If there really is “stasis,” that means there has to be some form of radiation that brings the statis so life, generating controversy.. something to light it up

Something from the Outside

Yet recall that the heat generated by the interaction of things — including “shrinking the gap” — is just friction, another word for Quality:

Friction is not an attribute of a single enemy. It is a quality or a relationship between two entities

With that established, the other parts of Friction are naturally derived. Friction is like a chain holding tww prison escapees. It slows things down because the men want to go in different direction. It enables complex movement because the chain enables them to find more leverage. It deforms objects because weak points of contact are eroded away, like the skin where the chain is clasped. It generates heat from the contact.

And this friction isn’t just between two things: it is in the “context of everything else.” As Mark Safranski wrote:

Where you are trying to move the status quo toward, for what reason and at what speed will cause all the players who are cognizant of your efforts to recalculate their interests and react accordingly. It’s a clash within an interdependent environment – a battle of bewteen subsystems of a larger system, it’s just that the latter is ubiquitous so it is sometimes less recognizable.

So there never is a true stasis — all that “radition” is merely friction from within an interdependent environment. While there are times of more or less controversy, more or less change, which Thomas Kuhn might call “normal” and “revolutionary”


There is never true stasis. There is always change. There is always the Magic Cloud. At least as long as you exist.

Though globalization was chilled earlier this century

As a rival Rule-set to liberal, market democracy, the Socialist idea offers little that is attractive in the objective measurements of GDP, economy of resources, living standards or even the ability to plan social outcomes, the supposed strength of that value-system. What Socialism retains however, is its utility as a rationale to invest great swaths of arbitrary authority in a mandarin class of intellectuals who can fill the ranks of a regulatory state machine – lawyers, social workers, economists, statisticians and various kinds of apparatchiks. Socialism is attractive to them for the same reason American society is not – self-aggrandizing will to power as a class.

The heyday of these people had its origin in WWI where administrators like Herbert Hoover and William McAdoo were the heroic celebrities of that war moreso than generals. When the calamity of the great Depression and the Second World War struck America, the public was ready in the spirit of emergency to go along with the vast expansion of the state and the methods of the would-be planners. This phenomena was in sync with a global shift toward the state and was examined in detail by Friedrich von Hayek in his classic Road to Serfdom.

Globalizaton never froze, because America never froze

What did not happen however, was a fundamental shift in American values away from liberty and equality toward statism and paternalism on the European model. The socialist intellectuals had the keys to the kingdom on an empirical-results trial basis only and when their demand-side Keynesian prescriptions broke down in the 1970’s with stagflation the voters threw the Left and their premises out on their ear in 1980. This would not have happened on the European continent where parties come and go but the welfare state remains inviolate and the regulatory Brussells leviathan is actually be regarded by some as being ” ultraliberal”.

XIII. Fire and Ice

Stasis (death) can be achieved by the cessation of controversy. But that is only one possible death for a process — only one possible end for globalization

Freezing to death means the body stops moving but continues to exist. The body of the man in To Build a Fire remains even after his heart and lungs stop beating.

Stasis is a hardening, like a watery cloud condescending into hail. Everything’s still there, one ine piece. Just cold and lifeless.

One might also burn to death. Here the body is incinerated — either evaporated into the ether or melted beyond all recognition.

Fire and Ice

When I criticized Curtis Gale Weeks for his go-fast policy on homosexualism in Globalization, fire was the death of globalization I try to avoid.

In another post, Curtis criticized me for a go-slow attitude

This seems to be Dan’s only point. Patience is important —

He retorts by arguing that global rule sets on homosexualism need to be synchronized with the rising Core. Quotting Dr. Barnett:

But instead of always assuming that such rule set divergence signals the development of long-term antagonisms leading to potential downstream military competition, we need to focus on consistently working to synchronize such diverging rule sets, making sure the resulting global rule set doesn’t work to isolate potential new pillars of the Core, forcing them into exclusionary stances that limit the Core’s expansion.

Why is this important? Every instance of significant rule-set divergence holds within it the seeds of downstream conflict if left unaddressed. China is growing by leaps and bounds economically, and that growth and the greater interaction with the outside world that it generates will naturally generate strong feelings of national pride across the population, but especially among those youth most involved in enabling this growth and connectivity. Right now we are witnessing a boom in nationalist expressions within China’s burgeoning web community…

Here, unlike his previous writing, Weeks does see that we live in a tumultuous sea of friction. Synchronizing rule sets is important, because it reduces friction. But by deciding on a Post-Liberal “synchronization” of homosexualism, Weeks is reducing the frictional heat against those cultures we rub up against the heat.

Harmony will not be achieved when the world sings to the tune of Western Europe. As Barnett writes on page 179

What I find so hilarious in this is the assumption of the Old Core types that their rejection of these ideas represents their death kneel, when nothing’s further from the truth.

The future of America, and the world, is not found in the “tolerant” Netherlands, Republican France, or progressive Canada:

America will have far more in common with Brazil than with Canada, with India than with the United Kingdom, with Russia than with Germany, with China than with Japan — and yes, even with Iran than with France.

Okay, so maybe that last one’s not so hard to imagine, even if you’re over fourty.

This is why I don’t spend any time in this book arguing that America needs to win over either Europe or Japan with some grand strategic vision of shrinking the Gap. Frankly, in both instances, I think it would be a complete waste of time. Indeed, America should spend all its time and resources trying to win over China, India, Russia, Brazil, and a host of smaller New Core states in South America, Eastern Europe, and East Asia. The “West” is dead as a historically useful concept… (178-179)

The frictional heat of globalization causes hurricanes, mixing water from all civilizations. As Barnett writes, “No one gets off free” (178).

XIV. Water

Globalization is a magic cloud bursting with rain. It is a process, it is flux, it is water.

It may be burned away, or frozen to the ground, but sailing the seas of globalization is a life worth living and a future worth creating.

XV. Bibliography

Matthew,” by Saint Matthew, circa AD 70, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew.

To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, The Century Magazine, August 1908, v 76 pp 525-534, http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/London/Writings/LostFace/fire.html.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” by Thomas Kuhn, 1962, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions [buy the book].

Dominant Battlespace Awareness and Future Warfare,” by Jeffrey Cooper, Dominant Battlespace Knowledge, October 1995, http://www.ndu.edu/inss/books/Books%20-%201990%20to%201995 (from tdaxp).

“Feminist Perspectives on Security,” by Jill Steams, Gender & International Relations, 1998 (from tdaxp).

All The Way Up To Heaven,” by Guster, Lost and Gone Forever, 28 September 1999, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/08/05/the-beloved-warrior-s-theme-lyrics-for-all-the-way-up-to-hea.html [buy the cd].

Two Points for Honesty,” by Guster, Lost and Gone Forever, 28 September 1999, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/12/lyrics-for-two-points-for-honesty-by-guster-from-lost-and-go.html [buy the cd].

(VI): There And Then of Asian energy 2020,” by Thomas Barnett, Asian Energy Futures Event Report, 16 April 2001, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/projects/newrulesset/AEFreport6.htm.

Review of ‘The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security’,” by Phil Haun, Parameters: US Army War College Quarterly, Summer 2002, http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/02summer/sum-rev.htm.

Contradiction and Analogy as the Basis for Inventive Thinking,” by Anja-Karina Pahl, Triz Journal, August 2002, http://www.triz-journal.com/archives/2002/08/c/ (from Mark Safranski of ZenPundit).

–ization,” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2004, http://www.answers.com/topic/ization.

Gaming War Within the Context of Everything Else,” Fire and Movement, Issue 134, by Thomas Barnett, Horse and Musket, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/GamingWar.htm, 2004 (from tdaxp).

Raw Data: State of the Union Address,” by George Bush, Fox News, 20 January 2004, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,109032,00.html.

Handicapping the Gap: China: The New Core Pillar China,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 20 March 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/000022.html (from Phatic Communion).

Run,” by Snow Patrol, Final Straw, 30 March 2004, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/19/lyrics-for-run-by-snow-patrol-from-the-album-final-straw.html [buy the cd].

Kill Bill: Vol 2.,” by Quentin Tarentino, 18 April 2004, http://www.generationterrorists.com/quotes/kill_bill_vol_2.shtml [buy the dvd].

How we prevent the next Iraq occupation from going sour,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 20 April 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/000123.html.

A Jewish Critique of Bushism (part two),” by Jay Michaelson, Jewsweek, 19 July 2004, http://www.jewsweek.com/bin/en.jsp?enPage=BlankPage&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article%5El1311 (from About.com Agnosticism/Atheism Blog).

Introduction,” by Sean Edwards, Swarming and the Future of Warfare, September 2004, pg 2, http://www.rand.org/publications/RGSD/RGSD189/ (from Global Guerrillas through tdaxp).

Market Fundamentalists Created Current Iraq Crisis,” by L. Edward Knudson, Public Theology, 27 September 2004, http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1349.

Gay-friendly, heart-friendly . . . just plain friendly,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001054.html (from Phatic Communion).

3.3 Fuzzy Logic,” by Dan, A Computer Model of National Behavior, 9 December 2004, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/01/3_3_fuzzy_logic.html.

Postwar occupation planning in the Pentagon for Iraq: the magic cloud phenomenon,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 December 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001348.html.

Lakota after 4GW,” by Dan, tdaxp, 10 February 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/02/10/lakota_after_4gw.html.

Economic Leftists with Fascist Tendencies of the Right,” by Dan, tdaxp, 8 March 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/03/08/economist_leftists_with_fascist_tendencies_of_the_right.html.

Development of Doctrine,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last updated 13 April 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_doctrine.

Understanding Cognition: Part III: Horizontal and Vertical Thinking and the Origin of Insight,” by Mark Safranski, ZenPundit, 28 April 2005, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/04/understanding-cognition-part-iii.html (see also Part I and Part II).

Lecture 1: Engineering models, Basic principles of OOP, Basic concepts of OOP,” CS201: Principles of Object-Oriented Programming, lectured 9 May 2005, http://www.cse.mrt.ac.lk/lecnotes/cs201/2004-2005/yohan/Lecture01.ppt.

Lecture 2: Basic concepts of OOP, Strengths of object-orientation,” CS201: Principles of Object-Oriented Programming, lectured 12 May 2005, http://www.cse.mrt.ac.lk/lecnotes/cs201/2004-2005/yohan/Lecture02.ppt.

Zen and the Art of Semantic Eurovision Networks,” by Dan, tdaxp, 23 May 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/23/zen_and_the_art_of_semantic_eurovision_networks.html.

How Did Jesus Become God?,” by Michael Heiser, The DaVinci Code: The Hype and The History, June 2005, http://www.michaelsheiser.com/Da%20Vinci%20Code%20Conference.ppt.

Friction (and other things) in Politics,” by Dan, tdaxp, 12 June 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/12/friction_and_other_things_in_politics.html.

A Question of ‘Friction,'” by Mark Safranski, ZenPundit, 13 June 2005, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/06/question-of-friction-yesterday-dan-of.html.

The Frictional Sea,” by Dan, tdaxp, 14 June 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/14/the_frictional_sea.html.

A Nietzschean Look at the European Disease,” by Mark Safranski, ZenPundit, 10 July 2005, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/07/nietzschean-look-at-european-disease.html.

Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat,” by Dan, tdaxp, 14 July 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/14/every-man-a-panzer-every-woman-a-soldat.html.

4 major principles of Object-Oriented Programming,” by Raymon Lewallen, Raymond Lewallen, 19 July 2005, http://codebetter.com/blogs/raymond.lewallen/articles/59908.aspx.

OODA Loop as a Flowchart, Try 2,” by Dan, tdaxp, 20 July 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/ooda-loop-as-flowchart-try-2.html.

IR: Constructivism v Rationalism,” by Mark Lynch, Abu Advaark, 25 July 2005, http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2005/07/ir_constructivi.html (from Duck of Minerva, also at Bloodless Coup, I.z.y./data, and Dr. Nexon at tdaxp).

Market Fundamentalists Lose in Iran (For Now),” by Rostam Pourzal, MR Zine, 3 August 2005, http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal030805.html.

#862 – (1) Al-Qaeda Internet News Broadcast Celebrates U.S. Hurricanes and Gaza Pullout, Reports Zarqawi’s Anti-Shiite Campaign and Chemical Mortar Shells in Iraq, MEMRI TV, 2 September 2005, http://memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=862# (from Jihad Watch through Coming Anarchy).

Forgetting and Representing,” by Dan, tdaxp, 28 September 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/09/28/forgetting-and-representing.html.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_cloud,” Wikpedia: The Free Encyclopedia, 15 October 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_cloud.

Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating,” by Thomas Barnett, 20 October 2005, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399153128/102-4292267-8637755?v=glance [‘s blog]

Biology + Politics @ UNL,” by Dan, tdaxp, 27 October 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/10/27/biology-politics-unl.html.

The DNA of Politics,” by Dan, tdaxp, 3 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/03/the-dna-of-politics.html.

The Gaps in ‘Globalizsm,'” by Curtis Weeks, Phatic Communion, 15 November 2005, http://www.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2005/11/the_gaps_in_glo.php (from ZenPundit).

The Seduction and Metaphysics of the XBOX 360,” by Dan, tdaxp, 16 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/16/the-seduction-and-metaphysics-of-the-xbox-360.html.

Essentially, then, the “connectivity is really the building of cheesecloth,” by Curtis Gale Weeks, tdaxp, 16 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/13/blueprint-for-divisiveness.html#c355860.

Tom Barnett Against Connectivity Fundementalists,” by Dan, tdaxp, 17 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/17/tom-barnett-against-connectivity-fundamentalists.html.

Enough to Make an Iguana Turn Green: Darwin’s Ideas,” by Edward Rothstein, New York Times, 18 November 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/18/arts/design/18darw.html?ex=1289970000&en=12879d59a3a52caa&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss.

A Future Worth Fearing: tdaxp on Connectivity,” by Curtis Weeks, Phatic Communion, 18 November 2005, http://www.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2005/11/a_future_worth.php.

The Geographer’s New Map, Part I,” by Dan and Catholicgauze, tdaxp, 18 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/18/the-geographer%E2%80%99s-new-map-part-i.html.

Howard Dean,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last updated 20 November 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Dean.

Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts:
The First Part, Beauty
The Second Part, Friction
The Third Part, Seas
The Fourth Part, Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
The Fifth Part, The Magic Cloud

11 thoughts on “Quality 5, The Magic Cloud”

  1. Mark,

    Thank you.

    Federalist X,

    Excellent post. As I commented at your blog, Abu Aardvark has been following the rationalist / constructivist debate in political science: http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2005/ 07/ir_constructivi.html. A brief discussion on rationalism v. constructivism (“the magic cloud”) was in an earlier draft, but was cut for length — a long with a lot of other stuff!

  2. Dan: thanks again. i'm perplexed by your suggestion of a magic cloud v. irreducible entity opposition. i replied over at a9, but i'd like to post a better version of the thought here (its natural place).

    in the science of logic, IEs first appear in the chapter “Being-for-Self” and are referred to as “the one” (many isn't posited yet, so we're talking about just one irreducible entity). the dialectic then takes us from the One to the void, not immediately to the many (you can't get to the many until you have a void). in other words, the antithesis of absolute determinedness is the first instance of posited nothingness. hegel states:

    “In its own self the one simply is; this its being is neither a determinate being nor a determinatess as a relation to an other, nor is it a constitution, what it is, in fact, is the accomplished negation of the this circle of categories. Consquently, the one is not capable of becoming an other: it is unalterable. {Science of Logic, Doctrine of Being, Ch. 3}

    And as Hegel is prone to do, the posited being-within-self of the One reveals a posited nothingness… the Void. Then see, Hegel's remark on Atomism just after the One and the Void discussion, note especially:

    “…Physics with its molecules and particles suffers from the atom, this principle of extreme externality, which is thus utterly devoid of the Notion, just as much as does the theory of the State which starts from the particular will of individuals {Id.}”

    if we are to understand IEs as opposition to magic clouds, it would seem to me you are either arguing that the magic cloud is void (an interesting alternative, i admit) or that what is meant by IEs is a slightly more complex monadality (getting us to the stage of the many ones, perhaps). what do you think?

  3. Hey Dan, I've been offline for a few days (techinical difficulties…)

    This is interesting; I will try to respond more fully when I can.

    As for stasis…Your vision of stasis being a kind of death is off, I think. Balance can be stasis as well, of a sort. A limit-cycle system (like a perpetual pendulum) has movement but also stasis. Whether you view such a pendulum as possible in any way but theory might make a difference in your concept of whether stasis includes movement…

    But look at everything you have written in this post. To the degree that you believe all of your ideas to be true, you've achieved a cognitive stasis. I.e., these fundamentals of your ideation are, er, fundamentals. Starting points. Ending points. Etc. But there are plenty of philosophers who believe that the ideas we create become prisons of a sort: or, a form of cognitive stasis.

    I'll try to get back to this when I'm able.

  4. Curtis,

    Thanks for the comments! My sympathy on limited access!

    The 0-movement points of a perfect pendulum are indeed a “stasis.” In the context of the post, then, the only way the pendulum could start-up again would be from radiation — in this case, graviational radiation from the earth. But if you take a more holistic view which sees the earth and the pendulum as part of the same system, then the moments of the pendulum are just aspects of the relationship beteween the Earth and the pendulum.

    The text of this post is static; it is dead. It is an artefact of a process, not a process itself. If I update it, then there will be a new static artefact of the dynamic process of my thoughts. Human thought is the ultimate “magic cloud” — it has no starting points and ending points. It is also a process which references itself, which is how it can become like a swaddling blanket.

    Federalist X,

    I think cross-posting important parts of comments is a good idea. So I will write them here and at your comment page, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/flavorflav12/113262687343664741/.

    For new readers, you asked what was the opposite of a “magic cloud”, and I answered an “irreducable entity.” However, I was thinking “entity” in the Computer Science /database theory sense, not the Hegelian sense. And “irreducable” was unclear. So I will first step back and say that a magic cloud is an

    (a) ill-defined
    (b) dynamic
    (c) process

    Therefore, it's opposite must be a

    (a) well defined
    (b) static
    (c) entity

    In other words, a magic cloud is a functionin a spaghetti-code function in a von Neumann computer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_architecture). An example of its opposite would be an unchangeable entity in a database, such as

    constant table Blog {
    blogName varchar(100),
    blogURL varchar(100),
    blogAuthor varchar(100)

    While well-defined, static entities are artefacts of process (see my words to Curtis), their unchaning mathematical perfection are the complete opposite of the messy naturalism of magic clouds.

    I'm enjoying mixing constructivism, CompSci, and Hegel! Let's see where this discussion leads! 🙂

  5. me: “perpetual pendulum”

    you: “perfect pendulum”

    We are talking about different things?

    I was thinking more along the lines of “equal but opposite forces”, etc., or the conservation of energy, when I mentioned balance. Within a system, there can be movement; but, the system itself doesn't change unless an outside force intrudes upon the system. You might say — ? — that the “system” is in fact the collection of all possible relationships of all parts of that system and the results of all different relationships of those parts; so, even though the system may appear to be changing as individual elements alter their relationships (five points can become a pentagram or a line), the “system” itself is unchanging (five points can only be arranged in a limited number of ways. ) The parts are always in relationship to each other within the system; the set of all possible relationships constitutes the system and is static.

    Example of cognitive stasis: You are you and I am I. Now, you might say that the total image of yourself is constantly changing because of constant friction from within (possibly inspired by or catylized by the introduction of forces from without); but, you are unlikely to fully appreciate the possibility that you and I are in fact the same being. So we arrive at a static worldview, a sense of irreducible entities even if that irreducible nature is not perfectly distinct in all aspects: the entity may have a cloudiness to it. No matter how much we might think that our correspondences alter our particular ideas about who you are and who I am, we are still likely to hold to the static view that you and I are not the same person. Similarly, without being able to perfectly define either “the U.S.” or “China,” we may hold to the static view that these are two distinct nations. (For now, at least…) In fact, heterosexuality and homosexuality are not entirely understood — but the static worldview) of them tend to separate them, even if by way of a continuum of sexuality.

    Now. Consider the possibility that we are already *within* a system, and that the introduction of “new data” in our cognitive process is really a new awareness of connections which already exist rather than a real change to that system. The system may appear to grow if our concept of “world” is enlarged; but, we are really becoming aware of the whole system: our insular view of “the world” is proving inadequate for the definition of “the world.” The constant friction you mention operates as the catylist for this growing understanding of relationships and has probably been in effect since the first thinking monkey crossed his first hill or entered his first clearing from the forest. (Metaphorically speaking, i.e.) But some monkeys didn't cross into a new environment. Even those monkeys probably noticed new birds and beasts which suddenly appeared from outside their accustomed environment; and, this enlarged their worldview without much enlarging “the world.” But did these monkeys react differently to a new type of wild boar or did they see that boar as only a slightly modified form of the familiar boar? How significantly did their worldviews change when no new beasts appeared?

    We are soon going to run out of new plains and forests; what birds and beasts that haven't already become extinct are going to be discovered (and probably, are going to be assigned to the categories we already have for describing birds and beasts); and much of the water that you are calling globalization is going to settle into a fairly calm pool, with perhaps occasional ripples. Until then, there will be storms: clouds will burst and reform, burst and reform, and people will continue to see odd creatures in the clouds, each according to that person's imagination. Of course, a discovery of life on mars or elsewhere in the universe might keep the pool from calming anytime soon, especially if it is significantly different from life on Earth. (But in any case, most people won't travel to Mars, and the likelihood of extraterrestrial visitors to Earth is quite slim, at best.)

  6. Curtis,

    If I am reading you right, the heart of your post is

    “the “system” is in fact the collection of all possible relationships of all parts of that system and the results of all different relationships of those parts; so, even though the system may appear to be changing as individual elements alter their relationships (five points can become a pentagram or a line), the “system” itself is unchanging (five points can only be arranged in a limited number of ways. … the “system” is in fact the collection of all possible relationships of all parts of that system and the results of all different relationships of those parts; so, even though the system may appear to be changing as individual elements alter their relationships (five points can become a pentagram or a line), the “system” itself is unchanging (five points can only be arranged in a limited number of ways.”

    In other words, the “rules of the game” stay the same, but the players and scores change. The only way the “rules of the game” change is if something from the outside changes them.


    a) all intersubsystem “radition” is really just intrasystem “friction.” There is nothing outside the system of the world
    b) that system is a “magic cloud” the “rules of the game” themselves are changing constantly
    c) most of the time the system rules change slowly, through “normal controversy.” Othertimes, they change quickly, through “revolutionary remodeling”
    d) unchanging opinions are not evidence for “cognitive stasis”

    All these are generated by processes — all things “rain down” from “magic clouds.” These processes are time-sensitive, so say you believe the same thing now (t1) as you did five minutes ago (t0). This is not evidence that you are cognitively static. This is evidence that you have not changed enough to effect the system-function over the timeperiod. In the same way, the fact that floor(2.1) and floor(2.9) both resolve to “2” isn't evidence that 2.1 is 2.9 — it's evidence that 2.1 and 2.9 aren't significantly different with respect to the mathematical floor() procedure.

    I apologize if I have misconstrued your comment.

  7. Interesting…I don't know if we are or are not talking the same language, but your response is stimulating ideas for me…

    I've been through part of the “process theory” phase (particularly when I began to seriously analyze the process of writing poetry), and I'm quite interested in Henri Bergson's theory of time as he expressed it via the word “duration.” I also once had my funny bone pricked when I read a post by an objectivist who couldn't quite understand the objectivist theory of identity when considering the thought experiment about an apple from which bites are taken at regular intervals: when does it stop being an apple and become merely a core (or anything in between)? (But the objectivist outlook on time is that time is mechanical and can actually be divided into distinct parts, like seconds on a watch….Which ignores Bergson's concept of duration.)

    Anyway. I wasn't considering “rules of the game” so much as trying to pinpoint the difference between stasis and flow: when does one become the other? If there are constant phase shifts — phase shifting is continuous — then stasis can never really occur, can it? Except, the continuous phase shifting might itself be a form of stasis. If phase shifting is not continuous, then it follows that stasis actually occurs; at which point, an outside force of some sort must break up that stasis or cause phase shifting. Perhaps you and I are looking at different scales and I am using these terms loosely…

    “Unchanging opinions” — how can these not be stasis? Mind, I'm not saying that stasis is always a bad thing… I don't think that fundamentalism is always a bad thing, either — especially since some foundation seems necessary if we are going to build a theory or a house — but I once had the opportunity to point out to a fundamentalist formalist poet that “a fundament” can either mean a base for a theory or else, according to the dictionary, it means “buttocks” — and, that my problem is with fundamentalists who combine the two definitions in the form of “anal-retentive.”

  8. dan: i've been away. i am typing up a response in the form of a second post and will link to it here when complete (probably late this week). hegel has a lot to say about this, and unfortunately he's been thrown out with the marxist bathwater poured around him.

  9. Curtis,

    In the introduction to this series I mention Pirsig's two books: “Zen” and “Lila” [1]

    Both try to divide up knowledge, but while Zen does so by seperating “Classical” and “Romantic,” Lila finds “Static” and “Dynamic” to be a better seperation. So while in Zen there's asomewhat tortuous discussion about a church (is it Classical or Romantic — never really explained), in Lila it's clear that Churches offer “static” quality that is different but no less important than the “dynamic” quality that a rival activity might offer.

    Perhaps one could compare this to the northern ocean, with ice flows and water flows co-existing…


    Still waiting! 🙂

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/05/29/quality-a-tdaxp-series.html

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