Not Box Seats, Admittedly…

Nebraska Expects Tough Time from La. Tech,” Associated Press, 2 September 2006, http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/3812226.html.

… but my office now offers a direct and near-level view of the ginormous big-screen TV installed over the north end of Memorial Stadium. Add in live (to the second) streaming commentary from Huskers.com, and I am one happy graduate student.

I remodeled my office specifically to allow me to see the game while working on my laptop, and this is extremely cool. I am also able to hear announcements from the stadium, and also hear the rhythmic chants of Go Big Red.


Huskers Nation

The Huskers will be playing before their NCAA-record 276th consecutive sellout in a stadium that has been expanded to 81,067 with addition of 6,500 seats and 13 skyboxes in the north end zone.

As part of the $50 million facilities upgrade, Nebraska also boasts a video screen that’s 117 feet wide and 33 feet high.

Nebraska comes into the game off three straight wins to close an 8-4 season. The Huskers are ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2002 and are favored to win the Big 12 North for the first time since 1999.

“I feel I’m 6 years old and it’s going to be Christmas morning on Saturday,” defensive end Jay Moore said. “With all the upgrades, the new seats and the new big screen, the stadium will be rocking.”

Nebraska is paying a $750,000 guarantee to the Bulldogs, who also play September road games at Texas A&M and Clemson.

The Huskers are favored by three touchdowns, but the Bulldogs plan to give them their money’s worth.

Go Big Red!

Chilling Interview with Iraqi Insurgent Leader

Chilling Interview with Baathist/Qaedist Insurgent Leader

A very well connected reader of tdaxp has, in the last few days, conducted an interview with a man he believes to be very high up in the Iraqi insurgency. He is safely out of Iraq. His interview is now online, and I suggest it be read in full. The nature and aims of the Iraqi insurgency cannot be properly understood without knowing our enemy.

After being seated in his office, I said: “Colonel [name withheld], I came especially to learn your views in regard to the condition of your civil and political affairs in Anbar Provence, and the Sunni areas generally. I desire them for publication in [newspaper withheld]. I do not wish to misrepresent you in the slightest degree, and therefore only ask for such views as you are willing that I should publish.

“I have not now,” he replied, “and never have had, any opinion on any public or political subject which I would object to having published. I mean what I say, honest and earnestly and only object to being represented. I dislike to be placed before our countries in a false position, especially as I have not saught the reputation which I have gained.”

I replied, “Sir, I will publish only what you say, and then you cannot posssibly be misreprsented. Our people desire to know your feeling toward the Iraqi Government, your men both inside and outside of Anbar Province, and upon the question of the Shia electoral majority.”

“Well, sir,” said he, “When I surrendered my 7,000 men in 2003, I accepted a parole honestly, and have observed it faithfully, up to today. I have counseled peace in all the speeches I have made; I have advised my people to submit to the laws of the State, oppressive as they are, and unIslamic as I believe them to be. I was paroled, and not pardoned until the issuance of the last proclamation of general amnesty, and therefore did not think it prudent for me to take any active part until the oppression of my people became so great that they could not endure it, and then I would be with them. My friends thought differently and sent me to Mosul, and I am glad that I went there.”

“Then I suppose, colonel, that you think the oppression has become so great that your people should no longer bear it?”

“No,” he answered, “it is growing worse hourly; yet I have said to the people, stand fast; let us try to right the wrong by legislation. A few weeks ago I was called to Ramadi to counsel with other gentlemen who had been prominently identified with the cause of the former government, and we then offered pledges which we thought would be satisfactory to Mr. al-Maliki and his government, and we told them that if they would not call out their army we would agree to preserve order and see that the laws were enforced. The parliamentary committee certainly led me to believe that our proposition would be accepted, and no soldiers mobilized. Believing this, I came home, and advised all of my people to remain peaceful, and offer no resistance to any reasonable law. It is true that I never have recognized Mr. al-Maliki’s government as having any legal existence, yet I was willing to submit to it for a time, with the hope that the wrongs might be righted peacefully.”

“What are your feelings towards Mr. al-Maliki’s government, Colonel?”

“I loved the old government in 2003. I love the old regime yet. I think we have the best State in the world, if administered as it was before the war. I am opposing now only the radical revolutionists who are trying to destroy it. I believe Mr. al-Maliki’s government to be composed, as I know it is in Anbar, of the worst men on God’s earth – men who would not hesitate at no crime [sic], and who have only one object in view – to enrich themselves.”

“In the event of resumed operations against you, do you think there will be any resistance offered to their acts?” I asked.

“That will depend upon circumstances. If the soldiers are simply called out, and do not interfere with or molest anyone, I do not think there will be any fight. If, on the contrary, they do what I believe they will do, commit outrages, or even one outrage, upon the people, they and Mr. al-Maliki’s government will be swept out of its existence; not a radical will be left alive. If the militia are called out, we cannot but look upon it as a declaration of war, because Mr. Malikihas already issued his proclamation directing them to shoot down the “terrorists” wherever they find them, and he calls all Muslim men “terrorists.”

Read the Rest

Be Resilient, Part II: How to Measure Agility

In the previous post, I measured resilience by the amount of effort required to perturb a system. In this page I will discuss a related element, agility, which is shown by systems that do not experience perturbation in spite of risk factors. For instance, an economy that is extremely dependent to variation in the flow of capital would be a capital-wise non resilient economy. A person who is extremely dependent on nurse for support would be labor-wise a non resilient person. A household that required their home not to be destroyed by a hurricane would be land-wise a non-resilient home.

Yet each of these resilience-challenged entities express agility if they continue successful operation in spite of a perturbation. If the economy keeps humming, if the patient stays alive, if the home does flood in spite of storms, all of them demonstrate agility.

Given that, I will use the following definition

agility, n:
the capacity to enforce the presence or flow of land, labor, or capital such that system perturbations do not result in system transformations

Agility can thus be seen as a form of power over circumstances. A capital-dependent economy can have agility through contracts or a powerful friends (a pillaging army). A labor-dependent patient can have agility through contracts or powerful friends (mafia buddies). A land-dependent family have have agility through contracts or powerful friends (guys strong enough to lift sandbags).

It follows that agility is by nature a social phenomenon that is dependent on the quality of the relationships between an entity and others.

A nation suffering an oil-shock that responds by successfully occupying the striking oil fields, however, would demonstrate agility. (Of course, if that nation occupies the oil wells clumsily and stupidly such that the system changes from one state to another, then no agility is demonstrated).

To measure agility, we take the minimum amount of capital, land, or labor that is required to enforce the flow or presence of the perturbing fluctuation in capital, land, or labor from the amount possessed. For instance, a house during Katrina would not have agility, because it is impossible to trade labor or capital to make up for the fluctuation in land. We might approximate this from a pattern of responses to perturbations. If a patient has experienced a number of nursing strikes, for instance, but has maintained care for himself, then he has a historic record of agility.

Of course, one can have agility but not resiliency, though that is a post for another time…


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

A Hypothesis for "System Administration for Phenotypes"

The reaction paper this week includes commentary on the assigned work (David Buller’s Adapting Minds and some articles, including one on varying levels of the “ADD gene” in different populations).

Consider if people with a detectable genetic polymorphism were more likely than others in a host population to harm themselves or others during stressful situations. There is every reason to think this module exists, as group-conflict was a regular feature of the Era of Evolutionary Adaptation. It is reasonable to suppose that as part of multilevel evolution, groups evolved to contain genetic diversity sufficient so that some members will injure themselves in moralistic punishment against “occupiers” or perceived oppressors of the group. Being able to identify and categorize these populations would allow an occupying power to fulfill its responsibilities to all occupied persons. Programs could be aimed at those most likely to cause harm to themselves and others because of the occupation. And because we would be looking at genetic factors, categorization could be free of the well known problems of behavioral profiling.

A hypothesis can be generated from this scenario: “a statistically significant fraction of the population will engage in moralistic punishment such that they forfeit advantages they had before a slight.” I am not aware of studies that show this. Existing studies, so far as I am aware, only measure forfeit of potential gains, rather than actual assets.

As you can see from the concluding paragraphs above, the paper generates a hypothesis that may become the basis for my planned final paper, System Administration for Phenotypes:


Buller’s contributions fall into two broad categories, the profound and the banal. Buller’s important contributions tie into Rockman and Wade, but his nonsensical ones stand by themselves. I will address those first.
If Buller statement that “”The theory behind the cheater-detection mechanism module should lead us to expect a mechanism that is specialized in detecting cheaters in the domain of social exchanges. But the experimental results that purportedly support the existence of a cheater-detection module involve detecting cheaters in the domain of social contracts” (172) doesn’t demonstrate his empty argumentativeness, nothing does. Other examples of nit-picking include his bizarre attacks against domain-specific scientific terminology – “If Evolutionary Psychologists claim that we are not the same species now that we were 150,000 years ago, because 150,000 years ago our lineage did not possess the ‘qualities that define us as a unique species,’ then Evolutionary Psychology’s demarcation of Homo sapiens is directly at odds with the standard biological demarcation of our species.”” (443) — one wonders if he will attack organic chemistry for pseudoscientific research for having a different definition of “molecule’ than metallic chemistry. Buller furthers this absurdity by accidentally attacking physiology as a useful endeavor – “there is no single human anatomy and physiology possessed by all humans around the world of which Gray’s Anatomy provides a detailed and precise description.” (427) — in an attempt to prove there can be no completely universal human psychology. I will not belabor these or Buller’s mistakes – subsistence hunter-gatherers would be delighted to know that “matings between different pairs of have-somethings can achieve equal reproductive success, even if those different pairs have different ranks in Evolutionary Psychology’s scale of mate value” (255), for example — other than to say his attempted knock against Evolutionary Psychology misses the mark.

What Buller gets right, along with Wade and Rockman, is the important realization that humans are still changing. With this comes the implications that humanity expresses genotypic polymorphism. Tooby and Cosmides knew that advantageous genetic differences would replace all variations, but Rockman’s suggestion that this could take 10,000 generations (2216) — or roughly 200,000 years — opens the door to numerous stereotypic polymorphisms in the human community. Indeed, Wade outlines two separate genetic method for a trait (light skin) that have evolved within about 10,000 years.

The Standard Social Sciences Model (SSSM) teaches, among other things, that differences in behavior between between people of the same age and sex are the result of culture. Ironically, even Evolutionary Psychology (EP) – which supposedly opposes Durkheim-style “omnis cultura ex cultura” (Tooby and Cosmides 22) determinism – agrees in this. SSSM and EP differ in how information is processed – whether “learning” or “evocation” is a better analogy – but agree that behavior is strictly a function of input. Now we learn that, even given identical input, people may behave differently because genes change behavior (see also Caspi et al, as well as Harpending and Cochran).

This leads to a practical implication and a possible solution. The American military often goes to places where its actions may cause people to attack it. In Afghanistan today, and the American South during Reconstruction, we have enemies (Taliban Ku Klux Klansmen, respectively) who came from distinct communities, both ethnically (Pashtuns and White White Southerners) and religious (Muslims and Protestants). In both situations, however, rapid probabilistic categorization was problematic because both religion and ethnicity were shared by the militants and the host population.

Consider if people with a detectable genetic polymorphism were more likely than others in a host population to harm themselves or others during stressful situations. There is every reason to think this module exists, as group-conflict was a regular feature of the Era of Evolutionary Adaptation. It is reasonable to suppose that as part of multilevel evolution, groups evolved to contain genetic diversity sufficient so that some members will injure themselves in moralistic punishment against “occupiers” or perceived oppressors of the group. Being able to identify and categorize these populations would allow an occupying power to fulfill its responsibilities to all occupied persons. Programs could be aimed at those most likely to cause harm to themselves and others because of the occupation. And because we would be looking at genetic factors, categorization could be free of the well known problems of behavioral profiling.

A hypothesis can be generated from this scenario: “a statistically significant fraction of the population will engage in moralistic punishment such that they forfeit advantages they had before a slight.” I am not aware of studies that show this. Existing studies, so far as I am aware, only measure forfeit of potential gains, rather than actual assets.