The Los Angeles of Dreams

My dad, my mom, my wife, and I had driven to Los Angeles. But there was a problem with the car, so we took a tour bus of the city.

We had heard that if you try to drive the bus by yourself there would be problems, but a driver was already in the seat. So we waited to start.

I sat in one seat. Across the isle and behind one row, my mom, and wife, and my dad sat. My dad was not wearing his shirt.

My mom quizzed me about the Crusades some. I was able to name the first few but not the last. We checked our answers on our laptops and laughed.

The bus took us around the famous sites of Los Angeles. It was not the real Los Angeles, but the “Los Angeles of Dreams.” The brown barren hills were so high, the half-cloudy skies were so bright and blue, the water that soaked us was so wet.

Sometime I said “I think Fei is scared,” but I heard the words in my dad’s voice. I helped Fei across the aisle and she came to sit with me.

Then I woke up.

About three minutes later I realized it was a dream of my father.

Quality of Service and the Monopoly of Violence

First, some agitation-propaganda relating to the idea that the police are there to protect you:


Caged behind a deep moat and six-metre walls but tiger escaped to kill zoo visitor

Police were called to the zoo early yesterday after the animal, a four-year-old female Siberian tiger named Tatiana, went missing from her pen. Four officers came across the body of the dead man, who is thought to have been in his 20s, in the darkness outside the tiger’s enclosure. Three hundred yards away, they spotted another man slumped on the ground outside the zoo’s cafe, with blood pouring from gashes in his head. Beside him sat the tiger.

When the animal resumed its attack on the man, the officers crept closer. Their movement caught the tiger’s eye, and she began to move towards them. All four officers opened fire with their handguns, hitting the cat several times and killing it. It was then that they noticed a third man had been mauled.

Police see a wild beast attack a human. They watch the beast. Police see a wild beast move towards them. They kill the beast.

Now, of course wild beast attacks are relatively rare (as opposed to wild human attacks, which are depressingly common). However the broader point remains: the police (just like everyone else) love their family, their jobs, and themselves more than they love you.

In the case of the San Francisco zoo horror, making sure they would not get in trouble for destroying lie property mattered more than preventing possibly fatal injury to a would-be tiger-snack. But similar QOS (quality of service) problems happens in any market where there is one major service provider.

Thus, I have trouble imagining why people who talk about a “monopoly of violence” think what they do. The idea is inherently anti-American, a rejection on the P2P security network enshrined by the 2nd amendment.

Secure neighborhoods are armed neighborhoods. Many of those who speak of a “monopoly of violence” are wealthy enough to live in the petite bourgeois neighborhoods that the police were raised to protect. Good for them. But for those who do not live in such neighborhoods — either because they are too poor, or unfortunate, or because the police administration of their neighborhood is run by leftists, a security provider other than the monopoly is needed.

That’s why you need a 2nd Amendment. And that’s why a “monopoly of violence” is as dangerous as a tiger on the loose.

Scientific vs Popular Debate of xGW

Maximum, S. (2007). Arrows in the eagle’s claw — Chapter II, about 4GW analysis. Fabius Maximus. December 3, 2007. Available online: http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/arrows-in-the-eagles-claw-ii-4gw-analysts/ (from Defense and the National Interest).

Fabius Maximus (who kindly has me on his blogroll) calls for two conflicting goals in his recent post on 4GW analysis: first, he wants scientific progress on 4GW theory, and second, he wants fierce non-academic debate.

In parts of his article, Fabius appears to want a smack down brawl, a decline of community friendships, and a decrease in collaboration:

These things might result from 4GW analysis becoming over-collaborative, too congenial. The rapid development of the sciences results from the open clashing of views, often with fierce criticism between those of different views. The 4GW literature contains little of this.

Yet in other parts, Fabius holds high the banner of science as a cure for ills:

It is difficult to accurately describe a literature as large and diverse as that discussing 4GW. That being said, it seems to display some characteristics suggesting exhaustion or sterility. 4GW is a theoretical concept, only useful to the extent it generates insights for practitioners of statecraft, war, and intelligence. Otherwise it is either a hobby or an academic pursuit. The following are tendencies that seem to be appearing more frequently in discussions of 4GW.

Perhaps I am reading too much on Fabius’ words, but it seems he is calling for the development of a full-fledged field with thousands of employees and hangers-on.

If Fabius wants science to study 4GW, as some do and others do not, then we need a 4GW paradigm to guide us. This requires, among other things

a) variation to study
b) an agreement on what such a good study would look like

Such a scientific/academic program will generate significant differences between group means, practical effect sizes, and eventually links to other academic literatures. While certainly there should be disagreements, even strong disagreements, collegiality is a must if the community doesn’t fracture into incommesurable factions that just talk past each other.

Fabius also calls for useful tools to be deployed to warfighters. This is the role of an educator. It requires, among other things

a) rhetoric
b) practical experience

While scientifically/academically, xGW theory would be grown through studies analyzing variance, educationally/practically it would be spread through writing quality and utility.

These are both good goals. But Fabius appears to jump between them, attacking and embracing them in kind. Fabius should choose between his goals, or acknowledge that both are desired. Otherwise, it is hard to know what he means.