Swarming and the Future of Warfare and Other Good Theses

Before I went on vacation, I set tdaxp to automatically posts sections of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. A much more interesting, better written, and fascinating work is Sean J. A. Edwards’ “Swarming and the Future of Warfare. Written as a dissertation for the Pardee RAND Graduate School, it looks at an ultra-violent form of distributed denial of service attack.

For a taste, try footnote 15 from the Introduction

On April 14, 2004 a Marine amphibious assault vehicle carrying supplies came under RPG fire, made a wrong turn into unsecured Fallujah area controlled by insurgents and was ambushed. The vehicle caught fire and the 17 man crew sought refuge in a nearby home. Within minutes at least 100 insurgents converged from all directions towards the firefight and plume of smoke, firing RPGs and small arms. A rescue force of 4 tanks, 6 Humvees, and a dismounted platoon with air support fought their way through enemy held terrain, moving with a 360 degree defense, and rescued the encircled crew.

A quick segue into computer science: some lines from Edwards masterpiece remind me of Doug Jennewein’s An Analysis of the N-Best Ant System: a General-Purpose Meta-Heuristic for Combinatorial Optimization, from which a powerpoint of the defense is available from USD’s Computer Science Research page. Also, many concepts can be horizontally mixed with Zacher and Bielenberg‘s blog clustering thesis

But all that distracts from the real point: Read Sean Edwards’ Swarming and the Future of Warfare. Hat-tip to new tdaxp commentator John Robb.

Size and Direction of Structural Republican Majority in the Senate

The Structural Republican Edge in the Senate,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 6 June 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/6/6/141541/7458.

One measure of power of structural majority — the “default” amount of power a group has, and structural bias — the “default” extra reach a group has on top of “fair” results. Chris of the MyDD blog looks at both of these in terms of Republican control of the United States Senate

To start with, a “fair” election would give the Republican party equal power with the Democrat party, and provide no bias

Frustratingly, in the one hundred elections used to determine the current one hundred Senators, the Democratic candidates in those elections actually received more votes than the Republican candidates. The Democratic advantage, however, was slight, and if proportional representation had been used, it would have resulted in a 50-50 Senate. Since a split popular vote actually resulted in a 55-45 Republican Senate, according to the popular vote there is a five seat structural bias in favor of Republicans in the Senate.

But the Senate is geographically based. If voters would vote for Senators of the same party as their Presidential candidate…

According to my partisan index scale and not including D.C., right now there are thirteen “safe Dem” states (DNC +7.0 or more), 14 “swing states” (between +6.9 DNC and +6.9 RNC), and twenty-three “safe Rep” states (+7.0 RNC or more). This is a huge structural advantage for Republicans, since they are given twenty extra seats from their base of safe states even though the Democratic base of safe states has almost eight million more people in terms of total population. Further, there are not many more gains for Democrats to make from their base, as they already control twenty-three of the twenty-six seats in the safe Dem states, and the three holdouts are the famously moderate Chafee, Collins and Snowe. By contrast, Republicans control thirty-five of the forty-six seats in the safe Republican states, and also hold seventeen of the twenty-eight seats in the swing states. Were Democrats and Republicans to sweep their base states and evenly split the swing states, Republicans would control a 60-40 edge in the Senate. This translates into a ten-seat structural bias in favor of Republicans.

So the Senate has a strong Republican bias. But what is the direction — will the results become more or less tilted towards the GOP?

One way to tell is to determine if the difference between the number of states won by the Republican candidate and the number of Senate seats won by Republicans has been diverging (becoming more different) or converging (coming closer together). If we divide the number of Senators by 2 — so there is a maximum of 50 — and use averages for the Presidency in off years, we get

Years Across, Size of Victory on the Side
Blue Bar: Number of States Won by Republican Candidate
Red Bar: Number of Republican Senators, divided by 2
Pink Bar: The Difference between GOP Strength
in Presidential and Senatorial Elections

If instead we use the absolute difference — so negative five would just be “five” — the trend is clearer.

Years Across, Size of Victory on the Side
Blue Bar: Number of States Won by Republican Candidate
Red Bar: Number of Republican Senators,
Pink Bar: Difference between party strength
in Presidential and Senatorial Elections

The number of Senators a party has is coming closer and closer to the number of states won by a party’s presidential candidates. This means that the structural Republican majority in the Senate is growing stronger.

Update: According to the U.S. Senate Statistics and Lists page, three of the five longest serving Senators ever are Democrats in the U.S. Senate right now. The last survivors of a dying age.

Shrink the Gap (Good) and They Will Sell Oil (Bad)

Hubbert’s Curve: does not apply in Gap,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001878.html.

An interesting observation from Thomas Barnett on the Hubbert Curve and Peak Oil — the claim that we are running out of exploitable oil.

Hubbert’s Curve is real and applies to Core areas where oil supplies have been exploited to death. It does not apply in Gap where National Oil Companies (NOCs) rule the reserves. We simply haven’t explored most of the Gap. It’s that simple

All the more reason to be geogreen. Oil has been a disaster to countries that have it. To save the descendants of the current citizens of the Gap, we must make sure their oil is worthless.

One Free Korea Worth Creating, Whether Pyongyang and Seoul Like It Or Not

Activists Release Names of S Korea Abductees,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 2 June 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/06/activists-release-names-of-s-korea.html.

Would anyone really miss North Korea?,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 4 June 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001896.html.

Is liberal hawk Thomas Barnett just a pseudonym for Josh from OFK?

They seem to agree that North Korea needs to go, even if South Korea doesn’t deserve friendship

from TPM Barnett:

Meanwhile, South Korea races ahead in—I guess—another form of counterfeiting—albeit a far more technologically advanced one. If a South Korea can reach for such heights while a North Korea descends to such depths, I ask you: who would miss North Korea the state?

And if nobody would, why not just get rid of it any way we can? Put the people out of their misery, their stunted growth, their perpetual low nutrition and caloric intake, their lowering IQ, passed on from generation to generation.

North Korea is the international equivalent of the child whose horrific parents locked her in the closet for the last 15 years. I say it’s time to do the humane thing. South Korea’s too busy cloning themselves to give a rat’s ass. If they have that many extra bodies around, I don’t think we should sweat their possible losses in the take-down of Kim’s regime, because at some point, the horror has to stop. At some point, you have to strike right into the heart of darkness, killing that mad little nutcase.

from One Free Korea

Still, it’s interesting to contrast Japan’s efforts to get back its abductees, and even the North’s hard work to get back its own spies and saboteurs, to Seoul’s failure to even ask for the return of its civilians and prisoners of war.

Miss Asia 2004 and Dysfunctional Yahoo! Networks

Miss Asia 2004 beauty contest concludes in HK,” People’s Daily Online, 26 October 2004, http://english.people.com.cn/200410/26/eng20041026_161607.html.

Yahoo actually does acquire Flickr,” by Caterina Fake, FlickrBlog, 20 March 2005, http://blog.flickr.com/flickrblog/2005/03/yahoo_actually_.html.

“Fwd: Fw: Miss asia,” by Janson Yew, 31 May 2005, private email.

Lu Jingjing
Miss Asia 2004 Lu Jingjing

I was going to type something humorous, like – Type Political/Network Theory of Beauty Here –, but my troubles actually give me a good excuse.

One of my backlogged emails was from my friend Janson of the beautiful Misses Lu Jingjing, Shine Wong, and Queenie Fong. I received these at my yahoo account. Now, as Yahoo owns Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Photos, and Flickr, it should be easy to swap them over, no? Wrong. It is easy to move from Yahoo Mail to Yahoo Photos, but YP is a dead end. Not only can’t you transfer them to [Yahoo] Flickr, you can’t even download the originals!

Instead, I had to download from Yahoo Mail to my computer and upload from my PC to Flickr. Visually


My computer was an interim step in the process, when it should have just been controlling an intra-Yahoo process


Actually, if I would have emailed my Yahoo mail to a Flickr email, I could have done this. But the option is never mentioned in Yahoo Mail and hidden on Flickr.

For that matter, if it was very well designed the stages would be invisible to me — Yahoo would “just work”


Ironically, the photos on this page are all from the People’s Daily story.

Three Winners
Winner Lu Jingjing,
Runner-Up Shine Wong,
3rd Place Winner Queenie Fong

Destroy or Build Families to Shrink the Gap

The blurring of public and private = the military-market nexus,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001871.html.

Democracy starts with women,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001874.html.

The region of failed states, death, murder, and mass rape, extending from Zimbabwe to Xinjiang, is called “the Gap.” It is dominated by pre-modern cultures, and those pre-modern cultures are dominated by powerful pre-modern networks: families. Families are natural conduits of corruption and engines of insurgency. They are also sources of love, protection, and support. The Bible recognizes both aspects, and swings from radically pro-family

If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

to radically liberationist

For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

So it is no surprise that Catholic geostrategist Thomas PM Barnett doesn’t know if we should shrink the gap by reinforcing families, like in America

But there is also the spiritual dimension. If the “good life” is good for us, then we ought to be able to share it with others. That’s not just good business, that’s good faith, and so, as highlighted yet again in an op-ed (this time David Brooks), we see more and more Beltway experts begin to realize the growing power of the faith-based community in shrinking the Gap. Evangelicals, as Brooks says, “feel less represented by the culture war-centered parachurch organizations, and better represented by congregational pastors, who have a broader range of interests and more passion for mobilizing volunteers to perform service.”

You have no idea how many audience members have come up to me after talks, saying that their church spent a Sunday morning debating the moral implications of PNM’s call to shrink the Gap. People are looking for ways to connect to a Global War on Terrorism that involve the “everything else” other than war, and thank God for these people because—ultimately—this is how we all win in the end.

or by fundamentally undermining them, like in America

Another great article highlighting the utility of microfinance in empowering women in traditional societies. Notice how you never read stories about microloans empowering men in the Gap, just women?

Empowering women drives democracy because empowering women is how you set in motion broadband economic development. There was no “Asian miracle” that did not involve women entering the labor force, pure and simple. We set that example, and we can trigger that development, but only if we keep women at the forefront of our development aid.