Currently Watching and Listening

Without comment, other than these are the three most recent albums and dvds I’ve watched, and all are highly recommended. Except for HHGTTG. Which Lady of tdaxp liked, so maybe it was a good movie after all. But if you’ve read the book, stay away. Read Mostly Harmless instead.



OK, I lied. One comment. Sigur Ros’s “Staralfur” is available for free download. It was also featured on Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

And while I’m at it, get the 1981 BBC version of Hitchhiker’s Guide instead. And note that all DVD links go to Greencine. Unlike Netflix, greencine doesn’t .

John Roberts and the Supreme Court Disparage "International Law." Good.

Gonzales, Attorney General, et al. v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal et al.: On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,” by John Roberts et al, Supreme Court of the United States, 21 February 2006,

While not quite as succinct as Justice Antonin Scalia’s criticism of international law, Chief Justice has officially put “” in its place

John Roberts: Lord of International Law

The case, which struck down a federal drug law, was well decided. That is good. The government gave an incompetent and lackluster defense. That is typical. But what’s wonderful is this paragraph

The fact that hoasca is covered by the [U. N. Commentary on the Convention on Psycho­tropic Substances], however, does not automatically mean that the Government has demonstrated a compelling interest in applying the Controlled Substances Act, which implements the Convention, to the UDV’s sacramental use of the tea. At the present stage, it suffices to observe that the Government did not even submit evidence addressing the international consequences of granting an exemption for the UDV. The Government simply submitted two affidavits by State Department officials attesting to the general importance of honoring international obligations and of maintaining the leadership position of the United States in the international war on drugs. See Declaration of Gary T. Sheridan (Jan. 24, 2001), App. G to App. to Pet. for Cert. 261a; Declaration of Robert E. Dalton (Jan. 24, 2001), App. H, id., at 265a. We do not doubt the validity of these interests, any more than we doubt the general interest in promoting public health and safety by enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, but under [the ] invocation of such general interests, standing alone, is not enough.

In other words, the Court has affirmed two principles

  • First, treaties have to meet a “compelling interest” before they trump certain domestic laws, such as the
  • and Second, international law is only valid in the context of “international consequences,” not as laws unto themselves

Those who support America’s submission to “international law” often cite the second paragraph of Article VI of the US Constitution

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Constitution lists three sources of the “supreme law of the land”

  • the Constitution itself
  • the laws of the United States
  • all treaties made

However, in the same sentence, the Constitution instructs all judges to be bound by that, notwithstanding

  • “anything in the Constitution,” or
  • “the laws of any State”

In other words, the Constitution identifies three sources of Supreme Law (the Constitution, Laws, and Treaties), and then identifies the Constitution and the Laws as the most important of these. The Supreme Court may listen to government pleas that it has an interest in some treaty, or that some treaty beneficial consequence to the United States.

Treaties are the least democratic source of “law,” because they are enacted by the joint action of the President (who is indirectly elected through the Electoral College) and the Senate (which represents the States, and thus has equal representation for states regardless of the population). Under our democratic system of government, treaties are rightfully deprived of much power and influence.

As the historian Mark Safranski wrote:

Most of what passes for ” International Law ” are simply arguable moral claims advanced by interested parties. The most solidly ” legal ” core of international law is considered binding because nations-states have agreed almost universally to restrict themselves with certain provisions out of self-interest. Enforcement comes only in the cases of the most egregious violations when the moral outrage of the world can be coupled with the selfish interests of the great powers to intervene. That is about the best we can expect from such a system and if ardent advocates of International Law Theory get their way, we won’t even have that much.

International law is best taken with a healthy dose of common sense.

The recognizes this.


Anti-Semitic Cartoons (Jewish Racist Cartoon Contest)

tdaxp needs equal time. I’ve mocked Muslims, Catholics, and Protestants. But no Jewish humor.

The Iranians have called on this to end. They’re right:

Probability of mass-Jewish riots over these cartoons: about zero.
Probability over Jewish death threats over these cartoons: ditto.

Cartoons courtesy of the Israely Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest, hat tip JewSchool viaWeird Jews.

Muhammed Emoticons and Smileys (Yahoo’s Bans the letters "Allah")

Yahoo!Mail bans Allah and Dirty Harry Handles,” by John Oates, The Register, 20 February 2006, (from Slashdot).

2nd Russian Paper Shut in Cartoon Furor,” by Steven Myers, New York Times, 21 February 2006,!Q3BQ5EQ5BbveQ5BRbQ5E@Q5BRmQ3Bv1e@VvQ3BQ2B!e1ggQ5ERiQ24bdm.

Yahoo has joined the dhimmis and refuses to allow screen-names with “allah” in them. tdaxp‘s dream of having a screen-name that references the death threats I’ve received from Islamic militants thus ends:

As Howard Dean says, “Inshallah” — banned by Yahoo!

So tdaxp, must respond!

Not only are other phrases with “allah’ banned

Worshippers of Allah Threatened My Life — banned by Yahoo!
Syrian Catholics Worship Allah Too — banned by Yahoo!

So are proper names — enraging even more partially-Irish-descendant tdaxp

Mickey O’Callahan — banned by Yahoo!

(Of course, other references to the Diety are allowed by Yahoo

Jesus Christ God Jehova — (not) banned by Yahoo!


Meanwhile, anti-speech extremism spreads to Russia, where Vladimir Putin is arrested journalists who print the Mohammed cartoons

The owner, Mikhail M. Smirnov, said he decided on his own to close the newspaper on Friday, even as the prosecutor general’s office announced it would bring criminal charges against the paper’s editor, Anna V. Smirnova.
Ms. Smirnova, who is also the owner’s wife, faced charges of inciting religious animosity, a crime punishable by a maximum sentence of two to four years in prison

The actions of Yahoo and the Russians are much worse than Google’s restricted entry into China. While censuring its results opens the door to Chinese readers a little, the likes of Yahoo and Russia are attacking away from those who formerly had it.

How should one respond?

In that spirit…

Mohammed Emoticons

Muhammad (((:~{>

Muhammad playing Little Orphan Annie

Muhammad as a pirate

Muhammad on a bad turban day

Muhammad with sand in his eye

Muhammad wearing sunglasses

Muhammad giving the raspberry.

Giving Muhammad the raspberry.

Muhammad with a bomb in his turban:

Mohammed on a *really* bad turban day.

Muhammad sees a Danish cartoonist

Muhammad turns Christian

Muhammad imitates Charles Manson

Muhammad wears his Johnny Carson “Great Carsoni” turban

Muhammad after going quail hunting with Dick Cheney

Saudi Arabian/oil sheik version of Muhammad

Muhammad wearing his personalized designer turban

Muhammad wearing his “elevator” turban

Osama bin Laden dressed up as Muhammad on Halloween

Osama bin Laden dressed up as Muhammad on Halloween with an improvised explosive
device in his turban

Muhammad is not pleased with Muhammad emoticons

OODA-PISRR, Part IV: System Perturbations

“You’re such an inspiration for the ways
That I’ll never ever choose to be

He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way

It’s not like you killed someone”
Judith, by A Perfect Circle, from the Album, Mer de Noms

“It’s the meteor that will separate dinosaurs form mammals in defense. It will tell us what we need to know about war within the context of everything else. The impact on our community will unfold over years, but eventually this will change everything.
– Thomas PM Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map, pg 260


The is a bi-stable system. It alternates between two attractors, high-intensity operations and low-intensity operations. High-intensity operations occur at the very end of the (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop and the very beginning of the (Penetrate-Isolate-Subvert-Subdue-Reorient-Reharmonize) loop. As intensity falls, the PISRR Cognition Loop turns to the stability of low-intensity operations. Then, the OODA loop ratchets up intensity to complete the circle.

This cognitive circle:


can also be viewed as a cognitive wave:


Part of victory is going through the the cycle faster — increasing the wave’s frequency. But that alone is not enough. Creating a high-frequency waveform allows the adversary to know what we are doing, and guard against it.

Explaining one of his suggestions, the thinker wrote:

Why? Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against.

In other words, victory requires that we break the stable OODA-PISRR cycle. Not just make the OODA-PISRR cycle go faster, not just increasing the frequency of our waveform, but breaking the waveform.

If one thinks of social cognition as a system, we know one of five things will happen if we break (“perturb“) the system. The system may:

  • Return to its original state
  • Settle in another stable state, perhaps after some period of unpredictable behavior
  • Bifurcate, that is, begin to oscillate among tow states, but not settle in either of them. It may bifurcate repeatedly, generating a collection of states among which it oscillates.
  • Wander among various states, but not settle in or even return to any of them
  • Become unstable, that is, lock up, disintegrate, or in any other way cease to function as a system

(from Page 45 of Richards’ . The passage draws on Beckerman’s The Non-Linear Dynamics of War, which has also been featured on ZenPundit).

Ff the OODA-PISRR social cognitive system is perturbed for a while…


There is not an equal chance that each of the five possible outcomes will happen. At least as far as social cognition goes, we know that the system will return to its original state.

Unlike non-linear systems that can display emergence, social cognition is closer to a pendulum. The waveform of an pendulum looks very similar to the OODA-PISRR waveform, and has two attractors:


A swing of a pendulum is “attracted” by both the maximum height and the minimum. (See Wikipedia for the mathematics).

Just as the pendulum-based intertial guidance systems maintain a form of repeated perturbations, human-based social cognition loops will also tend to the waveform. Over and over we see this. The cyclical patterns of football games allow knowledgeable observers to routinely predict, in detail, several plays out. In many countries, political cycles are also well documented. Even historical long-cycles have been observed.

The Social Cognitive Wave, the OODA-PISRR loop, can be perturbed for a while. Wise strategists will use this fact to their advantages. But in any system with two players (whether on the systemic, alliance, state, organizational, or individual levels), the attractors will win out over time. Wise strategists will use this fact as well.

The world is a system of systems. Some systems, such as the national defense system, have changed forever as a result of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Yet others, such social cognition loop between the United States and everything else, were just perturbed for a time.

Then the system is restored:


An event can be an inspiration for us – it can reorient us. It can even be an ideal which makes us want to change “everything.” It can throw us into unpredictability. But the old cognitive patterns will come back.

It’s not like we killed them. Or can.

OODA-PISRR, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: The Social Cognition Loop
Part II: The PISRR Cognition Loop
Part III: Formless Fast Transients
Part IV: System Perturbations

The tdaxp Interview of Thomas PM Barnett

is an author of three books (his doctoral dissertation, The Pentagon’s New Map, and ), an important grand strategist, and a Harvard PhD. Recently I asked him to answer some questions for a class I am taking on creativity, talent, and expertise. I only expected short answers, and I promised him that what I was asking him was for class-use only.

I was blown away by his public answers to the questionnaire, and delighted that he used the chance to mention tdaxp. Here’s a sample:

18. How often do you “fail”? What do you do when you fail?

To me, failure is just realizing the distance from where I am currently on some issue to where I ultimately want to go. Those realizations are often driven by critical feedback on the brief, when then are turned into better or newer or more expanded slides. When I’ve explained that new thing many times, it usually finds its way into the blog/column/article/book in a progressive fashion.

That’s the idea version of failure for me.

The career version of failure is me simply recognizing I’ve grown beyond whatever bounds I currently face and need to recast myself in another venue. The trigger is typically financial: I feel scared about my ability to earn money in the current configuration of jobs/relationships/alliances and so I reinvent myself to recast those as effectively as possible. Those moments are typically scary, but invigorating in a good way. Having gone through them now a number of times, I’m fairly open to welcoming them (the instinct is to avoid at all costs), so I’m learning to enjoy them.

Performance failure happens here and there (the bad TV remote appearance, the stupid blog post, and the perceived bad briefing), but outright failure is rare (I recently had a very bad brief which stunned me, but it was mostly the result of how the event was set up rather than my performance, but it re-taught me the importance of managing the venue as much as possible—i.e., being demanding with my hosts to ensure the best performance). The bad interview is frustrating, but I’ve learned that’s overwhelmingly the function of the interviewer, something that’s almost impossible to surmount. So I guess a lot of dealing with failure is understanding what you can’t control and accepting that (you know, that old chestnut).

Dealing with failure effectively is mostly about diagnosing it quickly, accepting your portion of the blame, and then chilling on it and putting it behind you quickly. So you seek “getting back up on the horse” moments ASAP.

Read the rest. Or check out previous interviews with and tdaxp.

Update: Tom answers another question: how do you know you are right?

Blogspirit Now Worse Than Ever

I’ve had my problems with ‘s so-so service before. They suffered DDOS attacks without notifying bloggers in a timely manner. Gravatars never worked. Comments and templates have been broken. The support blog is a joke, as is the pay-based help center.

I wrote a ticket because of massive trackback spam that blogspirit lets through, even when I turn off trackbacks on old posts, and the next day I find that the problem is now worse then ever.

  • The support ticket I had is now gone. Not just “closed.” But gone, with no record.
  • I am no longer getting notification of new comments.
  • All of my posts are signed by “Aaron,” even though I am writing them under my login name
  • I’m still getting trackbrack spam
  • Real trackbacks, like from Coming Anarchy, don’t get through.

For the mean-time I’ve turned off guest authoring, delete the spam trackbacks manually, and boil in my own anger.

Oh well. At least I’m now down for days, or hacked. But I have lost comments.

Anti-Anarchy, Pro-tdaxp Violence Spreads…

It all started with the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, working with the hate-mongers at Coming Anarchy, published the racist, demeaning, and offensive cartoons that insulted the Seal of the Blogs, tdaxp


Since then there has been no peace.

The millions declare: in tdaxp we trust!

From Indonesia, youths promise to behead those who insult tdaxp:


From Africa, the common people remind themselves that tdaxp will dominate


From Europe, Muslims pledge their lives and honor to defend tdaxp:


And from the Arab countries, a simple message: “If you stand against tdaxp, you sure we will crush you.”


Indeed, and from space, a declaration from the Galactic League


All Your Base Are Belong to tdaxp

Why the pro-tdaxp violence? Because tdaxp is a feared mujahid who forever vanquished the spider queen. And links to Photoshop Phriday.

Turkey-in-Europe, or Turks out of Europe?

What Will Europe Really Do?,” by Victor Davis Hanson, 14 February 2006, (from PowerLine Blog).

Cartoons: Against Solana,” by Andrew Stuttaford, The Corner, 15 February 2006,

Question for PNM Theorists,” by Jeff, Caerdroia, 15 February 2006,

Female Reporter Stoned at Turkish Cartoon Protest,” by GP, Gateway Pundit, 16 February 2006, (from Instapundit).

This is a hard post to write.


It is no longer clear to me that Turkey belongs in Europe.

Pharisee-style violence in Turkey

Aliye Cetinkaya, a journalist from the Turkish daily Sabah newspaper, who was reporting on the recent protests over the offensive caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, was stoned in Konya for reasons demonstrators said were provocative – as she did not cover her head. Cetinkaya was taken away by male colleagues after stones hit her head and shoulders. The female journalist was attacked for being ‘sexually provocative’ for not wearing a head scarf at the demonstration organised by the Peoples Education Research and Support Group in Konya (He-Da-Der) and entitled ‘Loyalty to the Prophet’.

A group of protesters insisted that Aliye Cetinkaya get off the bus where she was reporting the march, as they claimed she was provoking the crowd. At this moment, somebody started reciting the Koran into a microphone.

Approximately 30 people then started throwing stones at Cetinkaya, seated with her legs dangling from the back of the vehicle and taking notes. They claimed that her clothes and way of sitting was inappropriate while the Koran was being read, and shouted words of abuse at her.

with Pharisee-style hypocrisy

One of the groups in the demonstration, the Islamist “Association for Training, Research and Cooperation of the People” (HEDA-DER) meanwhile filed a complaint against Cetinkaya the same day, accusing her of disturbing the demonstration, an offence that carries a fine or between 18 months and three years imprisonment under a 1983 law on public demonstrations.

while Turkey’s Prime Minister shoots his nation in the foot:

“Today, however, the VVD leader questioned whether Turkey should be allowed into the EU, given the reaction of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Danish cartoons. Mr Erdogan had called the cartoons “insulting” and demanded that legal action be taken against the cartoonists and the publishers. “If this is the way he thinks and if he is going to give us lessons, then it will be very difficult for Turkey to join the EU,” the VVD leader says in an interview with the Dutch weekly Elsevier. He also criticized the visits this week of Ben Bot, the Dutch Foreign Minister, to Saudi-Arabia and Qatar. Mr van Aartsen does not see the point of visiting these countries at the moment.”

Dead right.

Even Victor Davis Hanson thinks Turkey-in-Europe now lies dead dreaming

Europe will still talk about bringing Turkey into the fold of the West, but de facto is horrified at the thought that millions of a religion that empowers so many to go berserk over a few cartoons might soon comprise the most populous nation of Europe. I doubt any European diplomat will invest any political capital at all in restarting in earnest Turkish/European Union talks.

As Jeff from Caerdroia wonders how this effects globalization generally:

How does PNM handle the collapse or approaching collapse of rulesets in core nations? The flow of people from the gap to the core is inherently going to bring gap rulesets — those travel in people’s heads, after all — and this is already apparent in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway. I suspect we’ll see the same in Germany, soon, because they have the same demography/immigrant problem as the rest of Western Europe.

Once the gap rulesets have been imported into the core, can the core rulesets remain established, or are the core rulesets inherently self-defeating? And if they are inherently self-defeating, at least when confronted with a lower-order ruleset from the gap, what changes to the core rulesets (and hopefully there are some short of mass deportation or genocide) can be made to avert the consequences of a core ruleset collapse (the main consequence being moving from the core to the gap)?

There are four main reasons to support Turkey’s accession to the European Union

1. Turkey, as a center of Greco-Roman civilization, is inherently Western


2. Turkey, as a full Cold War ally, deserves it


3. Turkey, as a low-wage country, will help jump-start the European economy


4. Turkey, as a majority Muslim country, can be a beachhead int he Global War on Terror,


To deal with these in turn,

1. Muslim countries lost their Roman roots by abandoning italic laws and adopting the Sharia
2. Ukraine was a Cold-War enemy. The past is past. The future is now.
3. Europe, as even acknowledges, is a high-unemployment continent. Europe has structural problems that premature immigration may only excacerbate
4. Europe, as a majority Christian county, can be a beachhead for them in the Global War on Terror.

I have Turkish friends and Turkish relatives. I have traditionally supported Turkey’s membership in the European Union. But not if it will drag 25 other European states down.

That’s not progress. That’s continental suicide.