The Iraq War is about Feedback more than Revenge or Justice

OD, a new tdaxp commentator on loan from Castle Argghhh!, has been contributing to the discussion on the thousand-year implication of the Iraq War. Among many good points, though, he makes a simple but understandable mistake:

You suggest that imposing a grim fate on Iraq’s Sunnis is just revenge, because Sunnis attacked New York on 911.

Certainly the Iraq War was good and just, but saying the Iraq War was revenge for 9/11 against the Sunni Arabs is like saying that leukemia is revenge for dizziness against cancer cells.

Rather, the Iraq War is directed feedback against the Sunni Arab world — both the tribal states that do nothing and the National-Secularist states that destroy Arab civilization.

A certain amount of “noise” — murders, ethnic cleansings, genocides, and the like — are to be expected from any part of the non-integrating Gap. Generally we care nothing for this, as such tragedies are symptoms of life outside the Core. Thus AIDS ravages Africa, women are honored-killed in Muslim lands,

9/11 — because it was directed against citizens, of the Core, in the Core, on a massive scale — was not just noise. It was an unacceptable breach of the quarantine the civilized world puts on the barbarians. The immediate task was to prevent the same stateless network that conducted the attacks, al Qaeda, of doing so again. Thus the Afghan War. But far more important was perturbing the Sunni Arab system to change We do this by overloading the Sunni Arabs — sending as much feedback to them as possible.

The Iraq War accomplished this goal in several ways. Among others:

  • The world-historic shift of Baghdad from a center to Sunni to Shiite civilization
  • The great feelings of humiliation — that is, collective weakness — such engenders among Sunni Arabs
  • The great feelings of betrayal — that is, the inability of Sunni Arab governments to forestall such humiliation — such engenders among Sunni Arabs
  • The great feelings of worthlessness — that is, the inability of Sunni Arab governments to reverse the betrayal — such engenders among Sunni Arabs

The Iraq War had many other benefits besides, and those should not be minimized, but feedback is the essential part of the conflict. The humiliation, betrayal, and worthlessness throughout that part of the world is the appropriate response for 9/11 — not just about of justice (though of course it is) and not just out of revenge (though of course it is) — but through the hope of change those tidings bring.

Thoughts on Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As I mentioned in the open thread, I’ve started using Google Toolbar for Firefox again. It will automatically open .doc files in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which is much more convenient than the hassle fo downloading it to my computer and reading it with OpenOffice. It is faster, and then if the file will be useful I merely leave it there in Google Docs & Sheets — then I can use it anywhere. Otherwise, it’s one click to delete.

A feature that Google is missing, however, is a plugin to Microsoft Office and OpenOffice that would allow one-click saving of documents to Google Docs & Spreadsheets (or, even better, automatic backup to Google DS even if the file is also saved on my computer). This would have been useful just yesterday, when I realized I had neglected to print out a copy of my statistics assignment. I ended up going down to the computer lab, booting my laptop, uploading my file to Google DS (or emailing it to myself), and then printing it out. The process would have been quicker if the file was just there.

Additionally, there should be a way to synchronize, or at least upload, local files with Google DS. Besides a number of files in My Documents, I have backups of stuff that I no longer work on — but do not want to throw away — all over the place. Some are on my laptop harddrive, some are on my backup USB drive, and stuff I’ll probably never need again is in some CD backup or the other. But if I could store the info with Google, it would be always available and always searchable — even if the worst happens to me locally.

(I’ve also taken to reading Google Operating System blog regularly, and at least for a time have been fixed of my live addiction.Google Operating System blog regularly, and at least for a time have been fixed of my live addiction.)

Some Thoughts On the Walter Reed Army Hospital Story

Kipling, R. (1881). The last of the light brigade. Online:

Backound Datum 1.

“There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

“They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

“They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

“They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

“They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

“The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and ‘Beggin’ your pardon,’ he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

‘No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.’

“The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

“O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children’s children are lisping to ‘honour the charge they made – ‘
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!”

Background Datum 2

The Iraq War

We are four years into the Iraq War — five years into our response to 9/11.

We cannot possibly lose. Our enemies cannot possibly win.

Baghdad, the ancient capital of the Sunni Arabs — the old Caliphate. Remember the Empires it has resisted.

The Byzantines tried and failed to capture it. The last Byzantine Emperor fell in 1453. His conquerer, the Ottomans, fell in 1922.

The Mongols captured it, but failed to hold it. The city was Sunni Arab before the Mongols, and was Sunni Arab after them. The last Mongol Emperor fell in 1368. Their conquerers, the Ming, fell in 1644.

Osama bin Laden showed the world what the Sunni Arabs could accomplish, at the price of a few thousand American lives. He can destroy a few very nice buildings and alter the skyline of New York City. He can decrease national GDP by, say, .1% in a quarter.

George W. Bush showed the Sunni Arabs what he could accomplish, at the price of a few thousand American lives. Sunni Arab Baghdad is gone, forever. He gave it to their greatest enemies, the partisans of Ali.

The Byzantine Emperor, in all his glory, could not do that.
The Mongol Horde, in all their glory, could not do that.

But Bush did it, all while amusing himself by putting the Shia’s sponsor — Iran — on the defensive. Bush did it while proving the Shia themselves were powerless.

Imagine if Stalin had not stopped at Prussia, but had cleared Vienna of German domination, forever.

That is the scale of Bush’s work in Iraq.

The world will remember the Iraq War for a thousand years.

Newspapers of America

“read by the people who run the country”

1. WALL STREET JOURNAL is read by the people who run the country.

2. WASHINGTON POST is read by people who think they run the country.

3. NEW YORK TIMES is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crosswords.

4. USA TODAY is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. LOS ANGELES TIMES is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn’t have to leave LA to do it.

6. BOSTON GLOBE is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. NEW YORK DAILY NEWS is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country, and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. NEW YORK POST is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country …. or, that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country (or galaxy) as long as they are Democrats.

10. STARS AND STRIPES is read by people who make sure everyone else has the right to read whatever newspaper they want.

(Courtesy of Richardson of DPRK Studies.)

Attractive and Repulsive Paradigms

Zenpundit links to a fascinating map of scientific paradigms, courtesy of SEED Magazine. Some of the visualization is as expected: brain research and central nervous system research, for instance, have a lot to do with each other:

“Larger paradigms have more papers; node proximity and darker links indicate how many papers are shared between two paradigms. Flowing labels list common words unique to each paradigm, large labels general areas of scientific inquiry.”

But a broader view reveals a “donut hole” scientific enterprise: Far from the consilience hoped for by some, scientific research programs are as repulsive as they are attractive: there is no central science that ties the various fields together.

Repulsive Science

Depressingly, for example, social science has wandered far from her mother, Biology. While individual researches (say, Alford, Funk & Hibbing or Galor & Moav) attempt to unite these fields, such a conscilience is far from us now.

Not One Field Yet

I’ve written far less impressive things on this link. For my studies, I wrote on the educational implications of biology, as well as a nifty book review and some original research. And just for this blog, I discussed the interaction between politics and gender for my series on Christianity.

Currently Listening

I’ve been traveling back and forth between Nebraska and South Dakota, for obvious reasons. During the four hour drive I’ve been keeping sane by listening to some of the free, high quality podcasts that are available on the net. I am currently subscribed to the following gratis shows:

Myserious Universe has replaced Coast to Coast AM for me, as MU is free and it’s standards-compliant RSS feed is fully comptaible with iTunes (unlike C2C, which requires it’s own program to automatically download episodes).

Short Review of "300"

Catholicgauze, gnxp, The Metropolis Times, and ZenPundit have offered their views.

I could argue that it’s a near-perfect example of the Romantic genre, and that the screen play appears to have been written by Ayn Rand.

I could say that it’s brilliant embarrasses the emptiness of Hollywood, and it’s empty translations of Alexander and Troy.

I could say that the very best review I’ve read comes from, and that this film comes from the world of comics, says a lot about the greatness of a medium I have rarely directly enjoyed.

But instead, I will say this: If before the battle the Spartans had seen this movie, had known how their tale would be sung, they would be delighted.

Microsoft Drinks from the Cup of Love

My final post in Jesusism-Paulism — “Embrace and Extend“” — is getting good press throughout the blogosphere. Castle Argghhh, Dreaming 5GW, and Spooky Action have already commented on my comparison between Microsoft and early Christianity. Now I will give a specific example of how “love” can be given too strongly and too early – in other words, inappropriately — if one’s OODA loops is too slow.

But love conquers all, and resilient love — love that, when rebuffed, merely loves stronger — unexpected love — is a powerful weapon.

In the words of Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them

The message of Christianity, and the means of Microsoft, is this: your enemy expects resistence. A fool fights fair.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Instead, give your enemy love.

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Conquer him.

The Observe-Orient-Decide-Act cognition cycle was devised by John Boyd. I have previously described the OODA loop in detail and re-drew it to ease understanding:

Note how “Decide” Is Optional

The secret to the OODA loop is that one can completely skip Decide — one can avoid conscious thought altogether. This allows one to transient quickly from one OODA state to another, allowing one to cut one’s enemy and change posture before the enemy can react in the first place. Chet Richards described samurai Miyamoto Musashi’s strategy similarly:

The focus, however, is never on defending, but on regaining and using the initiative so that you can lead your opponents where you want them to be.

Now, back to Microsoft:

Some years ago it became clear that there was energy in favor of moving to standard, XML methods for storing data. While XML-style standards are hardly a new idea (going back to the 1950s), the correlation of forces had finally swung in a strcutured, standard direction. Microsoftobligingly loved XML standards, creating OfficeOpenXML as the new standard file format for Microsoft Office.

OfficeOpenXML is a perfect example of the embrace & extend philosophy, which takes up the form of an enemy in order to destroy the enemy’s intent. It apperas similar to OpenDocument, originally just the native file format of OpenOffice, and has features such as:

  • A 6,000 page specification document
  • Internal contradictions, such as standard functions that behave differently in different applications
  • Purposefully incorrect statements, such as describing 1900 as a leap year
    Internally and externally incoherent methods of describing numbers and percentages

20 official responses were received by the International Standards Organization on OfficeOpenXML. One (Romania’s) was favorable,14 (Australia’s, Canada’s, Czechia’s, Denmark’s, France’s, Germany’s, Japan’s, Kenya’s, Malaysia’s, New Zealand’s, Singapore’s, Sweden’s, and the United Kingdom’s) were negative, and five (Hungary’s, India’s, Italy’s, Netherland’s, and Norway’s) were ambivalent.

In the same way that Christians adopted Easter and December 25th as festivals, while stripping them of their original meaning and forcing those dates to serve the Church, Microsoft adapts a structured XML standard to defeat the purpose of standards. Nonetheless, Microsoft’s political muscle got OfficeOpenXML fast-tracked for approval. So far, a perfect victory.

However, since OfficeOpenXML was originally proposed OpenDocument has become an OASIS, ISO, and IEC Standard, and supported by Google’s online word processor. Microsoft now faces a market with three major file formats:

  • DOC/XLS/PPT — the old standards for Microsoft Office which are widely used
  • OpenDocument – Microsoft’s main file format competitor, ratified by numerous standards bodies
  • OfficeOpenXml – Microsoft’s new, preferred file format, neither widely used nor recognized as a standard

This bad situation could have been avoided if Microsoft had been more agile — if it had been able to cycle through the OODA loop faster or had been able to embrace OpenDocument once it emerged. In the frist case, it would have been able to pre-empt OpenDocument by getting OfficeOpenXML rapidly confirmed as a standard. In the second case, it could have merely “embraced and extended” OpenDocument by creating its own version.

Nowadays, the only valid options for Microsoft appear to be a conventional attack (trying as hard as possible to defeat OpenDocument with OfficeOpenXML) or a loving attack on OpenDocument specifically (abandoning OfficeOpenXML, and merely creating a slightly incompatible version of OpenDocument). Microsoft is resilient, so my money is on abandoning their failed effort and trying to love OpenDocument to death. Microsoft tried this before. In the early days of the browser wars, Microsoft Internet Explorer identified itself to web sites as “Internet Explorer” through the standard user agent string mechanism. When it became clear this would not work, because Netscape was conventionally more poewrful, Microsoft Internet Explorer attacked Netscape unconventionally by identifying IE as a Netscape browser.

To defeat Netscape, Microsoft embraced and extended Netscape. To defeat OpenDocument, Microsoft will abandon her efforts to defeat OpenDocument and instead embrace and extend.

Microsoft will not cut off the ear of her enemy’s slave, but she will drink from the cup given to her.