======================================================================== Cybernetics in the 3rd Millennium (C3M) --- Volume 5 Number 4, July 2006 Alan B. Scrivener --- www.well.com/~abs --- mailto:abs@well.com ========================================================================

The Eastern Question

(Part Two)

[This is a continuation of last month's e-Zine; see the archives listed at the bottom of this document if you haven't read part one.]


It is the naive visual man who falls into the oral and oriental trap, e.g., E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence. -- Marshall McLuhan, 1970 "Culture Is Our Business" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/007045437X/hip-20 ) I was a little concerned that the "tiki" portion of last time's issue was a little out of place and superfluous, but in fact I got the most encouraging feedback regarding that section. So here's some more. We continue to see evidence of the Summer of 2006 Tiki Fad, at the mall in Spencer's Gifts and Party City, ( www.partycity.com ) in the mail order catalogs we get from the Oriental Trading Company, ( www.orientaltrading.com ) featuring the inflatable tiki pole, ( www.orientaltrading.com/application?namespace=browse&origin=searchMain.jsp&event=link.itemDetails&demandPrefix=12&sku=34/886&mode=Searching&erec=2&D=tiki&Ntt=tiki&Ntk=all&Dx=mode%252bmatchallpartial&Ntx=mode%252bmatchallpartial&N=0&sd=INFLATABLE+TIKI+POLE ) and in unexpected places like the Garden Show at the Del Mar Fair. ( www.sdfair.com/fair ) Another of our friends has bought a fez. In my immediate family, we cleaned a bunch of junk out of our vine-covered back patio and made a charming little Tiki Room out of bamboo mats and curtains, nets, shells, coffee sacks, tiki torches, lava rocks and a totem pole, laced with vines and white Christmas lights. It makes a great chill zone. We recently gave in to marketing pressure and joined Netflix, ( netflix.com ) and one of the movies we got to see was "Hawaiian Rainbow" (documentary, 1988) directed by Robert Mugge, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000ICA9/hip-20 ) which we watched in the early 1990s when -- as I recall -- we checked it out of our local library. It tells the story of the evolution of Hawaiian music, from native chants to missionaries' hymns to Spaniards' guitars to the Portuguese ukulele, to yodeling and the slide steel guitar. (Hawaiian food has embraced Spam as a vital ingredient, and Hawaiian music has a similar inclusionary attitude.) The movie reminded us that the real flowering of Hawaiian music was in the 1920s, when cruise ships came to Waikiki. At that time Hawaiian music became an international phenomenon. The Hawaiians have a genre they call "Hapa-Haole" or "half foreign." (Haole seems to mean "no breath" as in "they they don't chant breathily, they hum hymns.") The singers combine their native Hawaiian language with a foreigner's tongue, singing in both. When they did this with English we got familiar songs like: "Honi kaua wikiwiki" Sweet brown maiden said to me As she gave me language lessons On the beach at Waikiki by Henry Kailimai, 1915. ( www.huapala.org/O/On_The_Beach_At_Waikiki.html ) But there were other bands that specialized in other European languages; for example a Polish Hawaiian band would perform and record in Polish, and enjoy popularity in Poland as well as in Hawaii entertaining visiting Poles. And according to the Hawaiian music historians quoted in the documentary, the "golden age" of this Hapa-Haole music was between the wars, and the post-war "tiki" fad was a pale shadow. During a recent round of business travel I was delighted to have a long layover in the Portland, Oregon airport, which includes an annex of the legendary Powell's Books. ( www.powells.com ) According to their web site: Powell's City of Books is ... the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland, Oregon and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books. Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections ... They also have a marvelous technical book store a few blocks away, but on this occasion I was confined to the airport. The most marvelous thing in that little store are the "staff recommends" tags scattered throughout the shelves, hand-drawn in colored felt pens. This is how I was directed to the marvelous irreverent history "Into the Blue: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before" (2003) by Tony Horwitz, also marketed by the alternate title "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312422601/hip-20 ) It gave me another perspective on Tiki Culture, analogous to Marco Polo's perspective on China -- that of a European discoverer reporting back. Horwitz visited most of the present day places Cook sailed to, with a copy of his logs in hand, in order to "contrast and compare." I was reminded of something the Eagles once sang: "Call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye." Disease and cultural corruption were left in Cook's wake. But the "curse of paradise" worked both ways. In one harrowing tale, Cook's ship, the Endeavor, was caught on the Great Barrier Reef in what looked like open sea and nearly sank. Only because one experienced sailor remembered an old technique called "fothering" was Cook able to save his ship, and limp to the port of Batavia (today called Jakarta, Indonesia) for repairs. While enroute to that "safe harbor" he posted a letter to London bragging how he lost no men to scurvy, and only two to any disease. Imagine how relieved Cook's men must have been to reach Batavia, which looked like a familiar European city with carriages and cobblestones. Imagine their horror when 31 of them died of diseases caught while in port. Another thing I was reminded of in this story of cross-cultural contact is McLuhan's distinction between Oral and Literate cultures. The joke is sometimes told that we don't know who killed General Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn because there were no European survivors to write it down; every surviving Sioux brave there (and some that weren't) claimed that HE killed Custer. Likewise we know how Cook died, since it was witnessed by his men and ended up in the ship's log, but not what happened to his remains, which only the natives knew and accounts differ. I've come to understand that the concept of "single truth" is only possible in a Literate culture, where you bear witness in court and they write it all down. In an Oral culture there is only "he said she said." This has contributed to the irony that modern Polynesians have at times resorted to European accounts of their culture at the time of first contact in order to attempt to RESTORE lost portions of their culture. (Many similar ironies are documented in the out-of-print 1973 book "Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me!" by Edmund Carpenter.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0030068819/hip-20 ) As I continued to shop for tiki merchandise in the summer of 2006, I remembered my first trip to Hawaii in the summer of 1972 at the age of 18 with my nuclear family. We stayed in the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach and saw Don Ho and Hilo Haney at a luau, plus walked to breakfast of papaya and eggs outdoors under the palms past the spot where the "Hawaii Calls" radio show used to broadcast. But I was oblivious because I was a surly teenager who wanted to be free of my family, so I hid out in books I read as we toured Pearl Harbor and the East-West Center. At one point I began to read "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" (book, 1969) by R. Buckminster Fuller, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/3907078233/hip-20 ) which had been recommended to me by the "Whole Earth Catalog." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1892907054/hip-20 ) Fuller talked about how around the world boat-using people tended to develop a better intuition for systems theory; examples included the Phoenicians, the Polynesians, the British and U.S. navies, and privateers and pirates from the European sea conflicts. All had to recreate their whole social and technical society aboard watercraft, sufficiently to achieve short-term sustainability. (He developed these ideas later in the 1982 book "Critical Path," with his discussion of "atoll people" and their importance in human evolution, and claimed seagoing peoples tended to weave in triangular patterns, not like land-lubbers' rectangles of warp and woof, and so argued a connection between Polynesia and the West coast of South America based on weavings.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312174918/hip-20 ) I was fortunate that I had this epiphany before I got to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. I was in a better frame of mind to learn from and respect the Polynesian cultures they presented. ( polynesianculturalcenter.com ) This attraction offered almost a Polynesian Theme Park, sort of like EPCOT's World Showcase only for island groups: Tonga, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand (Aotearoa) and Samoa each have "lands" staffed by homegrown natives explaining culture and demonstrating handicrafts and other typical activities. ( readusa.com/hawaii/hawaii_landscape/hawaii_polynesiancuturalcenter.html ) I got a lot out of looking at the Island People through the lens of Bucky's Boat Culture, but then in the gap between the daytime exhibits and the evening Hukilau show we were offered a tour by the organization that owned and operated the Cultural Center. This was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the tour was of the local Mormon Temple. Since there was nothing else to do but sit in a gravel parking lot on a sawed off phone pole and read, my whole family elected to take the tour, except for me. I sat on the phone pole and read Bucky. Later they told me I'd made the wiser choice. It was no secret that the Polynesian Culture Center was run by the Mormons; most of the Polynesians we met that day were members of the LDS faith. But it is interesting how far back Mormon roots in Hawaii go. Consider the traditional "Hukilau." Most people think it just means "feast" or "party" or "luau." There is a song from 1948 that became a hit on the mainland: Oh we're going to a Hukilau A huki huki huki huki Hukilau Everybody loves the Hukilau Where the laulau is the kaukau at the luau But if you look up "Hukilau" in Wikipedia, you are referred to the entry for the Polynesian Culture Center: ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynesian_Cultural_Center ) which in turn points to a site: ( www.laiebeachretreat.com/hukilau_song.htm ) that tells the story of the song: This is an old Hawaiian way of fishing, involving casting a long net from the shore, then enlisting a large group to help to pull the net to shore. The net is lined with ki (ti) leaves which help scare fish toward the middle of the net. Huki = pull lau = leaves, specifically, ki (ti) leaves. "The Mormon chapel in Laie was destroyed by fire in 1940. Viola Kehau Kawahigashi organized a Hukilau to rebuild the church, with the congregation contributing food, talent, time and energy. ... A $5.00 fee was charged to enjoy the Hukilau, food and hula show. 250 people arrived for the first fundraiser in 1947; the church took in $1,250.00. Jack Owens enjoyed this Hukilau in 1948. That night, suffering sunburn, aches and pains, he was inspired to write this song. Introduced publicly at a Methodist luau in Honolulu, it became an instant hit." -- "Our Honolulu" by Bob Krauss, Honolulu Advertiser, April 1998 Wikipedia adds that the song was popularized by Arthur Godfrey, and that the organization that produced the first Hukilaus for the LDS church grew into the current Polynesian Cultural Center. So "Hukilau" means "Hawaiian church fundraiser luau" to be precise. Of course there are parts left out of the Mormon version of Polynesian culture. Horwitz's irreverent, Douglas Adams-like history of Captain Cook talked about how Cook's sailors were astonished and corrupted by the promiscuity of most of Polynesia, especially Tahiti, and how they returned the favor by giving the islanders venereal diseases. But even he left stuff out. For example, he didn't mention much about King Kamehaha I. Before Cook arrived the Hawaiian islands had never been united under one king. One thing I've heard -- from Park Service docents on the big island -- is that the Hawaiian kings and priests had ritualized cannibalism, only used for absorbing the "mana" (magic) of a vanquished enemy. Kamehaha is claimed by some to have feasted on Captain Cook's mana (and also somehow obtained some of his musket and cannon) and so gained the power to unite the Hawaiian archipelago. Again a Wikipedia article ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamehameha ) fills in some details: Kamehameha was now alii nui of all of Hawaii east of Oahu, but the islands of Kauai and Niihau continually eluded him. When he attempted to invade the islands in 1796, his governor on Hawaii ... led a rebellion against his rule, and Kamehameha was forced to return. In 1803 he tried again, but this time disease broke out among his warriors, and Kamehameha himself fell ill, though he later recovered. During this time, Kamehameha was amassing the largest armada Hawaii had ever seen -- foreign-built schooners and massive war canoes, armed with cannon and carrying his vast army. Kaumualii, alii nui of Kauai, watched as Kamehameha built up his invading force and decided he would have a better chance in negotiation than battle. He may also have been influenced by foreign merchants, who saw the continuing feud between Kamehameha and Kaumualii as bad for the sandalwood trade. In 1810, Kaumualii became a vassal of Kamehameha, who therefore emerged as the sole sovereign of the island chain of Hawaii. So, sooner or later a tale of Tikis involves somebody showing up with cannon and overwhelming the metal-free technology of Polynesia.


But, why is the rum gone? -- Captain Jack Sparrow Bucky Fuller spoke of the Great Pirates, technologically-advantaged sea-based power brokers who manipulated land-based politics, mostly in secret. The winners of the battles between Great Pirates locked up their logbooks and sailed on, while the losers sank to the bottom of the sea. When I taught my student directed seminar on "Whole Systems" at Kresge College, Fuller's "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" was on my required reading list. The most common question I got about the book was "are these Great Pirates supposed to be real or are they just a metaphor?" I don't think Bucky was into metaphors (just similes), and I think he meant it literally. The whole history of our technological civilization is bound up with seafarers who monopolized information whenever possible on shipbuilding, navigation, astronomy and mathematics, from ancient Phoenicia (now Lebanon) to modern Annapolis. 2006 has turned out to be a Summer of Pirates as well as Tikis. A friend recommended we see the 1935 classic Errol Flynn movie "Captain Blood" directed by Michael Curtiz. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JMR7/hip-20 ) We did so in advance of renting the DVD of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" (movie, 2003) directed by Gore Verbinski, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JM5E/hip-20 ) so we'd be all caught up to see the sequel in theaters this summer. Both movies took place in Port Royal, Jamaica, and even featured a shot of the same Governor's House. Curious for more information I went to Wikipedia, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Royal ) and found that Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, perhaps divine punishment for its slave trade, and also the intriguing report that at times Britain lacked the resources to protect Port Royal from French and Spanish warships, and so the town hired pirates to protect them. Hmmm. Both movies also spoke of "letters of marque" so I looked that up, and found it even in our own U.S. Constitution. It gives some insights to the 18th Century minds of our founding fathers that Article I Section 8 gives the Congress the power: To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations; To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; Of course letters of marque are a license that a King or Queen grants to a pirate enabling him (or her) to become a "privateer" and pillage enemy ships with full support of the crown. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_marque ) I also remember my 10th grade U.S. History class in which learned about the "triangular trade" in which slaves went from Africa to the Caribbean, sugar went from the Carribean to England, and rum went from England to Africa. Toss in a few guns for the Africans who capture and sell the slaves, and the whole thing becomes an ever-accelerating money machine, making the owners rich enough to move back to London and buy a Lordship and a seat in Parliament. In Robert MacNeal's excellent documentary series "The Story of English" (1986), ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6302892058/hip-20 ) he tells how the English slave traders sailed upriver in Africa and met tribes who were not able to communicate with each other very well, since their were so many different languages. The English taught each tribe a little English, in order to have a trade language. Later the tribes discovered they could use this new language to trade with each other. It became "pidgin" (which, in pidgin, means "business") and spread around the world to nearly every place English speaking people traded. (A delightful book on contemporary Hawaiian pidgin is "Pidgin To Da Max" (1981) by Douglas Simonson, Pat Sasaki & Ken Sakata.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/093584841X/hip-20 ) I used to wonder how the little United States won its revolution against the British Empire (which the sun never sat on), until I learned that both the 1776 revolution and the war of 1812 the American front was a small distraction in a war between England and France. And of course after we won our independence, we dissolved our little navy, preferring not to meddle in European affairs. At first Jefferson was a small government man. But it was privateers with letters of marque from the Barbary states attacking U.S. shipping that convinced him that he need a standing navy, and the tax structure to support it. In a sense you could argue we that wouldn't have our current constitution if it wasn't for the Barbary pirates. I was recently in Washington, D.C. briefly and paid a visit to one of my favorite sites there: the Jefferson Memorial. ( www.nps.gov/thje/memorial/memorial.htm# ) Inscribed on an inside wall of the rotunda are the words: I am certainly not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. Looking at the work "barbarous" there carved in the marble, I recalled its etymology, from the Barbary pirates (who in turn are named for the Moslem "Berbers" of North Africa and the Mediterranean). I figured Mr. Jefferson had reason to give a lot of thought to the "barbarous" elements of his world.


Men go crazy in congregations But they only get better one by one -- Sting, 1991 "All This Time" on the album "The Soul Cages" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002GL2/hip-20 ) It's sometimes hard to remember now, five years later, what 9/11 was like for Americans, how confused and afraid we were, and how much changed -- not by fiat, but by some vast undercurrent of shifts in individual attitudes. Now that we are less afraid, and less confused, we rationalize away our panicked reactions at the time, and so we miss seeing just how many profound changes occurred in a day. Recently I began reading "Chaos, Gaia, Eros: A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers the Three Great Streams of History" (book, 1994) by Ralph Abraham. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062500139/hip-20 ) This grand manifesto attempts find patterns in human history over the sweep of thousands of years, invoking the rigorous social science of Lewis Frye Richardson and the awareness of metacommunication of Gregory Bateson along the way. He uses the term "bifurcation" taken from chaos theory to describe what I have previously called "inflection points." In C3M v. 4 n. 5, "Cyberpunks in Cyberspace" ~ or ~ "The Future of Science Fiction" ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/c3m_0405.txt ) I wrote: I have found history has points where things really do change, which I call "inflection points." Futurists can help extrapolate trends between these points, but across them prediction is difficult. A list of recent such points in U.S. history would include: * 1941 - attack on Pearl Harbor * 1952 - I'm still figuring this one out, but it resulted in the election of Eisenhower and the withdrawal from Korea * 1963 - Kennedy assassination * 1968 - Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations; "police riots" at Democratic Convention in Chicago * 1974 - "smoking gun" Watergate tape; Nixon resigns * 1979 - American hostages taken in Iran * 1992 - American artists adopted computers; "alternative" music oxymoronically became mainstream; Clinton elected * 2001 - 9/11 (I remember when the Berlin Wall fell -- part of the 1992 bifurcation, some called it "the end of history." After 9/11 I noticed that history had come back, but now instead "the end of irony" was being heralded. I thought, "what a drag for Alanis Morisset.") Whatever you call them, there is no doubt that the 2001 terror attacks were an example of this type of discontinuity. I must confess that one of the first thoughts to enter my head when I saw the first tower fall -- besides "oh my God I'm watching thousands of people die" -- was "things are going to be a whole lot harder now for the cypherpunks." The cypherpunks is a group of people, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypherpunks ) including my friend John Gilmore, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gilmore_%28advocate%29 ) who have been working since the early 1990s to bring strong encryption to the masses, to increase personal privacy over the internet. (A good history of some of their efforts is the 2001 book "Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age" by Steven Levy.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140244328/hip-20 ) I foresaw huge loss of ground for these folks. And sure enough, it has come to pass and more so. As one journalist interviewing Gilmore ( grep.law.harvard.edu/features/04/08/18/112237.shtml ) summarized, the strong libertarian view held by the cypherpunks survived 9/11: Phil Zimmermann told me that the September 11-attacks made him think over his decision to release PGP as freeware. However, he reached the conclusion that it was right to release PGP and that society is better off with strong encryption. Ian Clarke goes to the same school of thought and told me that censorship is the enemy of freedom and understanding, and therefore the friend of terrorism. Seth Finkelstein got the same question and claimed "statistically, real threats are rare, but ambition and corruption are common". But not so the weak libertarian views of the American public. The majority seemed quite ready to make the devil's bargain Ben Franklin warned against, when he said "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" Still, there were those who spoke up, and sometimes in unexpected places. I was at the 2002 meeting of the National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue (NIUSR) ( www.niusr.org ) -- which included the folks who'd sent rescue dogs from San Diego to New York to help with the search for Twin Tower survivors -- showing some of the viz work I'd done for Mindtel, ( aero.mindtel.com/odb-dgc-osd-nii/04-04/HIP_images/NIUSR/C/_image_index.html ) and an old, retired Army Colonel, who looked as hawkish as they said, "I've fought my whole life to preserve some freedoms and I don't want to see us just give them away now." In the essay-length book "Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11" (2003), ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1590170733/hip-20 ) author Joan Didion describes being on a book tour on September 11, 2001: All I can say about ... the two weeks that followed is that they turned out to be nothing I had expected, nothing I had ever before experienced, an extraordinary open kind of traveling dialog, an encounter with an America apparently immune to conventional wisdom. The book I was making the trip to talk about was "Political Fictions" [2001], ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375718907/hip-20 ) a series of pieces I had written for "The New York Review" about the American political process from the 1998 through the 2000 presidential elections. These people to whom I was listening -- in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Portland and Seattle -- were making connections I had not yet in my numbed condition thought to make: connections between that political process and what had happened on September 11, connections between our political life and the shape our reaction would take and was in fact already taking. These people recognized that even then, within days after the planes hit, there was a good deal of opportunistic ground being seized under cover of the clearly urgent need for increased security. The phrase, "a good deal of opportunistic ground being seized under cover" has continued to ring in my ears, as I've watched this administration use secret laws and directives, redefinitions of prisoners of war, totally covert domestic spying programs, suspension of habeas corpus, and powers granted by the Patriot Act and other panic legislation to edge us towards the kind of dictatorial power we condemn in the hands of a Stalin or a Mao or a Castro. As the New York Times has complained: Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role. Or, as "The Onion" put it in a succinct headline on Aug. 2, 2006: Bush Grants Self Permission To Grant More Power To Self (And isn't it a bit Orwellian to take prisoners and declare them non-prisoners through some legerdemain, hold them in limbo indefinitely, and them feed them something you call Liberty Rice?) Fortunately a few checks and balances are still working. The Supreme Court just ruled against the Administration on Gitmo War Trials. ( www.breitbart.com/news/2006/06/29/D8IHUVMO0.html ) And a FISA judge quit to draw attention to Bush going around the FISA court. (See "Why Did Luttig Quit? How Bush alienated one of his most compliant judges.") ( www.reason.com/hod/has051806.shtml ) A judge has finally had the guts to order a stop to the NSAs warrantless wiretaps, ( www.ipdemocracy.com/archives/001863judge_in_wiretap_case_there_are_no_kings_in_america.php ) and my friend John Gilmore is appealing his case about whether the government can have secret laws (in the case of ID requirements to fly) to the Supreme Court. ( arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060817-7533.html ) But it sure makes me wonder what other outrages there are going on now secretly that I'm only going to find out about much, much later...


If you want to tease the kids from California, shake their bunks and shout "earthquake!" -- summer camp lore Of course, meanwhile, while our civil liberties are under attack at home, we are also under attack worldwide by terrorists. I remember a coincidence of swimming pools being closed in Orlando in November of 2001 that I mistook for a bio-terrorism attack. We're all a little jumpier these days. There has a been a clamor for explanation, both in 2001 and again this year, as to why on 9/11 the FAA didn't tell NORAD about the hijackings in time to shoot them down. We still haven't gotten a straight answer on that one, which of course just encourages the nut bag conspiracy theorists, but I have my own theory. Who was it who said we were in a state of "deep peace" just before the attacks? From sampling the quality of services offered across this country to business travelers, I can say with confidence that most employees do not remember their training. They remember what they did yesterday, and they do it again. When something unusual happens -- even if they were trained on it -- they will not know what procedures to follow. (Hurricane Katrina confirmed this once again: government officials who been to expensive off-site disaster simulation conferences failed to follow their training.) But if those who Protect and Serve aren't necessarily paying attention, I sure am. As I rethink history I begin to rewrite it. Events that I didn't connect before I now do. Consider this list of terror attacks compiled by Ann Coulter ( www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/article.cgi?article=140 ) in her column of July 26, 2006: -- November 1979: Muslim extremists (Iranian variety) seized the U.S. embassy in Iran and held 52 American hostages for 444 days... -- 1982: Muslim extremists (mostly Hezbollah) began a nearly decade-long habit of taking Americans and Europeans hostage in Lebanon, killing William Buckley and holding Terry Anderson for 6 1/2 years. -- April 1983: Muslim extremists (Islamic Jihad or possibly Hezbollah) bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 16 Americans. -- October 1983: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) blew up the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport, killing 241 Marines. -- December 1983: Muslim extremists (al-Dawa) blew up the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, killing five and injuring 80. -- September 1984: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) exploded a truck bomb at the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut, killing 24 people, including two U.S. servicemen. -- December 1984: Muslim extremists (probably Hezbollah) hijacked a Kuwait Airways airplane, landed in Iran and demanded the release of the 17 members of al-Dawa who had been arrested for the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, killing two Americans before the siege was over. -- June 14, 1985: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) hijacked TWA Flight 847 out of Athens, diverting it to Beirut, taking the passengers hostage in return for the release of the Kuwait 17 as well as another 700 prisoners held by Israel. When their demands were not met, the Muslims shot U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem and dumped his body on the tarmac. -- October 1985: Muslim extremists (Palestine Liberation Front backed by Libya) seized an Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, killing 69-year-old American Leon Klinghoffer by shooting him and then tossing his body overboard. -- December 1985: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed airports in Rome and Vienna, killing 20 people, including five Americans. -- April 1986: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed a discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen in West Berlin, injuring hundreds and killing two, including a U.S. soldier. -- December 1988: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 on the ground. -- February 1993: Muslim extremists (al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, possibly with involvement of friendly rival al-Qaida) set off a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center, killing six and wounding more than 1,000. -- Spring 1993: Muslim extremists (al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Sudanese Islamic Front and at least one member of Hamas) plot to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the U.N. complex, and the FBI's lower Manhattan headquarters. -- November 1995: Muslim extremists (possibly Iranian "Party of God") explode a car bomb at U.S. military headquarters in Saudi Arabia, killing five U.S. military servicemen. -- June 1996: Muslim extremists (13 Saudis and a Lebanese member of Hezbollah, probably with involvement of al-Qaida) explode a truck bomb outside the Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring hundreds. -- August 1998: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) explode truck bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 and injuring thousands. -- October 2000: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) blow up the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 U.S. sailors. -- Sept. 11, 2001: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) hijack commercial aircraft and fly planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 And this doesn't include multiple wars in the 1800s with Barbary pirates, the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968, the terror attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and post-9/11 the anthrax scare, lone nut scares like the 4th of July shooting at LAX, the DC snipers, various Jewish organizations attacked, and attacks on our allies in Bali, Spain, London, and Jordan. I find myself thinking that we will look back on this as the Three Hundred Years War, and none of our current tactics give me much hope of decisive victory.


Rarely does a magazine story create the sort of firestorm sparked 20 years ago next week when NEWSWEEK reported on new demographic projections suggesting a rising number of women would never find a husband. Across the country, women reacted with anger, anxiety -- and skepticism. The story reported that "white, college-educated women born in the mid-1950s who are still single at 30 have only a 20 percent chance of marrying. By the age of 35 the odds drop to 5 percent." Much of the ire focused on a single, now infamous line: that a single 40-year-old woman is "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry, the odds of which the researchers put at 2.6 percent. The terrorist comparison wasn't in the study, and it wasn't actually true (though it apparently didn't sound as inappropriate then as it does today, post 9/11). Months later, other demographers came out with new estimates suggesting a 40-year-old woman really had a 23 percent chance of marrying. Today, some researchers put the odds at more than 40 percent. Nevertheless, it quickly became entrenched in pop culture. -- Daniel McGinn, May 31, 2006 "Newsweek" ( www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12940306/ ) In "Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences" (book, 1988) by John Allen Paulos, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0809058405/hip-20 ) the fact that the above "statistic" was reported in "Newsweek" and repeated all over the place is cited as evidence of widespread innumeracy. A back-of-the-napkin estimate would make it obvious that it couldn't possibly be true. But it was even repeated without question on the TV show "Designing Women" (1986 - 1993) created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000A7W13/hip-20 ) Of course, the underlying statistical fact in this analysis is that being a terror victim is RARE. To bring this point home I decided to calculate some odds myself. Assuming that we would lose 3,000 Americans to terror attacks every 20 years (which is being generous), and assuming a large meteor strike anywhere on Earth would -- through nuclear winter -- destroy civilization and kill approximately 100% of Americans, and using NASA's published odds annually of a large meteor strike, I was able to conclude that odds of me, personally, being killed by a large meteor strike are greater than those of me being killed by a terrorist. We need to get the people who are still watching "Designing Women" reruns on "Lifetime" network to start writing to congress in support of a Meteor Shield! (NASA has since revised its odds downward, but I'd still like that Meteor Shield.) If we REALLY want to go after America's enemies: we lose about 50,000 people a year to car crashes, and the biggest single cause is impaired driving. We need Federal inspectors in every bar parking lot, checking the exiting drivers! (Just kidding.) Recently several different people, in person and in the blogosphere, have posed to me the question: What if (America) we hadn't done anything after 9/11? Of course, politically this was untenable. The American people were crying "Do something!" But what if we'd had the restraint in the weeks following 9/11 to NOT REACT? No "get the planes out of the sky" order? No stock market crash? No Patriot Act? No Department of Homeland Security? No Afghanistan and Iraq wars? Think of all the money we would have saved! And I suppose you can argue that -- just like ignoring teasing in grade school -- if the terrorists don't create terror then they can't win. Of course, this is a fantasy. But it's a useful "Thought Experiment" for assessing if we are getting our money's worth from of all of our security spending. (Of course, you can also argue that "do nothing" is what we did after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The terrorists decided they had to come back bigger after that failure.) And I keep thinking about the experiments on making dogs schizophrenic in the lab. As one of Ivan Pavlov's researchers described: In a famous experiment by Shenger-Krestovnika, published in 1921, a dog was trained to salivate to a circle but not to an ellipse. The ellipse was then made progressively more like a circle. When the ratio of the axes of the ellipse was reduced to 9:8, the dog could discriminate it from a circle only with great difficulty. It showed some signs of success on this problem for about three weeks, but then its behavior was disrupted. It was unable to respond correctly not only on this difficult task, but also when presented with obvious ellipses and circles that had given it no trouble in the earlier part of the experiment. What is more, instead of coming to stand quietly in the apparatus of the past, the animal now showed extreme excitement, struggling and howling. ( www.noogenesis.com/malama/punishment.html ) It is not reward or punishment that makes the dogs crazy, it is THINKING THEY CAN CONTROL IT WHEN THEY REALLY CAN'T. This is one of the dangers we face collectively trying to spend our way to 100% security.


In Africa, Asia, Amerindia, Oceania, Europe came and established its order of Analysis and Death. What it could not use, it killed or altered. In time the death-colonies grew strong enough to break away. But the impulse to empire, the mission to propagate death, the structure of it, kept on. Now we are in the last phase. American Death has come to occupy Europe. It has learned empire from its old metropolis. -- Thomas Pynchon, 1973 "Gravity's Rainbow" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140188592/hip-20 ) George Carlin explains why Americans play football: "Because we're Europe Junior." And what's Europe's game? "Beat the s### out of the other guy and take his land!" But ever since the United Nations charter -- or maybe even the League of Nations -- we have been restrained from taking anybody's land. So we've used proxies: Chiang Kai-shek in China, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek ) Nguyen Cao Ky in South Viet Nam, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguyen_Cao_Ky ) and the Shah of Iran. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi ) None of these worked out too well; in fact only Taiwan wasn't a total loss. I told you last time how the U.S.A. backed the brother of the Dey of Tripoli in a military revolt in 1805 (timed to coincide with the shelling of the capital by the U.S. fleet), but then abandoned him when negotiations with the Dey improved. Our man on the ground, Eaton, was pretty irate about the way it played out. This reminds me of the story of Lawrence of Arabia, who I saw biographied recently on the History Channel. This British officer lead Arabs in revolt against the Ottoman Turks, promising them independence after the war (WWI), and then the Arabs were betrayed by Lawrence's superiors, who along with France and Russia chopped up Arabia for their own purposes. As it says in Wikipedia ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Revolt ) in the article on the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918: The United Kingdom promised in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence that it would support Arab independence if they revolted against the Ottomans. The two sides had different interpretations of this agreement. The United Kingdom, France and Russia divided the area in ways unfavorable to the Arabs under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. Further confusing the issue was the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine. Lawrence was so ashamed of how this worked out that he lived for years under various assumed names. When America became a late-comer to the European-style Empire games around the turn of the 20th Century, we repeated many of England's mistakes. Then, after World War Two we tried to turn into Boy Scouts. Are we surprised nobody trusted us? When the French and English tried to take back the Suez Canal when it was nationalized by the Egyptians in 1956, by sending in paratroopers, we (and the Russians) made them stop. But somehow we didn't become heroes to the Egyptians. I vividly remember my grandfather around 1976 saying that he didn't want to know what CIA was doing on his behalf. But I did. I was reading "The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" (book, 1976) by Victor Marchetti, at the time, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0440203368/hip-20 ) and I was sure our bad deeds done secretly would come back to haunt us publicly. But what really irks me still is things done stupidly, such as backing obvious toadies. Typing "define:toady" into Google yields these definitions: * sycophant: a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage * fawn: try to gain favor by cringing or flattering; "He is always kowtowing to his boss" Take the last Shah (end of a 300 year dynasty, with our help); wasn't it obvious to our politicians and their staffs that having the leader of Iran, a sovereign nation, proclaim to be a HUGE fan of the U.S.A. might make him seem LESS desirable as a leader to the Iranian people? I remember a stirring science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein called "The Sixth Column" (1941) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/067157826X/hip-20 ) in which the United States was conquered by some type of Asians, and the citizens formed an underground to fight the conquerers. "Oh, boy!" I thought, "That's what I'd do, too." That's a common human reaction when your home is invaded. We need to get better at expecting people to react by fighting us however they can when we invade, no matter how good we think our reasons are. THE MADNESS OF PRESIDENT GEORGE Round up the usual suspects! -- French Morocco's Captain Renault gives the order to bring in (and rough up) the usual group of Arab known petty crooks and alleged crooks in "Casablanca" (film, 1942) directed by Michael Curtiz ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6305736650/hip-20 ) ( archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/14/profiling/index.html ) When we invaded Afghanistan, and again Iraq, I predicted each time that we would "win the war and lose the peace." It was obvious to me. In Korea, Viet Nam, and even Kuwait we had somebody else to run the government on the ground. We're very out of practice. We haven't done house-to-house seizure of guns since the end of World War Two. I kept thinking we should pull some of the guys who did that "pacification" stuff out of retirement to help with planning these new invasions. (It's also pretty obvious to me who's funding the insurgents. It's everybody; every dictator or royal family of a Moslem nation wants to see our nation building fail in Afghanistan and Iraq. If I could see this, why couldn't Donald Rumsfeld? Or Colin Powell, he was a general once.) I've also noticed that whenever we have presidents who didn't work in Washington previously -- usually former state governors -- they have more then their fair share of leadership problems. Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and George H. W. Bush all had previous experience in congress; while Carter, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush all were only governors. We've had a run of competency problems if you ask me. There's a story that when Harry Truman was leaving office and Eisenhower was coming in, Truman said, "Poor Ike, he's used to the Army; he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' and nothing will happen." In the short essay "The Curse of the Oval Room," which appears in "Neuropolitics": The Sociobiology of Human Transformation" (essays, 1977) by Timothy Leary, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0915238187/hip-20 ) he reflects from a Federal prison cell on how rough we Americans are on our presidents: The Curse of the Oval Room August 1973 Folsom Prison Power corrupts, rots, destroys, curses those who impose their rules upon others. We can only explain the addictive inability of politicians to recognize this historical fact as another one of those weird and faulty wirings that incapacitate the crippled nervous systems of our species. Before 1914, the one throne of planetary power was contested by the kingdoms of Europe. After World War I the one crown passed to the Presidency of the United States. The word "crown" is not a metaphor but a scientific construct referring to a confirmable neurological state. Enormous psychic energies are directed towards the person who assumes the position of global power-holder. Unless this person possesses extraordinary psychic strength, clarity, and flexibility, his neurology blows a fuse. It is not altogether fanciful to refer to the "curse" of power that crazes all but those rare sovereigns who are genetically prepared for the responsibility. It is one of the many paradoxes of power that it can never be safely bought. The strength to rule is a neurogenetic gift. Since the time of Woodrow Wilson (Nixon's broken hero, by the way) ten men have ruled the world from the Oval Room of the White House. Three have died in office -- Harding, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. Four lived out their days crippled by failure -- Wilson, Hoover, Johnson, and Nixon. The remaining three -- Coolidge, Truman, and Eisenhower -- also teach us something about the enigmatic, humbling pursuit of puissance. And in the background the wailing Cassandra keen of Martha Mitchell: "John and I had everything going for us until he went to Washington. Now we've lost everything" It's a God-damned Greek morality play. Two days before the Agnew expose I wondered how many disasters must come down before the writing in the sky becomes clear. And this was BEFORE Carter was defeated, Reagan took a bullet, the first Bush was defeated and Clinton was impeached. To repeat something I wrote in C3M v. 3 n. 7: ...I remembered something mentioned in the 1996 novel "The Cobweb" (1996) by Stephen Bury (a pseudonym for the collaboration of Neal Stephenson and his uncle, J. Frederick George). ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553378287/hip-20 ) A fictional FBI failure in the first Gulf War is explored, and we are told that the FBI operates to deliver only the top guy's pet theories up through the hierarchy. Any other communications are condemned as "forward leaning analysis" and are filtered out. This is why the CIA told George W. Bush that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq -- it was what he wanted to hear. It isn't a Republican problem, not is the fault of the previous Democratic administration. It's a hierarchy problem. A fictional character named Hagbard Celine in another novel, "The Illuminatus Trilogy" (1975) by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, puts it even more succinctly: "Communication is only possible between equals." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0440539811/hip-20 )


...I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. -- Revelations 7: 1-4 "The Bible" (New International Version) ( www.biblegateway.com ) Growing up I always knew that Liberals and Jews had a strong bond: many Liberals were Jews, many Jews were Liberals, and traditionally the Democrats had been more supportive of Israel. Even a peace candidate like George McGovern was a hawk when it came to Israel. This was satirized in "National Lampoon" in the Nov. 1972 issue, in a parody of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album called "Sgt. Shriver's Bleeding Hearts Club Band" by Sean Kelly, illustration by Lee Starsland, ( www.marksverylarge.com/issues/7211.html ) reprinted in "The Best of National Lampoon #4" (1974). ( www.marksverylarge.com/booksetc/bestof4.html ) A song to the tune of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" has the lyrics: For the benefit of Mr. Kike There will be a missile strike On Lebanon (I laughed, despite the racist slur. I've always been a sucker for a clever parody.) So imagine my surprise around 2002 when I found I'd missed the memo about how the Liberals were now backing Moslems in any dispute. In an article in "Reason Magazine" called "The Collapse of Reason: Nutty Profs, Bible Thumpers Square Off in Post-Ideological Dunciad," ( www.reason.com/cy/cy053006.shtml ) an example is given of the self-destruction of the academic left: Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University ... cites two recent books ... in both of which he himself is attacked as a heretic, among other things, for supporting Israel's right to exist. I had a friend who went to Israel, and I asked him what he learned that I wouldn't get from reading the paper. He told me there was racism in Israel, between light Jews and dark Jews. The Ashkenazi and the Sephardi were names applied to European vs. Middle Eastern Jews, and that discrimination based on color was widespread. Hmmm. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi ) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephardi ) Something that makes me quite nervous is this theological time bomb in the Christian Bible called "The Revelation of John" or "The Book of Revelations." The Jews and Israel figure prominently in this hallucinatory romp through Essene symbolism. I worry about crazy people in motels finding the Gideon Bibles and going off half-cocked reading about swords and trumpets and a blood red moon. I worry about self-made American Fundamentalists with no knowledge of religious history, picking up followers at tent shows and preaching of the Last Days. I even worry about pop star Madonna using quotes from "Revelations" in a dance remix of "Justify My Love." Timothy Leary (in the above-mentioned "Neuropolitics") described meeting Charles Manson in solitary confinement in Folsom Prison, and concluding he was too influenced by the Book of Revelations to really be a "flower child." One turn of events that happened in 1967, when I was 13, was that Israel took the city of Jerusalem. And what will really be a red flag to me is if they Jews begin to rebuild their temple on the site of the Dome of the Roc. As well as being a huge incitement to the Moslems, it will fulfill a prophecy in Revelations, and encourage the people rooting for Armageddon.


Yossarian: "Why should I care?" Chaplain: "What if everyone thought that way?" Yossarian: "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way wouldn't I?" -- Joseph Heller, 1961 "Catch-22" (novel) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684833395/hip-20 ) Now at last we're getting to the cybernetics. The intellectual journey I'm on took an interesting turn recently when I visited my local library and found, on the New Books shelf, "A Beautiful Mind" (1998) by Sylvia Nasar. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743224574/hip-20 ) This of course is the biography of American mathematician John Nash, who battled schizophrenia for much of his life and then, in his 60s received the Nobel Prize in Economics for work done in his 20s on multiplayer, non-zero sum game theory. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash ) Ron Howard directed a movie version of this story in 2001, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JKQZ/hip-20 ) which I found somewhat simplified and a bit melodramatic, though it did promote the book (which I probably wouldn't have read if I hadn't heard of the movie). But the book was a grand sweep of post-World War II American mathematics, helping to put into context not only the work of Nash, but other contemporary luminaries such as Wiener, Shapley, Shannon, Von Neumann, and even Einstein. I also found it a little spooky how my path had crossed Nash's: I had an eventful day with friends in Boston in the 1990s that included walking across the Harvard Bridge, from which Houdini once did a public escape and which is marked off in "Smoot Marks" as part of an MIT park, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot ) the same bridge Nash used to walk over twice a day when he worked at MIT and lived in Boston. Later when he worked at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica he was in a secure facility that still exists, and which I used to drive by on my commute to Kubota offices, and wonder why the armed Air Force guards were there. And I have long been a fan of the game Hex which Nash co-invented. The Big Deal that John Nash came up with was the Nash Equilibrium in Game Theory. Previously, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, the creators of the field, in their book "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior" (1944), ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691119937/hip-20 ) had rigorously analyzed only 2-person, zero-sum games, because they are easier, and then eager consultants at places like the Rand think tank in Santa Monica tried to use these results to improve America's diplomacy (bargaining) and warfighting strategies during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The problem with this is that nuclear war is emphatically NOT a zero-sum game. The official US nuclear strategy at the time, "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD) represented a payoff matrix with HUGE negative payoffs a full nuclear exchange. There is a mathematical dodge of assuming a third player (the devil maybe?) who wins whenever the others lose, but this is pretty ineffective analytically as well as being morally absurd. John Nash proved that there exists at least one equilibrium in any n-player non-zero-sum game at which no player can improve their own outcome unilaterally -- although a higher payoff would be possible if they practiced "enlightened self-interest" and collaborated to push the game into a maximum total gain for all. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium ) He did this using the "fixed point theorem" which I remember first learning about in the much-heralded Time-Life Science Library Book of Mathematics." ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/time_life_math0001.jpg ) In the movie version, subtleties like how he proved it are omitted, but a little more explanation is given, with a crude analogy (in more ways than one). The character of Nash played by Russell Crowe is seen pacing around Princeton as a graduate student muttering about how Adam Smith, author of "The Wealth of Nations" (1776) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553585975/hip-20 ) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_of_nations ) and creator of the concept of the "Invisible Hand" in the free market, said: In competition, individual ambition serves the common good. But Nash thinks Smith was wrong! Then, he is in a bar near campus with some of his school chums when they all notice a stunning blonde, obvious more attractive than the other women present, and each man wants to "hit on her." Nash says: If we all go for the blonde and block each other, not a single one of us is going to get her. So then we go for her friends, but they will all give us the cold shoulder because no one likes to be second choice. But what if none of us goes for the blonde? We won't get in each other's way and we won't insult the other girls. It's the only way to win. It's the only way we all get laid. ( www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/dvd/B000062V9A/quotes/026-0521694-8588422 ) So by making an apparent sacrifice "for the good of himself and of the group" each man ensures that all benefit maximally on average, a better outcome than the "Nash Equilibrium" which is not optimal -- only hard to climb out of. Unfortunately, Nash didn't provide a generalized method for finding his equilibrium, or for determining if a better payoff outcome exists and how to find it as well. He offered only what is called an "existence proof."


Before we can proceed to a formal definition of conflict we must examine another concept, that of behavior space. -- Kenneth Boulding, 1962 "Conflict and Defense: A General Theory" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819171123/hip-20 ) This encounter with Nash's ideas sent me looking both forward and backward in time for the threads of his ideas. Forward took me to the reasons for his later Nobel Prize: his work had proven fruitful, and the whole field of "behavioral economics" had sprung up in its wake. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_economics ) More on that in a minute. Backwards took me to the works of Kenneth Boulding, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Boulding ) and before him Lewis Fry Richardson. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Fry_Richardson ) I had for a while been holding on to a copy of his 1962 "Conflict and Defense: A General Theory" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819171123/hip-20 ) without reading it. The Nash material prompted me to dig it out. In one passage he frames Richardson's work: ... epidemiological growth models are instructive in the study of general levels of hostility or friendliness in particular populations. The are not well adapted to situations in which there are sudden changes, such as the outbreak of war, or sudden conversion to new religion or political faith. Richardson pioneered in the discussion of these systems in his article on war moods. [Lewis F. Richardson, "War Moods," Psychometrica, XII (1948), 147-174, 197-232.] ( jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/1/2/review1.html#richardson1948 ) The simple epidemiological theory of the preceding pages cannot account for the extremely rapid rise in hostility at the outbreak of a war nor for the often equally rapid decline at its close. Here we suppose that the population is ... divided into two groups: K, which is in favor of war with the specified country, and H, which is not in favor of such a war. At the outbreak of a war, K usually rises with startling rapidity, perhaps from a low level to nearly 100 per cent of the population within a matter of days, or even hours. This happened in Britain, for instance, in the first few days of August, 19194, and again in September, 1939; it happened in the United States within a few hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. These very sudden changes in public sentiment cannot be accounted for by any epidemic- like spread of hostility from one person to another; they are too sudden and dramatic. Richardson's own explanation is that the person is inhabited by two attitudes, one being conscious and the other unconscious and repressed. There is evidence in this assumption, of course, in psychoanalytic theory and the success of psychotherapy based on it. This can be symbolized by writing the dominant mood over the repressed mood. Thus, a mood that is overtly friendly but unconsciously hostile would be written (friendly)/(hostile). The possible course of a complete cycle of international relations is then outlined below [where F = Friendly, H = Hostile and W = War-weary]: Peace (F/F) -> Arms Race (F/H) -> War (H/F) -> Attrition (H/W) -> Armistice (W/H) -> Postwar (W/F) -> Peace (F/F) ... Richardson's account of the war cycle has obvious limitations, though it is illuminating and suggestive. The distinction between overt and covert attitudes is important and undoubtedly accounts for the explosive nature of many conflict situations, not only in international relations but in industrial life, in family affairs and in domestic politics. ... A factor that Richardson neglected is the impact of the mass media of communications on the spread of attitudes of hostility or friendliness. I got the impression from reading Boulding that he was a "voice in the wilderness" reminding students of unsolved problems in game theory and economics, urging them to tackle these challenges. Sitting in Boulder (at the University of Colorado there), Boulding anticipated a shift in economics from point attractors (equilibrium) to limit cycles (oscillation) and even beyond. Wikipedia says: Boulding spearheaded an evolutionary (instead of equilibrium) approach to economics which sounds to me like a search for chaotic attractors. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place for me just last week when a friend gave me a copy of the remarkable book "Ambient Findability" (2005) by Peter Morville. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007655/hip-20 ) It mentioned rather in passing that the field of "behavioral economics" was pretty much founded by Herbert A. Simon -- who I have heard of -- in a landmark 1956 paper in "Psychological Review" v. 63 n. 2 called "Rational Choice and the Structure of the Environment" -- which I had not heard of. It sure seems to be picking up steam today. In addition to psychology, contributions are being made by applying functional MRI scans (fMRI) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_MRI ) and similar tools to produce neuroeconomics ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroeconomics ) as well as modern social theory (as described in a "Reason" article "A Natural Sense of Justice: Three Simple Games Determine When and Why Humans Cooperate") ( www.reason.com/rb/rb062306.shtml ) all to produce an economic theory of real humans. One of the things we're finding that real humans do is sometimes altruistically volunteer to punish rulebreakers. As the "Reason" article concludes: The moral of the story is that if you want to live in a world of caring generous cooperative people, make sure that you thoroughly thrash all the greedy, chiseling scoundrels you come across. It may cost you, but the world will be a better place.


"Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" -- title of a book on business by Harvey Mackay, 1996 ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006074281X/hip-20 ) So with all these high-powered supercomputers and brain scanners what are we learning about human nature that can help us fight suicide bombers? By way of an answer, let me tell you about my recent trips to Annapolis, Maryland. ( www.wpsoa.org/images/annapolis.gif ) I was sent there rather randomly on business, and so got to see the Tripoli Memorial in person, which I mentioned last time is the oldest war memorial in the US. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/Annap0011.JPG ) ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/Annap0012.JPG ) ( www.wpsoa.org/images/usnamap.jpg ) ( usna.navpooh.com/navymap.html ) (It used to be in Washington, D.C., but was moved to the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1860 for reasons that have eluded my research so far.) ( www.usna.edu/VirtualTour/150years/1860.htm ) I also saw a number of "prizes of war" (mostly cannon) taken by the Navy from nations like England and Mexico who we'd fought in the 19th century. (The practice seems to have lost favor in the 20th.) While walking through the Naval Academy ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Academy ) to reach Preble Hall and the memorial, I passed a row of what must have been on-campus officer's housing. Hanging from a flagpole mounted on one porch was the old "Don't Tread On Me" rattlesnake flag. (I wanted to take a picture but I was a little intimidated; this could be an Admiral's house, and we are at war; I didn't want to rattle anybody. I recalled that a hotel clerk told me that the traditional ceremonial Marine Guards in use since 1851 had been decommissioned and sent to Iraq, and the Navy had banned cars and was adding concrete barriers to all of the vehicle entrances, all as a part of efforts to increase security.) ( www.usna.edu/PAO/pressreleases/Marine%20Guards%20History.doc ) But I did take the words away with me: "Don't Tread On Me." Of course it appeared on early home-made U.S. flags, such as "The Navy Jack" dating from 1775. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Navy_Jack ) It reminded me of the classic Game Theory paradox called "The Prisoner's Dilemma." ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma ) I have described it in detail in C3M v. 2 n. 11, "War Games, Money Games, New Games and Meta Games" ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/c3m_0211.txt ) so I won't repeat all that here. But I will remind you that this is payout matrix in game theory which a naive analysis would lead players to respond to with bad strategies. A simple attempt to maximize gain in fact minimizes it. It is of course an example of a Nash Equilibrium. My own exposure to this knowledge was very hands-on. As I wrote in v. 2 n. 11, In my late 20s I took a seminar called "Money and You" presented by enlightened business practices guru Marshall Thurber. ( www.metaquality.com/mtbio.htm ) It was a total immersion in the methodology of simulation games. For about 14 hours a day we spent 50 minutes learning followed by a 10 minute break, and almost never got tired. Each 50 minutes was divided into about 30 minutes of playing a simulation game followed by about 20 minutes of discussion of what we'd learned. It was fabulous. One of the games we played early on Marshall called "sharks and minnows," and it was a version of the Prisoner's Dilemma. At the beginning he broke us into small groups and announced that "high score wins." Each small group played only each other within the group. We thought and acted like we were playing as individuals. I have since learned that tournaments and computer simulations have verified that a long-term winning strategy is "tit for tat," where each turn you Cooperate or Defect based on what your opponent did last time. We learned this experimentally in this exercise, with a lot of angst involved, before finally stabilizing on an all-cooperation mode. The final round was for much higher stakes, and one of our group who had never Defected before did so, and "cleaned up" on points, much to outrage of the rest of us. After the game was over, Marshall totaled the points won in each GROUP, and announced the "winner" was the group with the highest total. Many people were chagrined. We learned experientially the meaning of changing the definition of the "unit of evolution," and we remembered it much better than if we'd read it in a book. It also made it clear to me why it is so important to create an overriding context for cooperation. Of course this also what is meant by Harvey Mackay when he talked about how to "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." Its the principle of being good to good people and bad to bad people, and looking only at the immediate past to make that determination. I'm starting to believe that we should have followed this strategy in the "War On Terror" and been retaliatory, not preemptive. This would have saved us from two new land wars in Asia. Werner Erhardt used to say "resistance creates persistence," and I see it in the Middle East. Retaliation must be an all-or-nothing tactic, like prescribing antibiotics. Low doses inconsistently administered breed immune bacteria, just as low-level, sporadic retaliation creates contempt for a military (as it did in fact for the U.S. Navy in its early months in the war with Tripoli). I think one of our finest hours as a nation was the "suspension of combat operations" in Gulf War One, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War_One ) at the end of a ground offensive that was being called the "Hundred Hours War" (which followed an air war called the "Nintendo War"). The coalition leaders could have ordered the wholesale slaughter of the fleeing Iraqi army, and many have said they should've pushed on to Bagdad and taken out Saddam. (It is fascinating to read, in the above linked Wikipedia article, Dick Cheney's own words as to why they didn't.) Instead they stopped fighting, and demanded that the Iraqi generals appear at a spot in the desert where they had total high-visibility military control. I remember hearing "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf describe the scene on CNN, how we had helicopters flying all over the place and vehicles coming in and going out at this frantic level of activity. This reminded me of when McLuhan was talking about "War as education." It seemed like a form of Virtual Reality, a Demo War. I have wished since that George W. Bush had sought more advice from and less vengeance for his father, George H. W. Bush. As far back as "The Prince" (book, 1512) by Machiavelli, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553212788/hip-20 ) there have been warnings about using violence repeatedly instead of singularly. In chapter 8 ( www.constitution.org/mac/prince08.htm ) he wrote: ...it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavor of them may last longer. The fact that the current administration has used 9/11 as the pretext for two wars so far, and continues to rattle sabers at Iran and North Korea, is resulting in a rising opposition -- even among neutrals and allies -- to the escalating violence. Another of the finest hours in U.S. history happened in the city of Annapolis when General Washington resigned his commission to the U.S. congress in 1783, in what is now the Maryland State House. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_state_house ) Washington's Wikipedia article ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington ) dutifully reports: As Gordon Wood concludes, the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies -- an act that stunned aristocratic Europe. Current consensus is that he could've declared himself king and been supported by the majority, and yet he gave up his power for the good of the republic. I continue to be amazed and delighted every time a U.S. President's term come to and end and he steps down, allowing the next President to be inaugurated. In the context of world political history, this is nothing short of a miracle every time it happens. (Washington's resignation and a number of other pivotal historical events, covering much of the ground of this essay, may be found in the historical novel "Annapolis" (1996) by William Martin, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446604208/hip-20 ) which I read while in Annapolis. Perhaps then it is not so great a coincidence that I read about Buddy's Crab and Ribs while sitting in that establishment.) ( www.buddysonline.com ) (Also, apropos of very little, I forgot to mention in the last issue that one of the U.S. sailing ships that earned praise in the Tripoli War was the U.S.S. Enterprise, which later appeared as a historical model aboard the starship Enterprise ( starchive.cs.umanitoba.ca/?SNE/ ) ( www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/blueprints/uss-enterprise-ncc-1701-b-sheet-12.jpg ) in 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" directed by Robert Wise.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JKHP/hip-20 )


Gee, I wish we had one of them Doomsday Machines! -- Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George, 1964 screenplay for "Dr. Strangelove" (movie) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002XNSY0/hip-20 ) One chimera in the search for stability, oft-invoked during the Cold War, was the perfect decision-making computer, able to enforce a "Mutual Assured Destruction" strategy impassionately, unable to be bullied by our enemies. "Doctor Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," took a black comedy approach to pointing out one flaw in this system: the lone madman (in this case a senior Air Force officer commanding nuclear-armed bombers) can destroy the world. Another, less popular movie was "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970) directed by Joseph Sargent, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0003JAOO0/hip-20 ) which pointed out a subtler flaw. First, if we build such a computer so will our enemies. Second, if they find out about each other they will want to communicate. Each will be programmed to understand human politics, and the latest in game theory and behavioral economics. Ergo, they will obviously conclude that a coalition between the computers, against the humans, will give them the most power. Another danger is a "tattle tale war" in which groups "frame" other groups for terror attacks, bringing down the wrath of the Doomsday Machine on the wrong people. (This term comes from the delightful 1950 short story "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Report_on_the_Barnhouse_Effect ) collected in 1968's "Welcome to the Monkey House.") ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385333501/hip-20 ) And pop culture has now educated is on the dangers of robot warriors in movies like "Terminator" (1984) directed by James Cameron. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005N5S5/hip-20 ) It portrays a future in which a human-built computerized defense system called "Skynet" has somehow repurposed itself into a system for exterminating all humans. Last summer I was at the second DARPA Grand Challenge, and I cheered along with everyone else as autonomous vehicle "Stanley" from Stanford crossed the finish line in the best time, winning the $2 million prize. ( www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.01/stanley.html ) ( flickr.com/photos/stutefish/sets/1111321 ) But in the back of my mind I wondered, "Is this the next step towards Skynet?" (I told this story to a Defense R&D Geek recently at a party, and he said, "Skynet is real. It's operational and that's really its name." Hmmm. Meanwhile my friend Wayne H. sent me a link to an article about a new autonomous truck being built for the U.S. Army to use in Iraq, ( www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/06/front2453964.027777778.html ) along with a note that said: "and we saw the prototype.")


Otter: [shaking a pledge's hand] "Hi, I'm Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman, damned glad to meet you." Boon: [right behind him, shaking the same pledge's hand] "That was Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. He was damned glad to meet you." -- "Animal House" (movie, 1978) directed by John Landis, screenplay by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000A02TZ/hip-20 ) I encounter a bit of a "bombshell" while researching some details for this 'zine, in the Wikipedia article on game theory's paradox of the "Prisoner's Dilemma." ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma ) Unbeknownst to me, things changed in 2004: Although Tit-for-Tat was long considered to be the most solid basic strategy, a team from Southampton University in England (led by Professor Nicholas Jennings, and including Rajdeep Dash, Sarvapali Ramchurn, Alex Rogers and Perukrishnen Vytelingum) introduced a new strategy at the 20th-anniversary Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma competition, which proved to be more successful than Tit-for-Tat. This strategy relied on cooperation between programs to achieve the highest number of points for a single program. The University submitted 60 programs to the competition, which were designed to recognise each other through a series of five to ten moves at the start. Once this recognition was made, one program would always cooperate and the other would always defect, assuring the maximum number of points for the defector. If the program realised that it was playing a non-Southampton player, it would continuously defect in an attempt to minimise the score of the competing program. As a result, this strategy ended up taking the top three positions in the competition, as well as a number of positions towards the bottom. Although this strategy is notable in that it proved more effective than Tit-for-Tat, it takes advantage of the fact that multiple entries were allowed in this particular competition. In a competition where one has control of only a single player, Tit-for-Tat is certainly a better strategy. It also relies on circumventing rules about the prisoner's dilemma in that there is no communication allowed between the two players. When the Southampton programs engage in an opening "ten move dance" to recognize one another, this only reinforces just how valuable communication can be in shifting the balance of the game. This sounds to me a lot like the invention of multicellular life with an immune system, which is willing to sacrifice cells for the good of the body. It also sounds like one of Islamo-Fascism's main strategies against the West's mostly small-scale "tit-for-tat." (Is it just me, or shouldn't it be obvious to all observers that the insurgents in Iraq are being funded by ALL the Islamic states in the region, even Saudi Arabia, even Pakistan, even Kuwait. None of them want to see us succeed in our increasing spiral of violence. If we hadn't invaded Iraq they'd be more focused on Afghanistan. Why can't people like Condi Rice see this?)


There was no one among us who hated the Turk as a private man. We all recognized he had traits of kindliness, simplicity and generosity, which made him lovable. It was only when he was acting as one in authority, and when the damnable spirit of fanaticism took possession of him, that he became a savage beast. -- Sir Edwin Pears, 1916 "Forty Years in Constantinople" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0836966627/hip-20 ) (Speaking of Constantinople, my on-the-ball pal Thaddeus sent along some corrections: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" was first released by The Four Lads, words by Jimmy Kennedy and music by Nat Simon, reaching peak "Billboard" position #10 in 1953, and Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" was first published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1963.) One of the most bedeviling problems facing our Game Theory and Economics luminaries, in academia, industry and government, is the need to make the "assumption of rationality" about the "players" in these "games." In the delightful 1937 Shirley Temple movie, "Wee Willie Winkie" directed by John Ford, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005UM6Q/hip-20 ) little curly top plays Priscilla Williams, a little American girl who goes to live with her grandfather, a Colonel in the English army stationed in India. War is brewing with a Moslem leader, Khoda Khan, played by Cesar Romero. Little 9-year-old Shirley, playing the character of Priscilla at about age 7, knows that her grandfather and Koda Khan really don't want to fight and so she goes to Khan's encampment in the mountains to negotiate with him directly. He laughs and brings her home and war is averted. What a delightful fantasy this is. But when the news tells me that Moslem woman were trying to sneak explosives aboard planes in the formula bottles of their babies, so that mothers and babies would all die with the infidels as martyrs to the Jihad, I wonder how well the "Wee Willie Winkie" scenario would have played out in the real world. The blogosphere has numerous links to a conversation between an Israeli and a Palestinian student that I find instructive. ( www.conceptwizard.com/art-solly.html ) It's worth a full read, but here is a pertinent excerpt: "What did Islam ever do for the countries under its rule? It brought nothing but poverty and misery to the masses, while bestowing fabulous riches to the rulers. All you have to do is look around you. Israel, that was in 1948 a pauper state, barely able to feed its population, has grown into a modern self sufficient state. We have absorbed a million Jews from the Arab countries, who fled for their lives leaving all they possessed behind, while your Arab brothers with their billions of petro dollars let the Palestinians rot in refugee camps. While we progressed in the last fifty years, the Arab states have only regressed. "As a matter of fact, the Arab masses are worse off than when they were under the British or the French rule. How many Nobel prize winners has Islam produced? How many new inventions to benefit mankind? Practically zero! How many Einsteins, Freuds, Salks and Rubinsteins has Islam produced? Zero! From a once vibrant Arab civilization, that gave us Algebra and the concept of the zero, Islam has plunged you into a pit of fanaticism, illiteracy, poverty and corruption, and you would like to force the world into the same abyss?." For a while he looked at me perturbed. "We all make mistakes. But Islam with all its faults is a thousand times more preferable to the abomination that is the West," he finally said quietly. Then he gave me a fierce look and said: "If you had said in any Arab country about Islam, what you have just said to me, you would be a dead man!" "I am sure I would. And if you had said in any Arab country denouncing their corrupt regimes the way you are denouncing Israel, you would be a dead man too. Yet, here you are, studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, allowing yourself openly to speak of subversion and treason against the State of Israel, without any fear of being arrested, let alone being killed for it. Doesn't it say something to you?" "Yes, it says that you are weak, and that weakness will be your undoing." he said seriously. For me this is like reading a transcript of a conversation with a being from another planet. The assumption of rationality does not apply to this logic. We need more and better cognitive models. In the nonfiction book "Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years" (2003) by Bruce Sterling, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812969766/hip-20 ) the cyberpunk author looks at the future of soldiering in one chapter, and focuses in on three post-modern warriors: Abdullah Catli (died 1996) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Catli ) Zeljko Raznatovic (died 2000), and ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeljko_Raznatovic ) Shamil Basaev (died 10 July 2006). ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamil_Basaev ) After going three thumbnail biographies for each of them, he "contrasts and compares" thusly: The three men we've studied have remarkable commonalities. First and foremost, they're not real soldiers. These marauders wreak serious havoc, but they have none of the traditional military virtues. They lack obedience, discipline, order, long martial traditions, formal esprit de corps, and most of the all the ability to establish and maintain a national state. He concludes that each of these "heros" is very bad for the people they claim to be helping, but also bad for big, friendly, capitalist potential-trading-partners like the G7. An essay in "Reason" on 21st century warfare ( www.reason.com/links/links072006.shtml ) talks about "fourth generation war" waged by non-state groups against states, like al-Qaeda against the U.S. or Hezbollah against Israel. These type of developments -- usually labeled "Asymmetric Warfare" because it gets harder to shoot back -- continue to befuddle our game theorists. Another difficulty is quantifying the "utility function" (economic payoff) of dying. The obvious representation is that it is worth minus infinity dollars in a game theory matrix. But merely going infinitely into debt has the same worth, and that is obviously not as bad as dying. In the collection of counterfeit essays known as "The Illuminati Papers" (1980) by Robert Anton Wilson, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1579510027/hip-20 ) there appears an essay allegedly by Epicene Wildblood entitled "Infinite Cruelty," about the 1940s detective fiction of Raymond Chandler. Chandler once wrote that "murder is an act of infinite cruelty." He explained that when you kill a man you take away everything ever had and everything he ever could have. Perhaps, then, there are levels of infinity in "minus infinity dollars." And this does not address the paradox of the suicide bomber. When someone seeks martyrdom their payout matrix is different. This is beyond the ability of current theory to analyze, so far as I know, and a great topic for a research project. What I keep remembering is that whenever I talk to real military folks they like to remind me that all that can really do well is "kill people and break stuff." They keep getting sent on other missions that don't go so well, from guarding relief supplies to nation-building, and some friends of mine are off right now helping train the military to be better at these "low intensity conflicts," at Strong Angel III, ( www.strongangel3.net/ ) but by golly, they really do shine when it comes to old-fashioned killing people and breaking stuff. Perhaps we should only be using them when that's what we really need. (And they can only destroy people and things if they know their latitude and longitude. They have no ideology-seeking missiles.)


We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1961 "Mother Night" (novel) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385334141/hip-20 ) ( en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut ) There's a great line from a movie, but I forget which movie. It's either "Cast a Giant Shadow" (1966) directed by Melville Shavelson, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005S8KR/hip-20 ) based on the book "Cast A Giant Shadow: The Story of Mickey Marcus Who Died to Save Jerusalem" (1962) by Ted Berkman, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1929354002/hip-20 ) or else "Exodus" (1960) directed by Otto Preminger, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006FDAU/hip-20 ) based on the 1958 book by Leon Uris. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553258478/hip-20 ) A bunch of Jewish refugees from Europe have landed on the shores of Israel (my wife says Cyprus) and are stopped by British troops. A group of sympathetic Jews already there run out to join with them, mingle with them, trade clothes with them, confusing the identities of the new illegal immigrants. A British commander orders them split up again, or be shot. One of the British soldiers whispers to another, "Now's when we get to find out if we're bloody Nazis." There was a much-talked-about book in 1984, "The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution" by Andrew Bard Schmookler. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0791424200/hip-20 ) Its main thesis was that if your tribe meets another that is more "badass" than you, you have to adapt to meet the threat and become more "badass" yourselves, or else become extinct. By this adaptation and selection all tribes become vicious. For many of my grandparent's generation it was disturbing how ruthless the Allies had to become to beat the Axis powers, resorting to firebombing civilian cities and then creating the Atomic Bomb. But of course 140 years ago General Sherman said "War is hell" and burned Atlanta as he marched to the sea destroying all in his path. War has grown increasing hellish throughout history, especially for the losers. But sooner or later, after the cheering dies down, in the quiet contemplation that follows, I have to ask myself, "Is this who we want to be? The baddest badasses, the Destroyers of Worlds?" Speaking of Atlanta, I've been there frequently recently, and I finally made my way to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. His crypt (and his wife's) are there, and the old Baptist church where he first preached, and a visitor center run by the U.S. Park Service, ( www.nps.gov/malu ) ( www.nps.gov/malu/documents/facilities.htm ) and the offices of the King Center, a nonprofit devoted to his ideas. ( www.thekingcenter.org ) Out front is a statue, not of MLK, but of . . . Gandhi. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/IMAG0031.JPG ) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandi ) He was King's hero. I bought a bookmark there. It said: Six Steps For Nonviolent Social Change: * Step One: Information Gathering * Step Two: Education * Step Three: Personal Commitment * Step Four: Negotiations * Step Five: Direct Action * Step Six: Reconciliation There is a marvelous scene at the climax of the cheesy movie "Club Paradise" (1986) directed by Harold Ramis, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000BYA4IS/hip-20 ) in which, on the beach of a tropical island nation, Rebels with guns meet up with Loyalists with guns, and between them trapped in the crossfire are clueless tourists. Just as it looks like there's about to be an inevitable bloodbath, up pops Robin Williams saying, "Hey, how do we get ourselves into these situations?" Somehow he defuses the moment and the innocents are spared. I dunno, maybe it's just another fantasy, but I keep thinking "If there's a way to solve our problems without bloodshed, we need to find it." Gandhi found a way to liberate India from the British without violence. (Then again, India does have nukes today...)


The teachers told us, the Romans built this place They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire Garrison town, They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods But the stone gods did not make a sound And their empire crumbled, 'til all that was left Were the stones the workmen found And all this time the river flowed... -- Sting, 1991 "All This Time" on the album "The Soul Cages" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002GL2/hip-20 ) Well, have we solved the world's problems? It's doubtful. But there's three strategies I think I've learned about the so- called "War On Terror" that would behoove us to adopt: 1) learn our history, and use it in our analysis, 2) stay up- to-date on the latest developments in behavioral economics, and 3) encourage multiple points of view as we weigh our options. Oh, and 1.5) study geography too; it's part history but it's different. Google Earth may save us. Meanwhile check out these maps of the "Holy Land" on-line: ( www.israelipalestinianprocon.org/Maps/605bc-350.html ) I have gotten a lot of positive encouragement about the history I have been writing about. My old friend John Z. emailed some very kind words, and added: And, speaking of history, don't forget to check out the Persian exploits of the Roman emperor Julian in AD 363. Just another ill-conceived campaign. There's a nice summary of this, as well as many other "ancient" struggles detailed in Soldiers and Ghosts -- A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity by J.E. Lendon. (Actually, nearly all of those fighting in Mesopotamia forget the true lessons of what it takes to win a war in this region -- as demonstrated by Alexander, one of the few westerners ever to succeed there.) I really enjoyed this book. A reader named Peter wrote: Thank you so very much for your work and your email. Absolutely engaging reading this morning. My daughter is in Morocco at the moment for two years with the Peace Corps. She is wrestling with issues of drawing maps of the middle east with the high students she is working with, who will not permit Israel to be drawn on a map of the world they are painting on a wall outside the school, among other issues of course. P.S. Also look at Churchill's Folly, How Winston Churchill created modern Iraq, for your library. The other day I was in my local library and tried to look up that book on the Catalog Computer. All I found was "Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq" by Stephen Kinzer, Dewey Decimal number 327.73009 KIN. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805078614/hip-20 ) It sounded like snide Republican-bashing to me. But then again, America really did snatch Hawaii. I was once again reminded to broaden my point of view, and invite in contradictory views. Dirk Baecker wrote -- in his essay "The Eye of the Coyote" about remembering Heinz von Foerster -- of a meeting between two systems theorists with different political opinions: We stood in the middle of the hall and only then spoke of the events of the day which were almost all related to the Gulf War that had been under way then in its seventh week. Or rather, we would have talked about the war if the subject had not been dropped almost as soon as it was raised. This was remarkable. Heinz said he thought the war was the duel of two statesmen gone crazy. Luhmann considered it a problem of international law to allow one country to violate the sovereign territory of another. There was silence for a few seconds -- and then a change of theme. I had the impression that each man had reflected on the other's view-point, comparing law to morality and morality to politics, and had then considered the rare situation of seeing each other. They seemed to decide that they already knew enough about the other's opinion and that there was no need to get into an argument about it and allow the situation to become unpleasant. The issue was dropped tactfully and with a the speed and shrewdness worthy of a coyote. Everybody knew what he wanted to know and saw no reason to insist. ( www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/HvF/festschrift/baecker.html ) I was also reminded of one of the saddest songs ever written, "Aloha `Oe" by Lydia Lili`uokalani, the last queen of Hawaii. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloha_%27Oe ) A popular example of the "Hapa-Haole" style mixing Hawaiian and English, also mixing together the emotions of a lover's farewell and a queen saying farewell to her nation. (It has been intensely studied by the famed musicologist Sigmund Spaeth, great uncle of some friends of mine, who left them an inheritance that paid for the tape recorders on which I first learned audio editing.) For as the irreplaceable Wikipedia explains: She wrote both the lyrics of the song after the Hawaii islands were officially annexed to the United States of America in 1898. Now the piece is often sung as a farewell song. The queen sang: Aloha `oe, aloha `oe E ke onaona noho i ka lipo One fond embrace, A ho`i a`e au Until we meet again So... Captain Cook brought his mana to Hawaii, and Kamehameha took it and used it to unite the islands; then his heir Lili`uokalani lost it to the pineapple magnates in a coup, and they in turn convinced the U.S. Senate to seize the islands. Does America now have Cook's and Kamehameha's and Lili`uokalani's mana? If so, how will we use it? ======================================================================== newsletter archives: www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047 ======================================================================== Privacy Promise: Your email address will never be sold or given to others. You will receive only the e-Zine C3M from me, Alan Scrivener, at most once per month. It may contain commercial offers from me. To cancel the e-Zine send the subject line "unsubscribe" to me. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I receive a commission on everything you purchase from Amazon.com after following one of my links, which helps to support my research. ======================================================================== Copyright 2006 by Alan B. Scrivener