All things in moderation
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 02:34:23 AM EST) Reading, Listening, ODGF (all tags)
Reading, Listening "As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela", "Warfighting", "Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment". ODGF.

Finished As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela, mentioned here. Varied enough to keep me reading. Bit too UK-centric though to tell you that much about the arms trade, though he does briefly venture over the border into Ireland. Mainly to expound on how terrible it is that the UK government doesn't control arms deals made there.

It doesn't help that he does briefly admit that Britain does have about the tightest arms controls of any country in the world. So at times he comes across like a Swiss guy complaining about how terrible the trains are. "The express to Zurich was twenty-six seconds late! It's an outrage!"

Also read Warfighting: The US Marine Corps Book of Strategy, also available online. Short 100 page semi-philosophical book, not about specific tactics.

Has a few interesting bits. Extracts:

So portrayed, war appears a simple enterprise. But in practice, because of the countless factors that impinge on it, the conduct of war becomes extremely difficult. These factors collectively have been called friction, which Clausewitz described as "the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult." Friction is the force that resists all action. It makes the simple difficult and the difficult seemingly impossible...

While we should attempt to minimize self-induced friction, the greater requirement is to fight effectively within the medium of friction. The means to overcome friction is the will; we prevail over friction through persistent strength of mind and spirit. While striving to overcome the effects of friction ourselves, we must attempt at the same time to raise our enemy's friction to a level that destroys his ability to fight.

...

The warfighting doctrine which we derive from our theory is one based on maneuver. This represents a change since, with a few notable exceptions--Stonewall Jackson in the Valley, Patton in Europe, MacArthur at Inchon--the American way of war traditionally has been one of attrition. This style of warfare generally has worked for us because, with our allies, we have enjoyed vast numerical and technological superiority. But we can no longer presume such a luxury. In fact, an expeditionary force in particular must be prepared to win quickly, with minimal casualties and limited external support, against a physical superior foe.

...

Finally, since all decisions must be made in the face of uncertainty and since every situation is unique, there is no perfect solution to any battlefield problem. Therefore, we should not agonize over one. The essence of the problem is to select a promising course of action with an acceptable degree of risk, and to do it more quickly than our foe. In this respect, "a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

Listening
Am 2/3 through the Teaching Company's Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment. Not getting much out of it so far. At only twelve half-hour lectures it doesn't really tell me much that I didn't already know. I've only read "Candide", but Voltaire's wit doesn't come across at all: the lecturer makes him sound like a ponderously one-note satirist. Also I think as a philosopher Voltaire was more of a critic than an actual developer of ideas, so there isn't much to actually explain.

I should stay away from this one. Their Great Ideas of Philosophy is worth looking out for though. Next up is either Economics or Early Middle Ages.

Web
Saw this Times article on the "Great Moderation", the unprecedented period of financial stability of the last 20 years.

Has some interesting points, but he seems a bit over-certain about the causes of it. This and this seem to think there's a great deal of doubt.

ODGF
Thought I'd been pretty strict lately, but weight stuck at exactly 11st8 for the last 3 weeks. Hopefully this means I'm gaining muscle from the weightlifting at exactly the same rate I'm losing fat.

Next week's going to be tougher though as I've got more going on.

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It's been mostly luck by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #1 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 04:54:05 AM EST
Combined with technological change, a greater understanding on how to manage the economy and fortutious policy mix in this country.

The emergence of China in the last 15 years has significantly reduced inflation in the goods sector. The threat of outsourcing has kept wage inflation down.

Also Britain's only true internationally competitive  cluster, The City of London   financial sector, just like in the last era of globalisation pre-1914 has been the biggest winner of any European industry. If you specialise in manufacturing like Germany, this era has been very difficult.

I think Germany by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 05:57:53 AM EST
Is rated as being part of the Great Moderation too.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Warfighting by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 05:30:58 AM EST
I dunno, sounds a bit wishy washy; aphorisms that could be applied to justify either side of a decision to me ... you know, like that notoriously useless text, The Art of War ...

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Yes, up to a point by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 06:01:14 AM EST
However, it doesn't claim to be a general guide to winning wars in general; it claims to be a guide to a particular way of fighting wars by manoeuvre rather than attrition, appropriate to a highly mobile force.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Teaching Company by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:57:04 AM EST
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heh by martingale (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 02:45:12 PM EST
If British arms controls standards are anything like British intelligence standards, then the debacle in Iraq does not bode well for your defense of the "tightest arms controls in the world".

BTW, wasn't Britain exporting torture devices a few years ago? Has that stopped yet? I guess excellence is in the eye of the beholder.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

Indeed by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 11:02:09 PM EST
The Import, Export and Customs Powers act of 1939 and Export Control Act of 2002 regulate arms and restraint equipment relatively tightly, and people can be and have been prosecuted for breaking them.

In other countries, there are weaker laws or no laws, and hence no prosecutions.

Consider, for instance, France's arming of the Hutus before the Rwandan genocide. No laws against it, no prosecutions, no problem.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
quite agree by martingale (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 11:41:32 PM EST
So we're agreed, just more of Blair's legal hot air solutions to make himself look good?
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
[ Parent ]
An only partially effective measure by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 12:26:44 AM EST
As real-world measures tend to be.

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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
sig by martingale (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 12:48:30 AM EST
"Defeat is the only thing this party understands. Defeat is a testimony to high ideals. Defeat makes no demands. Victory means you have to do something - and doing something always involves dissent and compromise and making mistakes."
Sounds great, but IMHO it's best to be skeptical about those who want to do something without regard for mistakes and dissent.

It's like signing a blank cheque, IYKWIM.
--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
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