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Jul. 16th, 2011

Where am I blogging now?

Hello original blog. If anyone is still reading this and wants to see what I am writing about these days, pop over to my new website: http://www.darylnorthrop.com/

See you there!

May. 3rd, 2009

Pacific military buildup?

Great article in the Christian Science Monitor about Australia's proposed military buildup.

Looks like its two greatest rivals are the worlds largest democracy, India, and the worlds largest communist capitalist dictatorship, China. Perhaps the old theories are right about balance of power relations being independent of ideology and styles of government?

Of course, the opposition in Australia makes a valid point of pondering how to pay for a large military buildup.  But, when have finances ever been an issue? Just follow the U.S. model and cut taxes while rapidly increasing spending. Sure, your deficit will explode, but who cares anyways?

Virginia rain....

No, it's not my new porn-star name.

It's rainy here in Virginia. April is the rainiest month they have, according to my wife. However, I've noticed something strange about the rain here. Whether it is a light right, or a driving downpour, there is always a mist that is coming down too.


Perhaps Cthulhu related?

Apr. 26th, 2009

99.9999% of intel work is NOT like an episode of "24"

Sadly, Michael Scheuer, author of this article in the Washington Post, does not seem to understand this. What is even more tragic is that his biographic info attached to the article reads:

"Michael Scheuer, the chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, is the author of "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq."

A summary of the article is this: we have to torture people because there might be a ticking time-bomb scenario and torture is not only the sole way of getting life saving, actionable intelligence, that is 100% accurate.

This article is full of illogical statements, massive leaps of faith, assumptions, and self delusion. A cursory reading by anyone with an IQ over "potted plant " level will realize this. But, let me point out a few of the juicier ones:

1. Note that the scenario is fictional. As in not real. Also, note that the author was in charge of catching Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Scheuer, it would be nice if this scenario was real, and Bin Laden was actually in custody. Perhaps you could spend less time writing fiction, and perhaps volunteer at the CIA to help capture him?

2. The author clearly demonstrates that he has no idea how terrorist groups based on cell structures work. In the scenario, Bin Laden, as the more-or-less head of Al Queda has operational and tactical intelligence about the exact timing and make up of a terror attack. Al Queda, in reality, works nothing like this. The principles of cell-based terror organizations are that: Cell A has no idea who is in Cell B, Cell A has no idea what Cell B is planning, Cell A does not even know Cell B exists. This insures that when you are captured (and tortured like Jack Bauer does in this weeks fully-erect episode of 24!), you have no information to give them, because you do not actually know anything about what goes on outside your cell. Cliff's notes: Bin Laden tells his terror-pals to "go out and do bad things to hurt the great satan that is America" via audio tapes, video messages, and notes that go through layers of cut outs and dead-drops.

3. Mr. Scheuer labels Obama's change in interrogation tactics as the President imposing his moral view on the rest of us. Completely wrong, Mr. Scheuer. Obama was elected by the majority of the voters in a democracy. He campaigned on changing the way we execute the War on "Terror." He also campaigned on closing Gitmo and ending torture. Therefore, he is not "imposing his own personal morality" on defense policy. He is imposing the morality of the nation, or at least the majority of the voters who bothered to show up on election day. This is how democracy works, Mr. Scheuer, the government does what the people say. If you do not support this view of government, you are welcome to move to more enlightened nations such as North Korea, or Cuba, where Dear Leader knows best.

At the risk of sounding redundant, it bears mentioning that in the real world, reality matters. Mr. Scheuers fanciful editorial might get him noticed by the producers of "24" who might offer him a consulting contract to help write episodes, but it will not help apprehend Bin Laden, nor will it help disrupt terror attacks that are being planned, or in the stages of execution.


Apr. 17th, 2009

Is it 1859?




Well well, aren't the rednecks feeling their oats with all this "We lost the election because our ideas suck and so we're going to leave the union" jibber jabber?

On the one hand, it would be tempting to let you treasonous slouches go.

On the other hand, my great great grandfather proudly served in the Union Army the last time Redneckistan decided to throw a hissy fit and leave the United States.

Apr. 8th, 2009

U.S. credit card debt plunges


Good news on the economic front - consumers are reducing credit card debt.

Bad news is that the Federal Reserve is still focused far too closely on artificially inflating demand by keeping interest rates too low for too long. This is what started the housing bubble that got us into this mess in the first place!

There was a time when the Federal Reserve focused almost exclusively on keeping inflation down. I believe it was Reagan that labeled inflation "the unfairest tax of all." I do not often agree with the gipper, but in this case, I do.

Inflation is why a family of four cannot live on one parent's salary.
Inflation undermines the purchasing power of the middle class.
Inflation undermines the ability of people to work their way out of poverty.

I think we should let supply and demand find an equilibrium without the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates solely with an eye on generating demand.

My $.0.02 worth.

Apr. 7th, 2009

Dream versus Nightmare: Reducing the threat of nuclear annihilation.


From the picture of Ms Applebaum, I would put her in the 35-50 year old age catagory. This implies that she might recall living during the cold war, when the US, Britain, USSR, China, and France all had nuclear weapons on hair-trigger launch mode. On several occasions, we came perilously close to nuclear war due to errors in launch-detection systems on both sides. Reducing our nuclear weapons inventories in a multi-lateral, verifiable manner is in everyone's best interest. A single missile, launched in error, could kill millions.

Obama realizes this threat to international peace and safety. Strange that she does not chastise arms reduction accomplishments from the Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2 administrations.

As far as her assertion "Yet there is no evidence that U.S. nuclear arms reductions have ever inspired others to do the same. All of the world's more recent nuclear powers -- Israel, India, Pakistan -- acquired their weapons well after such talks began, more than 40 years ago. " goes, she is woefully ignorant of the fact that South Africa, Brazil, and Libya have been deterred from pursuing nuclear technology. Also, she seems to have forgotten the Non-Proliferation treaty that, with the exception of a few rogue states (Pakistan, North Korea), has worked to successfully limit the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Also, she seems to forget that many nations with advanced technology have chosen not to develop nuclear weapons: Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, etc.

A world without nuclear weapons is a fantasy right now, but we have moved forward in reducing nuclear arsenals, and we must continue to move away from vast numbers of strategic warheads poised to obliterate hundreds of millions of people in less than 45 minutes.

If Ms Applebaum prefers to live in a world where nations are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, she is entitled to that fantasy. But for the rest of us, it sounds like a nightmare we would all rather wake up from.

Mar. 19th, 2009

Local news update: We're sinking, and the sea level is rising.

Fun on a bun!

"While the nation debates the cost of climate change -- whether the price of electricity and gasoline should increase because of their greenhouse gas emissions -- the problem already has a price tag on the Chesapeake Bay.

Sea levels are rising almost twice as fast in the Chesapeake region as in most of the world, and waterside communities are spending millions to keep the water from eroding yards, marshes and sandy beaches."


And our politicians fiddle while Rome burns....

The Obama administration proposes a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, which is a good start. This type of system worked well for reducing acid-rain causing emissions for much less cost than was expected. However, given the threat this poses to the fossil fuel lobby, the opposition to any legislation (no matter how watered down) will be enormous.

I am in serious doubt about the President's ability to pass significant legislation in this arena - even if the economy was prosperous, this would be a task that requires a level of political capital that neither party has ever possessed, or been willing to spend without regard to servicing their corporate donors.

Feb. 20th, 2009



Dec. 30th, 2008

Are you Indiana Jones? (Hint - the answer is probably NO)

Indiana Jones, the American film icon. Nerdy archaeology professor and swashbuckling adventurer tough-guy, all rolled into one, and played by Harrison Ford.

The question is: Are you Indiana Jones? If you are Harrison Ford, or some other buff guy, the answer is yes, you could be Indiana Jones. However, if you are a middle aged, doughy office worker taking the bus to the metro, the answer is NO, YOU ARE NOT INDIANA JONES.

Dear Readers - I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past few years. Indiana Jones signature hat, being worn by doughy, plump, nerdy, pimply, and other forms of non-Harrison Ford-esque men.  Simply put, these guys look ridiculous. Sadly, they do not have a clue how silly they look. Do they believe at any moment they will be rescuing a shrieking damsel? ("INNNNNDDYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!") Or perhaps pummeling some nazi's trying to seize holy relics?

Perhaps these are the thoughts going through their minds.

In truth, they are overweight, middle-aged men, riding the bus to get to the metro to take them to their desk job at Bureaucrat, Inc. There are no damsel's to rescue, no nazi's to pummel, and no holy relics to recover and put into a government warehouse to be studied by who? "Top men."


"Top men."

Ditch the hat, office toad, it's pathetic.

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