Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."

25.4.09

Home Office Tourney

Blogfriend (and occasional co-imbiber of fine fermented beverages) Zenpundit has tagged me in his "Tournament of Home Offices". Though we only moved in to our present home two-and-a-half weeks ago, I am more than happy to oblige....

First, there is the Library (which CINCHOUSE continues to urge me to "downsize" -- as if I'd never find a need for my "Elements of Classical Dynamics" text from college, or my hardcopy notes from Joint Maritime Ops at the Naval War College circa 1992!):


Then there is the fightin' hole:


The clocks show all the important time zones in the world: Hawaii Standard Time, Tehran, Greenwich Mean Time and (of course) local time of the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center in lovely Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The bike is my Mercier Aero II (hoisted on a Minoura Rim Drive Action System for those blustery snowy days, or just about any time between Labor Day and Memorial Day).

The pen holder is a re-linked chain of .50-cal casings from a long-ago Science Advisor developmental test of a remote fire control system. The book next to the monitor is none other than Michael Tanji's edited work Threats in the Age of Obama.

And the beer is an Easy Street Wheat from Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado. There are a lot of benefits from living in the epicenter of U.S. microbreweries....

Of course, what Zen fails to mention about the esteemed Thomas P.M. Barnett office is the map painted on the walls/ceilings:


Hands down, Tom has the rockin'est home office.

I tag Sean Meade of interact, General of the Hordes Subadei, and Prof. Sam Liles of selil (who has the most impressive C2 / Info War library I've seen) to join the fray.

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17.4.08

Redundancy vs. Interdependency

John Robb has shared some of his early ideas as he brainstorms for his forthcoming book on "Resilient Communities". This recent post describes the need for local capacity in "personal fabrication", opining that "in the longer term, [disruptions don't] need to occur." Communities possessing the ability to create (at low cost and small scale) locally desired goods could, in John's words, "... advance economically and in quality of life faster than communities dependent on traditional centralized sources of production."

The following day, Tom Barnett linked a Bloomberg article under the heading "Early signs of the growing food hyper-interdependency" and Shlõk posted a short piece on "Piggybacking on Existing Infrastructure" (calling it a bad idea).

These two articles underscore the competing notions of of "economic specialization" (which is the at the core of interdependency) and "local redundancy". In an ideal world, with infinite resources, local capacity can be built to suit local needs. However, when resources are finite, the concept of "opportunity cost" becomes paramount: What can I not do if I do this?

For disaster planning, we tend to overestimate the availability (and capacity) of local infrastructure: first responders on the scene, relatively intact communications infrastructures, availability of critical resources like water, ice, medicine. After Hurricane KATRINA in August 2005, however, we saw the impact of lost infrastructure: first responders who had evacuated themselves, cell phone towers with their power generators flooded, impassable transportation grids unable to deliver needed supplies.

I have argued in this 'blog for greater self-reliance -- but how far can we go? What are the practical limits of building and maintaining a local infrastructure that can satisfy all local needs? And would such "islands of self-sufficiency" lead to greater sectarianism?

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28.7.07

Cresting "The Hill"

At 8:35pm EDT tonight, I will complete my fourth decade on this earth. Since we've heard the iconic Raquel Welch declare that "60 is the new 40", does this mean "40 is the new 20"? I guess I need to go back to campus and find a kegger or two... :-)

To kick off my "Cresting 'The Hill'" weekend, last night I decided to climb the hill -- literally -- by riding my trusty steel-frame Moab mountain bike over Blackoak Ridge on the Dept of Energy "North Boundary" Greenway. Usually I'm able to crest the 400' vertical climb (7-8% grade for about 1-1/2 miles) without much trouble; this time I had to stop three times. Feeling old and decrepit as I stored my bike, I noticed that the rear tire rim (which I had removed earlier to replace the tube) was rubbing against the still-hot brake pad. So while I take solace in the fact that my physical stamina is as good as ever, my mechanical skills have clearly atrophied...

(BTW: The photo in my profile, as well as my "hyperlocal" personalized WIRED cover for the July 2007 issue, show my Moab in much better operational condition.)

In the Blogosphere, Dan tdaxp and Tom Barnett yesterday made similar posts on the quest by some for the "compassionate" side of conflict. Dan's is the second installment of his six-part "Dreaming 5GW" series, this time delving into the deliberate and explicit thought processes needed to conduct war: war, that is, except in the 5th Generation. Paralleling Zenpundit's recent post on Superempowered Individuals (exceptionally intelligent "lone wolf" actors who dispassionately leverage and exploit society's complex systems) Dan underscores the implicit and esoteric nature of the 5th Gen. warrior's ethos.

Tom's post is a critique of James Taranto's July 26th Op-Ed in the WSJ, decrying the circular logic apparent in the Democratic Party's platform on U.S. interventionism abroad. Tom, one of the most optimistic people I've ever met who always sees opportunity for growth and betterment, aptly notes the dichotomy between his lifelong registration in the Democratic party and Bill Clinton's self-deprecating psychoses in Rwanda and elsewhere as he whines that he should have done something. Tom has truly embraced the entrepreneur mantle, which (as our mutual boss Steve DeAngelis has written) demands optimism.

I believe these posts are very positive developments in our collective understanding of conflict. Regardless of how we segregate the historical evolution of warfare, the basic tenets of "Just War" doctrine remain apt in any conflict. [Donning flame-retardant coat in expectation of a thumping critique from 4GW and 5GW theorists...]

As for birthday festivities, Household 6 presented me with a very cool "Life is Good" technical t-shirt after a morning run with Deichman the Younger (who, at 6, demonstrates far greater physical abilities than I did at 16). With the New York City Marathon barely three months away, it's time to get serious about training -- and to consume as much carrot cake as possible to ensure my glycogen stores remain fully stocked! :->

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