Just Checking in

View 736 Thursday, August 09, 2012


Still on the road on dialup. Son Phil with wife and grandchild are in town, and will be tomorrow. We’ll go home after that.

Not much change in the political scene. The Obama strategy is to get people disgusted with the process so they will stay home. Romney’s strategy is to avoid making waves and make the Democrats work at finding things to attack Romney on. There’s an attempt at generating suspense in who will be Romney’s choice for VP, but it probably won’t really matter who is chosen.

Sorry to be so brief. It has been a good day but a bit tiring.


The late Dr. Stefan Possony did many studies of terrorism including compendia of terrorist incidents and worked on classification systems. When he had his final stroke in the mid 80’s that stopped his work, and although for a while the Hoover attempted to put together a final report from his notes, that never happened. That may be unfortunate. Possony had a way of finding insights and theories in what looks at first like a mass of unrelated data. One conclusion you could draw is that statistically the sheer numbers of acts of terrorism peaked well before the turn of the 21st Century, This would surprise most people who think acts of terrorism grow exponentially and monotonically,

Another change has been toward directed acts of terrorism as part of a strategy. In the Middle East there are many potential terrorists associated with particular causes, and sometimes they need only encouragement to develop into operatives, either suicidal or clandestine, for one or another purpose. That is, there are many causes, and each cause has from a few to a lot of believers of various states of strength of belief; and many of them have significant numbers of believers who would seriously consider committing an act of terror for the cause.  There are also leaders capable of forming individual acts into a pattern so that the acts advance a particular cause, or a particular faction with the cause. This goes on continuously, but it is generally not studied continuously.The results can be very good for upholders of peace and order,  but just as likely to be given up just as a breakthrough is about to be achieved.

The objectives of terrorism have changed. For a long time there were acts of terror intended to strengthen the will of the Jewish settlers in Israel and strengthen Zionism. The most spectacular was the assassination of Bernadotte. Then came Israeli retaliations against acts of existence to the Jewish occupation of lands not designated for incorporation into Israel proper. At the same time, the Palestinians and their friends were learning the art of terrorism, and even began experiments to see what acts were more effective.

Decades ago I did a major study for the USAF Air Council on Strategic Stability. It served as a policy basis for some years. It was done during the Cold War but attempted to generalize principles applicable to other international configurations. It might be well to read again Richardson’s Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, and certainly time to read it if they never have,



Regarding the July heat, Dr. Roy Spencer has several posts:


The last shall be first: both the global average temperature and the northern hemisphere overall average dropped about 0.1 degree from June.

He proceeds that with a series of posts on the North American temperature anomaly in that period, questioning Hansen’s claim that July was the warmest month ever for the United States.


We can all be certain that whatever the truth about climate change – something both inevitable and not likely to be rapid – we don’t understand what is going on. We can’t even predict short term rises and falls in temperature.

The rising trends we have seen do not lead to rapid doom. The falling trends in the last century were a bit scarier but didn’t last. And there we are.


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