I've officially moved over most of my LJ activities to a combination FB and Google+. I won't start many topics on FB that aren't pretty mundane or work related (though I'll get into comment debates on others). Most of my commentary has moved to Google+ where under Timothy Clancy (with my pic from Kandahar) where I can control through circles who sees what. Post below if you want to stay in touch and can't find me on FB or Google+ or LinkedIn and I'll try and get connected through other means to stay in touch. ( First Post - Same as the Last PostCollapse )
For what is probably my final post I went back and looked at my first post. And I really can't explain it any better, so I'll go ahead and repost it now - what I wrote 10 years ago. It reflects my beliefs just as much now on the importance of words as it did back then.
1,461 journal entries
Seriously guys...not one fricckin' V-Gift!?! =) Be well and safe all,
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There's a growing (legitimate) school of though that the window for changing anyone's mind at this late stage is quickly passing; so the impact of any performance other than total dominance (ala Denver) or a game-changing stumble (ala Dukakis) will probably be muted. Still I'll note that Obama came with all the karate he could muster, and he is still down by 6 points amongst likely voters in the Gallup national tracking now six days in a row - five of them after the second debate he ostenibly "won" by going hard on attack. (But that's generally considered a victory on points as awarded by the judge, no one clearly knocked out the other guy). And Biden's laughing bobble-head doll didn't even seem to slow down the Romney-Ryan momentum.
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He's doing better in swing states, but the margin he is ahead in those states is shrinking, not gaining, and the momentum is behind Romney in terms of likeability, economy, the gender gap - you name it. Whether the late breaking trend will be enough to influence anything (especially given early voting) remains to be seen. FiveThirtyEight still has Obama at 69% chance to win the electoral college and Romney at a 30% (once the challenger breaches 40% it's in the "tossup category).
If this election comes down to an agenda on the economy, overall likeability and and "Presidential-seemingness" amongst independent swings, Obama's debate strategy will make fodder as a huge strategic turnover that cost him the race. If however, this comes down to "enthusiasm", the get-out-the-vote, and the efforts of each side's base - and Obama's red-meat karate approach fires up his supporters enough to get out there and convert more "registered voters" (where Obama continues to dominate in polling) to "likely voters", the debate strategy will be viewed as a brilliant recovery from Denver.
The debate is as old as martial arts - who has the advantage, a strong striker or someone who uses his opponents own force against them? Although UFC has somewhat answered this question (you need the whole package!) tonight's debate could be a reprise of this. From all appearances Obama is coming hard and fast to recover from the last debate, hoping (if the punditry is correct at all) to strike hard and "challenge" Romney. Romney, at least in the first debate, proved agile in recasting himself as a moderate - and it's not at all clear if he'll still be standing in the same spot where Obama is aiming. Like Clinton he's trying to pivot away from the primaries and the strongest part of the narrative is that during the primaries everyone suspected he was a closet-moderate all along, and this pivot plays to that narrative.
The format will play a role as well. Town-hall style, with questions asked by citizens and the moderator playing referee. It doesn't lend itself necessarily to the direct confrontational engagement as the last style, and it's supposed to be 50/50 domestic/foreign policy areas. What questions are actually asked will play a huge role - if the topic gets stuck on Libya and Benghazi it could prove very bad for Obama; but if they focus more on domestic social issues Romney will be in the squirm-seat.
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Neither candidate is all that good in this style but both have the capacity to surprise. I think it was Fareedh Zakaharia who said the biggest threat Obama now faces is a moderate Romney, so I expect there to be some contrast between Romney's conservative primary statements and his positions now. Personally I think the biggest threat Obama faces is that he has not provided any alternative to Romney in a meaningful way. Attacking the other guy can get people not to vote for him, but you still have to make the pitch for why people should vote for you. Ryan, sticking somewhat to the basics in the VP debate, did this in a succinct closing where he actually asked for the vote.
There's another challenge in that if Romney hasn't been standing still, resting on the laurels of the last debate (which I don't think he will) he may have an entirely new strategy. Something unexpected that distracts or veers from Obama'sprep. Romney certainly has what in some games is called the "initiative". He's got his opponent reacting to him, rather than setting the pace; which is the sweet spot for Jujitsu and a bad spot for Karate.
The only people in the country right now that matter at the undecided likely voters, estimated at ~9%, and of that 9% about 7% think it would be "pretty hard" to change their mind. No one else matters at this stage. Not the pundits on MSNBC, CNN or FoxNews, not the people who say "I'd never in my life vote for X!" Those factions have been, selfishly I think, calling for blood to appease their own bloodthirst, but bloodsports don't play well for that final undecided segment.
I think the ultimate winning strategy for Obama will be to take initiative away and do the unexpected - come out passionate, enthusiastic and not attacking Romney but rather providing the aspirational reasons *to* vote for his re-election by directly connecting with the citizen asking the question and the audience at large on each and every question, each and every topic. If Romney is running as a moderate in the last few weeks, Obama can outflank him easily by being even more moderate and inspiring, something he showed in spades in 2008. In that Obama will be displaying some of his own Jujitsu!
Didn't want you to think that I'd forgotten or anything! But given QE3 was the $20 inflation hedged or not?
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Chávez Re-Election at Risk as Venezuela’s Oil Heartland Moves On
I'm probably way behind everyone else but have finally now been able to watch the entire Obama v. Romney debate and some of the post debate analysis. I don't think there's much doubt in just about every way Romney smoked Obama - but one thing I think both candidates get a ton of credit on is having a substantive debate, relatively free of silliness, that focused on policies and clear choices between candidates. I don't think we've had a better Presidential debate, in terms of staying focused on the issues themselves and not distractions (for the most part) in many a try.
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And boy was MSNBC in full-on meltdown if the rotating clips we see are any indication! I thought Chris Matthews was ready to cry. =)
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I've suspected for a long time that my "role" in the RPG of life is the cloth-caster utility infielder - slow to advance in power, but over time gaining an increasingly wide capability that helps solve problems the Tank, DPS and Healer can't overcome. (That I was a cloth-caster was confirmed the numerous times now I've been the only one not wearing body-armor or carrying a weapon on a MOVCON!) I used to joke that I was a Sorcerer, able to perceive and effect systems I encounter to achieve an outcome, mainly through the Charisma-Stat and without really knowing how or why it worked, just that it worked. The power was manifested, rather than articulated and transferable. I can't really teach someone to do what I do - though I can mentor them along the way. To carry that metaphor forward however I'm now picking up levels of Wizard and Illusionist, learning actual formulas and "spells" as it were to manipulate the systems.
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( Illusionist & Wizard LevelsCollapse )
What ends the metaphor is I think where magic meets physics, the *energy* it takes to manipulate the system which in magic is spontaneously transferred or created from nothing, in the real world must come from somewhere. Knowledge of a system and its leverage points is not the same as the ability to change the system. An individual alone cannot will a new system into being absent the interaction of many many others (in a human system) or extensive energy and effort spent on an environmental or biological system, the sheer act of doing such will create unintended consequences that may hinder or destroy the effort.
Perhaps this is why in great fantasy literature, the most powerful influence of Wizards is not what magic they can pull out of their hat, but what influence they can exert upon others to proceed along a path to effect the system.
Mike Rowe nails it:
"The conversation needs to start in the kitchen, around the table with moms and dads and kids, and when these kids start to think about what's possible, mothers and fathers can't immediately push options off of the table because they've bought into the idea that some jobs are better than other jobs," he said. "This gets right to a really, really, really, really big point that the things we used to consider to be inspirational - jobs that we used to consider aspirational, education that we used to consider aspirational - we now look at as alternative. I don't even know what alternative education means, alternative to what?"
Suggesting he was speaking of the costs of higher education, Rowe continued, "There's got to be a better way to be happy and successful in your career than simply assuming a massive amount of debt and exiting an educational program that gives you a degree without training."
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Posted a Stock & Flow model onto Facebook depicting what happens when a 999 Thirsty & Sober Pirates and 1 Thirsty & Drunk Pirate descend a town for a 24-hour Pirate Festival.
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I could've sworn I posted this when the Arab Spring starting. But if you've ever wanted to "read a riot" or "protest" and answer the question - is this truly a popular widespread phenomena or a limited staged event, here are some tips.
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We're all fine. Geographically speaking it was close, but from a security standpoint it might as well have been on the otherside of the city. Lockdown's lifted and we're all good.
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Yes the writing is bad. Yes as a novel the book is horrible. Yes Objectivism is sketchy. But underlying all that is a very powerful model to understand complicated behavior when producers marginally opt-out of continuing to produce for a system that they either view as too risky, too costly or too difficult to succeed in. Why people remain so pig-headed about what is, at its core, a very simple economic theory of substitution of activity. But here's another real-world example of the Atlas Shrugged effect playing out. I actually had someone on Facebook laugh at me and say "No one ever moves to the Valley!" as if that was the proof that there couldn't be an Atlas Shrugged effect, that and Paul Krugman told them so.
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Well guess what - they already left Greece, and they're beginning to leave Spain. Granted they're not going to an actual Valley, that's - how do I put this in a way lit majors will understand - a metaphor. =) They left Venezuela and Zimbabwe under far harsher conditions to the point that those two economies have collapsed or are collapsing, and what used to be their most productive sectors (oil and agriculture respectively) have withered and died. They left Iran under the theocracy imposed after the Revolution - and the decay to the Iranian economic system remains palatable to this day (though we benefitted because in that case the "Valley" overwhelmingly chosen was here!) They are leaving the General Practitioner field in droves in our own healthcare sector - the "Valley" in this case is specialized fields that pay better.
Who are "they"? It changes based on context. They are the Producers, the ones who generate supply, and over time, the infrastructure to maintain creation of supply. That supply can be of material goods, art, science, healthcare - you name it. I can give examples of each.
In class they're teaching how to create Causal Link Diagrams (CLD's). These are loops of activity that are either reinforcing or balancing and create patterns of exponential growth, exponential decay, exponential approach, oscillation, s-curves etc. As you combine multiple loops the diagrams can represent more and more complex activity. What's interesting is you can use these models both on "hard" quantifiable data but also "soft" hard to measure data. They just went over a very complex model depicting an enterprise initiative and various loops of pushback, reaction and counter-reaction. The professors name the loops in a descriptive way to help understand the behavior - and you get some pretty whacky loop names. My current favorites:
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"Yell at the idiots" loop
"Our employees are idiots" loop
"I'm an idiot, you're an idiot" loop
"Fixes that fail" loop
"Escalation" (as in nuclear or political)
For homework we had to create our own CLD's and I took an example of Afghanistan work named the "Why can't we find the last MRAPs to upgrade?!?" loop.
So without much fanfare I was promoted to Associate Partner back in July. As with most things, its easier to describe in Cam references. Since I was promoted, and not recruited, into the rank its kind of like getting handed a tasty 8th Gen without the XP to back it up, and no rule of "baby dragons have no gold" to protect you, and no *real* Elder cool disciplines that only the 7th and 6th Gens can get. It's certainly true that the way IBM has things set up - it's less about allies and enemies, and more about complciated system of nearer and farther enemies, current and future. The good news is I figured out long ago how to break the Prisoners Dillema, which is by collaborating with your opponents against the system. We'll see how it works. The funniest thing in all this is in the months leading up when I had to get prepped for panels and reviews I was told by an executive - "Tim, now that you're an AP, there will be a lot of corporate politics you need to get used too. I know you don't like politics, and I know you're not very good at it, but you'll need to get better at it...."
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So at least *that* little Kaiser Sosya ruse has paid dividends. =)
Also by doing the work I'm doing in Afghanistan I have limited the number of "natural" competitors to people willing to go over there, which is approaching zero. Those were some strategic plays I put in advance knowing this was coming up. The board is not without other Elders I already know I'll conflict with, but for now I'm playing the slow game. I've seen *way* too many newly-granted-MC9-trying-to-jump-into-salon-car-crashes to want to follow in those footsteps.
I've had to shift both my approach and work style - my job is different in focus than it was over the last eight years. Now rather than being the guy who led the delivery team and did the technical work, I have to build and deliver great teams who themselves get to do the fun delivery stuff. But I'm keeping my toe in the technical path because this is also a critical last step on my path to Distinguished Engineer. The DE's can only be recruited from a Band 10 (Associate Partner) spot, so getting promoted was another prereq crossed off on the Prestige Class list. I've also started my Masters in Systems Dynamics, finishing that isn't a prereq, but it helps define what my "scope" of DE is. I've got about three years in this position to cure, and then its either to Partner (which I'm getting pushed too), Distinguished Engineer (which I want) or out.
I have an odd spot for a fusion that lies somewhere between Celtic and Asian philosophies. Ever since highschool I've struggled to define my faith, my spirituality, who I am - because I can find no example alive that would serve as a good role model for this sort of thing and none historically. From a recent reunion it was clear that many had found, and enjoyed, the religion and philosophy which was the bedrock of their life - but when asked by a dear friend I had trouble explaining my beliefs. Because my beliefs of how one should act, are separate from my religious beliefs of what goes on in the cosmic metaphysical mystical worlds - the two can be as separate as an atheist looking at the Ten Commandments and saying "Well yeah, duh, all but the first, I'm on it!"
The closest I can get to is by using the Eight Fold Path from Buhddism as an example. The Eight Fold Path is a philosophy, an approach, it requires no believe in mysticism even if Buhddisim is mystical. The Eight Fold Path guides and informs in a practical way - both literally and through metaphor (I believe). However, the although I think Eight Fold Path is a great approach to living, I'm not a Bhuddist so there you go. Recently, I noticed similarities between the Dokkodo from Miyamoto, with the Celtic Fianna code (or Fian for singular) and began to see a way to merge the two. Both resonate very much with the way I have always approached things, and in areas where I fall short (of which there are many) where I aspire to be. Those who know me I hope find more in there than I realize, and see less in contrary than I fear.
One problem for me is that our culture has moved away from these concepts. As I said I've never found any current person or religion that I can point to and say "I have a connection with them, I get them and were they alive they might understand why I do the things I do." But I do believe there are more of us out there lurking who have not rejected modern life while still perhaps rejecting modern ways of thinking. Here, in this dialectic - I think I've found what I've been looking for.
So I present a five precept way to approach living for which I cannot take credit except for the arrangement and the single introductory precept, that I've held too since I first described it as the central tenet of my worldview back in highschool (mistaken by many then and ever since as moral relativism). I've marked that change in [brackets]. I have changed nothing, else except for a gender specific reference (wife to spouse and she to their), but tried to meld the two codes into a flow that makes sense.
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Sources: Code of the Fianna as put forward by Fion in Tales of the Ossian and Dokkodo, “The Way of Walking Alone” from Miyamoto Musashi.
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We're at a base near Kuwait's Ali-al-Salim airfield waiting for final transportation in theater. The mobilization process for long term deployment if far more "extensive" (read time consuming and exercise in patience) than previous efforts I had to undertake for shorter visits of a month or so. Camp Attenbury is kind of like boot-camp for adults - all the bureaucratic paperwork and process inefficiencies you expect of the Army minus the DI's yelling in your face every 5minutes or PT. It wasn't "hard" just an exercise in patience and assertive problem solving. Of the 400 who started this round of contractor mobilization along with me at NDC, nearly 50% washed out before departure (one company alone got its entire crew of 30 scrubbed) for various reasons. There's a thousand ways to get scrubbed and only a very narrow window of tolerance to go forward - again it's not technically hard, just lots of checklists and information that if you're missing can trip you up. Now the group is breaking up as people move forward to their final destination. More on that in the travelogue.
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Temperatures here reach 100degrees at 0730 and the tents we were in reached 99 shortly thereafter, highs during the day are 120 with "wind" adding another 3-5degrees of warmth when they blow. While we're waiting for final flights in theater we scurry around between MWR and USO, anywhere you can find a small place to get out of the heat for a bit with AC. In the afternoon they run a series of movies in the MWR in a darkened room with awesome AC so I'm borrowing a trick from con days and going to catch naps in the back row of the "movie room". Here in the USO we get internet in 30minute batches so here's my update. =)
Hopefully be out of here no later than tomorrow.
I worry at times that the since Bush left office we have lost a vibrancy in national debate when it comes to foreign policy. Back then hawks and doves were presented on both sides of the aisle though (roughly and never fully) aligned with GOP/Democrat, Neo-Con/Soft Power advocates. Since President Obama took office the debate has died down to almost a whisper. And that's unfortunate, because we really should have a larger debate on foreign affairs than we currently do. I get it, its the economy. But it was also the economy post-9/11 in the internet bust - we still talked and argued about whether GWOT would be "dark arts" or "rule of law". Contrary to what might at first be apparent it seems the dark arts have won out. All the things that were concerning under Bush - renditions, indefinite detention, enhanced interrogation - are still there (if somewhat modified) and we're expanding them.
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It's been three years looking but I finally found a program that fits what I want to study, allows me to take it online (since I'm never in the same place for more than a few weeks it seems and who knows where I'll be a few months from now). Never heard of WPI before this, but they appear to have a pretty decent reputation. Now the scary - part the "Admissions Process".
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Wait...wha....a new study shows that drinking a cup of coffee a day, indeed several cups of coffee a day can lead to a longer life?
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Screw self-discipline - I'm going to go out and enjoy some KFC Extra Crispy, given enough time, some study will prove its good for me too. =)
Looks like I'm heading back over sooner than I thought. Mainly working in Kabul but moving around as needed. This time at least through October and possibly longer into 2013 so I've got extra deployment training I have to do in the next week or so before leaving.
If I can manage I'll try and get some R&R breaks for Memorial Day Weekend and also for the 20th MIHS reunion in July.
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Don't look now...but the cost curve of health care spending has unexpectedly begun to flatten. Granted it's a slowdown in increases, rather than a reversal, but that's how reversals begin. Upward momentum peters out then reverses. People smarter than me have teased out where and how the spending is reducing, and determined it can't all be explained by recession. Best guess they can muster:
Still, the slowdown was sharper than health economists expected, and a broad, bipartisan range of academics, hospital administrators and policy experts has started to wonder if what had seemed impossible might be happening — if doctors and patients have begun to change their behavior in ways that bend the so-called cost curve...
Many experts — and the Medicare and Medicaid center itself — point to the explosion of high-deductible plans, in which consumers have lower premiums but pay more out of pocket, as one main factor. The share of employees enrolled in high-deductible plans surged to 13 percent in 2011 from 3 percent in 2006, according to Mercer Consulting.
That means thousands of consumers with an incentive to think twice about heading to the doctor. One study by the RAND Corporation found that health spending among people who shifted into a high-deductible plan dropped 14 percent — though the study also found that enrollees cut back on some care that tended to save money in the long run, like vaccinations.
Finally, and most important, health economists point to a shift toward accountable care, in which providers are paid for the quality of care, not the quantity.
Ryan McVay | Photodisc | Getty Images
I love how adaptation to changing environment is always deemed "impossible" by the Malthusian cohorts. =)
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