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Recommended Reading & Viewing

Top Billing! Grand Blog Tarkin (Jon Jeckell) – The Jedi Way of War

….While it seems the Jedi would be the only institution competent in warfare after thousands of years of peace, they were the worst possible choice on many levels. What institution within the Republic retained any practical knowledge of warfare? Some private institutions and individual planetary governments, such as Naboo, had their own modest security forces, but the Republic seemed to lack any other institution capable of employing coercion on behalf of the state. This study will elide the political, policy and civil society aspects and focus on explaining why the Jedi Order were a uniquely poor choice to lead the Grand Army of the Republic. Although it superficially appears the Jedi are the only ones capable of taking on this burden, they suffered from numerous institutional biases and a philosophy that impeded their ability to understand what was happening or adapt to realities of their new role. Leading a massive Army was not a linear extension of the skills the Jedi possessed, and they lacked the ability to gain those skills.

Although the Jedi were renowned diplomats and keepers of the peace, they were not politicians or strategists, and never critically examined the Separatist’s grievances to identify the root causes of the conflict. Without understanding the causes of conflict, they failed to develop a theory of victory. Without this, they merely continued to pursue of the Separatist leaders and the destruction of their army after the first engagement. They failed to reframe from their roles as individual combatants to leaders of an Army for a multitude of reasons explored below.

The much talked about post of the week where science fiction meets strategic analysis.

Diane Ravitch –Rahm and Other People’s Children 

One of the themes of the corporate reform movement is this:

“We know what’s best for other people’s children but it is not what’s best for mine.”

Many of the leading corporate reformers went to elite prep schools and/or send their children to them.

Schools like Exeter, Andover, Deerfield Academy, Sidwell Friends, the University of Chicago Lab School, Lakeside Academy (Seattle), Maumee Country Day School (Toledo). At these schools there are beautiful facilities, small classes, experienced teachers, well-stocked libraries, science laboratories, and a curriculum rich in the arts, sciences, languages, and other studies.

I hope you read this post about Chicago billionaire and school board member Penny Pritzker. She sends her children to the University of Chicago Lab School, which has the best of everything, but feels no embarrassment that the children of Chicago who attend public schools that she oversees do not have the same advantages.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children to this school. Arne Duncan is a graduate of it.

Remember that theme: Other People’s Children.

This reader thought about what Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants for his own children. Why doesn’t he want the same for all Chicago’s children? 

Good charter schools tend to be based upon delivering a different, innovative, curriculum well or serving a specific, generally disadvantaged, student population (the original, largely forgotten and abandoned, justification for charter schools). The founder is usually there on site, putting in long hours, leading by example, working with children, because their educational vision is a mission and labor of love. Their own kids are usually their first students.

Unfortunately, that has little or nothing to do with the Corporate Ed Reform pushed by both President Obama and Governor Romney, which rides on the reputation of the mom & pop charters but frequently fails to live up to it because their mission is a profit-maximizing business model devised by and lobbied for by hedge funds and private equities firms to divert public tax dollars to investors at the lowest delivery cost possible.  That model is not compatible with quality education and isn’t intended to be. If it were, the owners and investors would be enrolling their own children in the highly regimented, rote-learning script, worksheet based schools and “virtual charter” scams they are pushing on states, cities and school districts.

Conspicuously, they don’t.

WPR (Steve Metz )- A Necessary Evolution: U.S. Military Strategy Goes Invisible 

….It also became clear that the belief that removing Saddam Hussein or the Taliban from power would strike a mortal blow against al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations was unfounded. If anything, the war in Iraq added to the terrorism problem by radicalizing thousands more terrorists and giving them an opportunity to acquire training and experience. Even the demise of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, though it forced al-Qaida to relocate and reorganize, was not the body blow to terrorism that the Bush administration hoped. Rather than deterring extremists, it motivated new ones. 

Terrorism, it turned out, was not a nail after all. 

But a strange thing happened along the way to this simple discovery: The United States developed a different form of offensive military action — reliance on invisible or less-visible actions such as strikes by special operations forces and unmanned aerial vehicles — which held more promise. While they might not have led to a decisive and unambiguous victory over terrorism, these approaches certainly degraded the extremists’ capabilities. 

Google lends it’s analytical heft and cool graphics in a not so subtle effort to aid supporters of the UN Small Arms Treaty. Some of the stats for third world nations, or major arms exporters like Russia, appear impossibly small or are absent. For example, somehow, I think Afghanistan has imported some weaponry in the past twenty years. Click through and see if you agree.

John Robb – How Do You Attract Resilient People? Give Them Room to Grow 

Fred Leland –Check out My Latest P1 Column: Patterns of behavior, officer safety, and ‘the rule of opposites’

SWJ Blog –Why There’s Nothing Illegal about CIA Drone Pilots  

Eide Neurolearning Blog –The Steps of Creativity – Early Crowd sourcing and Prototyping 

Gunnar Peterson – Security > 140 Conversation with Jason Chan 

Abu Muqawama – Guest Post: The Last Argument of Tyrants 

Feral Jundi –California: Sacramento International Airport Dropping TSA



11 Responses to “Recommended Reading & Viewing”

  1. Madhu Says:

    Darn it, Abu M tweeted the link to an article perfect for the Other People’s Children blog post….
    I can’t remember the name of the author, a partisan democrat scolding Democratic party elites for living separately from the very people they claim to want to represent….
    It goes both ways. I am not making a partisan point, but, honestly, everything about my experiences in Boston and Chicago and Palo Alot are pretty much along those lines.
    I am so over TED.

  2. Madhu Says:

    Honestly, would the public schools be any worse if you just formed roaming school rooms like food trucks, beautifully equipped with good teachers and materials, and just sent them around the city? Okay, I’m being fanciful, but the kids are stuck between so many different competing agendas. I had a friend who was a public school teacher in Chicago and she had to take a test with a bunch of the other teachers for some accreditation or something. She finished quicky and the others were sure she cheated because it took them like two hours to do six grade level math or something. Those poor kids. Does anyone really care in Chitown as long as you get your own?

  3. Madhu Says:

    Palo Alto, even. That’s a beautiful town, but what a little bubble of privilege.
    So is a lot of Chicagoland and Boston. They never leave but they know what’s right for everybody. The people were nicer in California than Mass, though, at least in my experience. Maybe it was the sunshine.

  4. Madhu Says:

    Hey, last one: reading Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (rereading). Her accounts of sixties and seventies era Delhi.Norther India with Ministers full of grand plans for the people that go nowhere and the Western hangers-on in those environs! It sort of fits perfectly for all the modernization theory and Army doctrine and Afpak stuff. Sometimes it’s like nothing is ever new under the sun. I should do a Charles Cameron-like double quote series!!!!

  5. zen Says:

    Hi Doc Madhu,
    ” Honestly, would the public schools be any worse if you just formed roaming school rooms like food trucks, beautifully equipped with good teachers and materials, and just sent them around the city?”
    Inner city urban areas are not representative of public education any more than New Trier and the Illinois Math & Science Academy are. We have demographic bell curves in terms of SES and IQ  for the general population but schools (public, charter, private) represent disproportionate clusters of those bell curves and have internal curves. Bearing that in mind, we form national ed policy for a system with such stark disparities with Lake Woebegon Assumptions that every child is above average. They are not and have different needs but we can’t come out and admit that because of the implications that would immediately flow regarding education and race, class, cultural behaviors and political privileges. Most of the sturm and angst around public ed today are political efforts at shifting blame in order to avoid acknowledging and dealing with reality, coupled with healthy dollops of self-interest, political ambition and grafting.
    The students with the hardest core needs who have multiple serious problems – limited ability, dysfunctional family structure, emotional and behavioral problems, mental illness and/or drug abuse, physical abuse and neglect, poverty – are the ones being left behind by corporate ed reform because there are no quick silver bullet remedies to improve their learning to employ or they would have been used by public schools already years ago.  The only thing that “works” with them in the sense of making these students functional with basic social and educational skills is intense, almost quasi-therapeutic, attention from teachers, social workers and psychologists in very small group settings *consistently* for *years*. It’s extremely expensive compared to what we spend per child on an “average” student or even the “average” special education student. A school can afford do this when such students are 2% of their population but not 25 % or 35 % or more as we have clustered them in poor, urban areas such as Detroit or Chicago’s south and west sides. No one. Left or Right wants to discuss this issue head on because of the ENORMOUS implied costs, whose kids will be helped and why they are so badly messed up in the first place.
    Corporate ed reformers would have my respect if they made an effort with these kids instead of using them as political pawns in “selling” their policies while systematically excluding them from their schools by “counseling them out” but keeping the state aid money they brought with them.

  6. larrydunbar Says:

    “Without understanding the causes of conflict, they failed to develop a theory of victory.” So the Jedi got so caught up in the process, and they failed to develop any strategy to build a future worth living? I don’t think so. The problem was that a strategist was born who who understood that the “darkside” was just as powerful as those of the all-inclusive light, but the darkside moved quicker through the process from Decision to Action, because they were without ethics. By truncating the double freytag triangle, in the elimination of ethics, D.V. was able to move the force from evil to good quicker than if good had prevailed all along. He saw the same end, and used the same means (resources) in different ways (logic). Instead of 60 million people starving to death, as under Mao, he simplified the process through violence. In other words, instead of, in proportion, 60 million deaths, just a few Jedi were sacrificed, towards the end of the same means, peace.

  7. zen Says:

    the “darkside” was just as powerful as those of the all-inclusive light, but the darkside moved quicker through the process from Decision to Action, because they were without ethics.”
    Good point. This however becomes problematic if you cannot pull off a total victory with your first strike. With your true nature revealed, all other actors recalculate to deal with an existential threat, transaction costs rise with anyone out of your reach

  8. Madhu Says:

    I honestly have no idea how to enact reform or even what reform is most needed. There is something about observing Chicagoland’s politics and governance that leads to a kind of inertia: “I can’t do anything about it anyway and a pox on ALL their houses.” Which is wrong, I know, but that’s where I am at, I guess….
    That’s why the “look at us, we’re a global city,” NATO party irritated me. You know, I know a train or two that could use a cop supervising the cars and I’m sure there are plenty of places in the city where an extra teacher or two might come in handy. I don’t understand the place, really. Culturally, I just don’t get a lot of it.

  9. Madhu Says:

    On a more serious note and to follow up on my last comment, I really was scared big time about a year ago sheparding guests around. Two guys almost got into a fight, a little girl started crying, her Dad pleading with them to stop. Oh Zen, I can afford to leave this place and afford to live in a bubble if I want. But because of work issues, I stray a bit outside the bubble and its depressing. Depression must lead to a certain amount of inertia one sees in cities and in populations that are troubled. The very physicality of the place, the smells, the creaking shreaking trains, it’s so very different than the glamorous parts which are wonderful and alive. It’s a good city except where it’s not. Boston, I thought, was the same. Harvard experts on global governance while the Big Dig went to h*ll.
    I am too sour from these experiences. It’s not good, is it?

  10. Madhu Says:

    “Corporate ed reformers would have my respect if they made an effort with these kids instead of using them as political pawns in “selling” their policies while systematically excluding them from their schools by “counseling them out” but keeping the state aid money they brought with them.”
    Yeah, the whole point I thought was not to exclude those that needed the most help? Sigh. It’s like everything these days, you really have to pay attention to the details but most of the public conversation is based on strawman right versus strawman left and vice versa.
    But the actual details of things, how they are implemented, what they mean, who wants to do the work? Who has the time? Sigh.
    I sure have changed my tune on a lot of things, haven’t I?

  11. zen Says:

    I am too sour from these experiences. It’s not good, is it?”
    Well yes and no, Doc Madhu.
    Yes if the reality brings a cloying melancholia. No, because it does not have to be this way and in many ways, the city has gotten worse as corruption advanced beyond all restraint in the last decade, going from greasing the wheel to greasing the skids. The brutality of city officials and what they can get away with though is less than in the days of the original Mayor Daley and Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make. Instead the brutality is in the neighborhoods with gangs who have lost any reason to fear the police because of decisions made by the “we are a global city” crowd 

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