zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Top Billing! BBC‘Artificial life’ breakthrough announced by scientists

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first living cell to be controlled entirely by synthetic DNA. The researchers constructed a bacterium’s “genetic software” and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species “dictated” by the synthetic DNA. The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

This is a seminal scientific breakthrough with staggering downstream implications. John Robb commented on a few of them:

Now that we have a self-replicating biological platform (yeast — likely one of many different platforms that will be floated over the next couple of years) that can accommodate a completely synthetic genome, the race in on:   towards an abundance in nearly every material or process that can be enabled via biological means.

Nagl vs. Galbraith at The Economist….. 

Coming Anarchy (Curzon) – Education will not save us, Part 2

….To all of this, I can only repeat my Robert D. Kaplan-esque conclusion from my previous post-education will not save us. The long-term battle against Islamist terror is actually fueled by the promotion of education. Whether it be 19th century France, 20th century Russia and China, or 21st century Islamic World, education is not the cure for political extremism but often the catalyst to violence. Pursuing the mass education of the poor as policy to counter the spread of extremism, is misguided.

SWJ BlogOn the DNI

An excellent media round-up on the resignation of Admiral Dennis C. Blair  as DNI

Eide Neurolearning BlogThe Creative Advantage: How Vivid Memories of the Past Help Predictions for the Future

When researchers looked at the brain regions involved in looking at the past, they found many of the same regions activated in response to prompts to imagine events in the future.

….But because personal memory is so closely linked to future prediction pathways, shouldn’t we think about the implications for education? There’s a lot concern these days about American students not being prepared for the new millennial global workplace. Perhaps we spend too little time cultivating rich personal experiences, the development of spatial intelligence, and future thinking.

The Atlantic (Marc Ambinder)The Secret Pentagon Spy Ring

The CIA doesn’t think STRATCOM should play in this lane. But neither does Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary, or the State Department, or the National Security Staff. Information Operations involves five fields: deception, psychological operations, computer network operations, electronic warfare and operations security. When you hear these terms, you think military, war, penetration of secret bunkers and the like. The State Department and the others want to make sure that Information Operations don’t conflict with what they call Strategic Communications — getting the message out that the US isn’t fighting against Islam, that the Afghan military is a credible institution. State sees IO from the perspective of an ad agency: what does the customer need? STRATCOM sees IO from the perspective of a military targeter: what’s the target, and how to we use all resources to manipulate it.

The problem is that the main thrust of the current administration’s strategy for combating terrorism involves strategic communication, State Department-style. There is room for both approaches, of course, but there isn’t room for an entity like STRATCOM to make unilateral decisions about how to influence the adversary. 

Schmedlap – Why do Good Citizens Suddenly Become Terrorists?

I am not proposing a cause for their shift in behavior. But I am asserting that nobody should be shocked or befuddled. Affluence, integration, and apparent moderate viewpoints do not provide any kind of moral or spiritual guidance. They are not a foundation upon which happiness is built. They are only indicators of past performance, not indicators of future performance. The real head-scratcher is that anyone would measure someone’s success in life by these worldly, materialistic standards.

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen (Rufus F.)Plato, “Crito”, and should we obey bad laws?

There was Socrates and then there was Plato’s Socrates.


Authors @Google – Dr. David Kilcullen ( Hat tip NYRKinDC)

8 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Looks like we need to pull all the IO functions out of their respective bureaucracies, merge them into one super-duper bureaucracy, and call it the Ministry of Truth.

  2. T. Greer Says:

    ….Or not.

  3. Chris Says:

    All right, fine, I’ll ask the stupid question.  What was supposed to be so incisive in the Ambinder piece?  I will admit to not following the "Secret Pentagon Spy Ring" story, so perhaps there’s a lot that is tacit in this article.  However, it seems to be an incoherent mashup of random subjects.  It starts with the spy ring, which is only mentioned in the first paragraph.  Then, it moves on to a rudimentary discussion of IO.  Then, Ambinder starts replaying the "Human Terrain Team" kerfuffle (just a bizarre aside, I thought).  What did you get out of this, Zen?

  4. zen Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Fair question. Agree that it is unclear. Yeah, it is because I am semi-following the Furlong story and it reads less mish-mashey to me. There is a backstory to this – or, more accurately, multiple backstories in a CIA-DoD bureaucratic pissing contest, with, it seems to me, Human Terrain being dragged in now by Congressional and Media lefties who would like that tool discredited even though what Mr. Furlong is alleged to be doing is not really "Human Terrain" as the term is commonly understood and more tactical and strategic HUMINT in an OSS vein.
    I find the story interesting for this reason but like most distant observers, have no idea what the truth here actually is.

  5. Schmedlap Says:

    Re: the Ambinder piece…
    I no longer remember what details are unclass or not, so I’m omitting those details, but there are several holes in the Ambinder piece. I don’t know/recall all of the bureaucratic issues, but I do know that several issues omitted from the piece are at least as relevant as the ones included. He presents an extremely incomplete, haphazard, difficult to follow "argument" (to the extent there is one) which seems to be derived from very little investigative work and a whole lot of simply parroting what some contact or leaker in some agency wanted him to write.

  6. Chris Says:

    Thanks for the response.  To me, the article read like a blog post about a TV show that I haven’t been watching. 

    Just who is this "Locke" guy?  And he died?  Then came back?  And there’s time travel?  On an island?  That’s the dumbest sounding thing ever.  

    This concludes my "I just never got into ‘Lost’ so I don’t really care that the Series Finale is tonight" random statement.  

    Semper Fi,

  7. zen Says:

    Chris, Schmedlap is spot on re: parroting. This seems to be the m.o. on the Furlong story. Supporting and opposed insiders giving exceptionally one-side, off-the-record leaks to friendly outlets. An amigo of mine with some familiarity with the DC circuit said, roughly, "I’m not touching this with a ten foot pole".

  8. knowledge is freedom Says:

    The article should have been titled as Synthia &? Apollo and their Synthetic Life.



    Cynthia or "Synthia" was originally an epithet of the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis, who was sometimes called "Cynthia" because, according to legend, the goddess was born on Mount Cynthus. Known also as a master? of animals. Parallel Greek goddess to Roman goddess Diana. Daughter of Leto and twin sister of Apollo.

    Synthia & Apollyon are one in the same… The hermaphrodite beast of the book of Revelations as seen as Apollyon and the ‘scarlet whore’ named? as Hel…

    All you have to do is study the Apollo/Athena, whom is Synthia/Artemis, angle in every story/issue/matter, and you will find the source of the evil. Because the beast named as Apollo/Athena is at the core of EVERY evil ever seen down through ALL the eons and ages… That evil can be seen when? the connected names are completed… They touch every evil ever known…

Switch to our mobile site