Going to the DHS Science and Technology Conference and other travel notes

I will be in DC next week June 2-5 attending the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Stakeholders Conference at the Reagan International Trade Center.  While for the last two conference I organized and chaired panels on Science Diplomacy and Blogging on S&T, this time my role is different: I’ll be assisting DHS S&T with New Media relations. 

If you’re a blogger interested in attending the DHS conference, send me an email ASAP.  

I’ll be back in DC June 23-27 to, among other things, sit on a panel at the Foreign Service Institute

If you’re “just” a reader and will be at either event, let me know.  I always enjoy meeting “fellow travelers”. 

In case you missed it: McMaster on NPR and Boyd on NUMB3RS

On Monday’s All Things Considered, Tom Bowman interviewed COL H.R. McMaster.  If you’ve been paying attention there was nothing new, well, other than H.R. getting some great publicity (and perhaps a few book sales):

U.S. Army Col. H.R. McMaster has been credited with critical thinking and combat commands that have helped shape some successes in Iraq. Now he’s being tapped for a new, and perhaps more difficult, job: making Iraqi ministries run efficiently.

And on Friday, CBS TV’s FBI show NUMB3RS tried to solve a case using OODA loop analysis.  I wasn’t so impressed by their employment of the OODA framework (actually I wasn’t at all) but I was impressed by how they avoided saying Boyd’s name…

One more thing: SIGMA may be on FOX News Wednesday (29 April 2008). 

Good luck, Welcome Back, Hope we get it right this time, and condolences

A quick mash-up of four posts…

First, following AM’s lead, Good Luck to Phil Carter who’s taking his NY bar exam this week. 

Second, Henrik, the Draconian Observer, returns to the blog after much offline writing and gives us an interesting link to a CRS report Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2007.

Third, Mark, der Pundit mit Zen, shares a Lexington Green post noting a RUSI report that "has the air of a call to arms reminiscent of Kennan’s X Article or the Iron Curtain speech."  I hope Kennan’s memo isn’t misinterpreted this time.  (Speaking of "with Zen", interesting headline: "Do you want fries with that Zen?")

Fourth, Lurch of Main and Central has died.  Lurch left his mark on this blog with his valuable observations, will be missed.  There are no details at the family’s request.

News from an ally

Courtesy MEMRI:

Saudi Businesswoman Lands in Riyadh Jail – For Having Coffee with Male Colleague at Starbucks

An Electricity Outage in the Office

"A Saudi mother of three, who works as a business partner and financial consultant for a reputable company in Jeddah, didn’t expect a trip to the capital to open the company’s new branch office to get her thrown behind bars by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

"Yara, a petite 40-year-old woman, was in tears yesterday after she narrated to Arab News her encounter with a commission member that ended in high drama.

"Yara, who has been married for 27 years, said she spent several hours in the women’s section of Riyadh’s Malaz Prison, was strip-searched, ordered to sign a confession that she was in a state of khulwa (a state of seclusion with an unrelated man) and for hours prevented from contacting her husband in Jeddah.

"Her crime? Having a cup of coffee with a colleague in a Starbucks.

"Yara said she arrived in the capital yesterday morning from Jeddah to check on the company’s new office.

"’The minute I came into the office my colleagues told me that we have an issue with the electricity company and that we do not have power but that it would be back on in half an hour,’ she said."

In Trouble with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice

"As they were waiting, they decided to go to the ground floor of the building to have a cup of coffee in the family section of Starbucks. Family sections are the only places where men and women can sit together in establishments in Saudi Arabia. Officially, these sections are for families only, but in practical terms these sections – usually in international chains like Starbucks – become the only places where unrelated men and women can be comfortable that they won’t be harassed by commission members.

"But yesterday Yara and her colleague found themselves in trouble with the commission. One moment they were sitting together discussing brand equity and sovereign wealth funds; the next moment she found herself in commission custody.

"Shortly after they took their coffee and Yara opened her laptop, a member of the commission approached the two and demanded the man step outside.

"Then (the commission member) came to me and said: ‘You need to come with us. This man is not a relative,’ she said."

"I Am the Government" – You Must Come With Us

"When she told the commission member that she wanted to contact her husband by phone, he refused.

"’I am the government,’ Yara quoted him as saying. He then ordered her to come with him.

No word on whether she drove there on her own.  Read the rest at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 

Super Tuesday Voting

First, it was a pain in the arse to vote today (location was terrible due to morning traffic, it’ll be worse for the after-work voters; drove by another polling place as I drove the most direct route to my own), but it’s a bigger pain to a) defend the right to vote and b) not to be able to vote at all.  Took my son to vote and now we’ve got matching "I Voted" stickers.  Don’t ignore or take for granted your privilege regardless of how the political system actually counts your vote. 

Second, heard an NPR story about Democrats Abroad.  What an excellent opportunity for public diplomacy, but… it’s not "Republicans Abroad" or "Democracy Abroad"…

123 Meme (pre-emptive edition)

Saw the 123 Meme at Zen, Shane, and now Dan… not tagged by any of the aforementioned, I thought it would be interesting exercise considering what was next to me (which gives a clue about the mag article I’m currently writing).

The rules:

  1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

image The book: Sarah Percy’s Mercenaries: The History of a Norm in International Relations.

Using the subsidy system, Britain supplemented 65,000 of her own troops with 30,000 Germans.  Most came from Hessen-Kassel but a mix of troops came from other German principalities, and they were collectively, if incorrectly, referred to as Hessians.  George III, because he was Elector of Hanover, was also able to borrow Hanoverian troops, who replaced British garrisons in Minorca and Gibraltar and so freed up more soldiers for service in America. 

The American Revolution was not only a meeting of two differently composed armies; it was a clash of different beliefs about war.

That’s the fifth sentence plus the three that follows.  For the rest, read Sarah’s very interesting book that looks at the use and marginalization of mercenaries in ways you won’t find elsewhere. 

My tag: Steve at COMOPS, Jason the Armchair Generalist, the nameless and faceless at Kent’s Imperative, Mike at HoTS, and David at Kings of War.  And to twist the rules again, one more because it will be fun to read: the Swedish Meatball.

Shout Out to Sean Meade: Happy Birthday friend

For those of you who don’t know Sean, he’s Tom Barnett’s webmaster (probably also Enterra’s and definitely a McGraw-Hill’s webmaster for Aviation Week to name just one of his other sites). He’s a great webmaster who Tom and others comfortably rely on for their web presence (which is almost everything in today’s marketplace of ideas) and a genuinely nice guy. Join me in wishing him a happy birthday today. Not a bad way to start the new year.

Off Topic: Ironman & Blind Athletes

I finally watched the NBC coverage of the Hawaii Ironman today. Gotta say, as a finisher of four Ironmans (+ one DNF in my third IM, six weeks after my second, when my handlebars broke, putting me in the med tent), for the first time in many years I enjoyed the race coverage. 

However, more exciting was the attention paid to the blind triathlete who was supported by C-Different and the Los Angeles Triathlon Club. The nameless guide for the blind triathlete Charlie, who stayed at our house a few years ago for a local race, is a good friend of mine and the founder of C-Different: Matt Miller. Matt started C-Different and has helped many blind triathletes race the gamut of triathlon distances: sprint, olympic, half, and iron.

As a former guide, sponsor, and coach for C-Different (and as a founding, but retired, board member of the Los Angeles Triathlon Club, which co-sponsored Matt and Charlie at Kona), I can recommend C-Different as an organization worthy of your support, in whatever form you can.

Reactions to Bhutto

A young someone doesn’t recall (or forgets his reading of) the three decades of terrorism in Europe from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, or the impact of anarchists (the Islamic fundamentalists of the 1900’s +/-) on American politics. Instead, this friend of MountainRunner who has my respect, has clearly drunk too much of the 4GW Kool-Aid that all things are new and unique to our time.

thomaspmbarnett Another MountainRunner friend casts the destabilizing event as it should be: a political attack. Last I checked, Israel and Mexico were outside the gap, as is Russia, as well as others that have suffered politically motivated and destabilizing attacks.

By viewing this event as SOP, we might be inclined to write something like "blah blah blah" instead of a real analysis of the consequences. In our modern global environment, economic and physical insecurity provide a breeding ground for hate and isolationism that can easily travel outside the region on instant communication and transportation networks. We care what happened and must not dismiss the act as something it is not.

What will be the impact from her death? Nothing good, regardless how ruthless she was. Remember she had substantial public support and was one of two returning opposition leaders that were helping force change in Pakistan.

That said, I haven’t had the cycles to follow Pakistan closely enough to prognosticate what comes next, so I’ll punt this question to me over to Tom.

Update: another MR friend, Abu Muqawama has more immediate questions on his mind and a link to an interesting discussion.

Update II: Tom has his post up. There are other smart posts out there, see SWJ for a listing.

Off topic tip x 2

Two tips from today’s short trail run. When trail running and your blocked up sinuses cause your molars to ache with each hard foot fall, such as when you’re running down a steep downhill, try to run ‘softer’ by cushion each step. This is not the same as running slower, it is more about using your legs as shock absorbers. This not only reduces the impact in your head, but it’s good for the joints as well.

The second tip is while you’re running across, and down, technical terrain that requires your attention, don’t concentrate on the first tip too much lest you miss that sudden drop off, putting you in complete violation of tip #1…. I think I saw my dog smirking at my inability to multitask.

Computer problems…

…are not fun. The hard drive in my newest Dell laptop failed this morning and won’t boot with several different error codes including this fun one: Uncorrectable data error or media is write protected. The last backup was Friday night, but between then and this morning, but a lot of work (including a final paper for one of my last classes, fortunately it was submitted yesterday) and correspondence created between then and earlier this morning has seemingly been lost.

Because of this, posting will be delayed until Dell follows through on the “Next Day” support I paid for.

Topics I’m working on (and will post when I can):

  • Part II of my Smith-Mundt article that goes to the points discussed with some in off-line correspondence. (Did you see the Heritage Foundation article on Smith-Mundt that went up today? Timing is everything…)
  • A post on another call with Major General Doug Stone, chief of detainee (not ‘prisoner’) operations in Iraq. Stone’s doing some great things, which I’ll write about soon.
  • A post on S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps following up on an interesting discussion yesterday about S/CRS and CRC.

At present, I’m working off my old Dell, a laptop (now used for my IT consulting work which apparently I’ll be doing most of today) that has had the CPU replaced twice, the system board replaced three times, the hard drive replaced three (or four?) times, screen replaced once, and outer plastics replaced once. The new laptop, about as old as my daughter, 8 weeks, seems to want to catch up w/ the old laptop. I’m not happy. Not happy at all.

I’m thinking an HP for the next go round, an acquisition that might be sooner than later…

Slight delay in posting… but stay tuned

While I haven’t put anything up here since linking to my article on Small Wars Journal’s blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’ve been working offline responding on that article, clarifying it, and prepping a follow up article. No specifics on when that will be ready, but hopefully Dave @ SWJ will post that as well. Other stuff is in the works as well, so stay tuned. I may have something up tonight, but definitely tomorrow, not on Smith-Mundt, but on some other topics you may be interested in, including a post on my call with General Doug Stone this morning (see this post for a hint of what’s coming) as well as a post on S/CRS and the Civil Response Corps.