Monday’s Mash-up

No time for blogging today, so a bunch of links to worthwhile reads:

Specifically for the public diplomacy audience:

Death Race 2007

Now here’s a challenging event: England’s Tough Guy (also see ESPN’s page on it here). I’ve done 52min 10k (Boots & Utes division) at Camp Pendleton’s Mud Run, raced the Mojave Death Race, done a fair amount of endurance racing (5 x Ironman tri’s, dozens of marathons, 50k’s, blah blah), and I was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March (Heavy Division), but these don’t compare to this race. Maybe in 2008 or 2009 I’ll “give it a go” and do an event with a “Jesus Bridge”, “Fiery Holes”, electric wire (watch the video on ESPN’s page). Anyone out there have experience with this event?

Blogroll Rundown

A belated announcement from me: Noah Shachtman made the move from, well his nameless old blog, to his new and friendlier home, Danger Zone hosted by Wired magazine. Some people came with him and another rejoined him to make Danger Zone essential reading. (Oh, and don’t forget to wish Noah a happy birthday.)

Because of the change of Noah’s online domicile, here’s a rundown of MountainRunner’s blogroll:

  • Abu Aardvark :: Marc Lynch opens the door to Arab media, opinion and politics that reacts to and shapes US public diplomacy in the Middle East.
  • Armchair Generalist :: Jason’s blog is required reading on CRBN and most everything else under the security umbrella. I especially enjoy his trenchant analysis of Condi Rice.
  • Arms and influence :: thought provoking commentary on theory and strategic decisions. I recommend listening to his Podcast.
  • Bad Guys :: Hosted by US News & World Report, David Kaplan is another Noah…
  • Beacon :: Paul looks at, reframes, and contextualizes concepts of soft power in ways that’ll make you realize Joe Nye was onto something.
  • Blog Them Out of the Stone Age :: historical insights
  • :: hard to pin this collective down, but great commentary and analysis on a broad range of issues.
  • Counterterrorism Blog :: the name says it. Read it.
  • Danger Room :: Noah’s new digs
  • Daniel W. Drezner :: good read, see his Foreign Affairs article in the latest issue (March/April 2007) which I have but isn’t on the website yet.
  • David Phinney :: David’s all over PMCs…
  • Draconian Observations :: Henrik posts are written with Scandanavian precision, I just wish he had the time to write more frequently because when he does it’s good stuff.
  • Eccentric Star: A Public Diplomacy Weblog :: Ann’s tagline says it all: “Public diplomacy perspectives on the news”.
  • Haft of the Spear :: Michael is the key intelligence blogger (that I know of ūüôā and definitely worth reading.
  • Hidden Unities :: Eddie (also of FDNF) is hella deep sometimes
  • Intel Dump :: Phil’s superb analysis from an insider’s perspective is required reading.
  • :: RYP’s site is the first stop for any news on Iraq
  • Josh Kucera :: a journalist’s perspective. His upcoming trip should be interesting.
  • John Brown’s Public Diplomacy and Press Review :: don’t let MountainRunner’s frequent appearance on John’s list fool you, this list is a tremendous news portal.
  • Kathryn Cramer :: an incredible open source investigator
  • Maps of War :: Check out the maps and you’ll know why.
  • Opinio Juris :: in short, required reading. The lawyers delve into critical national security and diplomacy issues.
  • Opposed Systems Design :: valuable analysis of current events
  • Public Diplomacy Watch :: brief but encompassing commentary on public diplomacy with a focus on tourism (non-governmental exchange).
  • Simulated Laughter :: another journalist perspective.
  • SWJ Blog :: the posts on the Small Wars Journal Blog should be required reading for anybody interested in the modern world
  • tdaxp :: Dan writes a smart and mentally challenging blog.
  • The Belgravia Dispatch :: Greg’s analysis and commentary should be required reading
  • The Duck of Minerva :: a collective of academics bring, well, an academic angle to their discussion (not that I do the same)
  • The Green Ribbon :: Tom brings commentary from the other side of the pond. Mostly focused on UK politics, occasionally he has a good post on the Colonials
  • The War Room :: Bridging reality and computer games with strong analysis
  • Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog :: The king of powerpoint. Perhaps I could insert a powerpoint transition sound effect to be more descriptive
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) :: One of the very few places to get a steady stream of UAV/UCAV etc updates (besides Defense Industry Daily which isn’t a blog)
  • WhirledView :: Excellent analysis and commentary by public diplomacy and international affairs experts.
  • ZenPundit :: Mark brings the deep intelligentsia to the discussion on war.

Now that I got this rundown out of the way, future additions will be accompanied by a post. Deletions will quietly fade away…

Update: six already added (left off is more like it): Bad Guys, David Phinney, John Brown, Josh Kucera, and Simulated Laughter.


Return of the grab bag post:

What’s news and what’s not

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is reporting (NEWSLINE Vol. 10, No. 228, Part I, 12 December 2006):

The U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment is planning to investigate Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s links to the Kremlin before deciding whether to approve the $2.3 billion sale of Oregon Steel to the steel maker Evraz Group, which he controls, Britain’s “Financial Times” reported on December 11. Abramovich, the Kremlin-appointed governor of Siberia’s remote Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, is generally considered politically close to the Kremlin, and reportedly Russia’s richest man (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” November 21, 2006). In Washington, a Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment, saying that they do not discuss their reviews, “The Moscow Times” reported on December 12. The “Financial Times” cited Daniel Lucich, a former deputy assistant treasury secretary, as saying that the U.S. authorities want to know whether Evraz “is owned, controlled, or influenced by a Russian or other government interest.” The paper did not say when the review will take place. If the deal goes ahead, it will be the largest Russian takeover of a U.S. firm, the British daily added.

A search of media reports on this found this level of reporting to be the norm: 

Late last month, Luxembourg-based Evraz Group SA, the largest domestic steelmaker in Russia, signed a deal to buy Oregon Steel Mills in Portland for $2.3 billion.

Will the media catch up and report or just move on? Armchair Generalist has a good example of selective reporting by the US domestic press with a plot by a Muslim making the headlines and what seems to be a more dangerous plot by a guy looking to blow up Congress barely making news. Both are examples of discretionary information management by the media.

Project Valour IT and supporting the severely wounded

A couple of months ago I had the priviledge to meet Captain Dennis Skelton who was working at the Pentagon with the severely wounded. Dennis is a great kid and has been at least a few news programs to talk about the program (Dennis himself was severely wounded by an IED attack on his Stryker unit in Iraq).

Oddly enough, minutes before I read that Armchair Generalist relayed a call to bloggers to support Project Valour IT, I just dropped an email to Dennis and a private sector individual looking to contribute to the same cause. 

Calling up Military Severely Injured Support (click here for info about the unit) at the Pentagon to follow up on the info AG posted, I learned the following, which I’m passing along for your information:

  • The Pentagon already coordinates with Soldiers’ Angels, the sponsor of Project Valour IT (see details on the project here).
  • Additional resources for mil support can be found at Amerca Supports You, a sort of clearing house of support information run by the DoD.

Just passing along the information…

On mountains…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
— John Muir

Will Krispy Kreme be next?

In a bizarre ruling baffling al-Jazeera, the Saudi religious police has banned the sale of dogs and cats to half the ’emulation of the infidels’.

Saudi’sreligious police, the Muttawa, have been instructed the prevent the
sale of cats and dogs in order to prevent the spread of Western ideas into the highly Islamic country, Saudi media reported on Friday…

The Muttawa are normally tasked with forcing women to cover themselves, ensuring men attend mosque prayers and enforcing other Islamic obligations.

Banning the sale of dogs may surprise few in the desert kingdom, since conservative Muslims despise dogs as ritually unclean. But
the cat ban has baffled many. Islamic traditions say that the Muhammad, Islam’s founder, loved cats – even in one instance letting a cat drink from his ablutions water before he washed himself for prayers.

religious conservatives, however, the practice is a dangerous immitation of non-Islamic cultures, just like eating fast food, wearing shorts and jeans, or listening to pop music…

Saudi religious leaders say all these practices should be resisted because they undermine traditions and distract people from their religious duties.

“One bad habit spreading among our youths is the acquisition of dogs and showing them off in the streets and malls,” wrote Aleetha al-Jihani in a letter to al-Madina newspaper.

“There’s no doubt that such a matter makes one shudder.”

Perhaps their government is focusing on the wrong problem?

The ban has distressed cat and dog lovers. Some have wondered why the religious police are focusing on this issue when the country has far more important challenges to deal with, such as terrorism and unemployment.

We can find common ground!

It’s just not like that anymore

It’s an exciting Saturday night for me: drinking Guinness and reviewing Morris Janowitz’s The Professional Soldier. Just before I put it down for the night to go read Robert Young Pelton’s new book Licensed to Kill, I came across this passage that had to be shared. Janowitz, writing in 1960, saw a different service life than we have today (something he knew was changing). In this section about military community, he’s describing the role of soldiers’ wives (p187-8 if you want to follow along), and includes:

Army and Navy lore is full of stories of wives actively intervening in service affairs and in service politics. Among the more famous is that of George Patton’s wife who, having a command of French, assisted him in translating textbooks used by the French cavalry schools, thereby enhancing his military reputation as an advanced thinker.

That’s a great partnership (at least that’s how I’d explain it). Just imagine how you’d pull off what Janowitz writes in the next sentence:

Another well-known account deals with a colonel who had his wife memorize Army regulations, so that he would have a readily available reference source.


links for 2006-08-17

Dell Laptop Batteries… the kinetic laptop?

As I use a Dell laptop and have three batteries to power me through an entire day (and having disposed of two earlier batteries that no longer held a charge), news of a Dell recall of batteries caught my eye. Back in June of this year there was a picture of an exploding Dell on a table ("Dude, your Dell is on fire"), which was scary enough if you use your laptop as, well, a laptop. Check out these other fun pictures of Dell laptops (which I still like since I can’t afford an IBM and am not ready to switch back to Mac… my last Apple was a IIsi) if you’re bored or are questioning investing in that data backup solution…

Does the MountainRunner run mountains?

Briefly, yes. This evening a group of us are running 26 miles in the Angeles National Forest starting at 10p. Why? A friend of mine is training for the Angeles Crest 100 and this is part of the course. He’s run it before, but not under moonlight. Fortunately we had a full moon last night (or was it the night before?) so tonight should be naturally bright, but enhanced by our own devices. If the moon’s bright enough, we may not need our batteries but then there’s the tree cover… If you are curious, this adventure is being filmed as a documentary, titled Above the Clouds.

Landis & a positive test? and others are reporting:

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has given a positive drugs test for the male sex hormone testosterone, his Phonak team said on Thursday.

Hopefully the B sample doesn’t agree with the test of the A sample, or there is a valid explanation (I have no idea what that scenario could be). Argh.