Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fighting Like Insurgents: When the Bad Guys Win

When I was in my operational squadron, one of my favorite missions was being assigned as the Red Flight Lead.  For those unfamiliar with the military nomenclature, Blue forces are the good guys, and Red forces simulate the bad guys.  (Interestingly, the Chinese military plays along with this differentiation in their war-gaming as well.  They, as the "good" guys, are the Red Team and the "enemy" -- read America -- is the Blue Team.  At least we agree on something...)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Everything You Thought You Knew About Physics is Wrong

If you ever want to take a break from the concerns of daily life - economic inequality, political wrangling, wars, religious arguments - take a few minutes and contemplate Cosmology. Thought about long enough, this field really does put things in perspective.  Namely, how inconsequential most of our daily dalliances really are. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Manger Upends the World

It’s the things you don’t expect that you have to watch out for.  Disruptive Thinkers usually sneak up on society from the most obscure backgrounds. 

Take the boy born in a manger over 2,000 years ago.  He had been prophesied about hundreds of years before by a people beset with ever present suffering.  Bouncing from subservience under one Empire to another, time and again, the people who called themselves Chosen sought the one who would rescue them from servitude.  They wanted a Messiah. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Portraits, Vulgarity, and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Near the beginning of the sixteenth century, Albrecht Durer decided he'd had enough of the guilds that defined the business model for his craft.  With the advent of the printing press a few decades before, and a wise investment in this new technology, Durer was able to maximize the distribution of his creative genius.  The Economist notes he "represented human talent and ingenuity made boundless by a machine."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hell Hath no Fury Like a Female Dissident

Since the relatively peaceful overthrow of President Mubarak by disaffected Egyptians last February, the military leadership has taken control of the political process there.  This despite a growing desire for increased civilian representation among Egyptians.  Parliamentary elections are on the horizon, but not nearly to the extent desired by the populace, and not soon enough.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Space: The Billionaires Playground

You've Really Made the Grade
Space exploration does not hold the public's imagination like it once did. There was a time when astronauts were larger than life figures, both pushing the limits of human technology and manning the front lines of the PR battles that helped win the Cold War. Everyone knew their names. Now even space buffs couldnt name more than a few of our modern Star Voyagers.

This lack of interest is especially evident now that the Space Shuttle program has ended, and fiscal realities prevent funding expensive, unproven designs. Space exploration seems a luxury these days.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ideas Never Die

The first snippet I always read upon receiving a new edition of the Economist is the Obituary. In a magazine often populated by depressing articles near the beginning, reading that last page about a life well lived brings a feeling of strange optimism. There actually are people who do great things, whether it be in watchmaking or writing.

In nearly every case, the person profiled has done something to disrupt the status quo. They created new organizations, fought for suppressed ideals, created artistry where there previously was none. Some overthrew governments -- going on to be tyrants or beloved freedom fighters.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winning Games Without Actually Cheating

A few things have jumped out at me over recent weeks across the spectrum of athletics: Disruption in the marketplace and understanding of running gear, unorthodox tactics to counter a fast-paced hockey strategy, and the risk-averse NFL being forced to change antiquated rules to adapt to modern technology.