Sunday, September 2, 2018

Rational vs Logical vs Critical Thinking


There are people who consider Rational, Logical and Critical Thinking to be the same thing. This idea is neither rational, logical, or critical. Rational, Logical, and Critical thinking do have one thing in common. A starting point.

Consider this statement, “Man evolved from Apes.”


A Rational thinker will consider the things apes have in common with man. Things like; Apes look like humans, they act like humans, they can create tools like humans, they have the ability to communicate, the list is pretty long.

A Logical thinker will link Apes to Man with quantifiable data. Apes evolved first into a variety of not quite Apes and not quite Man, then eventually Man. They will go step by step through the process of evolution to reach their final conclusion.

The Critical Thinker questions everything. Where is the evidence? What is the data saying?  The missing link between Apes and not quite Apes has never been found, Ever. Until the story is complete any correlation between Apes and Man can also be found between Man and Dogs. After all, your dog does communicate with you, right?

The Rational and Logical thinker easily become victims of “Confirmation Bias”. Confirmation Bias is a condition in which you find evidence that supports your point of view and then quit looking for evidence that does not support your point of view. Although the Critical thinker can also fall victim to confirmation bias, they are always on guard to it.

You can make a rational argument about anything. You can present it logically. You can be completely wrong. But at least you were rationally and logically wrong. Don't be those people. Develop Critical Thinking skills. You might still be wrong, but at least you will know why.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Common Sense is Not that Common

Common Sense, people refer to Common Sense when describing someone who does not understand something. To say someone has no Common Sense is the same as saying they are dumb. The question becomes, Is Common Sense, Common.  Consider the following example.



    Two men, both 21 years old are given a cell phone.  One man uses it to make a phone call, the other uses it as a paperweight.  We can say that the first man has common sense, but what about the second man?  It is what we do not know about the second man that makes a difference.

    If the second man in our scenario was born and lived his entire life in the jungles of Borneo and has had no contact with technology is it fair to say he has no Common Sense?  If we took the first man and dropped him into the jungle, how long would he survive? 

    When we talk about Common Sense, we must consider Common Experience.  This extends to many of the tasks we expect people to understand. A 21 year old who was raised and lives in the jungle of Borneo may not understand how to use a cellphone as the phone was intended.  Likewise, a city dweller may not understand the importance of keeping your kindling dry.  For that matter they may not know what kindling is.

    Using that logic I argue that there is no such thing as Common Sense unless you consider Common Experience first. 

Just a Saturday morning thought.



    
  

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Machine Learning.


Machine Learning.


Imagine that you put a baby in a room.  You give the baby a square block. The baby will explore the block. It will file the block's shape, hardness, taste and smell into its memory. Introduce a slab of wood that has a square hole. The baby will explore the slab of wood and eventually it will put the square block into the hole. If you add shapes and matching holes the baby will learn through experience what shapes go into what holes. You can speed this process up by teaching the baby how to study the shape and find the corresponding hole.

Machine Learning is exactly the same process.  A machine can be programmed to explore objects and catalog those objects parameters in its memory. Through the use of algorithms you can have the machine perform an infinite array of tasks with this information. The big difference is, once one machine has learned the information, it can be exactly duplicated to other machines. An army of machines only needs one machine to learn the task. Machine Learning is a small portion of the greater field of study known as Artificial Intelligence.

It does not take much imagination to understand the benefits of machine learning. Imagine a machine that can clean up toxic spills. People would no longer need to do jobs that are inherently dangerous, and the machine can work 24 hours a day. But why stop there?

You go to your favorite fast food chain. Lately they have been messing up your order. It almost gives you a complex. Now introducing the Burger Gurgler 2020 . . . it never makes a mistake. In fact, with its connection to the internet and access to cell phone data, it can predict how many customers will visit in the next 20 minutes. The owner of the store loves this. Minimal food waste, the machine is always on time for work.  The food will be hot, untouched my human hands, and exactly the same every time. Sounds great!!

That is, it sort of sounds great. Unless you are one of those people that used to sling burgers. Cheer up! You might be able to get a job as a Burger Gurgler 2020 cleaner until someone programs a Burger Gurgler 2020 Jiffy Cleaner.

This brings up an interesting topic.  What if the machine breaks?  Wouldn't a person need to diagnose the problem and fix it?  You are kidding, right?  A machine that can diagnose and fix itself is part of the plan.

It may sound like futuristic fantasy, but ask yourself when was the last time you saw someone cutting a tree into lumber by hand? Have you been to the bank, or a store?  Humans are quickly becoming a burden on some businesses.

Technology has a way of  slowly creeping its way into everyday life.  Then suddenly there is a leap that upsets the order of things.

An example is the railroad. Prior to railroads, animals were used to move goods and people. At first the railroads used large numbers of people and animals to lay the rails. Once the rails were down the people and animals were no longer needed. 

Regardless of whether you love or hate the idea of AI, it is here and the great leap is not far away.  The number of people that will be needed to take care of even complex tasks will be eliminated.

What will they do?  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Well, That’s Not Good



  When I was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico one of my jobs was to prepare the training resources, develop response plans, and implement the training for the Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex (KUMSC). At the time this was a one of a kind facility that combined physical and electronic security systems coordinated with a computer based system. Of course, this would mean unique issues would arise.

  The first issue reared its head during a tour of the almost completed system. The facility contains storage areas and maintenance rooms. Each of these rooms are separated by a huge blast door. How huge? I can’t tell you…lets just say…Huge. The engineers for the system were proudly demonstrating the way the door could open and close for a group of high-ranking officers. I was there to film the procedure for training.
  The engineer called the control room and asked for the door to be closed. Slowly the door began to move and in about 5 minutes finished its journey. Then there was a loud click as the locking mechanism slid into place. After a few minutes of bragging about his door, the engineer called the control room for the door to be opened. On command…the door…began to squirt hydraulic fluid all over the floor.

For the next 8 hours, we all sat on the floor waiting for another group of engineers to fix the door. 

This would not be the last glitch by any means…I would spend many hours waiting to be rescued in the coming months.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Terrorism In the Ancient World.

By
CaptBlackEagle.

Introduction

To understand terrorism it is important to understand the difference between war and terrorism. It can be argued that war itself is a criminal act. That is a discussion for another time. Many people recognize the difference between war, terrorism and crime. Putting it into words can be difficult.

  War is a conflict between nations. War is waged within the rules that have been established by treaties. These rules cover everything from how soldiers dress to how armies interact with civilian populations. War is a violent conflict, but it is controlled violence within bounds.

Terrorism is a method that uses violence to achieve societal change. The violence used is not constrained by the rules of War. The more horrible the act the more effective the result is the axiom of terrorism. It is important to remember no matter how noble the cause may seem, terrorism is not an accepted method of war.

Historical Reference

When studying terrorism it is important to understand the history of terror as a weapon and why it is seen as an effective method. One of the earliest examples of terror as a method is found in the writings of Josephus (37-100 AD). It is important to note that Josephus, though a Jew, wrote for a Roman audience and sided with Rome. This article uses much of Josephus's The Jewish War and his observations of the conflict. There is a great deal of scholarly discussion concerning Josephus, but this article stays out of the political discussion and attempts to stay strictly on the methods used prior to, during, and the aftermath of the war. 

Background

The time period that this article is concerned with is from approximately 30 AD to 135 AD. During this time Rome was the only superpower controlling most of Europe and what is now known as the middle east.

At that time in what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and part of Iraq the Romans referred to the area as Judea. Within Judea was a smaller region known as Galilee. The most important city within Galilee was Jerusalem.

  Judea was a problem for the Romans. The Jewish population and Rome had very little in common. The Jews were monotheistic (one god) while the Romans were polytheistic (many gods). The methods of worship, and the degree of belief in one god was impossible for many Romans to understand. I will not delve into this issue. Suffice it to say, the Jews and Romans were bound to be at odds on everything.

Rome had developed a method of assimilation when it conquered a new area. Its first step was to subjugate the population. They did this by conducting a census. The census would include all properties owned and was used to tax the population. The idea of paying a tax to Rome was a form of slavery as far as the Jews were concerned. The census was the spark that ignited 200 years of revolt in Judea.

Following their formula of assimilation the Romans allowed the Jewish religious practices and its government to govern the people. The exception to this were any groups or individuals that the Romans felt were a threat to their control. The Romans left no doubt that even though the Jewish nobility could rule the Jewish population, the Romans were in control.

In response to the Roman census, and taxation a rebel group was formed to resist the Romans. Josephus refers to these rebels as the Zealots. The Zealots were violently opposed to everything Roman. It was due to their violent revolt that they came into conflict with the Rabbis. The Rabbis advocated peaceful treaties.

The Zealots operated as a guerrilla force at times, and other times they operated as larger military forces. This was most evident during the Jewish Roman war of 66-70 AD. The Zealots were not terrorists. They fought directly against Roman forces and sought to occupy territory like other armies. They did not target the general population.



The Sicarii
A Study in the Strategy of Terrorism.  

Judea was socially divided into three main classes.  The Roman, Priests/Nobility, and the Poor classes.  As discussed earlier the Romans used the Priests and Nobility as a buffer to deal with the Poor.  However, within the Priests and Nobility there were still power plays at work, and this internal strife was used to manipulate the Roman rule. This is an environment ripe for terrorist strategies.

It had become known to the Romans that the High Priest Jonathon was conspiring against the Romans.  To counter this the Romans hired Jewish assassins to kill Jonathon.  These assassins would become known as the Sicarii.  

Sicarii is the latin word for "dagger men".  The term Sicarii was used in the same way as terrorist is used today.  The Sicarii operated in a totally new way.  They did not target the Romans.  Instead the targeted the Jews.  The assassination of Jonathon is an example of how they operated.

During one of the Jewish festivals Jonathon would be in attendance to give a blessing.  As Jonathon pushed his way through the crowd a loud scream went up from the people closest to Jonathon.  Men were screaming that the High Priest had been killed. The crowd saw many men covered in blood cradling the lifeless Jonathon.  The men were crying and shouting for the people to find the assassins. 

The people became frenzied in search of the mysterious murderers.  Meanwhile the assassins joined the crowd in calling for the Romans to help.  The call went unanswered.

This was the first recorded attack by the Sicarii.  Over the next decade the Sicarii attacked Jewish nobility.  They were experts at killing in plain sight, and slipping away as part of the crowd. These actions led to division among the Priest and Nobility class.  Everyone was suspect.  

Laws were passed by the Priests and Nobility that further burdened the poor.  Of course this was used to by the Zealots to strengthen their forces.  The Sicarii's actions also made it clear to the Priests and Nobility that the Romans were not able to protect them.  

The Strategy of Terrorism is not for a terrorist to win in direct battle with an opponent.  Terrorists attack the very fabric of a society.  By creating an environment in which a society is unsure of its leaders ability to protect it, the society will be forced to change.  Terrorism is a method that uses unbounded violence to achieve societal change.  

Conclusion

At the end of the Jewish War, Rome maintained control of Judea.  The Romans changed their tactic of gradual assimilation and took direct control of Judea.  The renamed it to Syria/Palestine.  They sent their most ruthless commanders to take control of the region.  The outlawed many of the Jewish religious practices.  The Sicarii eventually faded to a memory, but they proved the effectiveness to bring about social change.  It may not have been the change the Sicarii wanted. 

Terrorism is a method of violence to bring about social change.  It is not bound by the rules of war and everyone is a valid target.  This makes combating the strategy of terrorism a very difficult task. What would you do to combat terrorism, without affecting the social structure of America?








Thursday, March 31, 2016

1958

1958

The 1950's were an exciting and turbulent time in America. Things were changing and some of these changes would not be felt until the 1960's and beyond.

Elvis Presley was a superstar, this made him the heart throb of every girl and the bane of every parent. His sexually explicit performances and rebel persona was selling records. Then came the draft. In 1956 Elvis turned 21 making him eligible for the draft. On his 22nd birthday he was classified 1-A and would be drafted early in 1958. However, his movie contract with Paramount allowed him to defer his actual enlistment until late March 1958.

Elvis was offered the chance to serve in the Special Services. If he accepted he would have special housing, and his life would change very little. Col. Tom Parker, Elvis's manager had a better plan. He knew if Elvis performed for the Special Services he would not be paid, and all of his performances would be filmed and recorded, then sold all over the world. Col. Parker convinced Elvis that if he enlisted as a regular soldier he could gain the trust of the parents and end up a bigger star. And that is exactly what happened in 1958.

Orville and Wilbur Wright had proven that powered flight was possible in 1903. It was not until 1926 that the federal government created rules for flight under the Department of Commerce. In 1938 the Civil Aeronautics Authority was given the task of air safety, airports, and air traffic control. In 1940 president Roosevelt split the CAA into two parts. A new agency the Civil Aeronautics Board was tasked with accident investigation, and regulating the financial rules for airlines. This all changed in 1958.

After a series of mid-air collisions the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created a single authority for all aspects of air travel. The Federal Aviation Agency was created in 1958.

America was stupid. Well at least according to the government. In 1958 the National Defense Education Act was passed. Its goal was to increase education in technological fields to counter the growing threat posed by the Soviet Unions launching of Sputnik. By issuing student loans and other aid to schools at all levels the government hoped to increase the brain power of America.

Of course that leads us to the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA was to have a civilian vs military leaning. NASA was intended to create a peaceful application of science and space exploration. Space, in 1958.

The Soviet Union ended its occupation of Romania in 1958. Having occupied Romania since 1944, the Romanians had gone through extensive “reeducation” and its political fate was tied to the Soviet Bloc.

In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Much of the crisis had to do with the Christians wanting to remain pro-western, and the Muslims wanting to join the United Arab Republic that had been formed by Egypt and Syria. U.S. Marines and Lebanese Army forces maintained control of the port and airport of Beirut. When the president of Lebanon completed his term the crisis ended.

It all happened in 1958.






Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Classified Information for Dummies

Classified
Information
for
Dummies

About the Author

  CaptBlackEagle is a retired United States Air Force Security Specialist who worked with classified information up to and including Top Secret. He was responsible for creating many classified reports, the safekeeping of classified, and teaching others about how to handle classified information.

Introduction

  Information is one of the key factors in a nations power. This includes information they wish to keep from the other nations, and information they seek to obtain from other nations. One example is nuclear weapons design.

Classifications of United States Information.

  Unclassified is not a designation as such, but includes data that is sensitive and not intended for public release. For instance a military base's telephone directory is not classified, but is considered For Official Use Only. Bulletins released by Homeland Security meant specifically for civilian law enforcement is released as Unclassified-Law Enforcement Sensitive. This type of information if released would not pose a danger to the United States.

  Confidential is information that would damage national security if made public. This is the lowest level of classification.

  Secret is information that would cause serious damage to national security.

  Top Secret is information that would cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. This is the highest level of classified information.

  Within the Secret and Top Secret classifications there is also a sub-set of information called Compartmentalized Information (CI). This information is normally associated with nuclear weapons.

  Another control is the NOFORN designation. This means that the information may not be released to foreign nationals.

Access to Classified Information.

  A security clearance is required for access to classified information. In addition, an individual must have a need to know. Just possessing the clearance is not enough to gain access.

Marking Classified Information.

  All classified information is marked by the highest classification of information on the cover sheet. In addition the top and bottom of each page is marked, and each paragraph or graphic is also marked with its classification.

  For instance, a Top Secret document may have paragraphs that are unclassified, or classified as secret.

Creating and Transmitting Classified Information.

  Any means maybe used to create classified information, from a black crayon to a blackberry the information does not change and must be protected according to their classification.

  Transmitting Top Secret information requires a courier, Secret may go by Registered Mail, and Confidential by certified mail.

  The electronic transmission of classified information may only take place through the use of National Security Agency certified cryptosystems.

Summary.

  The protection of classified information is important to the security of the United States. It is not something you take lightly. It is a lifetime commitment. Your knowledge of classified information, and the commitment to protect it does not end when you retire.