Open newslist 7

It’s a little while since we did one of these. Candidates include:

Think Defence has finished their epic series on the disastrous FRES procurement. It has much in common with classic IT project failure, for example, the NHS NPfIT. Also, we wanted to have at Eric Pickles on a related issue and we might yet do it.

A review of Dan “Not that one” Davies’ excellent biography of Jimmy Savile.

Alternatively, I have drafts for several Savile posts, so if you don’t behave I’ll declare a whole Savile Week. Pick from:

  • Savile, the first truly postmodern celebrity?
  • The icon of unpopular populism: Savile and politics
  • The social and economic context: Savile, the postwar era, and showbusiness

Among tried and tested themes, as well as Jimmy Savile, there’s also the Israel/Palestine conflict. We’ve written about Palestinian rocketry, about the role of modern anti-tank guided weapons, so how about something about tunnels, bulldozers, landscape, and again rockets?

This piece about Singapore is interesting, but confused. Scenario-planning isn’t a Big Data methodology and doesn’t require surveillance. Also, Americans shudder with the horror that someone somewhere might get required medical assistance, and get away with it!

On a related theme, an information security expert dabbles in international relations theory and this is the result. As an IR MSc who dabbles in computing, I have opinions! Again, Americans shudder with horror at the thought someone somewhere might get required medical assistance, and get away with it! More importantly, there are real problems with classical realism as a theory and some of them have been answered successfully as long ago as the 1950s. Who knows, maybe they might be interesting for geeks, too?

This might also involve Decentralisation: I Want to Believe. Trying to understand why P2P is so hard.

Iain Duncan Smith, intergenerational transmission, Universal Credit, and the protector of aborigines and his big clock. This one’s deep into Glenn Beck schizophrenia-as-a-methodology territory but I think I might be able to pull it off.

Predictions based on China’s sex-ratio skew are mostly wrong. Further, Tyler Cowan completely forgets a whole and intellectually fruitful branch of economics when it would have been really handy. What gives? Both are case studies of how just a little feminism would have delivered a huge return of wisdom, or at least, much less stupidity. The problem in No.1 is a stupid stereotype of masculinity, in No.2 a stupid stereotype of femininity combined with a weird attitude to sex.

It’s struck me, rereading this, that the Treasury/Downing St duopoly has become akin to that between CCP institutions and Chinese government ones, a parallelism between political, i.e. propagandistic and violent, and technocratic, i.e. making stuff work, structures.

Update: I was hoping the answer to this wouldn’t be “all of the above”. There’s also been a twitter conversation about this, and so far it looks like this:

FRES/Project Failure/Eric Pickles is strongly supported
At least some Savile content is strongly supported

Weaker support for full Savile Week
Weaker support for Singapore/Data

Proposed extra idea: how’s this ISIS lot beating the Kurds?

14 Comments on "Open newslist 7"

  1. As I posted in the ”Hamas Gazebo comments I like the way you discuss the Palestine/Israel conflict.
    Also I’m fascinated by the systemic, cultural and organisational factors around Saville ( I work in child protection).
    Would be interested in why P2P is so hard – I like the idea of it and after reading something by Chris Cook or Izabella Kaminska can be easily persuaded that P2P and robots are the new economy yet realise there must be good reasons why I am not going to work in a jet pack .


    1. There are great reasons why you’re not going to work in a jetpack; they use fuel at such a rate that if you had more than about five minutes’ flying time, you’d need a crane to put the thing on.

      Adam Ierymenko’s point is that P2P apps might be a special case of the CAP theorem from database design, where you can’t have all three of consistency, availability, and partition tolerance (some say performance instead). In which case they will always be hard, because that seems to be a fundamental principle.


  2. FWIW the current AU government has been making noises about extending the benefit-spending-on-Good-Things constraints that are currently applied to rural indigenous groups to all benefit recipients (except seniors, obviously, because they vote) – can pass on more if relevant.


  3. Jimmy Savile week!

    He’s the patient zero for Britain post-Empire; the rosetta stone for understanding Dave-from-PR; the Third WayTM; Thatcher and the petty bourgeoisie; the 70s and indirectly the birth of punk; and Britain’s strained relationship with the summer of love (and, lack of a proper soixant-huitard tradition).


  4. I’d be very happy to read posts on any of these topics, but I think I have to vote for Jimmy Savile week. It’s too important to let slide by…


  5. Have to come back and put a vote in for Singapore, because their major systems are not scenario planning, but Cynefin/Sensemaker stuff, which has been a big interest of mine for a while…


  6. It would be interesting if you expanded on your thesis about The Project 2.0 and the Treasury/Downing Street duopoly because it is important for understanding weaknesses and potential weaknesses in our system of governance.

    Was it here that I read about an idea that had been floated of having someone reporting to Coulson in every government department?


    1. I find it interesting because the duopoly has always been there, you can read discussions of clashes between the PM and the Chancellor’s alternative power base – but at the same time, it seems Brown’s wrangling (and frankly Blair’s lack of interest) allowed the Treasury to get a lot more detailed in using the money lever to micro-manage policy. All the signs are that the Osborne/Dave from PR dynamic started in the same vein…


  7. There was an interesting piece in the The Guardian about the supposed decline of the peshmerga as a fighting force – when you get into it, the big issue actually seems to be that ISIS picked up a bunch of (US originated) heavy weapons/equipment when they took certain bases and the Kurds just don’t have the firepower to deal with it.


    1. The heaviest metal anyone has reported is an armoured Humvee, so you can overstate this factor, or rather you can overstate the contribution to firepower and protection rather than mobility.

      I’m beginning to think that the Kurds were simply spread a bit thin, between fighting in Syria, maintaining their alliance commitment to Baghdad, occupying Kirkuk, and at least having a minimal presence in Turkey.


  8. I’ve been assuming ISIS were over hyped and largely are regaining ‘the Sunni triangle’ and moving were the power vacuums are . The Kurds I thought were mainly interested in maintaining their current border + Kirkuk and dont want to come down onto the plains and try to hold ‘sunni’ areas against IS- they want the Sunni tribes to sort themselves and IS out and hold that territory.Likewise they want Iran to stabilise the Shia and protect Baghdad/Fallujah etc. I thought the avoiding direct conflict with IS was to do with ongoing negotiations with both Iraq/Iran re the above and the west/turkey re territorial and oil claims -and the kurdish requests for help are actually about getting more concrete agreements re Kurdistan ,Kirkuk and arms supply. That said maybe the attack on erbil did catch them unaware and they are weaker than previously realised ? The apparent insanity of attacking the Kurds feeds in to the notion that IS are driven by momentum and the willingness to ethnically cleanse areas of ‘non sunni’, without that momentum IS and the Sunni and Jihadi groups linked to them start fighting each other as happend previosly in Iraq and currently in Syria.


  9. I read somewhere that the shelling of Erbil was officially anounced by IS in retaliation for The Kurds anouncing the previous day that they had agreed to work with the Iraq govt re combined attacks on IS.
    Agree re mobility and IS they are an effective and ruthless mobile militia and think a lot of their ‘rapid gains’ are generally as a result of being on the Plains and driving into abandoned or Sunni friendly areas – once they reach the mountains it seems to stop.


  10. How is ISIS beating the Kurds?

    As usual there are Paul Rogers articles at Open Democracy. Then there is this from Cockburn.

    As usual the West cannot let go of the idea that “Assad should go” that it has vacillated over what to do about ISIS. The pattern over the last 35 years has been to fail to deal with Sunni extremists and go after secular dictators who have nationalised the oil.


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