Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Leading questions

Chris Matthews interviewing the room-mate suite-mate of the Virginia Tech shooter is about the worst piece of journalist interview I've seen this year.

Shooter's roommate speaks (Scroll down).

Matthews bangs on on three subjects of note, that would make the killings fit a typical school shooting/decadent youth/crazy cotton-coat mafia scare-mould:

* Didn't he play some Counter-strike?
* Didn't he have some problems with girls?
* You won't say, but I bet you guys were mean to him, weren't you?

The suite-mate does a good job, not stepping into all of Matthew's puddles. In the end of the interview Matthew reveals his true colours: Talk TV host disguising as a journalist seeking to understand the truth. It's okay to have opinions and prejudices, but - and I might be old-fashioned - you shouldn't pass it off as journalism.



Open Source Intelligence ... on Iranian concrete.

My new darling, Wired's Danger Room has an interesting story about the development of super-strong concrete in Iran. One of the Danger Room's readers is an MA in Civil Engineering and participated in a contest, with among others, a number of Iranian Engineering students. They had made some ultra strong concrete and by googling their professor, it was clear that he was involved with concrete for nuclear reactor construction.

This is interesting with the ongoing US effort of making larger and crazier bunker-busters in mind.

That is a real-life example of how grey area information is freely available for use, if you know where to look and what to look for.



Asia vs. Europe at sea

Last week Paul Kennedy wrote an interesting little blurp in the International Herald Tribune. It poses as a historical look on the rise and fall of navies, but is basically just the latest in a recent spur of opinion on the growing inconsistency between Asian/European naval development - as the nod to Gibson's classical book on the fall of the Roman Empire reveals.

While the increasing tension over sea-lanes, oil supplies, fishing rights etc. is making a lot of countries, with China at the fore, increase their naval capabilities, European countries (including Denmark, one should add) decreases their navies. The most eye-catching example is Great Britain, who has just been overtaken by France for the first time in 250 years when it comes to the number of major surface combatants.

The rise and fall of navies - International Herald Tribune



The cyber-ballads of drug cartels

John Robb has compiled an interesting little brief on the Latin American Drug Cartels' use of YouTube. Apparently they started making music videos depicting their "fight against evil" (eg. other cartels), using these videos as recruiting and deterrent.

"Many of these ballads [narcocorridos, or drug trafficker's ballad] are in the classic Medieval style, and they are an anachronistic link between the earliest European poetic traditions and the world of crack cocaine and gangsta rap." Elija Wald.

Info Warfare, Narcocorridos, and YouTube


Semantics and intelligence

The odd/interesting war-o-phile blog over at Wired "Dangerroom" had an interesting story on the British sailors held in Iranian captivity. You didn't have to speculate much to think that their "confessions" came after pressure - but now we have some semantic proof. By analysing the sentences you see some Persian traits - namely the lack of articles. Hostage Letter Written by Tehran