Thursday, August 17, 2017

Diversity Thursday

After the events of the last week can we, at least for the moment, agree that there are few things as corrosive, divisive, and play to the worst tendencies in the human mind than to break people in to sectarian groups based on race, creed, color, and national origin?

Cannot we agree that doing so does nothing but promote division and conflict? That when you encourage one group to do it, you open the door for all groups?

Especially for organizations that require unity to succeed, there can be no more wrong-headed idea than to encourage division?

Well, we have a problem at the Naval War College. Of all places, it has been infected with the same disease as Mizzou and Evergreen State College.


It is time for the second shoe to drop after the NWC DivThu at the end of last month.

From the top of NWC there is the promotion of division. This is just another example.
From: Jeffrey Harley RADM NAVWARCOL <[REDACTED]@usnwc.edu>
Date: August 9, 2017 at 16:49:38 EDT
To: _NWC Staff and Faculty <[REDACTED]y@usnwc.edu>
Subject: All Female Faculty and Staff Call

Team--

I will be holding an all-female faculty and staff call on Thursday, 24 August, at 1200 in Spruance Auditorium. This is an opportunity for me to review recent College initiatives and some issues that have been identified.

I look forward to seeing all of our female faculty and staff at the call if you can make it!

Sincerely
jeff harley

Jeffrey Harley
Rear Admiral, USN
President, U.S. Naval War College
[REDACTED]@usnwc.edu
sipr: [REDACTED]@nwc.navy.smil.mil
(401)-841-[REDACTED]
Do we even need to cover the wrongheadedness of patronizingly putting your female Shipmates in some segregated "safe-space?" If there are things that need to be known involving College initiatives and issues, then everyone needs to be in on the conversation in order to address those issues and move forward on these initiatives.

Shame on everyone involved. Our Navy is better than this - and our Navy deserves better than this.

At a time when our nation needs examples of unity, the Navy should show the way forward, not be some socio-political plaything, retrograding back to segregation. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

March of the Zombie Transformationalists

Thought the Transformationalists and their habits would have drifted in to the shadows in shame given the bitter fruits of their labors?

Well, you'd be wrong. I'm pointing a light on their resurrection over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and behold.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Black Swan Tuesday: The China-Indonesian War of 20XX

If history tells us anything, it is that nations often find themselves in conflicts that aren't so much unimaginable, as unlikely. These wars develop out of the ether and quickly gain their own momentum.

History also teaches us that rising powers can be the most unpredictable when they get in to conflict. As with all human institutions, the international community can get used to certain patterns and rhythms. 

Falling powers in graceful decline are often given too much weight and attention, while the rising powers start to probe and affect structures, habits, and mechanisms in ways they never had before.

China is such a growing power. She has economic, historical, and ethnic grievances that have always been there, but for most of modern history she has been too weak to do anything about them.

Over at FP, Sebastian Strangio sets out a scenario for conflict China and Indonesia that had me nodding my head saying, "You know what, he's on to something."

Why Indonesia?
Indonesians of Chinese descent, who make up around 1.2 percent of the population and are traditionally one of the country’s most prosperous groups, dangerously vulnerable — and might magnify local tensions into international clashes.

In May 1998, when Indonesia’s dictator Suharto fell from power after 31 years, much of the popular anger was directed at Jakarta’s small but wealthy ethnic Chinese community. More than 1,000 people were killed in the riots, many of them Chinese; dozens of Chinese women and girls were raped. The Chinese were targeted on the assumption that they had grown fat from Suharto’s rule, even though many of the victims were small-scale traders.
As the author does again in his article, for years I have read Indonesian ethnic Chinese described as, "Indonesia's Jews" - and given the history of anti-Chinese pogroms, the comparison is not all that inaccurate.
“They are seen as a people apart,” he said, “and in their pursuit of commerce often become the victims of periodic bloodletting — pogroms, if you like.”

It is a pattern that dates to the beginning of Dutch rule in the 17th century, when Chinese merchants were granted a preferential role and helped develop Batavia (today’s Jakarta) into a flourishing entrepôt, prompting occasional eruptions of violence from other locals. These prejudices persisted after independence, and Chinese were singled out during the 1965-1966 anti-communist bloodshed that preceded Suharto’s takeover. At the time, they were seen as fifth-columnists for Communist China, then in the midst of exporting revolution throughout Southeast Asia. Since then, anti-Chinese rhetoric has tended to go hand in hand with paranoid imaginings of a renascent communism.
...
Though the Chinese reaction was muted in 1998, a far more powerful Beijing is unlikely to take such a hands-off position today. In 2006, when anti-Chinese violence tore through Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, Beijing responded immediately by evacuating 312 ethnic Chinese residents by air. The episode received extensive coverage in Chinese state media, which declared that “the government attaches great importance to the security and rights of the overseas Chinese.” Though it is hard to say just what Beijing’s reaction would be in Indonesia, Vatikiotis said that “there is every indication” that Beijing is watching closely, and would be “willing to do something to help its fellow Chinese.”
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, and is becoming more and more radicalized each year. The Chinese are mostly Christian. Combine ethic and religious differences in one package, and, well, history tells us much about that as well.

There is no land border between China & Indonesia. If China did want to do anything she would need a significant navy. That navy would need air-cover from carriers. 

Oh, and the SLOC from China to the south? They go right through the disputed South China Sea.

If you haven't already, you may want to catch up on a topic I covered back in Feb. of this year; the 500 Ship Navy ... the Chinese 500 Ship Navy.

We live in interesting times.




Monday, August 14, 2017

Neptune's Empty Throne

The slide down from denouement can be exhausting. 

It's been nine months after the surprise election where navalists regardless of their political leanings were suddenly juiced by a President Elect who ran on a 350 ship Navy. With time though, the adrenaline is leaving the blood, the keg is empty, and everyone is wandering around trying to find their favorite hat they let some girl wear about 3am.

Time to sober up.

It takes more than just the right people with the right desire to grow the fleet. There has to be the money, political sponsorship, and an effective process and structure to make it happen.

With the calm and light of time, the reality is setting in that things may be more difficult.

Over at War on the Rocks, Bryan McGrath back in 2014 had a bucket of cold reality for everyone to ponder then, and not that much has changed three years later.

To get to where we want to go, we may need to change the structure that is supposed to help get us there if and after the money shows up. What we have right now? It may support something, but building the effective fleet the nation requires may not be it. The names may have changed, but the process hasn't;
...whose job is it to describe the Navy we need, rather than the Navy we can afford? Is it Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert? Maybe in days gone by, but the Goldwater-Nichols Act did a fine job of removing any incentive for service chiefs to advocate for their own service’s particular contributions. Chiefs of Naval Operations of late tend to do their yeoman best to build and maintain navies that are affordable. Is it Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus? Perhaps, but any SECNAV who advocated for a Navy that exceeded the controls passed to it by the OSD Comptroller would find him or herself in hot water with the Secretary of Defense, if that person did not agree and could/would not provide top cover. Maybe then, it is the Secretary of Defense. A secretary with gravitas could sit down with the president and the Director of OMB and argue for greater resources for DoD, if he felt that the Navy we needed greatly exceeded the Navy we can afford.

The point of all of this is that we have created a system in which it is very difficult for any individual with authority to do or say anything effective to address the mismatch between the Navy this country needs and the Navy it currently claims to be able to afford. Worse yet, there are penalties to be paid for doing so. The one individual with the mandate to do so is the president, ....  
The U.S. Navy is to some extent, a victim of its own success. It consistently provides presidents with flexible options for response and it rarely has to say, “No, we cannot do that.” Unless a president comes into office with the idea that the nation must begin to prepare for the rigors of great power competition again, the Navy will appear sufficiently sized to meet the requirements of crisis response, for these are the requirements against which its size and capabilities are resourced. And since there is no bureaucratic incentive for anyone within the chain of command to advocate for such preparation in the absence of presidential leadership, we may unfortunately someday find ourselves with a navy we can afford, but not the one we need.
Is the new president and his team, pulled in all directions and yet to be fully staffed, really able to invest the time and political capital to push for a larger fleet? When you look at the rack-and-stack of what they must invest their time and effort in - from Korea to Syria - Iraq to Afghanistan - and more ... who will lead the push and get noticed above the ambient noise?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

NGO's and Migrants in the Med - on Midrats



What role are Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) playing in the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean Sea as wave after of wave of people try to make the passage to Europe?

Are they doing good? Are they filling a gap of lawlessness caused by government inaction, or increasing the problem?

What are the motivations and goals of governments, international organizations, traditional NGOs, and new players on the scene?

To discuss these question and related issues they raised in their two part series at War On the Rocks and CIMSEC from 5-6pm Eastern will be returning guests Claude Berube and Chris Rawley.

Claude is the director of the Naval Academy Museum and a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve. He is the author of the Connor Stark novels – THE ADEN EFFECT (Naval Institute Press, September 2012) and SYREN'S SONG (Naval Institute Press, November 2015.) He earned his B.A. in History and Soviet Studies, his M.A. in History from Northeastern University, and his M.A. in National Security Studies from the Naval War College. He is currently writing his doctoral dissertation through the University of Leeds on Andrew Jackson’s Navy.

Chris is a Captain in the Naval Reserve where he is the commanding officer of a reserve unit focusing on building partnerships to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. He is also founder and CEO of the agriculture investing company, Harvest Returns, and serves on the board of directors of the Center for International Maritime Security.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Fullbore Friday

There are some who do a small thing of good and will tell you about it over and over. With time, they embellish it – always to their gain.

There are other who do a great good and tell no one about it, or if they do, downplay their part as a small role or – if anything – feel what whatever they did was simply not enough and prefer to move on to other topics.

One are small men, the others giants.

A couple of years ago a giant passed at a great age of 106. His story should humble all mortal beings who think they have accomplished great things.

I give you Sir Nicholas Winton.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps, has died aged 106.

Sir Nicholas, then a stockbroker, arranged for trains to carry Jewish children out of occupied Prague.
The prime minister described him as a "great man" and the chief rabbi praised his "exceptional courage".

He died on the anniversary of the departure of a train in 1939 carrying the largest number of children - 241.
60-minutes did a good overview of a great man.



Fullbore.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the Google Diversity Memo for this week's DivThu, and yes - I'm late. Here's why.

I actually had about 1,000 or so words commenting in a Fisking kind of way, but I simply did not think it added anything to the conversation. so I deleted it. 

If anything, I'm in rough alignment with Debra Soh, so you can read her.

Before you do that though, humor me a bit. 

So much of what has been written about the memo this week is just plain wrong. People are emoting and not thinking; being political and not critical thinkers - all my usual bugaboos. My readers are a smart, independent group of people, so I'm going to ask you to just read the memo in full yourself. Once you do, you'll see all the posturing, signaling, and quasi-libel that otherwise smart people have been engaged in about the memo.

Read it, then see the interview with the author below the memo. Let the man speak for himself.


The text of the post was reproduced in full by gizmodo and I'm going to reproduce that version here with the minor formatting modifications made and the two charts and several hyperlinks removed.

Here you go.


Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change. 

TL:DR

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
  • This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
  • The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
  • Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
  • Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
  • Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.

Google’s biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

  • Compassion for the weak
  • Disparities are due to injustices
  • Humans are inherently cooperative
  • Change is good (unstable)
  • Open
  • Idealist

Right Biases

  • Respect for the strong/authority
  • Disparities are natural and just
  • Humans are inherently competitive
  • Change is dangerous (stable)
  • Closed
  • Pragmatic
Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.
Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.
On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:
  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective
Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Personality differences

Women, on average, have more:
  • Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
  • These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.
  • Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.
  • This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.
  • Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.
Note that contrary to what a social constructionist would argue, research suggests that “greater nation-level gender equality leads to psychological dissimilarity in men’s and women’s personality traits.” Because as “society becomes more prosperous and more egalitarian, innate dispositional differences between men and women have more space to develop and the gap that exists between men and women in their personality becomes wider.” We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.

Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.
Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I’ll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it’s still instructive to list them:
  • Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
  • We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
  • Women on average are more cooperative
  • Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do. This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education. Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
  • Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
  • Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
  • The male gender role is currently inflexible
  • Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.
Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google’s funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The Harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:
  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race [5]
  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
  • Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination [6]
These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.

Why we’re blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the “God > humans > environment” hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren’t on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google’s left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we’re using to justify highly politicized programs.
In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side”; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.
The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness[11], which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn’t harbored the violent leftists protests that we’re seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.

Suggestions

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

  • As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

Stop alienating conservatives.

  • Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
  • In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
  • Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.

Confront Google’s biases.

  • I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
  • I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

  • These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

  • Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
  • There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
  • These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
  • I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

  • We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
  • We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
  • Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.

De-emphasize empathy.

  • I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain—causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Prioritize intention.

  • Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
  • Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.

Be open about the science of human nature.

  • Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

  • We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
  • Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
  • Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).
[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google’s Mountain View campus, I can’t speak about other offices or countries.
[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I’d be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.
[3] Throughout the document, by “tech”, I mostly mean software engineering.
[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.
[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.
[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I’ve seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivize the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.
[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn’t going to overthrow their “capitalist oppressors,” the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the “white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy.”
[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.
[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.
[10] “The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men’s problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood,, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak.”
[11] Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against,” which makes it clear why it’s a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Are we Losing the Global War on Terror?

As we appear to be making up for the mistakes of 2011 and on that gave rise to the Islamic State with the retaking of Mosul and to investment of Raqqa, there is some hope for optimism for the Long War.

There is even more reason for quiet reflection once you back away and get the full view. Over a decade and a half in to this war, do we understand our enemy?

Along those lines, I highly recommend the detailed prospective provided by Katherine Zimmerman over at AEI with her extensive work; America's Real Enemy: The Salafi-Jihadi Movement.

From the Intro:
America is losing the war on terror, yet many Americans think the United States is winning. The fact that there has been no attack on American soil on the scale of 9/11 has created a false sense of security. Dismissals of Orlando and San Bernardino as “lone-wolf” attacks further the inaccurate narrative that al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are somehow “on the run.” According to senior American officials for at least seven years, those groups have been “on the run”—a “fact” that in itself demonstrates the falsity of US pretentions to success. Tactical successes on battlefields in Iraq, Syria, and Libya add further to the illusion of success. But if 16 years of war should have taught us anything, it is that we cannot kill our way out of this problem.

To start winning, Americans must redefine the enemy. A global movement—not individual groups, not an ideology, and certainly not poverty—is waging war against us.
...
Europe and the American homeland face an unprecedented level of facilitated and inspired terrorist attacks. This situation is not success, stalemate, or slow winning, and still less does it reflect an enemy “on the run.” It is failure.
I don't think you will find comfort here, as how she finds the source of the problem leads us to a place where I am not sure we have the ability to "win" anything.
The way to begin winning is to focus where the enemy focuses. The Salafi-jihadi movement is fighting for popular support. The US must, too. The Salafi-jihadi base delivers protection, stability, and assistance to a threatened and aggrieved population. The US and its partners instead bring guns to a governance fight. They focus on killing off segments of the Salafi-jihadi base, some of which are the very forces on which the population relies. Even where the focus is on returning governance, the American bias has been to rely on potential strongmen who promise stability. Stability—synonymous with authoritarianism here—drove the very grievances that enabled the Salafi-jihadi base to expand in the first instance. The stability that President Abdel Fatah el Sisi brings to Egypt, where terrorist attacks are now on the rise, is an example of the hollowness of this promise.
If that is true, all the USA and the West can do is deal with symptoms - ie "mow the grass."

There is neither the national will or leadership to try to dig it up and replant with something more manageable. That simply cannot be done in the modern world. As such, the solution ultimately is in the Islamic world itself. We have limited ability to do anything there.

So, what do we do? Deal with the symptoms and do the best to contain Salafi-jihadi supporters where they are. Help those who help us.

Mow; contain; help friends.

As we've discussed for years here; this is a generational war that will outlive all who are reading this post in 2017.

Monday, August 07, 2017

FITZGERALD is Coming Home ... to the East Coast

Last week, the government put out a solicitation for a Dry Voyage Charter Heavylift Flo/Flo Vessel from Japan to U.S. - it looks like the FITZ will be brought back to the USA for full repairs.

Here is what caught my eye. Emphasis added;
16. Description: Request one U.S. or foreign flag Float On/Float Off (FLO/FLO) vessel capable of transporting an ARLEIGH BURKE class destroyer from Far East to U.S. Gulf Coast or U.S. East Coast.
So, nothing on the West Coast can take her?

You an see the full solicitation copied below or here.
Solicitation Number:
N32205-17-R-3308
Notice Type:
Solicitation
Synopsis:
Added: Aug 02, 2017 2:24 pm
1. Action Code: Presolicitation
2. Date: 02 Aug 2017
3. Fiscal Year: 2017 - 2018
4. Contracting Office Zip Code: 23511
5. Classification Code: V- Transportation, Travel, & Relocation services
6. Contracting Office Address: 471 East C St., Bldg. SP-64, Naval Station, Norfolk, VA 23511
7. Subject: DRYVOY; Flo/Flo Vessel Japan to US
8. Proposed Solicitation Number: N32205-17-R-3308
9. Closing Response Date: 08 Aug 2017 at 1000 Eastern Time
10. Contract Point or Contracting Officer: Achille Broennimann at Achille.broennimann@navy.mil and Lorrie Leedy at lorrie.leedy@navy.mil.
11. Contract Award and Solicitation Number: T.B.D.
12. Contract Award Dollar Amount: T.B.D.
13. Contract Line Item Number: N/A
14. Contract Award Date: T.B.A.
15. Contractor: T.B.D.
16. Description: Request one U.S. or foreign flag Float On/Float Off (FLO/FLO) vessel capable of transporting an ARLEIGH BURKE class destroyer from Far East to U.S. Gulf Coast or U.S. East Coast. The laydays for this voyage commence 15 Sept 2017 and cancel 31 Oct 2017. The period of performance will be one voyage.
17. Set-aside status: N/A. All responsible business sources may submit a bid, proposal, or quotation, which shall be considered by the agency. SBA representative agrees with this decision.

Added: Aug 04, 2017 11:08 am
04 AUG 2017

THIS IS THE MILITARY SEALIFT COMMAND NORFOLK, STRATEGIC SEALIFT PROGRAM SUPPORT OFFICE, N103B

TO: ALL OFFERORS IN COMMUNICATIONS

SUBJECT: N32205-17-R-3308, AMENDMENT 0001

REF: (A) MSC RFP N32205-17-R-3308, 02 AUGUST 2017, AS AMENDED

1. SUBJECT RFP IS HEREBY AMENDED AS FOLLOWS:
a. BOX (8), FORM 1449: AMEND 'OFFER DUE DATE' TO READ:
"11 AUGUST 2017 AT 1400, EASTERN TIME"

2. ALL OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS REMAIN UNCHANGED.

SIGNED: LORRIE LEEDY, CONTRACTING OFFICER, N103B
Hat tip Lee.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Fullbore Friday


What does it take to get a Navy Cross - in WWII? And what, my not so gentle readers, do you think when someone tells you, "We don't train for that because that will never happen. We have Sailors, not Marines. That isn't IAW the CONOPS anyway, and with technology - well, your scenario is just stilly."

Ahem. Tell that to the men of the USS BUCKLEY (DE-51) and U-66.
On 6 May 1944, USS Buckley DE 51 engaged U-66 in an Epic Battle that included hand-to-hand combat.

0322 - Range 500 yards. The gun flashes were blinding and deafening, an earsplitting roar. The blasts of the 3", 40mm and 20mm blended into something unreal, as though all the demons of hell had been released simultaneously. Above the roar, the shouts of gun captains exhorted their crews to load and reload ever faster and faster. Blood was drawn. The quarry was at bay. The hunter was out to kill and to keep from being killed. The U-66 was buried under a hail of withering point blank fire.

0328 - The u-boat was 20 yards to starboard, zigzagging violently at 19 knots. Skipper Abel had to make a decision, one that could cost him his ship, his crew, his life. The U-boat was badly hurt. Buckley might have stood off and pounded it to bits. But, supposing the sub did aim a torpedo into Buckley and get away to be repaired and fight again? Buckley was expendable; transatlantic shipping was not. A DE captain had to know what to do at a time of decision. He decided to ram the U-boat!

0329 - "Right full rudder!"
Hundreds of tons of steel clashed, twisted and ripped as Buckley rode up on the foc's'l of U-66!

Then there occurred one of the most remarkable incidents of the Atlantic War as attributable to an extraordinary courage on the part of the enemy as to the valor of the Buckley crew. Men began swarming out of the conning tower and forward hatch of the submarine and up onto the foc's'l of Buckley. Because the sub was now below the maximum depression of the DE's guns, a bitter fight had suddenly become man-to-man for the possession of Buckley!

The Buckley crew rallied quickly and found their enemy with objects, fists and guns. Still the enemy persisted in boarding. Captain Abel had to make another decision. Engines were reversed as Buckley backed away from the sub. "All engines ahead full!" Guns crews returned to their stations pouring a living hell of fire into U-66. Alongside the U-boat to starboard, range 25 yards, Captain Abel fully intended to ram again, but he didn't. The sub rammed the DE! U-66 veered sharply to port and struck under the after engine room of Buckley. The shaft and propeller were sheared clean off. The Buckley's deck crew could look right into the conning tower which as a flaming shambles.

With a twisting, scraping and groaning of steel plates, the sub drew aft and cleared under Buckley's stern. She popped up right under number three 3" guns which scored three hits on the conning tower.

U-66 rode under the sea to her end.

For the next three hours, Buckley steamed about the area and recovered thirty-six prisoners, including four officers.

Miraculously, there were no casualties on board the Buckley. With her starboard shaft gone, flooded compartments and widespread damage, Buckley proceeded to the New York Navy Shipyard, a trip which she made on her port screw without incident.
And the Navy Cross citation for their CO, LCDR BRENT MAXWELL ABEL, USNR.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Brent Maxwell Abel, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer Escort U.S.S. BUCKLEY (DE-51), in offensive action against a German submarine during while patrolling the Atlantic Coast on the early morning of 6 May 1944. Lieutenant Commander Abel expertly directed his command and made an undetected, high-speed approach in bright moonlight to a surfaced German U-boat. With skilled seamanship, he silenced its guns within four minutes after contact, despite a heavy barrage of enemy torpedo and automatic weapon fire. Narrowly escaping another torpedo, he then closed on the wildly maneuvering submarine, raked it with all available fire and rammed, with the enemy attempting to board the vessel in retaliation. Withstanding the desperate attacks of the enemy ship, which tried to ram after the combatants became disengaged, he persistently held to his target until the submarine, with its conning tower shattered and burning fiercely, all hatches open, abandoned by its crew and completely out of control, disappeared beneath the surface of the water and exploded. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.
A good blow-by-blow account can be found here - one with a line that would make LT Black walk funny for a week.
"Hard right rudder!" he roared. "Pass the word to stand by for ram!"

Buckley heeled. Abel shot a glance at the exec.

"Okay, break out the small arms - let's go!"
In a day where the national "elite" hide from service like cockroaches from the light, you know what Buckley did before the war? He was a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law and left his practice at the outbreak of WWII. Skipper Abel passed away the day before Christmas, 2006. Cheers Shipmate.

Hat tip Perry.

This FbF first posted JAN 2008.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

RADM Meyer; the Proto-Anti-Transformationalist

Can you ever get enough of the late, great Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer, USN (Ret.)? 

Of course you can't.

There is a must read of his from the November 2002 John Hopkins APL Technical Digest that I just became aware of.

Read it all, but here's my favorite bit;
Technology is not what’s significant. On a given day the world is awash in technology and has been since biblical days. What is significant is its utility and application. In fact a “transformation” occurs only a few times each century. (There were some centuries when none occurred.) The passing faddists of today would have us believe that it’s a diurnal occurrence, or at least seasonal. (For example, as I write this, one would conclude from national debates that life simply can’t go on without more bandwidth—immediately—when in reality more bandwidth doesn’t matter one iota to our lives!)


Hat tip NEC338x

Monday, July 31, 2017

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXXI

Is China really that robust? In economic, demographic, and political ways, no. What about geographic?

George Friedman over at RealClearWorld has a great way for you to start your week.
When you look at a map of China, you will see that a good part of what we think of China is not ethnically Chinese.
...
Within Han China, there are also divisions. The population is concentrated in the east because western China has limited rainfall and can’t sustain very large populations. In this sense, China is actually a relatively narrow country, with an extremely dense population. The interests within Han China are also diverse, and this has frequently led to fragmentation and civil war.

The most important distinction is the one between coastal China and interior China. Coastal China, when left to its own devices, is involved in regional and global maritime trade, while the interior has fewer commercial opportunities. Coastal China’s priority is reaching its customers, whereas the interior wants Beijing to transfer the wealth from the coast to help support the poor interior. Many other regional disagreements exist of course, but this is the source of discord between the two regions.
There is a lot to chew on in this efficiently constructed article.

A great example of its efficiency is how the author explains in just a few short paragraphs the reason and real fragility of two of their signature programs this century; the "One Belt-One Road" and China's growing navy;
In the event there was an economic falling out with the U.S., China had to consider the possibility of a military confrontation. But the key issue was the ability to guarantee China’s access to sea lanes. In this, China had a major geographic problem. The South and East China seas are ringed with small islands, spaced in such a way that passage between them can be blocked with relative ease. The U.S. Navy is far superior to the Chinese navy, and the Chinese were concerned that in some unforeseen crisis the U.S. would block access to their much needed sea lanes. Those small islands were now at the center of Chinese national interest. The Chinese could claim the entire region, but they were not in a position to seize it.

At the same time, the Chinese devised a political solution to their strategic problem. If a country like Indonesia or the Philippines aligned with China instead of with the United States, access to the global sea lanes would be assured without having to confront the United States. The problem here is that the two strategies undermined each other. Aggressive assertion of Chinese power in the regional waters and finding accommodation with regional powers were inconsistent approaches. What’s more, they could only work if the United States was not present. And, of course, it was.

China had one other option for getting around potential U.S. actions: creating an alternative export route through Asia to Europe. This was the One Belt, One Road concept. But it, too, was flawed. First, the cost of building the requisite infrastructure was staggering. Second, it would run through countries that were unstable and, for the Chinese, unimportant customers. Add to that the speed with which One Belt, One Road needed to be enacted, and this was more posturing than policy.
Like I said, there is a lot here to ponder about your assumptions of China headed to mid-century.
This is a strategy that emerges not from a position of strength but from one of fundamental weakness. China’s internal contradiction is that prosperity creates instability, and stability is incompatible with prosperity. There are complexities and nuances of course, but this is the root of China’s problem. China is therefore trying to maintain what prosperity it can without destabilizing the system. In doing this, it is jeopardizing its overseas markets, particularly the United States, creating the opportunity for a conflict it can’t win and opening the door to regionalism and warlordism.

Unlike Japan, which moved from being a high-growth country to a low-growth country without social upheaval, China may not be so lucky. Japan had a homogeneous, socially integrated society. China is not homogenous, and it has irreconcilable social differences. Its global strategy reflects these contradictions and ultimately poses a greater risk to China itself than to others. And in such a situation, the key is to look confident and try to keep others off balance. But this can only work for so long.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fullbore Friday


Sometimes Fullbore is a battle, a campaign, a concept. Sometimes it is a moment in time - sometimes it accrues over decades.

Fullbore can be found everywhere - could be just down the table from you at the DFAC.
In 1969, Eugene Krueger left his young wife, Sharon, and headed off to Vietnam, where the 20-year-old's heroism as an Army pilot would be recognized with two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Bronze Star.

Krueger returned home, raised four daughters and embarked on a civilian career with Northwest Airlines while serving with the Washington National Guard.

But Krueger was not through with war.

As part of a marathon military career that ended this week with his retirement, he returned to the front lines as a pilot in Afghanistan. There he spent four months in 2006 flying missions out of Bagram Air Field.
I served with a few in AFG who retired in the late 80s and were called back from the Army. Mostly Special Forces guys who had a very good Civil Affairs background. A very untold story - I'm glad I've had a chance to share one here.

One little note: notice how the Army can still tap into its pool of talent decades back in the Reserves and National Guard - as a result it can do something the Navy can't - tap in to institutional memory.
He also chafed at inefficiencies he found in an Army that had become much more bureaucratic.

During the Vietnam era, for example, cargo could be quickly loaded into slings and then hauled by Chinooks to and from combat outposts. But during his Afghanistan tour, cargo was loaded inside the helicopter, a more time-consuming task that forced the helicopter to idle on the ground for hours with engines running so that pilots could escape quickly if the aircraft came under attack.

Krueger suggested that the unit consider slings, but to no avail.

"My argument is we could do the mission in half the time, thus saving half the fuel, half the crew time, half the maintenance, half the $$$," Krueger wrote in a journal entry. "This should be a no-brainer."
Chief Krueger; Fullbore.

Hat tip KP. First posted July 2011