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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Efficiently incommunicado

This is some commendable cogitation on the part of the Canadian Cincinnatus:
[W]hy was the British Empire so efficient? For there is no doubt about it, it was. A mere thousand bureaucrats in the Colonial Office managed an empire so large that the sun never set on it, an empire that included a subcontinent. How was this possible?

One reason, I think, is that the colonies weren’t informatically connected. No phones, no text messages, no Skype, no e-mail, no conference calls, no webinars, no meetings. Therefore, no micromanagement. For reasons of necessity, all decisions had to be pushed down to the lowest possible levels. This not only had the effect of minimizing bureaucracy but it also meant that the character of the Empire’s decision makers was more solid.
Contrast with this Richard Nixon speaking to platoon leaders in the field in Vietnam.  Bureaucracy can be a killer even in very small organizations and also relates to the r/K metaphor; once the job becomes sufficiently easy and risk-free, the change almost dictates the mass entry of the Rabbit People.

One of the things that strikes the reader of Imperial British history was the youth and astounding arrogance of the men who ruled its colonies.  Their belief in their own superiority was, to a certain extent, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  My favorite example from the era was the officer who steamed something like a hundred miles upriver from his army, showed up at the gates of a garrisoned, walled city with about twenty men, and demanded its surrender.

Since it never occurred to the enemy commander whose army had previously been defeated that anyone could possibly be so insanely arrogant as to make such a demand without having his victorious army in the near vicinity, the city was surrendered at once.  And yet, it wasn't actually crazy, it was a straightforward calculated risk based on the idea of the enemy's interest in his own self-preservation. 

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44 Comments:

Anonymous Herman the German January 26, 2013 9:40 AM  

Heh heh!! White boys just never stop, eh? Always the first to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, climb mountains, scale cliffs, Travel into space, etc... Heck, then you've got all those pesky Western Europeans creating new sciences, discovering world-altering cures, inventing rocket powered propulsion, the super highway, inventing microscopes, creating some of the world's most amazing and breathtaking music from Baroque, to Classical, to Romantic & beyond.....

---Yeah, but we all juss RACISS anyway!!!

White is all right. I'm never afraid to acknowledge our superiour culture.

Blogger Tiny Tim January 26, 2013 9:44 AM  

Rabbit people want to surrender, thus they do so readily.

Rabbits will fight. They willgunt and attackwith the ferocity of Liberace, bite and retreat. Retreat is always part of the plan of attack.

Blogger bearspaw January 26, 2013 10:31 AM  

Now communication is a big problem. The bad guys can get their homies on the go with a cell phone. Everyone from mohammadan fighters to inner city stompers to those people that stand up and sing out of nowhere can get mobilized.

Blogger bearspaw January 26, 2013 10:34 AM  

Now communication is a big problem. The bad guys can get their homies on the go with a cell phone. Everyone from mohammadan fighters to inner city stompers to those people that stand up and sing out of nowhere can get mobilized.

Anonymous Desiderius January 26, 2013 10:47 AM  

"And yet, it wasn't actually crazy, it was a straightforward calculated risk based on the idea of the enemy's interest in his own self-preservation."

Note that the same result is reached with either premise.

A faithless (in every sense) time like ours is left to rely on the latter.

Nobody's that smart.

Semper Fidelis

Anonymous David of One January 26, 2013 10:51 AM  

Damn it all!

Damn the lightbulb!

The Empire would have remained intact with candles!

Damn!

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 10:56 AM  

In the politicians gotta lie category, seems both sides of the fence support replacement

Anonymous Salt January 26, 2013 11:06 AM  

Definitely OT, and is it good.

The time has come for them to feel the helplessness and fear that comes with being forced into a game where the odds are stacked against them.

Anonymous Anonymous January 26, 2013 11:15 AM  

Look at the bones!!!!

Anonymous Orville January 26, 2013 11:28 AM  

What Salt mentioned...I don't follow the hactivists that much and assumed they were just young anarchists, but this shot across the bow seems to indicate that some of them are constitutionalists.

Anonymous Anonymous January 26, 2013 11:29 AM  

What *happened* to the English? Such an incredible 180 turnaround of cultural and personal fortitude within so few generations.

Could it be that the World Wars wiped the English gene pool of the very characteristics which had defined them for 100's of years?

Anonymous jack January 26, 2013 12:00 PM  

@Salt January 26, 2013 11:06 AM

Definitely OT, and is it good.

Yeah, thanks for the link. It was most enjoyable. I think I will go and reread it while I enjoy my lunch and a glass of decent vino raised in Salute to the hackers. Don't always agree with what they do but sometimes they shine.

Anonymous David of One January 26, 2013 12:02 PM  

Socialism. The march to Marxism. The absence of teaching and demanding critical thinking skills to boys and girls ... especially women voters.

Anonymous David of One January 26, 2013 12:03 PM  

My last comment was in response to Anonymous' question about the English.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 12:12 PM  

Who, whom?

Anonymous Clay January 26, 2013 12:13 PM  

I was just listening to a Dodge commercial in my truck, and it reminded me:

Sam Elliot is a no-acting, no-class, gray-haired, skinny, pussy.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 26, 2013 12:25 PM  

Strong words, Clay. You probably just hate Dodges. Don't talk about SgtMaj Plumley like that. He might shoot you down with his .45!

Anonymous jack January 26, 2013 12:28 PM  

@Salt

I found it interesting what the long form version of the Anon statement [on Zdnet] had to say. Of particular interest was the following.

This website was also chosen due to the nature of its visitors. It is far from the only government asset we control, and we have exercised such control for quite some time…

And, the comments following that talked about how they went in, did the work, and covered their tracks coming back out. The whole article, mostly the Anon statement, is well worth reading.

Would it not be delicious irony if Anonymous and groups like them turned out to be the modern version of revolution walking the land. It may be that true patriots need to study computer science and learn some hacking. Of course, there is the constant fear of abuse of power/ability by such groups. I hope they will self-police to some level of common sense and civic duty.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 12:50 PM  

Choose a name under Name/URL, Anonymous.

Anonymous Clay January 26, 2013 12:53 PM  

Folks. I'm trying to conjure here. Might work; Might not.

Be patient.

Anonymous bub January 26, 2013 1:01 PM  

Those wascally wabbits

Anonymous allyn71 January 26, 2013 1:14 PM  

I work for a land management agency that has widespread field offices in some of the most remote areas of the US. Without the access to reliable communications this agency developed a decentralized organization that relied on individuals to make decisions over wide swaths of land. This agency was successful in meeting its land manangement mission in a cost effective manner that actually generated revenue to the treasury.

With the rising technological capability of society and the increase in access to fiber optic cable and the reach of the internet, the same agency has transitioned to a centralized agency that is managed on a multi-state scale. This has lead to less creativity and more bureaucracy. The rise of the rabbits has turned the agency into a debtor that is incapable of anything but the most basic actions. It perfectly reflects the axiom "paralysis by analysis" so common with other bureaucratic organizations.

When I first joined the agency it was managed by old gray haired dinosaurs that had been involved in decision making positions for many years. They have now been replaced by womyn with 1/3 the work experience and non of that in decision making.

I have been able to observe this change within the 20 year timeline of my career. When I first started working there were no computers in the office and you rarely had any interaction with anyone outside the individual unit level. Now all employees are required to have internet access and reguraly receive messages from the Chief.

This is a corollary to the fall of the British Empire described above.

It appears that in addition to the name calling and sqealing that the rabbit people employ, they also arm themselves with restraining devices and utilize them collectively until the burden finally brings the wolves to heel.

Technology is the enabler of the warren and the rise of the rabbits = the fall of civilization.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 1:19 PM  

It perfectly reflects the axiom "paralysis by analysis" so common with other bureaucratic organizations.

This is cause for rejoicing. The beast will cease to function because of internal friction. It will grind to a halt.

Now we have to figure out how to hasten the process.

Anonymous castricv January 26, 2013 1:47 PM  

Rule Britannia!!!!

Anonymous Other Josh January 26, 2013 2:00 PM  

The American empire, by comparison, looks like "amateur hour".

"Greatest country in the world" my ass. America will go down as one of the shortest lived empires in the history of the world

Anonymous MendoScot January 26, 2013 2:49 PM  

My favorite example from the era was the officer who steamed something like a hundred miles upriver from his army, showed up at the gates of a garrisoned, walled city with about twenty men, and demanded its surrender.

During the Opium Wars?

Napier's stake in the heart of suttee remains for me the epitome of Colonial efficiency - he wouldn't raise a finger to prevent the woman being burned alive but, once she was, he would hang the perpetrators.

It should be remembered that the Colonial service were largely middle class or scions of formerly well-to-do families; it was viewed as a way of bettering your situation, at a risk. Depending on the posting, some comissions had to be purchased and, unlike in the Spanish Empire, did not include exclusive licences on trade that guaranteed an income through taxation (tariffs). Thus they had a real incentive to see their area of responsibilty do well and generate wealth for the Crown, but also a good British lifestyle for themselves.

I always find it amusing when modern taxation bureaucracies cannot generate a fraction of the wealth of the Colonial Service with orders of magnitude more bureaucrats.

The tighter you squeeze...

Anonymous Clay January 26, 2013 3:08 PM  

Sam Elliot still sux.

Anonymous John Regan January 26, 2013 3:43 PM  

There's a similar story about Rommel in WWII:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=mfWsGNlcyPIC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=rommel+tricked+surrender&source=bl&ots=QP2ZLGb263&sig=1flEp50so4VyZDP65AFpgqlB4nU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dT8EUZ6rMYWA0AGgsoGgBQ&sqi=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=rommel%20tricked%20surrender&f=false

Granted, the Italians weren't really into fighting by then, but the point is that audacity often yields surprising results.

Anonymous Shao Khan January 26, 2013 3:56 PM  

Have these modern would be dictators not played Mortal Kombat?

THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE THAT IS NOT POWER

CHOOOSE YOUR DESTINY

Anonymous Shao Khan January 26, 2013 3:57 PM  

That's why I keep the Netherrealm in a state of technological daaaahknessssss.

Anonymous Mina January 26, 2013 3:59 PM  

a bit off topic:

got my copy of Enjoy the Decline two weeks ago - good read.

forget everything you've been taught about hard work- minimize your footprint, jettison the parasites.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 6:24 PM  

Intuit decides it does not like gun sellers and probably does not like gun owners as well.

Don't use them.

Anonymous Desiderius January 26, 2013 6:41 PM  

"What Salt mentioned...I don't follow the hactivists that much and assumed they were just young anarchists, but this shot across the bow seems to indicate that some of them are constitutionalists."

Relative to what we have now, anarchy and constitutionalism are in close enough alignment for common cause to be found between groups motivated by love of one or the other.

Anonymous Desiderius January 26, 2013 6:48 PM  

"paralysis by analysis"

See Kierkegaard's The Present Age. Reads as if it could have been written last week. By VD. About the rabbit people.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 7:18 PM  

CDC Admits Flu Vaccine Ineffective

Anonymous Idle Spectator January 26, 2013 7:38 PM  

It appears that in addition to the name calling and sqealing that the rabbit people employ, they also arm themselves with restraining devices and utilize them collectively until the burden finally brings the wolves to heel.

Technology is the enabler of the warren and the rise of the rabbits = the fall of civilization.


Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth.

That's why I keep the Netherrealm in a state of technological daaaahknessssss.

I don't think so

Raiden, the God of Thunder, at 2:45 tells you to STFU.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 7:40 PM  


That's why I keep the Netherrealm in a state of technological daaaahknessssss.


I keep technology away from my nether realms as well.

Anonymous Glacierman January 26, 2013 8:32 PM  

The other reason the empire lasted so long was that there was a form of Ambassadorship that went with these leaders. They knew the country they were from, the strength and capabilities of its army and they walked in the authority of the Queen.

Kind of sounds like what we are called to do for the Kingdom of God.

When a man knows Who's he is, then he will act accordingly.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 9:08 PM  

Some talking head on the TV at the San Francisco gun buy back claims that 32 people are killed a day in the US by gun violence (she was claiming that there is no reason for 100-round magazines.)

I found this article that claims 32 people were shot on gun appreciation day probably most of them in Chicago and Detroit.

The funny thing is, there was an ad for Gun Appreciation day on the top of the article.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 9:23 PM  

If this article is correct there were some 30 gun-related deaths (non suicide) per day in 2011.

That was 11,0xx for the year. Let me see, that is about 0.003%

This says there were 32,000 driving fatalities most of which I imagine were not deliberate.

So, clearly motor vehicles are more dangerous and evil than guns.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 9:35 PM  

31 children died of hypothermia while in cars in 2012 which is probably more than all the children killed in schools in 2012.

Anonymous castricv January 26, 2013 9:56 PM  

Glacierman---"The other reason the empire lasted so long was that there was a form of Ambassadorship that went with these leaders. They knew the country they were from, the strength and capabilities of its army and they walked in the authority of the Queen. "

Or more likely the authority of the king. Outside of Victoria, all monarchs of the "empire" era were men. We have been trained our whole lives to hear queen because Elizabeth II has been for 61 years, but it's usally men. Just being ticky tacky.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 27, 2013 1:35 AM  

And even when they were in communication, they might conveniently ignore it. Nelson's famous gambit at Copenhagen, when Admiral Hyde Parker tried to recall him from attacking the Danes. His signal Leiutenant told him about the signal, and Nelson put his telescope to his blind eye (lost in action agains the Spanish when he was a Captain) and said "I cannot see it."

Of course, Parker (who was too far away to know for sure what was going on) was sure Nelson would ignore the signal if he was winning.

A bit of a contrast with Corvus and Fortex.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 27, 2013 8:46 AM  

The Siege of Merimna

The Administration seems to have more balls in the air than it can handle.

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