Center for Strategic Communication

[by Mark Safranski, by “zen“]

Top Billing! Pete Turner  Afghan Polling and what it Really Means 

One last thing about the DoS and it’s polling. My personal experience working near the DoS folks is they lack the ability to know what the “people” think. They usually make decisions in a vacuum and tend to disregard the people they are seeking to serve.

This is a critical statement, but I’ve seen on any number of occasions large scale decisions, assessments and plans being worked without the presence of an Afghan. The “Accountability Ladder” of DoS is culturally ignorant and often times offensive, even dangerous, to the people the DoS seeks to help.

Second, Glevum Associates. How do I say this succinctly? I don’t trust anything they produce. My direct experience with Glevum has shown a serious lack of credible information being collected by this organization. One example should suffice…We requested a survey for the district I was researching. Keep in mind, I had previous experiences with Glevum in Iraq that made me reluctant to use their data. This time, when we received our data, I laughed. Glevum Associates had managed to survey more people than the reported population of the district. Again, they found more people than actually exist in this district. 

The Orthosphere –  Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read 

….Increasingly students tell me that they “can’t understand” the reading.  If they referred to Plato’s Symposium, the confession would be easy to interpret.  Abstract argument, syllogisms, and the refutation of syllogisms pose difficulties for inexperienced readers.  However, the texts that students tell me they “can’t understand” are The Odyssey or a novel by Hawthorne or Melville or a short story by Ray Bradbury.  In the case of The Odyssey, I assign Palmer’s WWI-era prose translation, so as not to traumatize the readership by confronting it with narrative in verse.  Students are telling me that they can’t understand stories, where one thing happens which leads to another and so forth.  Students give voice to a different, a radical species of incomprehension that bodes ill for the culture, the society, and the polity that they will constitute.  Their bafflement harbingers the age of post-literacy.

….The post-literate subject somewhat resembles the oral subject: His world is a purely personal world; he is ego-centered and yet his ego is a strictly limited one in correspondence with his limited intellectual horizon; he does not precisely lack objective standards, but he tends to resent and therefore to reject them as infringements on his libido.  Like the oral subject, the post-literate subject communicates through what Ong calls the verbo-motor activity of gestures, body-language, and face-making.  He is demonstrative and body-centered.  Like the oral subject, the post-literate subject thinks not for himself butwith the group. Like any tribesman or clansman, the post-literate subject is quick to be “offended.” His is not E. R. Dodd’s “guilt culture,” that product of the higher, scriptural religions; his is, rather, Dodd’s “shame culture,” the default ethos of pre-literate societies.

On the other hand, post-literacy is not a relapse into orality, which, in its intact form, has institutions of its own such as folklore and social custom that codify the knowledge essential to living.  Post-literacy can draw on no such resources, for these have only been preserved in modern society in literature, and post-literacy has not only lost contact with literature, but also it simply no longer knows how to read in any meaningful sense.  It cannot refer to the archive to replenish itself by a study of its own past.  Post-literacy is therefore also, to borrow a phrase from Oswald Spengler, history-less.

Hat tip to James Bennett 

Oil Review Middle-East  (Christopher Gunson) – US shale revolution poses no threat to Middle East market 

Many commentators have speculated that this will create a new geopolitical balance, one that will weaken the traditional oil and gas producers of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia. But the impact of the shale revolution on the global oil and gas supply chain is misunderstood.

The role of Middle East oil exporters in the global economy remains secure and the direct impact of US shale on the global market is commonly overestimated.

Crude oil comes in different density grades (heavy or light) and with different levels of sulfur. Shale oil is light with little sulfur, yet many US refineries are designed to accommodate heavy sulfur-rich crudes, typically imported from Canada, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. These refineries cannot be easily recalibrated to refine light sweet shale crude oil, which means that heavy high-sulfur crude oil will continue to be imported into the US oil refining and petrochemical supply chain.

Arabian crude oil share predominately exported eastward to Japan, China, and Korea. This supply chain will remain unchanged. Simply put, US shale oil cannot easily offset traditional Arabian oil supplies to Asia — the oil requires different refining capabilities and there is geographic logic in the existing supply chain. The immediate impact of US shale oil production is to reduce imports of light oil from producers such as Nigeria.

 War on the Rocks (Adam Elkus) – The Odd Sheikh Out: A Complex Problem 

Small Wars Journal – California-Raised Kids vs. Mexico’s Violent Cartel and Recent Santa Muerte Spiritual Conflict Trends 

 Global Guerrillas- Bossnapping 

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross – Interpreting al Qaida 

Science News – Thinking hard weighs heavy on the Brain 

The Volokh Conspiracy – Ninth Circuit to Hear Challenge to Obamacare’s “Platonic Guardians” January 28 

Venkatesh Rao –Consent of the Surveiled 

Slightly East of New – Can America Win Wars? and Boyd Conference in San Diego 

That’s it!

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