Back during economics studies at the university I once attended a course on the theory of public revenues. It turned out to be no less than a philosophy course with an appalling use of math to describe the different philosophical concepts. Only the very last lecture of about twenty was about some down-to-earth topic, but by then I had already completed my preparations for the test (there were no mid-term tests) in the following week and began to learn for other tests. (Guess what lecture was the only one covered by said test!).

The lectures were appalling, but in the long term I appreciate their usefulness; I long since forgot some intricacies of fiscal policy, but this fundamental stuff influenced me a lot. One of the valuable lessons was that since philosophy doesn't offer us a convincing way to value the emotions of a person relative to another one, we cannot conclusively calculate an optimal policy even if we were otherwise all knowing.

Economic theory knows but one approach to circumvent this in pursuit of an optimal policy; to draw on the wisdom of the masses. The people shall express their preferences* through casting a vote. Thus every time economists cannot calculate a solution, they have democracy as fallback recommendation.
Political science, game theory and psychological research mess this avenue up by documenting its many problems. People vote against their best interests, imperfect information, group dynamics, the importance of the order of choices between candidates or policies (game theory) and so on.

In the end, there's still no perfect way to pursue an optimal policy. We could be gifted with a computer of infinite memory and calculating speed and we would not be able to program it to pursue an optimal policy. We could even add a device that informs this computer about every atom of this world in real time and it would still lack information and even concepts for the identification of optimal policies.

Everything I write in terms of recommendations or critique is thus first and foremost an expression of my preferences within the constraints of my knowledge. 
It's merely an expression of my preference when I regard the daily death of about 200 Frenchmen to tobacco-induced cancer after months of suffering worse than a one-time event with less than 200 people experiencing a relatively quick death. 78,000 deaths a year weighs heavier about 130 in one year when my brain does the calculation and thus I'd advise the French to allocate the finite resource "attention" on the bigger killer instead of a errorist problem that's not going to be reduced much by additional efforts anyway.

Other people may be wired differently, and their preferences may drive them to emphasize the spectacular, recent problem which the media are pointing at so much these days.
Yet again others may have subscribed to inconsistent and outright idiotic racism, conspiracy theories et cetera - and arrive at their own outlandish idea of what should be done. Such as deportation of millions because of a dozen asswipes' actions. Suffice to say, Germans should appreciate that such radical thoughts rarely shape history. It's why we exist to this date at all.

I do understand other people arrive at different opinions. I just think they're a disappointment**. I think better of mankind at least on optimistic, sunny days.
It's not the errorists who disappoint me; I'm aware that every country has a few per cent dangerous idiots. I merely had higher expectations for the vast majority.


*: The classic idea of preferences as taught to econ students is taste. Robinson and Friday sit on an island. One likes fish more than coconuts, the other one likes coconuts more than fish. The latter is the better fisherman. Voilà, trade theory and microeconomics introduction commences with lots of drawings. It's easy to find the optimum trade with a drawing at this level of model simplicity.
**: In regard to errrorism response - not in regard to every disagreement.


  1. And what makes it even more interesting is that your preferences are modulated by your ethical beliefs. Beliefs, at a very fundamental level, are impervious to logic (or rather perform the same function as axioms do in a logical system in that they are simply true and can not be proven.)

  2. ‘…such radical thoughts rarely shape history…’.

    We are talking the same things since 9/11, so forgive me the repetition:

    Special War (theory/doctrine)
    It used to be called like that during the ‘Cold War’.
    Then it was reformulated… fantasized.
    Special war in itself is a war of aggression, which consists of a large array of organized complex activities on the ideological, cultural, research, economical, psychological, propaganda, diplomatic, political, intelligence, subversive and military fields; that is used against a society, with the intention of conquering or submitting that society/nation.

    Subversive and (t)errorist activities (theory/doctrine)
    Mass murder, kidnapping, mail and telephone threats, poisoning …
    Is only one of the many components of the Special War (we were used to during the Cold War). It intends to establish fear and insecurity among the population and the institutions.
    But those activists/(t)errorists are (self) conscious that such acts ‘cannot radically change the politics in a society, nor a society.’
    So, those operatives tend to spread fear among the population and they try to shake the state institutions which seem to be unable to ‘protect their citizens against subversive/(t)errorist attacks’.

    The international micro-Tet offensive by ISIS in the last few weeks, if it is confirmed as an offensive, does not show signs of Special War, yet. But if it does in the future, we will have to deal with a much greater enemy than what our eyes can see.

  3. Hey, remember that article you wrote on thermal camouflage back in 2008? And then in 2012 where I mentioned the action at wanat, and how machine guns should have both suppressors and heat sinks? It seems that someone finally caught on to this.


    Years ago, my engineer friend told me that a thermal barrier coating would be superior to water cooling. It appears he was right.

    1. That's no heat sink. A heat sink would be way too heavy; LMG versions of assault rifles have a thicker barrel to serve as heat sink (mass cooling) for the higher expected practical rate of fire.

      It's fairly easy to create a device to hide a thermal signature for a while. This was already done to flame dampeners of piston engines during WW2; that's why the passive "Spanner" IR night vision devices of German night fighters failed. They were excellent against bombers with no flame dampeners and still useful against bombers with primitive flame dampeners, but bombers with flame dampeners and some additional line of sight block were not detected at useful ranges.

      You merely need to reflect the radiation with a reflexive surface facing the hot part and on the outside of the hot part (chrome lining, for example), and in your example they limited the heat transfer by convection by using a rather impractical vacuum (some gases such as in double windows would insulate as well).

      This thermal sleeve approach has several severe and obvious problems
      - sealing is guaranteed to fail in the infantry context, vacuum is thus practically irrelevant unless you pump air out often
      - the barrel transfer its heat almsot exclusively through the muzzle or into the breech. This may worsen the cook off problem, worsen the smoking barrel problem and certainly also reduced the qty of shots fired before barrel overheats.
      - pretty guaranteed to be not practical with quick change barrels
      - vibration and thus dispersion issues (though this may be acceptable for a machinegun)

  4. France sends a clear message to the World:
    ‘… to our Friends and Enemies alike; there is no bargaining when it comes to the very existence of the French Nation and Its Territorial Integrity’.

    Flowers always grow from the blood of the fallen innocents.

    1. Neither has been questioned or violated since the end of the Algerian War of Independence.