Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mark Twain's Colors: 'Following the Equator'

by Bill Doughty

This is a book by one of America's greatest writers. Mark Twain's "Following the Equator" takes the reader not just to different places around the globe but also back in time. Volume I covers the Pacific Ocean – to Hawaii and Fiji, to Australia and New Zealand. Volume II continues into the Indian Ocean from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India to Africa.

"Following" is fun, fantasy and philosophy. It's storytelling, daydreams and nostalgia.
"On the seventh day out we saw a dim vast bulk standing up out of the wastes of the Pacific and knew that that spectral promontory was Diamond Head, a piece of this world which I had not seen before for twenty-nine years. So we were nearing Honolulu, the capital city of the Sandwich Islands – those islands which to me were Paradise; a Paradise which I had been longing all those years to see again. Not any other thing in the world could have stirred me as the sight of that great rock.  In the night we anchored a mile from shore. Through my port I could see the twinkling lights of Honolulu and the dark bulk of the mountain-range that stretched away right and left."
More than a century later, during this summer of 2014, thousands of Sailors from nearly two dozen countries are discovering Diamond Head and Honolulu during the world's largest maritime exercise: Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 2014). They may be seeing the same kinds of vistas as Twain describes:
"We had a sunset of a very fine sort. The vast plain of the sea was marked off in bands of sharply contrasted colors; great stretches of dark blue, others of purple, others of polished bronze; the billowy mountains showed all sorts of dainty browns and greens, blues and purples and blacks, and the rounded velvety backs of certain of them made one want to stroke them, as one would the sleek back of a cat. The long, sloping promontory projecting into the sea at the west turned dim and leaden and spectral, then became suffused with pink – dissolved itself into a pink dream, so to speak, it seemed so airy and unreal. Presently the cloud-rack was flooded with fiery splendors, and these were copied on the surface of the sea, and it made one drunk with delight to look upon it."
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Mark Twain
Twain transited the Pacific in 1895, the same year that then-Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, intellectual father of the industrial-age Navy, commanded USS Chicago and sailed the Atlantic. Twain's "Following" was published in 1897, the same year as Mahan's "The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future" and "The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain."

Twain visits Nelson, New Zealand. Two years earlier that country established women's right to vote, a right that would take 25 more years to become a reality in the United States, much to Twain's chagrin.

The shadow of Captain Cook, Admiral Nelson and Great Britain looms throughout Twain's travels. Just three decades after the Civil War, he eviscerates imperialism and racism. Using a virtual magnifying glass, he examines his world  introspectively and actually.

A statue after an ice storm.
He describes the duckbill platypus in Australia, the crow in India and a chameleon in Africa. He is enthralled with funeral rituals, religious traditions and how people treat each other. His greatest reverence is for nature. To Twain, the Taj Mahal is no more beautiful than an ice-storm, "Nature's supremest achievement in the domain of the superb and the beautiful":
"The ice-storm occurs in midwinter, and usually its enchantments are wrought in the silence and the darkness of the night. A fine drizzling rain falls hour after hour upon the naked twigs and branches of the trees, and as it falls it freezes. In time the trunk and every branch and twig are incased in hard pure ice; so that the tree looks like a skeleton tree made all of glass – glass that is crystal clear. All along the under side of every branch and twig is a comb of little icicles – the frozen drip. Sometimes these pendants do not quite amount to icicles, but are round beads – frozen tears.
"The weather clears, toward dawn, and leaves a brisk, pure atmosphere and a sky without a shred of cloud in it – and everything is still, there is not a breath of wind. The dawn breaks and spreads, the news of the storm goes about the house, and the little and the big, in wraps and blankets, flock to the window and press together there, and gaze intently out upon the great white ghost in the grounds, and nobody says a word, nobody stirs. All are waiting; they know what is coming, and they are waiting – waiting for the miracle. The minutes drift on and on and on, with not a sound for the ticking of the clock; at last the sun fires a sudden sheaf of rays into the ghostly tree and turns it into a white splendor of glittering diamonds.  Everybody catches his breath, and feels a swelling in his throat and a moisture in his eyes – but waits again; for he knows what is coming; there is more yet. The sun climbs higher, and still higher, flooding the tree from its loftiest spread of branches to its lowest, turning it to a glory of white fire; then in a moment, without warning, comes the great miracle, the supreme miracle, the miracle without its fellow in the earth; a gust of wind sets every branch and twig to swaying, and in an instant turns the whole white tree into a spouting and spraying explosion of flashing gems of every conceivable color; and there it stands and sways this way and that, flash! flash! flash! a dancing and glancing world of rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, the most radiant spectacle, the most blinding spectacle, the divinest, the most exquisite, the most intoxicating vision of fire and color and intolerable and unimaginable splendor that ever any eye has rested upon in this world, or will ever rest upon outside of the gates of heaven."
Twain can be serious, but the author of "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" was in his orbit when he used whimsy and wit to describe his world. 

His power of observation extends to other languages, accents and people, often in sharp, tongue-in-cheek ways, such as his description of a Boer traveler on a train in South Africa:
"One man had corduroy trousers of a faded chewing-gum tint. And they were new – showing that this tint did not come by calamity, but was intentional; the very ugliest color I have ever seen. A gaunt, shackly country lout six feet high, in battered gray slouched hat with wide brim, and old resin-colored breeches, had on a hideous brand-new woolen coat which was imitation tiger-skin – wavy broad stripes of dazzling yellow and deep brown. I thought he ought to be hanged, and asked the station-manager if it could be arranged. He said no; and not only that, but said it rudely; said it with a quite unnecessarily show of feeling. Then he muttered something about my being a jackass,and walked away and pointed me out to people, and did everything he could to turn public sentiment against me. It is what one gets for trying to do good."
When Samuel L. Clemens as Mark Twain ends his 13-month global circumnavigation and feels very proud, his pride is quickly extinguished when he is forced to consider his place and time in the Cosmos after hearing about the latest astronomical discovery. "Human pride is not worth while; there is always something lying in wait to take the wind out of it."

Read "Following the Equator" to discover more – in time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

'The War That Ended Peace' / 'Poilu'

Reviews by Bill Doughty

Two recent books about World War I offer different perspectives -- one from a broad sweep of world history and the other from inside narrow muddy trenches and a "lunar landscape" battlefield.

Margaret MacMillan, Oxford University professor of history, presents a comprehensive look at events leading up to and through what writer H.G. Wells said would be "the war to end war." Macmillan's "The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914" shows how peculiar personalities and poor choices led to death and destruction in Europe 100 years ago.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright endorsed this book, which has been compared with the classic "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman. Albright said: "'The War That Ended Peace' tells the story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. These epic events, brilliantly described by one of our era's most talented historians, warn of the dangers that arise when we fail to anticipate the consequences of our actions. This is one of the finest books I have ever read on the causes of World War I."
MacMillan's book has been compared with Tuchman's "The Guns of August."
MacMillan introduces us to characters like Kaiser Wilhelm II, Bernhard von Bülow, Adm. Jacky Fisher, Alfred von Tirpitz, Nicholas II, Edward Grey, Leopold von Berchtold, Raymond Poincaré, and both Helmuth von Moltkes (elder and younger). She asks rhetorically whether these men were to blame for causing the clash of nations.

"Or was no one to blame? Should we look instead at institutions or ideas?" The history of WWI must be painted on a canvas of imperialism and seen through the lens of extreme nationalism.

MacMillan goes back decades before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the days of Napoleon and War of 1812 through the rise of Japan and overreach of Russia, Germany and Britain to explain how nations competed for resources and refused to respect other's territories.
"Where today the international community sees failed or failing states as a problem, in the age of imperialism the powers saw them as an opportunity. China, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, all were weak, divided, and apparently ready to be carved up."
A key influence for all major nations in an era of colonial expansion was Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan's 1890 classic, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History." Mahan's book showed leaders the role of navies in world commerce and led to a race by Germany and Britain to build ships.
"A strong navy protected the key highways for trade and communication across the oceans, and, equally importantly, enabled the seizing and holding of colonies. Its battle fleets could serve as a deterrent, especially if they were situated in key strategic locations. 'The fleet in being,' as Mahan and others called it, did not necessarily have to fight; it could be used to put pressure on a hostile power in peacetime and make that power think twice before risking its own fleet, even if it were bigger. In war, though, it was the duty of the battle fleet or fleets to destroy the enemy in a decisive battle."
Inspection in the trenches of WWI.
Of course, when war came in 1914, much of the fighting was on landlocked battlefields in France and Germany.  Churchill called the peace before the Great War "exceptional tranquillity." The tranquillity was destroyed by what MacMillan concludes was "a failure of imagination" and "lack of courage" to prevent war.

MacMillan's perspective is global and general. For Corporal Louis Balthas, whose contemporaneous diaries (translated by Edward M. Strauss) are published in this year's "Poilu," the view is muddy and personal -- in and around the trenches -- facing the German "Boche" and "millions of tiny sharp-tongued mosquitoes," and "legions of famished ticks and lice," along with  countless rats and fleas.

I wanted to read this book because my grandfather fought for Germany in the war against the French before emigrating to the United States in the 1920s. I remember the stories he told me of the trenches and being wounded by a French poilu. I still have the old picture book we read together in 1964 about "the Great War," and I treasure the perspective he shared, learning that war and peace were more nuanced and complicated than I had imagined.

Barthas, a barrel maker drafted into the war, writes about the petty tyranny of despotic authority. He shows examples of heroic stoicism, shared humanity between warfighters, and random luck in battle, such as when a soldier's tin of coconut candy, which his girlfriend insisted he carry, ricocheted a bullet near his heart and saved his life.

He describes fear, fatigue and simple gratitude.
"As we left the village, an old lady came up to us, carrying something in her apron. They were some eggs which she handed out to us. As I passed by I managed to snatch one. It's a small thing, an egg, but we were very touched by it. This poor old lady was giving up something necessary for her, to give us this offering. How a gift is made is more important than the gift itself."
Barthas, like Vonnegut, Hemingway and Orwell, writes about the consequences and ironies of war. Like most warriors, he said he fights to preserve peace.

Back home from the war in 1919, he concludes:
"Returned to the bosom of my family after the nightmare years, I taste the joy of life, or rather of new life. I feel tender happiness about things which, before, I didn't pay attention to: sitting at home, at my table, lying in my bed, putting off sleep so I can hear the wind hitting the shutters, rustling the nearby plane trees, hearing the rain strike the windows, looking at a starry, serene, silent night or, on a dark, moonless night, thinking about similar nights spent up there ... Often I think about my many comrades fallen by my side. I heard their curses against the war and its authors, the revolt of their whole being against their tragic fate, against their murder. And I, as a survivor, believe that I am inspired by their will to struggle without cease-fire nor mercy, to my last breath, for the idea of peace and human fraternity."
Both of these books provide deep insights about the First World War and about war, in general, reinforcing the nation's Maritime Strategy, which encourages a cooperative global fraternity and stresses: "preventing wars is as important as winning wars."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Our Key Founder Thomas Paine?

Review by Bill Doughty

Craig Nelson makes a convincing case that a writer (not a lawyer or an elected official) was the key "founding father" of our nation. Writer and immigrant Thomas Paine inspired Thomas Jefferson, John and Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, and he encouraged a new nation-in-the-making. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and "American Crisis" series led to the American Revolution and helped hold the Continental Army together in the lowest points of 1776.

Paine's genius was in seeing, thinking and writing clearly. He used words to conquer fear and build confidence. From "Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution and the Birth of Modern Nations":
"In the America of 1776, everywhere they looked, Americans saw reasons to be profoundly afraid -- afraid of what the redcoats would do to them, their families, and their property; afraid of losing their British Empire and their British citizenship; afraid of what this new homemade government would do, and what it would require. Paine answered all of these vague and paralyzing terrors in a mere eight pages."
A low point came in the dead of winter of 1776, just six months after the Declaration -- "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Paine gave away his copyright and all he earned from "Common Sense" in order to help fund the army. On December 23, when the future of the Revolution seemed to hang by threads, "George Washington ordered his officers to gather their men into small squads and read aloud what Paine had written":

"These are the times that try men's souls ... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value ..."

Historians, and the founders themselves, credit statesman Paine with not only inspiring the army and success in the war but also instigating the Revolution itself.

His "Common Sense" took on the "divine right of kings" and sought to replace it with democratic ideals of individual rights and freedom. He embraced "the eighteenth-century stoic view of selfless devotion to the greater good as key element of virtue."

For Paine and the founders, virtue -- like Navy core values of honor, courage, commitment -- was rooted in Roman and Greek culture but also included "virtue of the heart" gained from the Enlightenment, thanks to Isaac Newton and others. Paine's freedom in thinking spanned centuries and would lead to wider and more open acceptance of science by the end of the 19th century.

Portait by Laurent Dabos.
As a person, Thomas Paine (whose family name was originally Pain) was not the most lovable person. He was generous but strongly opinionated, focused but known to imbibe heavily, fearless but petty about perceived insults. An unnamed contemporary said, "He is as great a paradox as ever appeared in human life." He famously verbally dueled with another thinker of his time, Edmund Burke, arguing with Burke that 'ordinary' people "are civilized enough to govern themselves."

At first loved and respected, Paine would eventually become vilified and hated by most Americans by the end of his life. In later decades he would inspire Americans as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Nelson describes him as a visionary who was always ahead of his time. He was one of the first champions of equal rights by editing and publishing in his Pennsylvania Magazine "An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex," which Nelson calls "one of the first arguments in favor of women's rights in America."
Statues of Tom Paine are in Shetford, Norfolk, England; Paris; and Morristown & Bordentown, NJ.
Paine also planted some of the first seeds of the civil rights movement, seeds that would take nearly two more centuries to fully flower.

Cowritten with Thomas Pryor in November 1775, Paine (then still "Pain") wrote "African Slavery in America," an essay "that assaulted every excuse for the trade and demanded immediate emancipation of all Africans in every colony." His was a fearless defense of reason over ignorance or any other justification for human bondage, body and mind.
After Washington's army and navy defeated the British and around the time the founders created the Constitution, Paine, ever-restless and fully committed to egalitarian republicanism, sought to export the idea of individual liberty and representational government.

After the American Revolution, Paine began his "Rights of Man" to help bring democracy and individual freedoms back across the Atlantic to Europe. His ideas and the founders' ideals would eventually reach to the Pacific and beyond. Nelson writes: "Paine's 'Rights' ... brilliantly anticipated, two hundred years ahead of its time, the style of government for close to half the world's nations today."
One of his greatest and most controversial works, condemned by many who never read it, was "Age of Reason." Nelson explores the influence of deism in a chapter called, The Religion of Science: "Besides identifying the deist principles that underlay all faiths, deists suggested that Socrates, Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed were each attempting to return his society's corrupt religion back to its natural state -- the state of deism."

Paine's positions in "Rights" and "Reason" led to contempt and condemnation, including by John Adams and Samuel Adams, and charges of sedition in England and France, for which he faced imprisonment and near execution by guillotine.

Prison changed Paine. His disillusionment and feeling of failure were mirrored by other "founding fathers" late in their lives.
"Almost all of Thomas Paine's Enlightenment colleagues spent their last years as he did, believing that their revolutionary programs had failed, that the philosophy of the light had been proved a pipe dream, that their life's work had been entirely for naught and the great dreams of their youth would go forever unrealized. Instead, of course, it would be the shared, hopeless despair of their last years that would in time be proven 'almost categorically' the modern paradox of the world they made."
The founders were in part disillusioned by the growing aristocracy, greed, materialism, disparity of wealth, and anti-intellectualism -- what they saw as a move away from virtue and core values.
"Yet, for anyone needing to be reminded of core Enlightenment beliefs -- that government can only be empowered by its citizens; that such citizens are born with certain natural rights; that none are born superior to any other; that all will be treated equally before the law; and that the state has a duty to help the neediest of its people -- reading Paine offers a political and spiritual inspiration, one that has driven men and women to achieve greatness across history."
Nelson concludes his biography with an excerpt from the final letter written by Thomas Jefferson, "one last bravura manifesto combining the ideas of the Enlightenment, the American and French Revolutions, and Thomas Paine."

Jefferson called for "arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government..."

Imagine if those words and insights could be read and understood in countries harboring violent extremists like ISIS/ISIL, the self-proclaimed "Islamic State."

Nelson quotes a 2004 survey by the Freedom House human rights organization showing democratic elections in 89 countries with "freedom of expression, assembly, association, education, and religion." Sadly, the most recent Freedom House annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World 2014, concludes: "The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013."

Professor Eric Foner, another Paine biographer.
The Navy, working with other world navies protects the freedoms, opportunities and "army of principles" Paine, Jefferson and the other founders achieved and that we celebrate every July 4th, "Independence Day," in the United States. Paine's description of the new nation he helped found: "the noblest work of human wisdom, the grandest scene of human glory, the fair cause of freedom..."

Nelson's "Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations" was published in 2006. It is one of dozens of biographies by great writers and thinkers like Eric Foner, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Owen Aldridge, David Freeman Hawke, and John Keane. The works by and about Paine are recommended reading for every world citizen interested in the concepts of virtue, freedom and individual/collective responsibility.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cyber Part I: Wiki-Matters and Cats

Review by Bill Doughty

"Cyberspace" is a word coined by science fiction writer William Gibson* in his mindbending novel, "Neuromancer."
In "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar" by P. W. Singer and Allan Friedman, a new read on the CNO's Professional Reading Program, we learn about the online domain of cyberspace -- how it was created, how it is evolving and why the future of the Internet depends on interoperability, openness and trust.

"The takeaway for cybersecurity is that the entire system is based on trust." 

President Ronald Reagan famously advised in another context, "trust but verify." The authors say, "Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to cybersecurity." This is a topic that is now "a command responsibility" to understand.

Cats on YouTube can prove "the best defense is a good defense."
Part I of this book is loaded with definitions and explanations of terms and acronyms like: DARPA, IP, AS, ISP, URL, HTML, TSP, CA, ICANN, HTTP, PETF, OPSEC, hash, phishing and spearphishing, worms, botnets, APT and more. This is a book not only about computer terms but also about the history of the Internet. The authors reflect on how in 1989 a young senator from Tennessee, Al Gore, authored a bill to bring about quicker privatization of the Internet to democratize and popularize the Web.

Cats and cat video memes are important, too. In fact, there are 8 references to cats in this book, compared with only 6 about Edward Snowden.

Part 1 and Part II set the stage for solution-oriented approaches in Part III, solutions that may rest with self-regulation wikis and cooperation on the Web to protect common interests. According to Singer and Friedman, when it comes to cyberspace this is what matters: knowledge, people, incentives, the crowd ("all of us"), nation states (especially U.S. and China), and cats.
Before laser pointers, mirrors. Barefoot Sailors aboard USS Olympia play with their cat in 1898.
By the way, while putting together this post, I found a gem of a page from U.S. Naval Institute, "Cats in the Sea Services," including photos of cats throughout history with Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Sailors.

Those YouTube videos of cats are important, after all; fun has its place. "Google researchers have noticed an explosion of cute goat and cute Panda bear videos" as the Internet comes to sub-Saharan Africa and China.

Before we can truly have fun, though, we have to allay our fears -- of attack, loss of privacy and loss property or identity.

W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality management, said organizations need to drive out fear as a first step for employees to succeed. The authors of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare" advocate for driving out fear in how we deal with the cyber world. The goal is to understand that openness and even "whimsy," not authoritarian control, help determine standards.

But so does comprehension, understanding "choke points," keeping data secure, ensuring information is not changed without authorization, and being able to use the system as anticipated -- to prevent the "blue screen of death."
"As threats evolve, so too must our responses to them. Some can be mitigated with small changes in behavior or tweaks in code, while whole classes of vulnerabilities can be prevented only by developing and implementing new technologies. Other vulnerabilities are simply a structural consequence of how we use the system. As we explore in Part III, how we navigate these challenges comes down to accepting that bad guys are out to exploit these vulnerabilities and then developing the best possible responses that allow us to keep benefiting from the good parts of the cyber age."
Finding balance and perspective becomes the next step in a Wiki-environment as "each of us, in whatever role we play in life ... make decisions about cybersecurity that will shape the future well beyond the world of computers."

That brings us to Part II of this essential book.

*Gibson, creator of the cyber-punk genre of fiction, won the Hugo Award, Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award for "Neuromancer" exactly 30 years ago, in the Orwellian year of 1984. He is credited not only with coining the term "cyberspace" but also, behind mirror shades, with envisioning the Internet and virtual reality before either existed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cyber Part II - Fear, Beagle-punching, profits

by Bill Doughty

President Eisenhower famously warned against a military-industrial complex. The authors of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar" ask if a cyber-industrial complex is developing, especially since 9/11/2001. 

As fear grows so does the profit motive.

But authors P. W. Singer and Allan Friedman contend that cyberthreats are not all created by a great conspiracy or political and profit incentives. 

They ask that threats "be put in their proper context and understanding." 

And they show how the pieces can fit to provide greater security and less fear.

The authors define and differentiate types of attacks using the "CIA triad": Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. They examine:
  • how terrorists use the Web, 
  • why North Korea (which they call a "cyber pygmy") is less vulnerable to a Web attack, 
  • what Stuxnet did to Iran, 
  • how China steals trade secrets, 
  • what Israel's Operation Orchard did to network operations in Syria, and 
  • why "the best defense is a good defense," with parallels to the aftermath of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914.
"Cyber Security and Cyberwar" is between "Leading with the Heart" and "Neptune's Inferno."
It's thought-provoking history and context, with references to Mark Twain, Thoreau, von Clausewitz, President Truman, the Khan Academy and Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology. 

Iraq and the rule of unintended consequences come up several times.

In 2007 several soldiers in Iraq, using their smartphones, took pictures of U.S. Army helicopters and uploaded them to the Internet, not knowing the photos had geotags that identified their precise location; insurgents destroyed four of the helos in a subsequent mortar attack. In another incident, Army officers took down an enemy computer network facilitating suicide bombings but inadvertently shut down 300 servers in the U.S., Europe and Middle East. And, at one point, insurgents in Iraq hacked into the feeds coming from drones using over-the-counter software. They were then able to watch themselves being watched by us. 

Part II of this book is all about why it's important to learn "What Everyone Needs to Know."  While this book is engaging as an instructional manual of sorts, focused on accomplishing its goals, there are moments of what the authors call "fun" and "whimsy." 

Just as Clay Shirky did about a lost cell phone in "Here Comes Everybody," Singer and Friedman talk-story about organic self-correcting online justice. Their anecdote is about beagle punching.

When "hacktivists" saw an undercover video of workers in a testing lab doing acts of animal cruelty they took matters into their own hands. Employees who punched beagle puppies in the face (no, I don't know what they were testing) were targeted for cyberjustice by hackers who used "both new hactivism and old-school civil disobedience." While the hackers' reaction may have been overboard -- publishing names, addresses and embarrassing personal information of employees -- the effects were startlingly effective. "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar" gives the details and brings up other examples of social media activism, including the "Arab Spring."

The authors call for perspective in the face of fear when considering how much damage can actually be done, noting that "the computer used as a military weapon is just a tool. Just as the spear, the airplane, or the tank, it simply aids in achieving the goals that are part of any military operation." We're reminded that box-cutters are tools, too, and in 9/11 in the hands of Islamist religious fundamentalists some box-cutters brought about massive destruction.

Learning the threats and strategies for defense: cyber security class at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The insights of U.S. Naval Academy Professor George R. Lucas Jr. are brought up several times in this book. Lucas says, "The threat of cyber terrorism is greatly overblown." And, "To be blunt: neither the 14-year old hacker in your next-door neighbor's upstairs bedroom, nor the two- or three-person al Quaeda cell holed up in some apartment in Hamburg are going to bring down the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams."

Singer and Friedman show one example of the profit motive and growth related to cyberfears: In 2001, only four firms were lobbying Congress about cybersecurity, but in 2012 that number had risen to 1,489 companies seeking to influence public policy or otherwise lobby for their interests.

"With that money comes the risk of bias and even hype," the authors warn.
"The most important takeaway, then, is that we must avoid letting our fears get the better of us, or even worse, let others stoke our fears and thus drive us into making bad decisions. How we respond to this world of growing cyberthreats will shape everything from our personal privacy and the future of the Internet to the likelihood of regional crises and even global wars."
So the challenge is finding balance and perspective between security and privacy/freedom, face the hard choices, and make good decisions. That brings us to Part III, "What Can We Do." 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cyber Part III - Trust, War of 1812 and China

by Bill Doughty
Part III of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar" has one of the book's best aha moments. The authors link piracy and privateering in the War of 1812 with an insight into U.S. relations with China and then examine what can be done to strengthen security and prevent Internet War.

Subtitled, "What Everyone Needs to Know," P.W. Singer's and Allan Friedman's work calls for a global standard with built-in resilience to ensure network security and protection.

Resilience, the ability to adapt to adverse conditions and overcome attacks, should be preceded by inoculation. The authors recommend a comparison with the Centers of Disease Control rather than the Cold War. They are skeptical of hyped warnings of an imminent "cyber Pearl Harbor" as long as governments, private industry and citizens adopt "vaccination" against attack. 
During and after the War of 1812, maritime piracy ran rampant, and patriot privateers assisted in fighting the pirates, damaging the British economy. The authors report that two hundred years ago there were 517 American privateer ships compared with U.S.Navy's fleet of 23 ships.

When it came to maritime piracy, "As in cyberspace today, one of the biggest challenges for major powers was that an attacker could quickly shift identity and locale, changing its flags and often taking advantage of third-party harbors with loose local laws."

Just like today, nations depended on a network of treaties and norms and the rule of law to preserve peace. Less than fifty years after the War of 1812 and just before the Civil War, both pirates and privateers were considered pariahs, and a global code of conduct was established.

No wonder this book was recently added to the CNO's Professional Reading Program's essential list. Consider the Navy's commitment to keeping sea lanes open and the global commons free.

Here's that "aha moment":
"The cyber parallel today, again, is that all netizens have a shared global expectation of freedom of action on the Internet, particularly online trade, just as it is ensured on the open ocean. If you knowingly host or abet maritime pirates or privateers, their actions reflect back on you. The same should be true online. Building those norms will motivate both states and companies to keep a better check on individual hackers and criminals (the pirate equivalent). It will also weaken the value of outsourcing bad action to patriotic hackers (the latter-day privateers).
"In addition to encouraging new accountability, this approach also offers opportunities for what are known as 'confidence-building measures,' where two states that don't get along can find ways to work together and build trust. After the War of 1812, for example, the British Royal Navy and nascent U.S. Navy constantly prepared for hostilities against each other, which made sense since they had just fought two outright wars. But as the network of norms began to spread, they also began to cooperate in antipiracy and antislavery campaigns. That cooperation did more than underscore global norms: it built familiarity and trust between the two forces and helped mitigate the danger of military conflict during several crises. Similarly, today the United States and China are and will certainly continue to bolster their own cyber military capabilities. But like the Royal Navy and new American Navy back in the 1800s, this should not be a barrier to building cooperation. Both countries, for instance, could go after what the Chinese call 'double crimes,' those actions in cyberspace that both nations recognize as illegal."
A similar insight comes from World War II. This past week was the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway, turning point of the war in the Pacific against Imperial Japan and a victory for cryptology mathematics (codebreaking) and intelligence analysis. Today, Japan is our strong ally and friend, with a good self-defense force thanks in large measure to forward-thinking leaders like Adm. Arleigh Burke, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz.

So, when it comes to cybersecurity, can people look beyond short-term selfish gain and take a long view toward future good? 

Nations have come together in the past to agree to universal standards and rules. They have agreed on ways to use new technologies without imposing restrictive regulations or giving up privacy. An example the authors give is the telegraph and adoption of Germany's version of Morse Code. By the way, this week was also the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and today former enemy Germany, like Japan, is a bulwark of democracy and freedom in its region.

The next questions, then: Can we trust government, industry and each other? And, whether we can trust or not, can we come up with the mechanisms and arrangements to reach agreement?

Despite recent and not-so-recent examples of mistrust and distrust, there are many success stories about self-regulation and cooperation on the Web to deal with bothersome spam, dishonest scams and the evils of child porn.

The authors applaud opportunities for nations to train together, conducting cyber exercises and simulations. Such events have been sponsored by think-tanks from Beijing and Washington with the State Department and DoD participating, along with China's counterparts.  "The hope is that in the long run such exchanges will help build trust and reduce the likelihood of miscommunication during a real crisis or under poor assumptions." 
President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China greet guests on the south lawn
of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
When you read "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar," you'll see the authors' conclusions for what's ahead.  You'll learn about where jobs are in the field and be reminded why it's imperative to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The authors include a thorough set of notes and an informative glossary.

Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, calls this, "The most approachable and readable book ever written on the cyber world."  P. W. Singer is author of "Wired For War," reviewed on Navy Reads in 2010.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

'Take a Look, It's in a Book'

by Bill Doughty

LeVar Burton was Kunta Kinte in the 1977 televised mini-series of Alex Haley's "Roots," a story about life-and-death struggles of an earlier generation (from the book by Alex Haley, a former chief journalist in the U.S. Coast Guard). Burton also starred as Geordi La Forge, wearing a prototype/future version of Google Glass in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." For this  21st-century generation, Levar Burton is known as the face and voice of "Reading Rainbow."

That wildly successful PBS series ran for 23 years starting in 1983 and lives on in Burton's various initiatives to promote books and reading for families, schools and libraries.

Burton and daughter Mica
Burton, an author, actor and activist, is bringing online reading and imagination-education to "a new generation of digital natives, launching a tablet-based children’s reading service in 2012 with hundreds of quality books and new educational video field trips," according to rrkidz, "the app quickly became and remains the #1 educational app, with over 13 million books read and videos watched in the first two years."

“Over 131,000 books a week are being read by children using our service in 47 countries across the world including China, India, South Africa, Israel, and Japan," Burton said.

This past week, Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to further expand what he calls the "love, adventure and passion" of reading. He allotted 35 days to reach a goal of one million dollars, but hit that mark in the first day -- $3M in three days -- a testament to the support for Reading Rainbow and Burton's commitment to "changing the world, one children's book at a time."

Burton explains, “Reading Rainbow [is] on a mission to make a difference in the lives of children, families and schools around the world.” The Kickstarter campaign will help provide universal access to a web-based version of Reading Rainbow, an educator-specific version with teacher tools, and free access to the service for the nation's neediest schools.

Reading Rainbow represents another avenue for deployed service members who want to read to their children, alongside United Through Reading and similar initiatives by community libraries.

Writers LeVar Burton and Alex Haley.
LeVar Burton was born in to a U.S. Army family at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, West Germany. 

Like Alex Haley, who was a photojournalist in the Coast Guard, Burton's father, Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, was a photographer for the Army Signal Corps. His mother, Erma Jean, was a social worker, administrator, and educator.

In the Star Trek TV series, Burton was Lieutenant Junior Grade La Forge, in the movies he'd been promoted to lieutenant commander.

Fun fact: Burton's favorite storybook character, he says, is Spot from the classic children's book, "See Spot Run."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day -- Navy, National Preparedness and Unity

by Bill Doughty
Commander-in-chief President Herbert Hoover said this in a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1929 -- exactly midway between World Wars I and II: 

"Our Navy is the first and in the world sense the only important factor in our national preparedness. It is a powerful part of the arms of the world," adding, "To make ready for defense is a primary obligation upon every statesman, and adequate preparedness is an assurance against aggression."

Hoover wanted to prevent a world arms race. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan instead chose aggression. The Axis nations ignored agreements, treaties and promises in the decade that followed, leading to wars in Europe and across the Pacific.
Ship's company poses with President Hoover during his cruise aboard USS Arizona, March 1931. The president is seated front center.
Two years after his speech, in 1931, Hoover took a brief trip to the Caribbean aboard USS Arizona (BB-39) just before the battleship underwent post-modernization sea trials.

When Hoover spoke in 1929 there were still Civil War veterans alive to hear his words.

Hoover said, "This sacred occasion has impelled our Presidents to express their aspirations in furtherance of peace. No more appropriate tribute can be paid to our heroic dead than to stand in the presence of their resting places and pledge renewed effort that these sacrifices shall not be claimed again."

Frederick Douglass
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Decoration Day, precursor to Memorial Day, was established three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868 as "a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers."  Springtime tributes to Union and Confederate soldiers and sailors had sprouted in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia and other states.

Three years later, on May 30, 1871, former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave Decoration Day remarks at Arlington. His speech is rich with themes that still resonate today: unity, dignity, universal freedom, noble sacrifice, devotion and remembrance:
Friends and Fellow Citizens, 
Tarry here for a moment. My words shall be few and simple. The solemn rites of this hour and place call for no lengthened speech. There is, in the very air of this resting-ground of the unknown dead a silent, subtle and all-pervading eloquence, far more touching, impressive, and thrilling than living lips have ever uttered. Into the measureless depths of every loyal soul it is now whispering lessons of all that is precious, priceless, holiest, and most enduring in human existence. 
Dark and sad will be the hour to this nation when it forgets to pay grateful homage to its greatest benefactors. The offering we bring today is due alike to the patriot soldiers dead and their noble comrades who still live; for, whether living or dead, whether in time or eternity, the loyal soldiers who imperiled all for country and freedom are one and inseparable.  
Those unknown heroes whose whitened bones have been piously gathered here, and whose green graves we now strew with sweet and beautiful flowers, choice emblems alike of pure hearts and brave spirits, reached, in their glorious career that last highest point of nobleness beyond which human power cannot go. They died for their country. 
No loftier tribute can be paid to the most illustrious of all the benefactors of mankind than we pay to these unrecognized soldiers when we write above their graves this shining epitaph. 
When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the Southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great Republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion came forth with broad blades and bloody hands to destroy the very foundations of American society, the unknown braves who flung themselves into the yawning chasm, where cannon roared and bullets whistled, fought and fell. They died for their country. 
We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation's life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice.  
I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my "right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth," if I forget the difference between the parties to hat terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.  
If we ought to forget a war which has filled our land with widows and orphans; which has made stumps of men of the very flower of our youth; which has sent them on the journey of life armless, legless, maimed and mutilated; which has piled up a debt heavier than a mountain of gold, swept uncounted thousands of men into bloody graves and planted agony at a million hearthstones -- I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, in the name of all things sacred, what shall men remember? 
The essence and significance of our devotions here today are not to be found in the fact that the men whose remains fill these graves were brave in battle. If we met simply to show our sense of bravery, we should find enough on both sides to kindle admiration. In the raging storm of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel not less than the loyal soldier. 
But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation's destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
Douglass wrote his autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and many of his speeches in his Cedar Hill library.
In 1971, on hundred years after Frederick Douglass gave his remarks, Memorial Day became a national holiday through an Act of Congress. Douglass, a scholar who loved books, is a gifted writer whose insights are worth reading today.

According to the VA, "The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: 'Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.'"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

L'attitude on 'Longitude' & Sailing Island Earth

by Bill Doughty

"Longitude" by Dava Sobel is subtitled "The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time." It's a fun and easy book that opens with a quote by Mark Twain. Sobel introduces us to the book's hero, John Harrison, and his mastery of space and time. "He succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth -- temporal -- dimension to link points on the three-dimensional globe. He wrested the world's whereabouts from the stars..."

Harrison dedicated his life to the creation of an accurate seagoing clock, a marine chronometer, that could help sailors determine longitude in order to map commercial opportunities, prevent shipwrecks and avoid contact with enemy fleets or pirates.

In 2014, there are some notable milestones in the search for calculating longitude:

1514: Five hundred years ago this year, German astronomer Johannes Werner found a way to use the motion of the moon as a location finder.

1664: Three hundred and fifty years ago, Galileo's "intellectual heir," Christiaan Huygens's pendulum clock sailed aboard ship to and from the Cape Verde islands in the North Atlantic off the west coast of Africa and kept track of the ship's longitude. However the clock's pendulum would prove to have difficulty in long voyages and in rough seas.

John Harrison's H-1
1714: Three hundred years ago, the British parliament passed the Longitude Act and offered a prize of 20,000 pounds to anyone who could solve the problem of calculating longitude. This led to intrigue and controversy between those who tried to solve the problem through astronomy and others like clockmaker Harrison who tried through technology. He developed his land and sea clocks using intricate parts, new designs and innovative materials like tropical hardwood, diamonds and gridiron brass and steel. A replica of his breakthrough design, clock H-1, was produced by Larcum Kendall. Called K-1, it sailed with Captain James Cook in 1775 on his second voyage of HMS Resolution and helped Cook chart the South Sea Islands for the first time for England.
"So enamored was Cook of K-1 that he carried it out on his third expedition, on July 12, 1776 [eight days after our Declaration of Independence]. This voyage was not so fortunate as the first two. Despite the great diplomacy of the renowned explorer, and his efforts to respect the native peoples of the lands he visited, Captain Cook ran into serious trouble in the Hawaiian archipelago."
Captain Cook commemorative stamps from 2003.
In fact, Cook, originally hailed as an incarnation of the god, Lono, was drawn into hostilities on a return trip and was killed. According to an account of events, K-1 "also stopped ticking" at the time Cook died. But chronometers had proven their worth, and Harrison lived long enough to see the "infinite practicality" of his approach accepted and his life's work vindicated. His clocks "may have facilitated England's mastery over the oceans."

Sailors worldwide adopted the new technology at the end of the eighteenth century.

"By the turn of the century, the [U.S.] navy had procured a stock of chronometers for storage in Portsmouth, at the Naval Academy, where a captain could claim one as he prepared to sail from that port. With supply small and demand high, however, officers frequently found the academy's cupboard bare and continued to buy their own."

1814: Two hundred years ago, during the War of 1812, there were thousands of chronometers in use.

According to Sobel, on Charles Darwin's voyage aboard HMS Beagle in 1831, there were 22 chronometers on board to help fix longitudes of foreign lands, including the Galapagos.

John Harrison
"Longitude" is on the "recommended reading" list of the CNO's Professional Reading Program. It's packed with personalities of scientists involved in the search for an understanding of seagoing time and space: William Whiston, Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, Domenico Cassini, Ole Roemer, John Flamsteed, John Hadley, Thomas Godfrey, James Bradley and (the book's "antihero" to Harrison, Rev. Nevil Maskelyne).

Sobel includes snippets of poetry by Robert Burns, Diane Ackerman, W.H. Auden, Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, William Blake, Lewis Carroll and William Shakespeare. Her book is endorsed by the late William F. Buckley, Jr., who writes of "Longitude," "An exquisitely done narrative of the chronometer. It is a wonderful and engrossing achievement."

Throughout, the narrative is a yin-yang of nature/technology, time/distance and, in the case of the Prime Meridian, Greenwich/Paris (England/France), where there was some negative "l'attitude" about where the first line of longitude should exist. 

Sobel's is an understandably Eurocentric view of the tension, history, and art of ocean navigation, with most of the story focused on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Of course, there's another side of the globe where Chinese and Polynesian voyagers were sailing accurately with nature's "star compass."

Yesterday members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society departed Oahu aboard two Hawaiian voyaging canoes for the beginning of a three-year tour around the globe. Dignitaries and well-wishers for master navigator/mentor Nainoa Thompson and his navigators and crew were Ocean Elders Captain Don Walsh, musician Jackson Browne and oceanographers Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Sylvia Earle. Hōkūle’a was envisioned by legendary artist Herb Kāne, and voyages today were inspired by wayfinder and master navigator Mau Piailug and heroic Eddie Aikau, among others.

From "Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia, our Hawaiian voyaging canoes, are sailing across earth’s oceans to join the global movement toward a more sustainable future. Traveling through 47,000 nautical miles of Earth’s oceans and visiting 26 countries, Hōkūle’a carries a message of mālama honua (caring for Island Earth and each other)."

After a stop at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, the first long leg of the journey is to Tahiti, and the voyagers plan to not use modern instruments -- no maps, sextants, clocks or GPS, only the sun, moon, waves, wind, sea life, and stars and their "houses." No Harrison's chronometer.

Again from "As we voyage, we bring together tradition and technology, timeless values and new visions, and the next generation of leaders that can build hopeful solutions for Island Earth’s and Hawaiiʻs future."

Nainoa Thompson looks at weather charts with Lt. Bill Karch in 1978.
The U.S. Navy is spiritually part of the journey. Sailors homeported in Pearl Harbor have worked with the Polynesian Voyaging Society over many years. They have helped refurbish canoes, offered advice on the dangers voyagers might face, and provided search-and-rescue training to navigators and sailors. The Navy shares some of the same interests: a sustainable future, environmental stewardship, love for the ocean, cooperation and partnership-building, STEM and leadership through empowering the next generation.

On land, people around the world, expecially young people in classrooms, can witness how Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia navigate and follow the journey through the Web and via social media, including Facebook.

“That piece about the navigation to me, it teaches perseverance," says master navigator Nainoa Thompson. "It teaches young people to be willing to take risks to train and prepare, to find their destination. It helps understand the power of vision, and it makes people work together. It teaches leadership.”

In 2011, U.S. Navy Sailors home-ported in Pearl Harbor sand pieces of a Polynesian canoe for the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Sailors helped restore the canoe, support vessels and work areas while learning about ancient Hawaiian culture in the process. (Photo by MC2 Paul D. Honnick)