SOUNDINGS

Frederick the Great

May 06, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

From the recently-published book, "The Recruiter" by career CIA case manager Douglas London:

“And Frederick the Great’s caution, to defend everything means to defend nothing…. Of course [he] didn’t have to worry about social media and constant opinion polls. This worry accounts perhaps for why, when it comes to fighting terrorism, our leaders choose to defend everything, albeit at significant costs, both materially and to our American way of life.”


Dark Sky Week

April 25, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

International Dark Sky week is in full swing! Don't let a couple big tech firms take the night. It belongs to everyone, and should not be stolen. Here is a link to the excellent but scary presentation from Dr. Paul Daniels, President of the Federation of Astronomical Societies, U.K. earlier this month to the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton about the looming devastation to night sky observing with the impending barrage of new satellites. By the way, he discusses NOT ONLY the observing implications--which may or may not pertain to you--but the ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS of 500-700 satellites falling out of the sky EVERY MONTH. Check it out, share it, comment, tweet, whatever...do something to create awareness. Thanks, everyone.  AAAP YouTube Video  
 


International Dark Skies Week

April 21, 2022  •  Leave a Comment
International Dark Skies week starts tomorrow (4/22-4/30)!!! No one should own the night. This goes beyond giving your kids a chance to see the Milky Way--although I think they have the right to enjoy the night. Rampant light pollution is BAD for human health, and DEVASTATES wildlife. Poorly-designed, excessive lighting is proven to be MORE DANGEROUS and not safer for humans. The evidence is found here at the website of the International Dark-Sky Association, whose research is often referenced. They also provide excellent information on how to improve (safer, and cheaper) lighting in your home and community: IDA Dark Skies
 
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Perishable

April 14, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

For much of my professional life, my work involved analysis. I remember many debates with colleagues and team members about this very topic, but I could never explain my point of view as effectively as this quote does. I would reach a decision point and want to move forward and make "the call" while others wanted more time, more research. I have come to realize how I am wired, and I believe a lot of it can be traced back to my Navy experience. 

The word that stands out to me is "perishable." 

“Now often in the hands of analysts, operational decision-making began to reflect a more lengthy deliberation process.  This was consistent with their training and culture, but anathema to operations pace and risk management. Slowing the process had an intellectual appeal. Analysts seek an exhaustive review of data so as to make the most informed decision. In operations, you never have the complete picture. Perfect becomes the enemy of the good. You must act before perishable time lapses that closes windows of opportunity and heighten risk. No decision, therefore, is actually a choice, and is one that can come at great cost. While perhaps counterintuitive intellectually, in espionage, risk aversion increases danger to our operations and people.”

from the 2021 book, The Recruiter, by Douglas London,


Musings from a long flight home

April 11, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

I just returned from photographing the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the long flight home gave me lots of time to think.  Here are a few reflections that I want to share. 

First, I love driving in Antigua. Though I have adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road, it is a much more relaxing experience. There is no road rage—the bumpy, narrow roads means the maximum speed is limited. And besides, where are you rushing to anyway? You are in the islands, after all! Nobody in a pick-up truck runs up your tail, using their vehicle as a weapon and putting your life in jeopardy.  That gets really old, doesn’t it? Instead, in Antigua (and some other islands I have visited), the rule of the road is common sense. If there is a person walking in the road—and there are always lots of people walking in the road—you slow down and shift lanes when there is a clear opening against incoming traffic. There isn’t the “zero sum” attitude we see with aggressive American drivers. Horns are honked constantly—but these are not warnings or expressions of anger. Instead, short taps are used to say hello to friends in other vehicles, or to thank someone for letting your car proceed first. I’ve never seen anyone use their car as a weapon. And let’s face it, a car is an expensive and valuable resource, and there probably isn’t a fat insurance check arriving to replace your damaged car if you live in the Caribbean. So people drive with an entirely different attitudes than those aggressive American drivers that annoy us all.

Second, I missed my photographer buddy Ed. After a day of shooting or flying in a helicopter, we would grab dinner together in Antigua.  We’d discuss all kinds of things, from photography to investments and even his love of watches. He always knew the little, out of the way local places to eat.  One of our favorite places was on the front porch of a home that had no menu but served great West Indian curry. Earlier this year, news came from England that Ed had a brain tumor and the whispers around the yacht club in Antigua weren’t terribly hopeful. I loved being back in Antigua but I kept looking for Ed, and found myself praying for his health.

Lastly, the ocean has a way of unifying people. I wouldn’t call it an enemy, but the ocean is a worthwhile adversary that challenges us, and forces us to work together. It is amazing to watch the sailboat crews—men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and nationalities—working as a team. Twenty year-old women pull halyards alongside 60 year old men. Experience isn’t a function of age, but of time at sea, of mistakes already made, of disasters avoided. In Antigua, I’ve seen young members of the permanent crew direct guests twice their age crewing for the race weekend. It is one of the things I love those aspects of sailing—people working in unison, sliding along on the wind using the energy of Mother Nature alone to carry them to their destination.

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