“Thinginess fails”

Brian Hayes wrote, in American Scientist, in 2002, about Lewis Fry Richardson‘s book Statistics of Deadly Quarrels: An interesting lesson of Richardson’s exercise is just how difficult it can be to extract consistent and reliable quantitative information from the historical record. It seems easier to count inaccessible galaxies or invisible neutrinos than to count wars that […]

Russian tank invention: To lay waste upon the enemy

Aleksandr Georgievich Semenov patented an efficiently disgusting weapon system. Using his method, soldiers inside an armoured tank, under battle conditions, can dispose of their biological waste products in an unwasteful way: encasing those materials, together with explosives, in artillery shells that they then fire at the enemy. Semenov, residing in St Petersburg, can and does […]

How waiting in line is like war

A defense researcher analyzes (1) customer satisfaction in a shopping scenario and (2) the efficient use of warplanes in battle. He comes up with a mathematical model common to both—in which “[the] parameter of principal interest is the expected customer-survival rate.”  Here’s his paper on how the two relate: “Queuing with Impatient Customers and Indifferent Clerks,” […]

Copious Deaths, and the Greatness of Presidents

Large numbers of deaths may be good for an American president’s reputation, suggests this new study: “War and Presidential Greatness,” David R. Henderson (Naval Postgraduate School) and Zachary Gochenour [pictured here] (George Mason University), SSRN working paper #2029774, March 27, 2012. The authors explain: “Historians and journalists commonly survey other historians on the relative ‘greatness’ […]

Consultants’ triumph (2): War plans

Here’s another example of how successful consultants can take anything — no matter how complex — and make it simple to understand. London-based PA Consulting Group, master analysts of the zombie economy, reportedly produced the diagram shown below [click on it to see an enlarged version]. MSNBC says: “This unclassified document from the Office of […]