Sunday, November 20, 2005

Birdflu Survival Update -5

Birdflu Survival Update -5

Dated 20/11/2005

Disaster Planning

Worst Case Scenario:
Birdflu with a
60% infection rate and a
50% untreated mortality rate .
(= The Black Death Scenario : 30% of the untreated population dies)

Strategy: Improve the chances of a group to have better survival rate .
No absolute immunity is known , or , if known , desirable.

1. Communication and Education.
First , establish a CGA (control of a geographical area) ( by military cordons if necessary ) .

Each and every person in a Controlled Geographical Area ( CGA) must not only know what the pandemic is , but what each must do to maximize their chances of survival . This is essential , as a pandemic is a mass phenomenon and cannot be treated on a small scale.

A local radio station keeping everyone abreast of what is going on is also vital .
An internet center (like an Internet Cafe) in each quarantine area will be essential .
Cellphones , email ,etc .

Fast , personal communication will be the difference between this pandemic and previous plagues .

Openness about survival chances is essential . Rumors and panic can destroy the whole CGA , and secrecy is impossible anyway . Humans are tough . If they know that loved-ones might stand a better chance of survival by their self-sacrifice , they will do it . But they must know it .

Every person must be able to recognize the symptoms and know that quarantine is necessary . But equally important , the people must know that the quarantine is survivable , else people will hide symptoms and flee ( as happened in Black death and Spanish Flu) , spreading the problem for everyone . Hence the triage set out below.

2. Get the infection rate down by triage of vectors . (TOV)
The vectors are humans and birds .

Humans inside the CGA are first triaged on
A Symptom free and no contact with carriers.
B Symptom free and with contact with carriers.
C Has Symptoms .

Do not have more than 3 decision points at any level of triage . (Speed and simplicity is of the essence)
Each level has its treatment and quarantine levels as set by medical officer .
Multiple hierarchical triage decision points (not to exceed 3 decisions per point ) can be set below these in hierarchical order .

Keep families and friends in contact via radio , internet , etc.

ARDS seems to be main killer in H5N1 (like with SARS or 1918 Flu) . This is treatable (Loristan) , so the mortality rate can brought down from 50% to about 5% if the necessary resources can be mobilized . Thus , the probability of survival is not dependant on urban/rural , but planning , organization and mobilization of resources of the particular CGA .

But a really tight quarantine is essential .
A porous series of quarantines will lead to a more lethal bug evolving through the barrier. .

Every newcomer (without exception ) and every resurgent point in the CGA must cycle through the whole triage and quarantine process .

3 Birds and the environment:
It is pointless to quarantine a Controlled Geographical Area (CGA) if migratory birds can contaminate it by droppings , contact with chickens or being eaten by local predators . At present moment , about 25% of migratory birds are carriers of H5N1 . There is some disturbing evidence that Bubonic Plague is carried the same way.
(The concentrations of plague occurrences are sensitive to hot-cold fluctuations according to a newly-released analysis of old USSR data.) A large-scale synergistic bubonic Plague has a reasonably probable expectancy in the case of social breakdown caused by birdflu . Rats!

Sadly , extermination of migratory birds seems to be the answer . Since hunters have been trying this for a long time without success , the best strategy in a CGA would be to deny landing and feeding opportunities. Eg in arid areas , dams can be drained.
All chickens , ducks , etc are to be destroyed . Vulnerable elements of the ecosysytem whereby wild bird flesh can be introduced(eg vultures , eagles , falcons , etc) can be eliminated . Pigs as well , to be on the safe side .

It is essential that contamination of the watersheds and aquifers be prevented .
If these are lost , the planet-wide pool of pathogens could mutate faster than humans can adapt . Extinction .

Further eco-proofing can be attempted by adding biologically active sulfer into the foodchain ( eg sulfer injections used by wool sheep farmers to get curly wool , or MSM used by hide or pelt farmers)

4 Modelling and Decision-making .
Present plans for a putative pandemic are based on large computer-agent models as described in Scientific American and New Scientist.
These are general models . A very good approximation for limited Geographical Areas can be obtained by using off-the-shelf engines like Civilization or Empires .

A basin with borders , water supply and defined trade-routes with neighbors can be defined as an empire . A plague can be introduced . Etc,etc,etc

There is some theoretical evidence that coarsening the factors in non-linear systems can change a problem from uncomputable to computable while keeping a reasonable degree of accuracy (the old principle that , if you have enough problems , they solve each other . But be warned: certain cusps can be hellaciously sensitive . )

5 Some consequences:

a During the pandemic , the more successful CGA’s will be under severe volkewanderung pressure . Tough times .

b Initially , the global trade system will collapse . Decreased population leads to decreased demand . Highly automated production systems are little affected . Massive deflation results . The cost of labour (especially in the highest mortality low-skilled labour brackets ) rockets (like in Black death) .

Nation-States collapse , as they are perceived as not keeping the intrinsic contract of protection and not starving their people regardless of the level of taxation. It is a massive tax-revolt .
It is analogous to the anti-church movement that swept Europe after the Black Death . The Church did not keep it’s part of the bargain and the populace voted with their feet(and pockets) . In general , surviving people all over will feel very , very pissed-off and betrayed .

Betrayed by Science , Church and Leaders . A deep revulsion against anything Big , Scientific or For Your Own Good . Small-scale warfare will become endemic , with the present trend to condottieri accellerating sharply .

There is an actual non-linearity here .

There is a also a critical threshold here : A large number of smaller states will not be forced back into a large state . Nuclear weapons forbid it . Neither can economic warfare force a population below subsistence levels in small hi-tech states . The world then moves to a new stable state of small nations serviced by developments of NGO’s and Multi-Nationals . Nation states like the USA , EU ,China go the way of the USSR .
This is an irreversible change .

The transition.
How bad will it be? It depends on the leadership .
The natural tendency would be for fragmentation on the lines of the pandemic’s CGA’s .

The critical areas will be the food-producing plains : American Mid-West , Ukraine and the oil and gas regions. The surviving groups will jockey for control of the trade of these areas .

As can be seen from the argument above , the actual mortality of infected individuals depends on their treatment , which in turn depends on the resources mobilized .

The USA will probably fragment in three : the Mid-West is the only part that still has anything to sell (food) . The East and West-coast have frittered away their built-up capital and neglected their education , while building up their armed forces . A protracted civil-war , with decreasing foreign adventures seems to be probable .

The EU will completely fragment . The collapse might even go to mid-1700 levels .
The whole world reverts to about 1750 as far as political systems goes . Wipe out the disasterous World Wars of Napoleon , Kaiser , Hitler , Stalin , Reagan .

China spins back to protracted civil wars of maneuver , as it has very cleverly reduced its population to the point where it is vulnerable to a sudden plague .

The Japanese find out why communal baths nearly destroyed all humans in the west .

Islam finds out why eating with your fingers out of communal bowl is a really bad idea if you are poor and birdflu prowls around .

Africans find out that genetic diversity means that you have so many more receptor sites for co-evolved diseases .



Monday, November 07, 2005

The New Limited War

The New Limited War

Also called Infowar , Infocentric War , Cyber War

A quick summary is given first . See the end for Mongol references .

In the last 15 years , the cutting edge of the world’s armed forces have been radically transformed . It is not only new technology , but mainly the way that the consequences of that technology enforces new tactics , strategies and logistics .

“Quantity has a quality of its own “ – Josef Stalin

The four principles below seem to be only a quantitive change , but together they spell a qualitative change that any armed force that wants to survive or win will have to adapt to .

The Four basic principles should be seen in synergistic combination :

1 Information technology : The first shot kills . Smart munitions and rapid-fire weapons means that the only safe places are stealthed or deeply fortified . Besides being a force-multiplier , this means that the baddies can be individually targeted . (Theorist : Rona) .

2 Interconnected secure digital communication .

Unfortified military forces have to be stealthed . A good way is interspersed in the enemy and organized via stealthed communications . By this , efficient , secret , interconnected digital communication is usually meant. They have to be stealthed , as anybody who gets identified gets zapped or swarmed (See para 1 above) . (Theorists : Arquilla and Ronfeldt) .

3 Asymmetric threat :

Attackers and Defenders have totally different profiles . A small aggressive , mobile (ie stealthed by uncertainty of position) army can force the defender into a totally different configuration . Cf Guerilla wars , Mongols , Boer war , Wolves and Moose , etc . The classical case is the West’s freedom of info systems (ie computers , Xeroxes , etc) vs the USSR control of all information dissemination . The USSR could not defend itself against the asymmetric threat without losing itself . (Theorists : Marshall and Wohlstetter) .

4 The Decision Cycle . (The Granddaddy of them all)

(Theorist : Boyd) .

The decision cycle or loop is summarized by the acronym OODA

Observation , Orientation , Decision , Action .

It is applicable in any competitive endeavour . If you complete the cycle(s) before your opponent , you win . Baseball , rugby , battles , you name it .

Freedom (democratic) systems historically have been at an initial disadvantage , as the are counter-punchers . (ie Napoleon , Kaizer , Hitler , USSR) . They managed to weather the first punch and gain the upper hand in the decision loop by virtue of their superior internal competitiveness . But note that as technology progresses , the first punch grows stronger . Germany nearly won WWII . The USSR lost the Information War and does not exist any more . But it nearly , nearly won . If it aggressively used its armed forces in the late 1970’s , most of the remains of Europe would be speaking Russian now .

The logic forces aggression upon the USA . It has to close the decision-loop before any enemy . And since the enemies are all hidden and stealthed , it has to go on the worst-case scenario .

The enemies like Al Qaida are not really free-based : their support are drawn from very specific areas and population groups . The West has the nasty habit of drawing things out once it knows it will win . (This is because of vested interests in armaments , politics , etc ) . Eg the West can win easily and cheaply now by nuking all Muslim nations with neutron bombs and interning all suspicious nationals indefinitely .

Boom-bam over . Neither Russia or China will really risk annihilation in protest , since they also perceive these elements as risks to themselves .

The USA is at the present moment willing to expend lives and treasure in a sub-optimum tactic to secure strategic advantages . But it is still the 800 lb gorilla . If the terrorist groups are too successful , it will sit where it wants .

Since neither adversary seems willing to push the other over the edge , a de facto rule of engagement has emerged . The US wants cheap oil , not the territory or the people . The Muslims want the territory and people , as well as a fair price for the oil . Essentially , it is about the price of oil . Osama bin Laden quoted a bazaar price of $160 a barrel . Total denial will definitely cause genocide . A settlement of about $100 - $120 a barrel seems to be barreling down at us , with various guarantees . US troops will wthdraw to bases in Iraq , mainly as a buffer against Iranian adventurism .

This is the most optimistic scenario .

Random fluctuations: Birdflu

A pandemic with death-rates of about 30% planetwide seems very likely (80% probability during northern winter of 2005 .) Muslim populations will be hit very hard (70%-100% mortality) because of their custom of social eating out of communal dishes . Flu is mainly spread by hand-to-mouth/nose transmission . All Muslim communities are overpopulated and depend on external food imports for survival . Primary flu effects will be the flu . Secondary effects will be starvation due to quarantines .Planes , cars and communal dishes will be a lethal combination .




1 “The New Face of War” by Bruce Berkowitz.

ISBN 0-7432-1249-5

Clear and simple by CIA and RAND insider . Worrying because of the hubris leaking around the edges .

2 A very interesting article at the site below:

“Social Science at 190 MPH on NASCAR's Biggest Superspeedways” by David Ronfeldt
First Monday, volume 5, number 2 (February 2000),

An interesting correlation is sonons in superconductivity .

Even Nascar racers should be able to use repeated draft-bumps to speed up the pair to arbitrarily close to in-vacuo speeds .

3 The Castles-Knights defense evolved against exactly this kind of threat . Ie it has happened before .



Whatever happened to William what’s-his-name?

“The only serious challenge would have been from the Mongols .

The Western response to centuries of light-cavalry attacks was numerous fortifications with a few heavy cavalry in each . Light-cavalry (like the Mongols) usually win by getting inside the decision-loop of their enemies . This presupposes that their enemy obligingly masses . A few big fortified cities counts as massing .

The key is the advantage of fortified defense over offense . (In the siege of Malta about 8 000 knights held out against about 70 000 elite Ottoman troops .)

A successful ratio is about 1 defender for every 10 attackers .

What is the Western defense to enemies who do not stand still but can sting ? :

It is Independent defensive positions with a heavy smallish offensive punch which are NOT co-ordinated on a large scale.

Ie Numerous small Castles with a few knights and each having an independent ruler .

They will sit tight , but a few neighbours might combine to hit a tempting target .

If 300 000 Mongols attacked say 1 000 independent neighbouring castles , each with about 20 heavy cavalry , the Mongols will lose .

If they try to reduce each castle in detail , they will be nibbled to death by heavy-cavalry attacks from neighbouring supporting castles . Siege machinery would make the Mongols vulnerable to fixed-point attacks . There are not enough Mongols to attack on a broad front .

There are always more agriculturists than pastoralists .

It is a numbers game as long as the castles do not try to unify . If the castles do not unify , their attacks are random and the Mongols cannot get inside their decision-loop , because there isn’t one . “

End Quote