Thursday, May 7, 2009


Check out this SlideShare Presentation on OpenCongress

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Israel and Palestine: A Case Study

There has been a recent string of attacks by Israeli defense forces throughout the latter half of this decade on Palestinian militants, members of Hamas, and the political group Palestinian Popular Resistance. The new Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is adopting a tougher approach to Palestinian attacks than the previous government, enforcing a "zero-tolerance" policy for Palestinian militant attacks. When viewed through an angle of international offense-defense theory, the Israeli-Palestinian case is actually not as confusing as some may believe.

First, I want to parallel this conflict with the crisis of the IRA and the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. Both militant groups, the IRA and the Palestinians do not recognize the sovereignty or authority of their nation-state, both are armed resistance groups, and both implement the same categories of unconventional warfare strategy. Both nation-state groups operate under large operational warfare strategy: including special operations, air strikes, intelligence gathering, and weapons training.

The problem with the current situation is that sovereignty, according to international law, the works of Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes, through the state "has undivided jurisdiction over all persons and property within its territory." For a quick geography and history lesson: the area known as Palestine, in the Gaza Strip region of the sovereign nation of Israel is, in fact, in jurisdiction of the Israeli government, and no international body or nation-state may strip or deny Israel its claim to enforce its policy and laws on any territory that it controls.

This description of a sovereign state has recently been somewhat modified by the United Nations because states are limited by treaties and international obligations and are not legally permitted by the United Nations to commit aggression at will. In current international practice this view is generally accepted. The most important point of this entire situation though is that the United Nations has not reliquished or restricted, by written sanction, the sovereignty of Israel over the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, Israel has the full authority to enforce its regulations, policies, and rules over its citizens, including those in Palestine.

The case of the IRA is important because the reason that there now exists peace is because the strategic interaction between the IRA and the UK ended when the IRA stopped fighting. In fact, with the Camp David Accord the IRA actually got what it wanted in the end, just by stopping the armed conflict. The same can be said for Palestinians. They are only being targeted because the international notion of security strategies demands that armed forces be targeted by sovereign nations when under attack. If the Palestinian resistance only fought back through words and protest, just as in India, Ireland, Australia, France, Spain, and dozens of countries throughout the world, they would have a game theory advantage over the nation-state of Israel by being a peaceful demonstrator. The fact they keep fighting will provoke Israel and further complicate things.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OpenCongress: Limitations and Reviews

I am sure that with all of the positive relays I have been sending out about OpenCongress over the past week you may have been wondering to yourself, "Now, is The General simply a PR person for OpenCongress?" The answer to that question is, "Of course not, because when a historian evaluates a source, whether that source is a document, photograph, video, or a widget, he must at one time praise its successes and at another, criticize its shortcomings." You may be wondering to yourself, "With a content streaming source that is unbiased, transparent, and free what could possibly be wrong with OpenCongress?" To you I provide three criteria: 1) awareness, 2) lack of sources, and 3) lack of tool sophistication.

Here I define awareness as the measure of the knowledge or understanding of OpenCongress. OpenCongress, while particularly useful for historians and political scientists, is nearly void of any incentive for the average American to use. Instead, OpenCongress acts as an information provider for academics in the field, which is not OpenCongress' stated purpose. OpenCongress was designed to build tools to "facilitate citizen involvement." Now, while historians and political scientists may be citizens, the involvement factor, hereto, the awareness factor is seriously lacking.

OpenCongress relies heavily on the content streaming source known as THOMAS, which is the official Congressional information database. Now think of the irony here. OpenCongress, a site dedicated to Congressional transparency, is obtaining nearly all of its information regarding Congress from an official Congressional database, controlled by Congressmen. Could there possibly be a problem with that? Of course! Say, California Senator Barbara Boxer decides that she no longer wants to display certain interest group participation from her campaign contributions because it may link her to controversial associations, she can simply deny THOMAS the information, in turn denying OpenCongress, in turn denying the citizen's "congressional transparency."

Lastly, the lack of tool sophistication is a problem for any user because it limits the amount of information you can have readily available without trying every single possible combination. For example, the bill issue widget is really only a simple content streamer of five different categories including different background and text colors and the bill title. Instead of having coverage of different aspects of the bill, such as the interest groups that support it and the representatives that have expressed opinions about it, you simply get the bill's name, who introduced it, where it is in the process, and its voting record. It provides very little in the form of identifying key political trends or deviations.

The criteria that I established for examining OpenCongress' limitations is in no way fool proof or exhaustive. I found that these criteria were the most lacking and most surprising (in ironical terms) for the purpose of fulfilling OpenCongress' mission of "facilitating citizen involvement" through "congressional transparency." While OpenCongress does have its shortfalls, allow me to briefly contextualize its importance. OpenCongress does offer academics and some citizens, to an easy interface (much easier and much more eye catching than THOMAS), opinion through blog postings, and most importantly fun and informational tools. In closing, OpenCongress has been a valuable source for my understanding of Congressional trends and deviations, yet it does have some limitations, which, like any historian, should be criticized and evaluated alongside its successes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

OpenCongress: How Useful Can it Really Be?

Earlier this week the discussion was focused on a uniquely innovative Web 2.0 tool called OpenCongress, a Congressional database, content-streaming, tool-housing symposium of academic discussion and citizen participation. But then you ask yourself, "Is this really useful for my field?" The question, of course, plagues the mind of the historian, who throughout his work must explain the imponderables of historical awareness and the realism of bias in information gathering. However daunting this task may be, the historian does have a great sense of intuition for finding unbiased information that is readily available. That is exactly what OpenCongress offers to historians and political scientists. There are three reasons that OpenCongress is such a useful tool for these academic individuals:

1) OpenCongress' variety of bill issue, bill identification, status, and trends allow unparalleled transparency in the Congressional Pipeline.
2) Unbiased, accurate information from reliable sources, such as the THOMAS, Congress' own content streaming web resource.
3) OpenCongress links the community to Senators and Representatives, following trends, sponsors, and most watched bills.

For these three reasons OpenCongress is an invaluable tool for accessing unbiased, transparent information regarding the most important actions happening in the Beltway. OpenCongress even provides contribution information and interest group participation from various categories and from various political parties, which is essential to identifying key political or historical trends or deviations. OpenCongress has been very useful for me personally, in identifying trends in relation to gun control and military doctrine. The most important tools I have found have been the bill issue widget which categorizes "gun control" and "military" so that I can have easy access to the information. For an example of these widgets at work please see the bottom of my blog, and remember Audio Hostem--I hear the enemy. At least this time the enemy that I am listening to is right on my computer screen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OpenCongress: The Historian's Alternative to the Arcane

Have you ever felt that the Congressional legislative process is largely closed-off from timely and meaningful public input? Have you ever wondered why the convoluted process where bills become laws is notoriously arcane and virtually impossible to follow? For most people, finding out what is really happening in our democratically-elected Congress is a difficult and discouraging task. While cruising the Web 2.0 tools of the future I came across a uniquely solid piece of scholarship and conventional political tool. OpenCongress, a free, non-partisan, non-profit, open-source, transparent Web 2.0 software taps into the valuable social wisdom of political scientists, historians, citizen journalists, and academics to clear away the sticky mire of Congressional business and place it in the hands of citizens.

OpenCongress was developed by The Participatory Politics Foundation (PPF) and the The Sunlight Foundation with the goal to use the
"revolutionary power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing."
The two groups seek to build software tools to enable continual government participation by citizens because while
"voting is important, we have a chance to go further and create a political process that is meritocratic, creative, and participatory."
OpenCongress is also a partnered with the Open House Project, a working group designed to make recommendations to Congress on ways to begin the process of opening up the House of Representatives and increasing government transparency.

The initial phase of OpenCongress has focused on bringing together government data, blog and press coverage, and non-profit analysis into a comprehensive snapshot of every congressional bill. However, to truly bring together the average citizen to the immense information network of the nation's capital OpenCongress has instituted a variety of productivity tools to enhance the interactivity and engagement with the Congressional process. Action Calendars, a tool to keep track of scheduling and voting of certain bills, will help citizens keep in contact with their representatives during the most important time in a bill's creation or destruction.

You may be wondering where all this information comes from and how that information is so readily accessible. OpenCongress uses data provided by, which collects data from official government websites, such as THOMAS, through daily automated processes. THOMAS is a database of legislative information, started in 1995 THOMAS includes information on scheduling of bills, voting results, the Congressional record, and information on treaties and nominations of public officials. OpenCongress also uses RSS feeds from Google News and Daylife, as well as from Google Blog Search and Technorati to obtain blog information to update OpenCongress' news page. OpenCongress further uses campaign contribution information provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and their sister website Open Secrets. Finally, OpenCongress automatically brings in video coverage of Members of Congress from Metavid and the YouTube Senate Hub and House Hub.

OpenCongress is a powerful, innovative resource for answering your most puzzling questions about the Congressional process. Which bills have the most money riding on them? Which bills affect the issues you care about? Congressional information rarely makes its way out of the Beltway and into our daily lives, but OpenCongress provides part of the means to lead us in that direction.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The EU and Political Realism

The blunt comments by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted the key differences between European and American economic perspectives, especially concerning the upcoming summit on reviving the world's economy. Initially shocked by the outburst, the leader's of the EU's major nations--Germany, Britain, and France--quickly reaffirmed their good diplomatic ties with the United States, largely ignoring Topolanek's remarks. The current crisis has demonstrated a realist/intergovernmental perspective, where every policy is a proxy for national governments, who are unitary rational actors that move towards their own security and economic national interests. These sovereign states derive their source of power from military security and collective economic and defense interests. The 27-nation bloc has already been hounded by the United States for not
"spending enough to stimulate demand."
No country or indiviudal has yet responded so forcefully to the criticism except for Topolanek; the fact that the major EU countries decided to continue to reaffirm positive diplomatic relations with the United States, largely ignoring President Obamas administrations' criticisms, tugs at the very core of the realist and intergovernmentalist principles of power politics.

Moreover, with President Obama moving to call on NATO allies to commit more troops to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and aiming to thrash out global economic reforms with the G20 next week, the EU bloc nations look to the United States, rather than the supranational organization of the European Union, to garner support. The only reaction to U.S. criticism has been Topolanek's remarks that,
"All of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the road to hell. We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way."
To make an even a greater case for the weakness of the EU's supranational organization, after the hearing of Topolanek's speech a "no confidence vote" was issued Tuesday on the government in the Czech Republic, ousting Topolanek from his own parliament. Even the EU Commission feels that any reaction against the United States is
"not helpful ... to try to suggest that Americans and Europeans are coming with very different approaches to the crisis. On the contrary, what we are seeing is increased convergence."
The crisis has demonstrated that when put to a test the supranational body that is the European Union would rather release the bonds of collective interest, instead taking sides with or without the United States, hoping that each country can protect its own security and national interest before the interest of the continent. Prime Minister Tony Blair said it best, that British interest come
"first, second, and last."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Topoi

Military strategy...what is the first thing that comes to your head when you hear this phrase? Is it the double encirclement patterns of Hannibal and his army at the Battle of Cannae in 216 B.C? Or are you thinking of nuclear deterrence in an age of weapons proliferation? To better explore these questions I employed a writing tool that allows consideration of a topic in multiple lenses.

The "Topoi" can elaborate on topic analysis: adding depth, contrast, valuation, form, and structure to topics ideas. The first thing I realized when applying the Topoi to "military strategy" was the paradox that exists when a military force whose mission is to establish order and unity, must achieve these goals through physical force and combat. When applying this paradox to valuation I discovered four surprising conclusions: Practically, military strategy is for for national defense, order, and streamlining communication in order carry out national policy and national military objectives. I asked myself, now why does a nation want to carry out national policy and national military objectives? For monetary and territorial gain, of course! So then ethics becomes a consideration. Are certain types of military strategy or national policy objectives unethical? Is nuclear proliferation, or mutual assured destruction (MAD), simply controversial because it is against the norm of conventional warfare or because these actions are considered unethical? To view these questions I had to view the social culture and historiography of the nation that is employing this type of military strategy. How is the culture of the military decision maker affected by the society that he is in? Is a general influenced by the education he receives, the philosophy of his nation concerning militarism? What about the historical milieu of his nation? When speaking of the general I could not help but want to know the relationship between the military and the political arena. Does the soldier, the general, the sailor, and the admiral's decision influence the political arena? If it does, why is this? Is this because the military is such a centralized part of the government? If not, why is this? Is this because the military has a separate political culture that is different fron the political perspectives of the government?

It is these questions and the answers to these questions that make the "Topoi" such a useful tool. While some of the answers are quite clear, in that war is conducted when there is a need for nation-states to resolve disputes and all other diplomatic/economic avenues have been exhausted, others are slippery, and often come with ethical, political, and at times, spiritual strings attached. Military strategy is an excellent topic to explore The Topoi in terms of teasing ideas into conclusions, and it further provides the necessary medium of intellectual exchange for further considerations on other topics.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Commander Flakey

Pageflakes, a one-stop research aggregator, is a manageable and efficient resource for compiling information and data through its use of widgets, which add third party content and are executed within any HTML-based web page. Pageflakes offers everything from weather forecasts to military podcasts, sports scores to keeping track of your chores.

For the purposes of constructing an aggregator for military strategy, I have compiled a variety of research tools on my Pageflake including: news feeds, RSS content, social bookmarks, annotated bibliographical information, and information regarding the latest in military scholarship. My RSS Feeds and My Diigo Bookmarks make up the initial presentation of my Pageflake, which offer insight into the contemporary discussions on military thought, military principles, and military decision making. Some of the most valuable feeds include Armchair General, Internet Anthropologist, War News Updates, and the Fogg of War, which provide commentary on everything from fixing the defense budget, the War in Afghanistan, Middle East foreign policy, and actionable intelligence. I think of My RSS Feeds and My Diigo Bookmarks as the first line of offense in engaging the enemy that is the massive amounts of streaming information on contemporary political-military decision making. The ability to compile hundreds of content-streaming syndications onto one user-interface is the definition of efficiency in research. For example, this morning I was browsing My RSS feeds and I came across a pertinent topic that is already being discussed by military practitioners, as well as political lobbyists and congressmen. Armchair General's recognition of the problem with the defense budget and the defense acquisition process is first-rate and was a welcome intellectual introduction before I started to listen to the morning news regarding the very same topic. My Social Bookmarking Soulmate via Diigo, is presented at the bottom of the page. FruFruFourOne is a consistent reliable source for bookmarking everything from "flanking manuevers" to the "financial crisis" which helps supplment my knowledge of political-military decision making.

I have used the widgets Universal News Search and Universal Blog Search for assistance in gathering a more broad selection of pertinent research material. Inside each I have appointed the search terms "military strategy" and "war on terror," respectively. While the search engines are not as detailed or narrow as My RSS feeds they do offer a general overview of the happenings in foreign policy and global military operations. In comparable usefulness as My RSS feeds is My Zotero Bibliography, which consistency amazes me in its fluidity and efficiency. Citeline, combined with the functionality of Zotero allows users to transmit bibliographical and annotative information via an "exhibit," which is essentially a template website with user-altered bibliographical content. In My Zotero Bibliography I have exhibited 8 sources: each of which exemplifies different aspects of political-military decision making including principles of military strategy, philosophies of attrition and total war, decision making among military authorities, command and personality doctrines, and of course, weapons and materiel. The once tedious process of referencing an MLA handbook and annotating the sections through a word processor are now all but eliminated.

For my personal entertainment and enjoyment I have added a few news and business widgets, which keep me up to date with political and economic reports. A small sampling includes the Department of Defense's streaming website, FoxNews, and the Economist. I found a wonderful and exciting podcast that streams constantly, that is perfectly named, "Military History Podcast," which at this present time is streaming everything from "Democracy in Iraq" to the recent "Troop Surge."

The personalization is what initially drew me into the realm of Pageflakes, but what made me stay was the fact that after the initial giddiness from placing random news widgets on a plain white box was gone, I found that it was actually one of the most useful research tools that I have ever come across. When I started by saying the word "aggregator" I really mean the creation of my personal newspaper, one that does not give me the 'lifestyles' section if I do not want to read it. Rather, I get a heaping double dose of the front page and business sections, with audible content, and massive amounts of streaming commentary and hi-definition images. Pageflakes acts as a collective intelligence of my personalized information and research interests. To this end, my source for information is not FoxNews or or the Economist, it is The General's Pageflake, a quasi-personification of my interests, my research and my sources.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Military Strategy Annotations #2

In view of the continuing scholarship on military strategy I felt compelled to offer some of my favorite works that should be part of any historian or military strategists' collection:

Foley, Robert T. Alfred von Schlieffen's Military Writings. London: Frank Cass Publishing, 2003.

Over 80 years since his death, Alfred Graf von Schlieffen's military writings remain one of the most comprehensive work's of pragmatic military doctrine and have inspired countless military theorists, historians, and political scientists since 1914. The importance of this book is twofold: first, to date there is only one other piece of translated work on Schlieffen, Gerhard Ritter's The Schlieffen Plan, and second Alfred von Schlieffen's Military Writings provides English-speaking students with rare documentation concerning staff rides, memoranda, and fully annotated archives. Furthermore, the compilation of essays found within the pages represents the best source for Schlieffen's ideas about warfare and the contemporary strategic setting. It offers the closest thing to a complete treatise on continental modern wafare.

Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Ed and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Peret. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. 184-185.

Paret and Howard's translation of On War is generally considered to be the best translation into English of Carl von Clauswitiz's Vam Kriege and is now treated as a standard work. Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian military theorist and author of contemporary military strategy in his treatise Vam Kriege, addresses several key issues including: the dialectical approach of miltiary analysis, the relationship between political and military objectives in warfare, and the factor of 'friction.' The latter is especially important because it explains the resistant element in war, which concerns destabilizing political and military 'centers of gravity.' Clausewitz's innovative strategies and philosophies have even been applied to business strategy and sports. Every military historian should have Clauswitz's treatise tucked away in their bookcase, right next to Sun Tzu and Alfred von Schlieffen.

French, David. The British General Staff: Reform and Innovation. Routledge: Routledge University Press, 2002.

This book is the first modern analysis, based on extensive archival research, of the British General Staff in the period up to the eve of the Second World War. Some of the world's leading historians, including Brian Bond, came together to produce a collection of essays that explore three broad themes: the inception of the general staff, the role of personalities in expending power and command authority, and the influence of the General Staff on the development of British strategic policy. Of noted interest, is the discussion on highly-detailed simulated war games: for starters everything was quantified and specific to the last detail. The rate of travel of military units over land forms was modified by terrain, the type of force, and a host of other factors including, weather, supply availability, unit density, and morale. The most important aspect of this simulation was that the war game began the process of "replacing nebulous ideas" with practical military operations. It is the practical military applications that are of particular interest to myself and military historians as it demonstrates the trend away from classical military thought and towards real-world applications of military principles.

Williamson, Samuel R. and Russel van Wyk. Soldiers, Statesmen, and July 1914. Beford: St. Martins, 2003.

This text is proof that solid scholarship, mixed with anecdotal and historical archives, can be presented in a manner that engages undergraduates. Samuelson and Van Wyk make significant, original contribution, one that not only enlightens students and scholars about the origins of the Great War, the first continental world war, but also informs politicians and soldiers about the urgency of trust, cooperation, command, and authority in the political-military arena. The book is a prime example of the relevance of history to contemporary society, as well as the importance of collective decision making on the part of military and political leaders who represent the public. The piece is most important for two reasons: it is engaging and it demonstrates the importance of historiography in assessing evidence and different points of view in history. It is crucial that any historian, student of politics, contemporary society, military studies, and international relations digest these two important points, as they are the two most fundamental elements of great writing narrative compelling historiography.

Below I have also added a few more sources that can satisfy the historian's intellectual thirst for scholarship:

Lawrence, Richard D. The Art and Practice of Military Strategy. Washington D.C.: National Defense University, 1984.

Wallach, Jehuda L. The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation. Westport: Greenwood P, 1986. 90.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Military Strategy Annotations

In compiling and analyzing the myriad of sources that are the authorities on military strategy, I felt that it would be useful to share some of the most useful sources for historians, strategists, and political scientists:

Collins, John M. Military Strategy. Washington D.C.: Brassey’s, 2002.

Military Strategy provides an overview of the principles, theories, policies, and fundamentals of modern warfare, and their applications in the twenty-first century. The piece is a comprehensive survey of the checklist for military procedures, including modern methods of warfare: coalition strategies, counter terrorist strategies, insurgency tactics, and sociopolitical terrorism. Military Strategy also provides an in depth analysis into the war-fighting concepts and theories behind military practitioners such as Field Marshall Douglas Haig and Mao Zedong. The piece acts as a handbook for students of military strategy, as well as for politico-military policy-makers, strategists, and planners. Students of military strategy will find that Collins blends the ideas of military thought and military principle to develop a spotlight historical approach with which to view assorted military strategies. Part I of the piece is especially important in understanding the fundamentals of military doctrine and is a perfect introduction even for the lay individual.

Wylie, J.C. Military Strategy. New York: Rutgers, 1967.

Wylie's treatise offers a new aspect of military strategy that has "not yet been clearly posed, much less clearly answered." To that end Military Strategy discusses the patterns of thought the military mind does use, and speculates on some that it might use. Wylie strains himself to stay clear of the students of warfare that studied and juggled around the detailed specifics of strategy and the statistics of war. Rather, he employs a framework to answer the questions, "Why does a soldier think like a soldier? Why does a sailor think like a salior? Why does an airman think like an airman?" The piece offers a much needed vistation of a different aspect of military strategy, rather than simply the principles or theories behind it. The organization is broken up into case analysis of different theories behind military thought, including maritime control and air theory, while examining the limitations of the existing theories, any underlying assumptions, and the development of a "general theory" that can be applied to observations in the last chapter. Military Strategy is clearly an innovative piece of scholarship that should be in the bookcase of any practitioner, philosopher, or purveyor of military strategy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Swat: Not Special Weapons And Tactics

I listened to reports by the Associated Press this morning concerning the takeover of Swat by Taliban militant fighters. At first I was concerned that somehow, in a devious conspiracy theory this division of the umbrella organization Al-Qaeda had control over the elite tactical units in the American police system called by the same name. It soon came to my attention the Pakistani government would allow the Taliban's version of Sharia law in the Malakand region of Swat, an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province. In return, Malulana Fazlullah's followers, members of TNSM militant Islamist faction, agreed to observe a ceasefire negotiated by Sufi Muhammad, Malulana's father in law. Gerald from Internet Anthropologist addresses this situation in his article New State: Taliban Swat. I further posted a comment on Gerald's site regarding this very serious international issue. Gerald notes that at Fazlullah's insistence he
"has successfully organized a campaign opposing polio vaccinations and has forced the closure girls' schools throughout the region."
It is important to remember that in counterinsurgency strategy,
"the side that prevails in an insurgency does so in part by creating an air of inevitability among the populace about its ultimate victory." (James Holmes)
By "winning hearts and minds" depends on a genuine presence among the people. No where is this more evident than the failures of Vietnam and Korea, where insurgency and asymmetric warfare were consuming to the point of attrition. The dominance of the Taliban in the strategic Swat valley is not only a major setback for Obama's administration, as
"it hopes to mount a united front against militants,"
but a setback in international law, as it conflicts with state sovereignty over a defined territory. U.S. Special Envoy Richard C. Holbrooke said that he
"Is very concerned about Pakistan and stability."
As he should be. On Tuesday, President Obama announced plans to boost U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by 50%, marking a change in the theater of the "War on Terror." Lawmakers and strategists alike conclude that Afghanistan will be the dominating factor in U.S. military affairs for the term of the Obama Administration. It seems that Obama's call for bipartisanism, cohabitation, united fronts, and peace, was challenged with the same issues that President Bush had to deal just a different front.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Strategist's Soulmate

While sifting through "My Watchlist" on Diigo, the tagging and bookmarking epicenter of Web 2.0, I came across FruFru FourOne while searching for tags related to military strategy and political decision making. FruFru is an avid, frequent social bookmarker, with more than 10,000 tags, hundreds of bookmarked sites, and an flourish of group followers, FruFru is the amagamation of the intellectual, the Web 2.0 junky, and my perfect social bookmarking soulmate (plus FruFru is a she). Initially, I had to wade through the knee-deep topics of FruFru's interests: including 215 tags on Politics, 237 tags on strategy, 167 tags on technology, and over 4,000 tags on blogging and reading. What is remarkable about FruFru, is the frequency to which she posts comments, and suprisingly, how thorough the comments are. For an example I turned to a strategy bookmark concerning how to publically speak and "mingle." FruFru offered an extremely detailed comment, with a 4-step directions process in how to properly achieve the goal of "mingling," beginning with:
Casually approach the group and discreetly introduce yourself to the person closest to you without drawing too much attention. Use a lower voice than the rest of the group. Do this without pulling the person out of the main group. If there's a gap in the group, place yourself there otherwise stand in a location where the other person doesn't have his/her back to the main group.
While exploring bookmarks in FruFru's "military" section I came across a very interesting article entilted "Why the U.S. Loses 'Small Wars'" In this discussion Larry Kahaner discusses how the historical background of assymetric warfare, where "the relationship between the combatants is decidedly unbalanced," often leads to guriella tactics, prompting
contemporary small forces that use simple, durable and easy-to-use and obtain weapons, mainly the venerable AK-47 rifle backed up by Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The most interesting aspect of FruFru's tagging is that while it is quite copious, every bookmark I came across, even when it was not related to my field, was surprising and engaging. I felt like I established a connection with another individual that shared my passion for knowledge, not simply military history, the historical method, politics, and the like, but everything from Design with Intent, a handbook for sustainable architecture, to Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization in Communication.

FruFru has a whole host of a list of great resources, including news listings, how-to-guides, online learning tools, fascinating obscure topics, posts on my particular interests, and a variety of well-informed, well-discussed comments. FruFru is my social bookmarking soulmate because she offers intellectual discussion in a variety of disciplines, including my own, and offers insight into each of these disciplines. When reading through her recent comments I came across an article on Mendel's Law of Dominance. FruFru astounded me with engaging, intellectual commentary:

Offspring that are hybrid for a trait will have only the dominant trait in the phenotype. While Mendel was crossing (reproducing) his pea plants (over and over and over again), he noticed something interesting.When he crossed pure tall plants with pure short plants, all the new pea plants (referred to as the F1 generation) were tall.

It is remarkable how FruFru seems to have command of a variety of different disciplines, which is evident in her well-discussed commentary. Through FruFru's level of frequency in her bookmarking posts, her impressive level of commentary, her intellectual inquiries, and her captivating list of useful sites, I found my social bookmarking soulmate in not just another purveyor of strategy, politics, and history, but a passionate intellectual exploring the realms of other disciplines.