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Klaralven's Journal
Klaralven's Journal
August 20, 2021

Afghanistan: The Bear Trap - The Defeat of a Superpower - by Mohammed Yousaf and Mark Adkin


At the start of this book, which tells the story of my part in the Afghan Jehad, I want to
acknowledge the debt I, and indeed Pakistan and the Mujahideen owe to the ‘Silent Soldier’,
General Akhtar Abdur Rahman. I served under him for four years at the height of the war, but he
carried the enormous responsibility for the struggle against what was then the Soviet superpower,
for over eight years. I call him the ‘Silent Soldier’ because of his great humility and modesty. Few
people, apart from his family knew him as well as I did until he was assassinated, along with
President Zia-ul-Haq, in the plane crash in August 1988. At one blow the Jehad lost its two most
powerful leaders.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 President Zia sent for General Akhtar, who
had recently taken over as Director of ISI. At that time nobody in authority in Pakistan, and
certainly no overseas government (including the US), thought the Soviet military might could be
confronted. Afghanistan was written-off as lost. The only person within the military to advocate
supporting the Jehad by Pakistan, and the only person to come up with a plausible plan for doing so,
was General Akhtar. He convinced the president that no only was it vital to Pakistan’s interests to
fight the aggressors, but that there was every chance of defeating them. Some years later Zia was to
say to him, you have wrought a miracle, I can give you nothing worthy of your achievements. Only
God can reward you.
August 20, 2021

Afghanistan and the second phase of Islamic anti-colonialism

After WW II, there was a first phase of Islamic anti-colonialism that saw the independence of former British, French, and Dutch colonies. This was characterized by secular socialist and capitalist regimes that replaced the initial transitional governments installed by the departing colonial masters. Nasser of Egypt would be a good example, having replaced King Farouk in 1952. Sukarno, Boumediene, In Afghanistan, this phase culminated in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from 1978 to 1989.

The new parties and leaders were generally nationalist and especially in the case of socialist repudiated political and economic dominance by the West. However, secular socialism is thoroughly European, so this phase did not repudiate the intellectual and cultural values of the West.

However, the second phase began in the 1980s, partly influenced by the Carter/Reagan program to use Islamism against Communism, that involved the repudiation of the West's secular and cultural values. The Shiite radicals, Egyptian Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and the several branches of Islamic State are only the most radical features of a general trend that returns the societies of countries from Africa's Atlantic Coast to Malaysia's eastern island to traditional Islamic religious and legal principles.

This is probably clearest in the center, where Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States had always maintained fundamentalist Islamic value, and where Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have all evolved a long way towards Islamism from the days of Bülent Ecevit, Mossedegh and Ayub Kahn.

I would expect that the 1.8 billion strong Islamic countries will continue to converge on a new Islamic social and political model and gain cohesion as they do.

This should result in the clarification of borders between the Islamic world and the Hindu, East Asian, European and African Worlds, although the last is most problematic.

This should also result in less incentive to attack the other civilizations on the part of Islamists who are now more secure in their religious and cultural future, and more guarded against outside the Islamic World.

January 14, 2021

Political fraud should be a crime

Not all speech is free. In the specific area of commercial speech there are many laws that make it a crime to intentionally deceive someone to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive them of a legal right. Freedom of speech does not allow one to lie to another in order to cheat and steal.

Freedom of commercial speech is limited because money and commerce matter.

In a democracy, political speech also matters.

It should be a crime to intentionally lie about a fact in order to gain political advantage or influence political opinion.

Political fraud, like commercial fraud, should be defined as a crime with varying degrees, depending on the seriousness of the offense and the damage to society that it causes.

As an example, consider that an intentional political lie to less than 1000 followers should not be a crime, to less than 10,000 followers should be a misdemeanor, to less than 100,000 a gross misdemeanor, and to more than 100,000 followers a felony.

By defining political fraud this way, we no longer need complicated regulations of social media companies. They can continue to operate as neutral platforms, but the originators of political fraud would be prosecuted for their crimes and removed from the platforms.


December 10, 2020

Interesting, but it continues the mind - consciousness dichotomy, which is likely unsupportable

The separation of the mind, which is processing information using the electrochemical system of the brain, and the consciousness, which is said to be inexplicable as the result of such processing, will probably not hold up in the long run. This despite the best efforts of philosophers who desire to keep a space for a soul which persists after death, is in communication with a god, and so forth.

However, the discussion of the VR gamer observing the game is probably in the right direction. To shift the perspective slightly, consider a server complex in a data center that is managing a complex, multiplayer, distributed game. Beyond the programs that implement game functions, there will be another set of programs that admit players, mange players, start game functions, identify problems, possibly even spin up added servers/containers as load changes, monitor usage, etc.

This system management layer of software is becoming ever more complex and capable in how it observes the functioning of the data center and the information processing going on in the data center. It, rather than AI or machine learning, is the layer that will eventually be recognized to be conscious.

August 13, 2020

Coronavirus NZ: Auckland cold storage cluster grows by 13

New Zealand has recorded another 13 cases of coronavirus, with the majority linked to a cold storage company in south Auckland.

The cluster that sent Auckland into lockdown and the rest of the country into Stage 2 restrictions has now grown to 17, including four children aged between one and 19. It brings the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 36.

All the new cases are linked to the original four COVID-19 cases announced on Tuesday and the majority are linked to Americold, the cold storage company where two of the original cases worked and which believed to be the source of the new cluster. Three of the new cases are employees at Americold, while another seven are family members of those employees.

Two Americold sites in Mt Wellington and at Auckland Airport have been closed, with all employees tested. The company is a frozen food storage facility with branches in Australia, NZ and the US.


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