The Mystery of ISIS
The problem, however, lies not in chronicling the successes of the movement, but in explaining how something so improbable became possible. The explanations so often given for its rise—the anger of Sunni communities, the logistical support provided by other states and groups, the movement’s social media campaigns, its leadership, its tactics, its governance, its revenue streams, and its ability to attract tens of thousands of foreign fighters—fall far short of a convincing theory of the movement’s success.[more inside]
I came by my own dishonest trade honestly. By the time I was sixteen, I had been kicked out of high school three or four times—I never managed to graduate—and my mother, fed up, sent me down to Texas to live with my older brother, who had recently been released from prison. He was briefly Calgary’s most successful cocaine importer, before getting busted and sent off to Spy Hill, and he had found employment as a sales manager for a hugely successful jewelry store owned by a brilliant, wildly charismatic man named Ronnie Cooper.- Clancy Martin (previously) in Lapham's Quarterly
The Galula Doctrine: An Interview with Galula's Biographer A.A. Cohen, who wrote Galula: The Life And Writings of the French Officer Who Defined Counterinsurgency, and an excerpt. [more inside]
Interested in art, architecture, design, numismatics, software? Then you will be fascinated by Dutch artist Stani's detailed description how he won the competition to design the 2008 commemorative 5 Euro coin themed "Netherlands and architecture". A brilliant insight into the designer's thought process and the technology used to implement his concepts.
Walter Tull was the first ever Black officer in the British Army, and the first black officer to lead white men into battle. He was also only the second black player to compete in the top division of football, playing for the Tottenham Hotspur and Northhampton Town. An unassuming pioneer, his life has inspired a play, a documentary and a petition. As part of a series of coins on the centenary of the Great War, The Royal Mint has begun a programme of commemoration that will continue over the next five years, telling the emotive story of the journey from outbreak to armistice through a series of United Kingdom £5 coins, arranged in six-coin sets. Passed over for the Military Cross, allegedly due to the Army's institutional racism that banned "negros and other persons of colour" advancement to officer ranks, Walter Tull has his own coin at last.
A short photo essay documenting a marine's experience of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq. via.
The new James Joyce commemorative coin has a typo. "While the error is regretted, it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation."
Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts.Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World [more inside]
The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
Good Fighter, Can’t Cheerlead Worth A Damn. The War Nerd writes an insightful piece on why Obama doesn't get much credit for military successes.
'You actually have to really build a collaborative relationship with the people on the ground if you want to have any hope of understanding what’s going on.'
"Let’s Map Who Owes The Local Warlord Money": Meet An Urban Planner For Cities That Don't Yet Exist (via Small Wars Journal). [more inside]
5 years after a think tank study (PDF) recommended its retirement, Canada says goodbye to the penny. Previous penny pinching 1 2
Interview Transcripts from Wired.com Michael Hastings has come out with a new book titled "The Operators" in which he expands on his infamous Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal by President Obama. In this Wired interview, Hastings explains why he views our current situation in Afghanistan as hopeless and the real story behind the quotes he obtained from the general and his staff.
For 100 years, Buddhists and Muslims lived side by side in southern Thailand. In 2004, a small fraction of the Muslims started killing the Buddhists indiscriminately. This conflict is now the most violent in Asia, with murders of Thai civilians, including children, monks, and Muslims who refuse to cooperate, occurring on a daily basis. [more inside]
Since the spring of 2010, all-volunteer units called Female Engagement Teams have been doing what male soldiers can't: speak with women and children in rural Afghani communities, both to gain information and to foster trust. These soldiers may carry M4 rifles, but their toolkit includes sidewalk chalk and jump ropes, too. The FETs, trained for this specific mission grew out of more ad hoc programs like the Lioness program for traffic checkpoints in Iraq. "The FET mission to me is so critical that if I had to exchange blood for it, I would," said Sgt. 1st Class Sawyer Alberi, an FET team leader for the National Guard. "The FET mission is nested very closely in the COIN mission, and unless you do it, you're not doing the whole COIN mission." First Lieutenant Quincy Washa, platoon commander for the Female Engagement Team with Regimental Combat Team 1, describes the teams' role. Despite the apparent importance of the FETs' work, the program is still an experiment; it is unclear whether it will continue after the current teams' deployment.
Turn a silver coin into a ring with a hammer, an anvil (or something similar), and a drill.
"a story of great potential overwhelmed by a genius for acts of pointless economic self-destruction"
People with a keen strategic sense maintain a well-diversified hoard of coins and painstakingly build alliances with local shopkeepers or bank tellers, conspicuously proffering coins for one purchase or deposit in the hopes of being indulged when they're short of change at some point in the future. Argentina's coinage problem. [more inside]
If you need a foolproof way to decide whether to kill someone or are simply curious as to whether probability is still operating as a factor in your existence (and find yourself out of change but near a computer with an internet connection), you can just use flip a coin.
Online coin generator. Sure, it's in German, but you can figure it out.
Want to learn some coin tricks? There are six fundamental tricks you need to learn: the coin spin, one-finger spin, the walk down, the edge walk, the coin flip, and the coin roll. Once you have these mastered, you can do some amazing tricks with the videos and instructions at Coin Manipulation and from Expert Village.
How much is a penny worth today? Oh, about $0.0105465. Of course, it costs more than that to produce them. Is the penny worth keeping? The old copper penny had bactericidal qualities. You could drop a copper penny in a glass of wine to discern its nature. They were the subject of various high-school chemistry experiments. According to some, they were excellent conductors of luck. And the new zinc pennies? Their melting point is lower, and they don't have the same ring to them. Some people like them, others like to eat them. What are they good for? Not much. The time has come to abolish the penny.
Great fakers scammed ancient Italy. An ingenious counterfeit-coin scam has been rumbled by scientists in Italy. But no one is going to jail, because the forgers lived more than 2,000 years ago.
Penny stacking - build pillars, bridges and domes from your worthless change.
Ever seen those penny smashing machines? You can join a club, visit a museum, get you own custom penny, or get your very own machine. Oh, yeah, it is perfectly legal. You can trade here, or look for machine locations in the U.S. and abroad. How 'bout a MetaFilter smashed penny? They really are America's Best souvenir.
For 36 years, Harold Gray has been on an extraordinary mission -- to recover what may be the most famous stolen coin collection in the United States. Since October 1967, when five hooded gunmen invaded the Coconut Grove estate of chemical empire heir Willis Harrington duPont, binding the family with silk neckties and stealing the valuable coin collection from duPont's safe, Gray has been on the case. ''We remain,'' he says today, ``in hot pursuit.''
Wisconsin has picked its quarter design! Gov. Jim Doyle Tuesday overruled an advisory panel and told the U.S. Mint to put a cow, wheel of cheese and ear of corn on Wisconsin's commemorative quarter, despite fears that it won't reflect the state's cities or its rich ethnic heritage
From a theft at the U.S. Mint to a scam artist in Philly, from a playboy Egyptian king to a Secret Service sting at the Waldorf-Astoria, ending up at a record-breaking $7.59 million auction: the fascinating history of a coin. (via BoingBoing)
The Wire has just posted an article about the new Sacagawea dollar coin and the Federal goverment's attempts to promote it through Wal Mart and boxes of Cheerios. These days, it seems, even money wont sell itself anymore.