Waiting for the other shoe:
The tragic events this year in Norway including a car bomb and two hours later a shooting assault at a summer camp have been put down to a right wing terrorist.  Shortly thereafter an article was published (Neil Johnson et al Pattern in Escalations in Insurgent and Terrorist Activity SCIENCE vol. 333 no. 6038 July 1, 2011 page 81) that shows it is possible to make an accurate prediction of the rate of terrorist acts in any given theatre given the timing of the first two events.  Read the article yourself if you think this is important, because I am rather over my head trying to describe it, but from what I can make out there is a critical number of days, maybe about a year.  If the time between the first terrorist attack and the second is more than a year, the frequency will decline.  The ten years since the World Trade Center attack with no further fatalities on American soil suggests that the counter measures now in place are effective.  You may regret some of them; the constitution as been damaged and possibly our economic gloom is due to a distortion of resource allocation, but at least the announced purpose has been accomplished. 

If the time between the first attack and the second is less than a year, then the rate of attacks will increase exponentially, doubling over a period of time that stays constant.  So it is not just your imagination that in so many places things just seem to get worse and worse.  If I am correct, then the jury is still out – so to speak – on what is going to happen in Norway.  Considering the resources available there, I doubt there is another problem for the next several years and possibly not for as long as the present fabric of the society holds together. 

On the other hand, the killing of Osama bin Laden last May, and soon thereafter of a man named Anwar al-Awlaqi, another alleged Al Qaeda operative, means that we shall see more and more of this sort of thing.  Fortunately there are still institutional safeguards in case it begins to be recognized as a problem.  Of course we have been killing members of the group for a long time, but both of these seem to be specific men; previously it was more a matter of, “There’s a bad guy over there. Let’s get him.”  It really does not make a great deal of difference in the math.  If the first delay was less than a year, then subsequent events will by and large be smaller still – otherwise they will increase.  So if an interval is less than a year, then the first delay was also, although not knowing what it was means that accurate projection is not possible.  Their analysis depends on recognizing every event and doing the calculation from the first two. 

There has been a demonstration called “Occupy Wall Street” that is going on as I write.  It is no terrorist campaign, but I think it qualifies as a significant social event.  The clock had barely begun to tick when the thing took off like wildfire.  I think that means there will be some kind of change coming, like it or not (assuming of course that my guess that exponential growth is valid here is born out). 

Also, the “Arab Spring,” the several uprisings in Arab countries, all seem to have evolved over a few months and in the absence of outside influence must ultimately result in a regime change.

Anyway, that’s how I read it. 

The article does take the position that military intervention to suppress terrorist activity is not idle.  It can actually suppress it.  That’s good, considering the sacrifices that have been made on that assumption.

The article says that this is not a unique phenomenon.  Many social efforts follow a similar logic.

Which leads us to present company.  I usually indicate how many people have run across this web site at the close of an article.  That number goes up.  In fact it cannot go down since it a simple sum.  A glance at the bottom of this article will tell you how much company you have as of today.  Your reaction will probably be, as mine certainly is, “Gosh.  There isn’t as much interest in this as in a typical Abominable Snowman site, is there?” 

But when I squinch my eyes and look at a graph of how traffic has evolved with time, then yes the increase is exponential.  In fact it is better than exponential.  Since I have no effective means of publicizing what I am doing, the only way there can be growth, beyond a baseline trickle of people who are probably simply lost, is if readers tell others to check it out.  And so you folks seem to be doing.  Many thanks for that.  Keep up the good work.

Here is the profile of the typical nobabies.net site reader: Taciturn.

I don’t get a lot of feedback. 

As I said, so far as I can tell, the doubling time is decreasing.  This is in contrast with the terrorist data and apparently any number of other social efforts.  Not only is the quantity of traffic (sorry to call you “traffic” but you know what I mean) increasing.  The quality is changing.  The average reader is telling more people.  Either that or the issue is simply becoming more evident to people, but if that is so it has escaped my own research. 

So bear up.  Put up with my prose.  Tell your friends.  Ask them what they thought.  It might take a couple of years.  The whole thing might collapse for unforeseen reasons – I’m not immortal after all – but things are not without hope.  I do not have a plan.  I think it would be improper for me to try to develop a plan.  This needs more points of view.  But there does seem to be progress.

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