Archive for category Black Swan Events

Bounties: Offense Industry And Black Swan Event–The New Orleans Saints Finds An Edge With Bounties!

First off, who are we kidding?  The NFL is a business and war, and every team/army is doing everything they can to gain advantage and win Super Bowls. Teams pay millions of dollars in salaries to players, and those teams make millions of dollars from ticket sales and the selling of merchandise. It is an insanely popular sport here and it is very much a part of our national culture and heritage. Football in the US is big, big, business.

Not to mention that the teams purposely look for players that hit hard and can deliver results. That is what they are getting paid to do. Sure they wear body armor in the form of a helmet and pads, but their coaches are purely focused on turning that player into a weapon on the football field. They practice for their game, much like gladiators practiced for matches in the arena, or how soldiers train for war.

Why do I know this?  Because I played football when I was younger and hitting hard, targeting players to take them out of the game or to make crucial plays, and enjoying the win was what football was all about. You did not play the game to lose, nor does any player play the game to be ‘ineffective’. It’s a rough game requiring strategy, fitness and aggression, and fans and players wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when I read through this ‘bounty gate’ thing, I just shake my head as to how ridiculous and hypocritical it is. But it is also a Black Swan event in the NFL, because the New Orleans Saints found a scheme that worked and it has created an uproar. They created an offense industry that contributed to a win in the Super Bowl, and it did not require millions of dollars to fire it up. It reminds me of moneyball, another scheme that contributed to wins while saving money. (funny how Executive Outcomes won wars, while doing it on time and under budget too?… And they certainly shocked the world with their effectiveness. lol)

The other thing that is not mentioned enough is that bounties have been a common practice in the NFL for awhile. (please see the first article below) What ticked everyone off about the New Orleans Saint’s bounty program or ‘offense industry’, was that it was successful. That they won a bowl game, not that they were targeting players. All teams play the game violently and to it’s fullest, because if they didn’t, they would lose and they would lose out on money because fans and investors could care less about them. All teams have strategies that target the weakness or the center of gravity of the other team, and they have a very short period of time to win their war.

As to the bounty related rules, I also have to laugh. The teams are more concerned with salary caps so that teams that are well supported by rich owners or highly populated cities, do not have advantage over teams that do not have those resources. In the NFL, they try to make things equal when it comes to pay, just so the game is more interesting and fair. So when someone figures out how to properly implement an offense industry to win a game, and there is money involved with that scheme, then of course the other teams are going to cry. Not because of the safety issue, but because they didn’t think of it first. They also cry because it fits nicely in a morality attack to knock down a winning team. Remember Boyd’s ‘isolate your enemy morally, mentally, and physically, while increasing your moral, mental and physical standing’?

I do realize this is a sporting event and not warfare, so I guess some modicum of fair play should exist. lol But to me, what Gregg Williams did was awesome. This is exactly what ‘offense industry’ is all about, and Gregg used his particular bounty system to motivate his players to win their war. He also did it pretty efficiently by getting the players to add to their own bounty pool program, along with encouraging others to add to that pool. This gets everyone invested into the game. Williams could also focus on the key players of the opposition that would be strategically beneficial to take out of the game or render ineffective. Here is a brief run down of how it worked:

On March 2, 2012, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the NFL had indeed found evidence of a bounty program. Later that day, the NFL announced it had obtained irrefutable proof of a bounty pool dating back to the 2009 season, based on a review of 18,000 documents. It determined that Williams had initiated the fund soon after he arrived in New Orleans in 2009, in hopes of making the defense more aggressive. Between 22 and 27 Saints defensive players were involved. The players and Williams contributed their own cash to the pot, and received cash payments based on their performance in the previous week’s game. For instance, a special teamer who downed a kick returner inside the receiving team’s 20-yard-line earned $100. Players could also be fined for mental mistakes and penalties. Players also received “bounties” for “cart-offs” (plays in which an opponent was removed from the field on a stretcher or cart) and “knockouts” (plays that resulted in a player being unable to return for the rest of the game). Players usually earned $1,000 for “cart-offs” and $1,500 for “knockouts” during the regular season, though they were encouraged to put their winnings back into the pot in order to raise the stakes as the season went on. Payments were known to double or even triple during the playoffs.
The NFL sent a confidential and detailed memo to all 32 teams detailing its findings. It revealed that the Saints had not only targeted Warner and Favre during the 2009 playoffs, but had also targeted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during the 2011 regular season. According to that memo, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 cash to any teammate who knocked Favre out of the NFC Championship Game. Another source told’s Mike Freeman that Reggie Bush’s agent at the time, Michael Ornstein, was closely involved in the scheme from the beginning. Ornstein contributed $10,000 to the pot in 2009, and an undisclosed amount in 2011.

What is also hypocritical is Senator Dick Durbin’s shock about the whole thing. He will be conducting a Senate hearing on the practice of bounties in the NFL, and in other sports. I actually look forward to what comes out of it, just so I can learn what the various teams of different sports have done. Who knows, maybe the State Department and DARPA could learn from this?  Maybe the State Department can modify their Rewards For Justice program, and have Gregg Williams advise? lol –Matt


Saints took common practice of bounties to new, dangerous level
By Mike Freeman
Monday March 05, 2012?The bounty was $2,000, and the conditions were simple: Knock the starting quarterback out of the game and the cash was yours.
So it was on. The bounty was kept secret from the coaching staff and some of the team. Mostly, only the bounty hunters themselves — players on the defensive line — knew the whole plan. The money was fronted by the participants, and one player held the cash.
The problem was, in the game, no one reached the quarterback, and the bounty went unclaimed. The next week, it was doubled to $4,000. The quarterback survived the game intact. The pot grew to $8,000, and finally the defense had knocked out a quarterback, but there were problems. He was only out a few plays and the player who made the hit wasn’t part of the bounty crew.
The players spent the money on exotic dancers instead.
That’s one story from a player who asked that neither he nor his team be identified. Other players from around the NFL, in interviews, also recounted various bounty tales. The practice is far from isolated. Some players estimated 30 to 40 percent of all NFL players last season participated in a bounty system.
“This ‘bounty’ program happens all around the league,” former NFL lineman Damien Woody tweeted, “not surprising.”
“Bounties, cheap shots, whatever you want to call them, they are part of this game,” former Washington defensive back Matt Bowen wrote. “It is an ugly tradition … you will find it in plenty of NFL cities.”
This, the players seem to agree on. There are many bounty systems in the NFL. They can inspire more energized play, and are usually created by players, not coaches. Players interviewed said bounties are offered for anything from knocking a player out of the game to delivering so-called “remember-me” shots.

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Black Swan Events: Earthquake/Tsunami In Japan, Uprisings In The Middle East

     This is tragic, and my heart goes out to all those impacted by these disasters.  I was watching the tsunami in Japan on television and the footage was remarkable.  The tsunami was a result of an earthquake and it has pummeled Japan. There is a tsunami warning for Hawaii, other Pacific islands, and the entire West Coast in the US. To follow this stuff, definitely track the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and your local news to get updates.

     A couple of things that come to mind on this.  This event, along with what is going on in Libya and potentially in Saudi Arabia, are all combining to make a Blackswan Event. Events that were not predicted, and change the dynamic dramatically. What I mean by that, is that the shock waves from both disasters, could have drastic consequence. The price of oil will rise, and all the business and economies that depend upon the stability of Japan will be negatively impacted. If Hawaii and the West Coast of the US are hit, that could have consequence as well. I will further update this post as events unfold and we will see how it goes…. –Matt

Update: 03/12/2011- Now the latest deal is the Nuclear Facilities in Japan are in dire straights. If they melt down, the fallout is of concern.  In the comments section, I have put up an article that discusses the fallout potential, and especially how it would impact North America via the Pacific Jet Stream.

Major Earthquake, Tsunami Hit Japan

Saudi police open fire at protest

Oil Rises in New York as Libyan Violence Intensifies, Refinery is Bombed

Major Earthquake, Tsunami Hit Japan

March 11, 2011

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off Japan’s northeastern coast, triggering a four meter tsunami that washed away cars along parts of the coastline.Video from national broadcaster NHK showed dozens of cars, large ferries and some buildings being swept out to sea in the port city of Kamaishi in the province of Iwate.The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warming for the entire Pacific coast of Japan following the quake that struck about 125 kilometers off the eastern coast, at a depth of 10 kilometers.  Residents in the coastal areas have been urged to immediately evacuate to higher ground.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the U.S. state of Hawaii said a tsunami warning was also in effect for Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas.  It said a tsunami watch was issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.

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Libya: Reports Of Gaddafi Using Mercenaries To Quell Uprising

     Interesting, but this is not very solid yet. I have been trying to find any information I could about Gaddafi’s supposed use of mercenaries to quell the current uprising there, and this is what I have found so far.  Although this is hard to verify because there is a media block there, and Gaddafi has shut down the internet in his country.

    I do know that guys like this have lots of money because of all the oil and foreign investment. There are reports of part of his military defecting because they are being ordered to attack the protestors. I don’t blame them for leaving and I wouldn’t want to bomb my own countrymen either.  Which both points bring up the question of mercenaries as a possible solution for the dictator.  Would Gaddafi hire thugs from outside of his country to do this dirty work?

     Also, it would be easy for people to confuse the evacuations of expats and oil workers with some kind of mercenary invasion force.  These PSCs are landing at airports to simple provide a secure transport for folks to get out.  From what I gather, companies like SOS International will be involved in evacuations in Libya, similar to what they did in Egypt.

    Finally, Libya is important to watch because it is an OPEC nation.  If oil workers are being evacuated, then oil facilities could be shut down or in danger of being attacked.  Not good and this will impact the oil markets.  And if Saudi Arabia fires up as another domino in this string of uprising dominoes, then stand by for a major shock to the oil market. This will only get more interesting and complex as this fire continues to rage.-Matt

Edit: 02/23/2011 – Check out the comments below. I have posted some really interesting stories that have elaborated on the history of mercenary usage in the middle east, and especially Libya. I will continue to dump stories that are relevant in the comments.

U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government

By Mary Beth Sheridan and Scott WilsonMonday, February 21, 2011

…..Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, who broke with Gaddafi on Monday, urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over the country to prevent mercenaries and arms from reaching the government. But no other major power echoed the call.

Link to quote here.


Libya ‘uses mercenaries’ to keep order on streets as 200 die in violent clashes

20th February 2011

….Security sources suggested the leader has hired foot soldiers from neighbouring states to maintain law and order.

Marc Ginsburg, former U.S. ambassador to Morocco told CNN: ‘First and foremost he (Gaddafi) has security support from Sudan and Pakistan and his intelligence advisers have received significant intelligence support from former KGB officials who were part of the Eastern Bloc countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Belarus.’

Link for quote here.


Gaddafi recruits “African mercenaries” to quell protests

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Libya recruited hundreds of mercenaries from Sub-Saharan Africa to help quell a popular uprising that is threatening to unseat veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi after more than 41 years in office, witness told Al Arabiya from the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday.The witnesses said protesters in Benghazi caught some “African mercenaries” who spoke French and who admitted that they were ordered by Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Khamis Gaddafi, to fire live ammunition at demonstrators.

The witnesses, who refused to be named for security reasons, added that they saw four airplanes carrying “African mercenaries” land in Benina International Airport near the city of Benghazi, the second largest city in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Strategy: The Father Of Strategic Nonviolent Action Gene Sharp, And Mideast Revolution

     For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. -Sun Tzu 

     Based on studies of revolutionaries like Gandhi, nonviolent uprisings, civil rights struggles, economic boycotts and the like, he has concluded that advancing freedom takes careful strategy and meticulous planning, advice that Ms. Ziada said resonated among youth leaders in Egypt. Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. “If you fight with violence,” Mr. Sharp said, “you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.”

     Interesting story and it just reaffirms the view I had that it wasn’t gadgets like Facebook or Twitter that won the day, but just good ol fashion kick ass strategy and planning. I also like the quote up top because it also reinforces the strategy that Boyd talked about by isolating your enemy ‘morally, mentally, and physically’.  With protest, if you decide to go violent and use arms against a government, you have now given that government the moral right to kill you with arms.  Plus if you are killed, you cannot continue the revolution or fight.

    Although what is interesting about this is that there was talk of Mubarak’s forces using their agents as looters to make the anti-Mubarak crowds look morally illegitimate. The attack on reporters, like with Lara Logan, could have been another way of making the anti-Mubarak forces look morally illegitimate. This to me is the essence of the kind of fight going on within a riot in countries with dictators and tyrants. There is much strategy involved with such endeavors.

     Or those governments just pull the trigger, and could care less about morality. Might makes right and  being feared is better than being respected, etc….

     Either way, I wanted to put this up as food for thought.  Especially after reading that the Muslim Brotherhood was interested in these concepts of strategic nonviolent action. Of course if dictators and tyrants have it coming, they deserve what they get.  But the snakes in the grass called jihadists will benefit from these revolutions in the Middle East and elsewhere. It will create power vacuums, and they will certainly do all they can to fill that vacuum.

     Of course on the surface, the West will always try to present the idea that we support dictators and tyrants being overthrown–if it is within our national interest.  But be that as it may, the West also has a lot riding on the relationships, business and treaties it has with these people. Mubarak was an important ally in our war against jihadists, all the way up until he was overthrown.  Now we take the side of the revolutionaries and disgruntled population that overthrew him. Unfortunately this group of revolutionaries have jihadists in the wings that benefit directly, and they participate either overtly or covertly to push these revolutions along. That is why folks like the Muslim Brotherhood have copies of Gene Sharp’s manual in their possession.

     On the flip side, countries like Iran or China should be very fearful of publications like this, and to a degree, the west would benefit from this fear.  These countries have horrible human rights records, and they both military or economic threats.  Don’t forget the really horrible dictators in Africa which should equally be fearful of this current wave of revolution.  I would love to see Mugabe taken down, or any of the other nut job dictators that cause so much grief in Africa.

    Now on to the potential application for our industry.  A company that offered strategic nonviolent action training and advising services, or advising countries facing this kind of attack on government, could be an interesting business to get into.  There are models of success to emulate here, and this kind of work defines the ultimate in winning without killing or fighting.  Another way to look at this type of thing is as a tool to create the right environment for a bloodless coup/non-violent regime change. Notice how the Egyptian Army is now in charge of Egypt, and they didn’t have to fire a shot (figuratively speaking–there were deaths in this uprising).

     I do realize the history of meddling in other nation’s business and stoking revolutions–sometimes you get what you ask for. lol But what is different now is the advent of super empowered individuals, jihadists, organized crime, and nations with ill means, all being able to apply these principles to the overthrow of leaders to achieve strategic goals. Could a criminal organization like a drug cartel use these concepts in their war against governments and leaders? How about Hamas or Hezbollah using these methods to foster overthrow in their target countries (with Iranian support of course) I mean this stuff isn’t just for peaceniks. With revolutions and protest blowing up across the middle east, this stuff is very important to analyze and ultimately synthesize solutions for attacks or defenses.- Matt

From Dictatorship To Democracy, by Gene Sharp (also on my Sribd)

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution


February 16, 2011

BOSTON — Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.

But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.

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Black Swan Events: Volcano Illustrates World’s Interconnectedness

   What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives. –Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan


   I have decided to add a new category that actually talks about events that have far reaching effects.  Natural disasters and war are examples, and the reason we need to talk about that here is that contractors are very much needed in order to deal with these kinds of events.  Contractor operations are also impacted by these events, and this stuff can really screw up the logistics for some global operation. As I speak, there are contractors waiting to go home who can’t, or guys in airports just waiting around for their flight.  Logistics for the wars will be impacted as well.  That is why we need to care.

   BSE (Black Swan Events) can also arise from political upheaval or coups.  A BSE could be something small like a extremely deadly virus, or something odd that changes the dynamic.  Drones could be considered BSE’s, because they are something new to warfare that is forcing everyone to rethink strategies.

   I also don’t want to get in the habit of calling everything new a BSE.(I will use Nassim’s three attributes for BSE’s) This category will be for only the big stuff, that really shakes the world.  This volcano is one of those events, much like the Haiti earthquake or the Polish leadership getting killed in a plane accident.  Thanks to Matt for giving me the heads up and cluing me in on the BSE potential. –Matt


Volcano illustrates world’s interconnectedness


April 17, 2010

CHICAGO — A volcano erupts in Iceland, and the effects ripple around the globe: A mom in Romania frets about making her son’s wedding in Texas. A florist in New York worries shipments won’t arrive. Patients awaiting treatment in Nigeria have to wait another week for the doctors.

The fallout from the ash cloud looming over Europe illustrates just how interconnected our world has become.

Thousands of planes fly millions of passengers and tons of cargo each day, providing the economic lifeblood of nations and businesses. The flights deliver products for sale or items as small as a specialized tool that lets a factory keep operating.

The planes also bring medicines to hospitals and food aid to earthquake or hurricane victims. And they bring war and peace. Soldiers are often transported to and from hot spots by air.

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