Rules for Radicals

It was written in 1971, but this still seems like a cool book:

For an elementary illustration of tactics, take parts of your face as the point of reference; your eyes, your ears, and your nose. First the eyes: if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power. Second the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does. Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

Always remember the first rule of power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

The second rule is: Never go outside the experience of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat. It also means a collapse of communication, as we have notes.

The third rule is: Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.

The fourth rule carries within in the fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.

The sixth rule is: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.

The seventh rule: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

[...]

The twelfth rule: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying "You're right--we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us."

The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 7:20 AM • 74 Comments

Comments

Jeff MedcalfMay 17, 2012 7:34 AM

Yes, it's brilliant strategy in the pursuit of an absolutely evil end.

Danny MoulesMay 17, 2012 7:45 AM

"Yes, it's brilliant strategy in the pursuit of an absolutely evil end."

Democracy is an evil end? Overthrowing a dictator is an evil end? These techniques are morally agnostic - they can be used towards any political end.

Mario VilasMay 17, 2012 7:51 AM

Why evil? In fact I don't see anything in that excerpt about the purpose behind the tactics. Like most tactics they can be employed by any side in a war.

bobMay 17, 2012 7:54 AM

"freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it"

For some reason, this reminds me of Microsoft's unofficial motto, "embrace, extend, extinguish".

Uncle KennyMay 17, 2012 7:59 AM

Really, you are just discovering this now? And you are unaware that this is Obama's playbook? That Alinsky was the ur community organizer, working in Chicago in the thirties to advance what was, by his own admission, a collectivist agenda? That Obama himself taught Alinsky tactics as part of his community organizing career? Surely you can't be that naive. These rules have nothing to do with democracy or liberty.

supergeeMay 17, 2012 8:01 AM

When Martin Luther King wanted to integrate housing in Chicago, the white working-class people opposed him with the tactics they'd learned from Saul Alinsky.

LollardfishMay 17, 2012 8:23 AM

It's interesting how Alinsky has become a buzzword for anti-Obama discourse in America. I suppose it's the power of the conservative media to operate in lockstep across platform and scale, so once a Corsi or other charlatan picks up on a useful attack, it becomes replicated.

Inconsequential voterMay 17, 2012 8:56 AM

Based on the excerpts above, it seems that the Obama faction has read the book and is applying its principles.

eve_wears_a_badgeMay 17, 2012 9:19 AM

@Inconsequential voter Most but not all of these tactics work best for groups that don't control a government so they aren't that helpful to a government official.

Not sure what Obama has to do with a discussion of tactics unless you are providing specific examples you don't seem to adding anything to the discussion. Sadly, it sounds like you are just trying to win political points rather than add to a meaningful discussion about the security and tactics.

MilanMay 17, 2012 9:27 AM

All these strategies need to be applied in the fight against climate change today. The status quo forces trying to get us to do nothing are extremely strong, and most of the people who climate change will harm haven't yet been born.

will shetterlyMay 17, 2012 9:37 AM

"When Martin Luther King wanted to integrate housing in Chicago, the white working-class people opposed him with the tactics they'd learned from Saul Alinsky."

Huh? Got a citation? I'm trying to imagine working class people of any hue studying Alinsky and failing. But I don't have any trouble imagining rich folks using some of these tactics. It's not like Alinsky invented them; he just wrote 'em down. Ultimately, they're just the inverse of Gandhi's observation: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Also, the idea that Obama, friend of bankers everywhere, is a secret radical is funny, but I realize that if you're far to the right, people who are right of center will look like radical leftists.

Clive RobinsonMay 17, 2012 9:39 AM

You can mostly work these rules out for yourself.

For instance,

... the fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

I've been urging people to mock the TSA in any way possible for many years on this blog, pointing out that the choice the TSA has is "to swallow it" or act and no matter how they act there action will just make them look more stupid.

Dictators and opresive governments have known this for more than a Century and have always tried to stop ridicule before it happens or nip it in the bud, for once it has flowered it sows the seeds of their destruction.

Even in a faux democracy like the US they have to "appear" to play by their own rules, which is why you can get away with it.

If you think back the only time people decided to chalenge the TSA the TSA ran away and hid, rather than face public humiliation.

Mark PingMay 17, 2012 9:59 AM

Why evil? In fact I don't see anything in that excerpt about the purpose behind the tactics. Like most tactics they can be employed by any side in a war.

Well, his hat tip to Lucifer is a bit of a clue. The fact that it's a manual of how to fight dirty and was aimed against the most free society in history is another. If you agree that the ends justify the means, I guess you have no problem with the book.

AdamMay 17, 2012 10:09 AM

Rule 12 is why the Occupy movement came to a crashing halt. The protest was initially effective but it wasn't accompanied by any coherent remedial demands presented by leaders speaking for the moment. So the movement had nowhere to go except down and that's exactly what happened.

EdMay 17, 2012 10:10 AM

"most free society in history "

A proto-fascist society built upon the murdered bones of the indigenous people.

Danny MoulesMay 17, 2012 10:14 AM

"If you agree that the ends justify the means, I guess you have no problem with the book."

An instructional manual doesn't have an end beyond 'being read' - and providing knowledge of any kind is typically considered positive. There is no pursuit inherent in what is written there, even if there was in the intent of the author.

ChristopherMay 17, 2012 10:28 AM

It's a Cool Tool, for sure, and as a tool, can be wielded in the most surprising and unintended ways.

Seth GordonMay 17, 2012 10:31 AM

@will: My quick Googling doesn’t reveal a source, but I have heard this story before, as a critique of Alinsky’s methods: they’re all tactics, disconnected from broader social goals. Put those tactics in the hands of a community full of racists, and they can be used for racist goals.

TomMay 17, 2012 10:48 AM

Other than using this for insight about the depravity of Alinsky and his followers, and granting that we defend systems and information from many of them, what redeeming value does this book have?

FigureitoutMay 17, 2012 10:55 AM

@ Adam

With regards to "Occupy", the funds dried up and the police cracked down. 6th rule applies, who wants to live in a tent for days on end with poor sanitary conditions. The 7th rule applies too, they needed new tactics rather than just sitting around someplace.

if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

--Kind of reminds me of the Greece protests, where they were burning trash, dumping it in the streets. Basically its a tactic of everyone not being able to enjoy public property.

I would also say to those that use these tactics, to fight the name given to you: "Radicals", or if you can't get a new name then relate yourselves to "revolutionaries of the past", because that usually evokes strong/prideful emotions (even though we've been conditioned to think that, my favorite example is the droning recital of the 'Pledge of Allegiance' while we were children). But now these tactics are publicly stated and can be studied and can have countermeasures enacted against them.

Saul AlinskyMay 17, 2012 10:57 AM

"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

-- Saul Alinsky

EnderMay 17, 2012 11:00 AM

No one on this blog would argue that publishing a new hacking technique is "evil", and this is just social hacking. Moreover, some group of people already knew this. As is pointed out so often, we are all safer when the vulnerabilities are known and can be countered.

Further, by publishing the manual, the author has given the defenders notice of the attackers' playbook. Both sides potentially benefit. Victory goes to the side that most effectively uses that knowledge.

TheGreatGazooMay 17, 2012 11:09 AM

Put those tactics in the hands of a community full of racists, and they can be used for racist goals.

Agreed.

Put Alinsky tactics in the hands of a black racialist with power and racialist policies will accrue ....

Put Alinksy tactics in the hands of a socialist with power and economic opportunity evaporates ....

Put Alinsky tactics in the hands of one who believes in top-down, centralized control and freedom erodes ....

By the way, there is a photo that is often used in tandem with articles about Obama's time spent as a lecturer at university. The photo is actually of him teaching Alinsky tactics -- the information on the blackboard in the photo is clearly visible and is straight out of Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals' (I've forgotten which chapter).

It's always amusing when technical people fumble and stumble into politics. Pure comedy ensues.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 11:36 AM

I believe the comments regarding 'evil' reference Alinsky's efforts [in this book] to extinguish, fragile, inexplicable, imperfect sociopolitical freedom in context of the Untied States of America (purposeful mispekling).

Ben Franklin made reference to same when asked what we now had: "A republic, if you can keep it."

Apparently, we cannot, as we have descended from a republic, to a democracy (mob rule), to a socialist state, the underpinnings of which were put in place as early as the late 1800s.

Our current Commander in Chief is a 'social democrat': instead of The State owning and controlling everything, just have it control everything, and leave the private sector holding the bag.

I believe this probably qualifies as 'evil', using the dictionary definition of same.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 11:40 AM

"It's always amusing when technical people fumble and stumble into politics. Pure comedy ensues."

This statement suggests that technical people, as with all people [according to marxist precept] have only one, narrow and specialized talent or perspective peak on which they can operate without their pants falling down around their ankles. Farmers are farmers. Tech people are tech people.

The ridicule component also follows the same tired line of Alinsky's ridicule theorem.

I wonder if this was intentional, ironical, moronical or unconscious-acle.

Brandioch ConnerMay 17, 2012 11:53 AM

I'm more interested in how many of the posts in this forum are from IP addresses that have never posted before.

I am always fascinated by how many "new" people post on forums when specific topics (that are not the norm for that forum) are the subject.

I guess that ties in with Bruce's new book "Liars and Outliers".

jobewanMay 17, 2012 12:08 PM

As long as -your- needs are being met, that's what counts. (Note to Alinskyites: if you're going to ridicule someone, it pays (or doesn't, in your case, since you're donating your efforts to the greater good) to have more than a juvenile modicum of talent at doing so.)

All quasi-joking silliness aside, that was a pretty awesome segue out of the gestalt of poring over the sociopolitical tree bark, and back to viewing the forest.

acMay 17, 2012 12:09 PM

I remember when the comments on this blog didn't read like the comments section of my local paper.

So since political astroturfing is essentially the same problem as spam, what do you think is the best way to deal with it?

jobewanMay 17, 2012 12:09 PM

"I'm more interested in how many of the posts in this forum are from IP addresses that have never posted before."

I post, therefore I am?

Fred PMay 17, 2012 12:13 PM

I'm surprised about the number of local, current political comments on a security blog about a book of tactics written over forty years ago.

A number of groups break the second rule; this is what makes some organizations have poor support (particularly over time), and others have a lot of support.

RIchard M NixonMay 17, 2012 12:15 PM

"I'm trying to imagine working class people of any hue studying Alinsky and failing."

Jesus Christ on a nuclear pogo stick. Where do you think Alinsky learned how to organize? You think he made this stuff up out of whole cloth? No: he learned it from labor organizers. You could get a good grounding in Alinsky's rules by going through the labor songbook. His innovation was to adapt the lessons to the community organizing that became his métier.

Sentiments like that among the smug children of the Left in my time are why I grabbed a huge chunk of the labor vote in '72: I at least pretended to take the working class seriously.

Nixon 2012; nixonrising.org

jobewanMay 17, 2012 12:16 PM

Without a sociopolitical construct, all that we ply in the info/infosec trades cannot exist. The info we seek to protect and trade in belongs to that construct; the two can never be discretely separated, as they are part of the same whole. The values of the underlying construct drive the implementation of infosec. Is that not entirely and wholly clear? That's why spam is something else entirely; it lacks context.

I have never seen a local paper that produced anything like this level of clarity and perspective. You are very lucky, indeed to have such an organ in your community.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 12:19 PM

The subject matter posed by this blog's owner and operator is in this case, about a book on sociopolitical overthrow. I didn't post it; he did.

Perhaps we should classify Mr. Schneier's musings here as spam, and delete/block his input from the discussion.

Nick PMay 17, 2012 12:31 PM

This is a very clear, effective set of rules. I'll put it with Sun Tzu and Clausewitz. Another book set to look into, which has rules + examples, is Robert Green's books on war strategy and power. The former book made me a huge fan of Napoleon. One of the best leaders/managers/strategists in history.

Cheat Sheet for Power Laws
http://www2.tech.purdue.edu/cg/courses/cgt411/covey/48_laws_of_power.htm

Wikipedia - 33 strategies of war
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War

Not AlinskyMay 17, 2012 12:34 PM

Mr. Schneier may have posted this to simply get more attention to his site. Sometimes BLOG posts like this can take all the momentum of your flywheel and slow it to a crawl. Unfortunately for Mr. Schneier you can't take back what you post on the internet.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 12:54 PM

Point taken. Flywheel rotation logs and environment under risk assessment review.

Results:

- ALE: several times annually
- SLE: several hundred RPMs lost per event

Recommendations include:

- Spinning flywheel back up to pre-sociopolitical discourse speeds by application of copious amounts of geekspeek
- Assign portion of risk through implementation of cybersecurity/liability insurance
- Acknowledge/assume balance of risk of potential for recurrence of flywheel slowdown due to inordinate influence of sociopolitical coneheads.
- Quarterly reviews by Risk Subcommittee

END OF DOCUMENT

BrandonMay 17, 2012 12:58 PM

It's been established or some time - depending on who you pay attention to - that any discussion of Alinsky is also a reflection of Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorhn, et al. I know just saying this is new to some, and inflamatory to others, and that's rather sad in both cases. 

In 1998, a small Chicago theater company staged a play titled The Love Song of Saul Alinsky, dedicated to the life and politics of the radical community organizer whose methods Obama had practiced and taught on Chicago’s South Side.

Obama was not only in the audience, but also took the stage after one performance, participating in a panel discussion that was advertised in the poster for the play. 

The content of the play is fascinating, if a little eerie. For more, read here:
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/03/04/obama-alinsky-love-song
Though some will refuse to believe it, there's some truth in that article, and it ought to be known.

Ken KMay 17, 2012 1:09 PM

I've noticed that Alinsky tends to bring out the worst people, and the worst in people.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 1:24 PM

That's not very nice, Ken (K).

It may be true. But it's not very nice.

TheGreatGazooMay 17, 2012 1:34 PM

I've noticed that Alinsky tends to bring out the worst people, and the worst in people.

You're right. We don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us.

Brandioch ConnerMay 17, 2012 2:03 PM

@jobewan
"I post, therefore I am?"

No. What you post and why you post it is the "I am" of that statement.

Can you link to a previous post of yours in a previous forum on Bruce's site?

Otherwise this seems to be a case where a number of previously unseen commentators appear for a specific topic that is not the usual fare for the site.

jobewanMay 17, 2012 2:26 PM

I was being facetious, @Brandioch. My apologies if the end result was perhaps only half as clever as originally thought.

I and a number of others appear to be ready for a sea change in the conversation back to a more technical bent, so I am avoiding any further bunny-trailing.

user@example.comMay 17, 2012 2:58 PM

Oh no he alinskys are coming for us! I MUST POST AND DEFEND ARE FREEDOMS FROM BARACK 'LHITLERALLY HITLER'OBAMA

Thanks, Bruce, for posting something cool and also for attracting the nuts to your blog for my amusement. Please post about google ron paul tomorrow, that'll be funny.

Your poor comment section must suffer so I can laugh at the American right's commenting brigade.

(by the way, guys, I'm listening to the Internationale right now)

kingsnakeMay 17, 2012 2:59 PM

I never knew Sun Tzu smoked weed and looked like Abby Hoffman ...

user@example.comMay 17, 2012 3:03 PM

"Mr. Schneier may have posted this to simply get more attention to his site. Sometimes BLOG posts like this can take all the momentum of your flywheel and slow it to a crawl. Unfortunately for Mr. Schneier you can't take back what you post on the internet."

Hear that Bruce? From now on, you will forever be "Bruce who posted and apparently approved of Alinsky in some way."

The Internet will never forget, and your career will collapse. In a month you'll be living in a cardboard box. In two, a FEMA community organiser will dump your corpse into a mass grave for not being black enough for the new (black) world order.

BrandonMay 17, 2012 3:58 PM

The book, and the rules, are a fascinating look at how to attack, and how to be divisive and be very effective at it. It's no coincidence that it's followers are all tear-down-the-establishment types. Heck, that was BHO's m.o. before he bece the establishment.

This brings neither unity nor answers to problems, but if you cannot win against your enemy in a fair fight, these ideas surely help tip the scales in your favor.

That said, sometimes these tactics are necessary. Some people are so entrenched in their ideology or so devoted to their demagogue that it takes shock tactics to get their attention.

But in the end, like money, this book is not inherently good or bad; it's just a tool. When you put it in the hands of a human, that's when it takes on a life of it's own, for better or worse.

It is troubling, though, that this book tends to attract the worst sort, and tends to lead people to do bad things.

TrogdorMay 17, 2012 4:13 PM

The book is a great fit for this blog. The hist and readers are interested in security, i.e. protecting something. The book is all about attacking, especially from a position of weakness, or as an outsider.

OccupierMay 17, 2012 4:18 PM

The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this

This is why "limousine liberal" and "gulfstream environmentalist" are such effective terms.

MikefMay 17, 2012 4:28 PM

I will grant you I've only posted here but once or twice. I am a privacy guru, not technical, and know only enough about security to know I'd better ask an expert. So, you can imagine my surprise to come along here today, expecting my usual puzzlement at the technical discussions, to find the place has gone mental. Crazy, I'm tellin' ya.

I'm also a Canadian and a trade unionist and free as a bird. So I am puzzled by the discussion. Just not in the usual way.

vMay 17, 2012 4:51 PM

I can almost see Saul Alinsky smiling...
Lots of right wing people jumping in to comment on a blog they're never visited - following rule 13... in the process lining themselves for rule 5 to hit them squarely between the eyes.
God bless their foolish cold hearts.

E FrakerMay 17, 2012 5:06 PM

Anybody who thinks that any tool - book, hammer, car, etc - can be evil needs to reevaluate their value system.

I bet they yell at their computer too...

Dirk PraetMay 17, 2012 6:57 PM

if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

A tactic which over the years I have successfully applied on more than one occasion in street cars, at bars and concerts where there were just too many people standing too close. Clive can undoubtedly come up with some efficient diet as to yield the best results in terms of body gas production.

In the same context, it is quite remarkable how sympathetic managers and co-workers are to keep you away from the shopfloor when reporting in sick based on "gastric problems" as opposed to some deceased relative whose funeral you have to attend.

As for those criticizing Bruce for alledgedly sympathising with Alinsky, they may wish to turn their arrows to politicians on all sides of the spectrum practising on a daily basis the teachings of one Niccolo Machiavelli as laid out in "Il Principe".

Jay from BKKMay 17, 2012 8:31 PM

@Bruce

Your blog software should not be trying to put markup into the title tag. It's just not done.

Brian McMahonMay 17, 2012 9:38 PM

@Ender:

'No one on this blog would argue that publishing a new hacking technique is "evil"'

s/wo/sho/

Neil in ChicagoMay 17, 2012 9:38 PM

Mr. Schneier may have posted this to simply get more attention to his site is my nominee for the most bogglingly ignorant and silly comment so far. (Oh Bruce! You unknown groveling shamelessly after notoriety!)

It's really a pity so few people know anything at all about Alinsky.
It's no surprise so many people use him as a screen to project their fears onto.

Dr. I. Needtob AtheMay 17, 2012 10:31 PM

We don't know if Bruce Schneier approves or disapproves of Saul Alinsky. You can approve of something a person said without necessarily approving of the person himself. A good example is the introductory quote to Chapter Two of A Universe From Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss:

CHAPTER 2

A COSMIC MYSTERY STORY: WEIGHING THE UNIVERSE

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know."

—Donald Rumsfeld

Clive RobinsonMay 17, 2012 11:11 PM

Hmm, I'm begining. to hear the sounds of little rodent claws scrambling away on a maze floor...

For those attacking our host for being pro/anti whatever political view point you hold, you realy need to assess what it says about you as an individual and thus how others perceive you by your words and deeds.

It is a well recognised principle going back considerably more than four thousand years that knowledge of not just your enemy but also yourself is important if you intend to take up arms for either offence or defence.

The problem with defence is that you don't always know who your enemies are, some of them certainly proffess to being loyal friends and allies whilst quietly and secretly conspiring your down fall. Thus a wise man has to assume that any man may be both his friend and enemy in any measure at any time, and should therefore have some method of either determination or mitigation. Thus the studying of humans in general and also the study of those who have studied humans is a reasonable action of self defence. Afterall as noted in many ways by many people over many years, history tells us much about the future, and not being cognizant of histories lessons is a fairly good way to relive them often painfully (think financial institutions such as banks and deregulation for instance for a recent example of such a failing to learn from history).

As I noted the other day, hierarchical behaviour appears to be a part of the human condition. It brings with it some things that are of benifit and thus perhaps good but mostly it brings bad in the longterm. The bad almost always arises because we abdicate our responsabilities to keep the hierarchy honest especialy at the top. Thus is the bad our own fault for failing or the fault of those at the top for being bad?

Because of this bad occasionaly even the most core of our societal hierarchies need to be torn down and thrown on the bonfire of history, hopefully to stop it's embedded putriessence spreading and contaminating all with it's malaise and malfeasance.

Now it does not matter if you are at the top of the hierarchy or seaking to bring forth a new one phoenix like from the ashes of the existing one, study of the ways and means of bringing down a hierarchy is a requirment for defence or offence. Thus like any tool it is agnostic in nature, it is the mind behind the hand that wealds the tool where good or bad is to be found and the determination of which is based solely on your own viewpoint. That is one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist.

But back to the scrambling of rodents, has it occured to people that Bruce has moved his research interests from the purely technical, through social and economic and even political through to the psychology of security? In essence it is what his current book is about...

Now one of the recognised problems with psychology is experimentation, partly because unlike hard science where you deal with the inanimate and thus reliably repeatable, it's test subjects learn from each experiment. The speed at which the test subjects recognise and or start to adapt to or "game" the experiment is an indicator not just of the inate intelligence but also the learned intelligence of the test subjects...

However some of the smaller rodents appear to be either incapable of, or extreamly slow in learning from the experiment, and are thus condemned by their own limitations to almost always respond to the experimental stimulus the same way, even though the stimulus may frequently occur outside of any experiment. Thus a light is turned on and a knee jerk action sends the rodents scurrying and squeaking to the place they expect a reward.

Unfortunatly as with the rodents there are some humans who appear to get stuck into a Pavlovian response to anything their limited perspective and outlook regards as being an attack on their entrenched viewpoint. Thus they fail to see either an experiment or even an unrelated stimulus for what it is, they assume their cherished, nurtured and thoroughly entrenched but usuall contextualy irrelevant values are being attacked...

Hence the old saw of,

"Of mice and men..."

Clive RobinsonMay 18, 2012 4:26 AM

@ Dirk Praet, Nick P,

Clive can undoubtedly come up with some efficient diet as to yield the best results in terms of body gas production.

Hmmm...

I'm not sure how to respond to such a loaded question that has a certain wiff about it, so I'll take it with a pinch of salt and cover both options ;-)

In that occasionaly refreshingly direct American way Nick P has called me an "Old Fart"... in (I hope) a humorous way. So you request could be a more refined or "sniffy" way of saying the same thing, but in the typicaly English "nose in the air" indirect way :-)

If not... Then I'll get down to the more maloderous task...

Your typical colon etc is I've been told (by a specialist) is good for atleast five solid evacuations a day and apparently in the US the average male makes a gaseous emission between 10 and 30 times a day...

Such gaseous emmissions can be considered to consist of three parts a carrier gas, water and a collection of arromatics. As such it is very similar to a perfume such as "toilet water".

The carrier gas can be from two basic sources air/gas injested with food and fluid or from the action of "gut flora" in the delightfully named "methane fixation" (much wanted in natural gas producing bio-digestors). Obviously the larger the quantity of carrier gas the grater the emission will be and presumably the faster it will make it's aromatics felt by others in the olfactory sense.

I'm told that the level of gas production is down to certain types of soluble fiber and proteins found in the likess of edible brassicas and also certain pulses.

The aromatics are produced by the break down of proteins and this is where the real fun is... As quite a few pet owners are aware the "scat" of carnivors is quite unplesant and can induce vomiting in those ove a sensitive nature and should be kept out of the garden as it rarely makes usefull compost. However the output of herbiovours is almost pleasently aromatic (in comparison) and can have a warm rich smell from the larger quadrapeds.

In omnivourous creatures the results are dependent on the ratio as well as types of proteins involved.

Therefore a diet high in cabbage and pulses (beans) will produce large volumes of carrier gas. However the protein content of beans is not particularly good at making "gut wrenching" smells just full and rich ones (like a certain very expensive coffee passed by a civit cat). It is known that "ground beef" and "egg" proteins produce particularly offencive odors esspecialy if raw, and likewise some easter European sausages even when cooked...

So a diet of Russian Cabbage Soup and Steak tarta might give you the desired results.

I must say however "I Am Not A Dietician" and therfore I would treat my comments with care...

askme233May 18, 2012 8:24 AM

@Clive

I don't always read all the way through a Clive post, but when I do, Clive is the most interesting poster on the site.

(referring to M&M)

jobewanMay 18, 2012 9:44 AM

Apart from the indisputable entertainment value, it is illuminating to see the chasm defined between the 'half-full' and 'half-empty' camps here.

More accurately, it seems more like 'half-full' and 'completely-empty'. In many cases, the members of the latter group can probably trace their ancestry all the way back to The Grinch, or his little dog, Max.

It's probably a vitamin D3 deficiency.

CidemMay 18, 2012 11:08 AM

Thank you! I checked out the book after reading about it here and it is truly awesome! It is a great look at tactics and perceptions of conflict. Especially in today's types of war in which deception and cover operations are so much more important than crude power. I recommend this book to anyone interested in military strategy.

FigureitoutMay 18, 2012 12:30 PM

Clive can undoubtedly come up with some efficient diet as to yield the best results in terms of body gas production.

@Dirk

Come now, you know better than to give Clive a challenge! :) I've come to the conclusion that English bastard with his typicaly English "nose in the air" is the real-life version of the "Most Interesting Man in the World" meme. Sometimes I don't know if I'd rather meet him or Bruce!!

ChrisMay 18, 2012 1:17 PM

user@example.com: not bad, only 40-some posts before invoking Erwin's Law

This has been one of the most fascinating conversations I've read in a while.

At first I was a little uneasy about Mr. Schneier posting stuff from Rules for Radicals, but it took one of the users to hit me over the head to realize why he posted about it: The psychology of attacking. I haven't read this book and I should but it seems to just spell out in great detail Sun Tzu's concept of turning one's weaknesses to strengths and turning the enemy's strength into weakness

It is powerful knowledge. But so is a book by Sun Tzu, Edward Bernays, Ben Franklin, Adam Smith, or Isaac Newton

cleekMay 18, 2012 2:27 PM

"These rules have nothing to do with democracy or liberty."

i'm always amazed at just how stupid conservatism requires its followers to be. it's breathtaking.

Nick PMay 18, 2012 8:09 PM

@ Clive Robinson re: dirk praet

Sound analysis. Ill add that the show Braniac did a (hesitates) "scientific" test to determine which of several foods produced the worst smell. I betted correctly on brussel sprouts.

Side note: Yeah i was teasing you aboug being an old fart at PRQ.

2B|!2B aka TrueMay 18, 2012 10:01 PM

I have seen many of the described tactics used to serious and destructive effect by the gang-stalking domestic terrorists in my neck of the woods. So in that regard this description is very pertinent to security, by informing those who might be targeted or those who investigate or prosecute such acts.

AntonMay 19, 2012 8:20 PM

It appears that some are trying to apply Alinsky's fifth (ridicule) law to attack this blog!

The SoapMay 20, 2012 1:45 PM

@Dr. I. NeedtobAthe, the guy quoting rumsfeld didn't realize that

Rumsfeld quoted "The Kybalion". That book, a treatise on Hermetic Philosophy, was first published 1912 by "Yogi Publication Society, Masonic Temple, Chicago, Il".

Funny how the one time Rumsfeld gets quoted for something thoughtful it wasn't even his.

Brandoch DahaMay 27, 2012 5:52 AM

I've long been fascinated by the various "rules" of conflict - not just the "laws of war" - and I thought the rules quoted were self-evident to anyone who bothered to think about the topic.

For someone interested in the psychology of security, security theatre, and the like, this sort of book is a god-send; so is Dr. Linebarger's book on propaganda, Psychological Warfare for example. Etc ...

N WaffAugust 22, 2012 9:32 AM

.....

some would consider it "cool" that Saul Alinsky admired the first radical - Satan.

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