I listen to every episode of the Cognitive Crucible, but I don’t always post about them. It’s only if something jumps out at me.
And this time, I almost made it through the last two episodes without jotting anything down, and they both got me as they came to a close.
In episode #111, John Bicknell speaks with Dr. Victoria Coleman on her role as the Chief Scientist for the United States Air Force.
Good episode, I was enjoying it, and just as it was closing, two interesting things happened. First, when John started the “lightning round,” where he says a word or phrase and has the guest respond with whatever comes up, he offers “video games.” Dr. Coleman responded that she doesn’t play video games, but understands the importance.
Ok, nothing crazy there.
But then, when asked to recommend a book, Dr. Coleman offered the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
At the risk of oversimplifying, Romance of the Three Kingdoms is an epic novel that tells the tale of Chinese unification in the second and third century. Think A History of the Peloppenesian War meets Game of Thrones.
What struck me here, though, was the fact that this is a title and a series that many readers of this blog will know from the video game series that is based on the novel. I first learned of the treachery of Dong Zhuo, the brotherhood of Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei, and the ferocity of Lu Bu through playing the game as a kid (and as an adult). It’s one of the games that introduced me to the idea of palace intrigue and political warfare.
Incidentally, I had used a screen grab from one of the games as the header for a recent post on irregular warfare and the role of diplomats. Diplomacy (and treachery) plays a critical role in Romance, and it seeemed fitting.
If you’re not paying attention to gaming, you’re missing out. Which is why I scribbled the note down here. In the space of just a few moments, there was a serious connection missed between these two things – an epic Chinese novel and video games.
Now onto episode #112 with Jake Sotriadis.
Another fine episode, this one on the concept of future studies. Almost finished it, and then at the ~43:00 mark they wrap up with the “concept of the right answer”:
“When we’re talking about problems in the strategic environment that are linked to human nature, you realize very quickly that you’re not going to be able to “quant” your way – if you will – out of the problem.”
No matter how many people point this out, senior leaders demand we put a number on it.
There has to be another way.
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