Years ago, I wrote a Master’s Thesis on the history of the Peshmerga, the fighting force of the Kurdish people. At the time, it was the first study on the Peshmerga as a military organization. While many other books and papers explored the Kurdish political movement, none had looked at personnel, tactics, and strategies of the Peshmerga.

Since 2005, there have been several books published on the Peshmerga. My paper has been cited in a few.

The latest book I found was Dr. Simon Ross Valentine’s book “Peshmerga: Those Who Face Death”. Dr. Valentine’s book begins in ancient times when…


Articles I found interesting in February 2021:

A Cyber Threat Intelligence Self-Study Plan: Part 1 — Katie’s Five Cents, Katie Nickels, 2/23/2021

I read everything Katie Nickels shares. Even if I have learned it before. Katie is one of the foremost experts on Cyber Threat Intelligence and is so amazing at sharing her knowledge. This post, for example, is an absolutely excellent primer on CTI — from the basics of Intelligence to how it applies to cyber security to models to community. This post is pretty much the class I taught on CTI in a 10-minute read. It’s that good.


I have followed J.M. Berger on social media for several years. When he announced he was writing a novel, my ears immediately perked up. OpTIMAL was everything I thought it would be, plus more.

J.M. Berger is an expert in dystopian literature, and his blog World Gone Wrong.net is full of great articles on dystopian and radical media. Berger has also published multiple academic books and papers on extremism and the use of media. Everything he writes is worth checking out.

Taken from the headlines of today’s media landscape, OpTIMAL takes place in a world driven by algorithms and the…


With so much Dr. Seuss in the news lately, I can’t pass a golden opportunity to discuss my favorite Dr. Seuss book, The Butter Battle Book. While The Butter Battle Book is not one of the books mentioned in the current news cycle, it should be. The Butter Battle Book has never been more relevant.

For those who don’t know The Butter Battle Book, it is the story of the Yooks and the Zooks, two neighboring societies with one drastic difference: while the Yooks butter their bread on the top, the Zooks butter their bread on the bottom. …


A list of the articles I found interesting in January 2021.

Why We ‘Send Them Money’ — Raphael S. Cohen, RAND, 12/30/2020

This was my favorite article of the month. In this short blog, the author answers the common questions many Americans have with why it is in the US’s best interest to help other nations with development, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and global health.

Is the SolarWinds Cyberattack an Act of War? It Is, If the United States Says It Is. — Yevgeny Vindman, Lawfare, 1/26/2021

Good article on the legal and philosophical determinations of cyber conflict retaliation. At what point…


There are few things more exciting than seeing your name in print. For even the average writer, publishing is a wonderful process. When people read your words, and when they are moved or touched, it is even more exhilarating.

If the average writer can move people voluntarily with their words, imagine if an entire population is forced to read a writer’s work. Imagine if the entire mechanics of a nation’s publishing are behind a writer’s sales. The sky is the limit no matter how good or bad the work.

Throughout the 20th century, several of the world’s most dictators wrote…


Here are the articles I found most interesting from December 2020:

‘I Forget About the World:’ Afghan Youth Find Escape in a Video Game — Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Fatima Faizi, New York Times, 11/23/2020

Great article on the growth of video games in Afghanistan. In a country surrounded by violence, one of the most popular games is a huge multi-player game PlayerUnknown Battleground. Not only is PUBG giving young Afghans a virtual place to escape, it is also giving them a place to control their environment. Amazing for a country and societies did not have this capability 10 years ago.


Here are the articles I found most interesting from November 2020. I need to catch up with all the articles I have saved.

The Militarization of U.S. Politics: How Trump’s Presidency Opened the Door to Armed Electoral Interference — Aila M. Matanock and Paul Staniland, Foreign Affairs, 10/29/2020

Powerful article on the poisoning of politics in America by armed groups. The threat of violence has no place in the diplomacy of civilized people. This however, is a kicker of a paragraph.

“A core finding from research on electoral violence is that the cohesive, consistent repression and deterrence of nonstate armed…


A few months ago, I finally decided to invest in cryptocurrencies. I figured I would get in on the fun and throw a few bucks in a digital wallet with the capability to buy and sell crypto.

(fwiw, I use Uphold. It pairs with the Brave browser that pays you to click ads. I am making money through Brave even before I invest via Uphold. Totally recommended. I should write a post on this process soon.)

I bought some bitcoin. It went up a bit. That was nice.

Then I bought some dogecoin.

For those who don’t know, dogecoin is…

Michael Lortz

Writer. Analyst. Instructor. Sometimes serious. Sometimes creative. Just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.

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