Friday, October 30, 2009

THE POINT OF REVERSAL - FEAR and the FUTURE

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The Point Of Reversal

Dear Friends and Fellow Futurists:

Two of the principal behavioral characteristics which have guided the course of Human history (albeit haphazardly), and which will undoubtedly play their respective roles in shaping the future, are 1) fear and 2) aggression. By "aggression," I mean the appetite to grow, to own, to control, to dominate, to acquire and to win -- the ultimate manifestation of a need to assert one's own self-worth. 

Aggressors conquer while the frightened majority cower and submit. The forces seem opposed, but they are sides of the same coin.

Fear is a demonstrably more powerful motivator than opportunism (or aggression) in the vast majority of people. Fear breeds compromise, complacency and a feudal system of social organization. A world of slaves and masters.

The great curiousity here is the paradoxical point of reversal -- the point where there is so much fear and pent-up frustration, that the dispossessed, the ghetto constituency, and the downtrodden become so numb with pain that it drives them to the point of revolt or rebellion. After all, if you are "tired yet wired" with too much fear, suppression can convert of aggression. The issue is: at what moment will a point of reversal take place in the foreseeable future?

Points of reversal cause rebellions, revolutions, an occasional beheading (Marie Antoinette) and a shift in the balance of power. The eerie sense of "nothing to lose" makes for bold and oftimes violent counteractions.

The article which follows was written for Braintenance, another blog which I contribute to.

My questions to those of you who are truly trend-spotters, behaviorists and dedicated futurists are:

1)   How many years are each of the major industrialized nations away from a critical point of reversal, where the populace "rises up" against the status quo?

2)   What form will this point of reversal take?

3)   What are the metrics associated with the "critical mass" for a point of reversal event? Some of these include the rate of joblessness, the rate of inflation, the loss of confidence in major institutions and leadership, the loss of trust in government, shortages of supplies (fuel, food, etcetera)...

There's much here to think about.

--DC
####  

Fear versus Positive Motivation - What moves us?

Dear Thinkers, Ponderers and Students of Life:

It is sad, but true. Human beings are much more readily motivated to action by the threat of pain or loss (i.e.,by fear) than by the opportunity to gain, socially, professionally or financially, with some curious high-risk exceptions where it comes to instant gratification. Of course in these latter exceptions, the risk usually involves getting caught (and it is perceived as unlikely) while the reward is pleasure (which is perceived as very likely).

Fear overcomes inertia or creates inertia, while the positive incentive...the opportunity to gain tends to be far less of a driver. Again, there is another exception here where the potential perceived gain is enormous with respect to the amount of risk or work entailed in the process. People tend toward indolence.

Viewing this situation, why do you suppose our minds and our resultant behavior tend to operate in this fashion?

Here are some possibilities:

1.     Because we visualize threats more powerfully, and more sensorially;

2.     Because we feel that the likelihood of loss is always more probable than the likelihood of gain;

3.     Because we are more emotionally invested in maintaining the "status quo" than we are in getting ahead -- we are only motivated when we feel what little we have, or what little we believe that we deserve;

4.     Because we perceive that an adversary's ability and willingness to carry out a threat is far greater than our ability and willingness to make something positive happen through our efforts;

5.     Because we feel, in the deepest reaches of our subconscious, that we are more deserving of punishment than reward (through feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, and the like) and that it is more likely that harm will come to us than happiness;

6.     Because it is, in fact and perception, easier to run away from something than to run toward something;

7.     Because we feel that we are weaker than those around us.

I would like to know your thoughts, as would Christine West, a colleague and a featured columnist for The National Networker Newsletter. Please either respond by posting directly to this this article in the "comment" section below, or by writing directly to Christine West, noted expert on facing down and overcoming fear, at info@TheBusinessMD.net . If you write to Christine directly, please write "Braintenance and Fear" in the subject line of your email.

You can visit Christine West's website (a beautifully designed one, too) at http://www.thebusinessmd.net/ .

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle

*Follow BRAINTENANCE on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Braintenance .
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Take a look at the following sites ---
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*Contact the author at
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

16 Phrases to Illustrate Some Human Common Traits

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16 Phrases to Illustrate Some Human Common Traits

The article which follows was authored by Dr. Franco Oboni (foboni@riskope.com) for The Global Futurist. As an expert in multiple areas of international risk assessment, mitigation and management, Dr. Oboni, through his firm (http://www.riskope.com) and http://www.foboni.wordpress.com/ advises both private sector and public sector entities and organizations on integrating risk factors into their decisionmaking processes. Through his dealings with many organizations throughout some of the most dangerous parts of the world, and in his capacity as advisor to senior policymakers, Dr Fanco Oboni has become, albeit inadvertently, somewhat of an expert in behavioral psychology and the "Human Factor" which is involved in every business decision. Dr. Oboni is a Featured Columnist for THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter.  

As a Risk and Crisis Manager working all over the world supporting corporations, governmental agencies and individuals in their decision making and alternatives selection process, I have learned that we, human beings, share very strong and significant common traits, despite the apparent huge differences contributing to make our world such a colorful and wonderful place.

I am neither a psychologist nor a sociologist, so I will leave the discussion related to the origins of these common traits to those specialists.

Having said this, I feel it necessary to set forth a list, to raise awareness, as I believe that the world would be a better place, and more importantly, that we would build a better future, if we were to modify our characteristic behaviors and responses in these areas.

To make it simpler and clearer I will not describe the traits themselves, but instead compile a list of typical, commonplace phrases which reflect those traits. The list is split into four categories, A to D, describing the situation in which a person “normally/unfortunately” generally comes out with a phrase (I have included four examples per category) corresponding to a trait that we should modify.
So, for example:

WHEN: (A) People are made aware of a hazard (something unpleasant that could happen to those people), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. "Oh, yeah, I know, but that will not happen to me...because I know better, I am lucky, It has never happened before...."


  2. "Well, it has happened last year/in the last five-ten years, so we are good for a while."


  3. "Actually we had a security system for that, but we turned it off, as the alarm was scraring off people...and you see, no accident has happened since!"


  4. "Risk assessment is only there to scare people about huge accidents that never happen. Think positively!"

WHEN: (B) Something has gone wrong (could very well be the same guys in the list above), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. "What  bad luck, gee..."


  2. "I cannot understand how this happened... we had it all under control until then!"


  3. "Well you know, the alarm did not work that well."


  4. "We should probably do some risk assessment right now."

WHEN: (C) Decisions are to be made (could very well be the same guys in the two lists above), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. "You can do all of the analyses you want, but at the end, I will make the decision, following my instinct/my gut feelings, (and other body parts or particular garment areas): it has never failed me before."


  2. "I can see pros and cons and my decision will take all of those into account: you know, I have always taken calculated risks."


  3. "Man, when you are an entrepreneur, you know you have to take risks!"


  4. "You know, we have the experience to deal with whatever might come up in the course of this project."

WHEN:.(D) Contemplating project's fiasco, failure to perform, bankruptcy, they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. "What happened is unprecedented, unforeseeable, how could we have...."


  2. "Well, there were so many uncertainties, what a pity..."


  3. "Well, we tried with all our best people and invested all of that money, ...well, you know, sometimes the best intentions.... (or, "sometimes things just happen")


  4. "We had done it so many times before, and lots of others have done it, how come it did not work this time?"

I am sure you can dig out examples you have heard about (or you may have lived as an actor), where these or other similar phrases were used by one or more stakeholders.

For instance, the Subprime fiasco and resulting economic turmoil, generated at least the following statements among Bankers, politicians and affiliated professionals:

A1, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4, D1, D2, D3, D4.

You may have noticed that the only one missing is A2 [“well, it has happened last year, so we are good for a while”]. BEWARE: when the next bubble blows up, A2 will most certainly be in the list.

Am I pessimistic? Please do not get that very wrong impression. All my work, and my life is geared toward getting people, corporations and governmental agencies to turn to rational risk and crisis management, to perform risk-based decision making, to establish their risk tolerability and enhance their chances of success. Approaches and methods scalable for small to huge businesses and projects do exist, and I use them every day for the benefit and protection of my clients and their interests.

It's important to note the difference between rational risk and crisis management, and rationalized risk and crisis management. The very Human trait of rationalizing is indeed one of the biggest impediments to sensible risk mitigation or avoidance.

-- Franco Oboni

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Next Organizational Entity - Looking Ahead

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The Next Organizational Entity - Looking Ahead

This article was written by Douglas Castle for The Global Futurist (http://theglobalfuturist.blogspot.com/) with an expression of appreciation and admiration for the mission of THE NATIONAL NETWORKER COMPANIES (http://www.thenationalnetworker.com/). It has been my privilege, as well as my labor, to witness what can happen when good people get together to accomplish a goal. This "high-speed organizational evolution") has actually made me dizzy. 

THE COOPERATIVE BUSINESS COMMUNITY - THE NEXT ORGANIZATIONAL ENTITY

The next productive organizational entity will be the Cooperative Business Community, and not the corporation or solo entrepreneur. These are not going to be "communes" in any traditional political or religious sense -- they have nothing to do with socialism collectivism or any other pidgeonholing -isms at all. They are beginning to grow in petri dishes everywhere. These petri dishes are being termed "social media platforms and groups."

They have been spawned by the internet, large corporate malfeasance, the expanding reality of internationalism, the lower cost of communications and of a need for an alternative to the paradoxically high risks of both middle-management corporatism and isolated solopreneurism.

This will be happening in phases:

1. The expansion of interpersonal contact networks and interdependencies through inexpensive communications, multiple contact forums and platforms, and the acceptance of e-commerce and open-sourcing (the "wiki" growth methodology) as the norm;

2. The necessary pooling of resources (through subcontracting, outsourcing, partnerships and "mastermind groups" in order for any one party to produce any goods or services for any other party. This is true of every industrialized nation.

3. The need for diversified revenue streams in order to ensure against the disaster of a single business failure, and the need for a relatively large group size in order to take advantage of vendor quantity discounts, and to qualify for reduced healthcare costs, such as insurance.

In brief, it starts with talking; it progresses to trading, and it results in sharing.

To repeat the three steps (and watch them occur during the course of the next three to five years):
  •  TALKING
  •  TRADING
  •  SHARING
Through my affiliation with THE NATIONAL NETWORKER COMPANIES and Newsletter (http://www.thenationalnetworker.com/) , I am watching this trend as it unfolds in many places throughout the world. This progression of re-entitization (a Lingovation!) is not unprecedented. It is the logical result of crossing 1) Maslow's Heirarchy of Human Needs with 2) a long period of economic, political and institutional instability.

I found it very natural when a colleague suggested to me that The National Networker was neither merely a publisher, nor merely a services provider...it was becoming a community. And taking this one step further with a retrospective eye on feudalism and fiefdoms, I believe that this new type of productive organizational structure and its alteration to the landscape of civilization is on its way. Tribalism dates back many centuries, but it is still a nnatural Human propensity, whether it is Lord of the Flies, The Clan of the Cave Bear or Mad Max. The principal difference is that this conversion to Cooperative Communities does not need a major war, harsh environment or natural disaster to precipitate it. The recent economic meltdown, combined with the available communications and data processing technology are sufficient catalysts to move the formation of this new type of entity forward.

Some of the alternatives are nightmarish scenarios.

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is not a forecast - This is a proposed policy, and a practical philosophy

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Commerce versus Combat - Part 2

Dear Friends:

This is a simplified version of something that I have been speaking about for a very long time.

Though global commerce, each of us has the opportunity to act as a defacto ambassador, without the complications, conflicts and compromises of being a large governmental or international agency. In conducting international commerce, there is an economic reward to good international citizenship: Profit. Peace is a natural by-product if profits are generated in this multi-microcosmic entrepreneurial model. As an international businessperson, I hurt myself if I wage war against my customers, suppliers, contractors and co-venturers. -- http://theinternationalistpage.blogspot.com/ .

Douglas Castle. Why even bother? http://twitlik.com/SpeedlightProKitInnovations

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Re-Distribution of Wealth and Some Possible Reasons

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A RE-DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH - AND SOME POSSIBLE REASONS

Dear Readers:

TIME Magazine is forecasting that the number of millionaires (as well as their respective individual and aggregate net worth) will surpass that of the United States as well as that of perhaps any other nation by the year 2013. I believe this to be true, at least to the extent that a large amount of wealth obtained by certain US parties during the course of the last ten years and secreted away is not factored into the analysis. Wealth obtained by criminal means is generally neither reported nor incorporated in the creation of these statistics -- it tends to remain "off the books." For the purposes of this article, we will define "millionaires" as individuals who reportedly have net worths in excess of $1.0 million United States Dollars.

First, take a few moments to review the article, which originally appeared in TIME, but appears here through the courtesy of Yahoo! News:

Asia's Millionaires Could Be Richer Than America's By 2013


FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo Wang Chuanfu, founder of BYD Co., AP – FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo Wang Chuanfu, founder of BYD Co., attends a joint press conference …

By ADAM ROSE / HONG KONG Adam Rose / Hong Kong Thu Oct 15, 11:10 am ET

As Asia's economic growth races ahead of that of the U.S., the investment portfolios of Asia's wealthiest people are picking up enough momentum to slingshot them past their North American counterparts.
A report released Oct. 13 by Merrill Lynch and consulting firm Capgemini Financial Services projects that with the global recession easing, the total net worth of Asia-Pacific's wealthy - those with at least $1 million in investable assets - is set to grow at a faster pace than the holdings of rich people in other parts of the world. If this trend takes hold, the total value of assets held by Asia's rich could surpass the combined assets of North America's wealthy by 2013. All the world's millionaires will have a combined net worth of $48.5 trillion in four years, according to Merrill Lynch/Capgemini. Of that, $13.5 trillion will be held by Asia's √Člite, compared with $12.7 for all of North America. Arvind Sundaresan, Asia Pacific sales chief for Capgemini, says the projection is based on economic data and growth rates as well as interviews with wealth managers. He adds that his company's estimate "is very much on the conservative side." (See pictures of Shanghai today.)

This doesn't necessarily mean Bill Gates (net worth: $40 billion) will lose his place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's richest man any time soon. But as Eastern economies, powered by a resurgent China, bounce back, the ranks of the planet's wealthiest are becoming increasingly populated by Asians. China in particular is minting nouveaux riches at a remarkable rate. Five years ago, the country had just three billionaires, according to the Hurun Rich List, which annually ranks the country's 1,000 wealthiest individuals. Today, China has 130 billionaires, according to Hurun's latest ranking released Oct. 13. That's up from 101 in 2008 (the U.S. has 359 billionaires, according to Forbes magazine).
Topping China's rich list is Wang Chuanfu, founder of BYD, a Chinese car manufacturer making hybrid electric cars. Wang, who's worth an estimated $5.1 billion, wasn't even on the list last year. But BYD's stock price has been soaring since Warren Buffett - who is ranked by Forbes as the world's second richest man with a $37 billion fortune - invested in the company in September 2008. Fast-growing BYD is also getting help from China's buoyant car market, which despite the sluggish global economy is expected to grow 5% in 2009.
Wong Kwong Yu, named by Hurun last year as China's richest person with $6.3 billion, fell off the list this year after the tycoon was convicted and sent to jail for manipulating share prices of a medical company controlled by his brother. This year's second-richest Chinese is so-called "paper queen" Zhang Yin, who has accumulated $4.9 billion by buying recycled paper from the U.S. and turning it into cardboard boxes.
Although Asians have been getting rich quicker than most, this doesn't mean the region's millionaires were unscathed by the financial crisis. In fact, during the depths of the market meltdown, they fared more poorly than the average Daddy Warbucks. According to the Merrill Lynch/Capgemini survey, wealthy Asians in 2008 lost 35% of their net worth, compared to a global average loss of 24%. But Asian stock and property markets - and the investments of wealthy Asians - have rebounded sharply since March as regional economies shrugged off recession. China's GDP is projected to expand 8.5% this year, compared with 1.5% growth in the U.S.
Wang of BYD may have a ways to go before he challenges Gates for the title of world's wealthiest. But Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun Rich List, says that given current trends, "there's a very strong possibility that in 15 years time you'll see somebody in China being number one in the world."
China Casts an Acquisitive Eye on U.S. Assets
####
COMMENTARY:
Cutting through some of the sensationalism and statistics, the underlying causality of this forecast is allocable, first and foremost, to the growing divergence between the level of prosperity in China and the level in the United States. Our real GDP shrinks, as does our real Balance of Trade and Balance of Payments, while the corresponding statistics for China are actually rising, albeit a bit more slowly than would otherwise be taking place due to the friction of the global recession. Breaking this down further, where China excels in certain crucial entrepreneurial areas, the United States has fallen far behind. These factors are culturally-influenced and reflect the differing values of our respective societies.
1. Chinese tend to save and to believe in savings, often banking up to 30% of their available income. In the United States, our rate of savings is actually slightly negative;
2. Chinese tend to purchase with equity. In the US, we have hyperleveraged everything;
3. The Chinese enjoy gambling, but not with savings, equity or investments. They do research, and tend to avoid volatile and speculative markets; In the US, we frequently bet the proverbial ranch -- even if we are supposedly conservative institutions like union pension funds, and banks;
4. The Chinese act insular, but they are excellent students, and watch and learn from everything. In the US, we have breathed a bit too much of our own ether;
5. The Chinese negotiate what they believe to be bargain purchases. In the US, if money is available from investment firms or banks, we no longer seek value -- we merely acquire;
6. The Chinese produce more efficiently than the United States, and their long-maligned quality controls are improving with the influx of expatriates from other countries going to China to seek better opportunities;
7. The Chinese do not like to be debtors - they prefer to be collateralized lenders, ready to call a loan and acquire a valuable asset. In the US, we lend as long as the money is available, and we do not generally follow good credit analysis protocol in terms of our loan-to-value critieria, our debt-servicing criteria, or our knowledge of the borrower. It is sad to think that a US bank would make a loan predicated on the assumption that a property would appreciate in value and be either refinanced or sold as a means of recovering the loaned principal;
8. The Chinese are entrepreneurs. In the US, we have become career-path planners and middle level managers. We, in the US, have lost the cause and effect relationship of production/ contribution and profit/ reward. We have lost our laser focus on being better, and more competitive, and settled for promotions, bonuses and the expectation that the environment and economy would remain static -- that we could lead by standing still.
9. Most frighteningly (for any patriotic US citizen, whether an Internationalist, or an isolationist!), the Chinese people are obsessed with efficiency and productivity (at least at the moment), and the United States has become obseesed with government rescue, and a restoration of the status quo that has helped to precipitate our decline.
The whole world can learn a lesson by observing and analyzing this dynamic.
Look for more and more Chinese ownership of controlling stakes in US businesses, assets, and large blocks of debt instruments.
As the Chinese plan for the longer term, and think dynastically (multi-generationally), prudent seekers of co-venture partners and investment capital will turn away from US investment banks, hedge funds and wealth managers and begin to look to China for entrepreneurial fuel.
Faithfully,
Douglas Castle




CAPITALISM? NOT REALLY.

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CAPITALISM? NOT REALLY.

This article was written by Douglas Castle for The Global Futurist . The author apologizes to the female gender as a class, for he has used a "young boy" as the principal example in making his case in this writing. He is aware that there are also young girls, too, but he has only admired them from a distance (and sometimes up close), and has never actually been one. The author would like to extend his heartfelt thanks to friend and colleague Adam J. Kovitz, who recently wrote an article titled "A World Without Money" (for THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter, October, 2009, Week 2) with which the author takes some issue -- but Adam's courage in making a statement about how wrong things have begun to feel for so many Americans is the author's inspiration for this article. The author has just become aware that he is speaking in the third person, and that he sounds very pompous. 

Dear Friends:

As a young boy growing up in the United States, I was taught that democracy was the best possible form of government -- that it was ethical, that it was equitable, that it was "of the people, by the people for the people." It was a system of political organization that afforded its fortunate constituents an equal opportunity (i.e., an equal right) to prove their inequality. There was an implication of inherent meritocracy. That is, despite the circumstances of my birth, I could rise to the most-respected, wealthiest position in society, ot I could wind up in the gutter. A poor farmboy could become the president; a boy born into privilege could become the "black sheep" and join the ranks of the lowly underachievers. The "magic" was that we, each of us, had a fair and honest chance at success or failure.

Similarly, we were told that democracy's brother was capitalism, and that capitalism was what had made our country great. Capitalism was a wonderful, competitive system (rather like the noble notion of Democracy), where the most innovative, the most ingenious, the most industrious could become RICH. A poor boy could strive and succeed; he could think and grow rich; he could be lavishly compensated (and respected!) for his contribution to society. No person was barred from this great race to capture the grand prize. The government was merely a provider of certain necessary services for the benefit of the private sector, and the private sector was a breeding ground for entrepreneurship, invention and advancement. Competition was the decider.

In the United States, people still speak of "democracy" and "capitalism". But very few of these same people could define either term. And very few of these people understand the etymological distortion that occurs with the passage of time -- that "Republican" and "Democrat" no longer mean what they did thirty years ago, and that "friends" can be "enemies" depending upon the circumstances and the context...and that there are no absolutes. In fact, absolutes, which sound like "standards" are as politically incorrect as requesting that someone respond to your question with a "yes" or "no."

Getting back to the point, we have some of the vestiges of a democracy in the United States, but it seems to many doubting and increasingly restless souls that we now have a sort of "ruling class" and a "peasant class". And while the "ruling class" is small (in terms of population), it seems to be exclusive, impermeable, above the law and in control of the fate of the enormous and swollen ranks of the "peasant class". But we speak of democracy, and we are prepared to spread it throughout the world, like peanut butter or herpes -- and just like the Grand Inquisitors, we will occasionally encourage this democracy at gunpoint, with a democratic government of our very own to install where the heathens once dared to tread. Puppet governments seem to be at odds with the old spirit of democracy...but then again, etymological distortion has me twisted.

Getting back to the point and sharpening it yet further, we call our country's economic system "capitalism." Yet, it seems odd that we can have a special refined form of capitalism where there is no free enterprise; where their are tremendous barriers to industry entry and to competition; where government and the private sector (or at least parts of it) sit so close to each other at the bar, and where words like "bailout" and "subsidy" and "stimulus" are a regular part of everyday speech. There is a very unique, refined, reformulated type of capitalism that exists in the United States as I see it. It is a "capitalism " where gains are privatized and losses are socialized. Where there is awesome, unchecked and unchallenged power in the hands of a privileged few -- and where the many are called upon to make limitless sacrifices so that those few can remain in power. Where the many are called upon to pay for the mistakes of those few. Yes, my fellow Americans. We have a unique, refined, reformulated and reconstructed form of capitalism where many slaves serve a few elite masters.

If I weren't so favorably disposed toward being politically correct, I would say (but very, very quietly because any of the phone lines may be tapped without the "hinderance" of a lawfully obtained court order) that this capitalism smells a great deal like oligopoly. In my opinion, what we might be doing in calling our economic system capitalistic, is somewhat like calling horse manure chocolate mousse.

Capitalism? Not really. Not anymore.

Please don't  curse capitalism for the cloud that enshrouds our economy today. Capitalism left quite some time ago, a piece at a time (as did the spirit of The Constitution), and was replaced by oligopoly -- a political and economic system where a small number of incredibly powerful persons or entities rule over the fortunes and fates of everybody else.

I actually miss capitalism. It was a great game, with great promise. But then, that was long ago.

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle
BRAINTENANCE
THE NATIONAL NETWORKER
HUMANITAS MAXIMUS
TAKING COMMMAND
http://twitter.com/douglascastle

Monday, October 12, 2009

Disproportionate Force -A More "Politically Correct" Distortion of Reality?

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Dear Readers

Are our international institutions providing a forum (or perhaps a "bully pulpit") for impractical determinations, unrealistic  declarations and an acceptance of  out-of-context proclamations? At times, the "politically correct" and increasing subjectivist inclination of many international institutions has me very concerned.

As a condition precedent to World Peace, we cannot deny the relevance of historical perspective, of extenuating or mitigating circumstances, or of Humankind's partially animalistic nature.

Remember the Security Council's resolution that related Zionism to racism. The case could easily be made (if one had a great deal of time to waste) that patriotism is a form of racism as well.

Subscribe Free to THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter. Go to http://twitlik.com/OK .

As an aside, I must confess that this is a very artsy font. I'm going to use it when composing condolence cards!

--Douglas Castle
__________________________
DISPROPORTIONATE FORCE

This article was written for TAKING COMMAND! (http://takingcommand.blogspot.com/) by TNNW Featured Author Douglas Castle.

The term "civil war," not unlike "dry water," is a very literal oxymoron which has taken on a distinct meaning with repeated usage over a long period of time. There is obviously no civility involved in war. Going a step further, if you choose to menace me (with repeated threats, or through increasingly encroaching upon my rights or freedoms), my first moral obligation is to warn you -- to insist that you stop. But if you persist, then I must assume that you intend to endanger me, and that you are prepared to do so even at your own peril. If you choose to hold me hostage --  whether by continued intimidation, or by menacing me at knifepoint or gunpoint, or even by an established pattern of escalating abuses, you have given me license to take whatever steps I deem necessary in my own defense.

While I might have a higher moral imperative to conduct a "surgical strike" or to measure my action against you to be merely sufficient to eliminate the threat, I cannot know exactly what measure of force is "proportionate." That depends upon my perception, my relative strength and a number of other variables. In real-time, I cannot make this computation when I am threatened. I am not responsible for your safety if you have demonstrated you intention to compromise mine.

In brief, if you insist on threatening to kill me, you might have to suffer the consequences of my failure to determine what constitutes "adequate force." I may well use what will be referred to in retrospect as "disproportionate force."

I would not entrust my life to someone who was hell-bent on exterminating me. I cannot be relied upon to be fully rational when I am under siege or attack by an irrational attacker. I must defend myself. I cannot calculate the "appropriate measure of force" in the heat of life-threatening danger, and I most certainly can't do any calculations posthumously.

"Disproportionate force" has applications in physics, in non-life-threatening situations, and in the manipulative banter of politics.

If you don't attack me, I am a reasonable fellow...I will not commit atrocities or war crimes. But if you make that death threat, you have assumed complete responsibility for your own fate, whatever that fate may be.

As my dear friend Gabriel would say, "C'mon. Let's get real."

The following Associated Press article (transmitted via Yahoo! re-broadcast) caught my attention. It's worth reading, and examining very carefully.

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle
####

Netanyahu: No war crimes trials for IsraelisAP 


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, during the opening of the AP – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, during the opening of the winter session at the Knesset, …


By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer Josef Federman, Associated Press Writer 42 mins ago

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday vowed never to allow Israeli leaders or soldiers to stand trial on war crimes charges over their actions during last winter's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, furiously denouncing a U.N. report in a keynote address to parliament.

Netanyahu's fiery rhetoric — and his decision to open the high-profile speech with remarks on the report — reflected the deep distress felt among Israeli leaders after a U.N. commission accused Israel of intentionally harming civilians when it launched a massive attack in Gaza to stop years of rocket fire.

"This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel's right to defend itself. This report encourages terrorism and threatens peace," Netanyahu said in his address at the opening of parliament's winter session. "Israel will not take risks for peace if it can't defend itself."

The U.N. report, compiled by a team led by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure during a three-week offensive against Hamas militants last winter. The report also accused Hamas of war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror with rocket attacks.

Israeli officials across the board have condemned the report, saying their country had little choice but to take harsh action against militants who were terrorizing southern Israel. They also blame Hamas for civilian casualties, saying the Islamic militant group took cover in residential areas during the fighting. However, Goldstone's strong credentials as a respected South African jurist, his Jewish faith and past support for Israeli causes have made it hard for Israel to dismiss the claims.
Netanyahu angrily noted the report's portrayal of Israeli leaders as war criminals. "The truth is exactly the opposite. Israel's leaders and its army are those who defended the citizens of Israel from war criminals," he said, before vowing to defend the country's wartime leaders.

"We will not allow Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who sent our sons to war, to arrive at the international court in the Hague," he said.

While Netanyahu has repeatedly lashed out at the U.N. report, Monday's comments appeared to be a direct response to a new Palestinian push for a vote on the report in the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission. If the vote takes place, the matter could be referred to higher U.N. bodies that could theoretically push for war-crimes prosecution.

Earlier this month, Abbas' government had agreed to delay the vote for six months. That decision, which came under heavy U.S. pressure, sparked sharp criticism and protests across Palestinian society, particularly from the rival Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

In contrast to predecessors who have used parliamentary addresses to speak of bold visions of peace, Netanyahu spoke in far bleaker terms. He focused on past Jewish suffering and criticized the futility of previous peace efforts, blaming Arab adversaries for their failure.

"The right to a Jewish state and the right to self-defense are two of the existential rights of our people," he said. "These basic rights of the Jewish people have been under greatly increasing attack. ... Our prime mission is to stave off this attack."

President Barack Obama has been trying to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to restart peace talks, which broke down late last year. Even after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he faces a daunting challenge in just getting the sides to talk, let alone in solving one of the world's longest lasting and most intractable conflicts.

The Palestinians say they will not resume negotiations until Israel freezes all construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas they claim as parts of a future independent state.

Netanyahu says some settlement construction must continue to accommodate growth in the Jewish populations. He also says all of Jerusalem will remain in Israeli hands, although Israel's annexation of the eastern part of the city and its sensitive holy sites has never been internationally recognized.
Netanyahu, for his part, has demanded the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state — a demand the Palestinians criticize as upping the ante from previous negotiations. The Palestinians say it would discriminate against Israel's Arab minority and deprive Palestinian refugees of their rights to lost properties in what is now Israel.

"For 62 years, the Palestinians have been saying 'No' to the Jewish state. I am once again calling upon our Palestinian neighbors; say 'Yes' to the Jewish state." he said. "Without recognition of Israel as the state of the Jews we shall not be able to attain peace."
####
Mercy, like charity, begins in the home. --DC

By the way, wasn't there a large outcry against former U.S. President George W. Bush for his pre-emptive and unprovoked attack against Iraq? Heck...aren't you curious to know why that who move to bring him to the World Court for War Crimes (or at least, according to Vincent Bugliosi, indicting him for murder in his ordering U.S. troops to live-threatening peril based upon his own "intelligence," "agenda" or "vendetta."

One of the finer points of prosecution has to do with your:
  • Being acknowledged as a legitimate judge with proper jurisdiction;
  • Being able to bring the the accused to a trial or investigative forum;
  • Being able to pass sentence and actually carry out that sentence, whatever it may be.
Disproportionate force? How about a world where the judgments of the powerful can be enforced, but where the judgments of the weaker have no force? I find this a bit ironic, too.

Cuter still is the notion of "liberating a people from oppression." I would think that a pickpocket could craft a defense around the same concept: "Your Honor, I appropriated this man's wallet to liberate him from his propensities for greed and gluttony." Bet it wouldn't work. :)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The One Constant in a World of Variables

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The One Constant in a World Of Variables
Written by Douglas Castle and originally published in THE GLOBAL FUTURIST (http://theglobalfuturist.blogspot.com/)

I have a propensity to be riled by certain expressions. Three of them have especially bothered me since my childhood. They are:

1. "Hurry up and wait"
2. "The public's memory is short."
3. "The more that things change, the more they remain the same."

They continue to upset me, not only because they all sound sort of contradictory or just plain stupid (that would be #3), but because they call forth painful truths about Human nature. The recurring and recursive patterns of people's and society's behavior over time are very predictable. This makes us a species easily deceived, easily manipulated and dangerously self-destructive.

An observer from outside of our species (I am not thinking of a marmoset or a carp...I am thinking more along the lines of an intellectually-evolved creature with a 1,000-year lifespan from a distant galaxy, far away from midtown Manhattan) could rather easily predict Human responses to various stimuli or environmental changes. This observer would also notice that we [as a sciety or civilization] make very limited progress (think about our dependency on fossil fuels, nuclear proliferation, endless "winnable" wars, senseless fads and fashions, racism, climate change, depletion of resources, extinction of species, impulse purchasing, conspicuous consumption, fear of responsibility, drive-by shootings, Humvees,  David Letterman's debauchery, Oprah Winfrey's weight...and so on) because we Humans generally have very limited attention spans, very limited conscious powers of recall, and a love of escapism, distraction and irresponsibility.

The Financial Times discusses the dubious progress that the global powers have made in pulling the industrialized world out of the current financial recession, and the dubious progress we've made in terms of changing any of the causal factors associated with the recession. In brief, we keep walking into the same tree, over and over again. One gets a headache just thinking about it.

The one constant in a world of variables is Human nature -- and aside from the limitations of physics, physiology, and certain unforeseen occurences (i.e., a large meteor impacting the Earth), Human nature is the most significant variable; or rather, the most immutable constant.

As one of my students remarked years ago (when I was teaching at Hofstra University and discussing the causality of banking collapses), "Wow. People are more constant than Pi." He was indeed a wise, if not articulate, fellow. He later went on to work for the prestigious firm of Merrill Lynch.

Please have a look at the Financial Times Newsletter. Just click on the link below:  
http://us.update.ft.com/?key=3rft4qk8dkM2v2gs8r3t3kv7nM

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle

Fast Thoughts at Twitterspeed.

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Dear Friends and Futurist Colleagues:

Following is a list of recent tweets posted on Twitter (with hyperlinks intact) which you may find thought-provoking. All you have to do is to read each one (140 characters or less), click on the hyperlink, read something interesting, click on the "Back" button/arrow in the upper left-hand corner of your computer screen. Really quite simple. In the words of George W. Bush, former US president and noteworthy speaker and statesman, "This is not rocket surgery."

Before I parade my tweets in front of you, you might be interested in knowing about three major social media platforms, as of the date of this writing, October 7th, 2009:

1. Twitter is declining in popularity, and is losing serious marketshare to other, more interactive and substantive media. More than 45% of the postings on Twitter at present are about: Twitter and its applications; other advertisements; adult entertainment, investments and gambling; mer links to paid services outside of Twitter. Many people under the age of 30 are not even bothering with Twitter, and are spending more time on Facebook, which is the largest and fastest growing social networking platform. In fact, Facebook is being used as a central news and communications nexus for an increasing number of internet users.

2. In the current economy, a rapidly increasing proportion of posts on LinkedIn are related to employment inquiries and services for sale, as opposed to simple discussions about topics of mutual interest, and educational content. LinkedIn is growing, but at a far slower pace than FaceBook.

3. One of the most frequent complaints that businesspeople have is the increasing demands on their time and energy to keep up-to-date with all of their media platforms and groups. It is no surprise that most of the applications being sought by telecorrespondents relate to centralizing, organizing and coordinating messages and other information across all media platforms.
_______

Now, as promised...

Q:Why do credit unions stay solvent when large commercial banks fail and bail? A:Cooperative Ownership. http://twitlik.com/Internationalist

Imagine being a stakeholder in a diversified business where you participate in the incomes of all Members? It's coming. http://twitlik.com/OK
Park your ego at the door, open your mind, and join us. http://www.thenationalnetworker.com/ Free newsletter - http://twitlik.com/OK

Think: 10 years from today. Who will be slaves? Who will be masters? http://twitlik.com/TC1. Braintenance #TNNW #douglascastle

By the way, get THE NATIONAL NEWSPICKER gadget right away...click on http://thenationalnewspickerpage.blogspot.com/ .

Faithfully,

Douglas Castle

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mitchell Joachim on the VALUE OF FUTURISM

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Mitchell Joachim on the VALUE OF FUTURISM

[Note: After you have read this article, please take a moment and jump over to THE INTERNATIONALIST PAGE blog. Here is the "teaser," followed by a truncated link... World peace through strategic interdependence. Growing entrepreneurship. Frightening trends http://twitlik.com/HeadlineTrends ]. And now we return to our regularly scheduled program...

Dear Friends:

I received a letter of great interest from a new acquaintance last week.

Andrew Seidler, the Associate Editor of BigThink asked me if I would be interested in re-publishing some fascinating videos containing some very penetrating and somewhat sardonic-sounding observations by fellow futurist Mitchell Joachim, a Professor of Architecture at Columbia University.

I have a strong affinity for Joachim and his philosophy. He is not only a man of ideas, but he is an advocate of thinking practically - something of a lost art in our excessively politically correct, conformity-obsessed, cause-of-the-moment culture (how about those hyper-hyphenations?).

Mr. Seidler's letter to me follows, with embedded hyperlinks to some very interesting video presentations. I am quite grateful to Mr. Seidler for bringing these quanta of intelligence to my attention so that I could share them with you, my readers.

Incidentally, I would recommend that you visit http://www.bigthink.com/. They have something of interest brewing there. In addition, I have added BigThink to our link list on this blog.
______

Hi Douglas,

I thought that Global Futurist might be interested in this extremely interesting clip from an interview that Mitchell Joachim, architect/’futurist’/and professor at Columbia, just did with BigThink.

In the interview, Joachim, who was recently named one of Wired Magazine’s “15 People the President Should Listen To” and winner of the History Channel and Infiniti Design Excellence Award for the City of the Future, offers an extremely engaging critique of our common notion of “sustainability,” arguing that the notion is ultimately too dry, un-evolving, and lackluster to be a valid ideal for the future:

http://bigthink.com/mitchelljoachim/the-bland-mediocrity-of-sustainability

Joachim also discusses the practicality of being a ‘futurist,’ and coming up with ‘big,’ elaborate solutions in an age confronted with issues –like the climate and energy crises-as large as ours:

http://bigthink.com/mitchelljoachim/the-practicality-of-big-idea

Mitchell also outlines his work to redesign the infrastructure based on New York—and eventually other cities—to create an urban system that is entirely self-sufficient (the video includes images and graphics from Joachim’s designs):

 http://bigthink.com/mitchelljoachim/a-self-sufficient-new-york

I hope you find these videos helpful and insightful. If you would like to link to them or embed them into your site, please feel free to do so. If you have any questions about Mitchell Joachim, or Big Think, please feel free to contact me at mailto:mAndrew@bigthink.com or at our office at 212-242-0617.

Best regards,
Andrew

Andrew Seidler
Associate Editor,
BigThink
Office: 212-242-0617
Mobile: 917-902-1215
http://www.bigthink.com/



Faithfully,

Douglas Castle

NOTE: This Article originally appeared in Douglas Castle's blog, THE GLOBAL FUTURIST, at http://theglobalfuturist.blogspot.com/. Douglas castle would like to thank Mitchell Joachim, Andrew Seidler and BigThink for making the content contained herein available.

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