Review: China Safari–On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa

5 Star, Country/Regional, Culture, Research, Economics, Information Operations, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Earnest, New Insights, a Great Contribution

February 22, 2010

Serge Michel, Michel Beuret, Paolo Woods (Photos)

Of the modest number of books focused on China in Africa, this is one of the two best, and both are unique–if you buy only one, at least read my summary of the other, China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence Whereas this book is direct journalism with wonderful color photos and direct ground-truth stories, China Into Africa is a best in class collection of academic essays.

Sixteen full pages of color photos in the middle of the book were unexpected and a complete delight.

On balance between the two books, this one taught me more and provided insights I could not get elsewhere to include the clear understanding, documented across multiple encounters by the authors, that the Chinese consider any Chinese business area or housing area of, by, and for their Chinese workers, to be sovereign territory of China immune to indigenous inspection or intervention.

Highpoints for me:

+ Africa is undergoing a huge transformation, and in combination, the infusion of Chinese infrastructure with the discovery of new energy fields and the growing need of all for what Africa has, is creating a perfect environment for a wealth explosion, and the US is missing it.

+ US has given up in Africa, in large part because the US Government other than the military does not have the resources, the human capital, the area knowledge, or the innate interest to actually do something strategic. The Chinese, in contrast, are unifying and pacifying Africa with infrastructure and commerce, while gaining direct access to natural resources that they can take possession of at half the market value by controlling the supply chain and no doubt lying about how much they are extracting.

+ Chinese presence in Africa is vertically and horizontally integrated, to include relatively thorough exploitation of what I have named the eight tribes of intelligence (academic, citizen-civil sector, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental), the Chinese appear to be way ahead of the US and all others in the Information Operations (IO) domain.

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Review : Global Shift–How A New Worldview Is Transforming Humanity

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Cosmos & Destiny, Culture, Research, Environment (Solutions), Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Priorities, Religion & Politics of Religion, Strategy, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Integration of Ideas–Superb “Once Over”

February 10, 2010 [final review 21 February 2010]

Edmund J. Bourne

I have sent INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty to the printer and it is on that foundation that I highly recommend this book for a simple easy to understand overview of the fifteen converging forces that the author lists and then discusses in superbly-crafted very easy to read overviews. He covers:

01 A conscious universe

02 Multidimensional reality

03 Interconnection of all minds

04 Complementarity of science and spirituality

05 Radical empiricism [revalidation of intuition and visioning]

06 Consciousness has a causal influence

07 Natural ethics [I really like this, hugely beneficial for all]

08 Reverence for nature and earth [in my book, diversity rocks]

09 A sense of inclusiveness toward all humanity [diversity again]

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Review: Wiki Government–How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful

4 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Culture, Research, Democracy, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Public), Public Administration, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a Five–Making Wrong Things Righter

February 21, 2010

Beth Simone Noveck

I sat down intending to make this a five, but the two fluff reviews have to be off-set. Robert Ackoff would say this is a spectacular book about making the wrong things righter instead of the right things righter–too many lawyers and focused on improving a patent approval system that probably needs to be eradicated and the buildings and files plowed under with salt. It also lost one star because I was one of the 4,000 that actually participated in the Open Government experiment, where the legalization of marijuana triumphed and every time someone voted for my governance reform idea, a “monitor” from the partisan correctness office came in and voted against it moving it back down to zero. The author is naive to think this initiative is going anywhere without electoral reform that displaces the two-party tyranny and restores the Constitution, the Article 1 independence of an honest Congress, and integrity of the Executive at the political level. [See especially Chapter 21 in my new book that just went to the printer, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty and is free online at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and my earlier wire-bound book, also free online, Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography).

Having said that, I found this book to be spectacularly informative, thoughtful, useful, with extraordinary insights and suggestions that were over-shadowed by the focus on the patent system–suggestions about the-redesign of government, for example. I recommend reading my reviews of SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa and of The Myth of Digital Democracy along with this review, the three books were read together as a set. Below are some quotes and my fly-leaf notes. This book is a foundation stone for righteous change into the future, but only that first stone.

QUOTE (xvi): Done right, it is possible now to achieve greater competence by making good information available for better governance, improve effectiveness by leveraging the available tools to engender new forms of collective action, and strengthen and deepen democracy by creating government by the people, of the people, and *with* the people.

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Review: The Myth of Digital Democracy

5 Star, Communications, Culture, Research, Democracy, Information Society, Information Technology, Misinformation & Propaganda, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Righteous New Knowledge, Rock Solid Achievement

February 20, 2010

Matthew Hindman

I read in threes and fours, this book is part of the set that includes SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa and Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful.

This book educated me. It challenged and soundly negated some of my assumptions, but it also reinforced my view that the Internet at this time is a communications network, not a knowledge network or an action network.

Here is the last paragraph:

“Yet where the Internet has failed to live up to its billing has to do with the most direct kind of political voice. If we consider the ability of ordinary citizens to write things that other people will see, the Internet has fallen far short of the claims that continue to be made about it. It may be easy to speak in cyberspace, but it remains difficult to be heard.”

Totally awesome. This is an impressive piece of work. At Phi Beta Iota I am posting four web diagrams showing top news and political sites and a couple of other things (I no longer post images to Amazon after they removed 354 images as a lazy way of censoring twelve copies of Obama-Bush sharing the same face–I no longer trust Amazon with my work, hence Phi Beta Iota–and a lesson about Internet abuse).

Behind this elegant book is a great deal of hard work with lots of math, lots of elbow grease, and lots of time spent making sense of massive amounts of data. I am totally impressed.

High points for me, having earlier raved about Joe Trippi's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything as well as Cass Sunstein's Republic.com:

01) Digital divide is not the only divide–Internet is a winner take all environment

02) Liberals predominate online

03) Googlearchy has replaced meritocracy…top ten sites rule, everyone else go fish

04) Pornography and webmail are the two big dogs on the Internet, followed by search engines and a very small news set. In comparison to webmail, news is less than 20%, and in comparison to news, politics is perhaps 1% at best (of news–a tiny tiny fraction of it all).

05) The author does not really get into the deep web, the reality that there are over 75 search engines and Goolge is losing marketshare, or the fact that China and India and Brazil are creeping up and will one day soon hit a vertical rise in their web presence, especially now that kanji and other webname character sets are accepted.

06) The heart of the book, but not the bulk of the book, is about the “missing middle” and the very real fact that ordinary citizens are neither seen nor heard within the Internet overall and within the political chambers of the Internet particularly.

My review does not do this book justice. It is profoundly deeper than my summary above.

The book does reinforce my view that we must get all research and all budgets online, and that we must create the World Brain Institute and the Global Game, mandate true cost information online, and start using citizen buying power to move capitalism in a more moral sustainable useful direction (see my review just posted of Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country and my many other reviews of books on capitalism, one more of which I will mention here, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism.

Four more links within my Amazon “allowance”:
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, poems and prayers from an emerging field of sacred social change
Don't Bother Me Mom–I'm Learning!
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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See the three copied graphics:

Graphic (3): Myth of Digital Democracy

Review: Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Future, History, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Survival & Sustainment, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Read Fire Side Chat Review–This is Supplemental

February 20, 2010

William Greider

Very rarely do I find reviews as lengthy as my own. Please read and appreciate the Fireside Chat review that is deservedly popular with readers. I first encountered William Greider while managing the international conference on “National Security and National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions,” and I realized that the way the US Government was mis-managing our democracy and our public commons was central to the demise of America. The two books I have most appreciated by him are Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy and The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy but I have to remind myself that before I knew him personally I had also read and appreciated Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country as well as One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (Hardcover).

I like the “fireside chat” description of this book and am providing my own summary primarily for my own benefit and the benefit of those that follow all of my non-fiction reviews at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog where all of my reviews, in 98 non-fiction categories, are more easily exploited than here at Amazon (but they all lead back to Amazon.

QUOTE (1): We live in a country where telling the hard truth with clarity has become taboo.

QUOTE (7): From the birth of our nation, it was always ordinary people, pushing from the bottom against an entrenched status quo, that led to the most momentous changes in American life.
Continue reading “Review: Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country”

Review: The Idea that is America–Keeping Faith With Our Values in a Dangerous World

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Diplomacy, History, Justice (Failure, Reform), Philosophy, Politics, Public Administration, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Best of Intentions, Good Individual Effort,

February 20, 2010

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Now that my own book INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty is at the printer am back into reading and really looking forward to catching up with the 25 books on my “to do” shelf. This one jumped to the top of the list at the recommendation of James Fallows, recently back from China and author of Blind Into Baghdad: America's War in Iraq among many other extraordinary books.

See my five-star review of the same author's A New World Order, which is the better book for professionals. This book I recommend to those who are, like the author of the book, emerging counter-culture spirits, restless in harness, acutely aware of the hypocrisy of “Empire as Usual” under this nominally liberal Administration as under the last. My book Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography) covers the same ground from a more pragmatic focus on the need for reality-based governance.

I have two competing views of this book. The first, beyond five stars, is earned by this quote from page 13:

QUOTE: In our history, the greatest patriots have been those leaders and ordinary citizens who have dared to hold America to our own highest standards–even at the cost of ostracism, punishment, imprisonment and, at times–e3ven death.” I would add unemployment to the list–Washington today does NOT want to hear truth about anything at all.

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Review DVD: The Good Soldier

5 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Force Structure (Military), History, Military & Pentagon Power, Philosophy, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Reviews (DVD Only), Truth & Reconciliation, War & Face of Battle
Amazon Page

World – The Good Soldier – 50/79 min [15 December 2009]

Four veterans from different generations of wars show us what it really means to be ‘a good soldie

View Free Video Clip and More Detail

5.0 out of 5 stars Righteous and Clear-Cut Contribution

January 22, 2010

Michael Ulys and Lexy Lovell

I found this movie very compelling and am putting it into circulation as a shared good. It is built around four specific veterans (one each from WWII, Viet-Nam, and Gulf I) and does a superb job of weaving direct interviews, past photos of the three protagonists, and archival film clips.

The Marine from Gulf I is especially compelling as he tells of his deliberate refusal to accept a Conscientious Objective discharge after killing over 30 people in Iraq, and ultimately, with the aid of a high-powered lawyer, prevails in getting an Honorable Discharge.

The same Marine–and the others–discuss how one must train normal people to kill, and there is no thought of how to untrain them (war dogs get reintegration training, humans do not).

The clear message, in these words:  We are One, and War is no way to settle disagreements.  That is of course both correct and naive–it discounts the fact that Empire is about money for a few, and the troops are merely cannon fodder.  That's the first thing we have to change–take the money out of war and into peace.

In that light, I add General Smedley Butler's book, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier and removing my earlier recommendations of DVDs in which war is glorified.

I add instead several references that probe who we are as a nation (America).
What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States
The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country
A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship

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