5.0 out of 5 starsAn amazingly deep yet concise review of Haqqani balancing act — local, regional, global, November 22, 2013
This book is in our J-2 library in Afghanistan and while I have not discussed it with others, believe it is well-regarded. For me it accomplishes something I have not seen elsewhere: it explains the Haqqani, the second most violent and largest group after the Taliban, and it does so concisely.
What I particularly appreciate about this book is the coherent manner in which it examines the value propositions that have positioned Haqqani today at the local, regional, and global levels.
The author’s credit Haqqani’s emergence in the early days to two value propositions: first, the offering of safehaven in Waziristan; and second, the ability to deliver violence on order for the Pakistani military and ISI.
The authors conclude that Haqqani displaced Hezb-i-Islami HIA/HIG) because the Haqqani have had and still have a superior savvy of tribal politics which in turn led to their earning a larger share of the CIA money passed through the ISA by CIA. Above all the authors credit the Haqqani with being able to manage a nuanced balancing act across borders and interests.
Here is the meat, summary notes for those without the time to absorb this excellent book directly:
In the 2012 edition of its flagship report, Worldwatch.org celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit with a far-reaching analysis of progress toward building sustainable economies. Written in clear language with easy-to-read charts, State of the World 2012 offers a new perspective on what changes and policies will be necessary to make sustainability a permanent feature of the world’s economies. The Worldwatch Institute has been named one of the top three environmental think tanks in the world by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program.
The first part consists of 15-20 page articles reviewing recent sustainability developments, such as:
4.0 out of 5 stars The One Book to Buy of Brown’s–By No Means the Whole Picture, September 10, 2011
I’ve read and reviewed a number of books by Lester Brown and his advocacy agency, and have especially appreciated the State of the World series, and his Plan B Series that keeps getting pushed back, and now has a Plan B 4.0, but between that latter book and this one, I chose this one.
It gets four stars for reasons I outline in passing below. The author has his pet rocks, they are all here, but NOT in this book can one find corruption, disease, mercury, rare earths, a strategic analytic model that is holistic, actual true costs across the spectrum of options, or a strategic analytic model.
In my early 20’s, circa 1973, I questioned why each culture had it’s own distinct religion much like they spoke a distinct tongue? Clearly, people speaking a language addressed a universal need to communicate. Did religion address some need so fundamental to human nature that, like our different languages, groups of people, separated in time and space would evolve different religious systems independently? The 1960’s saw the world grown smaller by telecommunications and jet travel, increasing awareness of the disparities in belief systems and the consequent conflicts arising therefrom, convinced me that we were entering an era in which an appreciation of our universality was critical as our capacity for self-destruction grew. The works of individuals, like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, began to build bridges across an enormous chasm of endless distinctions in practices and details.
A rare accomplishment, this book journeys to the heart of those questions at the level of a Scientific American article; with eloquence and an impressive scope and command of the research. It is the most balanced account of the neuroscience perspective on religion that I have had the pleasure to read. Readers seeking more imaginative interpretations of the neuroscience data, where authors find “the God Module” on fMRI or proof of God’s existence in the brain’s design, will be disappointed. Here, as well, there is no treatise of comparative religious mythology or proof in the validity of any particular belief system over others. Despite being written by two admittedly Catholic scholars, they are, as well, first-rate neuroscientists. The only faith peddled here is what brain science can inform us about the phenomenon of religiosity as seen on it’s effect in the central nervous system and visa versa. This is a cutting edge neuroscience view of how the brain begets the mind and what is specific to a mind hooked on religion.
I have been researching this topic myself for four or five years now and am familiar with almost every other book in this genre, and I can unequivocally say that this is now the definitive work on the world’s financial and banking system, the history of money and power in Western civilization, and the dire prognosis for our economy and our personal freedoms, in general, as a result. It is vastly superior to “The Creature from Jekyll Island”, to compare it to one other fine book on the subject that is now outdated, both in terms of its complete historical coverage, as well as a completely up to date perspective on recent financial history and a deeply insightful analysis of our current debt crisis, why it was let out of control, and who would benefit from its ultimate unwinding. Quite frankly, looking back four to five years from now, this could be the most profound non-fiction work of our times. Robert Hemphill, Credit Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, when speaking on the same topic as this book, stated, “It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon.” I couldn’t agree more, and even encourage many unintelligent persons to give it a go. The mechanics of money and finance have a profound affect on every person’s life and well being, and is inextricably linked to the fabric of our society and our freedom. Yet it is almost completely ignored and poorly understood by the common man. As Henry Ford said, “It is well that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be revolution before tomorrow morning.” It’s time we all started to understand what’s been going on and how it will affect our immediate future.
Robert Altman, James Baker, Bill Bradley, Harold Brown, Hodding Carter, William Coleman, Walter Cronkite, Barabara Ehrenreich, Vartan Gregorian, Robert Hackney, Doug Henwood, Mike Dedavoy, Joseph Nye, Samuel Peabody, John Perkins, Pete Seeger, Lawrence Summers, Arthur Sulzberger, William Taft, Kurt Vonnegut, Howard Zinn
This DVD is superb and also subversive. I doubt that the “stars” in this movie, particularly James Baker, Bill Bradley, Howard Brown, and Larry Summers, really knew what they were getting into, since their words–and their bland denials–ring so false in this context.
I put the film in while trying to deal with Microsoft’s latest “update” that cost me half the morning, and I recommend it very strongly as a Christmas present or for classrooms and book clubs.
+ A Peabody, whose ancestors came on “the boat” and also founded Groton, laments that whereas all the leaders used to pass through Groton, now there is no real “source.” I am reminded of Lee Iacocca’s Where Have All the Leaders Gone?.
+ Hedge fund visits basically boils all ownership in America down to four banks, and later in the film we learn that six multinational control almost all “content.”
Some may dismiss this warning as alarmist hype, and the Army’s Corps of Engineers certainly does not have an enviable track record in this regard. That said, the Corps’ warning does make evident the political-economic detritus left over from Hurricane Katrina. Inferentially, the warning also highlights the hollowness in the scare tactics used by global warming advocates to raise money for their far more costly ambitions, not to mention the paralyzing political-economic consequences posed by the politics of fear practiced by the Pentagon.
The reality of the Delta thus becomes a metaphor for the larger emptiness that now pervades American politics.
I come to this book eight years after it was first published, and with all the accolades and superb reviews that it has already accummulated, my primary focus here, apart from flagging the book for those that follow my reviews, is to suggest that it is one of the finest overviews available and easily exploited as a primer for undergraduates, graduates, or adults pursuing their own continuing education via Amazon, which is now the hub of the World Brain.
As is my custom, I provide here a few highlights from my flyleaf notes, and then link to ten books that can be used to study discrete aspects of the digital age as I have come to understand it.
This is one of the best books I have found that makes the case that “fiber to the forehead” is next to worthless, it is not about acquiring more information, but rather about the nuanced networking and social interpretations of information in context.
Indeed, they say that with all the technologies now pushing and creating digital information, consumption of this information is only increasing among individuals by 1.7 percent a year.
I value this book, in part because I have seen the U.S. secret intelligence community lose its mind, today spending $60 billion a year of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money, to create monstrous and often counter-productive technical program that access the 4% of the information we can steal, while ignoring the 94% that is in 183 languages we do not speak, and more often than not, NOT online.
The authors write well, and gifted turns of phrase about, such as “the radical instability of infopunditry.”
They do a superb job of addressing the ills of technology-centered tunnel vision, a point that Peter Drucker made in Forbes ASAP 28 Aug 98, and I repeated in my keynote in Vegas to the National Security Agency (NSA) IT conference, in the early 2000 timeframe. We’ve spent the past 50 years on the T in IT, we need to start focusing on the I now.
The authors are eloquent in saying that more of the same is not the answer, and I totally agree. Returning to the secret world, I paraphrase an Australian journalist commenting on the pathologies of secret programs, who said that giving more money to dysfunctional secret agencies is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Right on. I want to reduce the secret budget to $12 billion a year, and redirect everything else to US education, global access to open sources in all languages, and free on demand education to the five billion poor via a network of 100 million volunteers with skype and internet access who can answer a cell phone question in any of 183 languages: education “one cell call at a time.”
The authors point out that at its best, technology augments and enhances human capabilities, it does not replace them (less the truly repetitive mechanical aspects).
They observe (in 2000) that 1-2 exabytes of information per year are created, but that much of this is not useful, and there is a major short-fall in sense-making and precision access.
They discuss, most usefully, the reality that designers underestimate what people do (and I would add, what they want or need).
“Information fetishism” is defined as the belief that information and information technology can replaced nuanced relations among people and their individual and shared insights. In Body of Secrets, link below, Jim Bamford ends his second book on NSA by saying that with all the trillions they have spent, they have still not built the ultimate computer, one that runs on a tiny amount of energy, weighs less than a few pounds, and can make petabyte calculations per second: “the human brain.”
The authors respond to earlier criticism about not addressing LINUX, and point out that LINUX is social innovation, not technical innovation. See Wealth of Networks below.
They note that the primary advantage of IT is that it enhances both local and global access. On the downside, it neglects periphery and context.
The authors reassert, compellingly, the value of intermediation, and I am reminded of our earlier criticisms of the Internet, still valid, in that most information is unedited, unformatted, unpaginated, undated, and lacking in source bias insight. This is still true, and Google is making it worse.
By the authors own account, this book addresses: 1) Limits of infopunditry 2) Challenges of software agents 3) Social character of work and learning 4) Limits of management theory 5) Resources for innovation 6) Unnoticed aspects of the document 7) Implications for design 8) Future of information, especially for university
I have a couple of nits, but not enough to warrant removal of one star. This is clearly a seminal work of lasting value.
Nit #1: Organizational Intelligence (Wilensky, 1967) is not to be found in this book. The authors do not go past Quadrant III (see loaded images).
Nit #2: While they have a superb bibliography and include works by Barlow, Kelly, Strassmann, Toffler, and Turkle, they do NOT include the seminal works directly relevant to this book, specifically, Barlow’s seminal manifesto, and the following:
The Best and Most Essential Guide, Not the Whole Picture, January 11, 2008
Lester R. Brown
I have followed Lester Brown’s dedication to evaluating the state of our planet for over a decade, and wrote to the Nobel Committee urging them to recognize him, Herman Daly, and Paul Kawkins and the two Lovins instead of Al Gore. They have all done a great deal more of the heavy lifting.
I decided to purchase this book when Medard Gabel, creator of the analog World Game with Buchminster Fuller, gave me a budget for saving the planet that totals no more than $230 billion a year (at a time when we spend $1.3 trillion waging war).
+ Book is offered free online (but the hard copy is much better deal, easier to work with, mark up and return to as a reference….use the online version to search for specifics.
+ The Introduction is clear and inspiring. This book is loaded with carefully collected facts ably presented.
+ $12 per gallon of fuel in “true costs” externalized and not billed
+ One 25 gallon ethanol tank takes enough grain to feed a person for a year. This means that those in hunger going to double from 600 million to 1.2 billion, as cars compete for grain (which is nuts).
+ Food-oil axis is developing into a triple crisis: oil, food, water. As 50% live in cities, the fuel intensity of food in the face of Peak Oil is becoming a major issue.
+ Stopping the ethanol program dead in its tracks is the single best thing US Government could do, followed my more wind farms and an end to coal plants.
+ Amazon reaching a tipping point, mega-fires are foreseen (as with New York City if its 1920’s water system fails and a firestorm emerges)
+ Western model will not work for China or India (or Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and other Wild Cards)
+ Ice cap is melting fast, gfalciers are melting fast and causing small earthquakes.
+ 600 million refugees expected if sea level rises ten meters (33 feet)
+ Mortality has been reduced, but fertility has not, leaving persistent population issues.
+ 15 of 24 primary ecosystems degraded or pushed beyond their limits.
+ Climate has become more destructive, with 55 weather events costing $1.5 billion or more each since the 1980’s.
+ Great discussion of the ecology of cities, Bioneers would resonate with all the author recommends.
+ Scarcity crossing national boundaries.
+ Excellent notes, heavy reliance on UN and other primary sources.
+ He proposes a budget of $190 billion a year to achieve our social goals and restore the Earth.
+ The only thing missing from this book are some of the positives, for example bacteria as an energy source, healing bacteria, eletrified water as a cleanser needed no other ingredients, the recovery of the Dead Sea with furrows that retain every drop of water.
I am so surprised to find only one review that I wanted to quickly add my praise for this author, while also pointing out three things that a handful of wealthy philanthropists could do tomorrow to execute this vision.
#1 We should all support the World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER) as created by the Natural Capital Institute, and encourage colleges and universities around the world to begin loading the “true cost” information for all products and services (e.g. 4000 gallons of water in a designer T-shirt). Delivered to end-users via cell phone query at the point sale, this will dramatically affect markets.
#2 We should ask the 90 major foundations in the USA to host a summit to which all governments, non-governmental organizations, prominent wealthy individuals, and the United Nations are invited. The objective should be to create an online “Range of Gifts” Table that identifies specific contributions that can be made at every cost level, to eradicate the ten high level threats within fifteen years, by harmonizing the twelve policies such that ALL organizations and ALL individuals can opt in on a master budget that is strategically sound, operationally executable, and tactically open to all.
#3 We must absorb the wisdom of C. K. Prahalad, Alvin and Heidi Toffler, and others listed below, and recognize that the only enduring sustainable solutioin lies in educating the five billion poor, who do not have the time or the money to sit in a classroom for 18-22 years. We can create today, using Telelanguage.com, an immediate registry of 100 million volunteers with Internet access, speaking 183 languages among them, who can educate the poor–who are not stupid, just illiterate–one cell call at a time.
I believe that Reuniting America, True Majority, and WISER are reaching critical mass. All we lack now is one well endowed champion who sees that it is our collective intelligence that will solve the world’s problems, and there is no need to run for President. Here are the handful of books I would recommend to Michael Bloomberg if he were to ask me today how to fulfil his vision of political, educational, and philanthropic reform.
Visit Earth Intelligence Network for free public intelligence on the ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers. The weekly report “GLOBAL CHALLENGES: The Week in Review,” will appeal to anyone interested in this book and its topic.
Marginal Mish-Mash, Annoying to the Intelligence or Digital Professional
October 7, 2007
This could have been a great book, but the author chose to mix up a kludge of capabilities, fabrications, and red herrings that in the end do nothing other than irritate the intelligence or digital professional looking for a good read.
The “chapters” are 3-6 page vignettes. The book is totally out of touch with reality and I seriously question whether the author actually had help from two “anonymous” NSA employees.
NSA is cash poor–it does not pay well, all of the money goes to beltway bandits that over-charge for single-point technology solutions and outsourced butts in seats.
There is no 5 story crypto vault. Crypto is the LEAST important aspect of what NSA does–pattern analysis and finding links between specific communications devices is 80% of what they do.
NSA does not run clandestine human agents (at least not legally) and it does not do break & entry, that is done by a special CIA unit that is has been my privilege to help on multiple occasions when I was in the clandestine service.
The NSA translation capabilities are largely software, not hardware.
Navy Commanders are in their 30’s and 40’s, not “56” and certainly not also Deputy Directors of NSA, a flag officer position generally held by a civilian while the Director is a three-star flag officer.
Bottom line: this book is flawed on so many levels I explicitly do not recommend it to anyone, professional or casual.
Integrated Review of Two Top Books That Mesh Well,
July 10, 2007
UPDATE 24 March 2014: This update applies only to Sun, Wind & Light: Architectural Design Strategies 3rd Edition
HUGE update. Focus is on zero-net energy and carbon neutral design, augmented by energy-plus building design. New material takes it up to over 800 pages. Nine new “bundles” of design strategies are added including topcis such as “neighborhood of light,” “passively cooled buildings” and “responsive envelope.” The book is now in PDF and also in print as a flat spiral bound volume for desktop ease of use. Navigation within this book — which was already superb in the original editions — has been augmented, to include graphic “Navigation by Design Strategy Maps” showing relationships among design strategies in six nexted levels of complexity. HUGH SQUARED: The book is now accompanied by a 62-page spreadsheet and separately, on the publisher’s companion web site, 1400 pages of climate data and analytics on each US climate zone including five in Alaska, all downloadable [this is part of the purchase, download needs access card printed on inside of back cover of the book]. I continue to regard this book as one of the most exciting around and would not be at all surprised if the next edition includes urban farming that also cleans water and removes waste (sort of kidding, but not really).
Although I normally read books in twos and threes on the same topic to gain varied perspectives, this is the first time I am writing a single review encompassing two books. They mesh together so well that I cannot imagine studying this subject without having BOTH in hand.
Start with the introduction in the Guidebook, which is blessed with a Foreword from Paul Hawken and see especially page 13 where the cost benefits are shown, with 48% energy savings for Gold, 30% for Silver, and 28% for Certified. See also the illustration on page 15 that I have reproduced in the image I am loading for both books: the old decision model was Cost at the top, with Schedule and Quality anchoring the triangle. the new decision model still has cost at the top, but Schedule and Human Health, Safety, & Comfort are on corners of this new pentagon, and the bottom is achored by Quality and Ecology, or what Paul Hawken would call in his books, “true cost” to the Earth and Humanitas.
NOW shift to the Contents and the Detailed Contents of Sun, Wind, & Light. As one reviewer notes, this is a course book. I did not recognize it as such, I saw it as one of the most gifted complete collection of factors to learn and apply that I have ever seen for ANY topic of study. The content and organization of this book is nothing short of Nobel-level “wow.” Finish going through this book.
NOW go back to the first 218 pages of the Handbook, and study the checklists and varied helpful boxes and explanations. The rest of the book (217-459) is case studies of specific buildings, each a few pages, that can be left for last.
At this point, I went into the Glossaries and Bibliographies of both books. Each is distinct, neither supplants the other. They must be taken together. I read Glossaries, and Indices, as content, and use them as a form of “second look” (in extremely complex books, this is actually where I start).
NOW go back to the Case Studies in the Handbook, and read each from the point of view of what “take away” lessons are there for your own building.
Reading these two books was a real treat. Outside my office kitchen is a deck with an 11 point system for attracting birds from bluebirds and bluejays to cardinals, gold finches, two kinds of woodpecker, and a flicker as well as the more common birds. I believe in diversity, and I believe that if we don’t get our act together and start living up to the ideals of Natural Capitalism (see other recommended books below), our world will go sterile and dark before out great-grandchilden can share in the beauty of this planet. These two books are part of the solution, and I am in serious awe of those who made them available to all of us, and at reasonable prices to boot. Well done!!!