Review (Guest): Digitally Enabled Social Change – Activism in the Internet Age

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Amazon Page

Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Paradigm-challenging

By Bruce B on September 19, 2011

Earl & Kimport take on what I like to think of as the silent debate between scholars of digital media and collective action on the one hand, and many traditional experts on social movements, protest, interest groups, and political mobilization on the other. The traditional view encompasses the concession that collective action can happen quickly now because of digital media; but that view has been, frankly, rather skeptical that anything important is happening. Or at least that digital media are really central to those visibly important developments that do occur in the present era.

Earl & Kimport throw down a serious challenge, by arguing that there is more going on than decreased costs and speed in the world of protest and social movements: resource accumulation is not a pre-requisite, organization-building is not necessary, co-presence is not necessary, and neither is a strongly shared collective identity. They are interested in what this means theoretically.

A key part of their argument is that digital media make costs a variable, whereas costs were previously understood as a fixed requirement of social movements. When costs are variable, then so are things that depend on costs, such as organization.

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Apr 19

Review: Who Rules America (2013)

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Amazon Page

G. William Domhoff

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars for Early Warning on 1%, Holistic Analytics, and Clear Attention to Weakness of the 99%, April 19, 2014

This book was central to my education in Political Science (more political than science, more passive aggressive than normative). In light of all that we know now, the book MUST be considered both a 6 Star classic (in my top 10%, I read non-fiction in 98 categories), and highly relevant today.

It distresses me that there are no good reviews visible right now, this is partly because Amazon has destroyed really great reviews from past editions in order to make way for new generations of young reviewers, most of whom do not get pointed toward this book by their college professors, if they are lucky enough to even go to college.

Here is the 6th edition of the book where useful reviews are to be found:

Who Rules America? Challenges to Corporate and Class Dominance

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

I am posting an image from the author that shows how the social, corporate, and “hired hand” elite (for the latter, think tanks and politicians) intersect, with the 1% shown in the center (I added that bit).

Democracy is hard. Responsibility in democracy cannot be delegated or integrity is lost. When I and the author speak of integrity we are talking about accountability, the assurance of diversity in all councils, feedback loops, and the recognition of true costs of any decision. When the public delegates its responsibility for self-government, democracy is quickly lost. For other books that support this one, which can be considered “the original” in modern history (Toqueville’s Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) is THE original), see my easily found list of my Amazon reviews on this topic and its anti-thesis corruption, by searching for:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Democracy Lost & Found

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption 2.0

For anyone wanting more than is available from Inside the Book, or seeking a summary of the book, there is no better summary available than that provided by the author himself on a very powerful web site of his own, search online for:

The Class-Domination Theory of Power by G. William Domhoff

For myself, this book is both a celebration of what Politica Science can offer (see also the books listed below within my ten link limit), and also an indictment of the discipline of Political Science. I am in the process of thinking about how to change the discipline to answer these three WHAT IF questions:

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Apr 19

Worth a Look: Creating a Sustainable and Desireable Future

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Amazon Page

Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future : Insights from 45 Global Thought Leaders

Robert Costanza, Ida Kubiszewski (eds)

The major challenge for the current generation of mankind is to develop a shared vision of a future that is both desirable to the vast majority of humanity and ecologically sustainable. Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future offers a broad, critical discussion on what such a future should or can be, with global perspectives written by some of the world’s leading thinkers, including: Wendell Berry, Van Jones, Frances Moore Lappe, Peggy Liu, Hunter Lovins, Gus Speth, Bill McKibben, and many more.

Sample Chapter(s)
Chapter 1: Why We Need Visions of a Sustainable and Desirable World (51 KB)

Contents:

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Apr 18

Review (Guest): Dynamics Among Nations – The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States

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Amazon Page

Hilton Root

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Complexity thinking that shifts the paradigms of international relations

By J. P. Massing on December 5, 2013

In ‘Dynamics Among Nations’, Professor Hilton Root convincingly challenges the propositions of the liberal international consensus and re-frames the prevailing conceptualisation of development by introducing complexity thinking to the fields of political economy and international relations.

I highly recommend this intellectually stimulating and excellently written book to decision makers, researchers and students – as well as to anyone who is interested in gaining an advanced and well-informed understanding of the complex realities of development and global policy.

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Apr 14

Review: The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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Amazon Page

Jeremy Rifkin

3.0 out of 5 stars Never Mind the Total Cost Terminal Society, April 13, 2014

Books like this would make me crazy if I took them seriously. This is a fad book for shallow minds that have no clue about holistic analytics, true cost economics, or anything remotely resembling the humanities (which is to say, the preservation of the good from one generation to the next). This book is the singularity cult on crack. Buy the book, by all means, to understand how seriously stupid is now in vogue.

There are some clever (which is to say, fad of the day) observations in this book but they vary from wrong (MOOCs have a 4% completion rate and are absolutely useless to 90% or more of the five billion poor who do not have the time to do MOOCs) to incomplete — who crowd sources against corruption and waste? Part of the answer is in this book, but no more than 20%. I’ve raised the book from one to three stars on a second pass, but I am still irritated.

The one place where Rifkin and I are 100% in harmony is on free energy…but he pulls his punches. Free energy is here now but the “system” is intent on keeping energy expensive and the 99% in rentier status. To truly understand the alternative energies now in hand, there is no book available, but if you search for Sepp Hasslberger @ Phi Beta Iota you will be on the bleeding edge of intelligence with integrity on this one topic that is so vital to all of us.

Marginal Cost is the cost at scale after all the FIXED COSTS (little things like water, fuel, child labor, tax avoidance, imposed disease) have been “accounted for.” The problem with Rifkin’s book, which would be a great riff at a late night show where everyone is smashed beyond cognition, is that it discounts reality by 99%. This book is the epitome of what Dr. Russell Ackoff would call “doing the wrong things righter instead of the right thing.

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Apr 13

Review (Guest): The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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Amazon Page

Jeremy Rifkin

3.0 out of 5 stars BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Zero Marginal Cost Society’: Welcome to the Brave New Workerless World, April 1, 2014

ByDavid KinchenSee all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” –Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) First Leader of the Soviet Union

Marginal cost is the term used in the science of economics and business to refer to the increase in total production costs resulting from producing one additional unit of the item. Zero marginal cost describes a situation where an additional unit can be produced without any increase in the total cost of production. Producing another unit of a good can have zero marginal costs when that good is non-rivalrous, meaning that it is possible for one person to consume the good without diminishing the ability of others to simultaneously consume it as well. –Wise Geek.com

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Apr 13

Veteran’s Today: (YouTube 3:04:47) 9/11 Truth Seattle Presents Barbara Honegger

veterans todayBarbara Honegger’s presentation titled “Behind the Smoke Curtain” in Seattle’s Town Hall Theater, January 12, 2013, on what happened and what didn’t happen at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

 

Phi Beta Iota: A text overview, “9-11 for Novices,” by Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramball, is a helpful introduction to this very long video. This video has been validated by the various leaders of the major 9/11 truth movements.

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Apr 12

Marcus Aurelius: Australian Army Reading Essays & Lists

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

PDF (132 Pages): Australian Army Reading

Phi Beta Iota: The primary problem we have with such lists is that they short-change intelligence with integrity. Still today intelligence is a tiny fraction of the course of instruction at any Command & Staff or War College.  War — and the cost of war — are not understood by our own officers, or they would demand ethical intelligent whole of government strategy, policy, acquisition, and operations.

See Also:

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Apr 12

Review: Secrets and Leaks – The Dilemma of State Secrecy

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Amazon Page

Rahul Sagar

5.0 out of 5 stars Highlights from Steven Aftergood’s Review at Lawfare, April 9, 2014

I tried to prevail on Steven Aftergood to repost his rave review at Lawfare here but for various reasons that was not possible. I’ve looked at this book but Steven is vastly superior to me in his contextual appraisal so below I offer both a fast means of finding Stevens review and three highlights in Steven’s words, with some additional Amazon links and my own conclusions based on 40 years as an intelligence professional and 20 years as a proponent for intelligence reform.

Find the full review online by searching for three words together not in quotes: Lawfare Aftergood Sagar

Three Highlights:

QUOTE: Sagar makes a fresh, original and provocative contribution to the field. Our problems with secrecy, he says, are not simply attributable to official venality or mismanagement (or to the Espionage Act or the Manhattan Project) but instead are rooted in our constitutional structure. And leaks of classified information are not necessarily a lamentable deviation from good government but are — within certain limits — an essential safeguard that should be defended and encouraged.

QUOTE: Only leaks, he argues, have the potential to overcome the otherwise unresolved tensions over disclosure of national security information that are the legacy of our constitutional design.

QUOTE: In the end, following a detailed and critically nuanced discussion, Sagar concludes that leakers can be morally justified in making an unauthorized disclosure of classified information in violation of the law if the disclosure meets the following five conditions:

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Apr 9

Review (Guest): Choose Yourself!

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Amazon Page

James Altucher

5.0 out of 5 starsSomething for Everyone

By Jonathan M. Prober on June 3, 2013

I was fortunate enough to read this wonderful new book by the author James Altucher (I first read his work by following him on twitter @jaltucher and reading posts on his website jamesaltucher.com).

It is one of the most enjoyable and informative books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend folks take some time to check it out. It’s not that long but, wow, is it packed with powerfully-good information.

I could write about it for a while but, rather than doing so, it is probably more efficient to just mention a few of my favorite tidbits from the book in hopes that you’ll give it a read.

My personal favorite aspect of the book is its unique ability to be both practical and idealistic.

Some quick examples:

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Apr 8