Review: Death of a King – The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year

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Tavis Smiley

5.0 out of 5 stars OK to Challenge Racism and Poverty — NOT OK to challenge militarism and the national security state, September 12, 2014

The publisher has done a rotten job of summarizing this book. Here, paraphrasing the author as he just spoke on the John Stewart show, is the bottom line:

The minute that Dr. King turned against militarism and denounced the USA as the greatest purveyor of violence upon the world, he was first marginalized and then assassinated. “The System” was fine with Dr. King focusing on racism, and even poverty, but it would not tolerate for one moment his questioning the military-industrial complex and the national security state.

The author — whom I found to be very inspiring, coherent, and concise — a brilliant articulator of the key points in the book — goes on to have a conversation with Jon Stewart about how the USA simply cannot handle truth-tellers in relation to “big money” matters such as elective wars (racism and poverty being “little money” matters, and deliberately so).

Dr. King was ultimately assassinated by a US Army sniper on detail to the FBI and under the personal direction of J. Edgar Hoover. The story is told in An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King and has also been documented and validated in a judgment by a federal court awarding the King family the single dollar in damages they requested.

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Sep 12

Review: Designing a World that Works For All – Solutions & Strategies for Meeting the World’s Needs – 2005-2013 Labs

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Medard Gabel

5.0 out of 5 stars Co-Creator with Buckminster Fuller of the Analog World Game, The Gold Standard for Serious Games 4.0, September 4, 2014

Medard Gabel, co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, and architect of the digital EarthGame(TM), is “root” for anyone who wishes to do holistic design, true cost economics, serious games, and open source information-sharing and sense-making. He is too little known, very modest, and does not get the deep attention that he merits.

I have participated in his design seminars, and am always thrilled at how well they work. Everyone starts out working on “their” problem, generally an issue in isolation, and around the middle of the week-long seminar, all the different teams experience the “aha” moment when they realize that they cannot succeed in isolation, that all the challenges need to be addresses by everyone working together.

For me Medard Gabel is the “gold standard” and none of the serious games, however well-intentioned they might be, can be helpful beyond their narrow niche for lack of the holistic understanding and the information-sharing and sense-making architecture that Medard provides for — mostly human, not technical at all. As Russell Ackoff likes to say, what is good for one part of the system might be very bad for all the other parts — Comprehensive architecture and prime design — all threats, all policies, all demographics — are essential to our moving past the toxic industrial era of reductionsim and separation that we have fostered these past two hundred years.

I rate this book, because it is a collection of the best of the best from past books, some of which I reviewed at the time, at six stars instead of five.

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Sep 4

Review: Creating a Learning Society

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Joseph Stiglitz, Bruce Greenwald

4.0 out of 5 stars Glass Half Full — Cannot Be Ignored But Also Off the Rails, September 4, 2014

Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a “dream” coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me — finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years — and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity — and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow’s work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:

Moral Hazard in Health Insurance (Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series)
The Limits of Organization (Fels Lectures on Public Policy Analysis)
General Competitive Analysis, Volume 12 (Advanced Textbooks in Economics)

The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is “assumes” integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). This is the same mistake made by Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update and the Club of Rome. The *losing* alternative to the Limits to Growth assumption that top-down government would deal responsibly with climate change and other high level threats focused instead on education from the bottom up — the central point of Will Durant’s 1919 doctoral thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition.

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Sep 4

Review: Air Power in UN Operations – Wings for Peace

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Walter Dorn (editor) et al

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Practical Work on Future of Aviation — Not Just UN — in Peace and War, August 29, 2014

This book — I disclose that my chapter is one of two concluding chapters — is one of the most practical, comprehensive, and perhaps — we all hope — inspirational books to be published on aviation applications for peace and war in recent memory. Since Look Inside the Book is not available, I will first list the parts and chapters, and then summarize my appreciation for this pioneering endeavor.

PART I THE UN’S FIRST “AIR FORCE”
01 Planning, Organizing, and Commanding Air Operations in the Congo, 1960
02 Peacekeepers in Combat: Fighter Jets and Bombers in the Congo, 1961-1963
03 A Fine Line: Use of Force, the Cold War, and Canada’s Air Support for the UN Organization in the Congo

PART II AIRLIFT: LIFELINE FOR UN MISSIONS
04 Above the Rooftop of the World: Canadian Air Operations in Kashmir and Along the India-Pakistan Border
05 Humanitarian Relief in Haiti, 2010: Honing the Partnership between the US Air Force and the UN
06 Flying Humanitarians: The UN Humanitarian Air Service

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Aug 29

Review: Constructing Cassandra – Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001

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Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Recommended for Students, August 20, 2014

I found this book, a gift, to be charming and useful. It should certainly be used as a textbook at the national intelligence university and other mainstream schools. I consider this book a hybrid, one that integrates an outsider application of a social constructivist perspective, with an appreciation for selected insider sources who were ostracized at the time but ultimately proven correct when the agency they sought to serve was proven wrong.

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Aug 20

Review: 11 Days in May by J.D. Messinger

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J. D. Messinger

I bought this book at the suggestion of Miriam Knight, and found it engrossing. This is not a conversation between the author and God, but rather between the author’s mind (from the World of Form) and the author as a soul (straddling into the World of Light).

There are multiple bottom lines, I will list just four that jump out at me from my notes:

01 Finding your authentic self — and hence finding sustainable happiness and positive effect — must be rooted in a deep critical appreciation of how false our current world is, particularly its materialistic and reductionist nature, the false assumptions about scarcity, valuation. This sets the stage for personal liberation.

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Aug 19

Review: Economic Direct Democracy – A Framework to End Poverty and Maximize Well-Being

Categories: 5 Star,Economics
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John C. Boik

5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Comprehensive Proposals Any Group Can Implement, August 3, 2014

I have been thinking recently about various emergent alternative forms of capitalism, including Ethical, Collaborative, Conscious, Inclusive, and Redemptive Capitalism, and found this book as I was working on an article about Open Source Everything and Democratic Collaborative Capitalism.

First off, this is a totally up to date book. Although it is made clear in the front matter that this is an expanded updated edition of the 2012 book, Creating Sustainable Societies: The Rebirth of Democracy and Local Economies I really do want to emphasize this book’s currency up to and including Spring 2014 events and references.

Having looked over a number of other treatments for how to migrate away from predatory financial capitalism with its emphasis on value-extraction and short term financial profit to the exclusion of all other considerations, I find the Mars-family endorsed concept of Mutality to be the most satisfying in terms of over-all philosophy and practice, with a strong kudos to PriceWaterhouseCoopers UK and the Said Business School at Oxford for being well ahead of the pack in their thoughtfulness. Search online for < Brewery Mutuality > to get right to 46-page PDF of very high value.

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Aug 6

Review (Guest): The Global War for Internet Governance

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Laura DeNardis

5.0 out of 5 stars A Guide to the “Technologically Concealed” in Internet Governance, January 21, 2014

By Francesca Musiani

The final draft of Laura DeNardis’s most recent book, officially released on January 1st, 2014, had most likely been finalized before Edward Snowden’s recent revelations about the pervasive surveillance implemented by the U. S. National Security Agency entered the media spotlight, which explains the absence of direct references to the controversy throughout the 300-page volume. Yet, because of the Snowden revelations and a number of other issues addressed thoroughly in this extremely important book – from WikiLeaks to the SOPA and PIPA bill projects – the exploration of Internet governance (IG) issues through a “global war” lens has never been more relevant than it is today. Information and communication technologies, the Internet first and foremost, are increasingly mobilized to serve broader economic, political and military aims, ranging from the theft of strategic data to the hijacking of industrial systems. The rise of techniques, devices and infrastructures destined to digital espionage, data collection and aggregation, tracking and surveillance is highlighted not only by the recent Snowden revelations, but also by the construction and the organization of a dedicated, increasingly widespread and lucrative market.

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Aug 5

Review (Guest): Innovation Economics

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Robert D. Atkinson and Stephen J. Ezell

4.0 out of 5 stars Pragmatism, Not Ideology, Key to Remaining in Pole Position in the Innovation Race, November 4, 2012

Serge J. Van Steenkiste

Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell systematically challenge the ideological tenets of the dysfunctional Washington Economic Consensus that the U.S. economic elites cherish (pp. 54-56; 73-74; 78-80; 82-84; 93; 231-232; 250; 360; 363-364). Messrs. Atkinson and Ezell convincingly demonstrate that the U.S. is losing the innovation race by making the same mistakes that the United Kingdom made during its dramatic industrial decline from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s. The outcome of this decline has been trifold: 1) a decline in real manufacturing output as a share of gross domestic product, 2) the emergence of chronic trade deficits, and 3) slower per capita economic growth than most comparable nations over a sustained period of time (pp. 9; 32-56; 57-84; 360).

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Aug 3

Review: Beautiful Trouble – A Toolbox for Revolution

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Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell et al

5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Of, By, For the Community, July 23, 2014

I bought this book at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) in NYC, just concluded, along with another not listed at Amazon that I want to mention, Micah L. Sifry’s “The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet).

This book, at 138 pages in pocket size (3/5ths of a normal pocketbook), is an utter gem. At a minimum it forces reflection. Produced by a team of people and organizations, this is a community resources in every sense of the word.

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Jul 24