Review (DVD): Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit

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Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Colm Feore

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 for stars, 4 for plot, 3 for authenticity, October 5, 2014

As a former Marine Corps infantry officer and also a former CIA clandestine operations officer, one of the first to chase terrorists full time (in the 1980’s), I found the movie engaging but annoying. The producers obviously did not think enough of the USMC or the CIA to actually have a consultant able to catch the many small and some large mistakes in procedure (weapons on a helicopter are supposed to be muzzle down, always) and tradecraft.

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Oct 5

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 (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: Beyond Transparency – Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation

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Brett Goldstein and Lauren Dyson (editors)

4.0 out of 5 stars Superb on Open Data, Missing Important Context And Index, July 6, 2014

This is a superb collection of individual very short contributions. Absolutely worth reading and strongly recommended for purchase and sharing.

Some take-aways:

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Jul 6

Review: The Fourth Revolution – The Global Race to Reinvent the State

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John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

4.0 out of 5 stars Trying to Do the Wrong Thing Righter — It’s Not the State, Stupid!, June 2, 2014

I am reading Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better, a gift from a former naval officer who shares my outrage over the US Government being 50% waste across the board. This book looks interesting but insufficient. As most of us now know, government is one of eight major action and information tribes (the other seven are academic, civil society including labor and religion, commerce especially small business, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit organizations (NGO).

Trying to fix the state in isolation is a classic example of what Buckminster Fuller said we should never do (don’t try to fix a dysfunctional system, instead create a new system that displaces it) and what Russell Ackoff would label another attempt to do the wrong thing righter, instead of doing the right thing.

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Jun 2

Review: The State is Out of Date – We Can Do It Better

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Gregory Sams

4.0 out of 5 stars Double-Spaced Essay of Value, April 30, 2014

This is an excellent double-spaced essay without notes or index, on how the state is a pathological encumberance on society, enabling all manner of waste in large part because it is incapable of dealing with the nuances of complexity. I quite agree with the author’s central premise, that 90% of what the state does and how it does it is antithetical to the peace and prosperity of society at large.

The book was first published in 1998, see the excellent comment from the author below as to its provenance and intent. My belief that this is new work, encouraged by slick mis-representative marketing including a new YouTube and no mention anywhere that this is a reprint that is 16 years old, is in error. I hold the author blameless, this was a publisher too distant from crowd ethics.

Among the best features of the book are numerous quotes from others collected by the author, and many examples from him time in the 1970’s through early 1990’s dealing with health food and natural cures.

The author’s major failing is in assuming that government is anything other than an organized crime family (the Nordic, BENELUX, and Singapore governments excepted). For the longest time I could not understand the US tax code and its purpose. One day, after considering the Tobin Tax and the efficacy of having a single Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax that included currency and stock transactions, I realize that the US tax code is actually a blackmail scheme. It’s purpose is not to raise revenue — witness the one trillion a year the US borrows in the name of future generations — it’s purpose is to blackmain businesses into paying for tax exemptions and loopholes, the point being that the money extorted by blackmail goes to the political campaign funds, not to the public.

I have a number of margin notations, and find much to agree with in this book, I am so dismayed with the false presentation of this book by the publisher as “new” that I am ending my review here. Watch any of the YouTube offerings to get the gist free.

A vastly more trenchant actually new book one with real homework, notes, and up to date references, is Peter Linebaugh’s Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre). A related book that complements both is William Easterly’s The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, the next book that I will be reading and reviewing.

For those that would like to explore many of the themes that the author raises in his personal essay, I offer the four following lists of lists of book reviews — over 400 books sorted into over 40 categories — each easily found online with links back to all Amazon pages embedded.

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive Future-Oriented)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative Status-Quo)

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption 2.0

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Democracy Lost & Found

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (2010)

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Apr 30

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto at Spirituality Today

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The Open-Source Everything Manifesto by Robert David Steele

The Open-Source Everything Manifesto is a distillation of author, strategist, analyst, and reformer Robert David Steele life’s work: the transition from top-down secret command and control to a world of bottom-up, consensual, collective decision-making as a means to solve the major crises facing our world today.

The book is intended to be a catalyst for citizen dialog and deliberation, and for inspiring the continued evolution of a nation in which all citizens realize our shared aspiration of direct democracy—informed participatory democracy. Open-Source Everything is a cultural and philosophical concept that is essential to creating a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for one hundred percent of humanity.

The future of intelligence is not secret, not federal, and not expensive. It is about transparency, truth, and trust among our local to global collective. Only “open” is scalable.

As we strive to recover from the closed world corruption and secrecy that has enabled massive fraud within governments, banks, corporations, and even non-profits and universities, this timely book is a manifesto for liberation—not just open technology, but open everything.

Our Review

The term Open Source refers to universal access to a product or services core design or primary features. Without Open Source there would be no Internet in the way that we currently enjoy it for it is in digital publishing and information sharing that Open Source has been such a powerful force for change.

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Apr 28