Review: The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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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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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

Review: Every Nation for Itself – Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World

cover every nation for itselfIan Bremmer

3.0 out of 5 stars Rooted in State Paradigm, Ignores Non-State World, January 5, 2014

I made a mistake buying this book. I let the marketing hype get to me. As soon as I got the book in my hands and saw that it had jacket blubs from Fareed Zakaria and Larry Summers, the sinking feeling in my stomach was plapable.

I’ve gone through the book, which is double-spaced without a single chart or map or table. This is a long essay by someone who is out of touch with the latest thinking, still in the nation-state / banks rule the world mode.

For someone that reads very broadly, as I do, virtually every page in this book is irritating. The author’s treatment of water, something I looked into for UNESCO (see my easily found review of fourteen books on water and water wars, < Water: Soul of the Earth, Mirror of Our Collective Souls >) the author considers the privatization of water and charging more for water to be a solution, never mind that fracking and Nestle-Coca Cola and all other predations on water by unregulated idiot practices (both individual and corporate) are wiping out hundreds of thousands of years worth of fresh water.

My sinking feeling grew stronger and stronger to the point of great dismay. This author clearly gets along with the powers that be, and he has a facile patter that suggests he has a very high elite social IQ, but from my point of view, that of an ethical 21st Century intelligence professional for whom transparency, truth, and trust are the bottom line, this book is lacking a holistic analytic model and not truly helpful to the public interest.

Most irritatingis the recognition that comes with the a reading of the author’s conclusions. It just makes me sick to my stomach to read any endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partership (Trade) Agreement. The author is a smart man, so I have to conclude that he has chosen to embrace evil. The Trans-Pacific (Trade) Partnership Agreement is the most secretive, most convoluted, most unethical, most anti-public trade agreement in the history of modern civilization. The 15 Asian nations meeting in November 2012 kicked Obama’s ass out of town with good reason. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will form a club and leave out the United States). The same thing is happening in South America (CELAC) and I expect it in Africa as well as South and Central Asia as well. Afghanistan has not signed the Bi-Lateral Security Agreement (BSA) in part because the US has blown the past twelve years, and in combination, a variety of non-ISAF nations are ready to step in with a focus on real trade instead of false terrorism (China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, among others).

This is a disappointing book that can be used as a measure of the elite hypocrisy, idiocy, and betrayal of the public trust as of today. In terms of substantive analytics and plausible sustainable solutions helpful to the 99% as opposed to the 1%, this book is not satisfactory.

Here are ten books whose summaries alone are worth more than this book (and free as well) — they are drawn from my broader collections of lists that are easily found at the Book page of Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (“the truth at any cost lowers all others costs”):

The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
The Leadership of Civilization Building: Administrative and civilization theory, Symbolic Dialogue, and Citizen Skills for the 21st Century
The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up
Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution
Designing a World that Works for All: Solutions & Strategies for Meeting the World’s Needs
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
The People’s Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy
The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

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Jan 5

Review: American Interests in South Asia (Ho Ho Ho)

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Nicholas Burns (Editor) , Jonathon Price (Editor) , Joseph S. Nye Jr. (Foreword) , Brent Scowcroft (Foreword)

3.0 out of 5 stars Parallel Universe — Divorced from Reality, September 20, 2013

I am in Afghanistan with the opportunity to think about all of the external and internal realities impacting on 2014, and this book attracted my immediately interest, along with Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure: A War Doomed By The Coalition’s Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness. If I had the time I would buy and read both books, but sadly I have to focus on the here and now with just two comments:

01 All of these big names write great stuff, but I have to ask myself, who are they writing for? Who, if anyone is listening? Among all these great ideas, there is not a single one that has been implemented, funded, sustained, or effective. So why do we have smart people and think tanks? Are they a form of public entertainment, of public self-stroking, completely removed from the reality that the White House and Congress are so lacking in moral and intellectual fortitude as to be a constant danger to both the Republic and all other nations?

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Sep 20

Review: Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

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Alexander Cooley

3.0 out of 5 stars Neither the Book Nor the Other Reviews are Serious, September 16, 2013

I am in Afghanistan, where I spend my time thinking about all external and internal factors bearing on 2014, and I was greatly looking forward to reading this book. It arrived, I read it, and I am hugely disappointed. Judging by the long list of grants and stipends that the author names in the front of the book, I have to ask myself, how on earth did he ever arrive at such a sadly simplistic rendering of what is in essence the center of the world?

This book gets three stars from me because it fails across virtually every significant point of analysis — not that the facts are wrong — journeymen argue about facts, masters debate models and assumptions. I gave this book the benefit of my “first class” read, which is to say, I started with the index, the bibliography, and the notes. Here are reasons this book does not rise about the three star level:

01 No strategic model, no intelligence in the sense of decision support. Visit Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog to learn everything that academics and think tanks have absolutely no clue about in relation to the evolving discipline of intelligence.

02 Afghanistan is a side show, not really included in the book in any substantive sense, nor is the author at all cognizant with the major tribes that bleed over the borders, the key personalities, etcetera. This is an anticeptic book that could easily have been written from an air-conditioned cubicle in the USA.

03 India gets 10 mentions, Iran 6, Pakistan 13, Turkey 5, and Saudi Arabia 3. Granted, the author is focusing his article in a hard cover (I have written longer monographs) on Russia, China, and the USA in relation to the ‘stans less Afghanistan — but this alone is grounds for disqualifying the book from any serious collection. The book is largely devoid of historical knowledge of the great game, and it is laughably empty when it comes to itemizing and explaining the local rules.

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Sep 16

Review: Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism

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Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak

3.0 out of 5 stars Walks, Talks, and Smells Like a CIA Publication, July 13, 2013

This book is being touted by Radio Liberty, a CIA subsidiary, and everything about it reeks of a CIA disinformation operation.

First, though, an acknowledgement. The Soviets, working largely through their more gifted satellite nations (Romania was not one of them, Romania belonged to the Pope and the CIA), did do disinformation, and very well. There is no finer book on this subject than that by Ladislav Bittman, THE DECEPTION GAME.

This book is an entirely different matter.

01 It’s author is a known Vatican “fellow traveler” if not an agent of influence under discipline.

02 It’s author walks, talks, dresses like, and gives off every appearance of being a CIA bureaucrat. While we believe him to be legitimate in so far as his past occupation (read his Wikipedia profile) — this guy appears to be one of CIA’s “light” non-official cover officers.

03 The book’s argument, that all of the USA’s present troubles stem from a successful Soviet-era disinformation, is idiocy at best, outright lies and fabrication and deliberate disinformation at worst. Every other non-fiction book I have read and reviewed here at Amazon generally contradicts this book. The USA went in search of enemies, and created them. The Cold War was a creation of CIA and Lockheed and military flag officers all too eager to profit from war and push the edge of financial fraud.

On balance I do not recommend this book — CIA is already a waste of the taxpayer’s funds — but recommend instead the book by Bittman and the nine books listed below.

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Jul 13

Review: Global Trends 2030 – Alternative Worlds [Paperback, Well Priced]

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National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI/NIC)

3.0 out of 5 stars $75 Billion a Year and This is the Poster Child for the Public, March 26, 2013

Certainly worth reading, along with other and generally better reports linked below, but a huge disappointment. There is nothing here actually useful to a national or corporate leader, and generally nothing new. To take one small example upfront, the so-called “disruptive technologies” are pedestrian in the extreme. My disruptive technologies are Open Source Everything (OSE) starting with OpenBTS (Base Transceiver Station) — essentially a free cell phone for every person on the planet from birth — unlimited clean water from the ocean, and free energy. My most significant concern, apart from the fact that this report persists with all of the flaws I pointed out a year ago, is the continued lack of integrity — ethics — a deep commitment to telling the truth about the FACT that government corruption is half the problem, the FACT that half of every US tax dollar is demonstrably spent on fraud, waste, or abuse. Until the National Intelligence Council is capable of telling the truth about our own worst enemy — us — it will be nothing more than an over-paid over-hyped largely useless coffee klatch.

Thoughts in passing as I go through this final report:

01 Still oblivious to rest of the world routing around the USA, e.g. CELAC (Community of Latin American States), the Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Haiti joining the African Union, the 57-nation alternative global financial network adopting the Yuan and the Chinese alternative to SWIFT, and so on.

02 Still state-centric, I like the individual empowerment, but the entire report is written from a state-centric point of view and individual empowerment is a virtual footnote. Absent a proper appreciation for the persistent and pervasive corruption of government — and how a properly managed intelligence community can provide decision-support across Whole of Government strategy, policy, acquisition, and operations — this report is merely a curiosity, not a game changer. The National Intelligence Council should be producing block-busters that cannot be ignored and that provide the public as well as the President with compelling reasons to get our act together and make specific pro-active decisions in the public interest.

03 “True Cost Economics” not included. I do find a Human Resilience Index (HRI) from Sandia National Laboratories, but as is so typical of the timid reporting and flawed analytics I have come to expect from all US-based “think tanks,” there is no connection in this index to the three things that really matter: connectivity to the Internet; the eradication of corruption within governments and corporations; and the availability of free energy.

04 Sees half the big players. The report recognizes China and India as major players, is wrong to sell Russia short, and while they mention in passing, “In addition to China, India, and Brazil, regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey will become especially important to the global economy” I would have preferred a report building from the regions instead of projected outward from the USA and China with a minor in India. .And of course BRIC is now BRICS, with South Africa as the new formal member of that demographic powerhouse.

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Mar 27

Review: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds – American Intelligence Agency Report on the Megatrends, Gamechangers, and Black Swans of the Future, the Rise of China, Alternative World Scenarios

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CIA National Intelligence Council

3.0 out of 5 stars Report Lauds Fracking as Energy Solution, Disappoints on Multiple Fronts, December 27, 2012

Certainly worth reading, along with other and generally better reports linked below, but a huge disappointment. There is nothing here actually useful to a national or corporate leader, and generally nothing new. To take one small example upfront, the so-called “disruptive technologies” are pedestrian in the extreme. My disruptive technologies are Open Source Everything (OSE) starting with OpenBTS (Base Transceiver Station) — essentially a free cell phone for every person on the planet from birth — unlimited clean water from the ocean, and free energy. My most significant concern, apart from the fact that this report persists with all of the flaws I pointed out a year ago, is the continued lack of integrity — ethics — a deep commitment to telling the truth about the FACT that government corruption is half the problem, the FACT that half of every US tax dollar is demonstrably spent on fraud, waste, or abuse. Until the National Intelligence Council is capable of telling the truth about our own worst enemy — us — it will be nothing more than an over-paid over-hyped largely useless coffee klatch.

Thoughts in passing as I go through this final report:

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Dec 27

Review: We Can All Do Better

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Bill Bradley

3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow Book, Old Think, He Quit the Fight to Join the Worst of the Wall Street Manipulators,November 15, 2012

This book makes me very angry. My step-father and I both believed in Bill Bradley a decade ago, and today I feel about him the way I feel about Ron Paul: each betrayed the public trust by refusing to break with their side of the two-party tyranny, knowing full well that neither party represents the public or the public interest, while disenfranchising 50% of the public [the Independents, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, and Socialist parties, all but the first accredited at the national level and blocked from ballot access and debate access by two of the most corrupt parties on the planet] so corrupt they outdo the Soviet Politburu in avoiding turnover at the top.

As I go through this book — and of course I am better armed than most being the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading across 98 categories (visit Phi Beta Iota / Books to access all of my Amazon reviews by category) — I keep thinking to myself TIRED, TIRED, TIRED. This is a book that would have earned five stars from me in 2000. Today it is too little too late.

This book fails the authenticity test on three counts:

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Nov 15

Review: Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan American

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Jacqueline S. Salit

3.0 out of 5 stars TIRED — Out of Touch with Substance and Reality,November 10, 2012

I’ve gone through this book, it is a very fast read, in part because there is no real substance here. I list ten better books at the end. If you seek out my summary reviews you can get the gist of all that is not in this book by Jackie Salit.

After years of trying to understand Salit and her ostensible web site for IndependentVoting.org, I finally got it one day as I watched 30 non-profit and advocacy leaders struggle with the concept of transpartisanship.

In that moment I realized that they are all — and certainly including Salit — bound hand and foot to the concept of a two-party tyranny. They are comfortable with the corruption that they understand, and each limits themselves and their group to seeking a foot-hold within that very corrupt system.

Salit and Michael Bloomberg “made” each other, and this properly puts IndependentVoting.org, which does not stand for anything other than “give us a place at the table,” in the Bloomberg/Wall Street circus act that includes NO LABELS, Americans Elect, former Comptroller David Walker with his movie and bus tour, and now the Bloomberg PAC that buys influence on Member at a time. All of this is TIRED.

Salit has had multiple chances — as has Ron Paul and other third party presidents — to break away from trying to do the wrong thing righter, and in each instance has failed to rise to the challenge. A national Electoral Reform Summit concluding with a Statement of Demand and an Occupation of every home office of every federal Senator and Representative, is the WIRED approach to changing the rules of the game.

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Nov 10