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

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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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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: Guinea Pig B – The 56 Year Experiment

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Buckminster Fuller

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Starting Point for Life Work of a “First Thinker”, March 21, 2014

I’ve read a number of books by Buckminster Fuller, but it was not until this one that I realized he is the only person that writes longer sentences than I do. He is also, as his daughter notes in the preface, a man who uses words with great precision, and invents words when he is certain none already exist. So many words in fact, that he has his own dictionary, Synergetics Dictionary, the Mind of Buckminster Fuller: With an Introduction and Appendices (4 Vols.).

I drew three big ideas from this slim volume:

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Mar 21

Review (DVD): THRIVE

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Foster and Kimberly Gamble

5.0 out of 5 stars Free Online and Worth Buying to Support the Endeavor, March 14, 2014

This is a riveting movie with phenomenal visuals. I’d rather it had been an hour long instead of two, but in the spirit of slow food and slow Internet, certainly worth two hours of your time as an inspiration to change how you live for the rest of your life.

The movie is a personal contribution of Foster Gamble of the Proctor & Gamble family, but he grew a soul starting in elementary school and by the time he finished at Princeton, he was on his way to being a full-blown radical thinker with libertarian tendencies.

The first third of the movie is focused on free energy and all the pioneers from Telsa to Trombly to Bedeini to Hutchinson to Mallove who created proven sources of free energy only to suffer raids from the FBI (we do not make this stuff up) and other abuses including in some cases the torching of their labs and murder. I am hugely impressed by this portion of the movie, which includes short interviews, and I strongly recommend the movie for this part alone if you lack patience for what follows.

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Mar 14

Worth a Look: Kevin Kelly on Cool Tools

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Cool Tools is a highly curated selection of the best tools available for individuals and small groups. Tools include hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites — and anything useful. Tools are selected and presented in the book if they are the best of kind, the cheapest, or the only thing available that will do the job. This is an oversized book which reviews over 1,500 different tools, explaining why each one is great, and what its benefits are. Indirectly the book illuminates the possibilities contained in such tools and the whole catalog serves an education outside the classroom. The content in this book was derived from ten years of user reviews published at the Cool Tools website, cool-tools.org.

See Also:

Kevin Kelly @ Phi Beta Iota

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Feb 25

Review (Guest): The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

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Luke Harding

4.0 out of 5 stars Ed Snowden and the American tribal fear meme, February 19, 2014

 

This is a story about what one American saw atop the tip of an iceberg called the “American national security state.” In the end, Ed Snowden, a 29-year old, $200,00/year High School dropout turned Computer Systems Administrator for Dell, and then Booz Allen Hamilton, both of which were under contract with the NSA, is little more than a proxy for the rest of us: the “paying customer” zombies and drones for the American “national security state.”

As he tried to “ride out” his tenure astride this violently bucking institutional Orwellian Frankenstein, Snowden quickly realized that he was losing ground to this secret self-fashioned protector of America’s deepest values. In our life time, the NSA had joined a long string of other self-justifying, self-certifying, security institutions, like the CIA, the FBI, Swat Teams, the DEA, even local police intelligence units, especially in America’s inner cities. In our lifetime, these institutions have acquired immense and unwarranted powers, often even unauthorized, unconstitutional and unearned and even criminal influence over our democratic institutions. Today, as this evolving behemoth huffs and puffs and bucks wildly out-of-control, Snowden decided he had no choice but to “jump ship,” taking with him a treasure trove of all that lay below the national security waterline.

What exactly is it that Ed Snowden saw that frightened him out of his wits and out of his $200k job and into the hands of a most curious savior of last resort: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the ex-Communist ex-superpower that, since it was forced to commit suicide as an empire, has now become a capitalist Wild West frontier, a land full of out-of-control oligarchs, which is exactly where Ed Snowden’s favorite political hero, Ron Paul would like to take America — if he is ever elected president, that is.

As he now sits ensconced somewhere in Russia, one thought above all else must have occurred to Mr. Snowden: Is this some kind of sick joke? That me, a freedom-loving American, who willingly exercised my civic duty as a free-thinking defender of American values and the U.S. Constitution, conveying crimes being committed against that very Constitution, is now forced to run, hide and seek refuge in a failed ex-Communist state?

That Snowden’s reality is true in a nation that is still living on moral credit, and that takes much more credit for being democratic than it deserves or its historical record can substantiate, is almost as embarrassing an irony and contradiction as seeing the U.S. being “in hock up to the hilt” to Reagan’s other Axis-of-evil: the last standing Communist Police State, “Red China.” And lest we conveniently forget, said “Red China,” is the same state that less than three decades ago, we were referring to mockingly and derisively as being backwards? Now, that they are in bed with our capitalist oligarchs (the Red Chinese “Job Creators,” par excellence) rather incongruously, China has now become the world’s leading capitalist country, holding 60% of our debt, while the U.S. slides noisily, defiantly, but nevertheless persistently and decidedly, backwards. There is an embedded poetic logic to this irony that Snowden’s Ron Paul-Ayn Rand Libertarian sensibilities seems to have missed?

This book rather inarticulately unravels the story of exactly what it is that Ed Snowden saw; why he was so alarmed; and why he had no choice but to expose what he saw to the American public and then had to run. It tells how in the ultimate act of patriotic suicide, Snowden had to respectfully sue for the mercy of the “Obama Courts.” However, since he knew that with the “Obama Justice Department,” a fair trial was already off the table, he had no choice but to “punt early” by “going on the lam,” and seeking protection and a haven elsewhere.

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Feb 19

BUCKY 2.0: Buckminster Fuller at Amazon

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller

These are listed in order of their most recent publication rather than their original publication dates as Amazon has never understood the value of including first edition dates. Dave Buck merits huge appreciation for having instigated a movement to place many of Buckminster Fuller’s works back into a visible platform such as Amazon provides….and reasonably priced as well — each of these is a public treasure. We have added, below the line, books related to Buckminster Fuller, by others. We strongly recommend use of the reviews before making any purchase. 

2010 DVD The World of Buckminster Fuller (Microcinema)

2009 Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity (Lars Muller Publishers)

2008 Grunch of Giants (Design Science Press)

2008 Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Lars Muller Publishers)

2008 Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity (Lars Muller Publishers)

2005 DVD Buckminster Fuller: The Lost Interviews (UFO TV)

2004 Guinea Pig B: The 56 Year Experiment (Critical Pathpub)

 

2004 AUDIO Only Integrity Is Going To Count (Critical Pathpub)

2002 Critical Path 2nd Revised Edition (Saint Martin’s Griffin)

1992 MAP Fuller Projection Dymaxion Air-ocean World (Buckminster Fuller Institute)

1992 Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (Macmillan)

1990 DVD Basic Bucky: R. Buckminster Fuller (Masters & Masterworks)

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Feb 19

Review: Absolute Value – What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information

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Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

4.0 out of 5 stars Formula book, somewhat shallow, misses major opportunity, February 16, 2014

This book was a gift. The subtitle (What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information) overcame my reluctance and I gave it it a quick read, which is all it deserves. This is a formula book, and as one reviewer notes, would have been just fine as an article. The “innovation” in the book is the discovery that brand and prior experience are less relevant today to purchasing decisions that are now heavily influenced by up to date social commentary and readily available peer reviews.

At one level I find the book interesting as a quick once over of the obvious. At another level I am quite disappointed. There is nothing in this book about true cost economics or open source. If you want to be pretentious and talk about Absolute Value, it would help if you actually had a clue that Absolute Value includes virtual water, virtual fuel, virtual child labor, and virtual tax avoidance, among other things.

I appreciate the discussion of how false reviews and paid reviewers are losing ground to better systems for policing such abuses, and I am interested when they discuss the failure of most market research, which focuses on past experience and conventional concepts.

The importance of corporate monitoring of social media for all mentions of all of their products is presented in a useful manner. I particularly like the examples in relation to rapid recognition of flaws from specific production lines — this is about feedback loops.

The book ends weakly with a few examples of sites such as Goodguide, Decide.com, and BrightScope.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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Feb 16

Worth a Look: Beyond Transparency – Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation

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Jan 23