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

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

Worth a Look: Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Amazon Page

Less than a decade after Washington endorsed a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, similarly misinformed and politically motivated claims are pushing America toward war with Iran. Challenging the daily clamor of U.S. saber rattling, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argue that America should renounce thirty years of failed strategy and engage with Iran—just as Nixon revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by going to Beijing and realigning relations with China.

In Going to Tehran, former analysts in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Leveretts offer a uniquely informed account of Iran as it actually is today, not as many have caricatured it or wished it to be. They show that Iran’s political order is not on the verge of collapse, that most Iranians still support the Islamic Republic, and that Iran’s regional influence makes it critical to progress in the Middle East. Drawing on years of research and access to high-level officials, the Leveretts’ indispensable work makes it clear that America must “go to Tehran” if it is to avert strategic catastrophe.

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Feb 3

Theophillis Goodyear: Two Books for Harmonization — The Way of the Truth, of Life, of Phi Beta Iota

Theophillis Goodyear

Theophillis Goodyear

I’ve had several translations of the I Ching Before, and this one is far superior to the rest. At first glance the advice in the various hexagrams may seem nearly the same, from one hexagram to the next; but the repetitions are examples of core Taoist philosophy, which tend to apply in almost any situation, like remaining calm, being flexible, and not letting ego battles determine one’s course of action. That’s what I like about this translation: it keeps reminding you to cultivate those qualities. In that sense it’s almost like a Taoist master continually advising you. Of course it’s not a master but the Tao itself that guides. The hexagrams simply alert you to qualities of the situation and the perspective of the Tao.

No one knows how the I Ching works, but it always seems to understand the exact situation you are consulting it about; or, that has always been true for me. Maybe it can give you insights into choosing your courses of action in the various endeavors of your life.

The I Ching or Book of Changes: A Guide to Life’s Turning Points

For centuries, The I Ching or Book of Changes has been consulted for sage advice at life’s turning points. When its wisdom is sought with sincerity and sensitivity, this Chinese oracle will help to promote success and good fortune and to impart balance and perspective to your life. Its everlasting popularity lies in the lessons that it teaches about how to use your positive qualities in order to attain life’s greatest rewards-prosperity, understanding, and peace of mind.

The other book is “365 Tao: Daily Meditations,” by Deng Ming-Dao. Again, this book is extraordinary. I’ve read many books on the Tao, but none compare to this one, because the book is laid out in 365 different topics—one for each day of the year. But I haven’t been reading it that way. I’ve been flipping through it and reading any topic that peaks my curiosity. So the book is from the position of a Taoist master discussing a range of topics. And I’m continually amazed that Taoism is essentially a philosophy of integral thinking. The ancient sages were seeing things from the perspectives of systems thinking and complexity thousands of years before contemporary Western science.

Most important about this book: it uses language that explains clearly the concepts that you and I and the other posters at phibetaiota are always trying to articulate but have difficulty putting into words. So it’s an excellent aid in trying to articulate a systems perspective in respect to social issues. In that regard, I doubt there’s another book like it.

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Oct 24

Review: Lee Camp Moment of Clarity – The rantings of a stark raving sane man

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Amazon Page

Lee Camp

5.0 out of 5 stars SIX Stars — A National Enema with Champagne, October 17, 2013

Ten percent of the books I have reviewed here at Amazon make it into my six star group. This is such a book. I have been a fan of Lee Camp’s outrageously spirited, funny, and profane social commentaries for years, through his videos. This book was given to me as a gift, and I have been laughing all morning with occasional tears of sadness for society.

Amazon’s Look Inside the Book provides the Table of Contents, look at that if you have any doubt.

HUGE PLUS: Each short chapter has the YouTube URL at the top. Amazon also sells two audios for Lee, great for the car, but personally I value the combination of Lee’s face and live delivery with his words, for now found only on YouTube.

The subtitle says it all: Lee is a stark raving sane man. Others have compared him to Carlin, I would go a step further, Lee is Carlin with class (smile). He’s like a giant-sized Irish elf armed with an intelligence flame thrower capable of skewering any lie, any pretense, any crime against humanity — his book covers most of them.

I would certainly like to see a Lee Camp: The Movie but until that comes available, this book is a sane person’s salvation. We who are sane are labeled crazy by the 1% and the sheep that listen to the 1%, this book is life-affirming, mind-altering, soul-strengthening righteous good stuff.

God Bless Lee, God Bless America, and as Winston Churchill once said, NEVER GIVE UP.

Radical idea: buy as many of these books as you can, and either put the books in toilets where the willing might still be saved, or cut the spine off and sprinkle Lee’s individual stories around. This book is pixie dust for humanity.

Ten books, none funny, that reinforce Lee’s sanity parade:

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Oct 18

Review: Pakistan on the Brink–The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

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Ahmed Rashid

5.0 out of 5 stars REF A — 12 Years of Lessons Learned in Time for 2014, October 13, 2013

This is an extraordinary book that required a great deal of time, not in the reading, but in the reflection. This will be a longer review than usual, even for me, because this book contains all of the insights that the US and the Coalition have refused to embrace for the past twelve years. It is never too late to learn.

The author opens with a well-known quote on the dangers of drawing a line between fighting men and thinking men, lest one end up with the fighting being done by fools and the thinking by cowards. To this I would add another group, the “deciders,” who in the absence of any familiarity with fighting or access to intelligence with integrity, end up making decisions whose true cost in blood, treasure, and spirit crosses the line dividing legitimate actions “in the national interest” from “crimes against humanity.

Positive up front: US under Obama has given more of everything and progress has been made across both military (stronger Afghan army, degraded Taliban) and socio-economic (education, health, media) domains. To that I would add elections. Afghanistan is about to experience the most extraordinary election cycle it has ever been my privilege to observe.

In contrast, the author finds that Pakistan has worsened in every possible manner, in large part because the US has not understood Pakistan, has lacked a strategy (or the intelligence with which to devise a coherent sustainable strategy), and in failing, the US has allowed Pakistan to drag itself down and Afghanistan to be a regional albatross – a cancer on all others.

The author is quite blunt in describing an incoherent even infantile US decision-making environment characterized by “contradictory policies, intense political infighting, and uncertainty.” In being inept, the US opened the way for regional players to manipulate, exploit, and exacerbate.

Chapter 1 on the Bin Laden raid is utter nonsense, this may be the price the author pays to maintain access and avoid being assassinated. See instead The Bin Laden Story 00-90 at Phi Beta Iota.

The author points out that by 2014 the Coalition engagement in Afghanistan will have been longer than WWI and WWII. In my own mind this highlights the fact that the US in particular, but the Western nations in general, have lost their integrity. They are incapable of collecting and analyzing the truth, thinking holistically, evaluating true costs over time, or devising a sustainable strategy that ultimately achieves the desired end-state: peace and prosperity. A churlish skeptic would point out that no, the West has achieved precisely what it wants, public theater at home, a massive transfer of wealth from the individual taxpayer to the military-industrial complex, and personal enrichment of most policymakers, at least in the USA. Either way, the larger publics lose at home and abroad.

Pakistan and Afghanistan matter not only to Central Asia, where other countries such as Uzbekistan are beginning to implode, but to the Middle East and India. At the very end of the book the author ponders how Afghanistan might follow the Turkish example of Islamic/secular regeneration, and I cannot help but wish that 12 years ago the Coalition had had the brain to leave the British home and make Afghanistan a collaborative effort among Muslim nations led by Turkey.

QUOTE (19) “After a decade, NATO has achieved none of its strategic aims – rebuilding the Afghan state, defeating the Taliban, stabilizing the region – so what assurances can it now plausibly give that it will do so by 2014?

The author defines Afghanistan today (2012) as a corrupt and incompetent government, a dysfunctional bureaucracy and inoperable justice system, high on drugs and illiteracy, with a police force that has the highest desertion rate in the world.
The sucking chest wound: no indigenous economy. Bush specifically refused to invest in roads, dams, water, and power. Karzai has been a complete failure [the author gives Karzai credit and cause across the book, outlining the many ways in which the US failed to develop a relationship of trust with him.]

Pakistani military is out of control and the deal breaker. Nothing the US or other can do will overcome an arrogant ignorant Pakistani military continuing to support extremists and their violence within Afghanistan.

QUOTE (22): “If the west is to depart Afghanistan by 2014 and leave behind relatively stable regimes in Kabul and Islamabad, it will need a multidimensional political, diplomatic, economic, and military strategy.”

Answering this challenge is the purpose of the book.

My nine page detailed summary for professionals coping with Afghanistan and not having the time to read this excellent work, is posted at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

Books Cited by the Author:

Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign
Power Struggle Over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong–and What We Can Do to Repair the Damage

Books I Have Reviewed Circling AF-PK-Islam:
Lines of Fire: A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West
Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

Also Recommended:
Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad

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

20131014 RASHID Pakistan on the Brink Review by Steele [Short & Long]

- – - – - LONG REVIEW (SUMMARY) BELOW THE LINE – - – - -

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Oct 13

Review: Swarmwise – The Tactical Manual to Changing the World

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Rickard Falkvinge

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Authentic World-Changing Book , July 20, 2013
EDIT of 19 AUG 2013: Finish book, adding my new remarks at the top, dropping the preliminary review to the end.EDIT OF 13 AUG 2013: I have a 17 hour aviation trip coming up Friday-Saturday, will try to get the detailed review posted sometime in the days after I reach my destination. I regard this book as one of a half dozen essentials for hybrid public governance in the 21st Century — for participatory panarchy in which the public achieves consensus using collective intelligence methods that leverage ethical evidence-based decision-support that is transparent, truthful, and that produces TRUST as the “glue” for holistic ecologically and socially sound decision-making.

- – - – -

My last comment first: this book ends beautifully, and I am personally deeply inspired. Rickard Falkvinge has been and will continue to be a change agent, and this book is a form of persistent, ubiquitous sharing of insight that could help accelerate and broaden the emergent public bottom up demands for clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability.

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Jul 20

Review: The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

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Akbar Ahmed

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star (My Top 10%) — The Book Susan Rice Should Read First, June 6, 2013

I received and read this book today, and while I am troubled by the author’s buying into the Bin Laden story and the official 9/11 cover-up, this is a six-star book that easily provides one stellar concept that must be integrated into the fabric of every foreign policy — understanding the failures of the centers in each state with respect to the more traditional peripheries — and a deep broad articulation of why the US “war on terror” has actually been a thoughtless unnecessarily expensive and harmful war on tribes.

Ignore those who demean this book or this author. I generally consider Brookings to be expert at publishing dumbed down talking points for loosely-educated policy makers, but this book is easily in the top tier, a book Cambridge or Oxford would be comfortable published, and a book that ties in perfectly with Philip Allot’s extraordinary book The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State. Read my review of that book as a pre-quel to reading this book, which I certainly recommend in the strongest possible terms.

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Jun 6

Review (Guest): The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland

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Shlomo Sand

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Complement to First Book! December 6, 2012

“The Invention of the Land of Israel” is the follow up to the fascinating and controversial “The Invention of the Jewish People“. This excellent book serves as a complementary addition to the aforementioned book and fills gaps left behind. Historian and outspoken professor, Shlomo Sand does it again with this enlightening and educational book that reveals the history behind the Land of Israel. This 304-page book is composed of the following five chapters: 1. Making Homelands: Biological Imperative or National Property?, 2. Mytherritory: In the Beginning, God Promised the Land, 3. Toward a Christian Zionism: and Balfour Promised the Land, 4. Zionism Versus Judaism: The Conquest of “Ethnic” Space, and 5. Conclusion: The Sad Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.

Positives:
1. A well-researched and well-cited book that takes you into the always fascinating world of Jewish history.
2. As candid and forthright a book as you will find. Professor Sand provides solid and well-cited evidence in support of his arguments.
3. Enlightening and thought-provoking book to say the least.
4. An excellent complement to his best-selling book “The Invention of the Jewish People”.
5. The myth that was the forced uprooting of the “Jewish people.”
6. The book does a wonderful job of explaining how the dissemination of a formative historical mythos occurred. “Never did I accept the idea of the Jews’ historical rights to the Promised Land as self-evident.”
7. Clarifies some of the misunderstood points made in his previous book.
8. Professor Sand takes pride in his historical scholarship and it shows. The quest for primary sources. The author does a good job of letting the readers know what he does have a good handle on and what he doesn’t.
9. Explains what really precipitated the establishment of the State of Israel.
10. The book achieves its goal of tracing the ways in which the “Land of Israel” was invented.
11. The book achieves the main goal of disparaging the official historiography of the Zionist Israeli establishment.
12. The notion of “homeland” in perspective. “It is important to remember that homelands did not produce nationalism, but rather the opposite: homelands emerged from nationalism.” The concept of territorial entity.

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Apr 29

Review: Ending the Male Leadership Myth – How Women Can Save Us from Destroying Ourselves

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cover male mythFernando Pargas

5.0 out of 5 stars STUNNINGLY Intelligent, Timely, A Study in Ethics, Business, & Governance, April 20, 2013

I received this book as a gift because I have been telling people for over a decade that the 21st Century is going to be the Century of women, whose compassion, intuition, and smaller egos make them so much superior to men in an age that will be vastly more complex and nuanced than the Industrial Era with its willful ignorance of the true cost of everything including the true cost of colonialism, unilateral militarism, and predatory capitalism.

First, for context, a few of the books that have caused me to appreciate this one and recommend it without reservation, the bottom line being that muscle (and blind heavy metal militaries) are out, brains and heart and “non-zero” are in.

Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
THE DAWN OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
Improper behavior
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

First off, the author’s background is relevant: business professor and corporate time with Time-Warner. This is a serious guy that has done hard time in both the academic and corporate media worlds–he is inteimately familiar with the pretensions and limitations of men, and with the cavalier manner in which we have treated women. I like to point out to people that it used to be legal to abuse women and people of color, and to deprive both groups of voice and vote. This is also an author with a very broad international perspective, who teaches for the United Nations and understands the challenges and the requirements for stabilization & reconstruction.

I am quite taken with the author’s discussion of “tribalism” and how modern tribalism combined with media manipulation make us all both stupid and dangerous. As one who has studied the origin of the state (including matriarchs as the first leaders, because lines of inheritance from women were absolutely known) and also the preconditions of revolution (concentration of wealth and huge disparities of income being number one), I see the author’s introduction as long overdue common sense. I have been charting what I call “information pathologies,” my reflections on this are easy to find online, they boil down generally to men being able to get away with insanely criminal corruption because of secrecy and the willingness of men to assume that they are entitled to deprive others for their own advantage.

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Apr 20