31 Oct 2011

Welcome to Empire 2.0

The European debt crisis is all but over!

Here's how... The G20 is being asked to finance the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will finance the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which in turn will finance the governments that will take over the debts of the too-big-to-fail European banks that have lent to Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece (PIIGs) by buying their bonds. And if all else fails, the US Federal Reserve's private bankers are already sitting with their collective fingers on the 'Print' button.

And when the chaos peaks, they'll declare a 'World Government' and 'World Central Bank' with the power to 'Reset' the entire system. Ordo ab Chao (or, Order from Chaos) indeed!

This is no idle hypothesis...

We know for a fact that the Vatican has been advocating the idea for years. The IMF already has a little-known 'World Currency' called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The EU leadership is actively discussing 'Global Governanace' within the G20.

In fact, in the Joint letter of the European Commission President and European Council President to the G20 they say that they are aiming for 'ambitious outcomes' in 'eight priorities' they've set for the G20 Summit at Cannes (France) on 3-4 Nov 2011. Priority No. 8 states simply: "Improving global governance. Finally, we look forward to discussing the report on global governance by Prime Minister David Cameron."

And what might be the shape of this global hegemony?

Well, the financial aspects have been worked out, where else, but in Europe - for a 'permanent rescue funding programme' called the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Watch...

29 Oct 2011

A love story gone horribly wrong... Episode 2



In the first episode of "A love story gone horribly wrong", the torid East-meets-West-meets-East love triangle between the little-blue-pill popping Western oil speculator; the unpredictably fiesty Himalayan lass; and her dangerously capricious toy boy end in an unsavoury break-up.

The spotlight almost immediately falls on the homely doe-eyed girl-next-door, and the neighbourhood's sweatshop-running badboy.

But like any good Mills & Boon-inspired soap opera, there's an utterly gratuitous, inexplicable, and rather violent (thankfully, metaphorical) twist in the plot!

In Episode 2... The former toy boy confesses that he still has "feelings" for the mountain lassie - and that he'd defend his ex-amour if the old Yank ever laid a hand on her!

The old man is shattered! The timid one retreats, speachless at the betrayal. (Toy boy had been courting her just days ago!) ...And what will the surly badboy do when he gets back from an extended shopping trip at a 'clearance sale' in Southern Europe, laden with counterfeit designer stuff for his lady love - only to find his new gf snuggling up to her ex-bf?

Nail-biting stuff, this...

Stay tuned for Episode 3! Coming to a geopolitical theatre near you. (Well, provided you're somewhere near South Asia.)

Digital Moses & His Ten Commandments

Douglas Rushkoff is one of the very, very few people who can see the big picture - not the complete picture - but close... Don't believe me; watch his documentaries.

I highly recommend The Persuaders (2001) and Merchants of Cool (2004). Both are goose-bumps inducingly accurate insider-view of the evolution of Advertising and brand-building - and its possible future.

The latter documentary introduced a then-obscure Advertising Agency called Acxiom. Six years later, Ad Age Agency Report 2010 declared that "For the first time in the history of the Agency Report, the ranking's biggest agency is far removed from the clique and clack of Madison Avenue. The largest U.S. agency is Arkansas-based Acxiom, a major player in data-centric marketing and customer-relationship management."

(I'd posted first about Acxiom on 27 April 2010, and Rushkoff's 2004 "prophecy" about Acxiom on 30 April 2010.)

This is the Ten Commandments for the Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff.

Watch live streaming video from etsy at livestream.com

26 Oct 2011

Why Advertising isn't totally f-ed, yet

There's an interesting article on FastCompany.com that talks about the woefully inadequate time, effort and resources spent on training people in Advertising Agencies.

Unsurprisingly...
Agencies are losing status as go-to thought leaders because frankly, leadership is in short supply. Clients are parceling out their projects to consultants and 'specialists.' The best and brightest grads aren’t choosing advertising the way they used to, nor taking it as seriously as other talent-based businesses.


So Advertising isn't attracting the quantity or quality of talent we used to!

Ad Agencies also have, for years now, expected new hires to jump right in and hit the ground running - very fast. Nothing wrong with it - except that they never get to slow down long enough to understand, let alone imbibe, create or nurture, a unique 'work culture'.

The FastCompany article also sites another article titled "Why the Average Barista Gets More Training Than Most Agency Staffers" by Andrew McMains of Adweek, which was based on a study of Talent Management.

The study described the Advertising industry’s "talent retention and development problem in hourglass terms: some training at the bottom levels, very little in the middle and more at the top." Naturally, the study found that one-in-three Advertising people they talked to were looking to move within 12 months!

So Advertising isn't able to retain talent either!

The FastCompany article says,
The next generation of leaders appears to be missing, according to creative directors we spoke to around the globe... The next level down looks like a giant case of arrested development: hard-working, heads down. But the mature, big-picture perspective once typical of people ready to step up has given way to hands thrown up when the going gets tough, tantrums, and myopia.


So the 'depth' of talent in Advertising is already wafer-thin!

Frankly, I don't think that 'training' per se is a solution for Advertising. After all, how do you train people to think creatively?

No, actually we just need to make our people feel - nay, convince them that - what they are doing (which is Advertising) is going to change the freaking world... That has, and always will, attract intelligent, imaginative and passionate people like moths to a burning flame. Trust me - I've met a few of them.

Let's light the fire, the moths will come.

And let's perhaps even 'bill by ideas' instead of merely by hours.

24 Oct 2011

The Vatican has a stupid idea: One World Government

Sorry - but a 'One World Government' is a really, really stupid idea, regardless of where it came from, or its intentions...

The Holy See has today released a new document titled “Towards a reform of international financial and monetary system in the prospect of a public authority with universal competence”. The ambitious proposals to tackle the global economic crisis includes a "World Political Authority" and a "Central World Bank"!

Not only is this particular idea from the Vatican not the light at the end of the dark tunnel that humanity needs - it is an oncoming train!

Pope Benedict XVI actually began working on an earlier document called Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), for the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good”, more than two years before it was finally released in July 2009, according to The New York Times.

The new document builds upon the principles outlined in the earlier one.

The new document says,
The establishment of a world political Authority should be preceded by a preliminary phase of consultation from which a legitimated institution will emerge that is in a position to be an effective guide and, at the same time, can allow each country to express and pursue its own particular good. The exercise of this Authority at the service of the good of each and every one will necessarily be super partes (impartial): that is, above any partial vision or particular good, in view of achieving the common good. Its decisions should not be the result of the more developed countries' excessive power over the weaker countries. Instead, they should be made in the interest of all, not only to the advantage of some groups, whether they are formed by private lobbies or national governments.


Is it just me, or has it just described the principles behind of the (currently) mortally wounded European Union? Or is it the lofty ideals touted for the creation of the elaborate Marionette Show that is the United Nations?

Or is the Vatican, one of the apex organisations in the world, actually - well, pontificating a dangerous ideology: Collectivism?

It says,
Thanks to the principle of solidarity, a lasting and fruitful relation is built up between global civil society and a world public Authority as States, intermediate bodies, various institutions – including economic and financial ones – and citizens make their decisions with a view to the global common good, which transcends national goods.


But History has taught that the idea that "the group is greater than the individual" is the 'common thread', if you will, of societies that eventually become highly repressive, and iniquitous, because some individuals in positions of (relatively) greater power inevitable 'game' the system to their advantage.

Collectivism has repeatedly and visibly failed in all its various forms... Examples in history, include the Soviet Union, and the crumbling super-welfare states of the US and EU today. In fiction, it is more ominous... Examples, include the social orders depicted in Brave New World (Aldous Huxley, 1931) and 1984 (George Orwell, 1948).

My fundamental issue is this: Giving more power to those who already have power is NEVER going to be a solution - under ANY circumstances.

If humanity does bow its head collectively, let it be in prayer - not servitude.

Lord Acton - a very influential man himself, rightly said: "I cannot accept [...] that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men [...] All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Neither unbridled capitalism nor oppressive socialism works - at least not to the benefit of 99.99%. Another of Lord Acton's profound quotations is this: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern."

Amen.

19 Oct 2011

The revolution will be livestreamed

There's Livestream coverage of the action in Greece.

Watch live streaming video from syntagmasquare at livestream.com


It's also covered by Zougla Live Radio. The commentary is in Greek - but you really don't need a language to understand angry crowds and flying tear gas canisters.

18 Oct 2011

Why 'employment opportunity' is an oxymoron

One thing I need to clear at the outset is that 'being employed' is different from pursuing a gratifying and/or rewarding activity.

'Employment' is quite possibly the worst use of a human life.

So why do we think of 'employment' or 'good job' as an end in itself? Why do we believe 'employment' is actually a human right?

If you answered: "For the money", then it is time you realise that there really is no such thing. 'Money' is simply a notion that converts someone's "promise to pay" into a piece of printed paper or pixels on an ATM screen.

It is belief - and that alone - that gives 'money' value. For instance, have you tried buying a bus ticket in India with the equivalent in another currency?

'Employment', 'money' and 'lifestyle' are all mere concepts that exsit only in your mind.

Now watch... A sad, beautiful, and somewhat universal, story about 'employment opportunities'.

Film: Last Train Home (China, 2009)
Type: Documentary (Chinese, with English subtitles)
Director: Lixin Fan
Duration: 85 mins (6 parts)

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6


Synopsis:
Changhua Zhang and Suqin Chen are a couple from a rural village in China's Sichuan province. Frustrated with their lack of employment opportunities, they traveled to the industrial city of Guangdong and took jobs with a large textile firm, making clothing for export. However, Changhua and Suqin were not able to bring their two children with them, and since then the kids have been raised by their grandparents, with their mother and father staying in touch though occasional telephone calls.

The only time they have a chance to see their now-teenage children is during China's annual New Year's celebration; they are among the 130 million Chinese whose work keeps them away from their families and make the trip home during the holiday, resulting in an overcrowded rail system as the trains struggle to keep up with the rush.

Filmmaker Lixin Fan follows Changhua and Suqin over the course of several years in the documentary Last Train Home, as the couple makes the long journey home (over a thousand miles) only to find that their family is slowly falling apart - 16-year-old Qin and her younger brother, Yang, are all but strangers now to their parents, and the youngsters have come to resent their parents, while Qin considers leaving school to move to the city on her own and get a job.

16 Oct 2011

Stop hating the top 1%

It's really not fair to characterise the current social and economic inequalities based on the top 1% vs. bottom 99% income earners.

According to MotherJones, this is who are in the top 1% income bracket in the US: They are overwhelmingly not Wall Street fat cats...


The really startling, exponential inequality becomes apparent as you go closer to the very - the top 0.01% and beyond. This too is from MotherJones.


Research it... In the US, there are some 400 billionaires - compare their wealth to the nation's GDP. In India, the 100 richest individuals (and their immediate family members) account for nearly 25% of the country's GDP - and that too in fully accounted-for wealth alone! In Russia, the wealth to GDP ratio is even more skewed. Now imagine the clout they wield over the entire system.

I assume this trend holds true for almost every nation - yes, every nation - regardless of its purported ideological leaning!

So please open your eyes and STOP blaming the top 1% income earners.

Stop hating a number. Start looking for names.

People vs. Bankers

From Wall Street, to all across Southern Europe... and finally it would seem, the Occupation Army has reached the Belly of the Usury Beast... OccupyLSX began at St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London on 15 October 2011.

This is their livestream...
occupylsx on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free


The 'Occupy Together' movement seems a little too well-oiled and slickly orchestrated to really be 100% about the 99% (I'd rather it was more accurately identified as the 99.99%). It even has clever crowd-sourced downloadable PDF posters.

So - where next? What next?

15 Oct 2011

More pictures of the naked emperor

"I'm not moving" is a powerful, well-edited short film by Corey Ogilvie. Visuals and words that together lay it bare!

Perhaps history is what happens when people don't flinch in the face of hypocrisy...

11 Oct 2011

An oath for the hypocrites

Case 1: Jeffrey Sachs, Economist

Jeffrey Sachs is no ordinary economics professor. He is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and founder and co-director of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger. He was twice named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and authored two New York Times bestsellers, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, and Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.

In an opinion article in AlJazeera, Jeffrey Sachs says that globalisation calls for more government control on economies - not less. He even criticises the US policy of "cutting the role of government in the domestic economy" over the last 30 years.

He says that governmental deregulation has meant that "the rich have used their wealth to strengthen their grip on power"... And now there are "important signs around the world that people are fed up with governments that cater to the rich while ignoring everyone else".

But... before the buttercups, baby unicorns and rainbows, Mr Sachs was the man whose work gave rise to the economics term, Shock Therapy.

His first live lab rat was Bolivia in the 80s. He turned it into an iniquitous corporate-run profiteering racket that eventually brought the present president Evo Morales to power. His final masterpiece of disasterous economic advice was the oligarchical cesspool in Russia of the 90s.

After this was accomplished, Prof. Sachs later embraced U2 lead-singer, Bono, to transform butterfly-like into a gentler version dedicated to saving the children of Africa.

Prof. Sachs' economic Shock Therapy in the 80s and 90s usually involved the rapid transfer of PUBLIC PROPERTY AND ASSETS to private ownership. And since it happens during hyperinflationary conditions, the price in foreign currency is extremely cheap.

In more recent days, so-called government intervention in the economy has been mainly to prop-up stock markets, bailout private financial institutions and rescue bankers from bad investments. But notice how, this time around, it involves the conversion of PRIVATE DEBT into public debt to be borne by future taxpayers!

Makes me wonder: Is the kinder 'New Sachs' really any different from the marauding 'Old Sachs'?


Case 2: Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company

No small fry, this. The Dow Chemical Company is one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, a leader in science and technology, and one of the world's biggest manufacturing companies. Liveris is apparently an ardent advocate for manufacturing, and serves as Co-Chair of President Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

It is apt then that Mr Liveris wrote a book called Make It in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy

The Wall Street Journal review fawns: "In Make It in America, he (Liveris) calls for a national strategy to revive manufacturing. We need manufacturing jobs, he says, if we are to keep a growing population busy and start paying off our debts to the rest of the world."

It goes on... "Mr. Liveris doesn't shy away from proposing ideas that have defeated countless other reformers. For instance, he wants to overhaul our K-12 education system so that it will concentrate more on science, math and engineering. That promises to be a long struggle, he admits. ‘I pushed science at the dinner table with my kids,’ writes Mr. Liveris, who loved chemistry as a boy..."

The book was published on 4 January 2011.

On 8 October 2011, Andrew Liveris announces to the world that a 20-billion dollar joint venture plan between Dow and Aramco will create 26 new plants and 14,000 new jobs - in Saudi Arabia!

Both men still retain straight faces, their jobs, as well as the adulation of many proles!

"#"$*%&!!!" - What else can one say?

"Selling is fun, influencing people is a joy"

What we all can learn from "Search for the World's Greatest Salesperson" by Ogilvy...

6 Oct 2011

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Steve Jobs is no more...





"Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.

And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

A salute to the man who really did change the world.

R.I.P

There is perhaps no better tribute than to re-post these simple, life-changing words of wisdom from the man himself...

5 Oct 2011

Human, meet Siri...



Some of the more paranoid techno-phobes have already begun comparing 'Siri', the voice-command software on the new Apple iPhone 4S, to sinister predecessors form Hollywood, like Skynet in Terminator and others to HAL 9000 in 2001.

But I think it's a precursor to something more like this...


Incidentally, Steve Jobs has been Co-founder & CEO of both Apple and Pixar, the makers of WALL-E! Phew, that's eerie...

4 Oct 2011

Why & how print publications need to go online




Having to contend with the fact that they always several hours behind 24-hour TV news and online news aggregators; hardly ever being able to air breaking news; and almost never being able to be part of the resultant chatter... traditional publications find it impossible to stay away from the online medium.

Today, the rise of mobile Internet means that newsfeeds are now broadcasted directly to individuals around the world! In fact, the availability of real time economic data has made business publications almost superfluous.

On the flip-side there are high quality editorials, op-eds and expert analyses that still command respect and are valued by readers. But this has a direct cost - and mushrooming competition and thinning advertising revenue do exert tremendous pressure on expenses.

So they all inevitably have to go online looking to generate revenue and build equity.

However, there are 3 practical aspects to be considered when an offline publication goes online:

1. Offering largely the same content for free online (almost in real-time) would logically eat into offline subscription. This problem would be more pronounced for non-news, non-daily publications that cannot constantly update content.

2. The few dozen competitors on a supermarket shelf, now turn into millions of rival content sources online!

3. Advertisers may not wish to invest in online advertising till sufficient traffic is generated. Worse still, they may ask for online advertising to be a 'value-add' to a paid offline ad.

The solution, possibly, is for the online version of a publication to cater to a much more niche community than the offline one!

For example, a Women's magazine (offline) may turn into a Women Entrepreneurs' community online. Or a Business magazine (offline) may become a CMOs' community online.

The rationale is that while the objective of an offline publication is to sell space - so the broader the audience, the more the advertisement possibilities - the goal online should be to build and monetise specific user communities by creating high-value advertising opportunites.

The aim online must be for the highest 'quality' of interaction / involvement, instead of 'quantity' of traffic.

Yes, it is 'good' content that drives involvement and interaction; but we can only begin to define 'good' when we know 'for whom'.

3 Oct 2011

A love story gone horribly wrong

It was the typical East-meets-West romance. Bellicose Western billionaire (few know he's neck-deep in debt) wows - if a bit boorishly - the frisky local lass on the slopes of the Himalayas. They settle down - well, sort of.

After a turbulent on-again, off-again relationship lasting three decade, the libidinous, little-blue-pill-popping (uncle) Sam has finally broken up with the feisty highland wench! And the mainstream tabloids and shrill talking heads on TV are having a field-day speculating about her more-than-maternal interest in one of the couple's several unruly love children!

Apparently, he now suspects she's been having 'it' behind his back all the while! (Tch, tch, the poor sods are always the last ones to find out.)

However, their break-up is particularly nasty, with much ugly name-calling and the threat of sordid linen being aired in public. (The pair had been - on more than one occasion - accused of getting up to some exceptionally deviant stuff!)

Meanwhile, the yokel from next door with who she's been having a torid, clandestine affair has dumped her inexplicably and unceremoniously!

As if conspiring to land a coup de grĂ¢ce to her grieving heart, both her ex-paramour and the licentious (uncle) Sam have flung themselves quite shamelessly into the ample bosom of her preening (and somewhat bewildered) eternal rival - the shy brunette living down the street.

On a classic rebound, the fiesty lassie for her part, cozies up to the notorious neighbourhood bad-boy - a shady, inscrutable oriental, who surprises everyone with his uncharacteristic vow: "Till death do us part!"

This could make for a riveting 100-something episode television soap-opera.

Or it could be a rather precarious geo-political situation developing in South Asia.

2 Oct 2011

India to drag Monsanto to court?

In an unprecedented move, India is expected to be the very first country (and hopefully, not the last one) to take legal action against a multinational company for bio-piracy!

India is expected to drag Monsanto to court for taking indigenous plants bred by generations of people in rural India; tinkering with their genes; and then re-introducing them as genetically modified varieties owned by Monsanto!

Besides it being an arrogant 'flipping the bird' in the face of the nation and its farming community, we also need to remember that the modified gene will eventually contaminate the indigenous genepool - and, technically, Monsanto could end up owning all the fields that are contaminated with the GMO.

Read how transgenes contaminated indigenous corn, the staple food of Mexico. As well as wild varieties of Canola in Canada.

And one thing I cannot quite reconcile with though, is the involvement of India's own Department of Biotechnology in tranferring indigenous know-how to Monsanto through its subsidiary, Mahyco, on terms that can be described as both ridiculous and disgusting.