Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 2015

 

Bitcoin and Digital Currencies Being Studied for Carbon Reduced Housing in Vancouver

How to bypass banks for any monetary transaction?  From beginning to end, banks are at the center of money transactions, as religious sects are for our civil status in Lebanon.

How to bypass the world security agencies trying to dig through your monetary transactions for evidences and trends into your behaviors?

How can we feel free if everything is centralized, even in matter of monetary transactions?

January 08, 2015

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Digital Finance Institute is pleased to announce that it is providing thought leadership to the THNK School of Creative Leadership’s Executive Program on “The Future of Capitalism” in January 2015 to explore how digital currencies like bitcoin, can increase access to low-carbon housing.

“We are excited to participate in THNK’s innovative program addressing globally impacting issues like climate change and fintech innovations like decentralized currencies to find meaningful solutions to social and economic problems”

“We are excited to participate in THNK’s innovative program addressing globally impacting issues like climate change and fintech innovations like decentralized currencies to find meaningful solutions to social and economic problems,” says Christine Duhaime co-founder and Executive Director of the Institute, a think tank based in Canada.

“Digital fintech, like Bitcoin, is disrupting our financial system which will have significant impact on all facets of the economy and lead to greater financial inclusion. Participating with THNK in the context of climate change initiatives using digital finance with some of the best and most innovative global leaders is a fantastic opportunity for both organizations,” she added.

“From a cultural and emotional perspective, capitalism has depended on a majority of people believing in a system we’re now willing to change. What happens if we look at this system through a design-thinking lens?

How might we radically evolve capitalism to meet the needs of all the participants in this system in a better way than we’ve historically done?

At the intersection of venture design and innovation leadership, we are uniquely positioned to convene a diverse group of changemakers around reframing the potential positive impact of new economic systems. The Institute set the bar very high for the type of collaborations we enact,” says Sarah Dickinson, co-founder of THNK.

The Digital Finance Institute is an institute for independent research and innovative regulatory and policy solutions related to digital financial technology. It focuses on achieving balanced regulation and integration that supports financial innovation to reduce financial inclusion problems, supporting women in fintech, and advancing climate finance initiatives.

THNK is a C School based in Amsterdam and Vancouver that combines venture design and innovation leadership to create a transformational creative leadership for a better future. It’s a practice and a community that’s humble, curious, and forward-looking, a global network of leaders with a shared intention for impact.

 

And Boko Haram, extremist Nigerian insurgents?

When will the western coalition turn its attacks on? 

The past week has been one of horror for France. After a 3-day rampage in which terrorists killed 17 people both at the Charlie Hebdo offices and at a Jewish kosher supermarket, one fugitive still remains at large.

An estimated 3.7 million French citizens took to the streets of Paris in a solidarity march as the attack and its aftermath continues to dominate international headlines.

But thousands of miles away, another crisis went largely ignored. Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria committed a massacre of unbelievable proportions in Borno State.

Over the period of a few days, the terrorist group killed more than 2,000 people in the town of Baga, as well as 16 neighboring towns and villages, burning entire communities to the ground.

Amnesty International described it as the terror group’s “deadliest massacre” to date, and the Guardian reports that local defense groups said they gave up counting the bodies left lying on the streets.

Mikael Owunna posted this Jan. 17, 2015

Mikael “Chuks” Owunna is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer, podcast host and organizer based in Washington D.C. His work focuses on topics of race, identity, gender, sexuality and colonialism.

By every objective measure, Boko Haram’s vicious massacre in Nigeria dwarfs the tragedy in France, so far that the Nigeria bloodshed has been described as one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern history.

There’s only one problem: In all likelihood, you probably didn’t hear about it until just now.

Source: Haruna Umar/AP

Where is the international outcry for these non-Western and predominantly Muslim victims of terrorism? The terrorist attacks in Borno State and Paris unfolded over the same time frame, but the story in France generated more than 50 times more news stories worldwide.

Source: Google Trends

This silence is not accidental. There is a clear double standard when talking about Western vs. non-Western and Muslim vs. non-Muslim victims of terrorism.

Terrorists attacks on the West, and against non-Muslims in particular, are sensationalized in the media while those afflicting non-Westerners and Muslims are normalized and treated as business as usual, generating limited public interest and, in turn, limited outcry from activists and institutions that could actually affect change.

This discrepancy in coverage raises important questions about the way the media talks about terrorism — and whether the Western news outlets that so fiercely dissected the brutal Charle Hebdo massacre will ever see non-Western and Muslim victims of terrorism as “mournable.”

And the result is telling: Reports about non-Western victims of terrorism are generally overlooked or ignored unless they fit particular narrative of freedom and civilization under assault from Islamic extremism.

The last known photo of Tunisian journalists Sofiene Chourabi (right) and Nadhir Ktari (left) who were executed by the Islamic State in Libya this past weekSource: France24

Is the attention on Charlie Hebdo really about the assault on free speech? 

Not necessarily. One day after the 10 white journalists were tragically murdered at Charlie Hebdo and became martyrs for “free speech,” two Tunisian journalists, Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari, were beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and received almost no coverage for their sacrifice.

Additionally, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that more than half of the journalists killed in 2014 were Muslim, even though the international media dialogue of the past year focused almost exclusively on the Islamic State’s beheadings of white Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as the deaths of other white journalists like Camille Lepage.

“More than half of 61 journalists killed in 2014 were Muslims, many working in conflict-affected countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia,” writes Rafia Zakaria for Al Jazeera America. “But few have received the recognition or commemoration accorded to Western journalists or a handful who worked for Western media outlets.”

If this were solely a question of who is fighting to defend “free speech,” then international media would be honoring the sacrifices of the scores more non-Western and Muslim journalists who have died in the line of duty.

Source: Global Terrorism Index

Most victims of terrorism are Muslim and non-Western, but we rarely pay them as much attention. A conservative estimate by the Combating Terrorism Center at New York’s Military Academy at West Point found that between 2006 and 2008, non-Westerners made up about 98% of al Qaida’s victims. A majority of those victims were Muslim.

An additional report this past year from the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Vision of Humanity Project found that global deaths due to terrorism have spiked over the last decade. They were concentrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria: all non-Western countries with large Muslim populations.

The report also explicitly linked the rise in terrorist attacks in these countries to the U.S.-led war on terror, but the media continues to explicitly omit or gloss over these victims of terrorism (unless their stories can be used to fuel Islamophobia).

Lassana Bathily, the Malian Muslim hero of the Jewish supermarket hostage crisisSource: Le JDM

The media still offers a skewed depiction of Muslims. 

For example, the media narrative about the French attacks gave short shrift to Ahmed Merabet, the 42-year-old Algerian Muslim security guard for Charlie Hebdo who was also killed, and focused instead on many of the white journalists and editors who died.

Moreover, the international media at times explicitly omitted the Muslim identity of Malian Muslim Lassana Bathily, who saved customers during the siege of a Jewish kosher supermarket, while reiterating that the terrorists were “Islamists.” When other outlets focused on this distinction, they treated it as a shocking revelation: A Muslim wanted to save Jews! How novel!

This is in stark contrast to the media narratives about Islam that do dominate international headlines. Western media fixated coverage last year on Malala Yousafzai, a young Muslim female activist from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban on her way to school. Many media outlets used her story to advance one-sided narratives about Islam, the oppression of Muslim women and Pakistan more broadly, while glossing over her critiques of the U.S. drone program, which did not fit these narratives.

First Lady Michelle Obama holding a “#BringBackOurGirls” sign Source: Twitter @FLOTUS

So what does this have to do with Nigeria?

Boko Haram made international headlines in 2014 for kidnapping 276 girls from a school in Chibok in Borno State. Nigerian activists launched the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign, demanding accountability from the Nigerian government.

But after two weeks of little-to-no coverage, international journalists suddenly swept in and began to describe Boko Haram as Nigeria’s “Taliban,” focusing the story on Islamic fundamentalists’ war on the education of women rather than the structural and bureaucratic shortcomings of the Nigerian government.

The real story about Boko Haram and the Chibok girls could not have been further from the truth. Firstly, the Chibok girls, like the Boko Haram militants, are Muslim, and although the Taliban and Boko Haram are both terrorist groups that invoke “Islamist” rhetoric, the history of Boko Haram could not be more different than that of the Taliban. Moreover, Boko Haram regularly targets boys in its attacks, but this was also left out of the story.

The West and its media misconstrued the narrative and appropriated the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag as a “war on women” to justify an expanded Western military presence in the region.

Months later, and despite dozens of troops from the U.S., France, Canada, Israel and the U.K. being deployed to region, none of the girls have been rescued by the military to date. If the global reaction to this weekend’s slaughter is any indication, we’ve simply moved on from Nigeria’s ongoing battle against militants in favor of more tantalizing topics.

Image still from a Boko Haram video featuring their leader, Abubakar Shekau Source: AFP/Getty Images

Why it matters.

Reports about non-Western victims of terrorism are typically restricted unless they can serve a particular agenda, and we saw that again this past week with the media’s ominous silence around Boko Haram’s massacre of thousands of victims in Borno State.

There are no neat narratives surrounding this “Islamic war on women,” and no Westerners were killed. It was simply terrorist violence on an unprecedented scale perpetrated against Nigerians, many of whom were Muslim.

We are still not sure of the full scale of the violence in Baga and neighboring towns just yet, but what we do know is staggering. Baga, a town of 10,000, is now “virtually non-existent” according to Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official from the region.

Hundreds of corpses are rotting and litter the streets. Entire towns and villages have been burnt down, and thousands of people have had to flee into Lake Chad where they face hunger, dehydration and attacks from wild animals while they await rescue on unstable sand bars. This is one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, and Boko Haram followed up on it by making a 10-year-old girl blow herself up in a market in Maiduguri this Saturday, killing at least 10 more people.

Image from France’s #JeSuisCharlie March on Sunday, January 11, 2015 Source: Peter Dejong/AP

Just as people are now standing in solidarity with the French and decrying the terrorist violence that tragically took 17 lives, we must also stand in solidarity with Nigerians and decry Boko Haram’s slaughter of 2,000. The lives of Muslim and non-Western victims of terrorism also matter, even if the mainstream media’s omission of these stories may indicate otherwise.

 

12 Personal Branding Lessons I learned in 2014

“Be yourself; everyone else is alreadyI’ve had an amazing 2014 and have big plans for 2015. As I look back at my year and tweak my current personal branding strategy, I thought it might be helpful to share 12 lessons I learned in 2014 that helped me transform my personal brand story.

  1. Listen More than You Post!
  2. Social Data is powerful. Embrace it!
  3. Don’t outshine your boss!
  4. Your Brand is who YOU are, invest in it but more importantly LIVE it!
  5. Social Media can be a time suck. Manage your time.
  6. If you suck offline, you’ll suck online but also if your story/personal branding strategy sucks people will assume you suck!
  7. Find ways to #ShowUcare that allow you to stand out from the noise… (Go beyond a simple thank you)
  8. Your Klout score won’t pay the bills, invest in relationships and have a strategy that links social goals with your business and career ones!
  9. There’s NO social media easy button
  10. Use automation and technology to filter the noise, provide you analytics and increase your post success but never automate your engagement!
  11. Tips and Tricks for personal branding can be found everywhere… I study how and what football players post on social media and how my favorite social CEO promotes their book.
  12. There’s no “right way” to do personal branding but there are tons of wrong ways… Find Your Voice, Share Your Story but don’t be Fake as you’ll just look stupid!

Your personal brand like social media and technology must always be changing and adapting…

I would love to hear some of the lessons you’ve learned in 2014…

Please comment below! Let’s make 2015 the year personal branding is embraced and invested in throughout every department and from entry level employee to CEO.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

 

Caution: Artificial Intelligence is a Frankenstein

In the late 1980’s, Artificial Intelligence programs relied on practicing experts in practical fields in order to extract the “How to, and how to go about when a problem hits the system” using a series of questions: “What if“. These programs were designed to foresee going many experts into retirement  and the need to train new comers with the least cost and hire the minimum numbers of new employees.

Artificial Intelligence has progress and branched into many fields and this time around it is the professionals in labs who are designing the sophisticated software.

An open letter calling for caution to ensure intelligent machines do not run beyond our control has been signed by a large and growing number of people, including some of the leading figures in artificial intelligence.

“There is now a broad consensus that (AI) research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase,” the letter said.

“The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of ; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable,” it added.

“Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.”

How to handle the prospect of automatic weapons that might kill indiscriminately, the liabilities of automatically driven cars and the prospect of losing control of AI systems so that they no longer align with human wishes, were among the concerns raised in the letter that signees said deserve further research

Scientists urge artificial intelligence safety focus

Jan 12, 2015

Roboy, a humanoid robot developed at the University of Zurich,at the 2014 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 9, 2014 in Hanove
Roboy, a humanoid robot developed at the University of Zurich,at the 2014 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 9, 2014 in Hanover, Germany

Scientists and Engineers Warn Of The Dangers Of Artificial Intelligence

January 13, 2015 | by Stephen Luntz

Fears of our creations turning on us stretch back at least as far as Frankenstein, and films such as The Terminator gave us a whole new language to discuss what would happen when robots stopped taking orders.

However, as computers beat (most of) us at Jeopardy and self-driving cars appear on our roads, we may be getting closer to the point where we will have to tackle these issues.

In December, Stephen Hawking kicked off a renewed debate on the topic.

As someone whose capacity to communicate depends on advanced computer technology, Hawking can hardly be dismissed as a Luddite, and his thoughts tend to attract attention.

The letter was initiated by the Future of Life Institute, a volunteer organization that describes itself as “working to mitigate existential risks facing humanity.” The letter notes:

“As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research.

There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable.

Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.”

The authors add that “our AI systems must do what we want them to do,” and have set out research priorities they believe will help “maximize the societal benefit of AI.”

Anyone can sign, and at the time of this writing well over a thousand people have done so. While many did not indicate an affiliation, names such as Elon Musk and Hawking himself are easily recognized.

Many of the other names on the list are leading researchers in IT or philosophy, including the IBM team behind the Watson supercomputer.

So much intellectual and financial heft may make their prospects good for conducting research in the areas proposed. Musk has said he invests in companies researching AI in order to keep an eye on them.

Musk worries that even if most researchers behave responsibly, in the absence of international regulation, a single rogue nation or corporation could produce self-replicating machines whose priorities might be very different to humanity’s, and once industries become established they become resistant to control.

Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse.

American Sniper has a problem. It’s a movie about a black-and-white distinction between good and evil, but it is set almost entirely in the Iraq War, which can only be honestly portrayed in shades of gray.

Faced with a choice between altering its narrative to account for that gray versus altering the facts of history, the film chose the latter.

It adopted an “honesty shmonesty” approach to the war: in its retelling, Iraq was a fight of Good Americans against Bad Terrorists, led by Chris Kyle, the Good-est American of them all.

The result is a sort of Hezbollah martyr video for the Fox News set; recruitment propaganda for culture-war extremists. I

n the world of this movie, the Iraq war is an extension of the war on terror; heroes with guns are our only hope of salvation; and anyone who doubts that is part of the problem. And if the film’s historic box office success and many award nominations are anything to go by, that propaganda is frighteningly effective.

Warning: This article discusses the plot of American Sniper in its entirety.

A black and white war

american sniper promo 1

The movie’s central moral metaphor is voiced by Kyle’s father during a flashback to his childhood. There are, he explains, 3 types of people in the world: wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs.

The evil wolves threaten the sheep. The sheep are good people, but vulnerable to harm because they’re too naive to understand that evil exists. That means that it’s up to the sheepdogs to protect them from harm.

In that metaphor, Kyle is America’s border collie, shepherding the weak and vulnerable away from harm. The movie’s Big Bad Wolves are al-Qaeda terrorists, led by a psychopathic child-torturer and his marksman sidekick.

And the sheep? They would be the other Americans who lack Chris Kyle’s vision and fortitude, and fail to understand that you’re either with us or against us. That includes fellow US troops who lack Kyle’s skill, or who dare to question the war.

Iraqis, by contrast, are not sheep: in this movie they’re either wolves themselves, or nameless collateral damage. Mostly wolves, though.

The movie’s “wolf” problem

Wolf

 

(Shutterstock.com)

American Sniper stacks its narrative deck, using imaginary history and characters to give Kyle a suitably evil foe to fight. While it’s never great to see a movie falsify a true story, American Sniper‘s disdainful attitude towards the truth is especially disingenuous in light of its broader “you’re either with us, or you’re a naive sheep” narrative.

To maximize the bigness and badness of its available wolves, American Sniper rewrites history, turning the Iraq War into a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The film finds time for entire scenes of Kyle viewing TV news reports about al-Qaeda’s 1998 bombings of US embassies, and the planes hitting the Twin Towers on 9/11.

And when Kyle gets to Iraq, his commander explains that they are hunting the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The inference we’re supposed to gather is clear: that Kyle is fighting the same people who attacked America in 1998 and 2001.

By contrast, the actual reasons for the Iraq war go unmentioned. The words “Saddam Hussein” are never uttered in the movie. Nor are “George Bush,” “Sunni,” “Shia,” or “weapons of mass destruction.”

As Zack Beauchamp points out, this depiction of the war is breathtakingly dishonest.

The Iraq War was not a response to 9/11: this was a war America chose, officially based on reports of weapons of mass destruction that were implausible at the time, and that have since been proven false.

In real life, Chris Kyle argued that America owed its troops support because those troops did not get to choose the wars they fought, or the strategy they followed: they wrote the government a blank check for their lives and waited to see if it would get cashed.

There’s a very interesting movie to be made about that idea, and about what it means to be heroic during a misguided war. American Sniper isn’t it.

Instead, the film heightens the good-vs-evil stakes by supplying Kyle with two fictionalized enemies: “The Butcher,” an al-Qaeda in Iraq enforcer famed for his brutality, and “Mustafa,” a Syrian who once won Olympic medals for marksmanship, but now spends his days as an al-Qaeda sniper, picking off American soldiers as they go about their noble work.

The Butcher is evil personified. He uses a power drill to torture a child to death in front of his screaming family. His workshop in a disused restaurant looks like the set for a cooking show hosted by Hannibal Lecter: a chained, mangled corpse dangles from the kitchen ceiling, and larder shelves are piled with dismembered body parts.

Mustafa, on the other hand, is Bizarro Chris Kyle. He’s equally skilled with a rifle, but instead of heroically protecting American troops, he’s picking them off, one by one. You know, evilly.

The movie’s “sheep” problem

Sheep

(Shutterstock.com)

The movie’s “sheep” problem is equally disturbing. The sheep are not the Iraqi civilians terrorized by the Butcher.

With the exception of one murdered child and his payoff-demanding father, the Iraqis in the film are pretty much all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Rather, the sheep Kyle protects are the other American soldiers. For a movie that’s been lauded for its support of the troops, that’s a surprisingly disdainful view of their bravery and skill.

In the movie’s telling, ordinary soldiers’ lack of SEAL training makes them sitting ducks (sitting sheep?) for insurgent attacks.

At one point, Kyle leaves his sniper’s perch to lead a group of Marines as they clear buildings in Fallujah, telling the awed soldiers, who burst with gratitude that the hero Chris Kyle has deigned to join them, that he can show them a thing or two.

Even Kyle’s own brother is given sheep status: when he deploys with the Marines, it’s cause for family concern, not celebration of his heroism. And when Kyle sees him later on an Iraqi airstrip, he’s shaking with exhaustion from battlefield trauma.

A different movie might have acknowledged that those soldiers were, in many ways, more heroic than Kyle. They took greater risks with less training, and many of them lost their lives in battle as a result. American Sniper, on the other hand, presents them as an undifferentiated mass of grunts, waiting for Chris Kyle to save them.

Worse, the movie’s sheep-wolves-sheepdog narrative implicitly blames them for their own peril. The “sheep” are in danger because they are too naive to understand the evil in the world, not just because they are under-trained or under-resourced.

The movie is very clear on that point. In a scene depicting the funeral of Marc Lee, Kyle’s friend and fellow SEAL who was killed in action, his mother reads a moving letter Lee wrote a few weeks before his death, in which he questions the legitimacy of wartime glory, and worries that it can lead to an “unjustified crusade.”

It seems, for a moment, like the film might be attempting to grapple with the justness of the war itself, or at least consider the possibility that a person could be both heroic as an individual, and ambivalent about the greater mission.

Nope.

Instead, the following scene features an angry rant from Kyle, who insists that “that letter” killed Marc, not the bullet that hit him. In the world of American Sniper, doubting your role as champion of good and enemy of evil is a fatal condition.

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle Warner Bros

 

 

american sniper promo 1

(Shutterstock.com)

The movie’s “sheep” problem is equally disturbing. The sheep are not the Iraqi civilians terrorized by the Butcher. With the exception of one murdered child and his payoff-demanding father, the Iraqis in the film are pretty much all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Rather, the sheep Kyle protects are the other American soldiers. For a movie that’s been lauded for its support of the troops, that’s a surprisingly disdainful view of their bravery and skill.

In the movie’s telling, ordinary soldiers’ lack of SEAL training makes them sitting ducks (sitting sheep?) for insurgent attacks. At one point, Kyle leaves his sniper’s perch to lead a group of Marines as they clear buildings in Fallujah, telling the awed soldiers, who burst with gratitude that the hero Chris Kyle has deigned to join them, that he can show them a thing or two. Even Kyle’s own brother is given sheep status: when he deploys with the Marines, it’s cause for family concern, not celebration of his heroism. And when Kyle sees him later on an Iraqi airstrip, he’s shaking with exhaustion from battlefield trauma.

A different movie might have acknowledged that those soldiers were, in many ways, more heroic than Kyle. They took greater risks with less training, and many of them lost their lives in battle as a result. American Sniper, on the other hand, presents them as an undifferentiated mass of grunts, waiting for Chris Kyle to save them.

Worse, the movie’s sheep-wolves-sheepdog narrative implicitly blames them for their own peril. The “sheep” are in danger because they are too naive to understand the evil in the world, not just because they are under-trained or under-resourced.

The movie is very clear on that point. In a scene depicting the funeral of Marc Lee, Kyle’s friend and fellow SEAL who was killed in action, his mother reads a moving letter Lee wrote a few weeks before his death, in which he questions the legitimacy of wartime glory, and worries that it can lead to an “unjustified crusade.” It seems, for a moment, like the film might be attempting to grapple with the justness of the war itself, or at least consider the possibility that a person could be both heroic as an individual, and ambivalent about the greater mission.

Nope.

Instead, the following scene features an angry rant from Kyle, who insists that “that letter” killed Marc, not the bullet that hit him. In the world of American Sniper, doubting your role as champion of good and enemy of evil is a fatal condition.

The “sheepdog” problem

Sheepdog <img alt=”Sheepdog” src=”https://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/SAu_0xxAB1MzCvTT9OOzMVrBaxw=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3327852/shutterstock_245292823.0.jpg”>

(Shutterstock.com)

That with-us-or against us construction is a problem, because the movie isn’t just selling a vision of the Iraq War, it’s selling a vision of violence as the only effective resistance to the forces of evil.

In the movie, Kyle is infallible. We never once see him shoot a civilian who he mistakes for a combatant. When another soldier tells him that the wife of one of Kyle’s “kills” claims he was carrying a Koran, not a gun, Kyle dismisses his concerns by saying  “I don’t know what a Koran looks like,” before describing in detail the exact type of gun the man was holding.

When Kyle shoots a young child and a woman in an early scene, the film is careful to show the grenade they were carrying exploding, leaving no doubt that Kyle was correct about the danger they posed to nearby American troops. In a climactic scene, when Kyle disobeys an order to hold his fire and nearly gets his entire team killed, the movie still eventually validates his decision: he kills the bad guy, and all the good guys survive unharmed.

That reinforces the movie’s construct of good vs. evil — sheep vs. wolves. Because Kyle is always right, any limits on his use of violence would, by definition, leave American soldiers in danger. That’s something only a naive sheep could want.

But pretending that heroic sheepdog warriors never accidentally kill civilians is a dangerous lie about the true nature of combat. In the real world, even well-intentioned soldiers do sometimes kill innocent people, because that is how war works.

Pretending otherwise is an insult to the many American veterans who have to spend the rest of their lives grappling with their actions during the Iraq War, and to the thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been killed since the conflict began. And it’s also dangerous, because it tells Americans not to worry about the harm our wars may do to civilians, who are probably all terrorists anyway. It’s bad enough to hide that truth behind euphemisms like “collateral damage,” but much worse to write it out of the story completely.

The result: recruitment propaganda for an imaginary war

American Sniper Tweets <img alt=”American Sniper Tweets” src=”https://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/b3_vb-FUafo-hj0ZhCqsFTfUxgY=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3327854/American_Sniper_Tweets.0.jpg”>

(Cryanne)

Given all of that, it is hardly surprising that many viewers appear to have absorbed American Sniper‘s message as “Muslims are evil and should be killed.”

It would be bad enough if this were merely a shockingly inaccurate portrayal of the Iraq War and an appallingly insulting one of Iraqis themselves. But it’s worse, because this movie feeds the narrative that the civilized world is at war with Muslims, that the only solution is to respond with crushing violence, and that people who refuse to believe that are naïfs — sheep, rather — who are dangerously undermining America’s security.

That’s not a story that’s limited to Clint-Eastwood-directed warsploitation movies. You’ll hear the same thing on Fox News, where this month Jeanine Pirro delivered a bloodthirsty rant calling for mass murder as a solution to the problem of Muslim extremism, and the network repeatedly made the false claim that radical Islamists had taken over parts of European cities, turning them into Muslim-only “no-go” zones.

That’s its own form of dangerous extremism. Its premises are wrong, and its results are dangerous. By feeding that narrative, American Sniper is part of the problem.

American Sniper

  1. Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who the Oscar-nominated film “American Sniper” is based on, wrote a book by the same name that encapsulates his hatred, bigotry and enthusiasm for killing “Iraqi savages”, most of which is sanitized or missing from the movie.
    Here is Chris Kyle in his own words:
  2. In stark contrast, the Hollywood version of Chris Kyle is a complex and likable hero.
    I knew going into the movie that he would be glorified and sanitized for mass consumption. What I was not prepared for is the outrageous lengths to which the film goes to erase US criminality in Iraq while portraying the local Arab population, including small children, as violent irrational monsters.

 

 

Does Your Boss Thinks You’re Awesome? Ask him to just say you’re awesome

If your boss thinks you’re awesome, will that make you more awesome?

This question came to us recently, when we were working with the top 3 levels of management in a multinational.

When asked to rate their direct reports on 360 evaluations, some managers consistently rated everyone higher, and others consistently lower, than the average. We wondered if this was a result of bias, and what effect it had on the people who worked for them.

If Your Boss Thinks You’re Awesome, You Will Become More Awesome

To understand this better we looked at a larger set of 360 data to identify 50 of the company’s managers who rated their direct reports significantly more positively than everyone else on a five-point scale (that is, they gave a higher percentage of their subordinates top marks than their colleagues did, skewing the curve to the right, as in Lake Woebegone, where everyone is above average).

We also identified 31 managers who consistently rated their direct reports significantly lower than their colleagues, skewing their curves to the left.

The difference is stark: Only 18.4% of the people working for the “positive-rating” managers, or the easy graders, were judged as merely “competent” (that is, just average) compared with fully 51.4% of those working for the “negative-rating” managers, clearly the harder graders.

While neither group judged even 1% of their workers as truly problematic and in need of significant improvement, almost 14% of those working for the negative-rating managers were judged to need some improvement compared with only 3% of those working for the positive-rating bosses.

isyourbossjudginv2

It’s hard to parse the meaning of these data.

Are the positive-rating managers indulging in grade inflation?

Do the lower ratings actually represent a more objective and deserved analysis of a subordinate’s performance? (After all, it does follow the standard bell curve.)

Or perhaps the ratings are in some way self-fulfilling, and the leaders who see the best in their people actually make them better, while those who look more critically make their subordinates worse.

We favor that second interpretation, since whether deserved or not, the psychological effect of these ratings was dramatic.

Anyone who joined us in the discussions with the subordinates of these two sets of managers would have instantly seen the impact. The people who’d received more positive ratings felt lifted up and supported. And that vote of confidence made them more optimistic about future improvement.  Conversely, subordinates rated by the consistently tougher managers were confused or discouraged—often both. They felt they were not valued or trusted, and that it was impossible to succeed.

These feelings directly translated into higher or lower levels of engagement: engagement scores for those working under the negative raters averaged in the 47th percentile, whereas scores for those reporting to the positive raters averaged in the 60th percentile.  This difference is statistically significant.

It’s possible that the negative-rating managers simply had more than their share of less-engaged employees, but we believe the far more likely explanation is that everyone’s engagement levels started out roughly the same and that widely different daily interactions, culminating in extremely divergent performance reviews, had a strong impact on engagement levels.

This is a particularly alarming possibility when you consider the seemingly reasonable motives of those who gave consistently lower ratings.

We frequently heard them say something like, “I want my people to get the message that I have high expectations.”  Those who gave high marks to their people also had high expectations, but they were more focused on sending the message that they had confidence in their people. They truly felt that they had selected the best people for those positions, and they expected them to succeed.

And did they SUCCEED?

To see, we looked at the overall leadership ratings the two groups’ 360 evaluations. We were not surprised, by now, to see that the bosses who rated everyone lower on their performance also rated them lower on their leadership abilities, while the bosses who gave the highest marks to their teams in general gave high marks on leadership as well.

The degree of difference was startling, though—with leadership ratings averaging only in the 19th percentile for the low raters and 76% for the high raters.

And the thing is, the peers, subordinates, and other associates also rated the leadership skills of the employees working for the low-rating managers lower than those working for the high raters.

The gap was not nearly as great, as you can see in the chart below, but it was consistent and significant.

ifyourbossthinks v2

The fact that the ratings given by both the low- and high-rating managers were so different from the ratings given by others suggests that both sets of managers are biased (or that managers trying to force rank their staffs are judging them unfairly).

And it also shows that these biases and rankings have become self-fulfilling, influencing subordinates’ behavior to the extent that others ultimately can see it.

If this is so, these tough graders aren’t doing the organization any favors.

There’s an interesting study that is related to this issue called “Predicting non-marital romantic relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis.”  This was a meta-analysis of 137 studies collected over 33 years with 37,761 participants.

These studies were looking at factors that cause non-married couples to break up or stay together.  The number one factor that kept people together was something they called “positive illusion” – essentially that the person you’re dating thinks you’re awesome.

Is it possible, then, that if a boss thinks you’re awesome you will become more awesome? On a personal level, it’s hard to dismiss.

We’ve spoken with hundreds of leaders whose bosses thought they were awesome, we know the impact is real.


Jack Zenger is the CEO of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. He is a co-author of the October 2011 HBR article Making Yourself Indispensable.Connect with Jack at twitter.com/jhzenger.


Joseph Folkman is the president of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. He is a co-author of the October 2011 HBR article “Making Yourself Indispensable. Connect with Joe at twitter.com/joefolkman.

 

 

 

Winning an Election Does Not Mean Winning Power

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Syriza and the struggle for a better Europe.

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias at a Syriza rally this month. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias at a Syriza rally this month. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Syriza’s expected victory in tomorrow’s Greek elections is part of a crescendo of anti-austerity movements across Europe. Throughout the upsurge, many formations have connected with one another, secure in the knowledge that they’re fighting the same enemy.

Though the approaches of the two parties differ, Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras has developed a particularly close relationship with his counterpart in Spain, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, appearing at demonstrations together and conferring in private.

The following, translated by Dan DiMaggio and edited for clarity, is a speech Iglesias delivered at a Syriza event in October.


Good evening. Change is in the air in Greece. Change is in the air in Southern Europe. Brothers and sisters, it’s an honor to speak in front of you today.

It’s an honor to be in Athens just a few months before this country will finally have a popular government headed by Alexis Tsipras. This government will be the first in a series of governments which are destined to recover the sovereignty and dignity of the people of Southern Europe.

Brothers and sisters, we are called upon to reconstruct democracy — European democracy — against the totalitarianism of the market.

Some will want to call us euroskeptics. To all those hypocrites, I want to remind them today, from Greece, from a country that was a model of anti-Nazi resistance, that the best of the European democratic tradition is antifascism.

And that our program to recover our social benefits and our sovereignty is inspired by the example of our grandparents who confronted this horror and fought for a democratic Europe that could only be based on social justice and liberty.

Many things unite the Greek and Spanish people to lead a new European project. But today I want to highlight the historic example of our populations in the antifascist resistance and the struggle for liberty and democracy.

They’ve wanted to look down on us as “Mediterraneans.”

They’ve called us “PIGS.” They’ve wanted to turn us into a periphery.

They want us to be countries of cheap labor forces.

They want our young people to be the servants of rich tourists.

Today we say that we are proud to be from the South, and that from the South we are going to return to Europe and to all its peoples the dignity that they deserve.

But I don’t want my speech today to be a compendium of sterile encouragement. We are among comrades, and it’s time now to accept responsibility for the difficulty of the tasks confronting us.

I just got back from Latin America.

There I was able to meet with Evo Morales, with Rafael Correa, and with Pepe Mujica. I am sure that many of you were excited when you saw State of Siege by Costas Gavras and learned about the Tupamaros. Today, an ex-guerrilla, a Tupamaro, is president of Uruguay.

I also met with many government ministers and political leaders. Among them was the son of Miguel Enriquez, leader of the MIR, who died in combat in 1974 in Chile. It was moving to remember the Chilean experience — the experience of democratic socialism to which we also aspire.

But upon seeing the son of Enriquez, I remembered what Salvador Allende said to the young members of the MIR: “We haven’t chosen the terrain. We have inherited it.

We have the government, but we don’t have power.” That bitter clarity of Allende is something I also found among our brother-presidents in Latin America.

What we have ahead of us is not going to be an easy road. We first have to win the elections — and only afterwards will the real difficulties begin.

The polls say that in Greece Syriza will win the next election. In Spain the polls say that we have already passed the Socialist Party, that we are competing to become the second strongest electoral force in the country, and that every day we are seen more and more as the real opposition force.

We already have more than 130,000 members, and we will leave our constituent assembly next month with our organizational muscle ready. It will be hard, but it’s entirely possible that Podemos in Spain, like Syriza in Greece and Sinn Fein in Ireland, will lead a political change. But it is essential that we understand that winning an election does not mean winning power.

To speak of fiscal reform, an audit of the national debt, of collective control over the strategic sectors of the economy, of defense and improvement of public services, of the recovery of sovereign powers and our industrial fabric, of employment policies through investment, of favoring consumption, and of ensuring that public financial entities protect small and medium enterprises and families is what any social democrat in Western Europe would have talked about thirty or 40 years ago.

But today, a program like this means a threat to the global financial powers. There is a worldwide party that is much stronger than the Third International was. It’s the party of Wall Street, which has functionaries everywhere. These functionaries have many ID cards.

Some have cards from New Democracy, others from Pasok, others from Merkel’s CDU, others from the Socialist Party in Spain or France. Juncker, Merkel, Rajoy, Samaras, Hollande, and Renzi are all members of the same party — the party of Wall Street. They are the Finance International.

This is why, no matter how modest our objectives are, no matter how wide the consensus in our societies regarding them is, we must not lose sight that we are confronting a minority with a lot of power, with very few scruples, and fearful of the electoral results when their parties don’t win. Don’t forget that the powerful almost never accept the results of elections when they don’t like them.

Brothers and sisters, we have a historic task of enormous dimensions ahead of us. What we have to do goes far beyond getting electoral support. We are called upon to defend democracy and sovereignty, but what’s more, we have to defend them on a terrain, like Allende said, that we ourselves have not chosen.

That’s why we have to deal with sectarians strictly. Revolutionaries are not defined by the t-shirts that they wear. They are not defined by converting theoretical tools into a religion. The duty of a revolutionary is not to take pictures of themselves with a hammer and sickle — the duty of a revolutionary is to win.

That’s why our duty is to get closer to civil society. We need the best with us. We need the best economists, the best scientists, the best public sector workers, in order to manage the administration and carry out viable and effective public policies.

Patriotism is not threatening someone, or believing you are better because you have another skin color, or because you speak a language, or because you were born where your mother’s water broke.

The true patriots know that to be proud of your country is to see that all the children — no matter where they come from — go to schools clean, clothed, well-fed, and with shoes on their feet. To love your country is to defend that your grandparents have a pension and that if they get sick that they are attended to in the best public hospitals.

We also need to strengthen our ties with workers in the public finance office, and all other public offices. Some believe that it’s the leaders who make the hospitals, schools, media, and transportation work. They are not the ones who make sure that public facilities are clean, so that they can be used — it’s a lie.

It’s workers who take countries forward. And I know that many who work in public administration wish that people like us were governing, so that they could do their jobs, and that they are sick of corrupt and useless leaders, like we have had up until now.

We must finally work together — in Europe and for Europe. It’s not necessary to read Karl Marx to know that there are no definitive solutions within the framework of the nation-state. For that reason we must help each other and make ourselves be seen as an alternative for all of Europe.

Winning elections is far from winning power. That’s why we must bring together everyone who is committed to change and decency, which is nothing more than turning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a manual for government.

Our aim today, unfortunately, is not the withering away of the state, or the disappearance of prisons, or that Earth become a paradise.

But we do aim, as I said, to make it so that all children go to public schools clean and well-fed; that all the elderly receive a pension and be taken care of in the best hospitals; that any young person — independently of who their parents are — be able to go to college; that nobody have their heat turned off in the winter because they can’t pay their bill; that no bank be allowed to leave a family in the street without alternative housing; that everyone be able to work in decent conditions without having to accept shameful wages or conditions; that the production of information in newspapers and on television not be a privilege of multi-millionaires; that a country not have to kneel down before foreign speculators.

In one word: that a society be able to provide the basic material conditions that make happiness and dignity possible.

These modest objectives that today seem so radical simply represent democracy. Tomorrow is ours, brothers and sisters.

–>

      

 

Taxonomy for imagined failure terms

Failure imagined (24 variations)

Cancelled

Fired

Called out

Humiliated

Embarrassed

Crashed

Unfunded

Indicted though innocent

Typo 157f s found

Unappreciated

Late

Underbid

Found out

Outclassed

Defeated

Satired

Criticized

Out of cash

In debt

Underdressed

Out of tune

Underwhelmed

Out of your league

Unprepared

Feel free to avoid all of these things by doing nothing, by second guessing yourself, by being your own worst critic, always ready to describe the apocalypse waiting on just the other side of shipping.

Either that or you can risk the narrative and risk the fear and make a difference.

 

Re-Creating a “cohort” of Neanderthal species: It is feasible, but Why?

Our current human species is uniform. The monoculture is source of extinction when facing worldwide epidemics and a serious degradation in climatic changes.

Consequently, re-introducing a former species that was wiped out 30,000 years ago might regulate the survival of mankind.

It appears that the  Neanderthal species had a larger brain (but we are not sure if the network of his synapsis was complex enough to match this current species), and he was of the bigger kind who needed to consume 5,000 calories per day.

A skeletal, up to one million years old, can be useful for the re-introduction of a lost species.

Scientist George Church (56 of age)  would recuperate the DNA to submit it to the sequencing of its genome.

The genome is later cut into 10,000 fragment to be synthesized.

These synthetic fragments are introduced in a cell stump. By repeating the operation as often as necessary, the descendants are generated from the stump cells.

These cells will be inserted in the uterus to develop.

Et voila! Neanderthal species coming back to live among us and protect mankind from a potential extinction.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

January 2015
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,420,427 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 771 other followers

%d bloggers like this: