Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘future

Future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members’ interests, of a sort.

I am going to be talking to you about reading. I’m going to tell you that libraries are important. I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do.

I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

 15 October 2013

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I’m an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults.

For about 30 years I have been earning my living though my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So I’m biased as a writer. But I am much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

I’m here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And it’s that change, and that act of reading that I’m here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it’s good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.

It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations

It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories.

A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy.

Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King’s Carrie, saying if you liked those you’ll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King’s name is mentioned. (An awkward sentence that I didn’t get)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know.

You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this:

The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it’s a bad thing. As if “escapist” fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn’t you take it?

And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with and books are real places, make no mistake about that.

And more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Another way to destroy a child’s love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up.

(I patronize a supposedly private library that closes during holidays. When kids are supposed to visit a library? And I go to library because at home no one encourages to read)

I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children’s library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children’s’ library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education, which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university, about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we’ve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003.

That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is.

Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the “only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account”.

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I’d try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it’s the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages.

One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers’ throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we ‘ve lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we’ve shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

This is an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London.

The Reading Agency’s annual lecture series was initiated in 2012 as a platform for leading writers and thinkers to share original, challenging ideas about reading and libraries.






Vision of crimes in the future? Any worse in quality of pain or numbers?

I study the future of crime and terrorism, and I’m afraid. I’m afraid by what I see.

All the drug dealers and gang members with whom I dealt had the latest technology items long before any police officer I knew did, or even knew they existed.

Criminals are still using mobile phones, but they’re also building their own mobile phone networks, which has been deployed in all 31 states of Mexico by the narcos.

They have a national encrypted radio communications system.

Think about the innovation that went into that. Think about the infrastructure to build it. And then think about this: Why can’t I get a cell phone signal in San Francisco? How is this possible?

They have Operations Center.  Within seconds they can identify any person.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.
The world is becoming increasingly open, and that has implications both bright and dangerous.|By Marc Goodman

I sincerely want to believe that technology can bring us the techno-utopia that we’ve been promised.

But, you see, I’ve spent a career in law enforcement, and that’s informed my perspective on things. I’ve been a street police officer, an undercover investigator, a counter-terrorism strategist, and I’ve worked in more than 70 countries around the world. I’ve had to see more than my fair share of violence and the darker underbelly of society, and that’s informed my opinions.

My work with criminals and terrorists has actually been highly educational. They have taught me a lot, and I’d like to be able to share some of these observations with you.

1:07 Today I’m going to show you the flip side of all those technologies that we marvel at, the ones that we love. In the hands of the TED community, these are awesome tools which will bring about great change for our world, but in the hands of suicide bombers, the future can look quite different.

I started observing technology and how criminals were using it as a young patrol officer. In those days, this was the height of technology. Laugh though you will, all the drug dealers and gang members with whom I dealt had one of these long before any police officer I knew did.

Twenty years later, criminals are still using mobile phones, but they’re also building their own mobile phone networks, like this one, which has been deployed in all 31 states of Mexico by the narcos.

They have a national encrypted radio communications system. Think about that. Think about the innovation that went into that. Think about the infrastructure to build it. And then think about this: Why can’t I get a cell phone signal in San Francisco? (Laughter) How is this possible? (Laughter) It makes no sense. (Applause)

We consistently underestimate what criminals and terrorists can do. Technology has made our world increasingly open, and for the most part, that’s great, but all of this openness may have unintended consequences.

Consider the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai.

The men that carried that attack out were armed with AK-47s, explosives and hand grenades. They threw these hand grenades at innocent people as they sat eating in cafes and waited to catch trains on their way home from work. But heavy artillery is nothing new in terrorist operations. Guns and bombs are nothing new.

What was different this time is the way that the terrorists used modern information communications technologies to locate additional victims and slaughter them. They were armed with mobile phones. They had BlackBerries.

They had access to satellite imagery. They had satellite phones, and they even had night vision goggles.

But perhaps their greatest innovation was this. We’ve all seen pictures like this on television and in the news. This is an operations center. And the terrorists built their very own op center across the border in Pakistan, where they monitored the BBC, al Jazeera, CNN and Indian local stations. They also monitored the Internet and social media to monitor the progress of their attacks and how many people they had killed. They did all of this in real time.

4:04 The innovation of the terrorist operations center gave terrorists unparalleled situational awareness and tactical advantage over the police and over the government. What did they do with this? They used it to great effect.

4:20 At one point during the 60-hour siege, the terrorists were going room to room trying to find additional victims. They came upon a suite on the top floor of the hotel, and they kicked down the door and they found a man hiding by his bed. And they said to him, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” And the man replied, “I’m just an innocent schoolteacher.”

Of course, the terrorists knew that no Indian schoolteacher stays at a suite in the Taj. They picked up his identification, and they phoned his name in to the terrorist war room, where the terrorist war room Googled him, and found a picture and called their operatives on the ground and said, “Your hostage, is he heavyset? Is he bald in front? Does he wear glasses?” “Yes, yes, yes,” came the answers.

The op center had found him and they had a match. He was not a schoolteacher. He was the second-wealthiest businessman in India, and after discovering this information, the terrorist war room gave the order to the terrorists on the ground in Mumbai. (“Kill him.”)

We all worry about our privacy settings on Facebook, but the fact of the matter is, our openness can be used against us. Terrorists are doing this. A search engine can determine who shall live and who shall die. This is the world that we live in.

5:54 During the Mumbai siege, terrorists were so dependent on technology that several witnesses reported that as the terrorists were shooting hostages with one hand, they were checking their mobile phone messages in the very other hand.

In the end, 300 people were gravely wounded and over 172 men, women and children lost their lives that day.

Think about what happened. During this 60-hour siege on Mumbai, 10 men armed not just with weapons, but with technology, were able to bring a city of 20 million people to a standstill. Ten people brought 20 million people to a standstill, and this traveled around the world. This is what radicals can do with openness.

This was done nearly four years ago. What could terrorists do today with the technologies available that we have? What will they do tomorrow?

The ability of one to affect many is scaling exponentially, and it’s scaling for good and it’s scaling for evil.

It’s not just about terrorism, though. There’s also been a big paradigm shift in crime. You see, you can now commit more crime as well. In the old days, it was a knife and a gun. Then criminals moved to robbing trains. You could rob 200 people on a train, a great innovation. Moving forward, the Internet allowed things to scale even more.

In fact, many of you will remember the recent Sony PlayStation hack. In that incident, over 100 million people were robbed. Think about that. When in the history of humanity has it ever been possible for one person to rob 100 million?

Of course, it’s not just about stealing things. There are other avenues of technology that criminals can exploit.

Many of you will remember this super cute video from the last TED, but not all quadcopter swarms are so nice and cute. They don’t all have drumsticks. Some can be armed with HD cameras and do countersurveillance on protesters, or, as in this little bit of movie magic, quadcopters can be loaded with firearms and automatic weapons.

Little robots are cute when they play music to you. When they swarm and chase you down the block to shoot you, a little bit less so.

Criminals and terrorists weren’t the first to give guns to robots. We know where that started. But they’re adapting quickly. Recently, the FBI arrested an al Qaeda affiliate in the United States, who was planning on using these remote-controlled drone aircraft to fly C4 explosives into government buildings in the United States. By the way, these travel at over 600 miles an hour.

Every time a new technology is being introduced, criminals are there to exploit it. We’ve all seen 3D printers. We know with them that you can print in many materials ranging from plastic to chocolate to metal and even concrete.

With great precision I actually was able to make this just the other day, a very cute little ducky. But I wonder to myself, for those people that strap bombs to their chests and blow themselves up, how might they use 3D printers?

You see, if you can print in metal, you can print one of these, and in fact you can also print one of these too. The UK I know has some very strict firearms laws. You needn’t bring the gun into the UK anymore. You just bring the 3D printer and print the gun while you’re here, and, of course, the magazines for your bullets.

But as these get bigger in the future, what other items will you be able to print? The technologies are allowing bigger printers.

As we move forward, we’ll see new technologies also, like the Internet of Things. Every day we’re connecting more and more of our lives to the Internet, which means that the Internet of Things will soon be the Internet of Things To Be Hacked.

All of the physical objects in our space are being transformed into information technologies, and that has a radical implication for our security, because more connections to more devices means more vulnerabilities. Criminals understand this. Terrorists understand this. Hackers understand this. If you control the code, you control the world. This is the future that awaits us.

There has not yet been an operating system or a technology that hasn’t been hacked.

That’s troubling, since the human body itself is now becoming an information technology. As we’ve seen here, we’re transforming ourselves into cyborgs.

Every year, thousands of cochlear implants, diabetic pumps, pacemakers and defibrillators are being implanted in people.

In the United States, there are 60,000 people who have a pacemaker that connects to the Internet. The defibrillators allow a physician at a distance to give a shock to a heart in case a patient needs it. But if you don’t need it, and somebody else gives you the shock, it’s not a good thing.

11:40 Of course, we’re going to go even deeper than the human body. We’re going down to the cellular level these days.

Up until this point, all the technologies I’ve been talking about have been silicon-based, ones and zeroes, but there’s another operating system out there: the original operating system, DNA. And to hackers, DNA is just another operating system waiting to be hacked. It’s a great challenge for them. There are people already working on hacking the software of life, and while most of them are doing this to great good and to help us all, some won’t be.

So how will criminals abuse this? Well, with synthetic biology you can do some pretty neat things.

For example, I predict that we will move away from a plant-based narcotics world to a synthetic one. Why do you need the plants anymore? You can just take the DNA code from marijuana or poppies or coca leaves and cut and past that gene and put it into yeast, and you can take those yeast and make them make the cocaine for you, or the marijuana, or any other drug.

So how we use yeast in the future is going to be really interesting. In fact, we may have some really interesting bread and beer as we go into this next century

The cost of sequencing the human genome is dropping precipitously. It was proceeding at Moore’s Law pace, but then in 2008, something changed. The technologies got better, and now DNA sequencing is proceeding at a pace five times that of Moore’s Law. That has significant implications for us. 

It took us 30 years to get from the introduction of the personal computer to the level of cybercrime we have today, but looking at how biology is proceeding so rapidly, and knowing criminals and terrorists as I do, we may get there a lot faster with biocrime in the future. It will be easy for anybody to go ahead and print their own bio-virus, enhanced versions of ebola or anthrax, weaponized flu.

13:49 We recently saw a case where some researchers made the H5N1 avian influenza virus more potent. It already has a 70 percent mortality rate if you get it, but it’s hard to get. Engineers, by moving around a small number of genetic changes, were able to weaponize it and make it much more easy for human beings to catch, so that not thousands of people would die, but tens of millions.

You see, you can go ahead and create new pandemics, and the researchers who did this were so proud of their accomplishments, they wanted to publish it openly so that everybody could see this and get access to this information.

But it goes deeper than that. DNA researcher Andrew Hessel has pointed out quite rightly that if you can use cancer treatments, modern cancer treatments, to go after one cell while leaving all the other cells around it intact, then you can also go after any one person’s cell.

Personalized cancer treatments are the flip side of personalized bioweapons, which means you can attack any one individual, including all the people in this picture. How will we protect them in the future?

What to do? What to do about all this? That’s what I get asked all the time. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I will be tweeting out the answer later on today. (Laughter)

Actually, it’s a bit more complex than that, and there are no magic bullets. I don’t have all the answers, but I know a few things. In the wake of 9/11, the best security minds put together all their innovation and this is what they created for security. If you’re expecting the people who built this to protect you from the coming robopocalypse — (Laughter) — uh, you may want to have a backup plan. (Laughter) Just saying. Just think about that. (Applause)

Law enforcement is currently a closed system. It’s nation-based, while the threat is international.

Policing doesn’t scale globally. At least, it hasn’t, and our current system of guns, border guards, big gates and fences are outdated in the new world into which we’re moving. So how might we prepare for some of these specific threats, like attacking a president or a prime minister?

This would be the natural government response, to hide away all our government leaders in hermetically sealed bubbles. But this is not going to work. The cost of doing a DNA sequence is going to be trivial. Anybody will have it and we will all have them in the future.

16:27 So maybe there’s a more radical way that we can look at this. What happens if we were to take the President’s DNA, or a king or queen’s, and put it out to a group of a few hundred trusted researchers so they could study that DNA and do penetration testing against it as a means of helping our leaders?

Or what if we sent it out to a few thousand? Or, controversially, and not without its risks, what happens if we just gave it to the whole public? Then we could all be engaged in helping.

We’ve already seen examples of this working well. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project is staffed by journalists and citizens where they are crowd-sourcing what dictators and terrorists are doing with public funds around the world, and, in a more dramatic case, we’ve seen in Mexico, a country that has been racked by 50,000 narcotics-related murders in the past six years.

They’re killing so many people they can’t even afford to bury them all in anything but these unmarked graves like this one outside of Ciudad Juarez. What can we do about this? The government has proven ineffective. So in Mexico, citizens, at great risk to themselves, are fighting back to build an effective solution. They’re crowd-mapping the activities of the drug dealers.

Whether or not you realize it, we are at the dawn of a technological arms race, an arms race between people who are using technology for good and those who are using it for ill. The threat is serious, and the time to prepare for it is now. I can assure you that the terrorists and criminals are.

My personal belief is that, rather than having a small, elite force of highly trained government agents here to protect us all, we’re much better off having average and ordinary citizens approaching this problem as a group and seeing what we can do.

If we all do our part, I think we’ll be in a much better space. The tools to change the world are in everybody’s hands. How we use them is not just up to me, it’s up to all of us.

This was a technology I would frequently deploy as a police officer. This technology has become outdated in our current world. It doesn’t scale, it doesn’t work globally, and it surely doesn’t work virtually.

We’ve seen paradigm shifts in crime and terrorism.

They call for a shift to a more open form and a more participatory form of law enforcement. So I invite you to join me.

After all, public safety is too important to leave to the professionals.

Does the Future has a Path?

Has the Path to your Future been a surprise to you so far?

Do you have this feeling that, as you resolve a problem, you were necessarily focusing on something that already happened?

Do you feel that a real problem necessarily must draw you into the past?

How can anything be fixed or resolved, if the past was not the catalyst or the cause for actively trying to improve anything?

Can you create anything new if the process is not generated from an already older known process?

What you are seeing of stars in the sky are objects that happened thousand of years ago: The time for the light to reach your eyes…

When you hear a thunder ball, bomb, a canon ball or a military jet, consider yourself lucky: The missile has already hit its target…

Invest 10,000 hours on a talent when still a youth and you’ll secure a good paying job for life, no matter what is the economic downturn.

In particular periods, you may become a famous millionaire, putting your talent to good use…

Other skills do not require you to start young, but the investment in time is higher than 10,000 hours on a continuous basis without lengthy breaks…

If you are past a certain age, with diminishing memory capabilities, poor eye sight… the odds for acquiring higher educational degrees or expertise in a new field… are extremely low.

Is it already a problem as we prevent problems?

They say: “Teams never win if defense is all they play. Organizational success is about doing not preventing”.

They say: “Fixing and preventing are necessary components of leadership. Sadly, fixing and preventing dominate organizations because it’s useful, measurable, and necessary…”

They say: “Leadership always has trajectory. You move forward or backward but never stay the same. Standing still is a fantasy for those oblivious to decline…”

And what gratitude has to do with the past and the future?

Anger, fear, frustration, disappointment, even resentment are part of leadership. But the path to the future is paved with gratitude.

Gratitude frees you to create your future.

Gratitude energizes leaders and organizations to release the past and create the future.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others,Cicero.

“I’ve walked the dingy path of ungratefulness that springs from arrogance and revenge. It’s a black-hole dragging you inward, downward, and backward”.

Benigni says, “It’s a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.” Express gratitude aggressively

Here what mimo has to say:

Day 30~ December 30th~ Guilin

by ~mimo~

future unknownfuture unknown~ children~ Long Ji

One of the most stark truths about the future is that it remains unknown until the moment when it happens.

We project, we plan, we dream, we wish, and almost always we are surprised by what unfolds.

If it is the past that holds sway on our emotions, then it is the future that triggers our imagination and creativity,

And the now is the bridge we build to take us into the great unknown.

A new year unfolds, and so do many contemplation in my mind …

Your future begins when you own your past.

Dan Rockwell listed 6 ways to find your future:

  1. The unknown has more potential than the known. Everyone who pretends they know when they don’t, repeats the past.
  2. Reject past methods and strategies. In a turbulent world, methods that become moral imperatives destroy new futures.
  3. Build new relationships. Your future is about people not projects or accomplishments. Current relationships maintain stability; new relationships disrupt and extend. Treasure both.
  4. Embrace social media. Meet people succeeding where you wish to succeed.
  5. Overcome timidity. 70% to 80% certainty is enough.
  6. Systematically build the future alongside the old present. Once your future is strong enough, release the old and embrace the new.

What future for our kids? Hang on buddy! (November 8, 2008)

            Regardless of a scenario or a combination of scenarios, there are trends that have definite paths in the foreseeable future. For example:

1.              Population on Earth will continue to increase; it might or might not reach a plateau.

2.              Potable water will dwindle and its quality will deteriorate fast.

3.              Quantity of water for irrigation will diminish.

4.              Degradation of the soil for agriculture will resume its fast pace because of intensive methods and increase in fertilizers and pesticides and deforestation and acid rains…

5.              Cultivable lands will shrink to make rooms for increased infrastructures and habitable estates.

6.              The virgin forests in the Amazon, Canada, and Africa are disappearing much quicker than reforestation policies.

7.              The concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing exponentially and there are no effective policies to make do without oil and increased coal mining.

8.              Cheaper car productions in China and India will saturate the highways and deplete even faster the oil reserves.

9.              The prices of medicines and chemical products will shoot to the roofs because of lack of oil and the necessary ingredients in the equatorial forests.

10.           The ozone layer will continue is depletion process.

11.           Biological diversity will no longer be that diverse.

12.           Maritime sources of protein are already scarce and polluted.

13.           Renewable sources of energy will not match the ever increase in demands on energies.

14.           Concentration of people in mega cities; since China joined the free market 150 million Chinese peasants flocked to the major cities and the same trend is going on in India and everywhere.

Shall I go on?  There are several scenarios to remedy to this bleak future; not necessarily to stop the trends, but just to maintain the survival of human species a while longer. There are at least four scenarios. First, we might very plausible maintain the free market economy, consumerism, multinationals and higher rate of growth.  This policy has proven its catastrophic effects but no alternative economic policies are studied seriously.

            The second scenario is security first for the rich nations; the poor immigrants would be warded off these “islands” of prosperity and affluence and let the third world go to hell.  This scenario is gaining ground in Europe and the USA and tighter measures to exclude the other non-developed populations have been in place for some time.

            The third scenario is for the western nations to coordinate political policies through financial incentives and tax cuts and centralized planning with fixed objectives. Obviously, these centralized policies will be heavily biased toward the life-style of the developed and rich nations.

            The fourth scenario can be summarized by Gandhi’s statement: ” True civilization is not the multiplication to infinity the wants of man, but their deliberate limitation so that to allow each individual to share what is essential for survival”.  It is fundamentally a strategy of long term durability to maintaining the survival process by relying on the basic necessities.  This scenario screams for drastic cultural change in our behavior and consumption and the quest for renewable matters and sources of energies.

Well, we cannot expect the western civilization to make a dent in the fourth scenario; not because they lack moral character but because of the daily pressures to fit in a well established consumerism society.  This is basically the lesson of history that the vast majority has to sacrifice so that the very few could enjoy life to blotting!

In the meantime, there are these rarest of events or natural cataclysms that re-establish equilibrium to Earth survival and rejuvenation.  This time around it is man that would have been the catalyst. Human spices might or might not survive.  One thing is certain; if human kind survives the same cycle of development will recur, unless the fourth scenario culture has been inculcated deep in our psychic or animal instincts.

Have I increased your doze of pessimism? Anyway, we are all living a worried life to the benefit of the entertainment industries.  No wonder that terrorist activities are increasing; that mass destruction philosophies are common policies; that vast “collateral damages” are acceptable; that extreme, salafist behavior are widespread among all religions and sects; that mysticism is gaining wide disciples, and that patience for rational discussion is dwindling!  I would not kill your grain of hope.  Hang on buddy.




April 2023

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