Temujin Teaches 21st Century Diplomacy

A long time ago, on a continent some drive from here, there lived a guy with a bad mustache and a great mind for international relations.  He also had some fairly forward thinking ideas on resource management.  One of his better ones, to his mind, was the idea that since he needed more space to walk his horses, and the world had more land than it knew what to do with, so why not go out and make it part of his kingdom?  Now, the Americans wouldn’t go on to coin the term Manifest Destiny for hundreds of years, so you can see how ahead of his time this Temujin was. Downright brilliant, he’d say.

Now, as you can imagine, there were some other guys around, several of them with equally bad mustaches, who didn’t think too much of his genius and decided that resistance to annexation was a good idea.  After all, these guys had horses and dogs to walk, too.

You can see what a challenge this was to Temujin.  He was, after all, just a guy trying to live the dream, one small country at a time and all that.  The times being what they were, though, he decided for an enlightened approach.  So he sent out a messenger to tell the other men with bad mustaches that it would be best if they surrender.  For the good of the children, you see.  Naturally, they didn’t quite see it his way and politely refused.  The messenger, having delivered his message of peace, kindly returned to his lord, in pieces.  One could even say he was beside himself.  I guess he was no relation of Kissenger’s.

Naturally, Temujin viewed this act as a bit of downer.  Turns out the messenger was his 3rd wife’s nephew on her brother’s side, or so I’m told.  Very sad.  The challenge, as his Khanliness surmised, wasn’t the issue of how to respond to this action, but how to prevent this response in the future.  As I said, the world was full of land that it didn’t need and Temujin foresaw this becoming a regular issue as time, and his forces, marched on.  As I said before, a great mind.

So he leveled the city and killed everything related to it– Every man, woman, child and animal.  He then told all other men with mustaches that he would do the same to them and their cities should they refuse his generous offer of subjugation.  It seems the Khan did not believe in collective bargaining…and thus he became the first union buster, as well.  Very forward thinking.

Fast forward a little while and you can see how the Khan’s philosophy has shaped foreign relations today.  Every act demands a greater act of retaliation.  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, but an eye for a whole man’s family and maybe he’ll think twice before going after the other eye.  It just makes sense, doesn’t it?  I’m sure you can see how this has worked out, especially given several examples from American history of the past 30 years or so.  Reagan and Libya, Bush and Iraq, Bush 2 w/ Afghanistan and Iraq, and now… Obama and Syria.

Tomorrow I want to expand on an alternative method.  I’m sure you’ll see that it isn’t an officially recognized method of diplomacy as taught by the Genghis Khan School for Diplomacy and So Can You!, but I think it might have a bit of merit.

 

They’re just thinking of the children…

http://news.msn.com/us/in-calif-district-students-facebook-posts-are-closely-watched

What’s the best way to trial a service designed to monitor what people are saying and thinking outside of a particular environment?  Why, disguise it as a means to protect children, of course!

The firm referenced in the article is providing a valuable service by snooping on what America’s children are writing and saying in social media circles outside of their educational environment.  They argue that they are more accurate because the information is eventually interpreted by a human being vs. a computer.  Supposedly this allows them to eliminate false positives due to better understanding of contextual scenarios.  Of course, it also allows them to monitor, evaluate and effectively regulate speech outside of school, which apparently has been assumed to be a right they, and by extension, the schools that employ them, already possess.

The company is already showcasing some of their alleged success stories.  Once their concept has been proved in its existing setting, it is not a difficult leap to bring it to corporate america.  After all, who else has such a vested interest in monitoring the loyalty of its’ employees and their treatment of their corporate brand.  This is not new in the working world, as corporations are becoming ever more aggressive in the monitoring of the employee’s actions online, especially outside of the work environment.  This is a first, as far as I know, in which this particular brand of broad monitoring has been offered as a service in and of itself.  This will be an advantage for companies looking to keep their IT and HR departments focused on other projects and so should have little barrier.  I can see it being a defacto option for staffing agencies within 5 years.

I have other thoughts brewing about this, but they need time to steep.

And now a word from Feynman

The quote goes, “The first principle is you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

I’m thinking of this right now as I ponder much of what I see and read on Facebook and other online sites.  I see these little posts about a naked girl getting 100,000 likes so how about our troops getting 1 million, or posts about evil muslims harming their families and then a Christ-like figure saving them, or some story about an eleven year old girl using a shotgun to fight off her attackers.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Stories that tug at your core, grip those heart strings for all they’re worth and tug.  They get you fired up, emotionally charged and ready to act!  So powerful, so moving… and so full of lies.

I have a hard time with these kind of posts, mostly because they utilize artifice presented as truth or fact, to advance a particular viewpoint.  I don’t have a problem with artifice, within its proper context, confined to a medium truthfully presented as such.  A book, in the fiction section, is potentially a great allegory on the success and failings of mankind.  Through its fabrications it reveals truth and stirs imaginations and conscience.  The result is an internalized moment of reflection, of realization and understanding that may change the way you view your world.  Music, movies, and other mediums will evoke similar processes and I love that!  But we know what they are, usually, before consuming them.  Night of the Living Dead is interesting social commentary but it isn’t presented as either truth or fact.

We don’t have that line at all with popular social media, and, quite frankly, it’s fading in traditional media, and I think we are worse off for that.  I don’t need to be lied to in order to support gun rights, or human rights, or to profess faith in a particular God.  I don’t need to be lied to in order to understand where you’re coming from.  If your position can be supported by facts, or even personal opinion, truthfully presented, then let it stand on its own.

When something isn’t about me.

This site isn’t for other people, it’s about me interacting with myself.  It’s a way to set down things that need to get out of my head.  Journaling, having a diary, decades of therapy.  Whatever you want to call it, I think it both healthy and necessary to be able to express yourself in writing.  Like almost everything healthy, it requires discipline.  Yeah, I’m still working on that.  Today, though, isn’t about me or why I write.  I wish to share this with the world.  Maybe I’ll write about it another day, maybe not.

Amazing Grace & Dad

For good men to do nothing…

Yesterday’s post was partly influenced by my thoughts and impressions on this article.  Now, quite honestly, I see this mostly as a publicity stunt and an excuse to take things offline, but if taken at face value, as so many things often are, what you have left is this.  Bad things are happening, so I’m going to run and hide.  Or, to choose another metaphor, the proverbial player is taking their ball and going home.

When I was in seventh grade, I was the victim of the local school bully.  My size and strength kind of singled me out for those people looking to establish a pecking order, which is so necessary to all the alpha males in training.  I was socially naive and didn’t know how to handle myself in the situation, I had no idea what to do.  My guidance counselor at the time had some advice for me that I’ve never forgotten.  “Punch him in the nose, get in close and beat on him.  He’s a boxer so wrap him up and take him down.  You can do it.”  This was a huge paradigm shift for me at the time.  Fighting at school, especially as suggested by a teacher/authority figure, was a mind blowing concept to me.  I followed the rules, I respected the guidelines, I didn’t make waves and draw attention to myself…and I was just told to punch the bully in the nose…

Fast forward to today and what do we have?  We have a bully for a government.  A police state in training, if I might be so bold.  Threats, both real and imagined, are cropping up everywhere.  Abuses of power are rampant, especially in relation to the one thing that allows most Americans an unfettered access to knowledge, to a voice unrestrained by physical and social boundaries.  The Internet.  And now people, who have a modicum of size and strength, like GrokLaw and Lavabit, are choosing to submit to their bullies, to take their ball home instead of punching them in the mouth.  If too many people and businesses continue to do this, our ability to find our own voice, our own information, will diminish to almost nothing.

All We Hear About…

One of the best things about my job is the opportunity I get to meet people all over the country.  I reach out through the phone and introduce myself to them, and if they don’t hang up immediately, I get to make a new acquaintance in 30 seconds or less.  10 minutes from there and chances are good that I’ve heard about some of their fundamental life experiences- hopes, dreams, accomplishments, children and grandchildren.  10 minutes from that and the relationship I’ve built has them giving me their credit card number.  Words can be powerful.

The flip side of the equation is there are times when I meet people I just don’t care to connect with.  I was calling into Lexington, KY, trying to find that one individual who understood what advertising is all about.  Possessing a background in martial arts, I like to reach out to the local instructors.  Having common ground lets me connect with them and it’s fun to talk shop, as it were.  This call, though, didn’t go as I would have wished.  The gentleman had never heard of our magazine, and noticing an unfamiliar area code on his Caller ID, inquired as to whether I was out of West Virginia.  I replied that I was not, I was out of Seattle, which is like West Virginia, but on the other side of the country.  Now, normally when I say something like this, it breaks the ice, we laugh and I get to move on to having a good conversation….in the interest of brevity, I’ll provide some quotes from the next few minutes of  our “conversation”.

“Seattle, you guys out there like the marijuana.  How do you like that marijuana?  It’s all we hear about over here.”

“You can pretty much smell it walking down the street, can’t ya?”

“How many mosques you guys have in Seattle?”

“You know what they do, don’t ya?  The muslim with his ten wives moves them in to ten different houses, each with their ten children and then he tells them to go and get assistance.  One guy sits back gettin’ rich on other people’s work.”

“Nothing but a bunch of liberals over there with their marijuana.  That’s how we’re going broke.”

Words can be revealing.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether the guy was trying his damndest to offend me, or if he was just that much of an ignorant fool.  Or maybe both, perhaps, malicious intent being what it is.  The one thing in his commentary that really stuck with me, though, is something he kept repeating.

That’s all we hear about over here.

Now, on one hand, I know that’s just an excuse to maintain a narrow minded view point.  A repeated affirmation of one’s determined intent to remain ignorant.  But, that other hand says, “We are what we eat, garbage in, garbage out.”  Whether we lean right or left, our news spends an inordinate amount of time telling us what to think instead of reporting on what is happening.  This goes triple for much of what passes for news sites on the Internet.  My good friend El Guapo would have said there are a plethora of sites out there that cater to specific viewpoints, with little interest in impartiality, mitigating details, circumstances, facts or reality.  They call themselves news blogs or journalists, or information sites, each proclaiming their dedication to the truth, be it liberal, conservative or worse.  As a country, we are consuming these sites in ever increasing amounts, backed by mainstream media that no longer cares about journalistic integrity.

So I had a conversation with a bigot, and the sad thing is, he might have been telling me the truth

“We are what we eat, and around here, that’s all we hear about.”