The other week The Now Show on BBC Radio 4 had a very good ‘editorial’ by John Finnemore on the phone hacking scandal in the UK. Titled preaching to the choir, I think encapsulates the varies issues and grievances surrounding the phone hacking, the closure of The News of the World, and News Corporation’s takeover bid for BSkyB.
“Let’s keep the pressure up, keep the chorus of disapproval going, because right now we have a rare and genuine opportunity to tell the people who influence our lives, elected or not, what sort of media ethics we’re prepared to tolerate, right now we can make a difference, right now – if we don’t lose our focus- the choir get to preach back.”
Tonight I was at the advance screening of Robert Redford’s movie The Conspirator. It was released while I was in the United States and I had intended on seeing it. Though I knew of the story of the assassination of the 16th U.S. President, I was not aware of the initial conspiracy to kidnap him or of the coordinated plot to kill the not only the President, but also Vice President, and Secretary of State on the same night. The movie centres around the military trial of the only female accused conspirator.
As I watched the film, I was reminded of Cicero’s maximin war, the law is silent. In fact the Latin was used in the movie. This episode in American history is a reminder that we should ‘seek justice, not revenge.’ And that all citizens are guaranteed certain fundamental rights (and responsibilities). Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks of a right to a fair public hearing: “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”
Today, I was invited on a ship tour onboard the USS Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald, along with a few other boats, planes, tanks, and U.S. defence personnel, are in Australia to take part in Exercise Talisman Sabre.
The destroyer is based at Yokosuka, Japan and is part of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet. Fitzgerald, was active in the search, rescue, and recovery operations in Japan after the earthquake and Tsunami in March.
Talisman Sabreis a “is a biennial combined training activity, designed to train Australian and US forces in planning and conducting Combined Task Force operations in order to improve ADF/US combat readiness and interoperability.”
The exercise is to improve “combat training, readiness and interoperability, across the spectrum of military operations from conventional conflict to peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance efforts.” This year Talisman Sabre will incorporate “combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious landings, land force manoeuvres, urban and air operations and the coordinated firing of live ammunition.”
I have been reading and listening to Tim Harford ever since I discovered him on the BBC and the Financial Times. He also was with the Scenarios team at Shell, so he cannot be a bad bloke! Incidentally he worked with my former boss.
His recent article on pragmatism raises some interesting issues. He says that though we play lip service to pragmatism, in practice we dislike the concept.
“We don’t vote for genuinely pragmatic politicians. We don’t invest in pragmatic businesses. The truth is that making pragmatism work requires effort, embarrassment, and compromise. We don’t seem to be willing to pay what it costs.”
He argues that “pragmatism tends to look hesitant, messy, and prone to error,” because “pragmatist tries to take each situation on its own merits and figure out a sensible way forward.” In comparison the ideologue “looks decisive in comparison.”
In his new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, he argues that the world’s problems cannot “be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions.” Rather, “we must adapt—improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up rather than the top down, and take baby steps rather than great leaps forward.”
A few months ago, I wrote about Terje Sørgjerd’s amazing photography of the Aurora Borealis. This time he has filmed a phenomenon which he has dubbed, The Arctic Light “a natural phenomenon occurring 2-4 weeks before you can see the Midnight Sun.”
Found this excellent video chronicling a day in the life of the United Nations Secretary-General. It was made by mate David Ohana, who works closely with Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations. I caught up with David over lunch in New York and we relived old times and he was telling me amazing stories of the inner workings of the United Nations and the Secretariat. Congratulations David on a well made video.
While I was in the United States, I came across a new and interesting blog called Txchnologist. Sponsored by General Electric (GE), it offers “an optimistic, but not utopian, take on the future and humanity’s ability to tackle the great challenges of our era through industry, technology and ingenuity.” A great initiative. I look forward to reading some innovative ideas.
Sometime ago I wrote about the need for a defence energy strategy and quoted that the “U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s single largest consumer of energy, using more energy in the course of its daily operations than any other private or public organisation, as well as more than 100 nations.”
Found this interesting graph from AOL Energy on Global Renewable Energy Production & Consumption. The steady increase in renewables is due to the increased flow of capital to such projects. Brazil is interesting to observe. Europe as a whole is absent from this list. Wonder where the region will feature on the the ladder?
The other week on my Delta flight from New York to Los Angeles, I was sitting next to a senior executive from Toyota. We discussed the future of the car industry, energy efficiency and mobility.
I explained how scenario planning could be used to set strategy for the automobile industry, and why it is important to think of his core business as providing mobility and not just selling cars. He wondered if such horizon scanning exercises actually ‘predicted’ the future. I replied that they did not, but would be happy with an App that tells me what elections, events, and summits are taking place, next week or next month, so that I can write about them or use them in various geopolitical scenarios.
At the terminal in Los Angeles, as I was waiting to board my flight to Sydney, I wondered if such an App actually existed. I discovered, much to my delight: ZapADay. Publicly announced in May, it is an “open news agenda and a global public calendar.” Though still in alpha mode, the Zapaday iPad App has been useful in tracking events and elections. Also, Zapaday is a Dutch innovation.
I look forward to interviewing the creators shortly, but in the meantime here is the introduction video:
Came across this piece from the Oxford University Press Blog on management lessons for al Qaeda’s new boss, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown, lists five lessons that Zawahiri and other terrorist groups often fail to heed:
1. Put People First,
2. Smaller Can Be Beautiful,
3. One Bad Operation Can Undo Ten Good Ones,
4. Exploit Openings, Don’t Force Them, and
5. Trust Is Not Virtual
Though compiled tongue-in-cheek, Byman observes that this list “does have some value for U.S. counterterrorism officials… al Qaeda is an organization prone to divisions, and Zawahiri will have his hands full keeping it even semi-unified in this time of crisis. U.S. information operations must take advantage of al Qaeda’s blunders, making the terrorists defend their mistakes rather than gloat about their successes.”
“With bin Laden now resting on the floor of the Arabian Sea and what seems to be a lesser leader at the helm, keeping an eye on what makes organizations tick will help the United States make life for al Qaeda’s new boss even harder.”