Archive for August, 2011

S.O.S.?

Posted in Behaviour, Crisis, current events, Democracy, Ethics, Financial crisis, politics, Society on 30/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

Crisis management rule #1:  Which is the best way to manage a crisis? Simple, avoiding it.

Let’s play then a game I’ve just thought of.

We are passengers of the RMS Titanic, on the night of April 14th, 1912. It really doesn’t matter in which of the three classes we are travelling in. It matters how we think, how we react and what we are going to do.

It’s not about “What can we do, to diminish the damages and deaths”, nor “Is there anything we can do?” or “We’ll do what we can”.

It’s just: WE MUST SAVE OURSELVES, ALL OF US. WE HAVE TO. THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION.

Let’s see how the game develops.

First stage: What do we need first?

My option is that the very first step should be a diagnosis of the situation. Difficult enough, considering the circumstances. We’ve all paid a fortune for our tickets, we are more or less in a wealthy position, we are enjoying the state of the art ship, in a trip from England/France/Ireland to New York City. We’ll be crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a “floating fortress” instead of a “flying fortress”. The atmosphere is of power, self-confidence, control and even some arrogance. So we don’t have it easy, to realize that everything is not going so fine. Maybe none of us can take into account that the ship is travelling at full speed, nor that there had also been some alarms of icebergs in sight.

Let’s assume that some of us, (how many? maybe 5 of us, in 2.227 souls), have some notions on the risks that this kind of trips might involve, and could even realize that the night is freezing cold. That the area we are reaching in the North Atlantic is swarming with icebergs. Still we need to make up in our minds that the Titanic could, “potentially”, not be as unsinkable as it is supposed to be.

At this point we could say we start to feel some kind of slight concern.

Second stage: Awareness

We managed to get together and smoking our cigars, we start to put some loose ends together. We might pay a visit to any of the decks and check that although the ocean is plain as a pool, the temperature is almost polar. We can also compare our speed, with previous observations in the last days, just by seeing the shape of wake, and even the angle of the bow wave. We come to the conclusion that some reasonable and objective risks are beginning to take shape, beyond subjective fears.

We are now quite convinced that something has to be done.

Third stage: Strategy

We are facing now probably the most analytic part of this exercise. We need to consider all the options, in order to make the most effective decision and course of action.

We start to write down the list of options:

a.- Communicate our risk assessment to as many people as possible, and lead a riot, forcing the crew of the ship to slow down.

Possible outcomes:

– It has been difficult for us to reach to the conclusion that there is a certain risk in the current status. What would happen if we transmit this message to people who are happily enjoying their trip to New York City? How credible will we sound? Who should we be addressing, if not anyone we come across? How many supporters might we add, before it’s too late?

– We succeed in convincing maybe a hundreds of passengers and agree to carry on with the riot. We will then have to face police on the ship, and much of the crew. There’s a slim chance that they listen to our explanations, but since the crew is hierarchically structured, they will simply obey orders. The President and Director of the White Star Line was on the ship in that trip as well, and in fact, he was directly putting pressure on the Captain, to arrive to New York in advance to the scheduled time. So this wouldn’t be a possibility.

b.- The absurd ones:

–  Throw overboard anything at hand to drag the ship: oars, paddles, chairs and whatever other object. Too many people needed as well as for the previous option. Too high are the decks to sea level.

– Build up a protection all along the ship hull, like cushions, life jackets, mattresses, and so on, on the floating line. No use, the icebergs could hit under that line.

– Kidnap the captain, the crew, and seize the ship: no way, too difficult afterwards to pilot the Titanic by ourselves.

– Abandon the ship and try to save ourselves waiting in the middle of the ocean for another ship to rescue us. Not many chances on our side.

c.- Final option:

We need the Captain, we must stay on the Titanic, but we need him and the crew to obey us, instead of his boss, the President of the Company. That is difficult, but at least the range of action is reduced to a dozen of men. We now need just to gather a bunch of people more, and put the plan into action.

Fourth stage: Deployment

We first talk, as a matter of urgency, to each one of our relatives and acquaintances, counting on them on one side, that they will trust our judgement, and that they will follow us in our plan. From the 5 of us in the beginning, we manage to get another 5 people more. We still need at least a couple more. We decide that those outstanding ones must be strong, wise, calm and with some knowledge of what is going on. It sounds quite reasonable now, that we should address some of the members of the crew. We succeed in convincing three of four of them, that the situation is becoming more and more dangerous each hour that passes. They join us really quickly and unexpectedly, only because, they were having the same concern since hours ago.

These members of the crew also help us to reach the bridge, where we find the Captain is not there. We send someone of the crew to get him right away. When he enters the bridge, his face is of complete bewilderment. We explain our view on the situation, which he finds to our surprise, absolutely reasonable, but impossible to carry out. We let him know that, same as his President, we are not giving him an option. He actually feels relieved, since that is his own opinion too. So he feels backed by part of the passengers, that are supporting him in the notion that the full speed is utterly unwise, in the current conditions.

Fifth stage: Saved!!!!!

Unbelievably, we managed to avoid a situation we will never know if it would have happened. In fact, we wouldn’t actually want to find out. The President of the White Star Line, fired the Captain with immediate effect, and replaced him with the Chief officer. However, the whole of the crew refrained from leaving the Captain and stood for him, until the President had no other option than leaving things as they were, until reaching the New York harbour.  He knew that even then, there wouldn’t be much he could do: the Captain had already expressed his decision on this trip being his last one.

End of the game.

The Titanic sunk for something that we could call “Systemic risks” adapting it’s true meaning to a set of circumstances that only together could build up an uncontrollable situation, with very, but extremely very scarce possibilities to happen, but with devastating consequences. Now it’s our turn.

As homage to all those passengers and crew members, left to the whim of a stubborn and arrogant big fish, this is the list of victims, survivors and statistics from the true story.

R.I.P.

Team sports

Posted in Behaviour, Crisis, Culture, Democracy, Evolution, politics, Revolution, Society, Technology on 29/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

I hate team sports, but not any team sports. In particular those involving one team competing against other, and moreover when both teams share the same field.

It doesn’t have to do with teams (that’s fine with me, although I have other comments regarding “teams” and groups between people). It’s more about attitude, behaviour, frame of mind and outcome.

I’ve recently posted my thoughts about groups between dolphins – called pods, and how almost every activity between members of a pod, is social, is being carried out in groups. They also “play” in groups, but not as far as I know, in opposite teams.

My conclusion is that dolphins must have deeply inside their brains, the awareness that they can only survive if they are ALL together, if they have a solid and collaborative network, in which none of the members can do without any other member. Why would that be? My hypothesis is that every action, every behaviour is driven by the single fact of survival. They breath with lungs, and although much more expanded that human beings, they also have a limited time they can spend underwater without breathing.

Any accident, any circumstance in which a member of a pod, might result delayed in breathing (even sleeping, that’s why they only take naps by half brain in turns), it would mean death.

They are quite like scuba divers, you don’t see divers discussing or competing against each other when under water. That’s too risky.

Back to the sports and games, I feel that we are so secure and confident on ourselves that we allow ourselves to “fake” a battle, with fake enemies, with fake triumphs and fake defeats. And of course, fake casualties.

Sports like football, rugby, handball, even water-polo, require that both teams “fight” against each other. One will inevitably win, the other will unavoidably lose. But that is not like in tennis or volleyball, where teams are separated by a net. All players mingle in a dynamic of game that resembles dangerously to a battle in a war. There are even true injuries during matches, by accident of course, but as a result of certain degree of violence.

These sports, not only have a role to the true participants, i.e.: the players. When instead of playing them, we watch them, they also have a social role, which is not the obvious and mere one of entertaining. It’s much more like a catharsis, where that aggressiveness against the opponent is unleashed to let off steam, in part of the game itself, but mostly from the real life. We know how this works.

So, what next? Awareness. Let’s try to stay away from these fictions that distract us from thinking how things are actually going and working. Taking action will be much more complicated and will need a very sharp vision to define a strategy and possible tactics.

We are just pawns, but thanks to technology, we can now communicate between us ALL OVER THE WORLD, and that is something REALLY NEW in the 5.000 years of History of Man.

We are living interesting times (Ancient chinese proverb, in fact, a curse….).

Number-based violence

Posted in Crisis, Culture, current events, Democracy, Economy, Financial crisis, Philosophy, politics, Society on 26/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

The question that arises has a history as archaic as two peasants engaged to club a third party to take away hunting, harvesting or the female friend. Millennia later, with the emergence of the “rule of law”, we run the risk of being robbed or insulted, but this possibility is greatly reduced, thanks to the deterrent and punitive effect of law. We see how morality – it is considered wrong for a man to use violence to deprive another of his goods – leads to a natural law that states move to their legal system. The exception, the survival of the original state of the beast, is when this violence is exercised impersonally by the entity that monopolizes the state. It is the only socially acceptable form of violence, if we understand as such, be stripped of your home, business or means of survival because of the bad decisions of our rulers. There is no room, even in extreme cases of ineptitude like ZParo*, to deny the relationship between these causes and the devastating effects on economic matters we suffer. Nor can it be admitted that there is no violence, no intention, as there are many international organizations, private institutions and experts who anticipated the damage that would lead these specific actions. In any case, if it’s considered violence to put you finger in the eye of somebody else, it also has to be, to ruin you and doom you to poverty. This is number-based violence, the violence unleashed by a society that believes that “truth” is the majority opinion. That society who believes that everything is acceptable, whether we took part or not, in the wrong choice of leaders, we must suffer meekly the consequences of their actions as if it were a natural disaster. If once the supremacy of force justified to be subdued, now is the convention, the impunity of the number.

I condemn you, infect masses, ignorant, sterile, you who need foreigners and immigrants, to continue your lineage. You are insignificant, unimportant as individuals, beings once, now remains, when you gather as a single force, you’re the plague that ravages the land, you don’t know, you do not see the harm caused by your very existence. You have given credits of “nature” to the absurdity, incoherence, because reasoning would remind you that you are slaves, slaves to the financial powers that, thanks to your decrepitude, proceed to subjugate the rest of us in your pseudo-democracy, the tyranny of numbers.

*Impossible to translate. Condensation of ZP (Zapatero, current President of Spain) + Paro (unemployment)

Original post in Spanish

http://ulpilex.es/Vitruvius/politica/violencia-de-numero/

Philosophy during war

Posted in Philosophy, politics, Society, war with tags , , , , , on 26/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

(Click on image to see video)

I have got this scene on my mind since the very first time I saw it.

WTF is a reporter with philosophical ideas, doing in the middle of the battlefield?

The dialog is brilliant, superb. You cannot miss a single word of it.

“Whose side are you on, son?” asks the Colonel.

Securities and Exchange Commission Accused of Shredding Investigation Documents for Nearly Twenty Years (via JONATHAN TURLEY)

Posted in Society with tags , , , on 21/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

I strongly recommend to click on the links inserted in the post, where you can see this issue in the press.
It’s utterly concerning, that the SEC might be taking part in the business they should have under surveillance.

Securities and Exchange Commission Accused of Shredding Investigation Documents for Nearly Twenty Years Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to allegations made by a whistleblower that the agency had destroyed files from preliminary investigations of financial firms—including Goldman Sachs, SAC Capital Advisors, Deutsche Bank, AIG, and Bernie Madoff Investment Securities. A Bloomberg article reported that Grassley’s request was prompted by a letter … Read More

via JONATHAN TURLEY

Hangover

Posted in Behaviour, Crisis, current events, Democracy, Financial crisis, Philosophy, politics, Religion, Society on 21/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

I ‘ll start this post with a politically incorrect statement: it’s really a pleasure to get drunk. That’s it, I’ve said it. But now, let me explain.

I’m not intending to develop all the biological process that takes place when you drink too much, but only focus in the effects. I feel I’m the kind of person that when drinking beyond limits, I turn myself into a cheering one. I laugh a lot, I even say all kind funny things. I obviously feel relaxed, and enjoy the time. But even in the best of cases, we all know what follows the next day.

Same happens with cigarettes. I started smoking late (at 37) and I kept on doing it because I liked it, I wasn’t following a social pattern. It was a pleasure (I say “was” for I quit smoking 7 years later). But didn’t like the “smell” on your hair, hands and clothes and most of all, the throat sore.

I never been on drugs, but I assume there must be very similar processes, at the peak of (false) satisfaction and the bitter “after taste”.

My next statement is not new, that many social behaviours and activities, act quite like alcohol, tobacco and/or drugs, starting with religion, but following with massive sport events (football, american football, baseball, and so on), Television, Computer games (exception made for flight simulators … 😉 ).

All of them, when you do without, will let you with a sense of emptiness you won’t know what to fill with.

Usually, we grab the quickest solution: more of the same “medicine”. 

Lately, all of us, one way or the other, are quite discouraged, disappointed, angry at the way the system (whichever it is: Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy), not only gives prizes to those who failed to prevent the current crisis, but mostly delivers “punishments” to the rest of Society, as being mostly responsible for the catastrophe. And in spite of this, we keep on voting the same corrupt politicians, under the same election system, with the same (already known) results.

So, to make a long story short, just to avoid the hangover effect, to try to elude the unpleasant moment of emptiness (which will last until we find what really fulfills ourselves), we keep on drinking, smoking, voting, going to church, and searching all kind of therapies.

But life is what you make it, there are no short-cuts, no mitigating crutches, to make it easier for you to find your own way.

You/we MUST put yourself/ourselves to work on it, as soon as possible.

Benedicto XVI

Posted in Culture, current events, Evolution, News, Philosophy, politics, Religion, Society on 20/08/2011 by Living out of Eden

Yesterday, I found myself in a very awkward situation.

Having got to the office in my car in the morning, I wasn’t aware that the Pope would make his city tour right along the street where my job is. When I had to leave, I realized I wasn’t allowed to, however it would only take a few minutes, until the delegation passed.

During those minutes, without any purpose and with all respect to all people who gathered there to show their affection and devotion to Mr. Joseph Razinger, a question started to take shape in my mind.

Considering the power that Vatican City and Catholic religion have (as well as any other church/religion), the “marketing” deployed for the event, and the evidence of hierarchy he represents, I couldn’t avoid asking myself:

“Would this man be someone Jesus Christ would approach? Was this the kind of Institution Jesus was thinking of, when founded his Church through Peter?”

I feared the answer.