On Mulling – an April 1st Lexicon

In response to a comment from a mathemagician (see Note 1) I know, I offer this short lexicon on ‘mulling‘ (q.v. – see Note 2):

  • miller: one who engages in mulling (q.v – see also muller NB: there will be lots of qvs, don’t be alarmed, I’ll ‘keep your safe’). ;
  • mule: an ass … nothing to do with mulling, no idea what it’s doing here;
  • mull: a deep contemplation. Often where the miller (q.v. – I told you there would be) is convinced that the mull is of a deep significance which will make them famous. Example, the ‘Mull of Kintire’ where Professor Kintire spent three months working on formulae and ended up, unintentionally, proving that Zero = Zero;
  • muller: a food manufacturer. Not to be confused with müll (German for rubbish, which a mull can be, or with Mühle meaning ‘mill’ – see miller – confused?);
  • mullet: the hairstyle resulting from a mulligatawny (q.v.);
  • millet: a misspelling of mullet (q.v. – do we have to!), not in alphabetical order;
  • mulligatawney: a particularly spicy mull (often accompanied with a little sherry leading, over time to Professor Kintire’s state);
  • mulling: the act of carrying out a mull (q.v. – oh, leave it out);
  • mullock: an expression of frustration by a mathemagician (see Note 1, haha no q.v.!).

Note 1: Mathemagicians are people whose skills in mathematics in all dimensions seem like magic, eg DJM, Brian B and a, very few, others.

Note 2: q.v. – A fancy way of saying ‘see also this term elsewhere in this text’.

[ Post dated 1st April 2022 – well, on a day like today, a smile does no harm ;-]

Posted in Academic complexity, Humour, Learning, Unintended consequences | Leave a comment

Chernobyl – Will Putin release nuclear material?

If he is going to do so then the next week or two gives him a perfect opportunity.

[Updated 21 April 2022] A new weather system is devloping such that a release of atomic material from Chernobyl would be blown west over Europe – affecting from France, Germany, the UK and Scandinavia. The Met Office surface pressure chart below shows the wind direction. It is a perfect opportunity for him to show resolve … whilst his forces are faltering in the east of Ukraine.

Why would he do this? Several reasons:

  • To threaten it would give him a strong bargaining chip in his war;
  • If he actually did it then Putin could humiliate the West without having to enter NATO territory;
  • He could aim, possibly, to make the western parts of Ukraine unliveable – as a buffer between the Russian Federation and the rest of Europe.

An unwise post?

You might say that it is irresponsible to suggest this. Maybe. But IMHO, it is time for us all to grow up and show the same kind of courage and fortitude as the Ukrainian people.

In Britain, from Tony Bliar’s time onwards, the people have been treated like children … and have allowed themselves to be treated like children. Shame on us all! So called ‘Project Fear’ started long before Brexit happened. Face a hard reality:

Vladimir Putin has declared war on us and we need to adopt a tough war mindset:

Prepare, be resilient, take responsibility and cope with it!

[ Getting iodine salt or iodine tablets might be wise – it reduces the effects of radioactive material, though the effects on people in Britain would be minimal, as in 1986. ]

Putin the Cowardly Child Killer

As to Putin himself, and his bombing of children, we can only ask: “Do you like killing children? Do you like seeing their little squashed bodies? Are they the ‘scum and traitors’ that you call your opponents? Why don’t you go to Mariupol and look at their poor little bodies on the ground? Ah, no, you’re too much of a coward to go there … after all, four of your generals have already been killed …”

— [ Modified 22 March 2022 and on 21 April ] —

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Support Ukraine – Support Democracy …

… while you still can …

Everybody has their take on what the Dictator of the Russian Federation wants.

Everybody wonders what winning looks like.

Many people have assessed how far he might go and when he might stop in his war, his invasion of Ukraine, his genocidal actions.

Here’s my take on Putin’s options and what risks and threats he faces – and who is in the best position to stop him … and is he doomed to failure by not knowing that

… his Biggest Enemy is Himself …

[As at 12 Mar 2022]

Posted in Agility, Appropriateness, Change, Conflict and War, Federation, Influence, Learning, Possibilities, Prediction, Probability, The marginalised | Leave a comment

When technology alienates people

A friend sent me an email this week expressing his rage at the way we are treated by big tech – that reasonable people are being made into ‘cyberoutlaws’. He said:

“… everyday someone’s b**tard web site changes or there is an update imposing itself when I want to do something or last years computer now has inadequate memory … never mind two years living under a stone and now being told we are going to be nuked by Vlad the genocidal …

Why are we treated like dirt and out needs as irrelevant! My technology works, it does what I want! I don’t want the latest thing. I don’t want to have to spend my hard-earned money just some someone elses bliddy app works better! Give me e break … grrr …”

People are now being marginalised as changing technology imposes unacceptable constraints on them – and there is beginning to be a noticeable backlash. For example:

Expert users enraged at Firefox change. In September 2018 Mozilla updated its Firefox browser to version 62 and, with notice, removed the ‘Notes’ field – becuase ‘most people don’t use it’. Many people actively used this field in an advanced manner and were outraged at the change and felt disenfranchised and marginalised, eg:

  • “The way FireFox used to do bookmarks was one of its best features. I could care less what happens on a phone. I use my phone to make phone calls. Tired of being pushed around by people who can’t chew their food without GPS and an app.”
  • “What a disastrous and stupid upgrade.  As you can see, I’m fighting with myself not to descend into a string of obscenities.  Who decided nobody needed anything they personally weren’t using?  A guy in a cave?”
  • “Chrome can’t do bookmark properties so it is inferior. Oh, wait, neither can Firefox anymore, it’s incompatible with coders who think everybody uses the browser the way they do. I’m so frigging sick of ‘progress’ that makes stuff worse.”

Vulnerable people outlawed for wanting to use cash. The Slashdot website has reported on the increasing trend to ban the use of cash in certain mainstream shops, businesses and service providers. It featured a Wall Street Journal article from 28 Dec 2018 highlighting the consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in society. Also, not only are local banks and post offices closing, but now they cannot use the little cash that they have – and they are treated like some kind of misfit.

There’s more to come of course …

[12 Mar 2022]

Posted in Appropriateness, Change, Experienced complexity, Relationships, Risk, Social Media, The marginalised, Unintended consequences | Leave a comment

Coronavirus (COVID-19) A unique response – Why?

[Updated March 2022, see square brackets]

Coronavirus analysis:

The world response makes no sense – it’s unique in the last 150 years of human history.

Why would countries cripple their economies and shut down their populations? [Setting up conditions of weakness which Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are now exploiting].

One reason that seems plausible … is that there’s something more serious about this ‘RNA virus’ that we are not being told (see the section on virus mutation and amplification below).

Normally a ‘novel virus’ takes weeks or so before the specialists have a handle on it, and maybe a few months before response comes into play. Whereas China had locked down three cities, each bigger than London, in weeks. [And is now strugging to control Omicron’s spread]

Now, Wuhan is where China has two of it’s bio warfare centres ( see attached article ). So, if they knew what had escaped and what it could do then that might explain the sharp and firm response? [Though unlikely, this has not been proved absolutlely one way or the other]

On masks. [They are not foolproof, but protect other people from aerosol droplets you breathe out. However, if you can smell someone’s scent through a mask then you are inhaling their viruses]. Without proper training in use, handling (when eating), disposal and frequency of changing them (daily) masks just become a vector for transmission. Apparently, enterprising folk are rescuing used ones, ironing them and selling them as new!

On risks. My view is that time will show that smartphones / tablets were an important factor in transmission. [Wrong on this, but Covid has been shown to live on surfaces for more than 24 hours – that’s how it got to New Zealand, on the surface of some frozen goods (looking for reference)]. Watch people in public, phone in one hand, itchy nose wiped on the other hand and then used to touch the screen. Then people say ‘Come and look at this’ (huddle together), ‘let me zoom in’ (touching other person’s phone) – guess what, virus spreads.

On likely deaths. Current CFR (Casualty Fatality Rate) published by WHO (World Health Organisation in their Situation Reports) indicates between 1 in 20 and 1 in 5 of over 65’s will die. Across all age groups in the world that’s up to 200 million (worse than so-called ‘Spanish ‘flu’ after the First World War). I assume that is why governments are implementing these measures. However, the data are incomplete at present. Many people will get coronavirus and never know they have had it, so not on the stats. We’ll see. [Indeed, most cases have proven to be asymptomatic – defeating the UK’s useless ‘test and don’t trace properly not-world-class’ multi-billion system. The current CFR (statistics today from WHO) is around 1.3% meaning that in time about 90 million people might sadly die. To be blunt, given that about 80 million people are added to the population each year, then Covid is not keeping humanity under control … we are still smothering Planet Earth. As they say: ‘There are no pilots on Spaceship Earth, we’re all Crew’.]

On sources: It’s been called an information pandemic – disinformation spreading faster than the virus!

Part of that is to do with people being ‘fed’ unreliable information via their (personally customised) social media accountsThey get ‘pushed’ [by so-called ‘Artificial Intelligence‘ … which is just algorithms – remember those from the 2020 examination fiasco!] skewed information and ‘click-bait’ based on their Likes. Alexa one of the worst.

I have been shocked how passive people are being content to be mere receivers of what’s trending.

Few people seem know how to seek out unbiased information, eg by manually putting in URLs to reliable sources such as:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/ 

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cyz0z8w0ydwt/coronavirus-outbreak

Instead, they type something into a search and take whatever it puts up. I heard recently of someone who had been scammed financially because they thought that the financial package at the top of Google’s search must be the best – otherwise why would Google have put it at the top! I’ve heard others say ‘But Google IS the Internet, isn’t it?’ [Humanity! Get a grip …]

Virus Mutation, Amplification and New Variants

[This section still needs a full check, but is a reasonable first draft]

1. Mutation. Virus breed by hijacking the mechanisms within affected cells to make copies of themselves *within one species of host*. Eventually the cell dies, bursts and the virus spread, eventually leaving the host body. But virus have only RNA which does not have ‘error correction’ (which the double helix of our DNA does have). Hence it is common for virus to mutate. Analysis of these different variants of same virus generates a ‘family tree’ – once you have a vaccine for the grandmother virus, all the descendants can therefore, usually, be treated (Los Alamos has done a lot of work on this down the years, open source).

2. Amplification. This is where the virus is breeding in a species whose replication mechanism enables the virus to turn into a new type which is able to jump species (as happened in this case, maybe from bats as food in China). This is Amplification (-ish), the bats amplified the virus’ ability to spread beyond the species it was in before. Now, if amplification happens in humans the new-new type may also infect humans, but with different symptoms from the current coronavirus. For the epidemiologists this would be, in effect, an entirely new outbreak.

3. Host self-induced infection (not the correct phrase). This is the scariest and is what Greg Bear’s ‘Darwin’s Radio’ is mostly about. OK. Sorry, getting a bit long … I’ll break it up:

– In our DNA we have what used to be called ‘junk DNA’. It is becoming apparent that it is anything but junk. A lot of it codes for virus / bacteria (and other things, beyond this scope) that mammals / humans suffered from in the past but which eventually became part of our biology (eg friendly gut bacteria – in the same way that the mitochondria energy generators in our cells were once free-swimming but are now symbiotic with our cells). The archaic virus are called ERV (endogenous retro-virus), the human ones are HERV (human-ERV).

– OK, so what? Well, it has been shown that when the wider human context changes in some fundamental way signals are sent which trigger the HERV to express. They go from junk DNA into active virus / bacteria (what the exact triggers are is not yet known, but triggers cause the DNA to ‘dance’, a writhing which brings unusual parts of the DNA close together). Potentially, activating an archaic HERV could be as bad as bringing back the dinosaurs (no natural predators etc).

– So! Maybe the BioWarfare lab in Wuhan was working on a virus which would deliberately trigger HERVs? (Wuhan is China’s main lab – according to one of the Chinese doctors who blew the whistle early on and died in Jan).

If so, then we are in trouble … it would explain the following.

SUPPLEMENTARY Re China ‘Protesteth too much’

It all just doesn’t add up …

Why would China’s **immediate first action** be to lock down two cities of 10 million plus people?
Historically, new outbreaks don’t happen like that – it takes time to work out what is happening and why, **then** the action comes in – not first.

Conclusion, surely, is that somebody knew something up front … (apparently Xi Jinping knew in Nov 2019)

Is that why WHO and others (seem to be) so alarmed about this one. Measures now in place are the same, if not more stringent, than those for Ebola or Anthrax. Is this going to be as deadly as Ebola (CFR of about 50%)?

Current CFR (Case Fatality Ration in %, proportion of cases that die) data suggests not …

BUT, Italy / Iran has just notified of cases which have died – with a CFR of over 10% -which would be very alarming.

For info: the post WWI Spanish ‘flu had a CFR of about 3%, and millions died – mind you, a third of the European population was infected.

Posted in Medical, Prediction, Probability, Risk, Social Media, Unintended consequences | Leave a comment

Populism ‘Fake News’, ‘Alternative Facts’ and Democracy

In early 2016 we predicted that the Leave voters would win the UK’s EU Referendum (BREXIT). Incidentally, we also predicted that Donald Trump would win. How did we know? Because we could see that social media realised the democracy of the ‘mob’ that the Greeks feared – where the ill-informed majority could be easily influenced.

As Jose Ortega y Gasset said in his visionary 1930s book ‘The Revolt of the Masses’:

The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, despite (maybe) knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will” …

What does this mean? As Thomas Jefferson said “The greatest threat to democracy is an uneducated citizenry“. Donald Trump, in his victory speech in February 2016, preened and affectionately recounted the numbers that added up to his huge victory:

We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”, he said.

For Trump, the Fake News and Alternative Facts spread by social media were his key cards. Of course he loves the poorly educated, they don’t trust experts or academics or professionals in authority because some of those people have been found cheating or misleading the public at some time. Instead, they trust their online friends more.

The conclusion in the mind of the populus seems to be, via confirmation bias, that therefore all these people are liars. Social media accelerates this bias in ways that society in general does not understand (there are a few that warn about the risks but they are treated as Cassandras, or as ‘cyberoutlaws who dare to be different‘).

This is the new democracy at work – through social-media – where one ill-informed person’s vote is as good as any other and millions can say ‘”If this many of us think X, then X must be right – ours is an Alternative Fact! Anyone who disagrees with us can’t be trusted … they are telling us Fake News.”.

Some people might say that, in the UK in 2016, “The commonplace mind did not, and probably still does not, understand how the EU works, yet affirmed its misunderstanding of things in the BREXIT vote, and has imposed it on all.”

In the longer-term, the trend seems to be towards assuming that the mass view must be correct. Why? Because it’s a majority view and ‘That’s democracy, right?’. This may undermine humanity’s ability to take decisive, often unpopular decisions, in the face of existential challenges. Correction … it will undermine our ability.

 

Posted in Change, Influence, Learning, Possibilities, Prediction, Probability, Reflection, Relationships, Social Media, Unintended consequences | Leave a comment

Why are ‘unintended consequences’ almost inevitable?

We so often hear politicians, managers and those in positions of authority wailing about the ‘unintended consequences’ of their actions – or worse, excusing damaging outcomes with a shrug of the shoulders and saying “But they were unintended consequences …” as if that lets them ‘off the hook’ of their responsibilities.

But were these consequences in the real world really unintended? Maybe they were actually inevitable, even ‘normal’ given the actions taken. Could it be that if appropriate approaches and mindsets had been employed then the damaging consequences could have been avoided?

To which the answer is and emphatic “Yes!”.

If one is bringing about change in the real world, in the complex and largely unpredictable inter-connected world in which we live then it is no good merely following the ‘best practice’ taught on business administration courses. The real world cannot be treated as if it is a supermarket chain.

Instead, complexity thinking offers a clear set of principles that should be followed when intervening in wider policy, commercial, social, community, medical and environmental matters.

Avoiding those unintended consequences

I am sure you are now thinking “OK, if we can’t predict how can we see what the consequences will be?”. Good point! The answer is that, yes, we can’t predict specific instances ( x will happen in this place at 1256 on the 27th March to Fred Bloggs and Xioa Lui), but we can anticipate the future if we are forward-looking.

Indeed, complexity thinking can identify that certain classes of outcome are likely, even inevitable, if we go about a particular task in a certain way – or if we organise ourselves inappropriately.

[The rest of this post will give examples]

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Posted in Appropriateness, Change, Contextual complexity, Experienced complexity, Influence, Natural complexity, Opportunities, Organisational forms, Practice, Prediction, Probability, Purposeful, Risk, Transformation, Transition, Unintended consequences | 2 Comments

Applying Complexity Thinking to the Real World

PRINCIPLES FOR [BRINGING ABOUT] EFFECTIVE CHANGE IN [REAL-WORLD] PRACTICE

The eleven ‘Principles of Practice’ below have been derived from the experiences of practitioners (people who are responsible for bringing about real-world change) which are discussed in a companion book “Complexity Demystified – a Guide for Practitioners” (downloadable as a PDF from here).

An example of how these principles can be used is shown by the ‘Liveable Cities‘ project which, in 2017, published a series of short booklets illustrating complexity thinking at work.

The principles below indicate that, in practice, integrative and iterative approaches are essential to bring about desired changes – and so doing minimises ‘unintended consequences‘:

• Principle 1: Dynamic, ongoing change can be influenced purposefully. This is because: a) the underlying ‘drivers of complexity’ have been identified, and b) practical techniques are available to purposefully engage with and shape the underlying drivers.

• Principle 2: Context understanding and perceptions are diverse – there is no ‘single view of the truth’. The experienced complexities of stakeholders are necessarily different, as are their knowledge and information needs.

• Principle 3: Change is ongoing, dynamic and multi-level – there may be no end. This means that trends, flows, gradients, potentials and other ‘energy metrics’ are appropriate dynamic indicators of the progress of practice.

• Principle 4: There are many qualities of power and influence to accommodate. These affect people’s ability to adapt and may arise from individuals, their beliefs and vulnerabilities, or from community values, from gender issues, institutional structures and the political economy, and from the changing environment and so on.

• Principle 5: It is necessary to appreciate who is / what are best placed to bring about change. Given the inevitable natural complexity of practice, those tasked with achieving change may not be the ones best placed in a situation to be drivers of change. Given the time horizons, practitioners should work adaptively through those who are best placed.

• Principle 6: Interventions must have the necessary requisite variety, i.e. have appropriate complexity-worthiness given the desired changes. This insight arises from Ashby’s ‘Law of Requisite Variety’ (1957) which states, in essence, that to influence something your practical behaviours must be equivalent to, and preferably exceed, the repertoire of behaviours of that which you are trying to influence – i.e. to deal with innovation by innovating.

• Principle 7: Practice is not just about adapting, but is also about being able to adapt the adapting and learn. This is because people are in continual co-evolution with the environment and, as there will never be a ‘steady-state’ balance or equilibrium, anticipatory innovation will always be required. One cannot adapt once and then stop.

• Principle 8: Different decision-making and problem-solving styles are required for different situations. Because practice involves inevitable novelty and change over time, there can never be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, nor can ‘optimized’ processes be used as ‘best practice’ in all situations. Indeed, many modelling tools are just not fit for purpose in the face of real-world complexity.

• Principle 9: When reasoning about change, past evidence does not guarantee future prediction. This means that, though we may have evidence of a past train of events, there is no guarantee that we can extrapolate a reliable prediction from this into the future. As there are limits to what we can know and observe, there will always be uncertainties and unknowns, and that we must accept this as a given. A key skill for practice and risk management is envisioning, and being prepared to act on possible, not probable, futures.

• Principle 10: When innovating, transition to new forms may be the only valid option. Because of the inevitable novelty already mentioned, the transformation from non-adaptive capabilities to being appropriately complexity-worthy will require purposeful, ongoing, innovation and adaptation. Gradual, superficial, incremental transition is just not an option in some unsettling circumstances.

• Principle 11: Change will be impeded unless appropriate degrees of freedom and ‘wiggle room’ are available. Being open to change means appreciating where the ‘spaces of possibilities’ are, and how to maximize and exploit them. A misplaced drive for control, repeatability and certainty may clamp down on the very space that is needed for adaptive behaviour to flourish.

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Posted in Adaptation, Agility, Appropriateness, Change, Complexity Demystified, Complexity-worthiness, Contextual complexity, Experienced complexity, Influence, Liveable cities, Natural complexity, Opportunities, Possibilities, Practice, Prediction, Purposeful, Reflection, Transformation, Transition, Unintended consequences | 2 Comments

ISIS Ascendant – Because the West gave up its Winning Strategy in 2001?

A Winning Strategy Lost?

The UK’s ‘Bin Laden Dossier‘ of 2001 reports that Bin Laden’s motivation was to wage jihad against countries (such as the USA and UK) engaging in ‘un-Islamic behaviour’.

In his speeches, Bin Laden cited examples of this, such as: the westernised mode of dress of young people; their liking of pop music and consumer goods; and their lack of respect for their elders and leaders for example.
In other words, the West was (unwittingly) already winning a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign though the spread of consumer capitalism and western goods, media, film, entertainments and comfortable lifestyle.

After 9/11, it could be reasoned that the West’s best course of action was to continue, and intensify, these so-called ‘soft power’ activities – not to attack anyone with hard power.

But this is not what happened and the War on Terror (always unwinable by definition) went ahead. The situation in 2015 continues to ramp up conflict, into what now seems inevitable – World War Three (WWIII).

World War Three (WWIII) – The War of Ideologies

Conflict in the Middle East is not new. It goes back at least as far as Egyptian times (Ostler 2006).  And then, with Islam, it had the Shia / Sunni schism at its root. From the time of The Crusaders onwards, so-called Western forces and governments have had little success in changing outcomes (Stewart 2006,  Tanner 2002, Wallach 2005).

Recent experiences in the region (Iraq, Afghanistan – even for the Russians) are not encouraging for the coalition that the UK and US governments are hoping to put together in 2016.

Also, analysis of the capabilities of Western coalitions (Lwin 1997, Mackay and Tatham 2011, Smith 2005, Treverton 2003) show up a series of endemic weaknesses in mindset, approach, capabilities and strategy and tactics.

With these in mind it is worth while trying to analyse what possible futures we may face. With certainty an impossibility, a sound approach is to develop a range of hypotheses (as in this example high-level scenario involving tactical nuclear weapons) and, using judgement (not just computer modelling), evaluate their relative merits.

Of prime importance is being realistic about what can and can’t be achieved practically. Especially in a situation where hundreds of factions vie for power, where allegiences are endlessly changing and loyalty cannot be relied upon. At the heart of WWIII is a clash of unreconcilable ideologies which, as the Cold War showed, may take generations to resolve. Negotiation (Howard 1999) is not an option – yet.

Till then, as Lawrence noted following his experiences of the ‘Arab Revolt’ of 1916-18 – and of the subsequent negotiations (including the betrayal of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which still rankles in the Middle East today) – nothing and no one can be trusted and nothing can be relied upon.

In 2016, little has changed from his time. Money, mercenaries and mediocrity mean that the chances of ‘success’ for the West’s new coalition are slim. And in a situation where it is not even possible to say unequivocally what constitutes ‘winning’, then we are all in for a long haul.

What has changed is that this time the consequences are global – and fanaticism,  ruthless death and suicide are ISIS’ most potent weapons of coercion. No one is ‘safe’ and, currently, every possibility may happen.

We live in interesting times.

References:

– Lwin, M. R. (1997) ‘General Tzu’s Army: OPFOR of the Future’. JFQ, USA.
– Howard, N. (1999) ‘Confrontation Analysis: How to Win Operations Other than War. CCRP, DoD.
– Lawrence, T. E. (1922) ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’. Various editions.
– Mackay, A. Tatham, S. (2011) ‘Behavioural Conflict: Why understanding people and their motivations will prove decisive in future conflict’. Military Studies Press. Saffron Walden, UK.
– Ostler, N. (2006) ‘Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World’. Harper Collins.
– Smith, R. (2005) ‘The Utility of Force’, p323-331. Published by Allen Lane, London.
– Stewart, R. (2006) Occupational Hazards, pp360-361. Picador, London.
– Tanner, S. (2002) ‘Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the war against the Taliban.
– Treverton, G.F. (2003) ‘Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information’. Cambridge University Press. New York.
– Wallach, J. (2005) ‘Desert Queen. The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia’. Phoenix, London.

Posted in Agility, Appropriateness, Change, Federation, Influence, Interoperability, Opportunities, Possibilities, Practice, Prediction, Probability, Relationships, Risk, Transformation, Transition | Leave a comment

War on Terror – always unwinnable?

The so-called ‘War on Terror‘ has a rather silly name – as daft as a ‘war on democracy’ or a ‘war on happiness’.

Terrorism has been part of the human condition for millenia. As history shows, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter (think of Israel, South Africa and Northern Ireland for example). One cannot destroy it, any more than you can destroy the human emotions.

So ‘terror’ can never be eradicated. There will always be those who dissent, feel oppressed or disenfranchised (often with good cause). Indeed, complexity science would say that dissent is a necessary condition for the stability of society – in that otherwise society would be totalitarian.

As our post on types of organisational form and the work by Michael Thompson on ‘organising and disorganising’ indicates, diversity in human society (and in nature in general) is very complicated and the differences of viewpoint and motivation are the source of the rich interactions seen in the world (at over fifty-eight levels from micro to macro and from instant to eons).

A trite, soundbite ‘war on terror’ is not, and was never, going to change that – something much deeper was required.

Posted in Appropriateness, Change, Influence, Practice, Transformation, Transition | 1 Comment