Posts Tagged ‘power’


April 2, 2010

Guiltar: a musical instrument whose strings are pulled by your mother. (Frank Mullen III, Aledo, Ill.)

i would prefer that the phrase becomes fill in the blank:

a musical instrument whose strings are pulled by _________

would love to hear from you how you fill in the blank. your boss? your mother? your wife? your friend?

it definitely seems that in some ethnic groups (jewish-polish) mothers and future wives have a ‘genetic treaty’ to perpetuate this trait.

if you subscribe to this notion, you may agree it goes something like this:

to be remembered as a good mother, and to fulfill your traditional role, you need to build a Guiltar in your kids, especially sons, so that their future wives receives them ‘mature’. it is then the role of the wife to strum his fate with her fingers, (killing me softly with her love) and prepare the future generation of guiltars with the young off-springs.

this is a serious task that must start before the child is able to defend himself or herself against this ethnic trait. it is best cultivated in the period in which the child starts understanding the spoken word, say 6 months of age, but before he his psychologically capable of fighting back, say at 5 years of age. note that in many jewish polish families this is the desired difference between the ages of kids.


February 21, 2010

a combination of no opposition and no position

as in zippi livne ציפי לבנה and kadima in israel at this time

if you want to elaborate:

there are times when you are so powerful, you have little opposition. often, it is a moment before your biggest fall

think of america in 2000

another angle:

you have no position, you do not care

it is perhaps the ultimate zen state, but can also be perceived as a zombie state

how do you tell the difference?

2011 crash?

February 3, 2010

what if like many earthquakes , at first there is a tremor, some damage, recovery, smiles and then the big hit.

what if the financial crises of 2008, recovery in 2009 with smiles in 2010 results in a big crises in 2011.


a bit morbid

but, important to analyze.

Kevin, my good friend sent this over. when kevin asks you to read something, a good portion of the time, you really want to read it. kevin is blessed with outside-of-the box thinking, contrarian point of view, blended with down-to-earth smarts, and the ability to think different and say it.

i think you should read this . (un?) likely but plausible


“Over any extended period of time, no economy can be prosperous if the government is

  • overspending,
  • raising tax rates,
  • printing too much money,
  • over-regulating, and
  • restricting international trade.

It’s really as simple as that. Especially when the U.S. economy appears to have “green shoots”, it’s imperative to remember the U.S. economy cannot have prosperity given the policies of the Obama administration and Congress”


During 2010 the economy will continue to improve, growing by more than 4%.

By the end of 2010 the unemployment rate could fall to as low as 7.0% and the Obama Administration will be busting with pride and conceit. And then 2011 will enter center stage, followed quickly by an economic catastrophe.

All the factors that will make 2010 (and have already made the last half of 2009) look so good will reverse direction, and 2011 will be a train wreck. The first effect is the so-called “slingshot” or “freefall” effect. Whenever an economy stops freefall, as the U.S. economy has, everything seems better because it’s getting worse more slowly. The slingshot effect will exert a powerful positive influence on the U.S. economy in 2010 but won’t exist in 2011.

if this is indeed the case, what should we do today?

looking for a new job?

about to commit to a new house?

consider this and may the force be with you.

i am still optimistic, but think this should be on our radar screens


November 29, 2009

an option you do not intend to use, but you still see value in getting it, rather than dropping it.

Q: “want to go to a movie Friday night?”

A: “i usually stay home and watch tv, but lets discuss Friday eve”

as human beings, we know it ain’t going to happen, but we still want to obtain the droption, not realizing its value may be close to zero, and usually negative

VCs are a prime example of people obtaining and using droptions. especially not getting to back to a company with a ‘no’ early. they think that by waiting a week to a month something good will happen

a note from an entrepreneur to VC

November 22, 2009

below is a one-line note i got one friday afternoon from a friendly entrepreneur who wanted advice over the weekend:

“Is it hard when people love you for your money 🙂 ?”

reflection has been taken away from our lives

December 3, 2008

grand strategy with

John Gaddis, He is a noted historian of the Cold War and grand strategy. He has been hailed as the ‘Dean of Cold War Historians’ by the The New York Times. He is also the official biographer of the seminal 20th century statesman George F. Kennan.

Charles Hill, a diplomat ambassador and professor. involved in the iran-contra affair in a big way. teaches oratory of statehood. A career foreign service officer, Ambassador Hill was a senior adviser to George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Boutros Boutros-Ghali,


Paul Kennedy is a newcastle born historian specializing in international relations and grand strategy. He has published prominent books on the history of British foreign policy and Great Power struggles. his books have been translated to about 25 languages. the rise and fall of great powers.

some of the great minds at yale which produced much of US foreign policy since the first clinton adminstration. since 1992 presidents and secratery of state are yale graduates.

key takeaways:

  • what are the feedback loops of the machine? how does it balance in thick and thin times. during war and peace, expansion and contraction?
  • reflection has been taken away from our lives.
    timescale in planing a strategy. looking ahead vs the free metro newspaper that reports about you. the daily demands of ‘right now’. during office you do not acquire intellectual capital, you run on what you accumulated previously. IQ drops as you start to use powerpoint?
  • negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. note that negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability.
  • westphalian state system is convenient to ‘go back to’ and since it is easy as a thought paradigm it influences institutions. are nations the imagined communities? i think not



strategy is a way of thinking about how to get from where you are to where you want to be. calculated relationship between means and ends.

von clausewitz, war is the continuation of policy by other means. diplomacy is supreme and war is a tool, not an objective in itself. means is subject to the ends. this is significant because resources are limited. so, resource constraints are an example in which means are subordinate to the ends.

this is platitude. it reminds us of the basic, common sense, but this is exactly it purpose, to remind us of common sense while we are becoming professionals.


“Everything in war is very simple,” Clausewitz notes, “but the simplest thing is difficult.” (119) “In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect. Nearby they do not appear as they did from a distance.” (193) Moreover, “…every fault and exaggeration of [a] theory is instantly exposed in war.”

Clausewitz terms “friction” the “only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper.” (119) Friction is caused mainly by the danger of war, by war’s demanding physical efforts, and by the presence of unclear information or the fog of war.

First, the intrinsically dangerous nature of war means that in an atmosphere of blood, bullets,and bombs, “the light of reason is refracted in a manner quite different from that which is normal in academic speculation.” (113) Only the exceptional soldier keeps his incisive judgment intact during the heat of battle.

Second, physical effort in war also produces friction: “If no one had the right to give his views on military operations except when he is frozen, or faint from heat and thirst, or depressed from privation and fatigue, objective and accurate views would be even rarer than they are.” (115) Clausewitz hence reminds strategists not to forget the immense effect of physical effort upon the soldiers engaging in combat.

Ambiguous information in war is yet a third element which Clausewitz says distinguishes real war from war in theory. Although strategists should gauge plans by probabilities, it is sometimes impossible to do so during war, when most intelligence is indeterminate:

isaiah berlin, incommensurability. two concepts of liberty, He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one’s destiny. While Berlin granted that both concepts of liberty represent valid human ideals, as a matter of history the positive concept of liberty has proven particularly susceptible to political abuse. Berlin contended that under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel (all committed to the positive concept of liberty), European political thinkers often equated liberty with forms of political discipline or constraint. This negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability. This concept is mirrored in the work of Joseph Raz.

The third and last part of Adam Curtis‘s documentary series The Trap discusses Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative liberty

you can not have it all at once, so you have to balance

power is not singular, it has multiple forums that need to be balanced. self confidence of french army occupying moscow. ‘war and peace’. taking moscow is not enough to win.

everything is related to everything else. astonishly frequently forgotten. so it is an ecological failure. any action will have (an equal) and oppsite reaction, even across spheres.

it is a practical and effecient manner of distiliing knowledge

individual players on the field will have to make their own decisions. instincts plus some training on expecting the unexpected

charlie hill

something is lost when quantitive methods and science is applied to all domains

in humanities, as opposed to sciences, you can not solve problems once in for all

no two problems are alike

democracy in america, ‘Forces’


theories                               leadership                     concepts

skilles                                  forces                           culture

mechanisms                        rhetoric                         values


Paul Kennedy

the power of rhetoric of roosevelt and kennedy

of the 7 coalition wars between the british and the france between 1689 and 1815 the french lose all with superior population and resources. why?

king, hmg, parlament, taxes: funing and loans. now you have markets. loans are never to be defaulted upon. so by middle wars, (7 years, napoleonic) swiss,dutch and french buy these loans because the british governement is the only one that has not deaulted on loans. now you get a feedback loop. large navy. destory others resources, lines,economies

you get balanced budget in piece times. there is possibilites of transferability.

softpower: terrorism and the next US president

November 17, 2008

war on terrorism

if an american city is attacked by terrorist nuclear power, the world as we know it will change. human rights issues out the window

this guys is a very biased and it is very difficult to listen to him:

  • lets call it extremism, not terrorism
  • the old testament is a very violent book
  • America supports: israel, saudi arabia, iran under the shah, undemocratic oppressive regimes
  • Islam is under attack post 6 day war, after israel did that thing

key takeaways:

intelligence vs human rights. no way to fight terrorism according if playing by the rules

claim: most moslems would chose moderation over violence

a violent response is ‘what divides you and unites us’

linguistics is very difficult to apply to this matter. what is the definition of terrorism? who gets to call whom a terrorist. this is a big issue

time: al-quida sees this is a 1000 year initiative. so time is on their hands


fresh – can restart, sometimes easier than continuing

credible and balanced approach

in 90s many US attempts to appease islam which did not play well.

when did terrorism start? actually the jewish zealots under roman rule in 66-73 AD are the first. called sicarii

historical lessons:

  • win the hearts and minds (in the Moslem world)


  • avoid over-reaction. makes terrorists strive. violent and repressive turns out to be a recruiting tool and create legitimacy. creates violent cycles of action and re-action. who started?
  • avoid under-reaction. latin american governments and marxist groups.

study algeria and FLN. movie ‘the battle of algiers’.

also bbc, 2004 dirty war. does a good job of people’s believes.

joseph nye, coined softpower:

The basic concept of power is the ability to influence others to get them to do what you want. There are three major ways to do that:

  1. one is to threaten them with sticks;
  2. the second is to pay them with carrots;
  3. the third is to attract them or co-opt them, so that they want what you want.

If you can get others to be attracted to want what you want, it costs you much less in carrots and sticks. [1]


November 5, 2008

key takeaways:

  • tough to be a popular leader over time. especially based on attraction/charisma basis of power.
  • definition of leader, below, includes the term ‘shared values’. an important component of a leader is to create thru development these shared values.
  • why has the decision making process of a leader moved over 30 years by 1.3 points towards group decision making? complexity, flatness (larger groups), IT – information availability,

terms and discussion:

tom peters, excellent books. especially ‘in search of excellence’. resulting in the mcKinsey 7S model of eight themes. As Peters explained in 2001: ‘Start with Taylorism, add a layer of Druckerism and a dose of McNamaraism, and by the late 1970’s you had the great American corporation that was being run by bean counters…’ so, he killed some sacred cows including Xerox and GE. 25 years later he emphasizes

  • capabilities concerning ideas,
  • liberation,
  • speed

originally, the 8 themes are:

  1. A bias for action, active decision making – ‘getting on with it’.
  2. Close to the customer – learning from the people served by the business.
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship – fostering innovation and nurturing ‘champions’.
  4. Productivity through people – treating rank and file employees as a source of quality.
  5. Hands-on, value-driven – management philosophy that guides everyday practice – management showing its commitment.
  6. Stick to the knitting – stay with the business that you know.
  7. Simple form, lean staff – some of the best companies have minimal HQ staff.
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – autonomy in shop-floor activities plus centralised values.

other good links:

Tom Peters’ website

and the many related ideas and theories on this site, for example:

Herzberg’s Motivational Theories

McGregor’s X-Y Theory

Adams’ Equity Theory

McClelland’s Motivational Theory

Teambuilding and motivational activities, for example the Hellespont Swim case study and exercise

more free materials, diagrams and other resources on the main businessballs website, if you are not already there.

with victor vroom. worth to visit the link. his theory, called expectancy theory,  states that

Motivation = Valance x Expectancy(Instrumentality)


expectancy – a person’s belief about whether or not a particular job performance is attainable

instrumentality – “What’s the probability that, if I do a good job, that there will be some kind of outcome in it for me?”

valence –  “Is the outcome I get of any value to me?”


leadership – the process of motivating groups to work on shared values to create change.

leadership is a process, not a trait

leadership style needs to adapt to circumstances

process includes:

  • decision making – includes buy in
  • implementation – commitment and information/resources available to execution
  • timeliness – between occurrence, decision and implementation
  • development – enhance group knowledge and expertise. ability and desire to work as a team. feeling of being important to the organization.


power and authority can be analyzed and attained according to power basis:

  • transactional power – reward and punishment. provides compliance vs commitment. requires a control system. once control system is off, behavior changes.

commitment as a basis of power, below, requires no control and is developmental and autonomous:

  • expert – depends on perceived knowledge
  • attraction – charisma,  bush post 9/11 vs post 9/11/08. there is a sustainability issue
  • legitimate – is it your right and responsibility? identification and ethics


discussion on group/individual decison making. (deciding how to decide)

two models presented. time driven model and development driven model as well as on-line software to help decide comparing to 200K answers

spectrum defined by decide (on your own) vs delegate. so influence by leader to influence by group. the world is changing towards group.

this style can be viewed as a cause in certain org building vs effect of a corporate culture.

Change. first slowly, then suddenly

November 4, 2008


today the US of A will vote for its first black president. ever.

few would have believed it as little as a year ago.

forty years ago, in the 1968 olympics, 2 athletes, Smith and Carlos, overtly challanged class power in the US. with a short, simple, silent, non-violent Black Power Salute. they were brave, but not liked. 40 years later, within their lifetimes, their previously scorned expression is now viewed as a brave statement.

They received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. Furthermore, Carlos wore beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”

Today is a day of change

Too many hopes on the unproven shoulders of Obama. will he be able not to disappoint?

Yet, it is important to understand what Obama has already achieved.

Many american blacks voted for the first time in their lives. Lines in the Dixwell neighborhood of new haven today were very long. i suspect we will here more reports about people standing in line for hours, especially hispanic and afro-american neighborhoods, especially in ‘red’ states or districts, but also in very poor ‘blue’ neighborhoods.

things take time to change. the world changes slowly, then suddenly

Today the american republic has become more democratic (and Democratic). many first time voters by virtue of age, many first time voters by virtue of hope and participation. So

  • 220 years after the 3/5th compromise, (in which black slaves counted as 60% of a person for purposes of distribution (not collection) of taxes and apportionment of congressional power to each state),
  • 150 years since the civil war and black suffrage obtained through the XV amendment.
  • 40 years since the civil rights movement lead by Martin Luther King,

today, for many who have suffered for long, is the beginning of an age of hope.

and disappointment.

a new era has begun. perhaps enough change and good is achieved within a reasonable time period, despite great challenges.

but even if not, today is a great proof that all men are created equal.

land of the free and home of the brave.

a model for policy making

November 3, 2008

US elections, statistics, internet

key takeaways:

  • single dimension of political mapping. in the US 1 axis is enough to map the political system.
  • Duverger’s Law – effective number of candidates is district number + 1 = 2 in US. that is why there is just a 2 candidates per territory. this explains 2 party per district, but why 2 all across.
  • internet as new media – people expose themselves more to what they believe rather than plurality. so there is polarization.


policy making:

a spatial model on policy making, single dimension:


  • actors have preferences on the spectrum. when they take action, they do it purely on how far they are away from an ideal point.
  • the median voter ideal point is mapped on the spectrum
  • another point on the spectrum is the status quo
  • assume one chamber, majority role, median voter tilts majority.
  • every bill will move towards the median voter position
  • president has veto, his ideal vote is p, can be over-ridden by member O, 66th on the spectrum
  • any movement away from president beyond O, will be vetoed. if the distance from O to bill is less then O to status-quo, veto will be overturned.
  • the median voter is the agenda setter and they determine how the bill will be proposed
  • introduce: filibuster: 40th most and 60th most conservative member. (because of Cloture). so bill has to be between point 40 and 60.

so have the following points. P president, F1and F2 for filibusters, Sq, status quo, C for median voter. B, the bill has to be, between F1 and F2 and extend to O66 (or O33) towards the president.

during election the following change, P, potentially dramatically, and some movement in points of congress (initally assume no change). still F1 and F2, change. if obama takes, P swings from right to left, F1 does not change much as democrats will not lose a lot of sits in the senate, and F2 will move considerably to towards left. F2 will actually move from republican to democrat.

so changes will change according, new SQ range. depends on P and F60 (which relates).


now spectrum can be changes according to public opinion, (desire to be re-elected), money and power

surprisingly, one dimension predicts very well. liberal vs conservative.

there is more delegation to president re foreign policy

gary cox has some books on strategic voting