Friday, July 30, 2010

Body Language of the Hands

“Among all species, our human hands are unique -- not only in what they can accomplish, but also in how they communicate. Human hands can paint the Sistine Chapel, pluck a guitar, maneuvre surgical instruments, chisel a David, forge steel, and write poetry. They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate, hold and mold the world around us.

Our hands are extremely expressive; they can sign for the deaf, help tell a story, or reveal our innermost thoughts.” (“What Every Body is Saying,” Harper Collins) No other species has appendages with such a remarkable range of capabilities. And yet if you asked most people about the nonverbals (body language) of the hands, they would be hard pressed to tell you all the things the hands reveal.

Despite the acquisition of spoken language over millions of years of human evolution, our brains are still hard-wired to engage our hands in accurately communicating our emotions, thoughts, and sentiments (“The Psychology of Nonverbal Communications,” Kindle Edition).

Therefore, whether people are speaking or not, hand gestures merit our attention as a rich source of nonverbal behavior to help us understand the thoughts and feelings of others.

It is interesting that our brain gives a disproportionate amount of attention to the fingers, and hands, as compared to the rest of the body. This could be in part because our first touch is with our hands and we seek the hands of our parents for safety or it is because the human hand can hold a weapon. For whatever the reason, we tend to focus on the hands and are mesmerized by them. Hitler used them to his advantage, as do magicians, orchestra conductors, and surgeons.

Our human need to see hands is so important you can try a simple experiment. Without revealing your intentions, hide your hands during a conversation, for the complete duration of the conversation. At the end of the conversation, ask the participants what they thought and what they felt as you conversed with them. You will find that people will sense something is wrong. In my work with mock juries, we found that attorneys, or for that matter witnesses, that hide their hands are perceived as less open and less honest by the jurors.

For more information read the full article here Body Language of the Hands

Movement to Action: A Nonverbal

We often think about nonverbal communications as only encompassing body language, but that is a very narrow view. In fact, anything that communicates, which sends a message that is not a word, however slight or nuanced, is a “nonverbal” message.

We are bombarded by images (subtle and not so subtle) all day long and they influence how we behave and our perceptions. A politician taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves sends a message: “I am like you and I will work for you.” That’s why we see those images every election year.

Similarly a Mont Blanc pen or Patek Philippe watch communicate something in their own right about their owners. You can decide whether it is a good thing or not.

A well lit gas station, research shows, encourages you to refill there because it appears more secure. The clean and orderly fa├žade of the local bank attracts you to leave your money in a place worthy of your hard work. In both instances billions of dollars are affected by the “curb side appeal” (nonverbal message) of the business.

One of the things that communicates effectively how we feel about others is what I refer to as “movement to action.” A baby, within days, begins to notice movement in her environment, especially from her mother and caregivers. She responds not just to the movement but also to movement which acts in her behalf such as feeding.

Very quickly the baby learns to differentiate between mere movement and movement to action which satisfies her needs and visibly puts a smile on her face. As we get older our yearning for movement to action increases as we seek a treat or a toy, or any number of things to meet our expectations or gratification.

Movement to action is a nonverbal communication that sends a powerful message, in the same way that a mother running to greet a child with open arms sends a powerful message.

It is a physical act which says I care, and is in the interest of others and seeks to benefit them first and foremost.

When bank managers or account managers, for example, get up and move to greet old and new customers, those customers rate their experiences significantly higher than if they are merely met by someone behind a counter.

In my studies, I found that where clients were greeted by a receptionist who stood to greet them, rather than just sitting behind the desk, this had lasting positive effects in how those clients felt that day and several days later.

It makes sense, we feel special when people move to action on our behalf and it makes us feel appreciated. The renowned Ritz-Carlton hospiatlity leadership training course emphasises taking action as soon as possible.

For more information read the full article here Movement to Action: A Nonverbal

The Body Language of the Eyes

The Body Language of the Eyes

Our eyes also are formidable communicators of feelings including comfort and discomfort, which help us decipher others from a very tender age.

The eyes reveal excitement at mom walking into the room but also reveal concern when we are troubled. Often what is not spoken out loud is expressed exquisitely in the eyes.

While a mother’s eyes will reflect the hopelessness she may feel when her baby is hospitalized they conversely reveal the joy having found that the child is healthy and fine.

Few things reflect our emotions as well or as rapidly as the eyes. Babies which are just several days old already respond to the eyes of the mother and can tell the difference between a squint and wide opened dilated eyes.

Babies can tell the difference between a happy and contented mother and one who is stressed, just form looking at the yes.

The eyes serve as conduits of information we have relied on for thousands of years. We rely on them because of their accuracy.

The man who is asked to help someone move house will cover his eyes with his fingers rubbing them as he answers, “yes I will help you,” when no doubt this will be an inconvenience. This blocking behaviour authentically reveals how he really feels, even though he will assist.

To read the full article from Psychology Today click here

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The annual data breach report issued by the Verizon Business RISK team

Here it is again, the annual data breach report issued by the Verizon Business RISK team, which is consistently so chock full of hype-slaying useful data and conclusions that it is often hard to know what not to write about, from the report.

Once again, some of the best stuff is buried deep in this year’s report and is likely to be missed in the mainstream coverage. But let’s get the headline-grabbing findings out the way first:

  • Verizon’s report on 2009 breaches for the first time includes data from the U.S. Secret Service. Yet, the report tracks a sharp decline in the total number of compromised records (143 million compromised records vs. 285 million in 2008).

  • 85 percent of records last year were compromised by organised criminal groups (this is virtually unchanged from the previous report).

  • 94 percent of compromised records were the result of breaches at companies in the financial services industry.

  • 45 percent of breaches were from external sources only, while 27 percent were solely perpetrated from the inside by trusted employees.

Among the most counter-intuitive finding in the report?
There wasn’t a single confirmed intrusion that exploited a patchable vulnerability. Rather, 85 percent of the breaches involved common configuration errors or weaknesses that led to things like SQL database injection attacks, and did not require the exploitation of a flaw that could be fixed with a software patch.

In most cases, the breaches were caused by the type of weaknesses that could be picked up by a free Web vulnerability scanner:

“Organisations exert a great deal of effort around the testing and deployment of
patches — and well they should. Vulnerability management is a critical aspect of
any security program.

However, based on evidence collected over the last six years, we have to wonder if we’re going about it in the most efficient and effective manner.

Many organisations treat patching as if it were all they had to do to be secure. We’ve observed multiple companies that were hell-bent on getting patch X deployed by week’s end but hadn’t even glanced at their log files in months.”

To read the full article click on the link: Krebs on Security

To read the full Verizon 2010 Report clcik here: Verizon Report

Open source Razorback - Attacks Malware & Zero-day exploits

Sourcefire, best known for its Snort intrusion-prevention technology, Tuesday is unveiling a new open source project called Razorback that's designed to spot malware and especially zero-day exploits.

Sourcefire says Razorback is designed with a "defense routing system" that monitors for certain traffic types, such as HTTP, Web or SMTP-based e-mail, in order to forward mirrored data to any means of security analysis system that can be plugged into it.

Security tools supporting Razorback could be either open-source or proprietary.

Razorback monitoring could be integrated directly into security gateways as well as deployed on standalone servers. A typical place to put the main Razorback monitoring component would be directly behind an antivirus filtering point, according to Sourcefire, which also shepherds the open source Clam A/V toolkit. Razorback could also work with security information and event management products.

Razorback "knows the resources in the organization that might have a specific interest in files, such as PDFs, for example," which could have malicious code embedded in them, Watchinski says. Razorback-monitored PDF files could be sent to a forensics tool that could analyze them for zero-day vulnerabilities or possible exploit code.

Razorback's "defense-routing system" is not necessarily real-time and it's not yet designed to directly block suspicious data.The underlying idea of the open source project is to set up multiple paths to simultaneously transmit any mirrored data of specific security concern onward to designated security points for analysis, output and feedback to Razorback.

On a more advanced level, these third-party Razorback-supported tools, after security analysis, could in theory assist Razorback in recommendations to take protective blocking measures or update threat determinations.

Today, Razorback has been developed to work with open source Snort and Clam A/V as well as other open source code, such as Postfix.

Sourcefire has no publicly stated intention as of yet to launch a commercial product based on Razorback. The company does say the defense sector is interested in development of the kind of defense-routing system that Razorback seeks to foster through open source.

Razorback will be licensed by Sourcefire under open source GPLv2 license. In general, Sourcefire expects the code to be available for free to users and vendors -- but if Razorback is modified with the intent to sell it as a commercial product, discussion about licensing fees can be expected.

A Glossary of Recycled Rhetoric

With all the various claims among paper manufacturers regarding the sustainability of their products, it’s hard to know what’s really going on.

We weren't sure what the definition was for “flotation de-inking” or “mill broke,” at least not until now. Thanks to a good basic glossary at What They Think, I’m now a lot better informed. Here are just a few of the definitions listed:

Deinked Market Pulp (DMP) – Pulp made from recovered paper by mills that receive high-grade deinking papers (defined below) and remove the ink and contaminants. DMP is produced in sheets as wet-lap pulp (about 50% moisture) or air-dried form and is sold to paper producers who blend it with virgin pulp for use on existing paper machines.

Deinking – The separation and removal prior to paper formation of ink and other contaminants from wastepaper slurry by screening, washing, flotation, chemical treatment and bleaching.Fiber Furnish – Recovered paper used to make paper or board with recycled content.

Flotation Deinking – In a paper recycling system, removal of ink by a process of adding surfactants to the pulp and pumping bubbles of air through the mixture. The hydrophobic ink particles attach to the air bubbles, float to the surface of the pulp and are skimmed off.

Mill Broke – Any paper or paperboard scrap generated in a mill prior to completion of the manufacturing process which is unsuitable for subsequent applications but can be re-used in the paper manufacturing process.

Many of these definitions come from a glossary developed by the Environmental Defense Fund, which also has a free Paper Calculator to help you estimate the environmental impact of your paper choices. You can find that calculator and the full glossary of terms here.

Build Business capability maps

Business capability maps provide a framework to capture, assess, and communicate these needs. These maps put technology strategies such as SOA and application consolidation in the context of the business process, functions, and capabilities they affect, as well as help enterprise architects (EA) design application and information architecture.

Capability maps are quickly becoming the core component of business architecture initiatives, however, there are no industry standard models or frameworks to guide architects in their development. Enterprise architects who embark on developing and using a capability map frequently have questions as where to start and what to include in this map.

Fortunately, Forrester has talked with dozens of consulting companies and business architects about how they construct and use capability maps. From these discussions, we have developed a six-step process that provides the foundation to successfully build and apply capability maps.

Step 1: Identify the Business-IT Alignment Issues

Interview stakeholders individually to get as many perspectives as possible. Start with IT stakeholders and use the results of those interviews to refine the interview process before moving on to the business stakeholders.

Later, analyze the interview data for response patterns and themes that would indicate common problem areas. Validate these findings with stakeholders to ensure that the identified problems accurately reflect their concerns and interests.

Step 2: Define Your Approach

Create a current-state view that is a composite of the issues defined in step 1, as well as a future-state composite view that describes how business and IT interactions will look after implementing a capability map approach.

Then use the current and future-state views to map alignment issues to solution options and focus on the issues that can be best resolved or significantly improved using a capability map approach to guide decision-making. In addition, you'll need to carefully select the roles needed to make the initiative successful and identify all resources, including internal and external consultants.

Step 3: Develop the Business Case

Begin by making a staffing ramp model that shows the amount of time each resource will need to apply to the initiative and when each player needs to engage. Develop mitigation approaches for challenges the team will tackle, and note those that will need stakeholder support to overcome.

You'll also need to determine what tools and technologies you should be using to increase effectiveness. A typical toolbox might include modeling tools, mind-mapping tools, collaboration tools, and a document repository. Finally, develop a cost estimate that includes when the funding will be needed.

The key to making a great pitch to your stakeholders is practice, practice, practice. Remember to be clear, concise and confident as you present the road map, resource list, challenges, and funding request. The goal is to get the project totally funded, but if you can't — get as much as you can. Promoting and selling often need to continue long after funding is approved in order to ensure that everyone remains committed to the outcome.

Step 4: Build the Capability Map

The organizing principles most typically found in capability maps are value streams, business functions, and services to clients. Pick the method that is most aligned to business thinking. Once the method is established, the capability framework can be defined.

Next, pick one area of the framework to focus on in order to validate that the structure is at the right level. Select a single organizing element to begin with based on business complexity and the level of engagement expected from the business participants. Identify the capabilities for that element and add details.

Typical details include capability description (usually a paragraph or two), people, process, technology, information, business goals, metrics, and gaps. Repeat across all of the organizing elements. At the end of this step, you should have a very clear capability map documented, validated, and ready to apply to the business-IT alignment issues identified.

Step 5: Apply the Capability Map to Identified Problems

There are numerous ways in which capability maps can be applied to a wide array of problems. For example, Business and IT planners can create a capability map view to help focus investment decisions on the most effective areas. You would begin by identifying the core capabilities that provide significant market differentiation and competitive leadership.

Overlay this map with a performance analysis of those core capabilities. The resulting map illuminates where capabilities need additional investment. Alternatively, some organizations apply capability maps to project portfolio management, while others use them to identify efficiency problems.

Step 6: Assess Progress and Refine the Approach

Step back and take a critical look at the work to date, so that you can make course corrections as needed. Re-examine interim deliverables, recognize unforeseen issues that affected progress, and estimate how future events might slow or accelerate progress.

Determine overall impact by documenting both quantitative and anecdotal evidence, identifying where capability maps have added bottom-line value, and gathering data through stakeholder interviews. By this point, the BA team should have a clear understanding of where additional value lies and whether enough has been accomplished to bring the initiative to a close.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Are we being asked to work too many hours

How language changes the way we see the world

Do English, Indonesian, Russian and Turkish speakers end up attending to, understanding, and remembering their experiences differently simply because they speak different languages?

These questions touch on all the major controversies in the study of mind, with important implications for politics, law and religion. Yet very little empirical work had been done on these questions until recently.

The idea that language might shape thought was for a long time considered untestable at best and more often simply crazy and wrong. Now, a flurry of new cognitive science research is showing that in fact, language does profoundly influence how we see the world.

The question of whether languages shape the way we think goes back centuries; Charlemagne proclaimed that "to have a second language is to have a second soul." But the idea went out of favor with scientists when Noam Chomsky's theories of language gained popularity in the 1960s and '70s.

Dr. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages—essentially, that languages don't really differ from one another in significant ways. And because languages didn't differ from one another, the theory went, it made no sense to ask whether linguistic differences led to differences in thinking.

The search for linguistic universals yielded interesting data on languages, but after decades of work, not a single proposed universal has withstood scrutiny.

Instead, as linguists probed deeper into the world's languages (7,000 or so, only a fraction of them analyzed), innumerable unpredictable differences emerged.

Of course, just because people talk differently doesn't necessarily mean they think differently. In the past decade, cognitive scientists have begun to measure not just how people talk, but also how they think, asking whether our understanding of even such fundamental domains of experience as space, time and causality could be constructed by language.

Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.

Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.

The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favour of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.

In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why?

In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase
broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

To read the full article got to this link The Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 23, 2010

ESA Image: Blue Green Algae bloom in the Baltic

An ESA picture shows a satellite view of a blue-green algae bloom the size of Germany, in the BalticPicture: ESA / EPA

Phishing in the Cloud - The game that never ends

A new attack has been uncovered using a phishing kit that has an indestructible infrastructure due to its residence in the cloud.

In the majority of phishing schemes when the main server is taken down the main collection point is also removed, but with this kit the data collection space is hosted separately from the phishing websites, Imperva discovered.

Once a server is taken out, all hackers need to do with the cloud-based kit is to re-post the web front end in a new location.

Imperva explained this case is also interesting for its provenance and operation.

Created by two “master hackers”, the phishing kit was posted on hacker forums. Those who used the kit then became part of the master hackers’ “army”, meaning all the data they acquired went back to the creators, who did not have to put in the hours implementing the attack.

"To some extent this is malware-as-a-service," Shulman said, adding that the attack shows how hackers prefer to abuse the technologies that people are widely using - in this case the cloud.

“This is definitely showing a shift from the normal phishing models that we have seen so far.” Shulman said.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

India: Preparing for a Demographic Dividend

Demographics are destiny. Countries with a large and expanding workforce and relatively few people of dependent age (under 15 or over 64) can reap what Harvard School of Public Health demographer David Bloom has called a “demographic dividend.” Young, unencumbered workers spur entrepreneurship and innovation, enabling significant gains in productivity, savings, and capital inflows.

As fresh ideas flourish, governments can focus on improving infrastructure and helping to fund such critical technologies as intelligent transportation systems, smart utility grids, and renewable energy. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the demographic dividend can increase a country’s GDP growth by as much as a third.

No country is better poised to take advantage of the demographic dividend than India. In 2020, the average age in India will be only 29 years, compared with 37 in China and the United States, 45 in western Europe, and 48 in Japan.

Moreover, 70 percent of Indians will be of working age in 2025, up from 61 percent now. Also by 2025, the proportion of children younger than 15 will fall to 23 percent of India’s total population, from 34 percent today, while the share of people older than 65 will remain around just 5 percent.

China’s demographics are not as rosy as India’s, because the government’s policies to limit population growth will have created an abnormally large cohort of people over age 60 by 2040.

Other emerging nations, such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and certain countries in Latin America and Africa, will produce much larger workforces in the coming years. But their demographic dividends may be inhibited by political and social instability that impedes efforts to put this young population to productive use; a country with massive numbers of unemployed young people and no constructive economic outlet for their dynamism is headed for trouble.

To read the full article follow the link: Preparing for a Demographic Dividend

Business Transformation: It Makes Sense to Adjust

Each company’s strategy for approaching transformation falls into one of three categories. These categories in turn determine the level of transformation — the timing and the magnitude — that the company can support.

1. Reactive. This is the default transformation strategy; it is minimal, and has become second nature to most seasoned executives. A change in circumstances provokes a short-term response, generally an abrupt shift that requires little cross-company coordination or follow-up. In fact, this strategy is an essential management tool when only incremental change from the status quo is required.

However, it is also the most limited and unsustainable. Problems arise when executives try to apply this approach to situations that call for more sweeping and highly detailed transformation. Too often, executives rely on the reactive techniques they know well, even when the situation begs for a more structured, thoughtful plan that will yield more lasting change.

2. Programmatic. This strategy is more comprehensive and is appropriate when major change is required and a company has sufficient lead time. In such circumstances, the company launches a widespread change initiative across the lines of business that are most affected. A cross-functional program office is set up, tactics are identified, milestones are established, executives are assigned to oversight, a communications program is launched, and progress is tracked.

These programs can be effective in dealing with a contained event or threat, such as a new competitor or a new product from a rival, and their potential reward is greater than that of the reactive approach because they are more forward-looking. But as the name of this category implies, the transformation is a program — a systematic, planned sequence of activities designed to achieve specific goals within a specific period of time — and, thus, the outcome takes longer than a reactive transformation.

3. Sense-and-adjust. This is the most long-term and sustainable strategy, but only a few companies have successfully implemented it. Unlike the first two approaches, sense-and-adjust is dynamic, constantly and consistently smoothing out volatility in areas of business subject to swift and dramatic change, such as research and development or frontline operations like manufacturing and logistics.

Sensing is an ongoing effort to gather and analyze data on current and future business conditions and, more important, translate it into likely outcomes. The sensing process should leverage baseline planning information — what’s captured in strategic and operating plans — and synthesize it with key performance data to form a single “dashboard” of actionable information that can be used by business unit heads or corporate leaders in functions like IT, HR, or marketing.

Adjusting is the process of altering business strategies on the basis of sensed outcomes. In this phase, which is done in tandem with sensing, business unit or department heads assess the data to determine possible resource and capability trade-offs. They explore the impact on people, processes, and technology, and then develop a consensus on the plan that is most appropriate for building or maintaining competitive position.

In the case of an unexplained drop in unit prices, the adjustment may be an emphasis on marketing, innovation, or layoffs. And if a company has learned that it could outpace its rivals by implementing a GPS system, a slate of new training programs that teach employees how to use the technology may be just as important as purchasing the equipment itself.

To read the full article go to:- Strategy+Business: It Makes Sense to Adjust

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Banking and the Moral Dilemma

As Wall Street and the major European banks — led by the newly notorious Goldman Sachs — report record quarterly results and record bonus accruals, the public and policymakers have grown increasingly frustrated.

Their outrage stems from incredulity. How could institutions saved by the taxpayer 18 short months ago possibly be paying out staggering bonuses now, to the very people who caused the crisis? Moreover, how did these institutions come to make so much money in the first place?

In parallel to this outrage is the growing realization that a globally coordinated approach to bank regulation is unlikely. As a result, governments and regulators will be restricted in their ability to address some of the core issues because of jurisdictional arbitrage, and may be viewed as taking insufficient action to “do something about the banks.”

Perhaps as a consequence, the authorities have adopted an increasingly retaliatory posture. This includes some extraordinary actions, such as the pursuit by the SEC in April 2010 of Goldman on fraud charges in the U.S., unthinkable only a few months ago.

More generally, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic are looking at punitive new tax measures. The bankers have responded with the increasingly defiant claim that they are victims of the war for talent, merely doing what it takes to ensure they have the best people to do “God’s work.”

Meanwhile, still unanswered is the most critical question: Why did the system go out of control in the first place? Most bankers surely understood that taking such unprecedented risks might result in catastrophic institutional failure and enormous loss of personal wealth.

Why wasn’t that enough to keep them from taking the course they did? If global policymakers better understood the answer to that question, they would be able to take much more effective measures.

The real answers to these questions have less to do with villainy or lax supervision than with inherent moral hazard. Addressing this hazard would be the right reason for political leaders and the boards of banks in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere to be interested in bankers’ compensation.

Today, the urgent question that remains unanswered is whether the proposals that are moving ahead will address moral hazard adequately and thus prevent another systemic crisis.

There is clearly a mismatch between the traders’ interests and those of the bank’s shareholders and the taxpayers who are the underwriters of the state’s implicit guarantee of these institutions.

The solution may lie, not in aggregate, rules-based regulations but in a reassessment, within each bank, of how the “triangle” principle should be applied; that is, how to interweave the ways risk is taken, people are paid, and capital is allocated, and hence the share of profits that goes to insurance, to compensation, and to shareholders’ accounts.

Instead of shifting the burden of judgment to Solomonic regulators, this approach would better harmonize individual and institutional incentives. When bankers have reason to pay attention to the true economics of their trades, they will make better trades.

By aligning incentives for traders with the long-term stability of the institution, the interests of long-term investors and the system at large are also likely to be better looked after.

To read the full article click here

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Short Introduction to Co-working and the Cloud

A co-working facility is an open office environment shared by multiple freelancers and SME companies or company representatives. A collaborative group of connected individuals.

These facilities are often much less expensive to rent and maintain than traditional office space because of the flexibility of 'office hours', and they can closer to participants’ homes.

Co-working spaces are still in their infancy in many locations but they are very popular, economic and very efficient. Therefore, they have to be considered as a viable option in these troubled times.

research proposes that there are only about 70 such 'co-working' locations in the world, sprinkled throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America. But their potential contribution to growth and recovery is greater than these numbers might suggest.

Just as cloud computing represents a more nimble and spontaneous, multi-sourced data environment that may augur the next new thing in technology, 'co-working' sites are the seeds of a less restrained and possibly more creative “cloud office” environment of the future.

Co-working cannot and does not provide a single solution to multiple organisational problems but could be a contributory factor in the examination of effective flexible working practices in difficult and dynamic market exposures.

Here is an indicative list of some problems to be considered and addressed.
  • the space demands of flexible, multi-geographical workforces;
  • the costs of permanent offices;
  • the potential inconvenience of working at home, especially for employees with children and dependants;
  • the inexperience that many employees have with alliances and joint ventures, which are natural outgrowths of shared space;
  • the energy waste and carbon footprint inherent in a commuting population;
  • and the sheer waste of time, resources, human capability, and energy spent moving people back and forth across a metropolitan area, only to have them on the phone or reading e-mail most of the day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Crisis of Capitalism Animated

The Crisis of Capitalism Animated Open Culture

The economic/financial picture is looking ugly once again. Indeed, just yesterday, the most emailed New York Times article warned that the stock market might be on the verge of an epic crash, one that will bring the Dow below 1,000.

So how did we wind up in this global credit mess? We’ve heard various explanations, most assuming that our capitalist system didn’t quite function as it should, and that a few regulations will take care of the problem. But this is not the position taken by David Harvey, an important social theorist and geographer (now at CUNY).

Drawing on Marxian analysis (it’s still alive and well somewhere), Harvey suggests that the crisis is built into capitalism itself. It’s not the result of too few regulations. Rather it’s part of capitalism’s internal logic. (Mark Mancall, an emeritus Stanford history prof, echoes some of these basic thoughts on “Entitled Opinions” by the way.)

The animated video above is an outtake from a longer lecture presented by Harvey at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in the UK. You can watch the video in full here.

A Dark Secret : The brain of a psychopath

A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret : NPR

"Here is a brain that's not normal," he says. There are patches of yellow and red. Then he points to another section of the brain, in the front part of the brain, just behind the eyes.

"Look at that — there's almost nothing here," Fallon says.

This is the orbital cortex, the area that Fallon and other scientists believe is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control.

"People with low activity [in the orbital cortex] are either free-wheeling types or sociopaths," he says.

The brain of a psychopath. "This is the area of the brain that drives your id-type behaviours, which is rage, violence, eating, sex, drinking."
Fallon's brain scan
Courtesy of Jim Fallon

Fallon's brain (pictured) has dark patches in the orbital cortex, the area just behind the eyes. This is the area that Fallon and other scientists say is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control. The normal scan on the left is his son's.

Fallon says nobody in his family has real problems with those behaviors. But he wanted to be sure. Conveniently, he had everything he needed: Previously, he had persuaded 10 of his close relatives to submit to a PET brain scan and give a blood sample as part of a project to see whether his family had a risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

After learning his violent family history, he examined the images and compared them with the brains of psychopaths. His wife's scan was normal. His mother: normal. His siblings: normal. His children: normal.

"And I took a look at my own PET scan and saw something disturbing that I did not talk about," he says.

What he didn't want to reveal was that his orbital cortex looks inactive.

"If you look at the PET scan, I look just like one of those killers."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sun Tzu and Information Security

InfoSec and Sun Tzu

"The (Sun Tzu) Art of War teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."

"Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle."

Sun Tzu - The Art of War

"Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military general and strategist who is traditionally believed to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy considered to be a prime example of Taoist thinking."

Tzu's treatise on strategy, "The Art of War" is available in all shapes and sizes, translated by dozens of scholars. Further, it has been translated or adapted to be made relevant to all walks of life including managerial strategy, achieving life goals, spirituality, writing and more.

Given the writing deals more with the mindset, logistics and strategy of war, it is possible to apply many of its concepts to almost any facet of life. The book is a fascinating read and highly recommended for people of all ages, profession or culture.