Racial relations are moving backwards according to a recent Pew survey. I thought they have too, from my own perspective.
I will get to the reasons why; but I have heard names for Obama, that I thought were antiquated and never to be heard again in mixed company.
From my perspective, the following are the reasons why, the election of our first African American president has made the country more prejudiced -
1. White Thinking. I grew up in a diverse city. I was too young to have seen race riots. But I knew there were plenty of white people cognizant of color. White thinking was fine, when a lifting tide, allowed white and African Americans to better prosper; as long as the white's boat remained higher than its opposite color.
2. Obama during the Great Recession. While the tide's height has dropped down and out; the juxtaposition of disenfranchised whites with an African American president - with the most power in the country - has erased the "white thinking" social compact.
3. The Economy. The longer a disenfranchised white is unemployed, underemployed or treading water; the more anger is directed at Obama. This would be true of any president. But an African American? Doubly the case.
How can anybody forget Obama becoming elected and speaking in Grant Park in November of 2008? But the people who came out in throngs were not disenfranchised whites.
We know there are plenty of whites that are not prejudiced because they showed up and voted for Obama for two terms.
But the other group of whites, that can't accept the complexities of a changing economy, seeing a man of color who does, unfortunately can't help themselves using antiquated names for Obama in mixed company.
The first African American president during a Great Recession was bound to bring out the worst in people. Perhaps a thriving economy and Obama exiting, will paradoxically lead to better race relations.
September 15, 2014
ISIS is a symptom; not the problem. The problem is two-failed states. And Shia/Sunni sectarianism. Iraq is on us. Syria is on Assad. But foreign policy must be set nonetheless.
Any military action we take, has to have a tribal head sponsoring it and providing ISIS intelligence, down to every single airstrike. In Iraq: Baghdad, Kurdistan, Shia and Sunni tribes. If not, for every airstrike, the collateral damage will be on us. And radicalize a next generation.
The problem with the best of theories, including my own; is it is not going to work.
This is a political problem not a military problem. And NO ONE has ever been successful in the Middle East. Tribalism, sectarianism and graft/corruption have left many a diplomat realizing "the ME is where careers go to die".
The only political solution that can work, is politically near-impossible. And it is this: 1) get a map out, 2) except for Israel, look at the size and stability of Iran and Saudi Arabia, 3) signal to Iran and Saudi Arabia either carve up and bring order to the remaining areas; either by diplomacy (World War I partitioning) and/or fighting it out themselves.
Don't like the idea? Don't find the lack of retribution in the idea? Concerned that all the small states between Iran and Saudi Arabia will have to live within two repressive regimes. Well we all have these concerns.
But the alternative will not work, the region will become more factionalized, the US more-hated and lead to more systemic radicalization
Let Iran and Saudi Arabia own the problem, instead of them sitting on the sidelines. A signal from the US that we are not going to lift a finger, will force both nations, to fix the problem or it will become a risk to their own regimes. They know the tribal nature of the region and they know that sectarianism is going to destroy their backyards and climb over their fences.
And they both know, that sans American involvement, the clash of Sunni (Saudi Arabia) and Shia (Iran) is not an if, but a when.
September 14, 2014
Ray Rice's domestic violence. Adrian Peterson turned himself into jail for injuring a child. An actuarial study saying that 30% of retired NFL players will experience brain problems.
And that's just what's in the newspaper today.
The game of professional football continues to get more violent. A minority of it's players continue to get arrested for violence on their off-hours. Fines and game suspensions are continually meted out. The media continue to decry a league that behaves in a matter that is not sustainable.
But the NFL is more popular that ever. Broadcasting revenues continue to climb. The worth of the average team is now around $1 billion. If people are not huddled around a Sunday NFL game; they continue to pour more of themselves into fantasy leagues.
At the end of the day, all people care about, is did their NFL team win. Did their fantasy players perform. Off the field problems are viewed more as a "risk"; than a moral outrage.
Many have called the NFL, "America's New Pastime", replacing baseball.
Just listen to the lexicon of each sport which was immortalized by George Carlin. Baseball is played in a park; football in a stadium. Error vs penalty. Sacrifice vs hitting. 7th inning stretch vs two minute warning. Extra innings vs sudden death. The object of being "safe" vs "the field general hitting his receivers despite the blitz in a shotgun to reach deep into enemy territory".
And perhaps the most telling. Baseball players wear caps and football players wear helmets. We can see what baseball players look like when competing. In football the players are faceless gladiators.
The NFL is America's favorite sport. So it delivers what we want. It's players deliver what we want. While at the same time delivering what we are unwilling to do.
Baseball is a game based on a shared reality. Football is a game of virtual avatars. Watching baseball is a way of passing time. Football is a three-hour oasis in our hectic lives where the time passes too quickly.
Stop looking at the NFL as a source of evil. Instead begin to look at it as reflection of ourselves in the mirror.
September 13, 2014
It's amazing that people still rely on rhetoric as opposed to visualization to be persuasive.
ISIS/ISIL, Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Assad, Iraq, Syria, "Good Rebels", Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan .... the issues are rhetorically difficult to comprehend.
What is not difficult to comprehend is the importance of water in a desert. What is not difficult to comprehend is how the Tigris–Euphrates river system resonates with everyone from the bible.
Don't call this a war on terror. Make it more sticky.
"Eliminate ISIS From The Garden Of Eve By Dying A Death Of Thirst".
You want to find ISIS. Good luck. The above map shows (the red dots) the areas being contested. Almost all of them are within the Tigris–Euphrates river system. From Syria to Iraq.
Let's take Iraq today. It's because it is the easier of the two to explain.
There are 20,000 ISIS Sunni soldiers. There are hundreds of thousand Iraqi soldiers. And there are 31 million Sunni's in Iraq.
The only way to to strike ISIS is through intelligence on the ground around water. Give every Sunni tribe in Iraq $10 per Sunni. Or $310 million. Assuming the tribal hierarchy still exists - which it surely does - that's a lot of money for a Sunni tribal leader to organize (and profit from and help their tribe) intelligence for air strikes.
The problem with an air strike strategy is collateral damage. Collateral damage is an nice euphemism for killing innocent men, women and children. And collateral damage further inflames radicalism. Or a nice euphemism for anti-American resentment.
By making the Sunni tribes invested in the ground intelligence game - by using the coercion of money - collateral damage is lessened. And any collateral damage is a shared negative mark on both the US and the tribe's goodwill balance sheet.
Its not like this is a brand new plan. This was how the US defeated al Qaeda in Iraq under the Bush administration. And regardless of the president's speech; this is the likely plan the military has recommended.
September 12, 2014
Up until President Obama's speech last night; the president seemed to be groping for the right words and responses.
I don't think it's because he didn't have a plan; I think it's because (a) the threat of ISIS has been exaggerated amidst political football and (b) two Americans were beheaded.
ISIS are bad people and are more sophisticated and better funded than al Qaeda. But as a military? They have captured land, only because they were in two failed states. When then US attacked them at the Mosul Dam what did they do? They ran for their lives.
And you have to question the decision to behead two Americans and blasting it all over the web. The US has always had a policy of hunting down these kind of people and killing them. Maybe months. Maybe years. But a certainty. Just ask Osama Bin Laden.
I think before the beheadings; Obama saw ISIS as less the problem, than the two failed states of Iraq and Syria. JV team? Within the context of US military power. Contain? Within the context of a mess of Assad, Baghdad's dysfunction, dissatisfied disenfranchised Sunnis and ISIS.
Unlike the Iraq War in 2003; the beheadings galvanized the country for revenge. Over 70% of American's are out for blood according to recent polling. What kind of strategy? The public doesn't know.
So Obama has had to rollback "JV team", "contain", and give a speech treating ISIS as serious as the public and both political parties wanted him to.
While at the same time, not really divulge a plan, because he understands that ISIS is only one of the many problems in Syria and Iraq. Sure there will be more military strikes. But I don't think his plan has changed. The problem is a matter of fixing failed states. ISIS is just a symptom of this problem.
Whatever happens now, history will remember, that politics and ISIS drove the US back into the Middle East. The political parties wanted it because "we" wanted it. I hope are emotions were well-placed. Because how history unfolds now is on us.
September 11, 2014
First a few words on the iPhone 6.
It is "incremental" vs. revolutionary and in the business world of mobile computing (I recently sold my company and we sold mobile computing and devices) the ENTIRE market has demanded Android as the operating system of choice.
That's largely because Apple's products require their operating system and their devices; while Android's operating system can be put on any device (different vertical markets and their supply chains require different sizes and durability). Take the NFL. They are using mobile computing on the sideline. An Apple device wouldn't work because of sunlight glare; but a specialized device to eliminate glare could. And a specialized device means using Android or Microsoft Surface (they are using the latter) as the operating system.
Also I have children, and they prefer Android phones. Probably because they see their parents using iPhones. That's just the timeless nature of children rejecting the status quo of their parents.
Watching Time Pass With Apple
Wearable technology has been marketed since the early 2000's with little success. A watch and fashion go together. It's hip to have a smart phone or tablet. But whether it is hip to wear an iWatch is a big question. The argument against an iWatch, is the wearer tends to look like a geek.
Then there is the fact that the current generation has never worn a watch. Their "clock" is on their smart phone.
Finally, Apple's iWatch requires an iPhone. So the iWatch is a $349 dumb terminal on a wrist. So if you are going to wear it, you are going to have to lug a bulky second device (an iPhone) around.
If there is anything that will work, from Apple's big announcements yesterday, it is their payment system. There is a need for a more secure payment system.
Don't get me wrong. Apple will make money from the new products announced yesterday. The Apple groupies are going to buy the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.
But it does start to make one wonder, if after the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and now the iWatch, when does the list of new products for Apple, reach diminishing returns.
In closing, I believe we are seeing the "time" pass with Apple. Literally. Mobile computing isn't a market for Apple. The new generation is coalescing on Android and they don't wear watches. And the iWatch isn't going to be as much a breakthrough product as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
September 10, 2014
President Obama is set to address the US public tomorrow night on ISIS.
Everyone expects the US to lead on the international stage. And I believe that burden should fall upon us. Especially because US military spending - not a criticism but a matter of economic might - is higher than all other nations combined.
But such an exercise in arithmetic; assumes that all other nation's national defense spending is fixed. I have posted numerous times, on the inherent weakness of the Eurozone. But I haven't spent the right amount of time on the inherent weakness of the European Union. Or more preciously on a united Europe.
ISIS and Russia are more of a threat to Europe than the US. Does that mean the US shouldn't lead? No. But it does mean that Europe is a larger stakeholder and must do its share to organize, unify and appropriate money and strategy for its own survival.
There maybe up to a hundred US citizens going on "jihadist vacations"; but there are many thousands of Europeans doing the same. These "backpackers" can easily slip into Syria and Iraq and return back to Europe.
Such a European "backpacker", according to his victims and his prosecutors, is 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche. On May 24, the young Frenchman allegedly walked into a Jewish museum in Brussels and killed four people. Before that he allegedly worked as a torturer for ISIS.
If ISIS is a clear and present danger to the US; than it must be said that ISIS is a clear and present danger already in Europe.
Then there is Russia. While the focus has been on Ukraine; less is written about the danger of Russia destabilizing the social and economic fabric of Europe. Europe depends on Russia for imported oil and natural gas; but it also depends on Russia buying their exports.
Again the US needs to help lead. But in the end, Europe is the largest stakeholder of a more dangerous Russia. And Europe's balkanization makes it difficult to increase their own defense spending and unify with economic sanctions.
Defence spending and economic sanctions, in a non-unified Europe, are almost impossible, due to fiscal austerity and the hardship it would face to their own economies.
Europe has always recognized a need to form a united political and economic state in order to survive. Three events in the 20th century lead to the formation of an attempt for such a state in 1999: World War I, World War II and the end of the Cold War.
But the original goals, without political, fiscal and legal central control, make it more a club than a United States of Europe.
Be it ISIS or Russia or the rise of China; a collection of small countries, even with the best of intentions to organize, can't survive indefinitely. That was the lesson after both world wars. A lesson Europe well understood in 1999 and a lesson they well understand today.
But internalizing lessons is different than action. And it's not just time for action from America. But for the sake of my beloved Europe, it's time for action by its people and it citizens.
The Scottish referendum - whether it passes or not - provides a sobering juxtaposition in these critical times.
September 9, 2014
Without dwelling on the obvious - the Scot's decision for a referendum is more driven by culture than by economics - a shared currency is a bad idea. The euro is exhibit A. But the explanation needs to be expanded.
The ECB is not the FED. Any debt must be owned by euro banks. And German banks bear the brunt of it. Or more preciously they control it.
Germany is an export-driven economy. A weak euro artificially lowers the export price of its goods and thus drives higher demand than Germany would using its own currency. If German banks - by issuing more debt - don't control weaker nations spending, interest rates would have to rise and the euro would have to rise. Germany is not going to let that happen.
If the PIGS countries would have exited the Eurozone - after the 2008 financial crisis - they would have been able to control their own monetary and fiscal policy for the last six years and would have bounced back by now. They would have already restructured their euro debt, devalued their currency, and seen exports and tourism revenues increase.
Within the Scot's decision for independence, substitute Germany, with England. And by looking at the euro as an analog; they would face the same hardships and future need to exit the shared currency as the PIGS should have.
The lesson of the euro, is the largest country ends up controlling the currency and neuters member nations fiscal policy. Independence only leads to the choice of a flag and the burden of national defense. And a depressed economy.
A fools folly if there ever was one.
September 8, 2014
Why the world "my"? Because I don't know how people make decisions without building models of how the world worked in the past and how the world works today and into the future.
So I now have a New Model Of Order and Disorder.
1. Stage 1 - Disorder. Families and tribes spending all of their time meeting their survival needs: food, water and security.
2. Stage 2 - Order. Tribes, states and nations that take care of Stage 1 survival needs in order to pursue higher forms of needs (learning, love, commerce, and acquiring things) in exchange for more and more complex control over people.
3. Stage 3 - Order Temporarily Disrupted. Revolution when the compact of Stage 2 tilts too far in favor of the control of people. Or when it relatively is too weak - relative to another tribe, state or nation - and it is attacked. In either case the order is temporarily disrupted and is restored often by morphing into another system of control over people.
4. Stage 4 - New - Order Permanently Disrupted And Disorder Is The End Result. We are now early entering into the age of "individualism" brought on by the internet and social media. Counter-intuitively the better the Stage 2 compact; the more people are free to pursue the last hierarchy of need: self-actualization. The current generation of young people are the first humans to pursue individualism with all of their needs being taken care of. The most modest of disorder comes from the college graduate who sits in their room and interacts with other human beings around the world (be it playing games, chat rooms or the alternative virtual structures of temporary clubs) leading to them becoming non-productive members of a Stage 2 society. And at its most severe, when they realize the repercussions of being a non-productive member of a Stage 2 society, they are drawn to realizing in body, the avatars they play online. Disrupting society by becoming terrorist "backpackers" in foreign lands and bringing their new selves back into their own societies.
What happens after Stage 2 societies descend into the disorder of Stage 4 societies? An eventual return to Stage 2 societies where the compact has to be skewed towards central control over everyone. Which then leads to, most likely, Stage 3 enough times until it morphs into a balanced compact. Only to lead to again to Stage 4 being inevitable.
This may sound like a fatalistic view of a new model of order. But it is a rational one. Which means it could happen. And like other tectonic shifts in human history; it would totally surprise anyone that rejects this new model, hat out of hand.
September 7, 2014
Apple mania amongst consumers is at a fever pitch.
Normally the stock is traded up before the "news" and sold off after the "news".
But on September the 2nd, Apple dropped from $103 to $98 per share. Why?
Because it pre-released its new operating system - IOS 8 - three months ago and investors started to focus on it a week before the "news".
This is the top-ranked YouTube video on IOS 8.
If you take a few minutes and watch the video ... you will see how un-revolutionary the changes are. Its actually embarrassing.
Apple - for years - is a cheap stock based on P-E ratios of other stocks.
What does this mean? Don't buy the stock. But don't short the stock. The market has already factored in that the rabid-Apple club will buy the new iPhone regardless.
September 6, 2014