power

Learning to be HONEST!

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For quite a few years I was a shitty person, selfish, self-centered, self-obsessed… the list could go on.

Essentially I put my needs (for needs read wants) ahead of everybody else’s, of my friends, of my girlfriends, of my work colleagues… yes everybody without exception.

My friends abandoned me, regularly, and I had to make new ones (which incidentally I became quite adept at from the amount of practice), my girlfriends dumped me but that really should be no surprise and I got sacked (but not often).

Like most people I didn’t and still dont like to hear bad things being said about me and even less so being said to me so I rationalized them, went defensive, went on the attack (more people walking away) and ignored what was being said. I thought they were wrong, they were jealous, they were just moaning, being needy and high maintenance and generally were being real pain in the derriere.

Because… I was good, I was a nice person, I had the answers, my needs were more important, I was important!!!

I didn’t get the other people have needs thing, I didn’t get the other people are important thing.

I still have relapses, but then my wife slaps (yes sometimes she really does but not hard, just hard enough) me back to reality, she keeps me grounded and enlightens me on what’s important, which quite often is not necessarily me and what I want.

I would blame everybody but me if something went wrong, but I can HONESTLY say that I’ve learnt that sometimes I do actually screw-up. Painful to admit, yes, but I do make mistakes.

I eventually realized that I was being an Ass-Hole and started to make changes. This didn’t always go well, the people around didn’t know which Philip would turn-up, which head of the day I was using and I can see why there was some confusion. But I was beginning to ignore those little demons inside my head that kept on pushing me to just get what I wanted and screw the rest, go on just this one more time, I’ll be good tomorrow. It was like a drug being selfish, being me was giving me a high and destroying my chances of ever being a fully functioning adult.

It finally dawned on me that I had to be HONEST not just with others but probably more importantly with myself. It is sometimes good to put yourself first, you are not always in the wrong. The realization journey was like a pendulum and I’d reached the edge of the opposite swing and was beating myself-up way too much. You have to stand-up and support what is the right thing to do, not just the right result but the right way of doing it.

Today I feel well adjusted, a little stressed from time to time but I guess that’s normal and importantly on the whole I’m HONEST with myself, with others and with the people I care about.

Dieudonne; A Sinister Clown

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SINISTER CLOWN

I have been following with interest and repulsion in equal measure the Dieudonne saga in France, partly because I’m obsessed with France and partly because of my innate fear of all things fascist/right-wing/nazi and following the very public goal celebration in the UK by Nicolas Anelka recently.

Dieudonne shows have been cancelled in some parts of France but not without a public outcry from some sections of the society that this is an attack on freedom of speech or freedom of expression. But I find myself thinking as one who will willingly defend the right of freedom of speech even when I fundamentally disagree with the sentiments being expressed, that actually even a bad clown can make a mistake and may even break the laws of the land. Wearing a red nose or pretending to give humor never prevented anyone from committing a crime. If a thief steels a motorcycle he has committed a crime even when he does in an amusing way.

However, Dieudonne, the sinister clown seeks to further his obnoxious views through so called humor. By going on a tour, publishing dates and venues he is being provocative and foolish. The French have not prevented his freedom of expression but have prevented public discord and a potential for civil conflict. Dieudonne is not a victim, he has not suffered a crime against humanity, he has had his talentless show which trades on scandal and abuse brought to a close in the name of public safety.

Dieudonne only speaks to those who cling onto the unintelligible thought of anti-Semites, to them his act, if indeed that is what it is, is a source of humor. He therefore only speaks to a small but nonetheless nuisance minority of people. To this day there are conferences and a vast number of books which speak of the Nazi Holocaust, a permanent stain on modern society. To think that this could be a subject for humor frankly beggars belief.

The notion that the law can impose limits on public behavior to me is something which should and must be challenged frequently. But the exploitation of crimes against humanity for the humor of a very few is not an area I would recommend to anybody as a place to challenge accepted decencies. His act is a cynical insult for his own reward. His act is one of many which seeks to raise the infamous beast of anti-Semitic thought from the ashes of hate.

It is quite amazing to me to notice that resistance of Dieudonne and his like comes from all sides, both left and right leaning thought. Of course Dieudonne argues that he provides a refuge in humor from the Zionist, he may well do this but I ask what is Zionism in 2014?

Certainly 100 years ago when the thought was to make a Jewish state the idea was simple; to provide a state that all Jews from around the world could come to where safety was guaranteed. I recognize the visionary genius of Theodor Herzl without question. However, Zionism in 2014 may look as if it is all about the West Bank and Gaza but really is this so? I think Zionism today is the same as it ever was, especially when you consider the threats from Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Hesbollah, Hammas…

If only Dieudonne could see the threats from without the ‘Zionist’ state maybe then he wouldn’t be such a sinister clown about it all.

To add to the anti-Semitic attacks which are frequent the need for humor at the expense of the dead is an insult. To do this at the expense of Holocaust dead is a crime!

Power Games

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Enron logo, designed by Paul Rand
Enron logo, designed by Paul Rand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In business you will come across and probably be the victim of those who are ruthlessly power hungry, I know I have and it ain’t pleasant I can assure you. To be honest the pursuit of power and only power in business (or more generally life as well) is not a an assured route to success; but those who practice the corporate power politics don’t know that and they will be relentless in their pursuit I promise you.

But you know the problem, you’ve got part way up the corporate greased pole only to find the further up you go the more power hungry your colleagues are. The conundrum of course is do you consolidate what you have achieved so far or do you carry on with the ever increasing risk being that you lose the lot. What ever you choose you will nonetheless have to deal with these power obsessed co-workers, so how to deal with them?

Do you ignore them, hope that they go away, that they will eventually recognize your contribution and and they’ll leave you alone? No, not a chance of that. Never be so naive as to think this will ever be the case. But should you instead go on the counter offensive? Do you turn brutal in your pursuit? Also No, you’ll need friends or at least allies along the way for the continuing journey. Instead you must remain calm under pressure, self assured of your abilities; after-all you haven’t been promoted to your position by being stupid have you? But you will have to be and remain at your best, there’s no time for an off-day believe me. And remember those who take aim at you, those who seek your power will eventually make a mistake, they will overreach themselves and you want to be prepared for the moment.

Nevertheless you may (will) be drawn into conflict at some point and I recommend:

  1. Competence in role is your defense: those most vulnerable when under attack are those who are either complacent or who don’t deliver top notch results. Say what you are going to do, do it in the time-frame agreed and in budget. Sounds simple but it isn’t.
  2. Confidence: only those who are confident in their own abilities to deliver can truly exercise power. That’s not to say that everyone who does deliver results will exercise power, just that you have got to deliver and be confident that you will before you can take power.
  3. No short-cuts (ever): Lance Armstrong, great athlete absolutely no doubt but the cheated, he took the drugs short-cut to win and then lost. He lost not a small bit though, he lost BIG on the world stage. In these cases its not the wins no matter how many that will be remembered, it’ll be the betrayal of trust. In business think of Jeff Skilling in charge of ENRON – an example of cheating on a monumental scale.
  4. The war zone becomes too dangerous: if your company has become a hunting ground for the power hungry, a power-at-any-cost environment then perhaps you should consider a new venue for your talents. When companies deteriorate to this level its often a sign that either the company is in crisis or about to fall into one!
  5. Could you be the next entrepreneur?: you’re talented, you know you are. So why continue with the red dot of a power obsessed co-worker permanently fixed on your back? You’d be making a mistake if you thought the power struggle will go away by being a start-up but you will have the rewards, all (or at least most) of them. Leaving the organisational power struggles behind might just turn out to be a better use of your time and energy.

Power, personal power, power in the work-place; this is complicated for sure. You’ll never achieve with out it but it can equally be your ruin if not used with finesse. So if you find yourself in a place that encourages the ruthless to show disrespect, the insecure to take credit, or the savagely ambitious to take the joy and meaning out of work, seize the only power that really matters: control over your attitudes, your values and the quality of the work that you do.

Who Shaped the World we live in?

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English: Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir v...
English: Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir visiting President Kennedy עברית: ראה”מ גולדה מאיר עם הנשיא קנדי בעת ביקורה בארצות הברית (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our lives have been changed dramatically by women who have contributed to the way we live. The modern female lifestyle imperative known as ‘having it all’ has become a cursed nuisance for most women; and those who appear to juggle a full-time job, childcare, most (nearly all in most cases) of the housework and a social life, while looking blissfully relaxed, tend to be viewed with suspicion rather than admiration. but it is more than fair to say that women have and will continue to have a massively dramatic influence over how we live.

So… who were the movers and shakers of the last century?

Emmeline Pankhurst

Co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement, alongside her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. In 1929, after decades of protests, women over the age of 21 were granted the right to vote. Her methods… persuasion, argument, protest and direct action (including if she felt necessary violence). We have much to thank her for.

Edith Summerskill

In 1964, progressive social reformer and qualified doctor Edith Summerskill sought a private member’s bill to enhance The Married Women’s Property Act, which entitled a woman to keep half of any savings she had made from the allowance she is given by her husband. As part of her campaigning to assure the equal rights of housewives and of divorced women, Summerskill also helped pass the Matrimonial Homes Act in 1967, which gave rights to wives to remain in their own homes after family breakdown.
Dr Marie Stopes

Scottish-born doctor and birth control pioneer Marie Carmichael Stopes (1880 – 1958), was best known for her campaigns to raise awareness about birth control and family planning. She founded the first birth control clinic in Britain and later focused on the needs of the developing world. Some might not hold with her views, and I’m thinking Roman Catholic Pope here but family planning in modern developed countries is central to government planning for spending and investment.
Barbara Castle

One of the first of women to breakthrough into mainstream British politics, from 1945 Barbara Castle spent her career passionately campaigning for change. Her achievement include the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, radically reforming pensions and bringing in child benefit as a payment to mothers rather than through the father’s pay packet.
Equal pay for equal work; still a dream in some parts of the world and remains something of a struggle in some developed nations, the UK included.

Australian feminist writer Germaine Greer transformed conversations about women’s rights, from equality to liberation. Her bestselling non-fiction book The Female Eunuch, published in 1970, sparked a debate about female sexual repression and the commodification of women’s bodies in modern society, which continues today. I have to admit that whenever I notice she’s appearing on some sort of a debate show I’ll invariably try to make sure I watch it. She’s a gem for sharp, to the point comment.

Conservative MP Margaret Thatcher became the first British female prime minister in 1979. Thatcher held her role as PM for 11 years. I do include her because she has influenced our lives but I do not feel it was in any way positive. What she did do though was achieve on her own merits but honestly give me Golda Meir any time. She was probably the first woman PM who wasn’t in position as a result of family death.
Oprah Winfrey

As the richest black woman in America and one of the most influential women in the world, Oprah Winfrey is an inspirational figure. Born to a single teenager mother, she raised herself out of poverty, and went on become a trusted voice on American television. Her confessional style of broadcasting, which encourages honesty and self-love, has helped her create a media empire, which has been invested in a multi-million dollar charitable foundation. Again not one of my personal favorites but influential nonetheless.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1991) and pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi has spent years under house arrest in her native home of Burma, as she fought against the country’s military junta. She was eventually released in 2010 and able to deliver her Nobel acceptance speech at Oslo’s City Hall in 2012. More inspiration than action at the moment but I think she will deliver on a massive scale.
Doreen Lawrence

Described by Ed Milliband as “a hero of modern Britain” Lawrence led a long campaign to find out what happened to her son, who was killed in a racially aggravated attack in 1993. Her campaign to find out the truth led to the exposure of institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police. She has now joined the House of Lords as a Labour Peer. One of my personal favorites who we could all learn from in so many ways.

In 1998, British Labour politician Mo Mowlam oversaw the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement, after nearly two years of talks and 30 years of conflict. Tenacity personified. there are countless places on the planet that could learn from her methods. I have formed the impression that Mo Mowlam, like Golda Meir simple forced through what she wanted by sheer force of character.
We all of us men, women and children live our lives in the light (or shadow in some cases) of these influential women.

1967 Borders are Defensible

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I read with some interest this morning comments made by former Mossad Head Meir Dagan who at the Presidents Conference said Israel needs to start “serious” negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in which the Arab League should be involved.  He claims Israel could pull out of the Jordan Valley; its much less important than it was in the 1990’s.

Dagan speaking on Wednesday at the Presidents Conference in Jerusalem says that Israel needs to recognize the present upheaval in the surrounding Arab States and the Middle East more generally.  There are processes taking place that will continue to develop and that nobody really knows where they are going.  But nonetheless the results will mean dramatic on-going change.

He went on to say that he believes Israel can pull back to the  Green Line (pre-1967 Borders with Jordan) and still be able to defend itself.  “The Jordan Valley had importance in 1991,” Dagan said. “At that time, there was a threat from Jordan, Syria and Iraq, but now it is of less importance.”  His view is that the withdrawal, which he proposes would form part of the peace process with the PA.

Image

Dagans comments come in contrast to statements made two weeks ago by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, who called the 1967 borders “Auschwitz Borders.”  Dagan also said that the current situation in the region provides “unique opportunity for Israel to seek different alliances” and asserted that renewing peace negotiations with the PA is necessary.

Dagan qualified his comments “I don’t like every aspect of the Arab peace initiative, but the need to negotiate is crucial,” Dagan said. “The Arab League today is less hostile to Israel. The Arab initiative should form the basis of renewing negotiations. We have more opportunities than we realize. If we don’t take initiative, the change might be imposed on us and the price will be heavy.”

However, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said Dagan was behaving irresponsibly, and that the former Mossad chief had backed the disengagement from Gaza.

As an interested outsider I think Dagan brings experience to the table and has some valid contributions.  I will continue to watch with real interest.

Franken-Food; GM Crops

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Right so I think its probably fair to say from the title of this post right from the off you can guess where I am on the GM Crop debate.

British Environment Secretary Owen Patterson is about to re-open the debate in Britain with a bias toward allowing these crops to be commercially planted, harvested and sold into the food-chain.  Paterson, who has previously expressed his backing for GM, will say that government, scientists and industry “owe a duty to the British public to reassure them that GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation” for farmers and consumers.

Well they may, off this reassurance; but frankly I DON’T BELIEVE IT IS!!!!!  I don’t believe they are anywhere near safe to be absolutely clear on the point.

Patterson will claim that there are potentially significant economic and environmental benefits to growing GM produce, including increasing yields, protecting crops from disease and reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals.  I think he might just be blinded by the initial economic benefits but this waffle about environmental benefit I really don’t know how he’s going to sell that one.

The thing with GM is that farmers are forced to buy the fertilizer and pesticides from the same company that sells them the crop seeds and that’s the economic benefit (for the Agi-Chemical business that is).  The intensity of the farming practices will deplete soil quality and structure leading inevitably to more extensive use of fertilizer and pesticides.  Its basically a way of exhausting the soils which can only lead to eventual crop failures or more likely small farm failures.  It will lead to super-farms, homogenized food stuffs, low prices, but high profit margins for the producers and sellers.

The claim is that GM will help in combating the effects of climate change (whether you think its man-made, natural or a combination of the two climate change theories).  He will further suggest that the intensity of GM will allow land to be left undeveloped for wild-life.  If you swallow that one I think they just won the argument, it ain’t gonna happen I assure you!

Patterson says Europe is “missing out” on the technology, which is now used on 12% of arable land around the world, and which globally farmers are growing, governments are licensing and consumers are buying.  “While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left behind.  “We cannot afford to let that happen.”

He will call for the UK to be at the forefront of developing GM technology.

There is just one site in the UK where GM is on trial but many of our livestock are fed on grain and foods from around the globe so GM is in the UK albeit disguised as animal feed.

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, research and science Mike Childs has said: “Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as climate change, soil degradation, water shortages and growing demand.”

BASICALLY IT DOESN’T WORK, so I’d say stop doing GM crops and concentrate on something that is worth doing.  The argument is not made, in-fact I’d go so far as to say the argument is lost.  Ask those cash crop farmers in Eastern-Africa how they fair with the Agri-Chemical Businesses.

My bet is the story goes along the lines of:

  1. Had to stop growing real food for local consumption
  2. Got a big cash pay-out up-front (this is the bribe bit really)
  3. Started growing GM cash crops – it was okay to start with
  4. Then had to get fertilizer and pesticides but could only get them from the Agri-Chemical supplier
  5. Fertilizer and pesticides are really expensive
  6. Commodity values of my cash crop have dropped so I don’t get paid what I used to
  7. I sold my land to survive and now I rent the land I used to own
  8. I’m now poorer than ever, my neighbors are starving and cannot afford the imported food prices they now have to pay

Can I suggest that we drop the idea of GM, go back to farming real food locally and feeding the people that live in our nation with good honest food.  The government could help by encouraging the unemployed to learn how to grow food, tax could be reconfigured to make home-grown food more advantageous to buy.  Link these ideas up with other government initiatives and we begin on the route to self-sustainable food supply.

The planet benefits from not being quite so stressed.

People benefit from good, healthy, fresh, affordable food.

The unemployed benefit from having something to learn, do and earn from.

This might sound a bit like a Kibbutz attitude but heck it could work you know.