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Julian Assange v The World: Part One

In the film Enemy of the State, Will Smith’s character is handed some sensitive information. He spends the rest of the movie being bugged, chased and set-up. Wikileak’s Julian Assange won’t be so lucky. He’s currently starring in Enemy of the States. Nation States. Plural. Continue reading →

Keeping a still hand: part two

In most situations, staying calm is a huge advantage. It allows you to properly assess a situation and make corresponding decisions. It anchors you to reality. Which is why people who can stay calm under pressure often make great leaders.

It’s easy to talk about staying calm. Especially from a position of hindsight or a comfy chair. Which is why sports fans across the world are slow to forgive the missed buzzer beater or crucial penalty.

To stay calm under pressure, you must train yourself, under pressure, to be calm. Anything short of that and it’s hard to predict how you’ll react to a highly pressurised situation. The reason is simple: under intense pressure performance slips. Players who swish jump shots in training, throw bricks at the buzzer, because the adrenalin rushing through their body essentially makes them malfunction.

Allen Iverson famously derided practice, but for most people practice makes all the difference. It’s impossible to completely simulate a high-pressure situation, but good practice makes certain actions and reactions automatic, which reduces errors come game time.

What does this mean for us mere mortals?

  • Do what you can to create situations in which you must perform to a high standard to achieve a specific goal
  • Meditate – it will help you recognise what calm feels like, and train your mind to control itself
  • Detach yourself from your fears and stay focused on your goal. If you find yourself losing your cool during an argument, remember that putting your point across simply and clearly is your goal
  • Don’t pay too much attention to the crowd. Whether they are for you or against you, they are usually not as calm as you should be. You can react however you want once you see the net ripple

ps: Calm doesn’t mean comatose. Don’t confuse avoidance with peace. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand, and neither should we.

You ever heard of pentatonic mind control?

Sometimes i wonder about humanity. Other times, i just sit in awe, getting all warm and fuzzy as my brain goes to sleep and something else wakes from a slumber.

Opportunity costs

Everything we get, outside the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for.

- Henry Hazlitt

Power concedes nothing without a demand

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

- Frederick Douglass

The real secret of positive thinking

While at a house party a few months back, a girl cornered me with a nice bottle of wine, and started telling me about ‘The Secret’ – a bestselling book and film . I sat and listened, sipping my wine, as the well-educated City financier explained the principles of universal attraction, without any sense of irony .

It was a treat. A true dissertation on the worst kind of magical thinking . Essentially, this chick (and many of her friends) believe that they are telekinetic, and can receive whatever they want just by hoping for it. Needless to say, i re-filled my glass and excused myself. I’d heard about voodoo before.

Continue reading →

Is human nature disgusting?

@mparks says 48 Laws of Power  = YUCK

Can’t say that i haven’t heard that reaction before. People tend to assume that any interest in human nature, strategy or power, is nefarious in some way. But these same people complain about the way that politicians manipulate and the media ‘controls’ us. They identify the symptoms, but are unwilling to understand the problem.

Some people like watching the magic trick. So do i. But i also like to understand how the trick was done. Not necessarily because i want to perform the trick, but because i’m curious.

Anyhow, so long as the Godfather is still voted the No.1 film of all-time, i don’t believe that people aren’t interested in the concepts of strategy and power. They are. They just don’t want to delve too deeply into the mind of a Don. Or a Pope. Or a President-Elect. It could shatter some of their dearly held illusions.

One of the saddest lessons of history

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

- Carl Sagan

What is the brand gap?

This is interesting stuff. Nowadays, around every corner is proof that the ongoing shift in branding, is the key to success in a web2.0 world. Personal branding is the new name of the game.

Barack Obama: Between a rock and a hard place

Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s first book – Dreams From My Father. I wonder whether his opinion has changed in any way, and whether people find the opinion offensive, accurate, or both?

I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in its simplicity, suffocating in its implications. We were always playing on the white man’s court, Ray had told me, by the white man’s rules. Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning.

In fact, you couldn’t even be sure that everything you had assumed to be an expression of your black, unfettered self – the humour, the song, the behind-the-back pass – had been freely chosen by you. At best, these things were a refuge; at worst, a trap.

Following this maddening logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat. And the final irony: should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too, a name that could cage you just as good. Paranoid. Militant. Violent. Nigger.

- Barack Obama (from "Dreams From My Father")