May 2010

Mental Tougness for Managers

by Limbic on May 26, 2010

I am enjoying the podcasts from the American Management Associations (AMA) podcast series Edgwise.

Today I listed to an interesting interview with  Dr. Graham Jones, an world expert on Mental Toughness. Well worth a listen.

What does Lebron James have in common with Warren Buffet? Whether we’re getting ready for the big game or the big meeting, we all deal with high pressure situations; it’s natural to everyone on the job and a reality of the workforce. In his new book Thriving on Pressure: Mental Toughness for Real Leaders, Dr. Graham Jones encourages us to channel that pressure and make the hard decisions.

Dr. Jones is formerly professor of Elite Performance Psychology at the University of Wales in Bangor. An author of 150 White Papers in publications on the subject of high level performance. He is the Founding Director of Lane4 Management Group Limited, which is a leading performance in consultancy that has offices in the U.S. and around the world.

Graham Jones on Mental Toughness » AMA Edgewise


I knew that Ireland’s economic woes were bad, but not quite this bad:

Ireland’s economic miracle was a mirage and it should consider leaving the Euro say two leading economists writing in The New York Times.

They also say Ireland’s real economic situation is as bad if not worse than Greece when you take multinational tax havens out of the equation.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, and Peter Boone of the London School of Economics say that “Ireland’s politicians, rather than facing up to their problems, are making things ever worse. Simply put, the Irish miracle was a mirage driven by clever use of tax-haven rules and a huge credit boom that permitted real estate prices and construction to grow quickly before declining ever more rapidly.”

They claim that “Ireland’s problems are, sadly, far deeper than the need for simple fiscal austerity.

…[R]oughly 20 percent of Irish gross domestic product is actually ‘profit transfers’ that raise little tax for Ireland and are owned by foreign companies. Since most of these profits are subject to the tax code, they are accounted for in Ireland where they are lightly taxed; they should not be counted as part of Ireland’s potential tax base. A more robust cross-country comparison would be to examine Ireland’s financial condition ignoring these transfers.

When we adjust Ireland’s figures accordingly, the situation is dire. The budget deficit was about 17.9 percent of G.N.P. in 2009, and based on European Commission data (and assuming the G.N.P.-G.D.P. gap remains the same) it will be roughly 14.6 percent in 2010 and 15.1 percent in 2011.

“There is no simple escape, but if the government hopes to avoid a sovereign default, the one overriding priority should be to stop bailing out the banks…

…“Finally, the Irish need to consider seriously whether being in the euro zone is worth the cost. The adjustment to this awful situation would be far easier outside the euro zone — even though leaving the zone might have adverse repercussions for other nations. Once again, a comprehensive program with European Union and I.M.F. support might make this the least worse option.”

From: Ireland worse than Greece, faces financial ruin, say two leading economists | Irish News | IrishCentral


The green rooftops of Copenhagen

by Limbic on May 26, 2010

Copenhagen currently has about 30 planted rooftops. In future there will be vastly more.

The City of Copenhagen’s has decreed that any new flat roof with a slope less than 30 degrees must be planted with green vegetation.

The new guidelines make the capital to the holder of the world’s most ambitious policy on green roofs.

Only Toronto in Canada is approaching the level of ambition with its requirement that all new flat roofs must partially planted.

Engineering and Environmental Mayor Bo Aamus Kjeldgaard is excited about the new green policies.

“I have the goal that the whole of Copenhagen will be much greener, and that the green roofs will give CO2 savings ‘, he said.

The plants on the roofs also insulate against cold and heat, allowing the  building to conserve energy. It should help the municipality to achieve its objective to be CO2 neutral in 2025.

Furthermore, the plants will clean urban air and act as absorbent sponges when it rains, so sewers and sewage plants will be less loaded.

It is estimated that green rooftops will grow at a rate of about 5000 square meters per year.

The new guidelines do nit require that the roofs should be accessible, it will be up to developers to decide whether they will seize the opportunity to create recreational areas with views of Copenhagen.

Today Copenhagen has about 200,000 square meters of flat roof space, but the new political initiative contains no requirement that they be planted.

The government feels it cannot compel building owners to plant green roofs, but it can educate owners to the benefits and demystify the risks.

The municipality is providing incentive funds for those who want to convert their roofs to gardens.

Creating a green roof is slightly more expensive than conventional roof solutions. It costs around 500 kroner (£50) more per square meter, equivalent to about 0.5 percent above the total construction costs – calculated for buildings above three storeys.

“For the small additional investment you get in return a roof with a double life and a building that is future proof in terms of environmental requirements”, says Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard.

The policy is being welcomed by Copenhageners, being described by Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard “crazy hip”.

From Københavns huse skal have stenurt og husløg på toppen –


Kosovo’s shame debt growing fast

by Limbic on May 23, 2010

Another day, another attack on Serbs in Kosovo, this time Serb returnees trying to resettle in their homeland.

It has been over a decade since Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo after the NATO bombing ended with UN Resolution 1244 .

In that 10 years, the International community, the Kosovo Albanian majority and the Kosovo government have completely failed the Serb, Roma and Gorani minorities in Kosovo.

These minorities have suffered multiple pogroms, ethnic cleansing, discrimination, intimidation, violent attacks, interruption of basic services and near constant abuse at the hands of ethnic Albanian politicians, criminals, paramilitaries and mobs.

It is worth reminding ourselves what Resolution
promised, especially with regard to security and rights.

Here are selections from two paragraphs  (emphasis mine):

9. Decides that the responsibilities of the international security presence to be deployed and acting in Kosovo will include:

(a) Deterring renewed hostilities, maintaining and where necessary enforcing a ceasefire, and ensuring the withdrawal and preventing the return into Kosovo of Federal and Republic military, police and paramilitary forces, except as provided in point 6 of annex 2;
(c) Establishing a secure environment in which refugees and displaced persons can return home in safety, the international civil presence can operate, a transitional administration can be established, and humanitarian aid can be delivered;
(d) Ensuring public safety and order until the international civil presence can take responsibility for this task;
(h) Ensuring the protection and freedom of movement of itself, the international civil presence, and other international organizations;

11. Decides that the main responsibilities of the international civil presence will include:

(i) Maintaining civil law and order, including establishing local police forces and meanwhile through the deployment of international police personnel to serve in Kosovo;
(j) Protecting and promoting human rights;
(k) Assuring the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo;

Most Serb, Gorani and Roma refugees cannot return home to Kosovo. Those that do are, like all minorities in Kosovo, are subject to violent attacks, intimidation and discrimination.

In addition to the violence, there is low level harassment and intimidation, ranging from having basic utilities cut off (Electricity and Mobile Phone coverage) through to more serious human rights abuses.

Minority communities do not have freedom of movement nor pubic safety. NATO troops need to camp next to Serb villages to guard then against mobs or paramilitary forces taking pot-shots at Serb villagers. Buses are stoned, landmines are laid to
obstruct returnees convoys, people are beaten up and knifed as they walk home, petrol bombs are thrown at houses, there are drive-by shootings.  

All of this has happened since the war was ostensibly over. The worst thing is that this is still going on, 10 years later, and there is very little sign that things are getting any better for the minority communities.

So whilst we acknowledge the crimes of the Milosevic regime committed a decade ago, and we must still account for that crimes of that regime, but we must hold the Kosovo Government and Kosovo Albanian people to account for what has happened and continues to happen now in their country.

The crimes of Yugoslav forces 10 years ago are not and have never been an excuse for the continuing brutal treatment of non-Albanian minorities in Kosovo.

If these Human Rights abuses continue against Kosovo minorities, we should start preparing a cell for Kosovo Prime Minister Thraci at the Hague. 

Perhaps in 10 years we will have apologetic Kosovo Albanians denouncing “the Thraci regime” and acknowledging with shame the crimes committed in their name?

The decent Albanian people of Kosovo need to speak up and act. Their country is widely seen as an absolute disaster. It is riddled with corruption, with no real economy and it is an international organised crime hotspot. Add into that gross Human rights abuses of minorities and one has to wonder: Why do Kosovo Albanians deserve help and support? It is a question being asked in capitals around the world.

Its central role in Human Trafficking alone should be enough to agitate decent people of Kosovo into a frenzy of action.  One day Human Trafficking and its attendant sex slavery, child rape, mass exploitation and murder, will be considered one of the most shameful practices in the modern era.  When the history books are written, Kosovo will be central to the that story, and like the Atlantic slave trade, it will be a badge of shame for generations. Right now you are collaborationists with a regime that tolerates slavery and human rights abuses.

So Kosovan’s, what is happening now in your country is deeply wrong and will haunt you forever. Stop pointing at the past, and what you suffered. That is no excuse. You are accumulating shame. Your history is being blighted by your crimes.  Do something about it.


Ana from Belgium, get back in touch

by Limbic on May 16, 2010

Could Ana from Belgium, who was having problems registering on the forum, please contact us via the contact form again?

A glitch stripped out your email address, so we could not write back!


Engineering Black Swans

by Limbic on May 11, 2010

Last Thursday US stock markets experienced a catastrophic 20 minute price collapse with the NASDQ losing over 1000 points.

It was originally blamed on a computer glitch, but now its looking like it was a market swoon triggered by a Hedge Fund advised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan“.

Did a Big Bet Help Trigger ‘Black Swan’ Stock Swoon? – Wall Street Journal

Creating the Improbable: Did Bet Trigger Crash? – New York Times


Serbia’s growing historical realism

by Limbic on May 11, 2010

Tim Judah has a good piece in the BBC on the recent discover of another mass grave in Serbia. He credits Serbia for its openness and willingness to face the past.

He also draws attention to the crimes commited against Serbs, including the alleged trafficking of organs cut from Serb victims of Kosovo Albanian militia.

I am delighted to see Serbia facing up to its past and aggressively dealing with war criminals. Serbian wrongdoing stopped over a decade ago, but its is still politically obstructed by refusal to own up and move on. This has allowed the ongoing crimes and human rights abuses against Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo to be ignored.

By owning up to and apologising for what the Milosevic regime did over a decade ago, Serbs can finally draw proper attention to the crimes being committed against them today. Hundreds of thousands of Serb refugees – victims of ethnic cleansing from Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia – are still homeless. Serbs in Kosovo are still suffering gross human rights violations, including intimidation, violence, harassment and discrimination.

By owning up to and prosecuting those responsible for Serbs crimes, Serbs are not only getting justice for their victims, but they are also clearing the way for justice for Serbs. The sooner Serbs crimes become “old news”, the sooner crimes against Serbs will become headline news in the future.

BBC News – Mass grave find shows Serbia slowly facing up to past

The discovery of a mass grave in Serbia, thought to contain the bodies of about 250 Kosovo Albanians, is a brutal reminder of the wars of the 1990s.

But Serbia’s readiness to publicise the find is a sign that some things have begun to change.

…In Kosovo, too, there has been little open discussion about crimes committed on the Albanian side during the conflict. Allegations that hundreds of Serbs and Albanians were murdered in Albania during and after the war by the Kosovo Liberation Army have met with blanket denials.

Among the most gruesome allegations are that some of those prisoners had their organs removed, in order to sell them, before being killed.

Albania has dismissed the claims as fiction, but the UN and non-governmental organisations are still pressing for a full investigation.

…Another hopeful sign is the vigorous debate which is now taking place between non-governmental organisations across the former Yugoslavia over the creation of what is called the RECOM initiative.

This aims to establish the facts about war crimes in order, in part, to establish a basis for reconciliation but also to prevent facts being distorted for political ends in future.


Just wanted to share some superb podcast episodes I have heard recently.

The Evolution of God – Speaking of Faith

“Robert Wright charts an intellectual path beyond the faith versus reason debate. He takes a relentlessly logical look at the history of religion, exposing its contradictions. Yet Wright also traces something “revelatory” moving through human history. In this public conversation — recorded before a live audience — we explore the story he tells, the import he sees in it for our culture, and where it has personally taken him.”

The Essential Engineer – Tech Nation

“Dr. Moira Gunn talks with Duke University professor, Henry Petroski, about his new book, The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems, where he explores science and engineering and how they must work together to address our world’s most pressing issues. From climate change to cars, natural disasters to renewable energy sources, the scientist may identify problems but it falls to the engineer to solve them.”

In Pursuit of Silence – Tech Nation

“Dr. Moira Gunn visits with author, George Prochnik, to talk about his new book, In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise, where he examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet.”

Ancient Breathing Techniques for Modern Information Workers –  Jon Udell’s Interviews with Innovators

“Linda Stone coined the phrase “continuous partial attention” and has long been concerned about the psychological effects of computers and networked information systems. Now she’s exploring the physiological effects too. In this conversation with Jon Udell, she explains what “email apnea” is, and discusses why and how we should learn to regulate our breathing when we work online.”

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Deepwater Horizon Response

by Limbic on May 8, 2010

Many people are unaware of just how dangerously destructve the Deepwater Horizon blowout is.

Most of the media are playing along with a low key story, in which BP are about to solve the problem of escaping oil with the cofferdam whilst Gulf Coast communities brace for the economic and environmental impact of the oil spill.

The Long Emergency communities (Oil peakers, collapsarians etc) are meanwhile heralding doom. They point out that we have an unprecedented engineering event – losing a well head – leading to potentially 10,000,000 gallons of oil gushing into the ocean from a hole in the earth’s crust so deep undersea that is at the very edge of human engineering capabilities.

On the Life After The Oil Crash forums there is speculation that this gusher is unstoppable and may cause unprecedented damage to the entire global oceanic ecosystem. has a grim article that reports

WMR has been informed by sources in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the Obama White House and British Petroleum (BP), which pumped $71,000 into Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign — more than John McCain or Hillary Clinton, are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP’s liability for damage caused by what can be called a “mega-disaster.”

Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP’s chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However, WMR’s federal and Gulf state sources are reporting the disaster has the real potential cost of at least $1 trillion. Critics of the deal being worked out between Obama and Hayward point out that $10 billion is a mere drop in the bucket for a trillion dollar disaster but also note that BP, if its assets were nationalized, could fetch almost a trillion dollars for compensation purposes. There is talk in some government circles, including FEMA, of the need to nationalize BP in order to compensate those who will ultimately be affected by the worst oil disaster in the history of the world.

Plans by BP to sink a 4-story containment dome over the oil gushing from a gaping chasm one kilometer below the surface of the Gulf, where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, and reports that one of the leaks has been contained is pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. Sources within these agencies say the White House has been resisting releasing any “damaging information” about the oil disaster. They add that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf.

I am dearly hoping these people are simply alarmists and/or wrong. The cofferdam has been successful lowered onto the main leak now, but it will not be operational until Sunday or Monday.

Right now the spill is comparatively small, not even as big as 1989’s Exxon Valdez spill, but it has the potential to be massively worse.

For the official version of events and regular updates, keep and eye on:

Official Deepwater Horizon Response site

Deepwater Horizon YouTude channel:



Good Breaking News Coverage from


Ecclesiastical Phallic Symbols

by Limbic on May 8, 2010

Belgrade has some fantastic fertility symbols…

Ecclesiastical phallus

This fertility symbol was pained in Dorcol recently. I suspect ecclesiastical elements were added later.

Phallic symbol detail showing church type decorations

Apparently the same artist believes that “Allah is badass”…

Allah is badass