What is resilience?

Interesting look at What is resilience from Andy Summer.

In short – global shocks in economics, food security and fuel prices, together with chronic stressors relating to demographic pressure, climate change and resource scarcity – aka ‘the long crisis of globalisation’ or the ‘perfect storm’ of problems – are combining to produce complex, shifting configurations of vulnerability as experienced by households and communities. And all of this is leading to more interest in the ideas of resilience.

From  What is resilience? – Global Dashboard:

Serb mercenraries trapped in Libya

From Balkan mercenaries in Libya risk lives for gain (SETimes.com)

Ever since turmoil erupted in February, there have been reports of Balkan mercenaries in the north African country. Media reports last week claimed that rebel fighters executed a large group of fighters-for-hire in the city of Misrata, including nine Croats, 12 Serbs and an unknown number of Bosniaks.

That story remains unconfirmed, and details about the overall number of Balkan mercenaries active in the country are hard to come by. Still, military operations experts say they have enough data to form a rough estimate.

“According to my information, about 250 persons from Serbia are located in Libya,” military analyst Ljubodrag Stojadinovic told SETimes. He said several hundred well trained troops emerged from the Balkan wars, and are willing to use their expertise.

The mercenaries are driven by the promise of monetary gain, and not by politics or ideology, Stojadinovic added.

“The ‘dogs of war’ earn from 2,000 to 5,000 dollars or euros [per month], depending on who makes the offer and how they structure the arrangements,” he said

So whats the story here? Are there hundreds of Balkan mercenaries in Libya? If yes, what is their fate? Executed?

New Mindhacker book released (and I contributed to it)

Mindhacker US edition cover

Completely forgot to announce that the new Mindhacker book was released on 6th September 2011, featuring a very long (over 4000 words) hack by authored by me (“Hack 73: Take a Semantic Pause”).

The book is actually a delight to read, especially for techie hacker types.

Congratulations to the authors Ron and Marty Hale-Evans. They represent an ideal of the polymathic autodidact omnologist.

Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next Level is  available from Amazon and bookstores.

Alastair Campbell teams up with Kosovo organ smuggling mafia

Well well. The old team has reformed. The band is back for a last concert. The war hero is brought out of retirement to save the war.

The mafia state of Kosovo has hired none other than Tony Blair’s former chief of propaganda to help them spin their way into legitimacy now that the truth of the KLA’s brutal Serb butchering ways has become public knowledge thanks to the Dick Marty’s report, which alleged that not only was there murder and kidnapping of Serbs in 1999 (after the Serbs withdrew)  but that victims organ were smuggled to illegal markets and sold. It is further alleged that the Prime Minister of Kosovo – Hashim Thaci  – as head of the KLA, was involved.  Now an international investigation into allegations of organ trafficking by the Kosovo Liberation Army in northern Albania will be led by American John Clint Williamson.

These lurid allegations address just one of the incidents of murder, kidnapp, assault and intimidation waged daily against the few remaining Serb and other non-Albanian minorities by Kosovo Albanians. Most have already been ethnically cleansed by pogroms and constant intimidation.

Kosovo does not need more spin, propaganda and obfuscation. It needs the truth, transparency and openness. Campbell and Blair have done enough damage falling for the KLAs lies the first time around and convincing the witless Americans to bomb Serbia. Now, with 10 years of hindsight, anyone even passingly familiar with the region knows that the great lie is that all is well in Kosovo. Its economy is n on-existant. It cannot and will never be able to sustain itself. It is run by the mafia. It is a the main Balkan mafia staging ground. It is the European centre of people trafficking (slavery), gun running and narcotics  smuggling. And to cap it all of sectarian Albanians have waged a 10 year war of violent aggression against minorities and there is no let up.

Whilst the vast majority of Kosovan’s are decent people (a visit there will leave you with a lovely impression of the kindness and hospitality of all the communities), the government is made up of ex-KLA gangsters with blood on their hands. That government should not be getting propaganda help from the British Council and Alastair Campbell. They do not have an image problem. Theere is no misunderstanding. The are thugs and gangsters who need to be exposed to the truth.

More:

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/uk-funds-kosovo-pr-campaign

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038602/Real-charmer-Alastair-Campbell-brought-advise-Kosovan-government-spin.html

Four degrees of separation that help simplify work

From: http://changingminds.org/blog/0902blog/090225blog.htm

Much work these days is packaged up as projects, with plans, resources and time-bound deliverables. Managing projects is a skill as the various risks and issues can easily trip you up. In particular the sheer complexity can cause much extra work and conceal important issues.

Here, then, are four ways of making things simpler by separating out things that need your attention in different ways.

1. Separate rapidly changing things from slowly changing things. This makes changes (and communication about them) easier. For example a strategic plan, which changes little is separated from a rapidly-changing tactical plan.

2. Separate things that require attention now from points of information. This allows a sharper focus on action. For example items that require decisions may be covered first in a meeting, then information discussions continued in the remaining time.

3. Separate planned action from unexpected action. This allows both to be clearly managed and for plans to be revised as needed. For example issues are managed separately from standard project plans, thus allowing both onto the stage.

4. Separate internal project communications from external communications. Internal communications can be detailed, technical, textual and full of jargon. External communications should be focused, brief, visual and use Plain English.

You can also use the principle of separation to create clarity in documents and presentations by:

* Using colour, bold fonts, and other visual contrasts.
* Using lines and physical separation.
* Visual/physical separation into sections, pages, documents.

Selected Rules of Consulting

Photo by Peter Hayes (click for original). Creative Commons

Gerald Weinberg is the grandmaster of consulting and project management. From the hundreds of hints and tips on offer in his excellent secrets of consulting series, Adrian Segar explores his favorite 19 :

You’ll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit. (The Credit Rule.) Check your ego at the door.

In spite of what your client may tell you, there’s always a problem. (The First Law of Consulting.) Yes, most people have a hard time admitting they have a problem.

No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. (The Second Law of Consulting.) I learned this after about five years of being engaged as a technical consultant and repeatedly having CEOs confiding to me their non-technical woes…

If they didn’t hire you, don’t solve their problem. (The Fourth Law of Consulting.) A common occupational disease of consultants: we rush to help people who haven’t asked for help.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (The First Law of Engineering.) Must. Not. Unscrew the tiny screws just to check what’s inside.

Clients always know how to solve their problems, and always tell you the solution in the first five minutes. (The Five-Minute Rule.) Unbelievably, this is true—the hard part is listening well enough to notice.

If you can’t accept failure, you’ll never succeed as a consultant. (The Hard Law.Everyone makes mistakes, and that can be a good thing.

Helping myself is even harder than helping others. (The Hardest Law.) The hardest things to notice are things about myself.

The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. (The Law of Raspberry Jam.) Or, as Jerry rephrases it: Influence or affluence; take your choice.

When the clients don’t show their appreciation, pretend that they’re stunned by your performance—but never forget that it’s your fantasy, not theirs. (The Lone Ranger Fantasy.) “Who was that masked man, anyway?”

The most important act in consulting is setting the right fee. (Marvin’s Fifth Great Secret.) Setting the right fee takes a huge burden off your shoulders.

“We can do it—and this is how much it will cost.” (The Orange Juice Test.) Jerry uses an example straight from the meetings world for this one—event professionals will recognize the situation, and appreciate the insight.

Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered. (Prescott’s Pickle Principle.) Sadly, the longer you work with a client, the less effective you get.

It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the ending of an illusion. (Rhonda’s First Revelation.) A positive way to think about unpleasant change.

When you create an illusion, to prevent or soften change, the change becomes more likely—and harder to take.(Rhonda’s Third Revelation.) Notice and challenge your illusions before they turn into crises.

If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking. (The Rule of Three.) The perfect antidote to complacency about your plans.

The best marketing tool is a satisfied client. (The Sixth Law of Marketing.) Word of mouth is the best channel for new work; being able to satisfy my clients led me to a successful, twenty-two year IT consulting career without using advertising or agents.

Give away your best ideas. (The Seventh Law of Marketing.) When you teach your clients to handle future similar problems themselves, they’ll appreciate your generosity and are more likely to give you further work or good word of mouth to others.