Category Archives: Politics

Relentless Expansion

Should You Learn To Fight?

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about colonizing other planets. Well, maybe not so much as hearing as I’ve been reading many articles on the Internet about the subject. You know how that goes, you find something online, you find this pretty interesting, and you read more and more about this, and click around on the links, and pretty soon you find that you suddenly have developed an interest in this topic that you only maybe were vaguely aware of before now.

When I think back, I think it was all started by something I saw on TV, some crime drama involving some guys that were on this privately owned space ship that offered millionaires the chance to go into orbit for a few days. One of the characters mentioned that this is the golden age when it comes to space entrepreneurial ship. Whether that’s actually true obviously remains to be seen. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see the correlation with Europeans setting out across vast unknown bodies of water search of new lands hundreds of years ago to setting out across space to set up colonies on other planets.

Of course, then there’s that recent movie that is a fairly thin metaphor of what to do when you meet up with people already living in the new area that you’d like to colonize. Human strategies have ranged from killing them, joining them, assimilating them, and pitting them against one another.

Probably the most useful strategy, and resulted in the spread of the most culture, at least according to some historians, is Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great as he is commonly referred to. He lead a coalition of Greek forces across Persia, and to this date is the second greatest conqueror of all time, if you measure how great a conqueror is by the amount of land they took over. In the number one position is Genghis Khan. An interesting side not is that Genghis Khan was a peasant who’s parents were murdered by a rival chieftain, and yet he rose to become the greatest conqueror in human history, while Alexander was born into a royal family, and inherited his kingdom, which already had quite a bit of support from the various Greek city states when his father was murdered. So you don’t need to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth if you want to conquer the world.

But while Genghis Khan swept through land with fury and terror, and slaughtered everything in his path, Alexander took a more diplomatic approach. Much of the land he conquered, he didn’t even have to fight for. The Persian Empire at that time had undergone quite a bit of upheaval, and they were spread far and thin. Many times Alexander and his troops would ride into a city, and the city government would simply switch their alliance from Persia to Alexander.

But one thing that Alexander did that helped spread Greek culture throughout the world was to encouraged his men, at least the single ones, to take brides from the new cultures. Often times he would pick up fresh soldiers from the cities, and many of his soldiers would stay and build new lives. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. When Babylon fell to Alexander’s troops, he gave them free reign over the city. They raped, plundered, murdered and burned the city to the ground, as was fairly common practice back in those days. (And unfortunately today as well in many places).

Another interesting strategy is the divide and conquer strategy. This was used particularly effectively by the Catholic Church during the colonization of South America and part of Asia in the 1500’s and 1600’s. First they would send the priests, who would convert as many people as possible, including the leaders. Of course, not everybody would convert, and would stick to the old “pagan” religion. Including in some that converted, and some that didn’t would of course be those involved in government. Once there was sufficient division in the ruling classes, then the solders would come, their jobs having been made much easier by the priests that preceded them.

This was attempted in Japan during the same time period, but all the Christians were expelled, or executed before they could finish their plan.

Anytime you want to expand influence into a new area, there is going to be resistance, and there are always several different strategies to take to best overcome the resistance. Brute force, cooperation, or subversion, it depends the desired outcome, and what an appropriate level of risk you’re willing to take, and what skills you possess and how they could best be used. I doubt Alexander or Genghis Khan could have gotten very far by sending in priests. I also doubt that the Spanish Conquistadors would have done well with Alexander’s or Genghis Khan’s fighting strategies, as they required open fields, and many men galloping furiously on thousands of horses. That strategy doesn’t work well in the jungle.

One interesting, and some say natural, application to all these battle, warfare, and conquering strategies is in business. Classic books on warfare, like Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War,” And Miyomoto Musashi’s “The Book Of Five Rings” are usually found in the business section of the bookstore.

The huge success of the British Empire was largely do it’s effective application of these strategies of warfare to business. One could argue that English is the second most spoken language in the world today, behind only Mandarin, is due to the effective application of timeless warfare strategies to business purposes.

If you own a business today, whether it is a twenty-year-old brick and mortar shop, or an online start up that you are doing in your spare time, it might help to keep some of these ancient warfare strategies in mind.

Because I guarantee you, whatever it is you are trying to sell to your customers, there’s several other people fighting for their attention, and would be pleased as punch to get their business instead of you.


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What’s The Real Reason Behind Conflict?

Two Guys Walk Into A Bar…

I was hanging out with a friend of mine in a sports bar one afternoon. It was Sunday, and there were a couple good games on, so we figured we’d kick back there for a while. Both of us were too lazy to make the proper preparations (meaning clean up enough) to watch the games at either of our houses. And also, and more importantly, the sports bar had several different TV’s, and so we could watch several games at once, even though we were only interested in two of them.

The only problem was that there was a gap between games for about an hour. Not really long enough to go to a different bar, but long enough to be concerned about drinking ourselves silly out of boredom so early in the day. One game finished around 1 PM, and the other didn’t start until around 2 or so. So there were, in between games wondering how to kill the time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit there with a drink in front of me for very long without drinking it. Even if it’s only soda or water, if somebody keeps filling it, I’ll keep drinking it. So I had to be particularly careful not to get too sloshed before the second game started. We had taken the train there, so neither of us were concerned about driving, but it kind of ruins your afternoon when you come home trashed at 4 in the afternoon. Any productivity you may have enjoyed in the evening is gone.

We noticed a group of people sitting a few tables over that for some reason didn’t seem particularly interested in the game. They didn’t cheer or exclaim during any of the spectacular plays that had happened earlier, and they didn’t seem to have any concern one way or the other when either team scored. So we focused our concentration on them to keep ourselves entertained.

They were all men, as were most of the patrons that day. They weren’t wearing suits or anything, so they weren’t businessmen in town for a sales meeting or something. But they seemed to be quite animated about something. Finally, one of them noticed us paying a little too close attention to them. He got up and made his way over to our table. I was a little concerned, when I realized if somehow they took our attention the wrong way, we may be in trouble, as there were only two of us, and four of them.

I remember once I took this course in political science. I think the professor wished he were teaching history, as we didn’t spend too much time talking about politics, but more time talking about the history behind the politics. The professor had this rather interesting view of human nature. The textbook would go on and on about different political viewpoints, and certain government bodies among countries, which honestly I find incredibly boring. I suppose the professor did as well as he would always get really animated when he started talking about things like human nature, and how different factors along with human history lead inevitably to various political systems.

Although he was a professor at a public university, and was required to keep his political and religious leanings out of the course material, I suspect he was a strong believer in capitalism, and a devout atheist. He always talked in terms of competition, survival of the fittest and the law of the jungle. His theory was that all politics, and all political maneuvering is purely the law of the jungle in action. Any efforts to present any public policy is really a means to an ends, which in his opinion, was always more power to the politician in question. His theory was that all political systems were merely a collection of strategies to amass more power to those already in power.

He believed that pure capitalism, on a level playing field, was the best way to make sure that certain groups of people didn’t secure power and then make it impossible for others to do so through the creation of draconian laws. He based this on the theory of escalation within a closed society. Whenever one group amasses enough power, they can put in to play systems, which will keep others from amassing power. This is the most stable when there are two separate groups wielding power, and the power will naturally oscillate back and forth. In the creation of a society, or in the early days, each group will slowly grab more power by escalating its dominance in the face of its adversaries. And the adversaries will respond by escalating their dominance.

It’s a bit complicated, but there is a mathematical model that describes it in terms of driving elements of a function in a closed system. There is a kind of symbiotic relationship between elements, that is one gets power from the others weakness, but if the other disappeared completely then so would the original groups power.

According to this professor, this explains why many countries in today’s modern world seem to be at odds, but really depend on each other for their respective survival. If the stronger would completely obliterate the weaker country, then they would lose a lot of their reason for existence. I’m not sure I understand the mechanisms behind all this, but when this particular professor described, it sounded really logical.

When the big guy from the group of four reached our table, he asked us if we would like to join them. Although it seemed a little weird, a group of four guys who weren’t outwardly interested in sports asking two guys who were at a sports bar to join them, we said what the heck.

It turned out they were seminary students who were at this big conference at the convention center downtown. It was a weeklong conference, and seeing at it was Sunday, they had the day off.

I’ll leave the strange, but interesting discussion that followed for another post.

And now for something completely different:


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Lemon Extract And Words of War

There is a powerful set of language patterns that are almost unknown, even to the most persuasive salespeople out there. When you harness the ability to use these patterns conversationally, you will skyrocket your persuasion abilities to levels almost unheard of.

Used incorrectly, these patterns can be horribly manipulative, and can almost force people do knowingly do things against their will, as if they feel they have no choice but to comply. When used incorrectly, you can literally people to imagine that not doing what you want will be more painful, emotionally, that doing what you want, despite how much emotional discomfort it either choice may bring.

Like any tool, the ethics depends on your intentions. With an intention to serve somebody’s needs or help them to achieve more happiness and pleasure, these simple tools can be a powerful delivery method to introduce new ideas that people would otherwise be resistant to.

So what are these powerful tools? They are called linguistic presuppositions. They are a way to phrase a sentence, or a series of sentences to deliver truths to people (or ideas you would like accepted as truth) without any conscious resistance whatsoever.

You likely use these without even knowing it. Unfortunately, when people use these naturally, they come across as manipulative and hurtful, because they are used defensively, and not with much integrity. Quite often we use them to make ourselves feel good, by intentionally putting others at a disadvantage.

What they are is a specific sentence structure that literally forces the listener, or reader to assume certain things being true in order to make sense of the sentence.

For example, if I say, “Yesterday I saw a red car.” You have to assume that cars exist, and that they can be read. The main point of my sentence is to convey the idea of me seeing one yesterday. Simple enough.

But if I say “yesterday, I saw a roklov,” you would likely assume I was telling the truth, and focus on the idea that I did indeed see something called a “roklov,” you wouldn’t likely question the existence of something called a ‘roklov.’ So far so good.

But what if I immediately followed up that sentence by saying “and the interesting thing about roklovs is that they are becoming really popular, and people are starting to discover how quickly they can help you make money.”

Now, take a look at all the implied “truths” in that one-punch:

· Something called a “roklov” exists.
· I saw one yesterday.
· They are becoming really popular.
· Many people are getting them.
· People use them to make money.
· People use them to make money quickly.

In just two sentences, I’ve not only introduced some made up word, but I may have persuaded you to at least become curious about what one is, and how you might be able to use one to make money, just like many other people have been doing.

Now that is a completely made up word. What if I introduce something that you already agree exists?

“Yesterday I saw a jar of lemon extract at the supermarket. I was surprised they still had them, because more and more people are starting to discover that lemon extract is the likely the easiest and quickest way to lose weight.”

So what are the assumptions in these two sentences?

· There is something called lemon extract. (Which you have to agree with if you are from planet Earth).
· I saw some at the supermarket (see above)
· It is a scarce item
· That it is scarce is a new phenomenon
· It has secret weight losing properties
· It is very popular for losing weight

Now, what is your reaction when you read that? You’d likely have a strong desire to at least have a look at the lemon extract next time you went to the supermarket. Or you may Google “lemon extract weight loss”

Now truthfully, I just pulled that example out of the air. But just now I checked, and there are not only sixty thousand results for that search, but there are plenty of advertisers selling information on that. Now how does that make you feel? Maybe even more about getting some lemon extract? (Honestly, this is just a made up example.)

So what is the structure of presuppositions? In the famous groundbreaking book “The Structure Of Magic,” by Bandler and Grinder, they identified twenty-eight specific linguistic structures that be used to covertly delivery information, either helpful or unhelpful.

Let’s look at the structure of the above. We’ll use “truth1” as the thing we want to persuade others.

More and more people are starting to discover that “truth1.”
People are starting to discover that “truth1.”

This is powerful because it implies social proof, or that many people have already discovered what you are trying to persuade your listener, or reader.

You can also use an authority figure instead of social proof:

“Leading scientists have learned that “truth1.”

Now, this sounds like you have solid evidence, but you really don’t. What leading scientists? How did they learn? Did they learn correctly? Who do they lead? How exactly do they know? Has their learnings come through rigorous scientific testing, or were they persuaded in a debate?

Are they professional scientists, or amateur hobbyists?

You could have two or three weekend hacks that are the captains of their respective bowling leads, and could truthfully refer to them as “leading scientists.”

Here’s a real world example of this exact structure was used recently to lead a nation into a war. A war that is still going on:

President George Bush: (State of the Union, 2003)

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Take note of the structure:

“Authority” has learned that “truth1.”

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that was an honest mistake, or a deliberate manipulation of the facts.

This is just one of the twenty-eight linguistic presuppositions that are being used every day by politicians, manipulators, and sales people.

Of course, you don’t have to use this for evil purposes.

Many leading sociologists are starting to realize that simply by reading posts like this on the Internet, you are vastly improving your resourcefulness. And most scientists agree that by tapping into your resources, you naturally skyrocket your potential to achieve almost anything you want in life. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that simply by acknowledging your own personal power, you open the doors to almost certain achievement and success in your life.

Now get on with it.

Sotomayor – For or Against – Why it Doesn’t Matter, Really

Many people have been talking back and forth recently about Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court. Some say that Sotomayor is clearly a racially motivated choice. For them the main reason she was selected was because she is female and Hispanic. While I don’t know exactly if President Obama chose her himself, or she was the best choice presented to him by his advisors, the choice is out there nonetheless. Of course, the two main criticisms against her from the right are the case she ruled for the city against the white fire fighters in a reverse discrimination case, and statements she made suggesting her race and gender somehow made her better equipped to make legal decisions. Her supporters argue that in the case of the reverse discrimination, she was actually upholding the law, and any beef people have with the decision is with the law she was upholding, and not with her. And for her statement regarding the relationship between gender/race and decision making ability, I think most will safely agree that at the very least, that statement was taken out of context.

We live in a sound bite, thirty-second society. Most people don’t have the time or the patience to sort through several layers of meaning and context to get to the intent behind the delivered message. Recently Will Smith said something about Hitler, and it didn’t take very long for a reporter to take one or two sentences out of a spoken paragraph which was surrounded by content and context and put a spin on it. All to sell newspapers. Luckily, when most people saw context of the statement, it was clear that the reporter was attempting to put a spin on it, and Mr. Smith’s reputation wasn’t adversely effected.

With so much spin and out of context quotations, and ten-second attention seeking news headlines, it’s no wonder that it can be extremely difficult for someone in Obama’s position to choose an appropriate candidate for such a powerful appointment of authority. It’s not like Sotomayor can be kicked off the bench if people don’t like her opinions.

This kind of thinking makes sense on a large scale, choosing your position wisely when there is no chance of going back if it doesn’t work out. That is why a selection for the Supreme Court is such a long, public, lengthy process. We can’t afford any mistakes. I think it is obvious that the original architects of the United States put quite a lot of effort into designing a system that was fairly difficult to corrupt (despite many instances of the contrary).

Whether your think Sotomayor will be a great Justice of a terrible one, you’ve got to have some appreciation for the process through which she will be scrutinized to the nth degree. It is an example that despite however many corrupt and unscrupulous politicians find themselves in power, it is difficult to out navigate a system that has been in place for so long. One can only hope it stays that way for a while.

For my part, given the facts of the structure and operational guidelines of the supreme court, and the enormous amount of seriousness that justices must feel when they make decisions, and that Sotomayor, if she is eventually selected (which I’m pretty sure she will be) is replacing someone with similar political leanings and beliefs, I don’t think there is anything to worry about.

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, despite all of the problems of the United States, we’ve got a pretty good system and set of rules in place to make sure we stay free and profitable for many years to come.