Sunday, 25 October 2020

Imperial Eagle should be EU coat of arms

This is meant as satire!


Putin is once again try to stir up trouble by commenting that Germany & China are heading for superpower status while Britain & France are declining.   Maybe it's a cynical attempt to stoke tension between France & Germany in light of German sanctions against Russia for the poisoning of political opponent Navalny? The rise of Germany to superpower status means there's a need for some legitimacy through symbolism in my mind.

People have commented that Germany is the true power behind the European Union, and in many ways it does resemble the old Holy Roman Empire only larger.. So I'm thinking, why not make the German coat of arms, the EU's coat of arms!



The Germans are already increasing their use of the Eagle (Bundesadler), their coat of arms which originates from the Roman Empire's Aquila. Now the Germans use this symbol to show that while the country of germany might be quite new, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from there the eagle comes from is not.



The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was coined to give Charlemagne's Carolingian empire more legitimacy by making it the legitimate successor state of the original Roman empire and put him on equal footing with the Byzantines. Once the HRE had lost most of its 'Roman' (Italian & French) possessions it was re-coined as the HRE of the german nation and kept the eagle.

Now the pope legitimised German use of the Roman Aquila, by crowning Germans as Roman Emperor's, can the pope take this symbol back? If so does it now belong to the Italians? they are hardly a successor state to the Roman Empire.. why not give the symbol to the EU!


My understanding of Germany's claims to the eagle are through the lineage of legitimate successor states to the western roman empire
  1. Romans used the Aquila (the imperial eagle) as a symbol, until it fell (mostly to different German tribes)
  2. In 800, Pope Leo III (750-816) crowned Charlemagne, who was previously King of the Franks (a German tribe) as emperor of the Romans (the pope having been granted this authority I'm assuming after as the representative of the western roman empire). Charlemagne's empire contained the rump of modern France, Germany, the low countries and half of Italy and bears a striking similarity to the German *I mean European* coal and steel community which was the precursor to the European Union. He minted coins with himself as Caesar (Kaiser) but also got shared rights to the Aquila (Eagle). Both symbols were intended to provide legitimacy for Charlemagne by tracing lineage back to the Romans. His empire was split into three chunks two of which became modern France and Germany



  3. This could have theoretically given the French imperial eagle rights as well, but the pope crowned subsequent German Kings as 'King of the Romans', not French kings after the carolingian empire split loosely into French and German rump states. The eagle got another head to copy the Byzantine empire.


  4. The French had a crack when Napoleon came along and branded himself an emperor and also used the Roman aquila. His conquests also lead to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, however the Austrian Empire as the 'successor state' kept the imperial eagle symbol.. by this point the title of Kaiser had become informally hereditary to the Austrian Hapsburgs.
  5. Following defeat in war with Prussia, the Austrians were challenged by a new German Emperor (not a king of the Romans however). Subsequently after WWI & then WWII both of these German emperors were no more. Hitler, much like Napoleon also commandeered the imperial eagle, but much like Napoleon he didn't last long.
  6. Both the Germans, and the Austrians still use the eagle for their coat of arms. However in this new age of single ethnicity nation states, neither have any true 'Roman' (e.g. Italian or French) subjects, meaning their claim to the eagle lies with their claims to be successor states to the holy roman empire, a successor state of the carolingian empire, a successor of the western roman empire.


That claim is a bit weak, so I'd say if the pope had the right to bestow the eagle to the Germans, he has every right to take it back. The Romans managed to take back three imperial eagles stolen by the Germans following  the battle of Teutoburg forest so it isn't without precedence. To ensure it's given to a pan-national state that can be seen as a true successor to the Romans, it makes sense that Ursula von der Leyen (president of European Commission) get's it, especially as the office holds an uncanny resemblance to the elected HRE emperor, being effectively chosen by states not by a european wide election. 

So there you have it - union stars with the Reichsadler! 



Tuesday, 26 May 2020

China's very real fear of internal dissent & rebellion

There's stuff in the news about how the Chinese state's greatest fear is it's own people and internal dissent, and this the reason for the Hong Kong crackdown. I'm not defending China's actions, but if you look at the history of China over the last 400 years you see time and time again an internal rebellion leading to political turmoil, followed by invasion by an external power leading to humiliation or the capitulation of the state.
There's only been four regimes (if you include Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists) in China in the last 400 years with each ending due to internal rebellion followed by foreign invasion.
Ming Dynasty -> Peasant Rebellion -> Manchu invasion -> Qing Dynasty
Late Ming dynasty peasant rebellions 1628–1644, helped end the Ming Dynasty and replace it with the Qing as part of Manchu invasion (leading to the Han being ruled by Manchu's for 300 years). A lot of Ming military switched sides due to inept Ming leaders.. the Manchurian's didn't conquer China all by themselves.

Qing Dynasty -> opium wars with britain -> multiple rebellions -> Republic of China (nationalists)
Rebellions in the Qing dynasty, leading to its eventual collapse not to mention the opium wars & 100 years of humiliation with unequal trade deals being replaced with a republic.

Republic of China -> communist rebellion -> Japanese Invasion -> People's liberation Army (Mao) -> People's republic of China (1927-1949)
Now we have two western government ideologies fighting for supremacy (communism & republicanism). What may come as a surprise is that the Japanese inadvertently helped the communists win. Firstly by weakening the republic in the Sino-Japanese war and then when they surrendered in Manchuria to the Russians, as the Russians gave all the Japanese weaponry to Mao's forces.

Here's a bit more info on the Opium wars and associated rebellions:

Opium wars: Qing vs British east india company (1839 - 1860)
Destabilization begins with the first and second Opium wars with the British, which could be viewed as a "trade dispute". The Chinese only accepted payment for tea in silver (rejecting even offers of industrialisation, due to conservative confucianist mandarins). Forcing a country to buy opium against its will in order to correct a balance of trade deficit would be considered morally hazardous by today's standards.

As a counterpoint however, the British had offered to sell them equipment to industrialise the country which the conservative Mandarin administrators of China rejected demanding payment only in silver. These canny british entrepreneurs managed to do this by selling opium to the people for silver, and then using the silver to buy tea.

The Qing were smart enough to realise allowing their people to become addicted to opium was a bad idea and tried to confiscate it, leading to naval battles which the technologically backward Qing couldn't win. During the war they then continued the confucius mandarin tradition of bullshitting the guy above them (ultimately the Emperor) about how the war was going. This trend of administrators lying to save face with superiors is still alive and well in China, just look at Wuhan.

Taiping Rebellion: Qing vs religious fanatics (1850 – 1864)
Next the Taiping rebellion, triggered in some ways by western religious influence: the leader Hong Xiuquan claims to be the brother of Jesus..personality cult based on western literature.. sound familiar? He wanted to overthrow the corrupt Manchu Qing leadership which had lost a lot of face against the British and replace it with a Heavenly Kingdom.. I guess translations of the bible were more accessible than the teachings of Marx. If my government & its confucianist system had messed up so badly against the west, I'd probably be looking to shake things up with western virtues as well.

Boxer Rebellion: Qing & boxers vs Europeans & Japan (1899 - 1901)
Boxers can be seen as reactionaries against European influence, the right to allow Christian missionaries in and unequal trade treaties. They started out burning Churches as well as being anti-imperialist. The Qing decided to try use them against the Europeans but lost.

Mao and the Great famine - neo-confucianism's lack of transparency & fake reporting upwards is its weak point
Just like I mentioned above, Chinese administrators kept up their tradition of misreporting things to save face with superiors. This lead to disastrous consequences with the great leap forward. The great leap forward had two main goals. Collectivise farming & increase industrial output copying the Soviet model. Farm collectivisation was disastrous leading to a fall in food production, however each Mandarin provided numbers to his superior showing better results than actually occurred. By the time this reporting got aggregated up to Mao it looked like China had a surplus of food, so Mao continued exporting it to get hard currency for industrialisation. This all lead to famine..
This is something I think the Chinese state needs to overcome. It needs more transparency on what is actually happening and less face saving propaganda. The best way to achieve this is through government transparency regulated by a free press. While it might cause instability, it will deal with structural weaknesses in government apparatus better than any top down purge based reform will. The face saving in Wuhan led to a sluggish initial response and allowed foreigners to leave the country, creating the global covid problem we have today.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

No Empire at the expense of the people - review

I wrote a review of an article I wrote 5 years ago, now moving across to medium to give it a go

Republish of something I wrote in 2015, here on blogger. I feel the article has stood the test of time for the most part, here were the questions I posed and some feedback on what the Trump administration has done… Steve Bannon’s political legacy?
the election of 2016 should be about answering these two questions:
  1. Should the U.S. continue to act as global hegemon, which includes providing the reserve currency?Partial Yes. Just enough global hegemon reduction to retain reserve currency status for now. In the middle east, attempt to create new regional balances of power without U.S. blood and treasure. U.S. Troop withdraw with enough brinkmanship to obtain a right balance of power between Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel with regards to the Iraq/Syria ‘spoils of war’.
  2. If the answer to 1. is yes, then how should the economy be restructured in order to fulfill the hegemon role in a sustainable fashion?Endevering to get allies to pay for more of their defence against Russia & China.. think NATO funding, U.S. Korean troops, etc. as well as rebalancing trade to be more favourable to the U.S. especially with China. This is an attempt to correct some of the trade imbalances introduced by the Brent Woods system in the 1950s. The system set the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency but conceded favourable trade privileges to defeated foes to ensure peace with Germany and Japan. The primary issue being addressed is that China’s introduction to the same trading system put the U.S. at a big disadvantage in the long term, and would be heading the same way as the British empire did with lot’s of rich bankers in a country slowly losing it’s industrial advantage to more protected economies (at the time the USA, Germany). The problem with the rich banker imperial hegenomy model is you’re only one bad war away from losing everything.. just ask the British.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Steel production was key to great power status


In recent history steel was the most important thing for winning wars. Notice how the top four producers of steel from 200 years ago are permanent members of the UN security council?


The missing permanent member is China, which now produces quite alot:
Image result for country comparison steel production

However these days steel isn't the most important thing for winning wars. Information technology for intelligence gathering, disimformation, smart weapons command and control and many other things is critical. This is why a lot of the China - US trade war revolves around the US trying to prevent too much information technology transfers (as well as protecting strategic US steel & alumunium industries from Chinese undercutting). More to follow.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The problem of Consciousness and the Singularity

I've put a talk together on consciousness & individuality : what these concepts are and how technology will impact them


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Letting future self have more say on decisions

After having two nights out drinking last week I have question: How do I let future me have more input into decisions present me makes? Apps, behaviour modification, etc. Our brains have evolutionary survival feedback mechanisms which are obsolete and somehow need to be overcome / hijacked.
Brainstorming I can think plan and review calendar for work but coming up short on finances and health. Finances you have "you have spent X" notifications, health you can have a "go for a run" notifications which are pretty primitive.
What I'm kind of thinking you need is a C3PO whispering in your ear a predictive behaviour outcome feedback... e.g. your google maps location shows an 80% probability that you are walking to a bar. Given it's a Tuesday you are likely to consume >5 drinks which will likely mean you will carbload and skip exercise for 4 days. This means in 1 week you will be X kg heavier and your like expectancy will have decreased by X days. A more medium long term feedback would be: given you are entering a bar towards the end of a 16 day period not going to a bar, you are at risk of not completing a 21 day behaviour modification of reducing bar attendance which will lead to a projected uplift of bar attendance events of X per year, leading to a projected.... you get the point.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Chomsky, Sanders, SOPA, TPP and the migration of popular movements online

Bernie Sander's campaign is going very well, rising in the polls massive online presence, he may not be winning in the main stream press but his online presence towers over Hillary's. Need to flesh this out a bit, facts & figures on social media engagement, Hillary trust issues etc.




Noam Chomsky has a more pessimistic outlook on Bernie's campaign. For a start e doesn't believe Sanders will get nominated, and even if we were nominated he doesn't believe he would be able to implement the policy change that appeals to his base due to a lack of clout within the American political & financial establishment.  

Instead Chomsky would prefer it if Bernie prepared his support base for a long term populist uprising, independent of election cycles. This is taken from an interview with the Institute for Public Accuracy titled: Noam Chomsky: Electing the President of An Empire


Noam Chomsky:Take, say, the Bernie Sanders campaign, which I think is important, impressive. He’s doing good and courageous things. He’s organizing a lot of people. That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement that will use the election as a kind of an incentive and then go on, and unfortunately it’s not. When the election's over, the movement is going to die. And that’s a serious error.
The only thing that’s going to ever bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don’t pay attention to the election cycle. It’s an extravaganza every four years. You have to be involved in it, so fine. We’ll be involved in it, but then we go on. If that were done, you could get major changes.

Noam believes that using the parliamentary system to make popular policy change is impossible in the United States, rather the political establishment now serves the interested of the Plutocracy exclusively:
There’s very good polling evidence on what people think about things. So for example for about 40 years, a considerable majority of the public has thought that taxes should go up on the rich. Taxes go down on the rich. A substantial part of the public, often a big majority, thinks that we ought to have a national healthcare program. Nothing. Impossible. In fact when the press discusses this they call it “politically impossible.” Meaning the pharmaceutical companies won’t accept it, the insurance companies won’t accept it, and so on. So it basically doesn’t matter what the public thinks.
About 70% of the public, the lowest 70% on the income scale, are pretty much disenfranchised. Their attitudes have no detectable influence on the policies of their own representatives. As you move up the scale you get a bit more influence. When you get to the top, policy is made. 
Now the top can mean a fraction of 1%, so it’s kind of a plutocracy with democratic forms. And the elections, I mean by now it’s almost become a joke but it’s always been true that campaign financing plays a very substantial role in not only who’s elected but what the policies are. That goes back 100 years. Mark Hanna, the great campaign manager 100 years ago, was asked once, “What are the important things that you have to have to run a campaign?" He said: “There are three things. First one’s money. The second one is money. And I forget what the third one is.”
I'm necessarily not sold on this argument. There is ample evidence that popular movements can influence policy, provided the public have a powerful advocate. In more recent times these powerful advocates seem to be concentrated in high tech companies which rely on online social networks such as Wikipedia, Google and Facebook.


Case in point - The "Internet blackout" to stop SOPA legislation


For instance, when media companies tried to push through SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) which was arguably detrimental to the common man, it was met with a very effective campaign by Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and others which managed to derail the bill by crowd sourcing an online petition and email campaign to elected representatives:





The campaign led to one million emails being sent to elected representatives protesting the bill along with a petition containing the names of 10 million voters. This lead to the scrapping of the bill.

Now arguably this could just be large technology platform content providers protecting their own interests as opposed to a true grassroots movement. In my opinion, the true nature of this phenomena will become apparent when TPP legislation is attempted to be enforced.


The next test will be the TPP

In order to validate whether this approach will continue to be successful will in my opinion come if the implementation of elements of the transpacific partnership (TPP) which are deemed to be detrimental to society at large is met with similar online protests orchestrated by the big tech and social media players. I can see protest arising regarding intellectual property law, as well as new pharmaceutical regulation.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Journalists I read

This is my regular reading list: I'll add more detail on why I like these guys when I get round to it, but take it from me, if you want to know how the world really works, read these guys.


Taki Theodoracopulos



His spectator column the high life is probably the best column you can read on a week by week basis. The man exudes crass intellectualism and refined vulgarity. He can also write.  He also runs The American Conservative, which has a rather reasonable take on what America's role should be on the world stage.


Gary Brecher: The War Nerd



Best geopolitical analysis on the Internet, and like Taki, he can write! He now has a patron podcast, radio war nerd



George Friedman



Second best geopolitical analysis on the net





Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bernie Sanders - No Empire at the expense of the people

I can see strong parallels between the American and Roman elites who benefit from an international system which favours their military and economic hegemony at the expense of the middle classes which got them their initial military victories.  

In the case of Rome, Empire lead to the decline of the economic livelihood of small tenant farmers of the Italian peninsular as the Roman republic transformed into the slave based economy of the Roman empire, following victories against the Carthaginians, Gauls and Greeks. In the case of the United States, military victories against the Germans, Japanese and Russians have lead to a financial system dominated by the U.S. dollar where neoliberal economic policies favour free trade, deregulation and labour outsourcing to the detriment of the American working and middle classes.

As both Bernie and Trump are pointing out, the outsourcing of manufacturing and services jobs to low cost countries like China and India provides a short term economic gain for fortune 500s but creates a long term structural weakness in the American domestic economy. This the the true price of military victory: the hollowing out of the victor nations middle and working classes, which lead to the eventual decline of both the Roman empire.

I haven't done a great deal of "stitching" on this one, but I want you to look at some excerpts around current US economic policy and compare it to the economic policy of the Roman empire, once it moved from a free hold peasant farmer based economy to a slave based economy.


Bernie Sanders on the Late show with Stephen Colbert
Sanders and his host had a lengthy discussion on problems facing the U.S., calling it a "moral outrage that the top one-tenth of 1% today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and that 58% of all new income is going to the top 1%." He explained that, while he wanted an entrepreneurial society, Sanders didn't believe there could be one while so much economic power was in the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

Bernie Sanders is presenting himself as the champion of the middle class who is not in the pocket of the wall street financial elite, like "establishment" candidates, America's Neo-aristocracy: Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush



To what extent were economic factors to blame for the deterioration of the Roman Empire in the Third Century A.D?


After the second Punic war many new economic transformations began. During this time, many of the best agricultural lands in Italy were devastated. Many wealthy opportunists had profited during the war and were no longer inclined to finance small farmers. There were new possibilities for business of a less insecure and therefore more tempting nature. Contact with Carthage had opened the eyes of many greedy Romans to the profitability of scientifically managed large-scale agriculture. This combined with a new abundance of cheap land and slaves initiated two new economic developments. Men with money started to buy these huge areas of land, formed large estates, and set about working them for profit with the new cheap and plentiful supply of slave labour. Connected to this was the increasing tendency of small cultivating owners to choose not to resume their interrupted occupation or to even be driven to abandon their holdings. The only hope of halting this economic development lay in the political sphere but power was steadily passing into the hands of the very men who profited from this new system.
The growing number of provincial taxes brought into being a large class of investors whose speculations tended to generate substantial returns. This ever-expanding and highly important class known as the Knights (equites) had little care for the rapidly disappearing peasantry. Initially their main activity was to squeeze concessions from the Senate thereby meaning that for a time popular leaders were able to engage their support against the ruling nobility. However, selfish interests gradually became the guiding force and they joined with the senatorial nobles to form a party of property. In light of this it is hardly surprising that efforts to restore free peasants to Italian land were a failure. The main area of commerce in the latter days of the Republic was the slave trade and therefore Roman financiers were deeply interested in this. Any attempts to reform the system were normally met with hostility. 
Empire and budget deficits go hand in hand

The system fell into such disarray that that by 284 A.D, the condition of the small tenant farmer had generally become one of semi-servile dependence. His legal freedom became very limited and his economic position increasingly depended on the preservation of a holding often blighted by encroachments. If he left his land he would probably starve but if he stayed then he effectively be a serf. Legal changes later on made it the case that to be a colonus was to be attached to a specific plot of ground with which he himself was transferable. This change, however rational it may have been under the circumstances really only confirmed what a mess Rome had made of its economy and all this did was to effectively consummate agricultural stagnation by law.

This very same economic conundrum is affecting the United States: there is the same misalignment between the interests of the financial-military industrial complex and the middle class that there was in the Roman Empire.

Here is an excerpt from a ZeroHedge article on the economic policy decisions the United States has made over the last half century:



The Unlikely Rise Of Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders


Although the economy successfully created a broad path to the middle class, it was inefficient. Persistent inflation became a serious issue. To address inflation, President Carter implemented a series of supply side measures designed to improve the efficiency of the economy. These included the deregulation of financial services and transportation. He also appointed Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve Chairman; he implemented a “hard money” monetary policy. President Reagan took Carter’s reforms and expanded them further, leading to additional deregulation and globalization.
The good news was that the policies brought inflation under control. The problem was the broad path to the middle class in the developed world was dramatically narrowed. To now survive in the labor force, workers needed to rapidly adapt to new technologies and methods and compete on a global scale. Those who could were greatly rewarded; those who could not were left behind.


This chart shows the share of total income captured by the top 10% of income earners and inflation as measured by CPI. As the data shows, when this share is above 42%, inflation tends to be non-existent. When the top 10% share is below 42%, the CPI average is 5.3%. Inequality isn’t necessarily the cause of low inflation, but deregulation and globalization, which are effective against inflation, tend to cause increasing income inequality.
This led to a conflict between domestic and foreign policy. Containing inflation was a key domestic goal, but widening income differentials weakened the average household’s ability to consume, which undermined the reserve currency role of the superpower. The way the U.S. resolved this conundrum was through debt.
Using debt to address the requirements of providing the reserve currency was never going to be a permanent solution to the problem of running a domestic economy and meeting the requirements of global hegemony. However, as long as credit was widely available, the political situation was manageable. The financial crisis of 2008 has made it clear that the debt option is no longer viable. And, to a great extent, the election of 2016 should be about answering these two questions:
  1. Should the U.S. continue to act as global hegemon, which includes providing the reserve currency?
  2. If the answer to 1. is yes, then how should the economy be restructured in order to fulfill the hegemon role in a sustainable fashion?






Saturday, 20 December 2014

Kevin Kelly - Critical Uncertainties

About 4 years I made a list of critical uncertainties for me. Things I had no clue which way they would go in the future. Would you add any?
What, if anything, will slow down China?Possible answers: internal revolution, population decline, environmental realities, absolutely nothing.
What information will people not share with each other?They share medical records, purchases, dreams, sex fantasies. What about their taxes?
How many devices do we want to carry?Ten, two, one, or none?
What will modernize Islam?Will Islam's "Reformation" be political, theological, violent, or glacial?
How much bandwidth is enough?We have enough pixels in a camera, enough hi-fi in our music, how many gigs/s before we no longer think about it?
Will we trust governments or corporations more?Who do we want to run our education, libraries, police, press, courts, licenses, and communication networks?
What is the "natural" price of a book, movie, or song?Once distribution and production costs fall or disappear, what will we charge for creations?
Will (or where will) the future ever become cool again? Optimism is a necessary ingredient for innovation. What will renew it?
How bad are the harmful effects of surfing the net?Are the bad effects of short attention temporary, inconvenient, or fatal?
Is nuclear fusion (synthetic solar) economically possible? Making energy like the sun does might too cheap to meter or as uneconomical as a perpetual motion machine.
When will Moore's Law stop?At least 90% of our progress today hinges on cheaper, faster computation every year. Stop one, stop the other.
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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Obama's valedictory should Echo Eisenhower's: Beware the Military-Industrial Complex


Fifty years ago, Dwight Eisenhower delivered what has become, with the possible exception of George Washington's departing speech, the best-known presidential farewell address in U.S. history. In his valedictory, Ike famously warned against "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." That final phrase entered the political lexicon almost immediately, signifying the notion that a permanent ruling class, encompassing the Pentagon and its corporate suppliers, was on the verge of controlling the American government, even in peacetime.

Eisenhower's advice has largely been ignored, but remains a strong ideological stand against the power elite, also known as the plutonomy, that controls the United States.


Obama is NOT a lame duck president. His flagship initiative, the Affordable Care Act, also known oft derisively as Obamacare is a great step forward for most Americans. But I feel he needs to make a stand on foreign policy, the plutonomy and America's emerging police state.

I am sure that time will validate Obamacare, it aim's to introduce some of what we in the rest of the Anglosphere take for granted, namely affordable healthcare for all citizens. Fox news and the Plutonomy that governs America may rail against it but the key to America's success in the 21st century is to remediate the inequality  that separates the financial elite from the rest of American society.

When the Roman Empire had reached its height, and was already in terminal decline, Rome had 1.2 million people, dwarfing other major cities. 600 thousand of them were slaves to the top one percent. Rome, like America had by this point stopped serving its citizens and instead served the interests of it's military industrial complex and their global ambitions. In Rome's case what this lead to was the outsourcing of war to cheaper 'barbarian' Germanic forces. These German warriors went on to turn on their former masters and gain absolute power and in the process ravaged and destroyed much of western civilisation, bringing on which we now regard as the Dark Ages.

I know Obama does not support the military industrial complex. He has kept America out of middle eastern conflicts even at the expense of being perceived as a foreign policy 'lame duck' . Obama is a power speaker who can make his thoughts resonate in a way that Eisenhower's valedictory speech did, even if it takes 50 years to be appreciated.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Analytical engines will breath life into your online identity

I've wanted to write something about data for a long time, as I work in big data & data analytics for a living. My thinking has come together around real-time decisioning systems so I am going to throw an idea out and see if it gains traction.

We are reaching the point where something exciting is going to happen to the 'data profile' we all have online. It is about to start making decisions for itself. Your digital self is about to start buying, selling, booking and ordering for you.

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image.
It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Imagine this: 
I get home from work, a pizza is delivered as I arrive, which is great as I've had a long day and I want to pig out on something unhealthy. The thing is I didn't order the pizza, neither did I receive a real-time personalised offer for a pizza. The system made an offer to my online digital self, and my digital self determined that yes I will take it. This in turn means now my digital self is generating its own behaviour by making decisions for me, making it as alive as my arm is.
Yes that's right - your online profile: all of the data you provide about yourself and all of the behaviour that is recorded in your photo's comments, blog posts etc. is about to start thinking for you.

I specialise in designing systems that build a '360 degree view' of customers and prospects for my clients. I take data from internal systems, external providers and peoples online social profile such as facebook to gain a deep understanding about who they are. Next I help my clients use this knowledge to improve their capabilities in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Product development. 

There are a lot of interesting things happening in this space around the personalisation of products and marketing offers to a specific individual. What that means is I take the '360 view' of a person and tailor a set of products that are best suited to them, determine the marketing approach for reaching out to them and personalising the customer service they receive.

In the past I have always viewed a 360 degree view of a person as a lifeless collection of facts, a reflection of life but not living. My thinking is changing. Your online digital self is in a primitive state right now but it is emerging. It will become an organism coupled to your flesh and blood self. 


Here's my argument:

A number of services are now moving to data driven real time decisioning. As an example, I design systems that make a marketing offer specifically based around your profile: where you live, your taste in music, how much you earn, how old you are.... and determine the best offer to make you. But you still make the decision as to whether to accept that offer.

But if you think about it, as this technology improves, these real-time decisioning engines will be so advanced and have so much data that they will know what decision you will make. 

At the moment I use this technology to help my clients sell. The next step is to help consumers by designing a decisioning agent to buy goods and services for them. Currently your personal data is stored all over the web in different forms. A 360 degree view cloud based offering could consolidate all your information for you and allow different decisioning engines to access it based on your preferences for sharing your information.

You will train buyer agents using your private personal data to make the best decisions that can be made for you. The great thing about this approach is it makes your data profile work for you, empowering you as an individual. The more comprehensive your online profile is, the better the decisions your decisioning agent can make on your behalf. The personalised marketing agent will use the limited data you make available to it to present an offer to your personal buying agent, which will use your complete data profile to evaluate the offer.

Going back to the Pizza example above. I will set up by decisioning agent to buy me dinner when I'm heading home from work. By tracking my GPS location it will know when I have got on the bus to go home. It will also know what I've been eating during the week, what I like to eat on a week day, what's good for me to eat, what deals are going on and what my budget is. It will use all that information to make an educated guess as to what I want to eat. If I don't like it's decision I can retrain it or buy a better decisioning agent.


Empowering the Individual:

I believe that many of the concerns we all have about the amount of data corporations store about us stem from the lack of control we have over how the data is collected and how it is used. By allowing individuals to build their own single consolidated profile of themselves and maintain the level of access external parties have to the data, the current information asymmetries are corrected and the individual is empowered. 

The Individual will now have a clear understanding of how their data rich profile is used to add value to their own lives and not just to a corporation's bottom lines.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Franco-British Empire - Alternative History



What would have happened if the French and British had combined forces after world war II? It isn't as far fetched as it sounds.

I believe that a combined Franco-British empire with American financial support could have staved off decolonisation and communism whilst maintaining peace and stability in the middle east and, more importantly its colonies would now be independent healthy, wealthy, well-educated countries instead of the poverty, war and corruption ridden wastelands that has been left behind after the departure of empire.
The sun never seats on the Franco-British Empire


A Franco-Anglican union was first proposed during World War II, to try and keep the French fighting the Germans.

Anyway why didn't it happen? Here's the first attempt - WWII:


They first tried to combine when the Germans took Paris in WWII, de Gaul loved the idea. But the French under Pétain decided Vichy France was a better proposition.

Churchill and de Gaul loved the idea

Reynaud supporter Charles de Gaulle had arrived in London earlier that day, however, and Monnet told him about the proposed union.[1] De Gaulle convinced Churchill that "some dramatic move was essential to give Reynaud the support which he needed to keep his Government in the war".[2] 
The final "Declaration of union" approved by the British War Cabinet stated that[1]
France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union. The constitution of the Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a citizen of France.
However not all French agreed, leading to a German controlled Vichy France winning out:

Other French leaders were less enthusiastic, however. At the 5 p.m. cabinet meeting, many called it a British "last minute plan" to steal its colonies, and said that "be[ing] a Nazi province" was preferable to becoming a British dominionPhilippe Pétain, a leader of the pro-armistice group, called union "fusion with a corpse". While President Albert Lebrun and some others were supportive, the cabinet's opposition stunned Reynaud. He resigned that evening without taking a formal vote on the union or an armistice, and later called the failure of the union the "greatest disappointment of my political career".[1]

Second attempt - The Suez crisis (1956)

The second attempt was during the Suez crisis, when the British and French combined forces to take back the Suez canal from Egypt, but Eisenhower pulled the plug on it by threatening the withdrawal of American loans to Britain. This lead to the end of the British and French empires.

Before decolonisation commenced everything came to a head at Suez in 1956. The Suez crisis occurred when Egyptian president Nasser nationalised the Suez canal. Without the revenue stream of the canal as well as the subsidised shipping tariffs the British Empire was doomed. So the French and British hatched a plan to take back the canal with Britain's middle eastern proxy force, Israel, contributing most of the man power.

In September 1956, due to a common foe during the Suez Crisis, an Anglo-French Task Force was created. French Prime Minister Guy Mollet proposed a union between the United Kingdom and the French Union with Elizabeth II as head of state and a common citizenship. As an alternative, Mollet proposed that France join the Commonwealth. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden rejected both proposals and France went on to join the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community and strengthened the Franco-German cooperation.[3][4]

British and French attach Egypt to 'liberate' the Suez canal.
Israel provided most of the manpower

Why didn't it happen? Britain was heavily in debt to the USA. Eisenhower was worried that Eisenhower Soviets would gain the upper hand in the middle east if he didn't reign the Franco-British-Israeli axis in. Eisenhower threatened to recall American financial aid to the British that was being used to rebuild Britain's economy after WWII devastation if they did not immediately pull out of Egypt. His main concern was that the Arabs would side with the Russians in the cold war if he didn't reign in 'the western imperialists'. 
Richard Nixon wrote in the 1980s, “I talked to Eisenhower about Suez;
he told me it was his major foreign policy mistake.”

Face with Eisenhower's financial aid threat, the English wimped out and the French instead cozied up to the Germans, signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957 which lead to the eventual creation of a German dominated European Union. Britain on the other hand has been in a state of decline ever since.

Wait a minute, Israel was a British pawn??

YES. See the state of Israel owed its existence to the British wanting manpower to defend the Suez canal.. that was the main reason for the Balfor declaration.. but you wont hear about that in History class:
I myself had not previously thought of Zionism as much more than a sentimental fantasy. But Sykes soon persuaded me that, from the purely British point of view, a prosperous Jewish population in Palestine, owning its inception and its opportunity of development to British policy, might be an invaluable asset as a defence of the Suez Canal against attack from the north and as a station on the future air routes to the east....
Amery had entered a similar thought into his diary on July 26, 1928: "Our ultimate end is clearly to make Palestine the centre of a western influence, using the Jews as we have used the Scots, to carry the English ideal through the Middle East and not merely to make an artificial oriental Hebrew enclave in an oriental country."

Third and final attempt, before the treaty of Rome: 'Plan G' Inviting Europe to join the British Commonwealth

At a time when Germany and France, together with Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, were planning for what later became the European Union, and newly independent African countries were joining the Commonwealth, new ideas were floated to prevent Britain from becoming isolated in economic affairs. British trade with the Commonwealth was four times larger than trade with Europe. The British government under Prime Minister Anthony Eden considered in 1956-57 a "plan G" to create a European free trade zone while also protecting the favoured status of the Commonwealth.[19][20][21] Britain also considered inviting Scandinavian and other European countries to join the Commonwealth so it would become a major economic common market. At one point in October 1956 Eden and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet discussed having France join the Commonwealth. Nothing came of any of the proposals.[22]

What could a Franco-British Empire have achieved?

  • Prevention of decolonisation of British & French Empires. A combined British and French war machine controlling the Suez canal and financially supported by the Americans could have held nationalist movements and communists in check, preventing the need to decolonise. 
  • Former British colonies would have been better off: The British always planned to give colonies dominion status once they reached a level of political and economic development. If you look at what happened to British colonies once they left the empire, war and poverty overcame most.
  • Prevention of French military defeat to in its former colonies. The British had already defeated an insurgency in Indo-China during the Malayan emergency. Their help in south east asia probably would have helped turn the tied against the communists in the Vietnam war. The same goes for Algeria.
  • Prevention of German political and financial takeover of Europe.  After Suez, French plans for Union with Britain were dashed as was plan G, which was to bring western Europe into the commonwealth. This lead to France signing the treaty of Rome, leading to the EEC which was followed by the EU and ultimately to German domination of Europe.
  • A more stable world order, especially in the middle-east. The Americans have done a rather terrible job at maintaining world order since the fall of the Soviet Union. They just don't get it. Do I think the Sykes–Picot Agreement would have done a better job of maintaining peace in the middle east than the current Israeli-Saudi Arabia-USA axis? YES.