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Robert David STEELE Vivas RSS Feed (Oakton, VA United States)

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(Single) Solid Cast Iron Kettbell (5 LB) - ˛KVCSZ
(Single) Solid Cast Iron Kettbell (5 LB) - ˛KVCSZ
Offered by idzo
Price: $15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Love It -- but not sized for exercise, July 31, 2014
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This is a desktop ornament, not a real exercise device, my mistake completely. I actually like it very much as a gift for those who love kettle balls. It's a paperweight. A really cool paperweight.

DVD ~ Russell Crowe
Price: $16.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars Weak Odd Beginning, Ends Well -- a Solid Four, July 31, 2014
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This review is from: Noah (DVD)
I am getting sick and tired of morons rooted in religion as ideology (as opposed to religion as compassion). Ignore all the negative reviews, they are rooted in small closed minds incapable of discerning nuances.

The team producing this movie over-reached badly on the beginning and the sci-fi aspects they portray at the beginning. That costs them one star. The rest of the movie is a compelling mix of extaordinary cinematography, a subtle script in which Cain keeps resurfacing including in Noah's own son, and a very happy tear-jerking ending in which man is resurrected from the dead.

Not worth going to a movie house for, but absolutely worth having on background at the flat screen that is next to all smart people's double-screen workstation. Not Russell Crowe's best work, a few extraordinary facial arrangements not-with-standing, but by no means deserving of all the ignorant vitrol from creationists and absolutists out of touch with reality.

This movie joins 134 other DVDs I recommend for smart people. My summaries are all easily found at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, use Categories scoll bar to get to the very bottom. All my reviews lead back to their Amazon page.

Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution
Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution
by Andrew Boyd
Edition: Paperback
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Of, By, For the Community, July 23, 2014
I bought this book at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) in NYC, just concluded, along with another not listed at Amazon that I want to mention, Micah L. Sifry's "The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn't Transformed Politics (Yet).

This book, at 138 pages in pocket size (3/5ths of a normal pocketbook), is an utter gem. At a minimum it forces reflection. Produced by a team of people and organizations, this is a community resources in every sense of the word.

By all means use Look Inside the Book, it does offer a Kindle version look at the contents, otherwise I would have repeated the table of contents here. This is an important book, perhaps most useful as an inspiration and as a source of reflection on what is possible. It is a book I will carry in my briefcase to visit across many days and places.

Below I list other titles to consider in two blocks -- five in this genre, specifics of organizing, and five in the larger context of collective intelligence and public power.

Organizing for Social Change 4th Edition
Strike Back: Using the Militant Tactics of Labor's Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today
Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements
The Occupy Handbook
Occupy: Reflections on Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity (Occupied Media Pamphlet Series)

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
Participatory Budgeting (Public Sector Governance and Accountability)
Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas

935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity
935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity
by Charles Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.00
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Title Short-Changes Value -- This is One of the Most Important Books of Our Time, July 12, 2014
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I'm not thrilled with the title because it implies to the browser that the book is about the 935 now-documented lies that led to the war in Iraq, and that is not the case -- those lies are simply one of many evidentiary cases spanned a much broader spectrum. As the author himself outlines early on, the book is about a retrospective review of the struggle for truth from the lies that led to Viet-Nam to date (less 9/11); a concurrent review of the corruption and diminuition of commercial journalism; and finally, the future of the truth.

Start at the end -- on a whim I did, reading the 8th and final chapter first, and what I found not only persuaded me that this author is an intellectual and moral giant, but that he may yet have his most important work before him, the astonishing depth and breadth of his past 20 years not withstanding. Returning to the beginning, I appreciated the first seven chapters with the benefit of the author's own concluding perspective.

I would quibble with the author in starting with Viet-Nam, but it makes sense in the context of his focus on the Constitution as the first casualty, and the long march from giving the President war powers for Viet-Nam to letting Dick Cheney get away with 935 lies leading to Iraq. For me, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Warren Commission cover-up are a more logical starting point. That was the point at which presidents ceased being president, and the start of what Matt Taibbi would later immortalize with a new word: Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History.

Among the many integrated elements of this book that inspire my admiration are the woven tale of how information has been controlled by the government in a manipulative manner, and truth foresaken -- mission abdicated -- by the professional press -- along with stellar selections of quotations from key figures. In some ways I am reminded of Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present.

The perfect complement to this book's beginning is Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers where I have a very long summary review. It is helpful to remember that J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the FBI during this period, and in addition to being complicit in the assassination of both Kennedy's and Martin Luther King, was the originator of governance by blackmail -- he would surely drool today over how the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, along with all too many "federalized" adjuncts at the state and local level, are able to intimidate virtually anyone daring to risk independent thought.

Chapter three brings us home to the matter of race and the author's early discovery that just about everything the government says and does with respect to race is theater -- lip service -- dishonoring all that we allegedly stand for. This is the chapter that causes me to appreciate the author's broadness of reading -- every page sparkles with at least one recommended book title. Here I will add one of my own, William Pepper's An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King

Chapter four uses CIA activities in Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador, as well as the Iran-Contra scandal, to explore secret foreign policy and the arrogance of power. There are some gems here, including the realization that there are many different US foreign policies on any given issue, each with its own variation of truth. The author cites Seymour Hersh in noting that [just as with Viet-Nam] the central issue here is the assumption by the Executive of war powers and enactment of treaty-level rampages without respect for the Constitutional authority of the Senate. He does not quote, but I choose to insert here, Henry Kissinger's now immortal quote from a Wikileaks cable, "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer." And all those gathered in the White House laughed. As a complement to this chapter, see Ambassador Mark Palmer's book, Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025 -- the US Government is best pals with 42 of the 44 dictators on the planet. As I write this, elements of the US Government are still trying to throw Ghani in Afghanistan under the bus, and illegally instal Abdullah, a 100% Tajik who can be definition never win more than 40% of the vote no matter how much Iranian or CIA money he has going for him. Ghani won the election 60-40 (55-45 if you count the fraudulent votes Karzai arranged for Abdullah) and for reasons that escape me, the Secretary of State is in Afghanistan trying to pretend that Ghani lost, Abdullah won, and they should split the power (which in the case of Abdullah and the Panjshiri kleptocracy, means gaining a license to loot).

Chapter five, "Doubt Is Their Product," focuses on corporate lies and corporate pressures that have essentially shut down investigative jouralism. The author focuses on tobacco and ends with references to other industries and now the Koch Brothers (to which he might have added Justice Powell and the US Chamber of Commerce). Ralph Nader's book Unsafe At Any Speed was in fact about corporate irresponsibility -- his number two, Jim Turner, went on to focus on the irresponsibility of the industries reducing health and allegedly fostering health). True cost economics is not in this book, but I am inspired to believe this book is a starting point for the author's next 20 years, NOT just a summary of the past 20. There is so much to be done.

Chapter six explores the beginning of media self-censorship, media executive complicity with government misbehaviro and misrepresentation. I am struck by the US military declaration that "unwarranted criticism" is censorable.

QUOTE (164): "TV is an immensely powerful medium, but its potential to make astonishing sums of money is typically realized only by appealing to the lowest-common denominator instincts of viewers."

Someone smarter than me has observed that television destroyed in-depth reporting in historical context because there are no archives from the 15th Century (when Herat in Afghanistan was the capital of the Persian Empire). As I have watched the NYT and WSJ makes fools of themselves over the Afghan run-off election [see 15 truth-full posts on Ghani at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog], I have to conclude that both TV and print media have lost their minds -- over-paid reporters are getting by recycling unverified information and no one is doing what Robert Young Pelton, one of America's greatest journalist, does: go talk to those affected on the ground, outside the hotel -- it's actually much safer on the streets than most realize.

This chapter is finished in the final chapter -- the author begins to articulate a new ecology of truth-finding and truth-telling that is non-profit in nature, replacing the traditional media outlets that are financially unsustainable in their current configurations.

Chapter seven has this quote and I will leave it at that -- buy the book for this chapter (and the last) alone.

QUOTE (180): "Over the years, those unhappy with my investigations have tried just about everything to discourage me. They have issued supeonas, stalked my hotel rooms, escorted me off military bases, threatened me with arrest or with being thrown from a second-story window, hired shills to pose as reporters asking disruptive questions at nationally televised news conferences and even arranged to have death threats delivered by concerned state troopers who urged me to leave town immediately. (I didn't). And of course they have launched frivelous libel lawsuits that took years and cost hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to fight before they were dismissed."

The last chapter floored me. This is the one chapter that should be in every single journalism course -- and every scientific research seminar, every civil activist training class, every government school, every business school (they still don't teach commercial intelligence), every law enforcement, media, military, and non-profit curriculum. This is the chapter that brings it all together and outlines an inspiring future in which non-profit journalism and a new model combining non-profit reporters, academic interns, and many others across all boundaries, come together what is in essence a healthy World Brain.

QUOTE (225): "Imagine a world in which individual researchers, public-interest activists, lawyers, political scientists, government prosecutors and investigators, corporate investigators, forensic accountants, political scientists (sic - second mention), computer experts, investigative historians, public anthropologists, and journalists are sometimes looking for truth in all the same places, using the same exciting new data technologies and analytics, exchanging ideas and information, and sometimes working and writing together, whether side by side or across borders and genres."

Wow. This is also a chapter that mentions a number of organizations that are trying -- but not succeeding -- at taking truth-finding and telling to the next level, and it includes some noteworthy book recommendations, such as Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Vintage).

The author ends with a call for a new multi-disciplinary field he calls "Accountability Studies." It is at this point that I reflect the benefit of connecting the author to both Open Source Everything (the technical solution) and True Cost Economics as pioneeered by Herman Daly (see for instance For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future.

The legal counterpart to this book focused on the public's right to know and in particular the First Ammendment, is Danny Sheehan's The People's Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America's Most Fearless Public Interest Lawyer. On the economic side, in addition to Matt Taibbi's Griftopia cited above, I recommend William Greider's many books, and especially The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy.

I have to say that of all the books I have read in the past few years, this one has given me more hope in relation to the emergence of public intelligence in the public interest. I pray that the extraordinary accomplishments of the author and those he organized is but a preamble to the main event: the emergence of transparency, truth, and trust as a non-negotiable public good.

Best wishes to all
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2014 5:01 AM PDT

Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation
Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation
by Brett Goldstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.29
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb on Open Data, Missing Important Context And Index, July 6, 2014
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This is a superb collection of individual very short contributions. Absolutely worth reading and strongly recommended for purchase and sharing.

Some take-aways:

80% of government purchasing falls below the bidding / documentation threshold

Academic and Non-Profit organizations are not rushing toward Open Data

Algorithmic regulation is needed (I agree, computational mathematics is out of control)

Antiquated data perpetuates antiquated cultures

Big Data is not really understood by the Open Data crowd

Boundaries created by legacy software are dirty dirty dirty

Citizen-centered design is the opposite of how we do data generally

Citizen engagement is the ultimate value delivered by Open Data

Citizen engagement requires education, outreach, and reinforcement

Community development is a frontier waiting for Open Data to work its magic

Constituent Relationship Management is now in its third generation

Crowd sourcing could be the next big thing in Open Data

Data conversion is a MONSTER -- especially from analog

Data co-ops are emergent and inspiring

Data definiton matters -- confusion does arise

Data-driven government is a great meme, in its infancy

Data owners fight you at first, later they become your customers

Data science seven stages: acquire, parse, filter, mine, represent, refine, interact

Data visualization helps avoid "lost in translation" issues

Education and training in Open Data are in short supply for the mass of potential government employees

Enlightened government officials can be found...but not easily

Feed speeds suck and excess processing capacity is hard to find

FOIA is a very powerful tool (I would add -- and EPIC knows how to do this)

Google is grossly over-valued by these folks (Google does the surface web (2% of the deep web))

"Government as a platform" is cute but disconnected from reality -- 90% of the data is outside government

Humans matter -- get to the humans behind the data if you really want to get it right

Inclusive engagement has not made the leap to inclusive capitalism

Intelligence (as decision-support) is not fully understood by the "data-driven" crowd

Investments still powered by elites and institutions instead of people or their ecosystems

IT professionals (old guard) consider citizens to be alien creatures

Journalists still do not have a means of sharing information across all boundaries

Legacy data comes with very big warts

Local ecosystems can be magical

Local scale is not to be ignored -- seize the opportunity

Mobile applications take Open Data up an order of magnitude

Open Data analytics are in their infancy (to which I would add, lacking 360 degree factoring and true cost economics)

Open Data can potentially overturn decades of burdensome regulations many of which make no sense at all

Open Data can save tons of taxpayer money -- if government agencies would share with one another

Open Data changes the narrative on all fronts (citizen, employees, media, small business)

Open Data collaboration across boundaries (e.g. inter-city) has a muliplier effect

Open Data creates economic value

Open Data inspires innovation -- its greatest value is in savings not necessarily in transparency

Open Data is (or at least should be) a public good, a common good

Open Data leads to continuous improvement

Open Data saves tons of government employee time and taxpayer dollars

Open Data usually means open records -- capturing open data points on the fly is in its infancy

Open Data without Open Geospatial is not working at its fullest potential

Open Design is essential to the future of Open Data

Open Government is nowhere near synonymous with Open Democracy

Organizational changes wreak havoc on data bases

Performance management demands that you measure the right things (to which I would add, add true costs)

Philanthropy is main funding source now -- ROI for Open Data not yet understood by Capital

Privacy matters -- this impacts on level of detail and visualization

Scaling requires standards

Shared data does not automatically come with shared knowledge

Transparency builds trust -- trust is rapidly declining in the Internet era

True costs are hard to find and scattered among analog, digital, and undisclosed records

Total costs due not include true costs (ecologicial, social) unless you plan for same

Updating can be a nightmare

As I finish reading the book I am even more annoyed by the lack of an index -- I would go so far as to say that in addition to the index there should be a special listing of key personalities (pioneers), companies, and softwares cited throughout the book. Lazy makes me crazy. The book should be redone to include an index, the guide, and a consolidated bibliography.

Excellent concluding quote from Alec J. Ross: "The principle binary struggle of the 21st century is not left or right but open societies versus closed." This quote could be adapted to change open to open/horizontal versus closed/hierarchical.

I have taken away one star for two reasons: there is no index (for example, I cannot look up every reference to geospatial or visualization) and there is no consolidated bibliography -- the team publishing this book has been lazy; and there is no larger understanding communicated with respect to the fact that Open Data alone whithers outside an open source ecology that must include at a minimum OpenCloud, Open Hardware, Open Software, and Open Spectrum.

Put another way, the authors are enthralled--and rightly so--with what happens when Open Data leads to startling efficiencies, insights, new collaboration relationships, and so on. What they do not get is what the governments of China, India, and Norway, among others, have gotten: citizens should not have to buy proprietary software (e.g. Microsoft) in order to read public data.

See my graphic on a selection of opens comprising the open source ecology we need -- opens that do not hang together will hang separately -- and see also the tiny url /OSE-2014 for the lastest on the Open Source Everything meme.

Other books I have reviewed with Open in the title:

Open Space Technology: A User's Guide
The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education
Innovation Happens Elsewhere: Open Source as Business Strategy
Open Source Intelligence in a Networked World (Continuum Intelligence Studies)
No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence (Praeger Security International)
Open Source Intelligence Techniques: Resources for Searching and Analyzing Online Information
Counterterrorism and Open Source Intelligence (Lecture Notes in Social Networks)
The Philanthropy of George Soros: Building Open Societies
The Crisis Of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered
Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2006

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas

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Offered by E-Bundle
Price: $18.45
6 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars price is very good, no complaints, July 3, 2014
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Am always nervous ordering stuff from China. This worked, price is very good, no complaints, so highly recommended.

Solo Classic Collection Leather CheckFast Rolling Case for Laptops up to 15.6 Inches, Tan (D529-1)
Solo Classic Collection Leather CheckFast Rolling Case for Laptops up to 15.6 Inches, Tan (D529-1)
Price: $129.21
3 used & new from $125.65

4.0 out of 5 stars The outer case is as good as ever, July 3, 2014
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The outer case is as good as ever. I had to buy a new one because the collapsable handle broke on my first one. That is still a major vulnerability point. I am removing one star because they have cut corners on this product. The new version does not come with the zipped bag that goes in the middle vertical space between the roller wheels and the handle legs, and the new version does not have the assortment of mesh and zipped pockets that made the first pocket so useful.

The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation
The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation
by Josh Linkner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.01
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars -- The First Book to Connect All the Dots, June 29, 2014
I have decided to rate this book at "beyond five stars" for two reasons: first, because of all the books I have read on innovation, transformation, change management, and so on, this is the first one that I have found to be all inclusive -- this is a capstone book, a stand-alone gem; and second, because this is the book I wanted to write in 1994 and could not. I have been waiting for a book such as this, not only for myself, but as a gift to top leaders who realize their organizations are broken and need a "booster shot" to get going on house cleaning followed by radical innovation.

First, by way of context, here are a few books on innovation I have reviewed previously, to make the point that this book exceeds them all (I do not list the lesser books):

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs
Managing Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno Innovations: Converging Technologies in Society
Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked Problems
Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation
The New Age of Innovation: Driving Cocreated Value Through Global Networks
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Innovation Happens Elsewhere: Open Source as Business Strategy
Seeing What's Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change
Get Back in the Box: How Being Great at What You Do Is Great for Business
Innovation and Entrepreneurship

There are many other good books in this arena, including those by Clayton Christensen, a standard-setter.

My copy of the book is heavily annotated in relation to the US secret intelligence community that I have been trying to reform for 25 years -- now I realize I should have been creating disruptive competition, something Alvin Toffler understood when he wrote the chapter on "The Future of the Spy" and called me the rival store. I was slow to break away from loyalty to the system I understood.

Early on the focus is on the need for a mind-set shift that embraces openness with lets go of the past, demonstrates courage, welcomes risk and failure, have a sense of urgency, operate from the bottom up, be idea centric, agile, and constantly generate new ideas...everything a typical rule-based bureaucracy or corporation refuses to entertain.

QUOTE (22): It turns out that playing it safe has become recklessly dangerous.

Early on the book celebrates contrarains (who in the secret world are marginalized if not fired) and suggests that making a list of all the existing rules and common practices, and then imagining their 180 degree opposites, is a fine way to start brainstorming a break-out.

"See with the Customer's Eye" is a vital tool, and I have an annotation, "meet the needs of the 80% not receiving intelligence today!" (See my CounterPunch article, "Intelligence for the President -- AND Everyone Else." A list of 20 questions about customers I find most helpful, among the questions are "What infuriates your customers today" and "What is one thing your customer wants, but can't get, from any business in your industry?"

Sections on raid your existing assets and find the 10X factor inspire me to contemplate radical reductions in technical collection that is not processing; the reinvention of human intelligence to focus on overt contacts that are not traitors, and the liberation of open sources from the prison cell where they are kept now. Any innovation should strive to deliver at least ten times more value -- ten times more return on investment -- than what it is to displace.

Unlike other books, this one places due emphasis on identifying and clearing away the "cannonballs," which is to say the "old guard" that is undermining the leadership at every turn, protecting the status quo ante. Find and remove deadweight is priority one. It's not enough to launch a lifeboat if the cannonballs are all focused on sinking that lifeboat. The list of common traits of executives that better companies fire reads like a list of imperial privileges at the senior executive level in the US Government.

There are ample examples of innovation, one of the more memorable was a hospital that hired a hotel man as CEO instead of a doctor, and focused on the intersection of health and hospitality. As I contemplate 40 years of dealing with the secret world, most of what I remember is unpleasant: naysayers, gaps, security obstacles, not invented here, cannot talk to foreigners, etcetera. I ask myself, what if we stopped all production and no one noticed?

Various lists are sprinkled throughout the book, including one on reinventing communications including an end to long briefings and a demand for more rapid-fire give and take that is inclusive.

The middle half of the book is about culture and trust.

QUOTE (133): Changing the rules of engagement is never easy. Many people in your organization have a vested interest in preserving the past." Must and Must Not lists are found here. The six rules of creative cultures are:

01 Fuel Passion
02 Hunt and Kill Assumptions
03 Never Stand Still
04 Embrace Oddball Ideas [to which I would add, "and Oddballs."]
05 Stick It to the Man [be irreverent]
06 Fight to Win [not just for budget share -- try to make a difference, not just tread water]

Critical to innovation in any large organization is acceptance of the death of "one size fits all." Here I would start with the Human Relations (HR) folks, people who in my experience have become lazy and counter-productive. Most of the "standards" that HR has developed to define "hireable" people are retarded -- archaic -- and a major part of why the wrong people keep getting hired.

Connecting with real customers is emphasized toward the end of the book. In the secret world most analysts are not allowed to talk to customers, nor are they allowed to talk to sources. They are especially not allowed to talk to foreigners with contrarian views -- and we wonder why we get it wrong so often.

The book draws to a close with a more personal checklist that includes a small section on assessing your impact:

01 Do you liberate or restrict?
02 Do you enact solutions or complain about problems?
03 Do you energize or drain?
04 Do you elevate others or set them back?

I have a note on the IC standard leadership tactic, "kiss up, kick down." Not cool at all. I do agree with those who describe the secret world and defense acquisition as the last vestige of the Soviet gulag and central planning model. Did not work for them, does not work for us.

Finally, the book focuses on making a list of things you should stop doing. A long list.

I found the notes and the index above the norm for a book of this kind, and like the book so much I am giving it to a senior leader who may in turn give it to a flag officer we think shows great promise. I anticipate some will not agree with my six stars, but I am doing that for a reason -- that puts this book into my top ten percent of all books I have reviewed at Amazon, and I hope it marks the book as one worthy of a close reflective read. If you are ready to do some soul-searching and get off the gerbil wheel, this is a really fine book for your first step.

Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story
Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story
by Jack Devine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.72
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Bible for Covert Operations -- Joins Dulles, Helms, Colby as a Classic, June 3, 2014
I strongly recommend this book! I happily disclose that I received the book from the publisher at my request and that I have worked for Jack directly. I have also reviewed hundreds of books on Intelligence. This is easily the most insightful and sophisticated look at the important covert action aspect of the intelligence business. This critical tool of statecraft was established in the charter that created the CIA during the Truman administration. It gave CIA the mandate to carry out "special activities as directed by the President." Over his 32-year career, Jack was uniquely involved in a wide range of these covert activities, including the ousting of Allende in Chile, the Iran Contra affair, the successful defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan, the hunt for drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar and the reinstatement of Aristide in Haiti.

He also weaves in his direct experiences with Rick Ames, the Soviet mole inside CIA as well as the hunt for Robert Hanssen, the mole inside the FBI. Moreover, he shares important insights about his tenure as the chief of all CIA worldwide operations in the mid 90"s. That said, his main contribution is setting out the good and bad characteristics of covert action. He does it with candor , wit and wisdom.

He articulates the characteristics of smart Covert Action (CA), one I might call the "Devine Doctrine," for successful covert operations. The seven principles are:

01 Viable partners in place
02 Real-time accurate information
03 Adequate resources
04 Bipartisan political support
05 A direct threat to US security
06 Proportionality
07 A reasonable prospect for success

While I don't share his view about the priority of CA and would rather emphasize decision-support (creating ethical evidence-based tailored intelligence for Whole of Government so that the public interest is served across every mission area), I must emphasize that CA is a major part of intelligence and this book is a necessary read for followers of intelligence. If and when covert action and clandestine operations are necessary, this is the Bible, or in military terms, "REF A." This book is valuable to multiple audiences. For the professional audience -- young case officers and rising managers -- this is the new bible, a bit thin on some important topics of interest to me, but deep where it matters most.

It is also noteworthy that Good Hunting has an added benefit in his describing his post-CIA work in the private sector where he along with prominent NYC financial crimes attorney Stanley Arkin have created a very successful private sector intelligence business. There is very little written on the subject at the high end of the industry. The conclusion of the book is a mix of success stories from commercial intelligence that should open many reader's eyes -- Jack has raised the bar on what can be done in emerging marketplaces particularly, at Wall Street levels of speed and value -- and I totally embrace his prescriptions for modest reform in how the US Government makes decisions, goes to war, and wages peace and commerce. All this from an individual that could arguably be called the most successful US spy in modern history, and also one of the most successful commercial intelligence pioneers in modern history.

This is a superbly-crafted book that took me seven hours to appreciate, and another hour to organize my notes and develop this review. While it can and should be read on the train to and from NYC, it is more properly appreciated as the tip of the iceberg, an invitation to get serious about the evolving craft of intelligence. Each chapter in this book covers an extraordinary aspect of clandestine operations; I have been directly involved in some of these. I give the book high marks for communicating important lessons, and for avoiding disclosure of details that would detract from their intended narrative.

There are so many details in this book that are valuable (e.g. $1000 as standard monthly salary for an asset) and so much that I agree with (e.g. torture does not work, exiles are generally impotent problem children) this is absolutely a book that merits careful reading -- this is not just a spy story, this is a management, leadership, and practical handbook. I would rate it as the modern equivalent of the books by Dulles, Helms, and Colby.

The Craft of Intelligence: America's Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World
A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency
Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA

The entire book is a study in incremental innovation within the constraints of a very grid-locked system.

There are of course matters not addressed in this book. Below I link to seven books that in my view complement this book and the three books listed above, along with the 300+ books in my master list, Worth a Look: Books on Secret Government Intelligence:

Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century
The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw
Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold
Someone Would Have Talked
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2014 11:38 AM PDT

The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
by John Micklethwait
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.37
60 used & new from $13.17

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trying to Do the Wrong Thing Righter -- State is Least of Our Problems, June 2, 2014
I am reading Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better, a gift from a former naval officer who shares my outrage over the US Government being 50% waste across the board. This book looks interesting but insufficient. As most of us now know, government is one of eight major action and information tribes (the other seven are academic, civil society including labor and religion, commerce especially small business, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit organizations (NGO).

Trying to fix the state in isolation is a classic example of what Buckminster Fuller said we should never do (don't try to fix a dysfunctional system, instead create a new system that displaces it) and what Russell Ackoff would label another attempt to do the wrong thing righter, instead of doing the right thing.

The "right thing" in my view is hybrid governance that relies on transparency, truth, and trust -- an autonomous internet that cannot be shut down or censored; liberation technology including free energy that can no longer be repressed, open source everything (cloud, data, hardware, software, spectrum, standards, etcetera) because that is the only form that is affordable, inter-operable, and scalable, and so on.

So buy the book and enjoy -- it is, like the failed attempts to define "inclusive capitalism," dead on arrival. On balance I believe Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better is the better book, and also recommend the following additional books:

Global Public Policy: Governing without Government?
Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance
High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years To Solve Them
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2014 8:52 AM PDT

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