Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Foreign Policy and International Topics of Interest for Think Tanks and Radio Listeners

Greetings everyone on this 18th day of October 2012, I sincerely hope your day is going better than those who live in Syria where the refugee border camps are filling up and neighboring nations can't really afford to take anymore, as 36,000 people have already died in that civil war according to UN figures, which I guess one could say are unreliable, nevertheless my sources do tell me the numbers is very high, perhaps even close to that 36K number. So, it's a tragedy anyway you look at it.
Okay so, let's get right into today's talk show and well you know the format; "I talk you listen, you listen, then we open up the phone lines for your questions and comments, and feel-free because you don't have to agree, you just have to have an intellectual counter argument, or a decent comment, and we are all good to go, if not, as you know - click goes your dial tone - so fair warning."
Since the up-coming final presidential debate will be primarily on foreign policy, we will start there, as these last few debates, if you can call them that, well, they certainly aren't helping along our national dialogue with sound bites of 2-minutes at a time and with at least enough interruptions to run you out of toes and fingers to count with. Reminds me of a reality TV series where 2-people are left on the island and they are arguing to stay - well, let's get into it now - because we are once again at the top of the hour and it's time to play - game on!
Now then, according to the Futurist Magazine, November-December issue 2012, there was an article in Future Scope in their September-October issue on page 4 discussing the challenges with the beef industry. You see, droughts in the US have hurt the beef industry something terrible, and according to the article; "China's Growing Appetite for Meat Will Strain Global Supply," these challenges could be exacerbated. We already know this is something we've been told from reading the news and understanding the serious nature of the drought this year. Of course, we know some of the pacing and moaning has been due to the Farm Bill (packed with pork for food stamps I might add - which is corporate welfare plus a social program) which Congress is trying to get passed, and the lobbyists such as the big corporate farms.
Still, it is a serious and real issue, even on the Mississippi River they noted that many of the barges were parked, and there was a traffic jam of some 100 barges as they had to navigate the center of the river due to the low volume, and there was no two-way traffic. This doesn't bode well for US farm exports, or manufacturing exports which use that waterway to get to the Gulf of Mexico, the port in New Orleans.
We also know that many of the cattle ranchers took their cattle to slaughter early because they couldn't afford to feed due to the drought issues, and cattle drink lots of water as well. This meant be prices were at an all-time low for a very short period of time, and now the demand has far outpaced the supply and the prices are will be far too great.
Incidentally, in Tennessee the favorite restaurant chain "Backyard Burgers" filed bankruptcy, and there will be more, the price of beef was a factor along with new regulations and health care costs - aka Obama Care.
Saudi Arabia is now attempting to get into the beef and dairy industry, even though there is very little water and they must import their feed, but I suppose they can trade for oil, plenty of that stuff, plus new fracking strategies allow for more - so peak oil is going to have to take a hike for a while, although that day too is coming to a Kingdom near you if you live in the Middle East.
Still, what about the perpetual drought problem in Saudi Arabia, pretty much a desert in many parts? Well, yes it is, but they are using desalination techniques, and trying their hand at building special airflow condensers to keep the cattle cool. Could this be a new industry for them, they think so. Not to mention the fact that there is a huge market and demand for meat around the globe. China for instance, they're eating more and more beef these days.
Meanwhile, according to the Wall Street Journal cattle ranchers are working to use predetermined-sex artificial insemination strategies now, why you ask, to produce more female cows. This will allow them to increase their herds more rapidly when the water comes back, the feed prices come down, and things return to normal - question is; what is the new normal going to be? In the past it's taken years to rebuild the herds after large scale droughts, and that doesn't bode so well for our first world nation which eats quite a bit of meat. It looks as though free-market capitalism in the global marketplace is working around these issues, but the beef industry is hardly out of the woods yet.
And speaking of the global marketplace, we aren't the only nation anymore looking for an intelligent workforce and recruiting from all over the planet. Today we are competing with Europe, China, Brazil, India, the Middle East, Japan, Australia, Canada and many other nations some first world, some emerging. My question is; are we burning are potential here at home? That is to say; are we playing too much patty-cake in our schools, using too much political correctness, and creating too many socialist tendencies to produce the hard work ethic needed for math and science at the upper divisions?
Do we have enough Tiger Moms and parents that value education to get this done? Speaking of which in Discover Magazine in the October 2012 issue there was a very interesting article by Derek Lowe titled; "The Contrarian View - America Doesn't Have a Scientist Shortage," and the author stated; "we need to worry about the quality, not the quantity of US scientists." Indeed, I think I concur with this because it has also been noted that while India and China are graduating more engineers and scientists, and are now surpassing the United States in the number of research papers produced and patents filed, much of the quality is not up to par, and their research papers are not publishable in the higher end scientific journals.
Not to mention they are often plagued with plagiarism, errors, mistakes, and false data through cheating on the tests and results within their scientific studies. Interestingly enough doesn't this get back to the 80/20 rule? Where 80% of the people are taking up space and only 20% of the people are really doing anything? And really isn't there an 80/20 rule on top of that where 80% of the remaining 20%, equaling 4% is really where it's at? And if only 4% of the scientists are really making significant headway, why do we everyone else, why not focus on the best and brightest?
Merely sending people to school so they can make more money or get better jobs, or become scientist may not be relevant unless they can pull their weight, make new discoveries, and therefore we get a return on investment for all those research dollars are government is pumping into the sciences. Besides that have you looked at college tuition costs rising at 5% to 7% per annum, wouldn't you like that level of return in your investment portfolio since the turn of the century? And what about 9.6% and rising student loan default rates? We need to rethink all this, well, your thoughts might be interesting once we open up the call lines.
In Foreign Affairs Magazine September-October 2012 issue there was an interesting article by Andrew J Nathan and Andrew Scobel titled "How China Sees America" where they state that China sees the US as aggressive and hostile, and to that I say; "what a coincidence, does anyone have a mirror they can borrow, or did they already steal that intellectual property and design to make those mirrors to sell to Wal-Mart to sell here?" What brought on that article on, why did the author write it you ask?
Well, I suppose it was the comments by Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, and part of his five-point economic plan where he said he would crack down on China as a currency manipulator, along with their intellectual property theft, cyber-attacks and information stealing, along with their own aggressive actions in their surrounding territorial waters which are also claimed by nations like Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam. All of which have had words, and conflicts on the sea, sometimes over mere shoals, protruding rocks, and tiny islands.
Now China has an aircraft carrier in its Communist Red Army's Navy and so one could say that their military is no longer just about protecting the mainland, but projecting force, after all isn't that what aircraft carriers are for? This new aircraft carrier of theirs, albeit an old refurbished one which should have been sold for scrap or turned into an amusement park like the now famous Noah's Ark replica in Hong Kong, will soon begin sea trials and aircraft operations.
Perhaps The RAND Corporation made a terrible tactical error, albeit perhaps politically correct at the time when they wrote the paper about "China's International Behavior" where the paper insisted that China was consistent and nonaggressive, and yes, even the CFR Council on Foreign Relations, which I've often called the Council on Foreign Appeasement is still out today promoting China as benevolent. Still, it wasn't more than a year later after that Rand research report when all this other stuff started, along with their new military bases and port operations which are often referred to as the "string of pearls" which keep growing in size and numbers all the way to Pakistan which signed over a deep sea port of theirs on the Arabian Sea.
Therefore maybe Mitt Romney is right, and maybe the authors of this Foreign Affairs Magazine should be more concerned with what's going on, rather than what either of our nation's thinks about the other, because obviously they don't care, and they see trade along the same line graph as war, only to a lesser degree, they've even stated so. Further, it's hard to say why people in the United States trust any product coming from China after the poisonous pet food, the chemicals in the drywall, the lead in the toy paint, or the protein in the fish feed and livestock feed where those products are then processed and sent to the United States consumer. Mitt Romney is right and China needs to play fair, why is that not the order of the day in the Obama Administration - I mean last time he went to visit they dressed him up in a Mao Costume for the stage, remember?
Next, there was another interesting article in that Foreign Affairs issue, it was titled "America the Undertaxed - US Fiscal Policy and Perspective," by Andrea Louise Campbell and in her article she had a chart showing which nations were taxed the most, and which were taxed the least. The socialist European nations were taxed the highest starting with Denmark and Sweden at 48%. The United States, Chile and Mexico were at the bottom at 24.1, 18.4, and 17.4 respectively. Personally, I don't think it is right to compare the United States to a socialist nation, and I believe with our self-reliant upbringing, and our strong traditions we need not go in that direction, nor would we really enjoy a large centralized big government Nanny State.
You see, those other nations have very small populations, and previously very homogeneous perhaps not as much today, but then again their economies are not doing all that great now are they? The United States is a nation of immigrants, and people have come here from all over the world, we have many cultures mixing in our society, and huge populations.
Most of those socialist Nordic countries have very small populations, and we have many cities with populations far more than that, not to mention some of our largest states. We shouldn't compare a country with a population of 4 to 12 million and assume those strategies will work with the United States with states like California and just Southern California alone will soon be approaching 20 million.
As far as I am concerned it's unfortunate that Foreign Affairs Magazine has such jaded articles towards the socialist point of view. Yes, it is an academic intellectual point of view, but that doesn't make it right, that just proves that our academia has also been infiltrated with these poorly thought out economics theories, ones which don't not work, and for example we can look at Argentina, Venezuela, Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and of course Portugal - and realize I'm only naming a few.
Some of the same people do not believe in free-market capitalism or capitalism at all. In fact in that same Foreign Affairs Magazine there was an article suggesting that positive GDP growth might not be good at all; "Is Growth Good - Resources, Development and the Future of the Planet," by Francis Beinecke, who immediately suggested; "environmentalists do not oppose growth," however, here in the United States they surely do. And if some of these academics would get out of their lecturing halls and run a real business in the real world they might see it is quite evident that environmentalists do oppose growth, on every corner in every city and town in the United States or the world for that matter.
Just go try to put in a new restaurant, carwash, retail store, apartment complex, or God forbid some industrial business? You will be tied up in Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) until you either run out of money pain lawyers, or the bank which was going to fund the project gets taken over by the FDIC, got to love Dodd Frank and "too small to survive" theory. You might think I'm just kidding, but I'm not go try to run a business in this country and see what you'll be up against. Many of our rules and regulations have everything to do with environmentalism, socialism, and that agenda against free-market capitalists.
Still, when it comes to austerity it doesn't seem that the socialists want to cut back and live within their means. Rather they would just like to tax everyone in "until they run out of other people's money to spend," which of course is a famous quote I borrowed from Margaret Thatcher. In that same issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine, there was an article titled "Stimulus or Reform - Charting a Path out of Recession - No Time for Austerity," by Mezie D. Chin.
Of course, even though Barack Obama had spent over $5 trillion over the federal government's tax revenues over the last four years it was suggested in The American Prospect Magazine in September-October 2012 that the Obama administration should have used more stimulus money but chickened out. Can you imagine what the federal budget deficit would be if we had been allowed to spend even more? The reality is that they wasted the money - funding huge alternative energy projects that happened to be run in 50% of the cases by their crony capitalist friends and campaign contributors, as Mitt Romney noted in the debate and the "fact-checkers" didn't challenge - why? It's the truth.
The way I see it, that is basically using the taxpayers money for paying back there political contributors to ensure that those same campaign donors would continue to give them money in their next round for re-election in 2012, which is where we are right now. If you disagree, all you have to do is look at the campaign donation records, and all the names of the executives, and investors behind those projects. It's all there in black and white - or call in with proof otherwise when we open the phone lines.
Still, the socialist say we need to give more money to the poor, but now we are giving money to the middle class, or what used to be in the middle class, as we have 47 billion people on food stamps now. Meanwhile the same folks want the US taxpayer to give more money in foreign aid to help in the war on poverty.
Okay, sure let's talk about poverty for a moment, since I brought it up. You see, there was an interesting article titled "The Other War On Poverty" by Leon R Kass in International Affairs Magazine, Number 12 - Summer 2012. Now then, I have to ask, having written a couple of e-books on some of the poorest people in the very poorest nations either living in rule poor areas or in urban slums that often the war on poverty causes more poverty, what's happening in this regard. Poverty is increasing in the US remember?
Indeed, this shouldn't surprise us because the war on terrorism seems to have caused a greater ability of the terrorists to recruit more, therefore there is more terrorism. And the war on drugs seems to have increased the cost of drugs, crime, and violence. There are more people on drugs, and more money flow because of it. When it comes to our foreign policy - well, maybe the entire concept of "winning their hearts and minds" isn't working, and that familiarity is merely bringing more contempt, further, it should be noted that the law of unintended consequences seems to live within these socialist strategies, as if it is a cancer on humanity as we teach more folks to take a fish rather than to learn how to fish and remain self-reliant, now everyone is becoming weak, and they cannot stop wanting more - so which problem have they solved lately - none, certainly none using those silly socialist strategies - I'd say, perhaps you might opine? What say you, my faithful listener and article reader?
Further, it seems that we are stifling free enterprise, and free-market capitalism at every turn through overregulation. We are driving businesses away from our shores due to these increased rules and regulations, union demands, and over lawyering. It's getting very difficult to build anything in this country (even hamburgers, as I mentioned) and still compete on the global market, we've increased our wholesale prices due to regulation and taxes on just about everything from the fuel that our corporations use in delivery to the raw materials they need to make the basic products.
In National Affairs Magazine, Summer 2012 there was an article by Christopher DeMuth titled; "The Regulatory State," where he simply stated a known truism to anyone in the DC Metro area; "Washington is on a regulatory growth spurt. Hundreds of rulemaking proceedings underway or pending," and he cited; Dodd Frank, Obama Care, the EPA, and the FCC. I ask what about the FAA, FTC, DHS, and FDA just to name a few more?
Still, another author of an essay in The American Prospect Magazine, September-October 2012 issue wrote an article titled; "What If Labor Dies, What's Next? By Harold Meyerson. Well I'll tell you what would happen, it would be wonderful because the American taxpayer would not be put on the hook to bail out the underfunded pensions, the American consumer would not have to pay too much for all the products they buy, and we wouldn't have some people getting Cadillac healthcare benefits driving up the cost of healthcare for everyone else which has increased 8% per year. We wouldn't have as many protests, work slowdowns, folks trying to sneak out early and get disability benefits. And we wouldn't have giant voting blocs lobbying politicians and electing more socialist thinking leaders into our legislator or executive branch in our states or in our federal government. It actually could be wonderful for our country.
Now then, I ask where is all this socialist type thinking coming from anyway. Well, much of it is coming from the intellectual elite of academia. Of course I don't see them as anymore intellectual as anyone else and remember I run a think tank so I am not just spouting hyperbole here, as a matter fact I see that they are missing some space on their resume because they've never run a business in their life, so they don't understand economics or how the world works. Some of them actually assume that government is the creator of jobs and the economy. It's not, despite what our President has mentioned previously in speeches that inadvertently hurt my feelings and the feelings of small business entrepreneurs around this great nation.
It's not supposed to be that way, especially in the United States where we have a private central bank. Of course, under threat from the legislature and executive branch, they seem to be bending too much to political pressure, and they keep loaning the federal government money that our government cannot pay back with its current economic strategies, or won't pay back one day, meaning they will default.
Just the other day, I was at one of the big box bookstores sitting in the coffee shop and I talked to a nice lady who was getting her teacher credentials so she can teach at the college level; history and anthropology. Part of her certificate required her to take a prerequisite class on economics. She thought that was unfair, she thought economics was too hard, and she was upset that she even had to study it. However, if you look at history, various socioeconomic strategies have either succeeded, or failed and caused entire civilizations to collapse. And I'm just not talking about Amsterdam moving forward, or the challenges in Europe with the textile industry produced in India, or the changes in trade with the great Silk Roads.
We can go all the way back to the coins which were often cut into pieces because they were traded by weight not necessarily by what was on the coin, some of which they found in Norway recently dating extremely far back, more than a thousand years. It seems unfortunate that a history teacher at the college and university level feels that learning economics isn't an important foundational basis for her studies. But indeed, isn't that really the problem were looking at here?
We have students graduating from high school who may never go to college who cannot balance a checkbook, who never took an economics class, but they still vote. If a politician stands up the podium and says; "you can get free stuff for the rest of your life, and the government will pay for it, just vote for me," then they will, and they have, and it's still going on in this current election, and you think people would know better after looking at the dismal economic performance and failure an economic recovery from the Obama Administration. Am I showing my political colors here? Perhaps so, but if you listen to this radio show long or read my articles enough you know exactly what I'm talking about, but you are one or the informed ones, an informed voter, what about all these other folks? They are voting too you know.
Personally, I have seen the future, but Obama's vision of it doesn't exist in that future, it can't. Because if the United States of America is to have a future at all, it cannot be a socialist one, or this whole thing is going to come down like a crashing house of cards being run over by a cement truck, laden with all that dead weight, debris, and debt. Well, I guess that's my opinion, and I thought it was rather great when Mitt Romney stated at the end of the third debate during this political season; "The Obama Administration's policies have failed, this is the United States of America and we don't have to live like this," and then offered up his five-point plan one more time. I guess I'm with him and those words, and as you know we like to get a little opinionated on this radio show and with the articles I write.
So here we are once again at the end of 30 minutes of me talking, and you listening, and now it's your turn to sound off I will now open the phone lines, or if you are reading the transcript online post a comment or two, or shoot me an electronic mail message.
Remember the rules; bring your mind, engage in intellectual dialogue, and maybe we can do better than these tit-for-tat cat fights in these presidential election debates we've been listening to? That's the goal here today. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it, and you can start dialing that phone now, or posting a comment below if you are reading this online.
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10 Mythbusters to Common Writing "Cop Outs" - No More Excuses

What is it you want to cross off your to-do list this semester instead of rolling over to the new year? Perhaps you are looking forward to making significant progress on your thesis, dissertation, book or journal article before the end of the year. Be specific. How many pages/chapters would you have to finish for you to feel like you have made significant progress? I believe that a good thesis or dissertation is a DONE thesis or dissertation.
How many excuses have you come up to explain why you can't begin to work on your thesis or dissertation today? Most of these excuses are simply "myths." Following are "mythbusters" to common writing "cop outs."
Myth #1: "I know it is time for me to start writing, but I just have not done enough research yet. I will spend one more night at the library or on the internet, and then I will start writing my paper."
Reality: Let us face it: there is no end to the information you could ultimately collect for your thesis or dissertation. At some point, you've got to stop researching and start writing. A good measure is to begin writing when you start seeing the same information over and over again. It is always a good idea to just free write your ideas onto to paper first, without worrying about style or grammar, just to see where the holes are in your argument. Another good strategy is to create an outline for each section or paragraph that includes all author citations. As an expert in your field, your advisor may be able to glance at the outline and determine right away if you are missing a major piece of research.
Myth #2: "I cannot move on to my next chapter until I get back previous chapter from my advisor."
Reality: Your advisor always assumes that you are and adult and able to manage your time and your writing project. As a graduate student your task is to make daily progress; revising the same chapter over and over again does not move you forward in any substantive way. You should not wait until each chapter is fully polished before you move on. You should be giving your advisor a new chapter to read while you revise the one s/he gives back to you.
Your job as a graduate student is to keep your advisor apprised of what you are doing. If you are constantly just giving him or her the same three chapters this does not convince him that you are making progress. As always, you should provide your advisor with an outline and cover sheet with instructions on how to read the document you have submitted for review. Thus you should write another chapter while you are waiting to hear back from your advisor or committee members.
Myth #3: "I do my best work under pressure."
Reality: This is not undergraduate school, where you could get away with pulling an all-nighter to cram for a test the next day. Your thesis or dissertation is a months-long process, and you'll need every bit of that time. If pressure truly is a motivator for you, there are many more productive ways to create it: for example, by challenging yourself to finish a paragraph within a half hour or pretending that the section you are writing is a timed essay or qualifying or preliminary exam. Setting monthly, weekly, daily deadlines for each chapter, outline, and paragraph is a healthy way to create pressure and continue moving your project forward.
Myth #4: "In order to work on my paper, I must have four uninterrupted hours."
Reality: You can -- and should -- work on your thesis or dissertation in 12- to 15-minute task modules. This will help you break down the laborious writing process into smaller pieces, making it far more manageable. In our busy lives, finding four-hour chunks of time is very difficult to do; but you have small chunks of 12- to 15-minutes of time throughout the day. Furthermore, if you know you're only going to have to dedicate a small amount of time when you sit down, the task won't seem so daunting, and you will be less likely to procrastinate. Keep a detailed checklist of all of the items you have to complete, and refer to it often. On days when you have got a little bit more time, choose a larger task. But on most days, when you only have a little bit of time, work down your list until you reach one (or more!) of your tasks that can be completed in 12 minutes or less. No task is too small, and no item is too insignificant. Every action you take will move you closer to getting accomplishing your goal.
Myth #5: "I cannot write anything until I have the perfect thesis statement/introduction" AND/OR "I cannot write any more until what I have already done is perfect."
Reality: To finish a thesis or dissertation you do not have to begin with chapter one followed by chapter two, etc. Begin with the chapter you know best and build from there. Most people write their introduction last.
Your thesis or dissertation does not have to be perfect; it just has to be done! If you are a perfectionist who worries about everything being just right, hire an editor, or find a family friend who is a retired English teacher. Hand off what you've written to an editor and move on to the next chapter. Then you can go about the task of getting your ideas down on paper and worry about making sure everything is perfect later. When it comes back from the editor you know it will not be perfect but you can look at it again from fresh new perspective.
Myth #6: "I cannot function in a messy environment. I can't possibly write until I have cleaned my apartment, my office, my house. And there is simply no time to clean!"
Reality: In order to write, you don't need your entire office, house or apartment to be clean ... just your little writing space! If you really hate to clean, clean while listening to your favorite music and or program your pick ups around your favorite television show. Indulge in watching the stars, and then force yourself to pick up items during the commercials. Start in one area of the space and clean clockwise. By the end of the program, you'll be surprised how much you've accomplished! Voila! You're ready to write.
Myth #7: "I cannot write unless I have someone with whom I can talk through my ideas."
Reality: Being able to verbalize your ideas to a friend is a good start but, in reality, that's not all you want; it's the comfort of company. Get a writing buddy or buddies or get online.
Find a friend who would be willing to work alongside you during specific, planned work times. Your friends don't have to be writing; they can be reading or playing games on the internet, for all you care. The important thing is that you have someone there. Arrange to meet your buddy at the coffee shop (or whatever work space in which you write) at a specific time and stay there for the entire designated amount of time. This creates a sense of accountability, and also gives your friend the rewarding sense that he or she helping you to accomplish this major undertaking.
Another alternative is to try some online challenges or writing groups. By participating in a challenge you are connecting to other graduate students who are working on their qualifying exams, proposals, thesis or dissertation. These types of forums focus on getting words on the page and provide a safe place for you to exchange ideas and strategies with people from across the globe. You are not alone!
Myth #8: "I do not need to practice for my defense, I am a good public speaker. I never practice my presentations."
Reality: Your thesis or dissertation defense is not a simple presentation; it is an oral examination. Some refer to it as a "hazing process." As you would prepare for any other exam you should prepare for your defense. You won't become a good public speaker overnight. So, if you are not a good public speaker you should consider joining a local Toastmasters club in your area; find out if there is club on your campus.
A good public speaker gives a presentation that is clear and concise. In sum, a speech or presentation can be broken into three parts; 1. Tell them what you are going to tell them (Beginning), 2. Tell them (Middle) and 3. Summarize what you just told them (End).
The beginning should address the implications of your research question in the real world. Be sure to separate your contribution from what has already been done. The middle should be quite technical for the experts on your committee and you should end by bringing it back to your general audience.
Myth #9: "I am too busy to write a thesis or dissertation."
Reality: The biggest misconception about finishing a thesis or dissertation is the belief that writing is the key component to completion. The real key to finishing is effective time management. This is particularly true given the fact that, for most students, writing the document must be completed in tandem with numerous other important tasks, such as preparing for the job market; moving to or starting a new job; preparing for graduation; or working a full-time job. If time-management is not your forte, let the the are plenty of resources to help you manage, structure, and organize your time to maximize your efforts.
Myth #10: "I need to wait until I am inspired."
Reality:There are many things that you can do even without divine inspiration. Just take a step any step. Create a cover page, Table of Contents, the acknowledgment page, the bibliography, an outline, the list of tables or list of figures, and much much more. Keep a daily journal. Strange as it may sound, sometimes writing about why you can't write helps dissolve anxiety and clears your mind. The physical exercise of writing can actually help you to keep on writing!
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Connective Thinking - Creativity Techniques

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
Albert Einstein
Imagination and creativity are two interrelated terms, the former leads to the latter. The etymological root of the word "creativity" in English and most other European languages comes from the Latin creatus, which means "to have grown." How this works?
Human brains work by means of connections; connecting ideas new ideas emerge and so on. Unfortunately modern life has led to mechanical thinking, meaning that we are ruled by habits, automatic associations and responses. Getting stuck in fixed patterns of thought we have fewer and fewer connections and as a result imagination doesn't work and poor creativity is trying to catch up with our artistic thirst.
"3 imaginary boys"
"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive." Napoleon Hill
Humans for ages have been trying to discover the tools to creative thinking. Here are some ideas:
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
Mary Lou Cook
"Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport." Robert Wieder
"Creativity, it has been said, consists largely of re-arranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know." George Keller
It seems obvious that many artists one way or the other need to deal with unlocking creative thinking! How is this possible? Talent can be inherent, no doubt, but creativity is not a gift you have to be born with. Most creative people learn how to be creative. It is actually a logical procedure and the key is cross-connection of ideas/sounds and the way to elicit it is of course a state of mind that is able to receive the vibes of inspiration. The muse of creativity does not come alone but it comes with gifts such as: seeing things differently, seeing different things, generating multiple options, breaking the rules, thinking and linking, knowing how you think, and playing 'what ifs". Still the question is "how are all these possible"?
The creative block
Unlike many phenomena in psychology, there is no standardized measurement technique for creativity. It is rather a personal procedure. I suggest some techniques to help refresh imagination and revitalize the creative spirit.
Do something different
Following the same means of creation can lead to a rut. So why not infuse in your art some different techniques/equipment or a totally different art?
Escape yourself
Get in your car and go to a place you have never planned to go, observe the streets and find signs that you suppose will lead you somewhere. Keep a mind-record of the sounds you hear and any unusual shape or incidents that comes your way. Start a discussion with a person you normally would not talk to, eat an unusual food and wait to see what happens.
Chat or play with kids
A very power inspiration tip is mingling with children. All of us have been kids and we know our way of thinking used to be different. So mingle with kids, ask them things without the fear of being misunderstood, that's the clue, you will be surprised!!
Dada enrolment
Enrol yourself to a hobby you have never thought you would be interested in. This new type of knowledge makes neurons forge new connections in your brain and creates memory paths that expand your life experience and broaden your world view. Even if it is a pottery class!! The more irrelevant, the better.
Learn to ignore your inner critic
The subconscious role is, among others, to limit and prohibit changes. It stays stuck in pre-defined ideas, habits and aspirations and anything new is met with doubt, indecisiveness and eventually delay or omission. The next time you have a fantastic idea and by the time you start shooting/writing/composing and you feel you crave for Chinese food, tiding up your closet or calling your aunt tell your subconscious to SHUT UP and start your drafts! Being aware of this behaviour little bad subconscious has you can be aware of when it happens and above all you can be sure it is not the real "you" but a deep rooted mechanism inside of you.
Dare to be silly
Try to be as silly as possible and see what happens next. You never know what will become of your creations when you purposely make them unusual or strange. Write the piece of music you would never write, shoot the images that you hate and write a part of a poem/novel critics would die after reading. You never know...
Need more tips of have new ideas? Do not hesitate to submit them. Never refrain from sharing...
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Great Technical Writing: Has Anyone Ever Used Your Product?

Product documentation gives the feeling that nobody has ever used the product. Most documentation:
. Ignores the product's failings (warts), and how to overcome them.
. Leaves out tips that would improve the User's experience with the product
. Leaves out knowledge that experienced Users could share with the new User
Before you release a product, have some people use it. From these "test users" get solutions to problems, tips and knowledge that would help your real-life Users. Put that information in your User Documentation, and on your product support Website.
Three More Ways That Your User Documentation Fails Your Reader/User:
1. Ignores the product's failings (warts), and how to overcome them
Every product has "warts". Warts are the failings of your product. A wart might be something that the current version of the product cannot easily do, but needs to be done.
Here are some examples of product warts. Some of the warts can only be cured in the next version of the product:
. A telephone answering machine that has no wall mounting. It only takes a small change in the mold of the plastic for the back of the unit to enable screws to hold the device on the wall. The answering machine has its cable permanently connected to the device, making it difficult to use a shorter cable when needed.
. A word processor that has the most unusual and troublesome defaults. These cause the users a myriad of problems, including reformatting an entire document when a small change is made to the appearance of a piece of text.
. An electrical sub-panel for eight circuits that only has room for four ground wires. This makes it difficult to connect all the circuits.
. A five-stage water filter that does not mark which of its filters fit into which holder.
. A graphical (windowing) computer operating system where the mouse cursor jumps around the screen.
. A toaster oven with an electronic timer built in, that does not stay on long enough to toast an English muffin in one toasting session. (It only takes a larger resistor in the timing circuit to make it work properly.)
. A digital timer coffee maker (I love this product for its flaws and the flaws in the User Manual). Quiz: For home use, when do you think most people want to have coffee automatically brewed? I think it's in the morning. However when a user sets the clock, the time display starts at 12:00 A.M. But when the user sets the brew timer (when the coffee will begin brewing) the timer starts at 12:00 P.M. This is not just a flaw; this is silly.
The Users of your product need to know how to get around its warts. Think about these warts, how to overcome them, and the best way to tell the User the techniques you find.
If you do not think that your product has warts, then you may be living in a fantasy world. The entire concept of the "next version" of the product suggests failings in the product. If these shortcomings are not in the product itself, then they are failings in our understanding of how our User needs to/wants to use the product.
2. Leaves out tips that would help the User in his/her experience with the Product
After using any product, one comes up with tips for better use. Share these tips with your Users so they will have the best possible experience with your product.
Probably the most outrageous missing tip is a product feature that is not described anywhere in the User Documentation. I have a low-flush toilet. These toilets have been the butt (sorry about the pun) of jokes because they have trouble with large quantities of "solid waste." My toilet has an undocumented feature. If I hold the handle down the entire time the flush is taking place, there will be extra water to handle the large quantity of "solid waste." But it's not documented! That is really a missed tip!
Think about how your User might want to and need to use the product. Add tips to help him/her.
Almost all computer software documentation leaves out a very important tip. It's a fact of life that users change computers every few years. Yet software documenters never describe how to move the User's data from the old machine to the new one. This is a failure of most software documenters to face reality.
3. Leaves out knowledge that experienced Users could share with the Reader
A front-loading washing machine has two spin speeds: "Normal" and "Fast". The User Document merely says to 'set the spin speed.' However I am confused. The User Document writers should have told me the benefits and the costs of using each spin speed. This information would help me decide what speed to use for my particular situation.
Computer language reference manuals are another good example of missed knowledge sharing. In many languages (for example the C or C++ languages in the UNIX environment) there are many ways to perform an operation. In computer jargon there are many different functions (or methods) that a programmer can use to do something with the computer. Yet these language manuals do not provide the knowledge that will help a programmer decide which function or method to use. The developers of the language know. It is only a matter of sharing the knowledge.
A good rule of thumb is that if your User has to make a decision, provide the information that will enable him/her to make the best decision.
The knowledge need not only be gained from your own use of the product, but from the product's industry. Let me give you two examples:
. A blood pressure monitor: Its User Manual provides a chart of blood pressure ranges and their meaning. That is good.
. A dehumidifier (or, also true for humidifiers): Its documentation does NOT tell the best range for indoor humidity. That is not so good.
Often it only takes a small table or a few lines in the User Document to provide this beneficial information, yet for some reason it is left out.
Test in Real USER Life
I bought a device (an "FM transmitter") that enables my MP3 player to play through any FM radio. The problem is that the transmitter distorts the sound. However, if I turn down the volume on the MP3 player when connected to the FM transmitter, the distortion is reduced. There is no tip or instruction in the User Manual telling me to turn down the volume. When I hear the unclear sound, I'm disappointed in the product, and believe that the product does not work.
I am sure that the company tested their FM transmitter. I am also sure that they were careful to set the volume on the audio source (MP3 player) low enough as not to distort. That is NOT a Real User life test.
In real life, the User would set the volume for comfortable headphone listening. Then when connecting the device to the FM transmitter, the volume would be too loud and the sound from the FM radio would be distorted.
My guess is that either
. The people testing the product never set it to the Users' real-life volume settings (they did not test in Real USER life)
. Or, if they knew that the User's headphone volume would be too loud, they felt that "everyone could figure it out" and did not include this knowledge (as a tip) in their instruction sheet.
By including the volume-setting information, the User would be more satisfied with the product, and thus less likely to return it.
Solicit Real Users' Comments
Ask your Users to comment on their real-life experiences with your product. Have them provide you with the tips, techniques, and shortcomings that they have discovered while using the product. Publish this information in later versions of the product's User Document, and on your product's web pages.
The Bottom Line
Share the experiences that your organization has with the product. Add relevant tips to the User Documentation. Add the knowledge that you uncovered in your experience with the product. Give remedies for the product's warts.
Doing so will improve your Users' experiences with your Product. Improving your Users' experiences with your product will:
. Reduce support costs
. Improve sales
. Reduce product returns
And those are the things we want to do to help our company thrive.
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8 Steps to Writing a University Level Essay

Writing a university level essay can be a challenging process, but it doesn't have to be. With this paper I hope to bring insight and potentially enjoyment to this once feared task. Always remember, writing is supposed to be fun and easy. However, there needs to be some method to the madness and that is what you get from this article.
I have outlined 8 steps to follow from beginning to A+.
I. Research thoroughly - begin the process of writing by reading. This part is made much easier if you have the luxury of choosing a topic that you find interesting. However, even if you are given a topic that you at first find boring by researching it you may have a change of heart. As much as one should approach a topic with an open mind it is also OK to have a well thought out and researched reason why you dislike that which you are studying. Also, don't be afraid to explore a new angle on a subject that seems beat to death.
II. Analyze compiled research - once you have a solid knowledge base of information at your disposal it is important to find the arguments within a paper. It is also important to distinguish between the facts presented and the conclusions that the author makes about those facts. Try to expose the weaknesses in logic used to form opinions, but also note strengths you find. Always remember that you will seldom find a good writer who is not also a vivacious reader.
III. Discuss and Brainstorm - your essay will require unique insight by you or your group. Try to answer questions that were surfaced during the analysis stage. During this stage it is important to give yourself time and space to let your ideas breathe. If this requires calling a friend not involved with the topic and explaining some of the ideas then do it. If it requires taking a walk because staring at another book will do nothing but stunt creative thought then so be it. The bottom line is, do whatever it is that you do to gain perspective and clarity.
IV. Thesis statement - during this part of the process the objective is to narrow down your ideas into a clear assertion that you can build the rest of your essay around. Remember the thesis of your paper is the "main idea" summed up in a sentence or two that gives the reader direction about where the paper is going. Often time's readers are hooked or bored after the first paragraph so think of your thesis as your first opportunity to grab the reader while they have no preconceived ideas about the piece.
V. Outline a respected paper - more as a method of practice it is important to understand the flow of thought and discourse throughout a paper. It can help to find a paper of interest and note how the initial argument is presented along with the proceeding facts or ideas that backup the author's point of view.
VI. Introduction paragraph - we are now at the point of writing your essay. Keep your thesis statement out on a separate piece of paper along with your outline so that you can refer back to this original statement or argument when need be. Keep in mind that your first paragraph in combination with the thesis and title are the most important elements of your paper.
VII. Supporting Paragraphs - when writing your supporting paragraphs focus on each individual paragraph working both independently and in conjunction with one another to support the overall theme of the paper. These paragraphs should introduce evidence to your claims and give you the appropriate amount of time to expound on your ideas. If you are struggling to write your supporting paragraphs perhaps you should go back to step 3, the discussion stage and try talking out your paragraphs.
VIII. Conclusion and Exit - try to gracefully exit your essay in a brief and precise manner. It is however good to leave the reader with a memorable thought, perhaps a good quotation, or an interesting twist in logic that will allow for good dialog about your paper. Or even better, a sequel!
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The Age of Reason and the spread of English

What non-English-speaking people would have taken the trouble to learn English in 1700? For study and diplomacy, the answer is practically nobody. That had changed by the year 1800: English had become an important language. Now, the language of the United States is predominant and more people are learning English than the total number of native speakers. The roots of this expansion are in the Eighteenth Century, and inextricably tied to the literature and history of the period.
The Seventeenth Century had closed with a triumph of scientific reasoning. Isaac Newton published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687. Science, which at that time was called Natural Philosophy, began its ascendancy over traditional philosophy and religion: it concerned itself with publicly observable phenomena and not with the subjective or wishful aspects of the individual human mind. Newton wrote for an international audience of educated men. He wrote in Latin.
Latin was still the international academic language of Europe. It was also the language of the Roman Church and possessed the prestige of the ages; and it was a necessary part of any well-to-do child's education. Academies wrote in Latin. Diplomats wrote and spoke French, and French was the language of the courts of Europe.
So, the predominant languages of the Eighteenth Century were associated in the European mind with two enduring institutions - Church and Monarchy. It was these two institutions that came under particular attack during the Enlightenment.
This was nothing new. The Protestants had broken with Rome because of its arrogance in claiming to be the direct successor of the spiritual Roman Empire in the 1500s. The English had overthrown their monarch in the 1600s. In 1700, the idea of Rome persisted as a community - one church catholic and universal - though its geography had little to do with the secular empire of Rome, which had included the whole of North Africa, together with the Middle East; whereas in the Eighteenth Century most points east and south of Vienna were in the hands of the Moslem Ottomans. Indeed, there was a European institution that called itself the Holy Roman Empire up until 1806. Voltaire stated the obvious when he pointed out that it was neither Holy nor Roman - it was German. But the idea of Rome persisted.
There were two aspects of the Roman idea which appealed to two different factions. Rome as Empire attracted the Catholic Church and Absolute Monarchies. Rome as Republic drew the attention of men who wanted to change the existing order of government and society. The imperial notion had proved extremely durable. It was more than a blend of myths. It had represented peace, order and security to an uncertain medieval world. It was something to hold on to.
To the rationalists, the underlying consistency of the laws of nature should be reflected in the consistency of natural laws of man. The idea of The Rights of Man gained currency. However, the fundamental difference between the two is that natural laws have automatic consequences, whereas the laws of man require administration. Were men to constitute and administer fair government, then mankind would be on the road of progress. Men would return to a natural state of harmony with the removal of iniquity and inequity.
What models of government were available in history and in what way did men contract to be part of this government? There was the practical Roman republican model of laws and administration and there was the late Roman ideal of simple Christian community as a House of Peace - a Pax Romana.
Take Roman republican virtues of thrift and hard work. Take noble protestant yeomen. Mix them in a place with a classical name such as Philadelphia (Greek not Latin) and you have an ideal city.
The concept of a simpler and purer Rome was current in the Eighteenth Century. However, its realisation was prevented by the mundane institutions of Church and Monarchy which had become moribund: they were no longer holy and roman and so deserved neither respect nor belief among the rationalists. Also, to the Protestants, they represented an arrogant and unaccountable intermediary between men and their God; an unnecessary and luxurious obstacle which ruled by might and not right. Men had been given brains: it was up to men to use them.
The Church and Monarchy had also become entrenched elites. It was hard to get a look in if you were not well-born. They were not institutions of opportunity for those who believed that men could make their own way in the world by reason of their lights and efforts; though churches and monarchies, like political parties, have never been obstacles to the true opportunist.
This was the significance of the Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the 13 American Colonies on 4 July 1776: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The American Declaration of Independence was written in English. At its inception, the United States declared itself to be an English-speaking country. Although, in the next century, Mr Noah Webster might have preferred the revolutionary title Dictionary of the American Language, he decided to call his great work An American Dictionary of the English Language. English it was and English it is.
The rational proposition was made that men are capable of governing themselves, in their own interests, by common consent. And that simple proposition was made in plain language.
English was, by this time, a fairly standardised written language. Printing presses had been in operation for two and a half centuries and spelling had gelled more by custom than by design. Dr Johnson had interfered with some spellings, insisting, for example, that dett be spelt debt for (bad) etymological reasons. Noah Webster would do the same in Massachusetts. There were 26 letters in the English alphabet, j and v having been added. The golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge, and London had established an educated and mercantile form of English. The King James Bible of 1611, appointed to be read in churches, and The Book of Common Prayer, meant that all Protestants heard the same words for the same texts - though, of course, they heard regional variations of pronunciation. Charles I had passed a law on the standardisation of chapbooks by which itinerant hawkers peddled the rudiments of literacy.
The language of Cambridge England passed directly to Cambridge Massachusetts where Stephen Day founded the first press in 1639. Hezekiah Usher of Boston added books to his General Store list of commodities in 1647.
There are no census figures for literacy in the Eighteenth Century, but there are detailed accounts of the number of printing presses in operation. No press could operate without a licence, granted by the Lord Chancellor's office which was also responsible for censorship. So, in the 1760s, the question is not how many people were literate but how many were completely illiterate? Universal literacy was not achieved until the late Nineteenth Century, but it is likely that the majority of English people had at least a basic knowledge of reading and writing a century before - perhaps 80%.
Protestants insisted on literacy, and the United States was largely a Protestant creation. So, literacy among the early American settlers was high. Their texts were religious rather than political. They knew their Bible. There were chapbooks of homiletics. The four editions of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, 1570-1583, were standard fare in Protestant homes and shaped Protestant views of The Inquisition and the reign of Bloody Mary for a century. Also, from its publication in 1678, the other book that ranked next to the Bible was John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.
Newton, hardly at the same time, came out to it from Cambridge along the old Roman road, that had survived unmended for twelve centuries. At Stourbridge he bought prisms in the Dutch Row with which to unweave the rainbow.
'The Pilgrim's Progress' was probably the last truly popular work of English fiction, in that it appealed to all sections of society who read or heard it. Parts of the book have passed into the language, so that even those who have never read it may well know The Slough of Despond, Giant Despair and Doubting Castle, Mr Worldy-Wiseman, as well as Vanity Fair (taken by Thackeray as the title of his novel serialised 1847/48).
It is still a very powerful allegory of a pilgrim's passage through this world in hope of achieving the Celestial City. It touches the dark pit of the Protestant mind as well as the rapture of light. Bunyan knew Foxe's book and consigned Faithful to the flames of martyrdom in the best tradition of gloom and uplift.
Languages gain prestige, in part, through their literature - and this includes their religious literature. Hebrew and Arabic, for example, can claim to be languages of revelation. That in itself is not enough to ensure the continuance of a language among anyone other than scholars and priests. Religious languages become fixed and dead. Living languages change. Literature is a changing medium. Add the new dimension of technical literature and English is now the nearest language to a Universal Tongue.
The British gave Great Power prestige to English in the Nineteenth Century. The United States sponsored English in the Twentieth. The British claimed, for good or ill, the largest Empire in the history of the world. The industrial and military power of the United States in August 1945, compared with the rest of the world, was unprecedented in history. New Rome had grown up in New England.
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Never Answer the ONE Question Colleges Will Always Ask You (If You Want to Get In)

Throughout the entire college process, colleges are trying to figure out whether or not a prospective student is a good fit for their campus. They are constantly asking interested students - at college fairs, informational sessions, on their websites, in the applications themselves, interviews, etc. The types of questions they ask sound like they're about them, but what they're really asking for information about you. (For example, when asked the perennial favorite "Why do you want to attend our college?" The last thing you want to do is go on and on about how wonderful you think their college is - that's not the answer they're looking for!)
They will ask you questions about your activities, your academics, your thoughts on the world around you, etc. But there is one question you almost always get - likely directly in a conversation - "What other colleges are you considering (or applying to)?"
There is ONE fundamental problem with answering that question. If you answer it with a laundry list of other colleges you're considering applying to, you could damage your opportunities at that college on the spot. Here is why.
When colleges make an admissions decision, if they were focused only on the amount of money they could get in tuition, then anyone who could pay the bill would get in -- and we know that isn't the case. But getting a tuition check is only part of their concern. They are also looking at students for the value they bring to campus or results they are going to achieve while on our campus (and serve as marketing tools for us in the future).
When the colleges are asking that question, they are looking to see who their competition will be when it comes decision time. College Admissions Officers are constantly thinking to themselves, "If we say yes to this student, how likely is this student actually going to attend our college (i.e. pay us money, offer us value or get great results)?"
Answering the "What other colleges are you considering?" question doesn't help them see your value one whit - but it does help them get a sense of who their competition is and they could decide that rather than compete, they'll simply "bow out" - by saying "no thanks" to you in favor of a student they think is more interested in attending their college.
The solution? Do not give them an answer to that question. Instead, provide an "obvious answer" and then "redirect" the conversation with a question of your own. One where you can give them a glimpse of your interest in them. That is how you can find out more about them, describe yourself and they sell themselves on you based on the "value" you would bring to campus.
Now, by the way, this situation does not just happen during interactions and conversations with college admissions' officers and other admissions representatives (like current students of the college at informational sessions). This question also comes up frequently on applications. The answer is always the same, though. Provide an obvious answer and then re-direct the narrative.
Your assignment:
Never discuss the colleges you're applying to during your interactions with college representatives. You will almost always hurt your chances. Here is what I recommend my clients say to the representative of XYZ College when they are asked:
"I'm considering a few additional colleges right now, but, haven't really made an decisions yet (except for XYZ - only add this part if it's 100% true). But, while I have you here, I would really like to ask you about....." and fill in with a question you have created as part of your criteria you're using to investigate the colleges to see if they're a good fit for you.
Done. You're able to reaffirm your HIGH level of interest in the college and demonstrate some thoughtfulness and value (inquisitive, deliberate, smart) and then you're all set to move on and "close the deal" later in your carefully prepared application with dynamite essay, if and when you decide to apply to that college.
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