A real best friend provides unconditional honesty when it comes to matters big, small, and ― in the case of Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King ― bejeweled. King got some hilariously unexpected fashion advice from her bestie after wearing a seriously festive necklace on television Wednesday. “Note Oprah sent to my [assistant] this am ‘Plz tell Gayle I’m on treadmill & it’s hard to focus w/the circus around your neck,” she captioned a photo of herself wearing the necklace in question, asking her 268,000 followers for their thoughts. Note @oprah sent to my asst this am "plz tell Gayle I'm on treadmill & it's hard to focus w/the circus around your neck" I think she's WRONG thoughts? A photo posted by Gayle King (@gayleking) on Dec 6, 2016 at 1:01pm PST There are so many things to love about this exchange, including the visual of Winfrey pausing her treadmill mid-workout to compose this amazing note and the relatable honesty between two real friends. Just to prove that they’re not really that much like us, though, King revealed later that the whole debacle became a subject of conversation on Entertainment Tonight. Our sartorial disagreements live mostly in group text messages. @entertainmenttonight @CBS to discuss necklace-gate after @oprah accused of throwing major shade! Hilaaarious l still love it- she "don't" all good! ET tells all tonite A photo posted by Gayle King (@gayleking) on Dec 7, 2016 at 12:56pm PST Lest you think O is the only one who dishes out style judgment in the relationship, King once kicked off an interview by making a remark about Oprah’s hairstyle. “Gayle doesn’t like my hair, but that’s okay ‘cause I do,” Winfrey said. Feeling empowered to give your opinion, but knowing that at least when it comes to style, it doesn’t really matter? That’s true friendship right there. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=57882982e4b03fc3ee503832,55ca2ee6e4b0f73b20bab779,5739f996e4b08f96c183aee8 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Recently, I needed to book a lunch meeting. To help coordinate, I asked Amy to assist and cc'd her on the email. "Amy," I wrote, "please help us find a time to meet. Let's plan for sushi at Tokyo Express on Spear Street." Amy looked at my calendar, found an open time suitable for everyone invited, and booked the meeting. Amy works just like a human assistant, except she's not human. It's an AI bot made by X.ai, a company specializing in scheduling assistants that respond to natural language. Amy is so good at what she does that I find myself thanking her for booking a meeting, forgetting she needs no more thanks than my microwave. It's impossible to ignore all the buzz about AI bots. Last month, Facebook's David Marcus announced that over 30,000 bots have been built since the opening of its Messenger app to bot developers in April. Other companies like Google, Amazon, and Slack are welcoming bot-building developers to their platforms with open arms. Slack even created an $80 million fund to support chatbot projects. As with any tech trend, most companies building bots today won't survive. However, some are bound to have a massive impact and will profoundly change the way we interact with our software and services. The deciding factor between which bots will live and which will die is how well they keep users engaged. After all, if a personal technology isn't habitually used, it is easily forgotten. Since most bot companies are built on other companies' platforms, like Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo, WeChat, and Slack, they must stay top of mind or they may as well not exist. So what makes for an engaging bot -- one that users come back to again and again? today won't survive. However, some are bound to have a massive impact and will profoundly change the way we interact with our software and services. The deciding factor between which bots will live and which will die is how well they keep users engaged. After all, if a personal technology isn't habitually used, it is easily forgotten. Since most bot companies are built on other companies' platforms, like Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo, WeChat, and Slack, they must stay top of mind or they may as well not exist. So what makes for an engaging bot -- one that users come back to again and again? Beyond Bots First, it is helpful to expand the scope beyond what most people call "bots" and consider a much larger and more interesting technological shift. Although "bots" has become a buzzword for the artificial intelligence powering many fledgling services, that's only part of the story. It's the way we interact with these bots -- and the way they are designed for those interactions -- that makes them special. An AI Bot uses a Conversational User Interface (CUI) to turn the tediousness of tapping through drop-downs and app menus into the simple act of asking. On a screen, a CUI looks like a text message, an interface anyone with a mobile phone understands. However, it's important to remember that CUIs don't necessarily require a screen at all. CUIs can work beautifully through a voice exchange. In the best cases, communicating with a CUI by just talking should feel like a chat with a good friend or a helpful assistant. In fact, science fiction inspiration like Jarvis, the virtual butler from "Iron Man," or Samantha, the digital companion in the movie "Her," is where enthusiasts hope this technology is headed. Engaging Conversation If communicating with CUIs is going to be as simple as talking to a good friend, we should design them as such. William Rawlins, a professor of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University who studies friendship, says a friend has three qualities: they're easy to talk to, enjoyable, and dependable. We form routines around turning to important people in our lives in the same way we build habits with our technologies. In my book, "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products," I describe a four-step model that companies utilize to keep users coming back -- a trigger, action, reward, and investment. Hooks are the reason we check our tech hundreds of times per day with little or no conscious thought. Integrating the Hooked model with Rawlins' three qualities of a good friend provides important insights into designing engaging technology that feels familiar and is the key to building great CUIs. The first step to changing habits is identifying what I call an "internal trigger." Internal triggers are the momentary psychological pain we feel right before we use a product. It's why we check Facebook when we're lonely, why we Google when we're uncertain, and why we watch YouTube videos when we're tired after work. These services have bolted themselves onto frequently felt negative emotions. The same goes for calling upon a friend and, by extension, using a CUI. For example, Sensay.co uses an AI bot to put strangers in touch with one another. The company serves over 1.5 million people across messenger services and SMS. CEO Ariel Jalali told me the company wants to "be the first place people go to when they feel bored or indecisive and want to connect with someone with relevant experience." Whether it's looking for a quick recommendation or a lengthier conversation with an anonymous new friend, http://Sensay.co wants to serve users whenever they feel the frequently occurring need for a social connection. http://Sensay.co is an example of a company that uses people, combined with a back-end AI bot, to scratch its users' itch with a simple, conversational interface. Easy To Talk To The next step of the Hooked model is the "action phase" -- a simple behavior that might yield a reward,like scrolling the feed on Facebook. Like a friend, a CUI needs to be easy to talk to. It's in the action phase that well-designed CUIs can surpass their traditional app cousins. CUIs can present information and functionality exactly when it's needed, without requiring the user to tap through complicated menus and options or exit one app, like email, to get the task done somewhere else, like a calendar. For example, as part of the recent fanfare around Google's new Pixel phone, the company showcased how the Google Assistant provides helpful information at just the right time by integrating with different services. If two people text about a restaurant, the Google Assistant can provide directions with Google Maps and make a reservation through OpenTable, all from within the conversation. By anticipating what's needed and bringing disparate services together, the CUI makes communication a breeze. Enjoyable Next in the Hooked model comes the reward. The reward gives users what they came for, scratching their itch, and yet leaves them wanting more. Just as we keep engaging with friends who are fun to be around, a good CUI keeps us on our toes. For example, one of my daily habits is using Quartz, the news service that looks like a simple conversation. Quartz is both enjoyable and easy to talk to in a number of ways. First, Quartz inserts funny quips and gifs to keep me engaged while I read the news. However, Quartz doesn't ask for too much. The CUI gives me the news in quickly consumed tidbits without forcing me to click through to an article to get the most important information. Unlike other news sites, Quartz doesn't care if I read the entire article and understands I just want to know the gist of the top stories. If I want to get the entire story, I can follow the link, but I rarely do. Furthermore, while other news sites try to keep me scrolling through articles forever so they can rack up ad revenue, the Quartz CUI literally tells me to go away when it's done giving me the most important stories, saying, "You're all caught up! Check back later." By giving me a sense of completion that I'm caught up on the day's news, Quartz gives me exactly what I want. While other news sites feel like a nagging librarian telling what I should be reading, Quartz is easier to talk to and more enjoyable because it demands less of my time and attention while keeping me engaged with humor and surprise. Dependable Imagine you meet your friend for lunch. You sit together and as you enjoy your meal, you tell each other about what's happening in your life. You open up and make yourself a bit vulnerable. Being vulnerable brings people closer together and you leave the lunch thankful for the relationship. Now imagine that the next time you see your friend, they don't remember a word you told them. Everything you disclosed seems to have vanished from their memory or, worse yet, they didn't pay attention to what you said in the first place. Unless they suffer from amnesia, this is not the kind of friend you'd like to keep around. According to Rawlins' research, a good friend is dependable. Relationships can't grow unless people invest in each other. We expect our investment to yield a return in the form of shared information and a history -- which make us more efficient at understanding and anticipating our friends' wants and needs. The same is true of our technology. The fourth and final step of the Hooked model is the "investment phase." This is where, like in a friendship, we put something into the service in expectation that it will improve over time. Far too many products don't ask for investment or they don't reward it, collecting but never reinvesting the information that users share. But the CUI makes asking for and integrating user investment much easier and more useful. For example, the more I use Pana, a travel service utilizing a CUI, the better it becomes. (Full disclosure: I loved the service so much, I invested in the company.) Pana remembers my preferences every time I use it. Where do I like to sit on the plane? What's my frequent flyer number? Which credit card do I use for business versus personal travel? The list goes on. However, unlike a traditional app or website that would ask for all this information up front, Pana asks for it as needed, but remembers it for life. Like a good friend, Pana doesn't ask me to repeat myself. With all that information, Pana can be helpful in ways no other travel service can. Pana can tell me, for example, when I should buy a ticket with points versus cash and handles the transaction for me. Another case in point: Last week, on the way to Phoenix from San Francisco, I noticed I'd forgotten to enter my TSA Precheck number into my flight reservation. Instead of having to call the airline, wait on hold, and negotiate with the representative, I sent a quick text to Pana and it was done for me. CUI + You = BFF Amy, the AI bot that booked my lunch meeting, is an example of a CUI that saves time by doing things that a traditional interface of menus and buttons can't. The proof of Amy's helpfulness is that, although she's not human, I can't help interacting with her as if she were. Amy and the other examples above are just the beginning. In the years to come, CUIs are going to change our lives for the better by treating us like friends. Of course, friends must help each other. Likewise, the service provided by a new technology must be genuinely helpful. As my friend Amir Shevat of Slack told me, "no matter how good the bot or CUI is, it cannot compensate for a shitty service." But when built well, CUIs can leverage the four steps of a habit-forming product and create bonds between the user and the technology. By designing services that are enjoyable, dependable, and easy to talk to, companies can build products that feel familiar even when we are using them for the first time. Nir's Note: This article is co-authored by Nir Eyal and Alexis Safarikas. Nir Eyal is the author of "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" and blogs about the psychology of products at NirAndFar.com. Alexis Safarikas is a digital strategist at Springbok. You may also enjoy reading ... Die Dashboards, Die! Why Conversations Will Reinvent Software Human + A.I. = Your Digital Future Why 'Assistant-As-App' Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend Nir Eyal is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and blogs about the psychology of products at NirAndFar.com. For more insights on changing behavior, join his free newsletter and receive a free workbook. This article was originally published on NirAndFar.com -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Posing as a British solicitor, a con man sought information on the operatives' plans to attack Trump.
Who makes up a family? For most Americans today, family includes a range of loved ones--from children, parents and grandparents to spouses, significant others, siblings and close friends. However, the most prevalent family definitions in law and policy leave out many of these important relationships. All too often, policymakers define family narrowly, based on an outdated 1950s conception of a married husband and wife and their biological children. Fortunately, recent paid sick days victories in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago, as well as executive action by the White House, embrace a more realistic and inclusive definition. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 80 percent of households in the U.S. depart from the "nuclear family" model of a married husband and wife and their children. Many family trends contribute to this fact. For example, approximately 57 million individuals in the U.S. live in multigenerational households, double the 1980 figure, and about 20 percent of households with children include non-relatives or extended family. Americans are also waiting longer to marry and are living with significant others at higher rates than in past decades. And surveys show that LGBTQ individuals, who are too often forced to leave home and build their own support networks, are more likely to rely on close friends for emotional support, caregiving needs and help in an emergency. This month, the country's second and third most populous cities took a big step forward in recognizing that families come in all shapes and sizes. Beginning on July 1, 2016, workers in Los Angeles will be entitled to earn a minimum number of paid sick days that can be used to care for personal or family health and safety needs. Workers in Chicago will gain this same right on July 1, 2017. The L.A. and Chicago paid sick days laws both cover a broad set of family relationships, including children, parents, spouses, domestic partners, parents of a spouse or domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. Yet both laws also set an important new standard for the growing paid sick days movement by including "chosen family"-- an individual with whom the worker has such a close relationship that the individual is equivalent to family, even absent a blood or legal relationship. These new laws will have enormous practical benefits for workers. For example, a 2007 Los Angeles County Health Survey found that 1.2 million residents in L.A. County provide informal, unpaid care to aging, ill or disabled adults. Of these caregivers, more than 23 percent -- or approximately 284,000 people -- reported that they provide care for close friends or extended family members (family members other than a child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent or sibling). Many of these caregivers struggle to combine their work responsibilities with the need to care for loved ones, and employer-provided leave policies, when they exist at all, often fail to recognize these extended and chosen family members. The L.A. paid sick days coalition raised awareness about this need and worked with lawmakers to pass a paid sick days law that reflects the true nature of family and caregiving relationships in the city. Fortunately, we have a long-standing model for this definition. Our country's largest employer, the federal government, already allows more than 2 million federal employees to use paid leave to care for chosen family. The government's broad family definition has existed in personnel rules for more than five decades, and has repeatedly been expanded and applied more broadly without issue. The model is also being adopted in other contexts, including a presidential Executive Order that will guarantee paid sick days to employees of federal contractors. And last month, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to expand the FMLA's limited family definition to include new relationships, including chosen family. Other places are modernizing their family definition as well. Minneapolis recently passed a paid sick days law that is the first in the country to cover all members of the employee's household. When sick or during a medical emergency, we often seek care from those who are both emotionally and physically closest to us. Roommates, significant others, and additional members of the household -- whether extended relatives or close friends -- provide a critical care and support system. Minneapolis' new paid sick time law acknowledges the importance of these relationships. We are fortunate to work with national, state and local partners across the country who are fighting for policy change, collecting stories, and raising awareness about the need to expand family recognition. From Oregon, Montana and Arizona to New Mexico and Washington D.C., social justice advocates are pushing lawmakers to adopt broad family definitions that include chosen family. Cities as diverse as L.A., Minneapolis and Chicago have recognized that families today are incredibly varied and dynamic. It's time for other cities and states to follow their lead. Wendy Chun-Hoon is the D.C. Director of Family Values @ Work. Jared Make is a Senior Staff Attorney at A Better Balance. Together, the authors created an LGBTQ/Work-Family Project that is working across social justice movements to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ workers and expand family definitions in law and policy. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
In some workplaces, reorgs and personnel changes are constant, which means that you might be getting a new boss every few months. How do you develop an effective relationship with your manager when the person filling that role keeps shifting? How much of an investment should you make? How can you get what you need to succeed and grow in your role? And is maintaining continuity your responsibility? What the Experts Say Managing your relationship with your boss is challenging enough as it is. When that person changes every six months, the task becomes a lot more difficult—and time-consuming. “There’s a big part of work that is relational,” says Reb Rebele, an instructor in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of “Collaborative Overload”. “You’re dealing with people on a regular basis, getting to know them, establishing norms, and establishing patterns. If your manager is constantly changing, you’re doing a lot of extra relational work and it’s a much bigger investment of your time and energy.” Priscilla Claman, the president of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm and a contributor to the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job, agrees that having to cycle through new managers is “one of the world’s most frustrating things.” Your “impulse may be to duck and hide,” she says, but you must instead be proactive. It’s never easy to have several bosses in as many years, but there are ways to make this challenging situation more tolerable. Here are some tips. Schedule an “interview” Let’s not sugarcoat this. A new manager can be “very dangerous” to your career prospects, says Claman, because “the person who hired you will always love you more” than someone who inherits you. You must therefore “do the best you can to make it seem as though you’re being hired by the new boss.” Schedule an appointment to meet her one-on-one and bring a copy of your resume. Speak about your accomplishments as you would in a job interview. “Talk about who you are, how you work, your strengths, and your goals,” Rebele adds. It’s important to “spend this early time with your new boss having those kinds of conversations” particularly if it’s a volatile time at your organization. Think of it as a “co-onboarding process.” Discover the new priorities Next, do a little detective work. “You need to find out the reason why this boss was appointed and what it means” for your organization and your career path, says Claman. “It may have something to do with the failures of the previous manager, but it’s more likely that the new boss signals a change in the organization’s direction or a shift in its mission.” To find out, talk to your peers, your colleagues in other departments, or your boss’s boss. Get involved in your new manager’s orientation process. Then, either “align yourself with the new priorities” or, “if your company is heading in a very different direction, think about whether you still want to be associated with it.” Modify and adjust One of the most challenging things about dealing with these frequent changes is that “it’s hard to get into a rhythm,” says Rebele. “The benefit of working with someone over time is that you know what to expect and there’s a lot of predictability.” When the org chart is in flux, however, you need to regularly “update your mental models” and modify your behavior and work style. Claman says it helps that you “not think of these people as your bosses,” but instead as “very important clients,” each with “his own quirks and special needs.” You need to “adapt and change” and accommodate. Ask each new boss how he likes to communicate. Ask how often he wants status updates. And find out how much detail he wants in those updates. After a month or so of the new normal, “ask for feedback about how you’re doing.” Invest in the relationship, even if it’s temporary Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t need a strong relationship with a new boss who may soon be replaced, says Claman. “You need to make a big investment” no matter how short you expect the person’s tenure to be. This is as much for you as them, Rebelle notes. “Having good relationships with colleagues and your boss makes your workday more enjoyable” and efficient, he explains. “You don’t have to be best friends” with a new manager, but it’s a good idea to make an effort to get to know her. Ask about her hobbies, her weekend plans, and her family. Be open and curious. If those conversation topics go nowhere, default to work. Focusing on learning Even in the best professional situations, you shouldn’t “rely on your boss for all of your development needs,” says Claman. But a new manager will almost certainly have something useful to teach you. Perhaps he’s a sales whiz, a brilliant marketing strategist, or has great technical chops. Transient bosses may not be in the best position to mentor and coach, especially when it comes to navigating the organization, but Rebele points out that they do often bring “novel information—a new background, new experiences, and new perspectives.” They can allow you to “see your work with fresh eyes,” he says. So take advantage of the “opportunity to learn.” Check your attitude You may find that you don’t like or respect your new boss as much as your old one, but don’t dwell on the negative. Rebele suggests you “focus your attention and energy on areas you do have control over and things you can do to improve the situation” like being a “helping contributor.” Claman concurs. “If you start thinking, ‘I’m the only one here who knows what’s going on; these people are clowns,’ that will come through in your work,” she says. Similarly, don’t moan to colleagues about your new-boss whiplash. If you need to vent, talk to your spouse or your friends (provided they don’t work at your company). Seek out people who will give you honest feedback about the validity of your complaints. Maintain relationships One bright spot of the frequent management switches: the number of senior managers who can vouch for your work increases. That’s why it’s smart to treat even short-term bosses as part of your growing professional network. “Our networks can be helpful to us down the road in ways we can’t always foresee,” Rebele notes. Even if you decide it’s too much work to stay in touch with all of them, “never badmouth your current boss to your old boss,” Claman adds. “Not only could it mess up your relationship with your new boss, it might also taint the feelings your previous boss had for you.” Principles to Remember Do: A little digging to find out the reason why this boss was appointed and what it means for your organization and your career path Be willing to adapt and change your style and behavior to accommodate your new manager Make an effort to get to know your new boss on a personal and professional level just as you would any new colleague Don’t: Dwell on your annoyance. It’s better to focus your energy on things you can do to improve the situation Assume that your new boss has nothing to teach you. Instead, think about what he knows that you don’t Badmouth your current boss to your old boss. It could harm your relationship with your new boss and spoil your previous boss’s regard for you Case Study #1: Accommodate your new boss and stay in touch with your old one Mark Scott, the chief marketing officer at Apixio, the digitized medical records company, has experienced his fair share of organizational changes over the course of his career. In one job alone, he endured six consecutive corporate reorgs and had five different bosses in two and half years. It was frustrating for Mark, especially since he had joined the company in the first place to work for Claudia, his original hiring manager. “She impressed the heck out of me,” he recalls. “She was a super smart, strategic thinker, and I thought I could learn a lot from her. [But] eight months into my job, she got promoted [and moved on].” Mark reported to no one for a “painful few months.” The quality of his work life declined even more after the company’s leadership appointed a “corporate person who had no foundational experience whatsoever in marketing,” as his manager. His new boss was based at the company’s Ohio headquarters, while Mark ran a team of 38 people in San Diego. Mark had “very little support from” his new manager and for a while, he kept his head down. But when his third boss—we’ll call her Regina—started making decisions about his department and team without consulting him, Mark realized he needed to do more to cultivate a relationship. He flew to Ohio to meet with her in person. “I wanted Regina to see me as a resource and [as a source of] positive energy,” he says. “I told her how I like to work, how I like to receive information, and how I process it. I explained to her how past decisions were made. And I asked her: ‘How do you like to work? And how can I help you?’” Regina told Mark that she wanted to be more involved in his team’s decision-making process. Mark—who says he is someone “who likes to move quickly”—modified and adjusted his style to accommodate Regina. He sent status updates and project reviews each week; before any new product launch or initiative, Mark made sure Regina had all the relevant information in her inbox 48 hours in advance. It was tedious and “time-consuming” but the new process “improved the dynamic” between them. “It gave Regina an understanding of everything that was going on and also gave her the opportunity to provide input.” Mark also made a concerted effort to build a more personal relationship with Regina. He chatted with her before meetings and whenever she was in town from Ohio. Today Mark is not in touch with Regina, but he remains in contact with Claudia. “We speak on the phone from time to time and ask each other for advice,” he says. “We have a good relationship.” Case Study #2: Determine why the new boss was appointed and what it means Alex Roman (not his real name) had been in his job as a product manager for a retail marketing company for less than a year when his boss got promoted to a new position in the company; his second boss lasted about six months in the post, and by the time his third boss was appointed, Alex was annoyed—and worried. “I felt like my team and my product were being passed around,” he says. “With the management changes, it seemed as though the company wasn’t invested in what we were working on.” Once his new boss—we’ll call her Pam—was installed, he went on a mission to determine the reason behind the constant reorganizations. He talked to his colleagues in other units, and he inquired about the company’s strategy with his manager’s manager. “As it turned out,” he said, “the company was shifting away from mobile products—where my expertise was—and instead putting more money into what had been our core business.” Alex realized he didn’t have much of a future career with the company—nor did he want one. He started to discretely look for new work. “After I grasped that my company was heading in a new direction, I saw that my role was no longer critical to the organization, nor was it valued,” he says. “I had to move on.” But in the meantime, Alex needed to make the best out of his situation. He scheduled a one-on-one meeting with Pam where the two made a plan about how they would work together. He tried to stay positive and focused on ways he could help Pam get acclimated in her new job. Alex also got to know Pam on a personal level—they both had daughters the same age so they bonded over toddler tantrums. While he wasn’t going to stay long at his company, he also realized that he could learn from Pam. “She had almost encyclopedic knowledge about how retail promotions work,” he says. “I still think back on how much I learned from her.” In the end, Alex’s hunch was correct. He and his team were let go only six months after Pam took over. “I am just glad I already had a job search up and running,” he says. Alex was lucky to find a new job in mobile products that suited his interests and expertise. Happily, he has reported to the same person ever since he was hired.
Research shows there are a large number of narcissists who become leaders. If you’re unlucky enough to have one of these people as a manager, it may be no consolation that you’re in good company. So how do you stay sane? What’s the best way to reduce the impact of your boss’s self-centered behavior? What the Experts Say It’s easy to be fooled by a narcissist—at least at first, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, the CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, a professor of business psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University. “A narcissist comes across as charming, charismatic, and confident,” he says. “He seems like the kind of person you want to work for—it’s only later that you see the dark side.” And the dark side isn’t pretty, says Michael Maccoby, president of The Maccoby Group and author, most recently, of Strategic Intelligence: Conceptual Tools for Leading Change. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and require constant admiration. They are quick to claim credit for others’ achievements and blame colleagues for their own failures. They care only about their own success, and they’re willing to take advantage of others to get what they need. In short, they’re incredibly difficult to work for. If you’re stuck with one of these bosses, here are some strategies that might help. Know what you’re dealing with Don’t just label your egotistical boss a “narcissist.” “There’s a difference between someone who’s an egomaniac and puffed up with self-importance and someone who has narcissistic personality disorder,” says Maccoby. When you’re dealing with the latter, it’s helpful to get a handle on what makes him tick. Read up on this personality type. After all, says Maccoby, “the more you understand people, the better your relationships will be.” Narcissists, he says, have a “strong ego ideal—a vision of who they think they should be. They are controlled by the shame of not living up to this ideal.” Productive narcissists are often creative strategists who see the “big picture” and find meaning in the risky challenge of changing the world and leaving behind a legacy, he says. It will serve you in the long run to make an effort to “understand who your boss wants to be” and take steps to “help him live up to that ideal,” he says. Tend to your self-esteem One of the most important things you can do in this situation is take care of yourself. After all, working for a narcissist can be a demeaning and stressful experience. You’re in the mode “of self-survival,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. To cope, you need to find outlets outside your job that bring you pleasure and give you a sense of self-worth. “You can’t put all your marbles into this relationship,” says Maccoby. “It’s too damaging to your self-esteem.” Join a musical group; take up distance running; or start working on a book. “You need a basis for [deriving personal value] that’s independent” of your job, he says. “That’s generally true in life,” but it is especially important when your boss is a narcissist. Stroke their ego At the same time, you need to figure out how to work effectively. When dealing with a narcissist, flattery will get you everywhere. “They want people to love them, and they will believe any compliment you offer,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. Which is why, he says, pretending to admire your narcissistic boss “and sucking up will generally be effective,” he says. “Compliment your boss subtly and do it when you two are alone,” so as not to alienate other colleagues. If complimenting your narcissistic boss or praising him to others feels overly obsequious, don’t do it. “But at least be neutral and diplomatic,” he says. Another way to gain your manager’s favor is to make him look good in front of his boss. “Put in a good word for him and enable him to take some of the credit for your work,” he says. Become your manager’s advocate and his supporter. It might feel disingenuous to play politics in this way but, says Chamorro-Premuzic, try to remember that your goal here is a “selfish one: to advance your career. It’s difficult, but it’s ultimately to your benefit.” Emulate certain characteristics You may not learn how to be a good boss from your self-obsessed manager, but “many productive narcissists can teach you a lot,” says Maccoby. Watch and learn. Distinguish between his bad behaviors and more admirable skills. “Observe how your boss makes impressions on others. Pay attention to his charisma and how he is eloquent under pressure,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. “In addition, narcissists are often good communicators and tend to be quite visionary,” he says. “They have an ability to inspire others, and this skill can be emulated.” Challenge carefully “The worst thing you can do to a narcissistic individual is to criticize, challenge, or undermine him,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. “If you do, he will react in an aggressive and combative way. And he will seek revenge.” If you need to make a particular business case, Maccoby suggests framing your argument around what is good for your manager’s image and career. “Your boss doesn’t care what is good for the company,” he says. However, if you’re able to demonstrate that a certain strategy portends a disaster (or a victory) for your boss, you’re much more likely to win him over. “Narcissists are constantly trying to figure out, what does this mean for me?” Don’t gossip Indulging in workplace gossip is rarely a wise move. When your boss is a narcissist, it can be dangerous. “Be very careful,” says Maccoby. “These people tend to be paranoid and see enemies everywhere.” Anything you say will likely get back to your boss, says Chamorro-Premuzic. “Narcissists are constantly trying to collect information about what other people think of them.” If you need to vent, talk to your therapist, spouse, or a friend—provided they don’t work at your company or in your industry. Be as “neutral as possible” when your boss’s name comes up in conversation and “never put anything in email,” he says. Weigh the pros and cons of staying Even if you successfully employ the above tactics, chances are that working for a narcissist will take a toll on your satisfaction at work. Carefully consider whether you want to continue working for this person. Of course, quitting your job or getting a new boss isn’t always possible—or the answer. “It’s a personal decision, and some people are more tolerant than others,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. If you’re otherwise engaged in your job, find the work stimulating, and see the possibility of advancement within two or three years, it might be worth “the sacrifice” to stay, he adds. But if you find you’re working for a “narcissist with a destructive philosophy of domination and control,” Maccoby has one piece of advice, “Get out!” Principles to Remember Do Get a handle on narcissistic personality disorder and deepen your understanding of what makes your boss tick. Watch and learn—certain things at least. Observe how your boss makes impressions on others, and try to emulate his ability to inspire. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of staying. If you’re otherwise engaged and challenged by your job, it might be worth it to stay. Don’t Neglect your emotional wellbeing. Find an outlet outside your job that gives you a sense of self-worth. Challenge your boss. If you need to make a business case, frame your argument around what’s good for your manager’s career, rather than what’s good for the organization. Gossip—whatever you say will likely get back to your Case Study #1: Find an outlet to manage your stress Karlyn Borysenko says that one of the hardest parts of working for a narcissist was coming to grips with the fact that her boss was not the person she thought she was. “When I [interviewed], she seemed like exactly the type of boss I had been looking for: confident, capable, and driven to succeed. I thought she would be a mentor that I could really learn from,” she says. “She convinced me to take a 25% pay cut to work for her, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to do it.” Only a few months in to her job as a communications director for a media organization, Karlyn recognized that her boss had the traits of a narcissist. “Nothing was ever good enough, and God forbid if I ever did something right, she would always claim credit,” she says. Karlyn did her best to keep her head down. “Every day, I would tell myself that it wasn’t about me, it was about her,” she says. “I had a mantra on a sticky note at my desk as a constant reminder that read ‘Act with integrity. Have compassion and empathy, even when others don’t.’ Whenever things got bad, I would just go to my desk, breathe, and repeat it.” To help manage the stress, Karlyn saw an acupuncturist and also took up weight lifting. “Lifting was great because it was such an empowering thing to do each morning before I went into work to really feel like I had control over myself, if nothing else,” she says. She also started making exit plans. “There was a light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “If I hadn’t known [the job] was temporary, I probably would have fallen into a sea of depression.” After she left her job, she started Zen Workplace, a coaching and consulting firm in New Hampshire. She says the experience reporting to a narcissist helps her identify with clients who work in toxic environments. “I consider myself lucky now because not only do I get to work with people in those situations and help them move on, I also get to work with leaders who understand that culture is important and that when their employees are happy, the organization sees returns in its bottom line,” she says. “It’s one of the most fulfilling things I can imagine doing.” Case Study #2: Stay on your boss’s good side—but know when enough is enough Jesse Harrison says he’s dealt with a lot of narcissistic bosses over the course of his career, but one in particular—we’ll call him Sam—stands out. “Sam was a radiologist who had started his own business after his medical training,” says Jesse. “I admired him for that.” But as Jesse got settled into his job, he realized Sam was a narcissist and quickly adopted strategies to deal with him. Because of Sam’s volatile and paranoid personality, Jesse knew he needed to stay on Sam’s good side. He discovered that complimenting Sam accomplished this goal. “I tried to make him feel good about himself,” he says. “Being an narcissist, Sam believed the world revolved around him. So my goal was to make him happy and make every conversation about him.” Jesse says he’d look for opportunities to compliment Sam based on “skills he was excessively proud of.” For example, Sam used to boast about his superior reasoning abilities and his technical competence. “So every time I was presented with the opportunity, I would show my appreciation for his logic and his [facility] with computers. It fed his ego.” The compliments were highly effective, but working for Sam grew increasingly tiresome. Jesse says he ate “lots and lots of junk food” and went on long runs to manage the stress. Ultimately, though, Jesse lasted only six months at the company. “Every experience in life—even negative ones—makes you grow,” says Jesse, who recently founded Los Angeles-based Zeus Legal Funding, a startup that helps plaintiffs pay their legal bills. “Most important, I learned to associate myself with positive people more.”
Some well-seasoned advice from family and friends provides the nostalgic backdrop for this week’s satisfying and simple lentil stew with a welcome aniseed kick of fresh fennel and the rustic meatiness of Italian sausagesLast week I cooked with my almost mother in law. She showed me how to make something called falso magro, which translates as “false lean” – a stout roll of beef stuffed with a hard-boiled egg, prosciutto and vegetables that is then simmered in tomato sauce. I watched, poised to help, but mostly apologised for the inadequacies of my kitchen; no metal tongs, a blunt knife, no kitchen roll, no meat basher, the handle on my pan in the wrong position, my salt too coarse, my pepper grinder too tight. Realising my hovering was as annoying as my grinder, I sat at the table and made notes. I noted the recipe of course, even though much of it was in “qb” – quanto basta – which means however much is enough, or “use your common sense!”Much more interesting though, were the commentary and the idiosyncratic touches that Carmela and time had brought to the dish. There was very specific bashing out of the meat and snipping away of any muscles or fibres that might make it curl, and a lament about butchers today. There was also advice about the arrangement of the carrot and celery around the egg accompanied by another lament, this time about arthritic fingers. There were instructions on chopping shallots and the rinsing of the tomato jar along with a story about conserving tomatoes in Sicily, and the reel of cotton pulled from her handbag, unreeled into lengths (my job) that was then used to secure the beef roll. Finally there was the oregano, la morte sua, which means the death of the dish (in the best possible way – remember the vinegar last week). I didn’t have any oregano! A kitchen without oregano: how was that possible? It was the death of it all, in the worst possible way. Continue reading...
Outlook So it's exit stage west for Clive Cowdery and his mini-me John Tiner. The shiny-suited salesman and his gamekeeper-turned-poacher pal (he used to run the financial watchdog) have bid goodbye to the beast they created. Beast? Well that's what it was supposed to be anyway. Mr Cowdery convinced some of the City's top institutions he could create a £10bn super-insurer using Friends Provident as his platform.
Submitted by F.F. Wiley of Cyniconomics blog, Do you wonder what to make of America’s soaring government debt and what it means for the future? Or, if you already have it figured out, are you interested in research that might challenge your position? Either way, you might like to see the results of this exercise: Take each historic instance of government borrowing rising above America’s current debt of 105% of GDP. Eliminate those instances in which creditors received a lower return than originally promised, due to defaults, bond conversions, service moratoriums and/or debt cancellations. Of the remaining instances, consider whether and how the debt-to-GDP ratio was reduced. In other words, let’s see what history tells us about today’s debt levels and what comes next. You may find the answer surprising. I’ll start with 63 episodes of debt reaching the 105% threshold, as shown in the table below. These are drawn from Carmen Reinhart’s and Kenneth Rogoff’s widely used debt database, with just a few eliminations that are explained in the notes at the bottom. You’ll see that in addition to screening for breaches of 105%, I needed to establish the end of each episode as well. For this, I used a 90% threshold to make sure that I’d identified periods of genuine debt ratio reduction. With each episode beginning at 105% and ending after debt falls below 90%, there’s a reasonable improvement from start to finish. Recent struggles with high debt in which debt-to-GDP remains above 90% (and there are many of them) are excluded from the analysis. I also recorded the peak debt ratio on every path from 105% to 90% and used this figure to sort the rows in the table. After narrowing the data set as I’ll describe below, I’ll focus mostly on time periods of debt ratio reduction – from the peaks to the end of each episode. My next step is to remove the episodes that included a credit event, which could be a default, bond conversion, service moratorium or debt cancellation. These are listed in a separate “technical notes” post. In a large majority of cases, the credit event was needed to bring debt-to-GDP under control. Once they’re removed from the initial data set, I’m left with 11 episodes, all of them showing a reduction in the debt ratio without any recognized creditor haircuts. But then I add three episodes back in – the Netherlands from 1814 to 1873, the U.K. from 1918 to 1965 and Egypt from 2003 to 2007. These stand out because there was significant debt reduction well after the respective credit events, although I also considered the global importance of each of their debt battles. With the three additional episodes, I have 14 instances of relatively successful debt reduction. Note that 12 of them occurred in economies considered today to be developed, with only one (Egypt) occurring in an emerging economy and one (South Africa) being something of a hybrid. My last step is to consider how the debt ratios were reduced. I’ll look at large and small countries separately, using a rule that’s sure to anger the Walloons but seems reasonable: Any country with an economy equal to or bigger than the Netherlands is large, while small means that a country’s output is similar to or less than Belgium’s. The large countries tell us to stop running deficits There are nine episodes in the large country group, as shown in the chart below. I discussed five of these in a post earlier this year, where I set the debt threshold considerably higher at 150% of GDP. I argued then that we should be wary of claims that massive debt ratios are no big deal because some countries have been there before. In all the cases I considered, countries that recovered from huge debt totals enjoyed advantages that no longer exist. In the 19th century, circumstances included resource-rich colonies that the British and Dutch exploited to ease budget pressures. And then after World War II, debt proved temporary largely because the combatants ran large non-defense surpluses and only needed to bring their soldiers home to restore budgetary discipline. I also argued in my earlier article that inflation isn’t the solution that many make it out to be. Without fiscal measures and financial repression, inflation only takes you so far in resolving a serious debt problem. In extreme cases, it can make the problem worse. It turns out that these findings are only slightly weaker when I lower the threshold to 105%. But the particular results that stand out this time are from the last three columns of the table below. The third-to-last column shows the average budget balance from the year after debt-to-GDP peaked to the year it was reduced below 90%. The last two columns show the number and percentage of years in which there was a surplus. Together, the figures tell us that every one of the large countries that reduced debt without a credit event did so by balancing its budget. Put differently, the large country history suggests that the only reliable way to solve a debt problem is to stop running deficits. Long ago, policymakers would have regarded this finding as common sense. But current perspectives are distorted by years of bad ideas in economics. Keynesian economists, in particular, often preach that deficits are nothing to be concerned about. The U.S. has run deficits in all but two years since Keynesians began to dominate policymaking in the 1960s. And not surprisingly, every one of the episodes listed above predates our 63-years-and-counting of chronic budget shortfalls. Needless to say, history doesn’t reflect kindly on present attitudes about budgeting. It shows that the pre-1960s belief in fiscal discipline may have had some value after all. Without it, we may have never witnessed a large country recovering from today’s debt levels without first slamming its creditors. The small countries reduced debt in a variety of ways But what about the small country history? Do the little guys offer a different solution? There are five episodes in this group, as shown in the chart below. I’ll address them in chronological order. South Africa, 1932-1935 (peaking in 1932) Debt ratios in 1930s South Africa were reduced not by balancing the budget but through rampant growth. Nominal GDP jumped over 13% annually between 1932 and 1936, while inflation was close to zero. And the trigger for the boom was the U.K.’s September 1931 decision to abandon the gold standard and devalue its currency. The South African pound devalued at the same time because it was legally tied to the British currency. Why was the GDP boost so large at a time of depression in most of the world, including other countries that severed their links to gold? The answer is that the devaluation provided not just a gain in global competitiveness but a revaluation in South Africa’s most valuable assets – its wealth of underground resources and particularly gold. As a small country producing half of the world’s gold, there was nothing more important to its economy than the price of its gold reserves. And once those reserves were revalued upwards, it was off to races. Multiplier effects from the gold mining boom rippled through the economy, pushing GDP higher and debt-to-GDP lower. Belgium, 1946-1948 (peaking in 1946) Like 1930s South Africa, Belgium didn’t attempt to balance its budget after World War II. Rather, the Belgian debt ratio was reduced in two ways: Reconstruction of the economy after it was left in tatters by the German occupation. Help from friends. From post-war lows in 1946, GDP bounced back in the next two years at an annual rate of 13% in real terms and 24% in nominal terms. Fiscal challenges were also mitigated by Marshall Plan assistance from the U.S., beginning in 1948, and some war debt forgiveness before that. And with debt growing much more slowly than the economy, debt-to-GDP was cut from 118% to 75% in just two years. Ireland, 1986-1990 (peaking in 1987) and Belgium, 1987-2006 (peaking in 1993) Here are a few data points describing each of these European debt battles, dividing the Belgian experience into two sub-periods with slightly different characteristics: And here are my observations: Strong growth explained the rapidity of Ireland’s debt ratio reduction, while steady Belgian growth also contributed to falling debt ratios, especially in the 1990s. Belgium achieved the second leg of its debt reduction, from 2001 to 2006, by reducing its budget deficit to 0.4% of GDP. Strong primary balances were a critical ingredient in each instance. The Ireland and Belgium experiences seem to validate the idea that it’s okay to run a deficit as long as the primary balance shows a large surplus. We know this approach to be valid mathematically and it worked in these instances. The challenge is that it’s extremely difficult to maintain such a delicate balance through cycles of business, politics and war. Moreover, both Ireland and Belgium exploited unique advantages: Ireland’s generous support from the EU via structural funds, which averaged nearly 2% of Irish GDP in the latter half of the 1980s, and Belgium’s status as Europe’s Washington D.C., with much of the Brussels economy driven by the EU and, to a lesser extent, NATO. Before extrapolating their debt battles to the U.S., there are three points to consider. First, America’s highest decade-average primary surplus in the six decades since World War II is 0.9% in the 1950s (as shown here). That’s nearly 4% lower than the Ireland and Belgium figures above. Second, at current interest rates, the U.S. would need to fully balance the budget in order to match the Irish and Belgian primary surpluses. In other words, a large primary surplus is basically the same thing as a balanced budget in the U.S. today. Third, over a more complete credit cycle, Irish and Belgian debt reduction appears to have been temporary. As of early 2013, IMF estimates placed general government debt at 117% of GDP for Ireland and 100% for Belgium. Egypt, 2003-2007 (peaking in 2005) Egypt’s high debt episode in the period just before the global financial crisis was mitigated by three IMF programs in the 1990s and a 1991 restructuring, which eased repayment terms while creating “blocked accounts” earmarked for lenders. I’ll set these advantages aside, though, and share figures for budget balances, growth and inflation: The good news is that Egypt offers another example of debt ratio improvement without balanced budgets, and without even a primary surplus. What’s more, the path from 105% to 90% didn’t require the double digit real growth rates of 1930s South Africa or 1940s Belgium. Growth was certainly strong, but inflation was even higher and outpaced interest rates on government debt (not shown). Therefore, Egypt reduced its debt ratio largely through a combination of high real growth and low real interest rates. And now for the bad news: We all know what happened in the years after 2007, and it had at least something to do with the very inflation that helped to erode government debt. Conclusions Getting back to the question of whether the small country group tells us anything we didn’t learn from the large countries, here are the four approaches that succeeded without a credit event: Strike gold and devalue. (But for an economy as large as the U.S., we’d need to discover hundreds of Fort Knox’s.) Be conquered by an evil, genocidal dictator. (And then grow strongly with the help of some friends after your liberation.) Run a huge primary surplus. (Nearly 4% higher than the U.S. has averaged in any post-WWII decade.) Be like modern Egypt. (Do I really need a qualifier for this one?) So maybe the smaller countries don’t really show us the way? Which brings us back to the approach followed by the large countries in the database: Balance the budget. These countries weren’t satisfied with marginal improvements that still leave gaping deficits. (Think about the celebratory “all clears” that were declared this past May after the CBO dropped its deficit forecast to “only” 4.2% of GDP.) They didn’t claim victory after reaching the standard EU target of a 3% deficit. More importantly, their debt battles predate the use of Keynesian economics as an excuse for profligacy. I’ll say it once more: Balancing the budget is the only way that a large country has ever wound down a 105% debt-to-GDP without haircutting its creditors. Not for the first time, the common sense solution is the only approach that’s worked. (Click here for credit event detail and the calculation of today’s 105% debt-to-GDP.)
iOS 7 (AAPL +2.3%) is now available for download, flat icons and all. Also being released is iTunes 11.1, which adds iTunes Radio and a new Genius Shuffle feature.Developers have been busy making their apps iOS 7-friendly. Apple blogger/fan Pixel Envy has provided a very comprehensive review of the OS.A U.S. carrier source tells Reuters iPhone 5C pre-orders haven't been "overwhelming," and that supply for both the 5S and 5C has disappointed. Multiple reports emerged yesterday of tight 5S inventories.Hit-and-miss Digitimes reports the 5th-gen iPad and retina iPad Mini will join the iPhone 5S in having sapphire home buttons (presumably with fingerprint sensors underneath), and that iPhone 6 will "possibly" feature sapphire touchscreen cover glass.Sapphire is thinner and more scratch-resistant than current cover glass solutions such as Gorilla Glass, but is also much more expensive.Also: Apple chairman and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson has agreed to become the CEO of (and an initial investor in) Calico, a Google company set to work on anti-aging technology. Tim Cook provides some high praise for Levinson in the PR.Earlier: iPhone 5S/5C reviews, Morgan Stanley note 7 comments!
The “Internet of Things” has become a favored buzzword of consultants and tech journalists. But beware, there be dragons that neither regulators nor privacy advocates can vanquish. In an early salvo against the manufacturer of a connected device that is part of the Internet of Things, the Federal Trade Commission brought an action against TRENDnet, a developer of web-enabled video cameras that failed to live up to the security claims that the company had made to users: in 2012, hackers found a flaw that exposed users’ private video feeds without their knowledge. The settlement imposes a twenty-year security compliance audit program on TRENDnet and potential fines for future violations. Thus, for security vulnerabilities in their connected cameras, TRENDnet joins the likes of Google and Facebook, which are subject to similar settlements and privacy audits for past violations of user’s online privacy. The promise of the Internet of Things needs to be weighed against the potential threat to privacy and security. Consultants are enamoured by the promise of connected devices that can monitor and interact with their environment, and collect data to be analyzed by consumers, companies, or governments. According McKinsey, the Internet of Things “promise[s] to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.” By allowing companies to track inventory (and consumer behavior) with increasing precision, helping doctors and insurers to track patient health and treatment compliance, and enabling consumers to manage devices like cars and connected houses, the Internet of Things will supposedly revolutionize our economy and increase efficiency. And this will all happen soon -- Cisco predicts that there will be 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. Many consumers already participate in the Internet of Thing: ’s iPhone and smartphones powered by ’s Android operating system now represent over half the cell phones in the United States. These connected and sensor-rich platforms (which carry GPS, cameras, microphones, and accelerometers), which often log data in the background and back it up to a computer, and are now being used by retailers, and potentially the NSA, and possibly others to track users. While the FTC’s action tries to send a message to companies developing products for the Internet of Things, this episode highlights how challenging it will be to regulate this new industry. The FTC doesn’t have the power to regulate privacy or security; it pursued the action against TRENDnet on the basis of misstatements of the security of their cameras. The settlements against Google and are an attempt to “hack the law,” by bringing those companies’ privacy practices under the FTC’s jurisdiction. Though the Google and Facebook settlements serve as examples to other online services that collect user data, the same strategy of enforcement will not work for the manufacturers of connected devices. First, the FTC’s action was slow, coming almost twenty months after the security flaw was disclosed by hackers, an eternity in the computer security world. Google and Facebook are large, well-known entities, in part because the "network effect" makes them useful (the more friends you have using them, the better the sites are). Internet of Things manufacturers are different, and are likely to be more distributed, at least at the beginning, when small companies will be vying to innovate with new applications to new technologies. Suing a company like TRENDnet is a less effective deterrent than forcing Google into a settlement, and does little to increase the net security of devices. Due to the complex nature of connected devices, their integration with other services, and the general insensitivity of hardware engineers to security issues, security is a technical and a cultural problem that regulators have little power to directly enforce. In a recent piece in Harvard Business Review’s blog, I advocated that companies adopt an approach that combines both technical and cultural tools. By training engineers to apply existing systems-engineering tools to security threats, using modular hardware and software designs and open security standards, and by encouraging a skeptical culture, developers can learn to tackle the challenge of securely connecting physical devices to the internet--rather than adding security as an ad hoc afterthought. This approach also helps developers think like users because providing secure devices to consumers involves crafting sensible defaults, like requiring users to set a password. While privacy violations cannot be brushed aside, cameras can only observe (and occasionally broadcast audio). Compared with connected houses, cars, electronic locks (where flaws in one such design have been used to burglarize hotel rooms), and wireless medical equipment, an insecure camera’s effect on users is limited. Rather, the ability to hack cars and open doors directly affects users’ physical safety. As more devices become connected, they will provide an increasing set of features (like integration with Facebook, social media accounts, and apps), creating a larger and increasingly vulnerable attack surface for hackers to exploit. The ongoing integration of connected devices into our lives and the security challenge inherent in these devices pose threats that should temper the excitement of Internet of Things evangelists. To make matters worse, even though the FTC recognizes the problem, it can do little to protect consumers as the Internet of Things grows. Chris Clearfield is a principal at System Logic, an independent consulting firm that helps organizations manage issues of risk and complexity. Follow him on Twitter, and check out his other writings. “Here Be Dragons” by Kelly Lee
No Libertarians in the Seventeenth-Century Highlands: Wednesday Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal
No Libertarians in the Seventeenth-Century Highlands: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: March 06, 2004: John and Belle Waring have been driven insane by reading a debate in Reason where Richard A. Epstein takes the role of the voice of practical reason and experience: John & Belle Have A Blog: If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride -- A Pony!: ...Reason recently published a debate held at its 35th anniversary banquet. The flavor of this discussion is indescribable. In its total estrangement from our political and social life today, its wilfull disregard of all known facts about human nature, it resembles nothing so much as a debate over some fine procedural point of end-stage communism, after the state has withered away.... Richard A. Epstein: even in the libertarian utopia, some forms of state coercion will be required. If we must assemble 100 plots of land to build a railway which will benefit all, and only 99 owners will sell, then we may need to force a lone holdout to accept a fair price for his land. Similarly, the public enforcement of private rights and the creation of infrastructure will require money, so there will have to be some taxes. [Note to self: no shit, Sherlock.] Randy Barnett: Not so fast! Let's cross that bridge when we come to it rather than restricting liberty in advance. We'll know a lot more about human liberty in the libertarian utopia, and private entrepreneurs will solve these problems somehow without our needing to grant to governments the dangerous ability to confiscate our property in the name of some nebulous "public good." And as for rights enforcement -- look it's Halley's Comet! David Friedman: Epstein places too much confidence in his proposed restrictions on government power. Rights could be enforced privately, and imperfect but workable solutions to the holdouts in the railway case could also be found. "To justify taxation we need the additional assumption that rights enforcement cannot be done by the state at a profit, despite historical examples of societies where the right to enforce the law and collect the resulting fines was a marketable asset." Now, everyone close your eyes and try to imagine a private, profit-making rights-enforcement organization which does not resemble the mafia, a street gang, those pesky fire-fighters/arsonists/looters who used to provide such "services" in old New York and Tokyo, medieval tax-farmers, or a Lendu militia. (In general, if thoughts of the Eastern Congo intrude, I suggest waving them away with the invisible hand and repeating "that's anarcho-capitalism" several times.) Nothing's happening but a buzzing noise, right? Now try it the wishful thinking way. Just wish that we might all live in a state of perfect liberty, free of taxation and intrusive government, and that we should all be wealthier as well as freer. Now wish that people should, despite that lack of any restraint... not... rape... sell fraudulent stocks in non-existent ventures... dump of mercury in the... general stock of water from which people privately draw.) Awesome huh? But it gets better. Now wish that everyone had a pony. It is an interesting fact that there are no libertarians--nobody calling for the withering-away of the state--nobody calling for competition between private, profit-making, rights-enforcement organizations until the nineteenth century. Libertarianism as we know it today shows up first in the anarchist-socialists of the late nineteenth century (left libertarians who think we can eliminate not only the state but also property) and then later on shows up in the right-libertarians who currently populate Reason (who for some reason break the dream of perfect human freedom and communal solidarity by creating "ownership"). Why don't you have any libertarians earlier? Let's climb into the wayback machine, and let's bring some people back to Reason's 35th anniversary banquet: Adam Smith: Withering away of the state? Private profit-making rights-enforcement organizations? Have none of you ever taken a trip to the Scottish Highlands? Have none of you ever read about the form of society that used to exist there? In the Scottish Highlands David Friedman's dream of a society without a state, in which justice was administered by private profit-making rights-enforcement organizations, was a reality. And what a reality! The private profit-making rights-enforcement organizations were called "clan lords" and their henchmen. In the Highlands, everyone was seen as either a clan member to be helped, a clan enemy to be killed, or a stranger to be robbed. With such insecurity of life and property, the system of natural liberty could not operate to create prosperity, and life was... what is the phrase?... Thomas Hobbes: Nasty, brutish, and short. Adam Smith: Thank you. Thomas Hobbes: I know what it's like much better than David Friedman does. I lived through the English Civil War. Davey Hume: Let me echo the wise sayings of my good (if absent-minded) friend Adam. You need a mighty state to provide security of property. You need a limited state to keep its own exactions from becoming a cure worse than the disease... Ibn Khaldun: The state is a device that prevents all injustice save that which it commits itself. Davey Hume: Exactly. That is the key problem of governance: mighty, but limited. It is only after the state has been established and the memory of what life was like in the Highlands disappears that people can even begin to forget why the state is necessary. Under security of property, people begin to view each other--even total strangers--as possible partners in mutually-beneficial acts of exchange. The oxytocin levels in their bloodstreams rise. They feel mutual sympathy toward each other. They feel bound by the moral law, and no longer kill clan enemies or rob strangers even when they can do so in perfect safety... Adam Smith: I have written a big book about this, which very few of you have read--although everyone here at least claims to have read my other book... Davey Hume: And it is only after the state has enabled commerce, and only after commerce has sweetened human nature, that one can even begin to entertain the anarchist-libertarian fantasies of the withering away of the state... Joseph de Maistre: What my good friend Davey Hume is saying, although he is too polite to put it this way, is that behind everything good, peaceful, and prosperous in human society is the shadow of the Public Executioner...
Court almost certain to find former politician guilty of corruption and abuse of power following last month's trialA Chinese court will announce its verdict on ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai on Sunday, following his trial last month on charges of corruption and abuse of power.China's courts come under the control of the ruling Communist party and are certain to find Bo guilty. State media have already all but condemned him."The Jinan intermediate people's court hereby announces that it will announce a verdict in defendant Bo Xilai's bribery, corruption and abuse of power case on Sept 22, 2013, at 10 am (0200 GMT)," the court in eastern China's Shandong province, where Bo was tried, said on its microblog.Prosecutors demanded a heavy sentence for Bo on the final day of his divisive, dramatic trial, saying his "whimsical" challenge to the charges flew in the face of the evidence.Hong Kong's South China Morning Post cited a source as saying the case could drag on as Bo is likely to appeal.Bo was a rising star in China's leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal in which his wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family friend.Bo, who was Communist party chief of the south-western metropolis of Chongqing, had mounted an unexpectedly feisty defence during his five-day trial, denouncing testimony against him by his wife as the ravings of a mad woman.Bo repeatedly said he was not guilty of any of the charges, though he admitted making some bad decisions and shaming his country by his handling of former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, who first told Bo that Gu had probably murdered Heywood.Wang fled to the US consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu in February last year after confronting Bo with evidence that Gu was involved in the murder. Wang was also jailed last year for covering up the crime.The state prosecutor said Bo should not be shown leniency as he had recanted admissions of guilt provided ahead of the trial.Bo could theoretically be given the death penalty for the charges, but many observers say that is unlikely as the party will not want to make a martyr of a man whose left-leaning social welfare policies won much popular support.Legal experts have said they thought the details of the actual charges laid against Bo suggested he would be spared the death penalty.Bo XilaiGu KailaiNeil HeywoodChinaAsia Pacific theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Originally posted at: CapitalistExploits.at Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few months you've no doubt noticed the the vile and repulsive grab for your privacy and freedom that is occurring globally, led seemingly by the NSA, but condoned by pretty much every government on the planet. Opinions on the merit and justification for this "grab" are many. Some say I've Got Nothing to Hide, and therefore nothing to fear. History has proven this thesis to be without merit. I was at lunch yesterday with a group of friends. All are very successful, very regular guys who probably don't have much to hide. They were commenting on how they don't mind using Gmail, loading all their documents into Dropbox and otherwise being an open book for whoever wants to see their life in all its digital glory. Of course I felt compelled to remind them that want they think is OK now, may not be viewed as OK in the future. This is something we keep harping on herein, and it's worth thinking about. The rules of the game are constantly changing. Your church, your government, your friends...all of these "groups" can decide at will to change their views of what they believe is right or wrong at the drop of a hat. We've all seen this played out. How often has the Catholic church changed it's doctrine over the centuries? How often have governments gone back and retroactively changed their policies? How often have your own friends practised one set of "rules" for their behaviour yet expected differently of you? The books you are reading, the websites you are downloading information from, the TV shows you are watching and the organizations you are supporting might be viewed as acceptable today, but there is NO guarantee they will be thought of that way in the future. Yet in the digital world most people still do not correlate the collection of seemingly innocuous information with the risk to their privacy, and ultimately their freedom. Unless you have never had a bank account, never used a credit card, never had an email, never owned a phone, haven't bought anything on line or otherwise have figured out how to stay completely off the radar, a profile has beenconstructed about you. It lives in some NSA data warehouse, and it contains more information than you should be comfortable sharing...with anyone! If you're OK with that and see no problem with your information being analysed and processed by multiple "authorities", then we truly wish you the best. It's likely that you also believe in the tooth fairy, rainbows with pots of gold and other such nonsense. Stop reading now so that your fantasies can live on for at least a little while longer. The Banality of Systemic Evil That's the title of an article by Northwestern professor Peter Ludlow that recently appeared in the New York Times. Ludlow points out that there appears to be a significant generational moral divide appearing between those aged 18-34, and the old guard that still make up the majority of what we'd consider "the establishment" media. Younger people are overwhelmingly in support of the whistle-blowers and hacktivists that are exposing the corruption, illegal activities and cover ups that are rocking our perceptions of "good" and "evil" within our society, and this has the mainstream press completely confounded. Ludlow asks, "...has the younger generation lost its moral compass?" He says no, and I would agree. In contrast, it seems that the younger generation is following its moral compass! Young people are realizing, perhaps finally, that privacy is paramount to freedom, and both are under attack. If freedom is important to you, then privacy must be important. You cannot maintain your freedom if you cannot maintain your personal privacy. If privacy is important, then a comprehensive strategy to protect yourself is a necessity. The history of mankind is one replete with the abuses of power. Today, the arm of abuse resides in the unrestricted growth of the Surveillance State, whose reach is global. Because of the fast-moving nature of technology itself, it is important to stay abreast of new developments on an ongoing basis. To that end we recently asked our security guru "John" to put together a special report that would help our readers understand the risks they face online, and how to alleviate them, at least to some degree. If you have not done so already you can still register to receive this complimentary report by clicking here. We'll be releasing Part 1 later today, with Part 2 to follow on Thursday. This report is written for the person that intuitively understands why we have doors on our homes, curtains on our windows, envelopes on our letters, and unlisted telephone numbers, but may not understand how our innate privacy needs, risks, and strategies translate into the digital world. More than a highlight of currently available technologies, it’s designed to be a starting point for your journey to changing the way you think about the world and the relationship of your personal privacy and security to it. You must understand the battle that is going on behind the scenes, and accept that protecting your privacy is going to take some work. There are political and economic advantages for companies and governments to want to invade your privacy. On the other hand, the number of people and organizations working hard to protect it are small and underfunded. Strong government-corporate ties with major technology providers like AT&T, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and others allow massive financial and political gain by wilfully shredding your privacy and splitting the spoils. You need to support the groups and individuals that are fighting the battle for your freedom and privacy, and to the most realistic extent possible, de-fund those entities that seek to violate your freedom and privacy. A portion of this guide will serve to provide you with strategies to defend yourself and weaken your opponents. Register to download your copy by clicking here Be hopeful and remember that peaceful resistance, failing to be complicit with immoral laws and activities and a conscientious objection to the surveillance state can help us all to avoid an Orwellian future...maybe. - Mark "There can be no expectation that the system will act morally of its own accord. Systems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws." - Peter Ludlow, Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University
• Aaron Alexis obtained security clearance despite prior arrests • 12 victims were civilian employees aged between 46 and 73 • Alexis passed employer and gun store background checksThe US government ordered a clutch of security reviews on Tuesday as investigators attempted to find out why a troubled former reservist walked on to the oldest military installation in the United States with at least one weapon, opened fire and killed 12 people before he was shot dead.A senior Pentagon official said the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, intended to order a review of physical security and access at all military installations across the world. Military leaders were being consulted over the parameters of the review, which should be formally announced on Wednesday, the official said.The White House separately announced a review of security procedures for private contractors after it was revealed that Aaron Alexis obtained clearance to work on the base despite having been arrested twice in the past for gun-related offences.Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said it would be conducted by the Office of Management and Budget and examine "standards for contractors and employees across federal agencies". A third inquiry was announced by the navy secretary, Ray Mabus, who ordered a "rapid review" of security at navy and marine corps installations. The FBI revealed on that Alexis was armed with just a shotgun on Monday morning when, acting alone, he entered the military compound using a valid security pass and began firing at other civilian contractors.Valerie Parlave, head of the FBI's field office in Washington, dismissed reports Alexis used an AR-15 semi automatic rifle – the weapon used in other recent mass shootings in the US. Instead she said Alexs used only the shotgun, bought in nearby Virginia, when he entered building 197. "We also believe Mr Alexis may have gained access to a handgun once inside the facility and after he began shooting," she said.The FBI is still seeking to determine his motive and Parlave would not comment on reports that Alexis was receiving treatment for mental problems. "We continue to look into Mr Alexis's past, including his medical and criminal histories," she said.Police named the the 12 victims of the attack on Tuesday. All were civilian employees aged between 46 and 73. It was unclear whether Alexis, 34, had deliberately avoided shooting military personnel.The metropolitan police department in Washington said Alexis was believed to have shot other employees at the compound from the lobby of building 197 to the third and fourth floors. He had several firefights with police before being killed by armed officers. Police chief Cathy Lanier said the succession of firefights lasted between 30 minutes and an hour before he was shot dead.The company that employed Alexis said on Tuesday that his latest background check revealed only a minor traffic violation. The Experts, a defence contractor, said the check on Alexis was carried out three months ago. The company said that had it known of his two arrests for gun-related offences, it would not have employed him.A Virginia gun store and range also said it ran a background check on Alexis before selling him a gun and ammunition on Sunday. Sharpshooters Small Arms Range said that he passed the check.In Washington, Hagel joined other military officials to lay a wreath at the navy memorial to honour those who died. The wreath was placed next to the statue of the Lone Sailor, to represent "all people who have ever served, are serving now, or are yet to serve in the United States navy".There was still no clear motive for the killing spree, although a picture was emerging of a disturbed individual prone to sometimes angry outbursts, who may have been undergoing treatment for mental illness.Although he was never convicted of a crime, Alexis had a number of encounters with police, two of which involved firearms, and had a history of disorderly conduct before he was granted an honourable discharge from the navy two years ago.Police in Seattle said Alexis had been arrested in 2004 after shooting out the tyres of a car belonging to a worker on a construction site near his home. Alexis was said to have acted in an "anger-fuelled blackout", furious about where the car was parked.Authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, said Alexis was arrested in 2010 when he was a navy reservist there, after an upstairs neighbour complained he had shot through the ceiling of her home. The police report said Alexis had complained about noise. He was not charged after police accepted his explanation that he had discharged the gun by accident.The Associated Press reported that the Department of Veterans' Affairs had been involved in treating Alexis for a number of mental health issues since August. The police and the FBI, which is leading the investigation, declined to confirm or deny the report.However, a number of friends and associates of Alexis suggested he had shown unusual behaviour. Gene Denby, a reporter at National Public Radio and a friend of Alexis's sister, recalled him apparently behaving strangely "six or seven" years ago.Denby said that Alexis called his sister, incoherent, claiming "people were out to get him". Denby said: "She was unnerved, clearly unsettled by it."There were growing questions over whether he should have been granted a security clearance. Thomas Hoshko, the chief executive of The Experts, which is headquartered in Florida and has a base in Alexandria, Virginia, said the US military granted him a "secret" clearance – providing him with a pass known as a common access card – and worked at six or more US military installations in July and August. "We had just recently re-hired him. Another background investigation was re-run and cleared through the defense security service in July 2013," he said.The work in Washington, focusing on the navy and marine corps intranet, had only just begun. The FBI said Alexis had been staying in hotels in the Washington DC area since August 25, and checked into the Residence Inn hotel, near the facility in southwest Washington, on September 7.On Tuesday, police were searching his room at the hotel, and appealing for any information that might provide insight into why Alexis opened fire on his co-workers.It remained unclear whether the shootings would reignite the stalled debate in Congress over gun control. Calls for action came from an unexpected quarter, when the most senior clinician at a hospital that treated victims of the shootings broke away from giving updates about their medical conditions to make a powerful plea for Americans to eradicate the "evil in our society" that keeps her hospital so busy with shooting injuries."I would like you to put my trauma center out of business," Janis Orlowski, the chief medical officer at Washington hospital center, told reporters in the aftermath of the killing. "I would like to not be an expert on gunshots. Let's get rid of this. This is not America."In follow-up comments on Tuesday, Orlowski said her plea had been a spontaneous reaction after she observed how similar the shooting injuries had been to victims of routine gun crime in Washington."I have to say it was direct from my heart," she said in a series of television interviews. "I must have poked the underbelly, because I have gotten quite a few comments and phone calls and emails and tweets about it."Weaknesses in the military's system of background checks were further highlighted on Tuesday by the publication of a damning report into a separate programme used for lower-level entry permits.The report from the defense department's inspector general found that cost-cutting and bureaucratic bungles had resulted in a system that failed to pick up 52 "convicted felons [who] received routine unauthorized installation access, placing military personnel, attendants, civilians in installations at an increased security risk." Nine out of ten installations allowed contractors temporary access pending the results of background checks.The Navy's Commercial Access Control System, under fire in the report, was designed to speed up routine access for contractors but Aaron Alexis went through a higher level of security clearance known as the Common Access Card."There is no indication that the findings in the report could have prevented, in any way, the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard," said rear admiral John Kirby, chief of information for the Navy. "The system they examined is not the system through which Mr Alexis gained access. Even if we had followed every recommendation in the IG report, we could not have prevented Monday's tragic events."Washington DCUnited StatesAaron AlexisGun crimeUS crimePaul LewisDan Roberts theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League recorded employee on camera phone after he refused to serve his friendA Selfridges shop assistant is facing possible dismissal after refusing to serve a man who was buying clothes with the leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson.The menswear assistant, who has not been named, angered Robinson after he declined to help his friend in the luxury London department store on Monday.Robinson, a convicted criminal who leads anti-Islam protests that have often turned violent and have been marked by racist chanting, said the assistant asked his friend if he was with the EDL leader and then said "fuck off, I am not serving you".Robinson said he had not heard the exchange directly, but immediately challenged the assistant who he assumed was a Muslim "because he had Mo on his name tag"."You won't serve my friend because he's friends with me ... and I'm in the EDL," said Robinson, according to his own camera phone recording of the incident. "Is that what you're saying?"The man held his hands up and tried to ignore the question, but eventually replied: "You can put me on the camera all you like but I ain't serving you", before walking off.Selfridges said it was "very disappointed" and suspended the staff member pending an internal investigation. By way of apology, the store laid on a three-course meal for Robinson and his friend in its Hix restaurant, champagne and caviar bar, which included £25 portions of char-grilled sirloin steak and chips, and chocolate cake and ice-cream."We pride ourselves on making everyone welcome and endeavour to provide world-class customer service at all times," a Selfridges spokesman said. "We are taking the matter very seriously and are currently investigating it."The worker is being represented by his union, USDAW.Robinson said his friend was not associated with the EDL, adding that "if a Muslim was uncomfortable serving me I wouldn't have been bothered".He said he did not want to see the shop assistant sacked but remarked that if a white shop assistant had refused to serve a Muslim he would be sacked immediately. He said he challenged the shop assistant because he felt he and his friend were the victim of double standards.The day got worse for Robinson when he was later ejected from a Milton Keynes casino because, he believes, he is the EDL leader. He told the Guardian it is a pattern repeated in clubs and pubs in his hometown of Luton where proprietors fear his presence will attract trouble.Formed in 2009, the EDL claims to be opposed to Islamic extremism and has held a series of protests across the UK that have led to numerous arrests for public order offences as EDL supporters clashed with anti-racism campaigners.Robinson and an EDL colleague face charges, which they deny, of obstructing police in the course of attempting to organise a march to the site of British army soldier Lee Rigby's death.English Defence LeagueThe far rightRobert Booth theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Daisy Luther Activist Post The FY14 Continuing Resolution (CR) spending bill is soon to be on the table in the Senate, and hidden in this bill is a continuance of the controversial “Monsanto Protection Act” that was passed 6 months ago (HR 933) amidst enormous public outcry. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that the mainstream media is providing disinformation regarding this bill – after all – look at their advertisers. It’s just good business for them to go with the flow on this. According to mainstream sources, this is being presented as a done deal, when in fact, it has only passed the House and must still go before both the Senate and the President. Of course, last time around that didn’t really help us much – let us not forget those who greedily ignored the wishes of the American people in favor of biotech dollars and influence: Click HERE to see what members of Congress betrayed us by voting in favor of the original Monsanto Protection Act rider. Click HERE to learn about Senator Roy Blunt, the recipient of beaucoup biotech dollars who slipped the rider in the last time around. Click HERE to see how President Obama signed it into law anyway, despite a noisy public outcry. The new bill surreptitiously passed the vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday evening of last week. It exempts the large biotech companies from judicial review and lawsuits in the event that the farming methods or crops cause health or environmental issues, and it also means that once the crops are planted, no matter what is discovered about the effects of those crops, they can still be taken to market and sold. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; The Center for Food Safety released the following statement: “It is extremely disappointing to see the damaging ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ policy rider extended in the House spending bill,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans called their elected officials to voice their frustration and disappointment over the inclusion of ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ this past spring. Its inclusion is a slap in the face to the American public and our justice system.” Wrapped in a “farmer-friendly” package, the rider represents a serious assault on the fundamental safeguards of our judicial system and would negatively impact farmers, the environment and public health across America. The rider would strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop and compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request. In addition to being completely unnecessary, the rider represents an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review, which is an essential element of U.S. law and provides a critical check on government decisions that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. This also raises potential jurisdictional concerns with the Senate Agriculture and Judiciary Committees that merited hearings by the Committees before its consideration.This time around, the protection rider is even more troubling because of the recent approval of “2nd generation GMOs”. These virtually untested genetically modified seeds were created to survive the spraying of an even more deadly chemical than glyophosate, the previous poison of choice. Isoxaflutole (IFT) will soon be dousing the breadbasket of America, despite the fact that the EPA KNOWS IT CAUSES CANCER. The EPA’s fact sheet on IFT is nothing short of terrifying – it’s a must-read. That’s right – it is classified as a “probable human carcinogen” and the EPA has warned that it is likely to contaminate soil, air, and groundwater. If you live any place downwind or downstream of a GMO farm, you are in the new cancer zone. And Congress – our duly elected representation – is saying that you have NO LEGAL RECOURSE with this extension of the rider. Despite the fact that public outcry did nothing to change things the last time around, we need to rally up and contact the offices of our senators. Let them know that you will not support a senator who does not support your health and well-being and chooses instead to offer a free pass to big business. Be louder this time around – spread the word via this article and any others you can find. Share this on your social media. Sign petitions. Write letters. Protest. They may pass it anyway, but we CAN still make others aware of the depth of the corruption and the incestuous relationship between biotech and our government. You can find contact information for your senators and representatives HERE. Petitions against this rider can be found HERE and HERE. It’s time to get involved and let the criminals in the Capitol know that we are watching them. Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her [email protected]
For centuries, visitors to the Galápagos Islands have left unstamped postcards in a barrel for their fellow travellers to deliver. What happened when one artist spent three weeks cycling around the British Isles, hand-delivering 22 of the cards? In pictures: a selection of the postcardsWorking as an artist demands frequent bouts of solitude and frugality, but every now and then my job whisks me off to some amazing places. In January 2007, I was invited to take part in an exhibition in Quito, Ecuador. On completing this project I seized the opportunity to travel to the Galápagos Islands – a volcanic archipelago straddling the equator, more than 500 miles off the west coast of mainland Ecuador.During my boat tour I visited an island called Floreana. In previous centuries, Floreana provided safe anchorage and a plentiful food supply for the buccaneers and whalers who roamed the Pacific. I learned that seafarers who frequented the island would deposit their correspondence in a barrel lying on the main sandy beach. Subsequent travellers would sort through the barrel and deliver any items that were addressed to their next port of call. In this way, an informal, free postal service was established, and the stretch of beach became known as Post Office Bay.To this day, an old barrel mounted on a pole functions as a makeshift letter box for the island. It is situated on a sandy track that leads up from the beach, sitting amid a collection of driftwood and debris that has been personalised by passing travellers over the years. Tourists are now invited to place a postcard without a stamp into the barrel, in the hope that a future visitor will one day pick it up and deliver it to its intended destination.On hearing this story I was sceptical; it seemed little more than a novel way of selling postcards to impressionable tourists. But I was gradually charmed by the idea of an entirely free but incredibly slow postal service that runs on an economy of goodwill between strangers. So when I arrived at Post Office Bay, I sorted through hundreds of postcards, some of which had been in the barrel for years, and found 22 addressed to locations across the British Isles. I intended to deliver them as soon as I returned to the UK, but more than two years passed before I had the time and funds necessary to realise my plan. In the summer of 2009, I set out on a journey to personally hand-deliver each postcard to its destination. I travelled by train and bicycle for almost three weeks, staying at little B&Bs and cheap hotels along the way.While I was planning my trip, the postcards seemed to be brimming with potential – imbued with the prospect of an adventure that I was yet to have. I also perceived a certain poignancy in the humble, handwritten messages; they ossified a moment of absence between the sender and the recipient, and the slowly fading salutations spoke to the fact that all human relationships are subject to entropy and the passing of time.The addresses written on the back of each postcard plotted the co-ordinates of my journey. So even though I was delivering the postcards, it felt like they were delivering me to the various addresses they bore. Starting from London, I went down to Dorset, through Dartmoor to Exmoor, up into Gloucestershire and then across to Wales. From there I took the ferry to Dublin and made my way over to the west of Northern Ireland. The next stop was Belfast, and then Glasgow via the ferry into Stranraer. After Stirling, the northernmost point of my trip, I slowly wound my way south, taking in Northumbria, Middlesbrough, Thirsk, Peterborough, Cambridge and East Anglia along the way.The first three recipients were not at home when I arrived at their addresses, so I left a brief letter explaining how the postcards had arrived at each of their houses. However, as I cycled off at the end of that first day, I felt a sudden sense of anticlimax; as soon as I had delivered the postcards it was as if the revered status I had afforded them suddenly evaporated. They returned to being touristy tat, with garish and oversaturated images on one side, and banal platitudes scrawled on the reverse. I remember one recipient in particular looking at the postcard quite awkwardly, as if he could not quite tally its inherent tackiness with the weighty significance I had bestowed upon it.However, once each recipient had a chance to process the story behind my journey, many offered me their hospitality. Tea and biscuits became an almost daily ritual, and I found myself slipping into a slightly more naive and polite version of myself in order to navigate the weirdness of turning up unannounced at the recipients' front doors. I noticed that the protocols of Britishness came to the fore in those situations – it opened up a common ground, allowing the recipient and I to manoeuvre more comfortably within what was quite an unusual set of circumstances.Some moments on my bicycle were extremely gruelling – the Devonshire hills in the blazing heat and the outskirts of Glasgow in the driving rain – while others were simply breathtaking – pedalling through the Stirlingshire countryside and barrelling down the high coastal roads towards Chesil Beach. The addresses I visited ranged from a Victorian terrace in the Glaswegian suburbs to a sprawling private estate in the heart of the Northumbria national park.I encountered many fascinating people throughout my trip: the ex-Olympian jockey who let me sleep in his horse box when all the local rooms were full; the parish councillor whose chickens roamed freely through her house; the Glaswegian couple lured to Middlesbrough to work at the huge factory that loomed beyond their back garden, who proudly named their house after their Scottish clan; the friendly cheese farmer who sent me on my way with packets of her award-winning Cheddar; the horse dealer with a sad smile and watery eyes who charmed me with stories over a bottle of red wine; the ecologist in Cambridge who warned of the huge environmental challenges facing the Galápagos due to tourism, overfishing and invasive species; the bemused employee of a retired Lord Lieutenant who received an innuendo-laden postcard from his boss; the ex-British soldier who, having served in Northern Ireland and now living in the South, was anxious to keep his military past a secret; the doctor's secretary who was touched to receive a postcard from an ex-patient who had vowed to travel to the Galápagos as soon as he was well again.I also discovered an incredible story from Floreana's past. Some of the island's first settlers were a German couple called Dore Strauch and Friedrich Ritter. Facing the prospect of living without dental care on the remote island, they had all their teeth taken out and replaced with steel dentures. Strauch and Ritter made Floreana their home in 1929, but other settlers soon ruined the sanctity of their isolated abode. In 1934, Ritter died a slow and agonising death after unwittingly eating a foul piece of meat, whereupon Strauch returned to Germany and wrote a book about her adventures on Floreana. Some of the other settlers – including Ritter himself – believed that Strauch deliberately sabotaged the meat, though she always maintained her innocence.On the harsher, more exhausting days of my trip, I would ask myself to what extent I was simply enduring the experience in order to recount a more romanticised version of it at a later date. But there were also times when I was gripped by an exuberant joy as I set off to reunite another postcard with its intended recipient. In those moments I was truly grateful that an opportunistic discovery on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean had ended up sending me on an adventure through my own country. Each postcard, with its gaudy depiction of a distant archipelago, became a portal through which I was able to discover the characters, complexities and contradictions of an altogether different set of islands – the British Isles.PostcardsGalápagos IslandsEcuadorGalápagos Islands theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
image source Julie Beal Activist Post I hope by now I’m starting to get through to people about online identity management, because here in the UK a whole lotta folk are about to be forced to sign their life over to an Identity Provider. The UK government has decided to host all of its public services online, to fulfill the ‘Digital by Default’ strategy. The Government Digital Strategy is now expected to be up and running by April 2014. Five companies have been chosen to provide identity management for UK citizens, one of which, the Post Office, will serve as registration centers for biometric smart ID enrollment. When I try to tell people about this, and how it’s a global scheme, they just don’t seem to hear me. I can only think that the power of the media is responsible – they simply aren’t informing the public properly about this matter, so because you’re only hearing it from me, it perhaps doesn’t seem as real? Well, it is. Horribly so. There aren’t any glossy adverts for it yet, but if you wade through the documents, and listen to lectures and webinars aimed at industry professionals, it’s all there on the Web. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Educating the public seems to have been ruled out, and instead, people are being drawn in by only being able to access certain services by using an Identity Provider (IdP) - this rules out debate, and the right to be informed. In the US, Obamacare and access to personal electronic health records will kick off national IdM take-up, while in the UK, it’s beginning with access to government services. No matter how private you’re told IdM makes you, there will always be an audit trail, and a host of exemptions from peeking. Maybe you’re already one of the many victims of the transition to AI government – those wishing to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance must already make their claim online. It is not possible to do this by interacting with a human in any way. The thing is, the next stage is forcing people to sign up with an Identity Provider (IdP) to prove they are who they say they are, when they use government services which are only available online. It was supposed to start next month, i.e. the transition to Universal Credit (the new benefit which will replace most of the current ones) was meant to introduce identity management to the UK, by requiring all claimants to authenticate themselves online by using an IdP. However, the plan has now changed, and the latest news is that instead of starting with Universal Credit, there will be 25 government departments moving their services online, and to access these, citizens will need to sign up with an Identity Provider. The services include online driving licences, and other DVLA documents; State benefits, redundancy payments, and tax matters; civil claims; visa applications; electoral registration; and booking prison visits. In June, the government announced, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will become the first central government department to use Identity Assurance (IDA), one set of secure login details to access all online public services, and will be a key component of Pay As You Earn Online (PAYE Online) which is to move to pre-launch mode in October 2013 with ‘wider IDA capabilities becoming available from October 2014′. The Government Digital Service (GDS), which is developing IDA, has described it such: “Identity assurance is about providing users with a simple, trusted and secure means of accessing public services, so we are working hard to ensure that privacy is at the heart of the service we will provide to users.” According to governmentcomputing.com, “IDA is set to become the default service for all government departments providing public digital services which require the citizen to confirm their identity.” The move comes as part of the Cabinet Office’s strategy to move all government services online in order to save between £1.7bn and £1.8bn a year.” They don’t want to provide staff to man phonelines, or offices –everything will be digitised, and for that you need smart ID. The UK government (Government Digital Services, or GDS) announced this month they have contracted the services of five companies, and we get to choose which one to sign up with! Gosh, thanks! The five IdPs chosen by GDS for the UK are Experian, Verizon, the Post Office, Mydex, and DigIdentity; the first/beta phase is just about to start. There were supposed to be eight IdPs, but PayPal and Cassidian have deferred their involvement for the time being. It was reported last week that a government spokesperson has stated, “Universal Credit remains part of the future delivery plans for the cross-government IDa Service in development at the Cabinet Office." Last year, (September, 2012), the UK Cabinet Office published the Local Authority Review of “Citizen Online Identity Assurance” which acknowledged one of the issues in enforcing the system is that “citizen trust may be difficult to achieve”. Too right!!! It’ll be even harder once people realize how easily they can be spied on, the fact that biometrics aren’t reliable enough, and that many things can go wrong when allowing a third party to handle your ability to live a life. If your global ID doesn’t work, you can’t do a thing. In June the Government and the UK's National Technical Authority on Information Assurance (CESG) also published new guidance on 'identity proofing' and verification. The guide sets out how businesses tasked with verifying the identity of individuals using Government services can achieve various levels of assurance about the identity of such users. The ‘Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group Draft Identity Assurance Principles’ were also published in June, and were actually endorsed by Big Brother Watch and No2ID, but all pretense of privacy is washed away by the exemptions (the “Exceptional Circumstances Principle”), which mean privacy can be violated for the following reasons: in the interests of national security; public safety or the economic well-being of the country; for the prevention of disorder or crime; for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This list kinda covers every excuse under the sun don’t ya think? Besides, there’s always the audit trail, and a whole variety of types of data about you that will be looked at. According to Mike Bracken, director of the Government Digital Service unit (GDS) in the Cabinet Office, “IA data includes “Personal data”, “Audit data, “Attribute data, “Identity data”, “Relationship data”; “Transactional data” and other “General data”…. "Processing” in the context of IA data means “collecting, using, disclosing, retaining, transmitting, copying, comparing, corroborating, aggregating, accessing”… etc … Subject to any audit or legal requirement, the Minimisation Principle requires any aggregation, correlation or corroboration to be of a transient nature. Any decision that requires a risk assessment of the Service-User will need the correlation of data from possibly a number of sources.” The UK has contracted its e-Gov services to one company, owned by only one man, who will host the services in the cloud, using software it has contracted from EMC Global Services, an American corporation. Does this mean the UK government is granting control of all her citizens to a private US company? Identity management enables full personality profiles for each of us, with a unique ID number, which works worldwide, using, for instance, the standards of the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) and ISO certification. Chris Ferguson, the man in charge of ‘Identity Assurance’ here in the UK, is on the board of directors of the OIX. In a workshop called ‘Comparing and Contrasting NSTIC with EU Approaches’ at this year’s World eID Congress, Chris Ferguson is due to give a presentation with the provisional title of “UK, a Laboratory for NSTIC in Europe”. this aligns with Ferguson’s commitment to working with his counterparts on his trip to the White House Colloquium on the NSTIC in May of last year, when the Cabinet Office noted, The internet doesn’t stop at national borders and nor will the identity ecosystem. Identity services and the technical and legal environments in which they work will need to align internationally over time even if there are differences from one country or business context to another. A step closer, perhaps, to an International Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace? In March, the Open Identity Exchange held a summit at the Microsoft headquarters in London, where Stephen Ufford, the founder of Trulioo (partnered with Verizon to deliver IdM in the UK, the US, and elsewhere) discussed the “problem” in the UK of the five million “unbanked” people – mainly the young and the old – who are classed as being “thin-file” people. Ufford also stated that instead of trying to “educate the public”, citizens could be “eased in” by getting them to use government services online. Trulioo specialises in social ID verification, and Ufford insists the government intends for us to use “social sign-ins” to begin with, such as through Google or Facebook, which would allow them to, “leverage existing consumer behaviour …. to make the verification process more simple”. The social (identity) file, he says, can include an email address, phone number, and even the device ID, and is, “created and aggregated just like a credit file. It’s reported from different identity providers, different instances of your social behaviour….”. Speaking at the Japan Identity and Cloud Summit , Ufford said that only 5% of e-commerce websites use social log-ins at present, but experts expect that over the next three years, this number will rise to over fifty per cent. He also assured the corporate attendees that they needn’t worry about using Trulioo’s product (called ‘Profile Plus’) because, he said, “… this process (the data we’re using to verify the identities) is completely unregulated so you don’t have to worry about the various types of privacy legislation around the world.” Trulioo gathers all of the bits and pieces of your digital footprint and assembles them as an ID, to provide “internet life verification”, i.e. to ‘prove’ the person is still alive. Don Thibeau, Founder of the Open Identity Exchange, and involved in setting up the NSTIC, believes the global identity ecosystem could use social and transactional information from the web and “repurpose it for other applications”. Perhaps he’s thinking of how much identity profiles are worth to marketers, financiers, researchers, and politicians. A webinar by a company (Janrain) partnered with Trulioo (see above), called ‘Leveraging Rich Social Profile Data for Advanced Segmentation’, stated Janrain could get rich profile data, e.g. photo, address, and psychographics, as well as relationship status, declared interests, movies, sports, and even “explicit access to their friends graphs”- this would give marketing companies “close to a 360 degree view” of customers and “could enable one to one marketing” using “centrally stored personality data”. The UK government guide for businesses, ‘Identity Proofing and Verification of an Individual’, describes the four levels of identity verification; a social log-in is the lowest level of authentication, as it is only ‘level 1’ and no evidence is obtained to verify the claimed identity; a level 2 identity has “sufficient evidence …. for it to be offered in support of civil proceedings”; a level 3 identity has been physically identified, meaning the owner of that identity has provided “sufficient confidence for it to be offered in support of criminal proceedings”; whilst the highest level of identity verification adds biometrics, “to further protect the identity from impersonation or fabrication.” A level 4 identity biometric is “a measure of a human body characteristic that is captured, recorded and/or reproduced in compliance with ICAO 9303”. The guide also notes that the following documents may be used, alongside other evidence, to authenticate a level 4 identity: Biometric passports that comply with ICAO 9303 (e-passports) and implement basic or enhanced access control (e.g. UK/EEA/EU/US/AU/NZ/CN) NHS staff card containing a Biometric UK biometric residence permit (BRP) UK asylum seekers Application Registration Card (ARC) EEA/EU Government issued identity cards that comply with Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 that contain a Biometric The government’s Midata initiative, which requires businesses to compile “consumers' consumption and transaction data in a portable, machine readable format” is very close to being made compulsory for all businesses. Midata was developed by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), “using insights and evidence from the Government’s Behaviour Insights Team in the Cabinet Office”. The scheme is already compulsory for the energy, credit card, current account and mobile telephony sectors, but if secondary legislation is passed, all companies would have to comply. It is said to benefit consumers, but it will also facilitate ID authentication for thin-file people, since it is transactional data, and will make all audit investigations of ID far simpler. Our health records will be regularly scrutinised by algorithms trying to understand such things as the spread of disease – for this a full ID profile helps ‘make sense’ of each record. Our profiles will also be collated and spread around by marketers, looking for the golden all-round view of who we are, to create a personalised consumer bubble for each of us. We’re told the UK government won’t have a database of our IDs, but centralisation is no longer the issue – it is the ability to access and aggregate information from across the World Wide Web in real-time that counts, and ‘Identity Assurance’ does precisely this. Worse still, it moves our IDs to the cloud, where we are even less protected by law, leaving us vulnerable to companies from the US, a country which believes it has the right to snoop on us for the sake of ‘national security’. IdA just makes it easier for them. The ‘Privacy Principles’ make it clear our IDs can be checked to ‘prevent crime’, which is effectively giving full clearance for all citizens to be surveilled, just in case. Spread the word and don’t give in – right? Notes:  They then get you into the Job Centre and inform you that you MUST upload your CV (your identity profile) to a ‘government portal’ (called ‘Universal Jobmatch’) so prospective employers may browse them; so you can be monitored to ensure you really are trying to find work; and so the AI system can ‘match’ you with a job. Not having access to the internet is no excuse, and those who do sign up to Universal Jobmatch at home, are probably unaware that one particular cookie will be placed on their device for a full 1000 days. All this is managed by the Monster Corporation. Nice. Jobseekers are also told “you must tell us if you leave your home, even if only for a day”. This article first appeared at Get Mind Smart Julie Beal is a UK-based independent researcher who has been studying the globalist agenda for more than 20 years. Please visit her website, Get Mind Smart, for a wide range of information about Agenda 21, Communitarianism, Ethics, Bioscience, and much more.