Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Archive for the ‘Tactics’ Category

Bears and duct tape!

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With grateful thanks to Cynthia G. who sent this to me.

(Going to take a break from the serious writing for this long week-end)

So, what's the story here?

So, what’s the story here?

The place: The Alaskan Wilderness

Just a bear wanting some food!

Just a bear wanting some food!

The event: A private “fly-in” fishing excursion to that Alaskan wilderness.

Well, a bear would, wouldn't it!

Well, a bear would, wouldn’t it!

The mistake: The pilot and fishermen left a cooler and bait in the plane.

Now what?

Now what?

The consequence: The bear went exploring for food!

Nothing if not ingenious!

Nothing if not ingenious!

The smart thinking: The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires, 3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic.

And they all happily went home!

And they all happily went home!

The result: The pilot patched the plane together, and they all flew home!

duct tape

The moral of this story: Duct Tape? Never Leave Home Without It

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Written by Paul Handover

March 29, 2013 at 00:00

Turning corners, en route to Plan B.

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Nothing stays the same for very long!

I wanted to call this post Change out of hope but that title was used on March 17th so opted for Turning corners instead!

Either way, this Post is prompted by a recent item published on the Earth Policy Institute website.  While Lester Brown’s book World on the Edge is a tough read, Lester is President of the Earth Policy Institute, it’s all too easy to think that the future for humanity is wall-to-wall gloom.  So here’s the article that was recently published, reproduced here under the copyright terms of the Earth Policy Institute.

Hope turning on the wind!

Wind Tops 10 Percent Share of Electricity in Five U.S. States

by J. Matthew Roney

A new picture is emerging in the U.S. power sector. In 2007, electricity generation from coal peaked, dropping by close to 4 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Over the same time period, nuclear generation fell slightly, while natural gas-fired electricity grew by some 3 percent annually and hydropower by 7 percent. Meanwhile, wind-generated electricity grew by a whopping 36 percent each year. Multiple factors underlie this nascent shift in U.S. electricity production, including the global recession, increasing energy efficiency, and more economically recoverable domestic natural gas. But ultimately it is the increasing attractiveness of wind as an energy source that will drive it into prominence.

Wind power accounted for just 2.9 percent of total electricity generation in the United States in 2011. In five U.S. states, however, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2010. In 2011, Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind’s share was 15 percent.

The two most populous U.S. states are also harnessing more of their wind resources. While adding more than 900 megawatts of new wind farms in 2011 to its existing 3,000-megawatt wind capacity, California was able to increase its wind electricity share from 3 to 4 percent. Texas has the most wind installations of all the states, with 10,400 megawatts. In fact, if Texas were a country, it would rank sixth in the world for total wind capacity. Figures from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the independent service operator that delivers 85 percent of the state’s electricity, show that wind’s share of electricity in the ERCOT region jumped from 2.9 percent in 2007 to 8.5 percent in 2011.

Even though the cost of generating electricity from the wind has fallen substantially, certain policies have been needed to help it compete with the longtime support and lack of full-cost accounting for fossil fuels. Through so-called renewable portfolio standards (RPS), 29 states now require a percentage of utilities’ electricity to come from renewables by a certain date. This includes 8 of the top 10 states in total installed wind power capacity. For example, California’s RPS requires one third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. But the biggest policy driver of U.S. wind power growth thus far has been the federal production tax credit (PTC) for each kilowatt-hour of electricity a wind turbine generates. When Congress has allowed the PTC to expire, as it is scheduled to do again at the end of 2012, wind installations in the following year have plummeted.

In the short term, extending the PTC will be critical for the U.S. wind industry, which boasts more than 400 turbine component manufacturers and employs some 75,000 people. Ultimately, moving away from the recurring boom-bust threat by establishing a national RPS or a carbon tax would encourage even greater manufacturing growth and wind installations.

In a country where wind resources could power the entire economy, there is still great potential to be realized. Four states in northern Germany have set the mark, with each getting more than 40 percent of their electricity from the wind. Which U.S. state will get there first?

For more information and data on wind energy in the United States and around the world, see Earth Policy Institute’s Wind Indicator, “World Wind Power Climbs to New Record in 2011,” at http://www.earth-policy.org.

Copyright © 2012 Earth Policy Institute

This video is well worth watching as well as going to that link at the end of the essay above.

Lester Brown, Thomas Friedman, and Paul Krugman discuss the need for a carbon tax in order to price carbon emissions at their true cost.

The “Journey to Planet Earth” series continues with a special program, hosted by Matt Damon, which features environmental visionary Lester Brown and author of “Plan B.” This documentary delivers a clear and unflinching message — either confront the realities of climate change or suffer the consequences of lost civilizations and failed political states.

I will see how much material there is available online with regard to that programme hosted by Matt Damon and, maybe, present some of it on Learning from Dogs.

Finally, the picture of the wind turbine at the head of this Post came from a website called www.windgeneratorblog.com.  Fancy a home wind generator?

Final message in a bottle

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The concluding part of what we might care to leave for the next generation

Mankind over the next few years is facing the start of an interval of economic chaos and social stress between the end of the fossil fuel age and whatever follows.  That interval could well last a lifetime or more.  Some might argue that the economic challenges that have been the mark of 2011 are, indeed, the first signs of this economic chaos.

How well we cope, adapt and survive is not going to be down to those of my age (born 1944) but to the bright youngsters who have been born in the 21st century.

That was the motivation behind publishing, on December 1st, the speech given by Steve Jobs, the 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, and on December 6th, the famous and fabulous speech given by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2005 TED Talks conference.

The third and concluding message is a subsequent speech given by Sir Ken, this time in May 2010.  It isn’t as stirring as his speech in 2005 but still a wonderful focus on what is our, as in homo sapiens, only chance of surviving – the innovation and creativity of the next  generations.

In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.

Written by Paul Handover

December 14, 2011 at 00:00

Second message in a bottle

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Continuing the advice you might offer to the next generation?

On the 1st December I published the first message.  It had been inspired by a conversation with Peter McCarthy, who lives and works in Bristol, England.  Here’s a little of what I wrote,

Anyway, Peter and I were talking about the sorts of qualities that enable some young people to take a risk-based entrepreneurial approach to life.  Peter gave me the links to three videos that he thought were especially relevant to the notion of achieving success in life.  So over the next few days I want to share those videos with you, dear reader.  To me, these videos are, indeed, the essence of the messages that any person, especially those the wrong side of 60, would wish to leave in a bottle floating down the river of life.

So to the second message which is a recording of the talk that Sir Ken Robinson gave to the TED Talks conference in Monterey in February, 2006.  It has been widely seen for all the right reasons; Sir Ken offers some powerful common-sense and a wonderful message for all the young people out there.  As Sir Ken’s website says,

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation.  He is also one of the world’s leading speakers with a profound impact on audiences everywhere.  The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries.

Read the rest of Sir Ken’s background here.

So with no more ado, here’s the film, watched by nearly 3 million people!

 

Written by Paul Handover

December 6, 2011 at 00:00

First message in a bottle

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So what advice would you offer to the next generation?

One of the biggest differences between Homo sapiens and Canis lupus familiaris is that the latter is such a master of living in the present that, one assumes, the issue of worrying about the next generation is largely irrelevant.  Definitely not so with us humans.

A few weeks back I was chatting to a good friend of mine, Peter McCarthy, whom I first met when I undertook a sales and marketing project for one his companies.  That was many years ago but Peter and I have stayed in touch.  One of the many attributes about Peter that I have admired over the years is his instinctive and thoughtful approach to entrepreneurism.  Peter is still an active entrepreneur.

Anyway, Peter and I were talking about the sorts of qualities that enable some young people to take a risk-based entrepreneurial approach to life.  Peter gave me the links to three videos that he thought were especially relevant to the notion of achieving success in life.  So over the next few days I want to share those videos with you, dear reader.  To me, these videos are, indeed, the essence of the messages that any person, especially those the wrong side of 60, would wish to leave in a bottle floating down the river of life.

So to the first.  The address by Steve Jobs to the University of Stanford’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.  Already watched at the time of writing this by 12,690,731 persons!

Lying is OK, that’s official! Duh!

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I find this utterly unacceptable – here’s the story

Jean Claude Juncker, lying for Europe!

I was talking to someone in the UK just a couple of days ago, Martin J., about investment matters and we were generally ‘slagging’ off the quality, or rather the lack of quality, of the statements of leading political persons in many fields of government.  Martin then made the statement that Jean Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and the head of the Eurogroup council of eurozone finance ministers had recently stated that “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,”  I was staggered to hear this and asked Martin to supply the details.  Here they are.

Mr. Juncker’s remark had been widely reported and I have chosen the Wall Street Journal’s report to quote from in Learning from Dogs.

MAY 9, 2011, 10:54 AM ET

Luxembourg Lies on Secret Meeting

By Charles Forelle

Is lying considered an appropriate mode of communication for euro-zone leaders?

We have to wonder after a strange episode on Friday evening. Here’s what happened:

Just before 6 p.m., German news magazine Spiegel Online distributed a report saying that euro-zone finance ministers were convening a secret, emergency meeting in Luxembourg that evening to discuss a Greek demand to quit the euro zone.

Calls from reporters flooded in to Guy Schuller, the spokesman for Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is the head of the Eurogroup council of euro-zone finance ministers.

In a phone call and text messages with two reporters for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Schuller repeatedly said no meeting would be held. He apparently said the same to other news outlets; at least one more moved his denials on financial newswires.

Of course, there was a meeting–although not, apparently, to talk about Greece quitting the currency, which would be an extreme step to say the least. Mr. Juncker even said a few words to reporters who had hustled to Luxembourg to stake out the gathering.

Anyway, do read the article in full here.

In that article there is a YouTube video in which Mr. Juncker says “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”  You can hear it yourself, about 20 seconds into the video despite the sound level being a tad low.

So that’s official then!  Politicians have to lie!  Grand job.  Talking about jobs, don’t suppose Mr. Juncker will lose his.  Or that he will show that, deep down, he is an integrous man and resign his post.

Yes, of course we all understand that what high-profile people say can affect markets and that, at times, one must be careful in terms of what is said.  But lying?  Sorry, for me that will never, ever be acceptable!

What has this to do with dogs?  Simply, dogs don’t lie.

Remarkable people: General Sir Rupert Smith

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Conform and/or reform?

Usually, people who have spent a long time in an organisation are steeped in its thinking and its received wisdom. Those who do not fit the mould have difficulty in rising far and may even end up leaving the organisation or being rejected by it.

However, there are people who avoid both outcomes, they fit the mould, and they challenge its thinking. They rise high in the organisation and yet emerge with views which run counter to the common understanding of its purpose. Perhaps they keep their views quiet, at least until they rise above some level where they have sufficient standing based on experience or reputation. To do so, they must very good at what they do and their criticism must be seen, at least on balance, as being constructive.

The utility of force

General Sir Rupert Smith is an impressive independent thinker who combines analysis with clear objectivity; and he has written an important book about it. He has been described as Britain’s foremost “thinking soldier”.

If you’d like to hear a man who has emerged from a substantial military career with a fascinating and important analysis of a major paradigm shift, then you might be interested in his presentation at the Carnegie Council.  He believes that this new era began in 1945 and the first effects were seen in Korea.

“War among the people”

As with so many presentations, the formal content covers the main points and creates the background for discussion; but the subject matter comes alive and the most valuable insights are communicated in the conversations which develop from questions or impromptu stories:

As a fairly young officer, I was in Belfast, responsible for a patch of West Belfast. A bus route came to my area, at the end of its route from Belfast city center. There was a roundabout, and the bus would sit there for twenty minutes and then turn round and go back down into Belfast.

Most Friday nights, somewhere around 9 o’clock in the evening, this bloody bus would get burned. There would be a riot, and people would throw stones at the fire brigade when it came, and then we’d all turn out and fire baton rounds and things at the hooligans throwing the stones, and then someone would shoot as us and we’d shoot back. A good time was had by all. The BBC and everyone were all in there. A burning bus can really get everyone going.

This was going on rather more than I was prepared to put up with. But I couldn’t stop it. I just wasn’t able to defeat this. Until we came up with a cunning wheeze, which involved me persuading two soldiers that it was in their interest to hide in a hidden box on the top of this bus, and when the hooligans appeared with the buckets of petrol and the box of matches, they would leap out before they lit the petrol and capture the hooligans with the petrol, and we would all rush in and help them.

These two soldiers agreed that this was a wizard wheeze and hid in the box. We drove the Trojan Horse in. And, sure enough, we got them.

A quiet conversation took place between the regimental sergeant major and these two little hooligans. It turned out that this thing that we had been treating as IRA terrorism, disrupting the streets, a come-on operation so that we would be pulled in so that then we could be sniped at—that was our complete logic and understanding of it—was wholly and totally wrong. This had nothing to do with terrorism at all. It was the black taxis, and they were paying these hooligans to burn the buses so they got more trade. We hadn’t been fighting anybody.

This story provides a clear example of the analysis in this presentation.

During a related interview by Jeffrey D McCausland, General Smith identifies some key questions:

Who are you supporting, to do what and what is military force’s contribution to achieve that?

Watch that the interview here.

On a comical note

In looking at more material, for this post, I ran across one item which you might be able to view, but I could not; this is due, apparently, to my being in the UK. The message that I am presented with at this location is particularly funny given the subject matter; it is:

Dear Great Britain,

We’re terribly sorry, but full episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are not available.

But please don’t send any Red Coats in retaliation at this time, as you CAN get your headlines at Channel 4.

(The style of the “Channel 4” text is flashing between white and underlined red. However clicking on it does not appear to have any effect. So does that mean that a gunboat of Red Coats would be acceptable after all?!)

By John Lewis

Written by John W Lewis

December 11, 2009 at 00:00

Posted in Military, Strategy, Tactics

Tagged with ,

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