Tag: Clevedon Hall

Change, as far as the eye can see.

Of the matters of man for the coming year.

Like countless others, when we look back 12 months and recall what we thought 2012 had in store, we now realise that we didn’t have a clue!  As the silly expression goes, “I can predict anything except those things that involve the future!

So repeating the process is stupid; I have no doubt that 2013 will be brim full of surprises.  At all levels: personal, local, national and global.  But ….. (You knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you!)

But a conversation that I had with Peter McCarthy on the 27th December resonated with me to such a degree that I felt the urge to pen some thoughts.  I worked with Peter some years ago at Clevedon Hall, we shared an interest in flying a TB20 and both of us studied for our CAA Instrument Rating.  We became good friends.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset, England.
Clevedon Hall, Somerset, England

So come with me today for a stroll around the grounds of change, possibly an epochal period of change.

Let’s start with what may be the biggest catalyst of change heading our way – our broken political system.

Christine of 350orbust fame published this yesterday.


The view that many western societies are a very long way from being fair is growing.  If you want to dig a little deeper into the appalling statistics of the USA, for example, dip into a recent essay written by Charles Hugh Smith that appeared on Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity blog.

It’s a long essay packed full of powerful facts and statistics.  Try this one:

6.  The assets that generate unearned income are highly concentrated, and as a result so is the unearned income.  The top 1% owns twice as much stock-market wealth as the bottom 90%.  This income-producing wealth enables the top 1% to act as a financial aristocracy, buying influence and favors from equivalently concentrated political Elites.

stock market wealth

Let me go to Charles’ conclusion:

What few dare admit, much less state publicly, is that the Constitutional limits on the financial Aristocracy and the Tyranny of the Majority have failed.  This guarantees a future Constitutional crisis as each political class – the financial Aristocracy, the top 24% who pay most of the taxes, the dwindling middle class and the bottom 50% who depend on Federal transfers – will battle for control as the Status Quo collapses under the weight of its unsustainable promises.


Back to the conversation with Peter.  He felt that there was a massive failure of the democratic process in the UK, and by implication in the USA.

Peter continued by saying that many elected politicians, especially at the level of local politics,  weren’t smart people.  Smart, innovative, entrepreneurial people chose not to go into politics.  Those that were elected had too much power and too many vested interests for the good of the societies that they were meant to represent.  In the USA the involvement of private money in politics is nothing short of corruption of the highest order; my personal opinion, no less and no more.

In moderation, Churchill’s saying comes to mind. “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

Let’s move on.

No-one can deny that in so many areas of our lives, the degree of change seems unprecedented.  Whether we are speaking of the huge social changes at work, enormous technological changes, such as the way that we communicate with each other, medical practises, and on and on.  Then add in the consequences of the change in the Earth’s climate, whether or not one sees this as the outcome of man’s activities and …. well, you get the idea!

Here’s a lovely perspective from Alex Jones who writes the blog, The Liberated Way.  Just a few days ago, Alex wrote this:

As hard and gloomy as some of my blog posts on the future of humanity have been, I thought it time to offer good news as to where we are heading.  I shall call this the global realignment.  Few will disagree that the current activities and ideas of humanity in relation to the environment are unsustainable and point to our self-destruction.  History also shows that whenever a crisis occurs traumatic events and the ideas of new thinkers causes a paradigm shift in attitudes and thinking.

Contrary to the fantasy of many people, there will be no celestial champion on a white horse riding forward to save humanity from itself.  The change will come from a series of traumatic events and individual thinkers which will plant the seeds of change, which will ripple forward as a tsunami of changes of ideas and attitudes on a global scale.

So much change.  So much uncertainty.  Such a feeling of being lost in unfamiliar lands.

Or have we been here before?

Have you heard of the Kondratieff Wave?

The Kondratieff Wave (Kondratiev Wave or K-wave) theory is proposing the existence of the extra-long, 50+ years long cycles of growth in the modern market (capitalist) economy. The theory was proposed in 1920s by Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev.

Wikipedia has a good summary available here.  A Google search will find much more material, such as this chart:


The Wikipedia entry has a simpler diagram, see below, that shows the four stages of each cycle.


So how to draw this to a close?

In a sense, in a very real sense, there isn’t a close.  The future has always been uncertain and as history shows change is the only constant.

Peter concluded that a better society was ahead and hoped that he would live sufficiently long to witness it.  That gets my vote!

Happy New Year to you.

Thank you for taking an interest in Learning from Dogs.

Second message in a bottle

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!


First message in a bottle

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!

Transitions, pt One

Reflections on these present times.

Want a brilliant idea for tomorrow? Stay in the present!

Dogs do this wonderfully.  I am told that followers of Zen Buddhism discover peace and grace from embracing the present. But is there more to this?  Is there some deeper psychology involved?  Does our species have an intrinsic challenge in terms of staying in the present?

My musings on this arise from a couple of recent conversations.

The first was with Peter McCarthy from the Bristol area of West England.  Peter and I go back a few years (at my age, everything goes back a few years!) and at one stage I did some work for Peter’s company, Telecom Potential.  Just a quick aside, Peter’s company was based in the magnificent Clevedon Hall, a mansion built in 1853 as a family home for Conrad William Finzel, a German-born businessman.  Here’s a picture of one of the rooms,

A room at Clevedon Hall

Peter, like me, is sure that the period in which the world now appears to be, is not some cyclical downturn, not some temporary departure from the national growth and employment ambitions promoted by so many countries.  No! This one is different.

Peter is sure that a major transition is under way, as big as any of the great societal upheavals of the past.  And, for me, a fascinating comment from Peter was his belief that the key attitude required for the next years would be innovation.  Peter reminded me that we tend to think of innovation as applying to things physical, scientific and technical.  But Peter sensed that it would be in the area of social innovation where key changes would arise and, from which, these large societal changes would flow.

Then a day later I was chatting with one of the founders of a brilliant new authentication process, Pin Plus. It is a very smart solution to a major global problem, the weaknesses of traditional password user-authentication systems.

On the face of it, Pin Plus is obviously a better and more secure way of authenticating users, and a number of key test customers have borne this out.  Jonathan C was speaking of the challenges of convincing companies to have faith in this new process.  This is what he said,

More than once, indeed many times, I am told by prospects something along the lines that the IT world has been looking so hard and so long for a password solution that a solution can’t possibly exist.

Let’s ponder that for a moment.  Are we saying that a far-sighted approach to the potential for change is not an easy place for some, probably many, human brains?

Indeed, Jonathan and I mused that here we were, both speaking via Skype, an internet telephony service, both of us looking at different web sites in support of many of the points that we were discussing and totally dependent, in terms of our mentoring relationship, on the technology of the internet, a multi-node packet-switched communications system that was a direct result of the American shock of seeing the Russians launch the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into low earth orbit on the 4th October, 1957.

Launch of Sputnik 1

At that time, it would have seemed impossible for anyone on the planet to see that the American response to Sputnik 1 would eventually lead to the vast packet-switched network that is now the modern Internet.

But why do we regard the ability to look into the future so utterly out of reach of the common man?  Look at this, the Internet Timeline here.  Look how quickly the response to Sputnik1 gathered pace.  See how Leonard Kleinrock of MIT way back in May, 1961, presented a paper on the theory of packet-switching in large communications networks.

So maybe there’s a blindness with humans.  A blindess that creates the following bizarre characteristics,

  • Whatever is going on in our lives at present we assume will go on forever.  I.e. the boom times will never end, or the period of doom and gloom is endless.
  • Our obsession with how things are now prevents us from reflecting on those signs that indicate changes are under way, even when the likely conclusions are unmistakeable.  The ecological and climatic changes being the most obvious example of this strange blindness that mankind possesses.
  • Yet, unlike animals and some spiritual groups of humans, truly living in the present appears incredibly difficult for man.
  • However, the history of mankind shows that our species is capable of huge change, practically living in constant change for the last few millennia, and that a very small proportion of a society, see yesterday’s article, is all that is required to create a ‘tipping point’.

I want to continue with this theme but conscious that there is still much to be written.  So, dear reader, I shall pause and pick this up tomorrow.

Just stay in the present for twenty-four hours!