Thursday, May 23, 2013

KAI CHE PO


For those of you who have not discovered the full range of Bollywood this movie will have no meaning for you.  Too bad.  It reminds me of many pleasant memories.

It has no stars to draw a crowd or the usual masala mix..  It is based on a best selling book.  It is just about three guys who stick together through a lot of problems plus a sister who does complicate things a bit.

Chetan Baghat who wrote "The Three Mistakes of My Life" that the movie is based on is an author I really discovered when he was being discredited for supplying the basic idea in the novel, "Five Point Someone" for one of the best ever Bollywood movies, "3 Idiots"  This movie is not to be confused with the Three Stooges, but it certainly does have a sense of humour.  One of the driving forces behind  "3 Idiots" was the book Chetan wrote regarding his training at an engineering university.  A concern in the movie was the number of suicides from students.  It made a serious point with humour and a little mystery.

I read his one book available at the local library, One Night @ the Call Center and was also able to see the movie adaptation, "Hello".  The book had a sense of humour that hit a nerve.  Since then Chetan has progressed and is now a part of the Bollywood scene.  He helped transform "The Three Mistakes of my Life" to a script working with Abhishek Kapoor and two others.  Another adaption will soon happen.  You can read an earlier blog on Chetan http://bit.ly/simhZr

"Rock On", an earlier movie directed by Abhishek Kapoor was basically a movie about four friends joined together by enthusiasm for music.  The music should not be confused with stereotypical Bollywood music.  Actually composed by my favorite musical team, Shankar, Ehsaan  Loy, a very diverse team.  Rock On marked a role by director/producer Farhan Akhtar who also did his own singing.  By one report apparently Farhan and Abhishek parted company after "Rock On", but have since reconciled after "Kai Po Che".

Farhan had earlier directed another male bonding movie, "Dil Chata Hai",  and later acted and wrote for "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara," directed by his sister Zoya.  Another movie, that although with romance had a strong emphasis on males sticking together.  An earlier blog on Farhan  http://bit.ly/yZzU51

Cricket creates a different atmosphere Americans and Canadians cannot strongly identify with.  In Kai Che Po a core idea is to set up a cricket school, although none of the main characters play at a high level.  You don't have to understand the details, but just appreciate that there is skill involved, games can be very dramatic and fans can go overboard.  If you follow hockey or baseball there are a lot of similarities.  An earlier blog on cricket in Bollywood http://bit.ly/vkVa03

A key producer was Sidharth Roy Kapur who recently married Vidya Balan.  That shows he must have something on the ball.  For a recent article on Vidya http://bit.ly/10VNYpj

The four stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, Raj Kumar Yadev (better known as Rajkummar Rao) and Amrita Puri were not picked for their ability to attract fans, but all accounted themselves well.  The emphasis is on the story. It may seem dull to Westerners, but it is not really.  The personalities of the four main actors clash and blend.  They are involved in historical events particularly an earthquake, religious riots and a major international cricket match.  The music by Amit Trivedi fits in well with the story.  It won't take long before you are engrossed.

It is not often that a movie without major stars does as well as "Kai Po Che", but the director puts a lot of emphasis on the story.  Commemorating 100 years of Indian film Abhishek made some introspective comments.  He felt that Bollywood is too much of a family making it difficult for outside talent to break in.  Movie people look down on television, but Abhishek thinks that is where new talent can be found.  Movies depend too much on music and Bollywood relies far too much on song and dance.  He feels also that intermissions are harmful in that they force too many scripts to conceptualize over two parts for the sake of popcorn and samosa sales.  He dislikes the role of censor and thinks they should be replaced by a ratings system.  I think Abhishek marks a step in the right direction.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE

Nate Silver has developed a reputation of being able to predict events in the fields of baseball and politics better than most other people.  He is obsessed with numbers and what they mean.  Near as I can interpret what the title means is that in this age of computers there is so much information (noise) that we too often miss the important indicators (signal).

We have been told that the good thing about computers and the internet is all the information coupled with the fact that the bad thing about computers and the internet is all the information. Information is supposed to help you make better decisions.  Some decisions are relatively trivial, but others are life changing and all of them accumulate.  Silver advises on separating the noise from the signal.

The noise in all this information can be very distracting, even misleading.  Scientific studies can involve pages and pages of small details.  They can be very important, but what do they really mean.  One phrase becoming more common is that "correlation is not causation."  There is a lot of correlation in information, but it is more critical to determine the causation factors.

Thomas Bayes provided the underlying philosophy for Nate Silver. Thomas's birthdate is uncertain, but assumed to be about 1701.  He was born in England, but because he was of a non conformist background went to the University of Edinburgh and eventually became a Presbyterian minister.  He had an interest in mathematics, but only published one book before his death.  His fame rests on a book that was published two years after his death.  We all deal with imperfect information.  Bayes recognizes all we can do is proceed to a better decision.  No human will ever have all the facts.  Each event allows us to recalculate.  Probabilities are constantly refined as we get closer to the truth, with-out ever fully arriving.

Baseball statistics helped relieve some boredom Nate felt at one of his jobs.  He became more and more obsessed.

Poker was another obsession.  Poker depends upon understanding probabilities and masking your confidence.  Nate got involved at a fairly high level, but has since greatly lowered his involvement.

Climate change is a topic of much predictions.  Nate points out is that there is a definite cause that has been identified and accepted.  Weather is actually an area of prediction that has improved with more knowledge.  Most commercial forecasters predict more rain than actually occurs which Nate attributes to the idea that rain is more upsetting when not predicted.  Climate has many variables that make prediction difficult.  For example solar cycles, the El nino, volcanoes,  pollution, etc.

In the most recent American presidential election Nate was accused of slanting his statistics to boost his ideological preferences.  Looking back it seems conservatives were not only guilty of wishful thinking, but also of trying to create the impression that Nate's figures were not as accurate as theirs. Since the election there has been a lot of analysis of what it all means and to me it seems they are still guilty of wishful thinking.  Misreading what the public really wants is not only harmful to politicians, but to everyone.

Friday, May 17, 2013

AMERICAN POLITICAL PRIORITIES

As an unwelcome outsider I see that the American media is dominated (or at least the political portion) by scandals.  Three of them, dealing with Benghazi, the IRS and AP are examples of excessive attention.  One commonality that they share is that they are petty in comparison to the real problems faced by the nation.  Some people would prefer to argue over the details, but the more you probe the more you realize that as important as they might be, they are distractions from real life and death concerns.

Republicans act like every mistake (often manufactured) proves the Democrats are unfit for office.  Their own sorry record is ignored.  It is hard to imagine bigger scandals than the manufactured justification for an invasion of Iraq or the Iran-Contra affair or the fiscal mess for which they made the key decisions.

There are serious problems being ignored.  It is hard to determine how all the real problems should best be dealt with, but Republicans are focused on how they can regain power and force their agenda on an unsuspecting America.  As I list what I think should be priorities you will notice that Republicans are for the most part counter productive.

Climate Change is acknowledged by most of the world as real.  Republicans are financed by those who likely would lose some of their relative wealth after some of the logical corrective actions are taken.  With their wealth and expertise they could be planning how best to transition to the new realities, but for the most part they are manipulating every way they can on how to maintain their wealth and leverage.  I don't think Republicans are blind to science, just willing to look the other way when it serves their perceived interests.

Jobs was a promise the Republicans used to win elections in 2010, but soon proved to be dishonest.  Anything that could help boost jobs seemed to be tied to a social agenda and Republicans soon pushed in other directions.  Job solutions were often linked to lessening taxes and regulations for job creators (who meanwhile have been avoiding taxes anyway they can and shifting jobs to low wage and regulation jurisdictions).  To my mind I would borrow from an economist, John Maynard Keynes, (hated by conservatives) who felt the purpose of any economic system is the betterment of all mankind.  Those with wealth to protect see things differently and can be very indignant and self righteous in their justification.  If jobs were a higher priority the average person would be better off and so also those better positioned.

The world has a number of troubling spots, but possibly the Mid-East is one that could explode.  I agree that there are some zealots who hate America and much of that hate is unreasonable.  Unfortunately in following their own narrow interests (Canada and the rest of the West is mostly in step) Americans have sided with dictators to obtain scarce natural resources.  In fact industrial interests (such as those tied to the internal combustion engine) and those who control natural resources are tangled in.  I remember during the Cold War at one point Americans and Russians and later Chinese took part in cultural exchanges.  They seem superficial, but in fact they help us to understand and respect each other more.  Arabs and Muslims have much to offer and we Westerners could benefit from more contact.  Impediments include Guantonamo, Palestine, interference in Mid-eastern countries and loudly expressed ignorance.  I don't mean to diminish the importance of other global trouble spots, some of which could be apocalyptic.

Although politicians of all parties seem to be adjusting another very critical issue is campaign financing.  Americans are unique in their ever lengthening campaigns for political office.  Instead of dealing with real issues politicians spend a lot of their time fund raising which often seems to involve demonizing the opposition.  It might be better to spend time trying to understand those who see issues from a different perspective rather than attempting to overpower them.  Ideally those who can serve the people should have an equal platform and should be equally accessible to the people.  All we can hope for is to move towards that ideal instead of further away which we are doing now.  The current setup works to the advantage of wealthy people and the media, but not anyone else.

Democracy is what everyone claims we already have, but in fact Americans have locked themselves into a system that is far from ideal.  The Constitution is sacred to many and I agree there needs to be an impartial base for everything.  Times do change and it would not hurt to reflect on some of the realities of negotiating the original American constitution.  Small states were afraid of losing their power to large states who naturally had a different perspective.  To get them to join in to form a greater power some concessions were made and had a philosophical justification most of us can appreciate.  Slavery is something Americans claim to be over, but at the time was a major consideration in how the Constitution was set up.  Religious considerations were handled fairly well in the sense that there was a clear separation of church and state with a reasonable toleration for others.  Interpretations and practices have changed.

United States has evolved into a two party system (third parties require an enormous amount of money to have an impact) and each of the two parties has adapted to Constitutional realities.  This means if one party can leverage the inequalities better than the other they can gain power.  One lever that works has been racism.  That is oversimplified, but they have also found ways to bundle their narrow economic concerns with social agendas.  All it requires is small states with two Senators and a base of two electoral votes to aggregate and they can overcome majority interests.

It is common for many countries to have coalition governments.  This is frowned upon by Americans, but really they much better reflect the concerns of the majority of people.  Coalitions happen normally because of a system that allows each voter to have a strong say in the final outcome.  Your vote still has meaning even if your choice doesn't garner the most votes.  In United States (and Canada) if your candidate falls short by even one vote they do not get any power.  In proportional systems, recognizing that every voter has unique interests the candidates pool their votes over a bigger system and are granted some power.  Often this means things don't get done because it is more difficult to get agreement, but each candidate (or more accurately each political party) has to appeal to a larger base if they want to have much leverage.  In the United State many states are so pre determined in their preferences that neither party feels the need to spend time appealing to them.

If you can't get your way it seems logical to compromise and get as much as you can.  It might even prove the merits of your ideas.   Republicans have concluded somehow that they can get a lot more if they make the Democrats look incompetent or better still, evil.  They could provide some needed balance, but have opted to be obstructive.  They have enough power to paralyze the government and stop any constructive efforts they might attempt.

Nobody has all the answers, but in the United States they have created a monster labyrinth where when serious people are trying to enter they are distracted by other people more concerned about increasing their power no matter what.  Reality is that no one even knows the answers and no one has enough power to do enough and no one has the time to try to understand the many variables.  Republicans are entitled to their views and in fact have enough power to force compromises, but feel they can leverage their power to get a much bigger piece of the pie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

PETER WORTHINGTON WAS A BOYHOOD IDOL OF MINE

My first acquaintance of Peter Worthington was as a twelve year old delivering newspapers.  Peter was on the front page of the Toronto Telegram doing all sorts of fascinating things.  I remember wars in Africa and Asia,  involvement with a Russian bureau and walking a long distance (don't remember why).  He was my idea of glamorous reporter and I enjoyed being associated with the Telegram.  I had not realized that he witnessed the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and also the escape of the Dalai Lama (one of my current heroes).

I lost track of him and then became aware that he was a key founder of the Toronto Sun after the Telegram folded.  I got involved with the Sun during my circulation career when I helped set up delivery service for the Sunday Sun in Burlington.  Then my career took a different direction.

I believe I may actually have met Peter at a softball match for newspapers.  I know I met the famous Paul Rimstead, also of the Sun.  Somehow the Oakville Journal Record was included in a mostly Toronto media softball league, played mainly for fun (although some took it very seriously).

A few years later when I worked for a new newspaper in Kitchener called Newsday the Toronto Sun became important in different ways.  My two immediate bosses were both former employees of the Sun.  I had received a more broad training at a smaller community newspaper and we clashed a bit, but in the end they admitted I did know what I was talking about.  Two of my working colleagues from Oakville went on to work at the Toronto Sun.

Later I learned the Sun was critical to Newsday getting off the ground.  Going up against the establishment is always difficult.  We had trouble finding a printer when our first printer realized we were competing against one of their own group members in Kitchener.  The Toronto Sun, an upstart paper itself came through and as far I can recall stuck with us the whole time.  Things did get tough and I had heard rumours that the Sun might be willing to buy us, but it fell through and before too long Newsday was history.  I could have ended up working for the Toronto Sun (not sure if Peter was with them at this time or not, but aware of the connection).

Instead of working with the Toronto Sun my circulation career took me in opposition to them and later to another group where I was constantly running into people who had worked at the Sun.

My politics were probably never on the same page as Peter's, but until I reached university I never gave it much thought.  I admit Trudeaumania hit me strongly.  While still in university, but not old enough to vote I volunteered and eventually even got paid to help the Liberals in the Oshawa-Whitby riding.  I really didn't have much influence, but I think I can credit myself with helping Ed Broadbent get elected.  I know I switched a few votes (my Grandmother and Great Aunt amongst them) from the Conservative cabinet minister Michael Starr to my candidate Desmond Newman, mayor of Whitby.  I also had one of my ad ideas accepted by the campaign manager.  In the end about 20 votes separated Ed Broadbent from Michael Starr and Ed went on to become NDP party leader.

I was vaguely aware that Peter detested Trudeau, and from time to time became aware that it was one of his missions to destroy Trudeau.  I look back on Trudeau with mixed feelings that still include some admiration.

Peter married Yvonne Crittenden who had also been a reporter at the Telegram.  His step daughter  Danielle married David Frum.  I had been an avid listener to David's mother, Barbara when she hosted a CBC radio program called "As it Happens".  David Frum always impressed me as very articulate with well thought out views.  When I think of conservatives I think he is outstanding.  He is not locked into a position so narrow he cannot understand why some people think otherwise.  It is a shame that the Republicans have rejected him as he gave good advice.  There does need to be a balance between liberal and conservatives which David would be an ideal person to represent the conservative perspective.  I read some of Danielle's work and enjoyed  her sense of humour.

It takes all types of people to make the world work and Peter was certainly a unique one.  He wrote his own obituary which details his life like nobody else.  And the details are very interesting.

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/05/14/peter-worthington-in-his-own-words

Sunday, May 12, 2013

BENGHAZI A DISGRACE FOR WHO?

It is impossible to approach this topic from a truly neutral viewpoint.  It is obvious that something bad happened in Benghazi and steps should be taken to minimize future occurrences.

My prejudice is that Republicans have a very long history of distortion.  They have demonstrated they don't believe in compromise as they are "principled."  They don't accept that they lost the election and in fact the biggest leverage they have comes from gerrymandering and abuse of Senate rules.  The majority of those who actually voted (and Republicans have done their best to limit the number who could vote) voted against Republican policies.

Having said that, the Democrats have to accept that they had the responsibility when something went wrong.   It is also true that at the time the Democrats were positioning themselves as protectors in a terrorist infected world in an election that seemed up for grabs.  It was in their interest to downplay the threat and any mistakes they have made while the Republicans were organizing efforts to stir up emotions.

The points I have heard raised by Republicans are superseded by a few basic facts.  The CIA was heavily involved and for security reasons (and perhaps to protect their own interests) wanted to minimize public awareness, particularly enemy awareness of details.  The critical decisions that were made were decided by military.  A key problem was that security expenses had been pushed down by the Republicans.

Susan Rice who in my opinion has done an excellent job was attacked for reading talking points that had been agreed to by the CIA.  Republicans so anxious to find some dirt didn't hesitate to expose names of vulnerable people, thus scaring away potential collaborators.  Reminds me of the Valerie Plame outing which some might consider treasonous.

There will always be problems.  The Republicans suffered a lot of embassy attacks with more deaths than Benghazi and were always self-righteous regarding "Islamic terrorists" nevertheless thought that security budgets for embassies should be cut.

More recently I think they have a better case about the IRS investigating conservative groups for tax exempt status.  I think all groups should be investigated for tax exempt status, but on a fair and random basis.

Do I think all Democrats are saints?  No, I have been disillusioned that they are influenced by big money almost as much as Republicans.  Republicans do not have policies that benefit the bulk of Americans and know it and find it more effective to find scandals.  Perhaps the media is really liberal, but it does seem that it is not pure in all this--they love controversy for their ratings and they are tied into the economic establishment and are far less independent then they once were.

The Republicans tried very hard with Bill Clinton and finally reached impeachment proceedings that really had nothing to do with high crimes or treason.  The Republicans really did enter a war in Iraq using false premises (hard to believe that they were not aware of their own distortions).  They let in colleagues who made a lot of money from that war.  They lowered taxes and all sorts of regulations and are very proud of that.  They dislike being restricted in any way regardless of public benefit.  The result has been an increase in inequality that is counter productive to the majority of Americans.

Hilary Clinton seems to be the target, but in reality she has done a very good job and is so popular that many assume she will run and easily win the next presidential race.  The Republicans are making claims she tried to cover up, but really that is a stretch.  Republicans have no guilty feelings about the Iraq War or the financial problems of United States, but are always looking to fault others.  If Americans would like to earn the respect of the rest of the world they have to stop falling for self serving accusations of politicians and concentrate on the policies and the real problems facing the world.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MACHOISM AND THE US. MILITARY

Outsiders can never know all the facts or all the emotional elements involved in any issue.  This may be particularly true when it comes to sexual crimes.  Nonetheless there is a reaction to the reports of increased sexual assaults in the U. S. military.  Some people have an "I told you so" attitude, while others agree that it is a problem that needs to be fixed by legal means.  My reaction is that this is negative for all of us.

During the negotiations to boost the role of women in the military there was a lot of strenuous objections.  Women will distract the men, men will have to cover for weaker women.   I do agree there will be an adjustment and we should all work towards moving forward.

American and western cultures have achieved a dominant position with a significant factor being our greater acceptance of the role of women.  Part of that is legal, but also the culture has been more liberal.  Women play more roles and are more prominent in decision making at higher levels.  To maintain an established standard of living more and more housewives work.  Women are increasingly more educated and although there might be a glass ceiling a few women are cracking through it.

Some cultures are very protective of their women, one might say possessive.  Rape laws were not originally implemented to  protect women, but rather to protect the interests of their fathers.  We are going through a series of transitions.  Not only are women gaining more power, but we live in a more sexually liberated era.  Some men seem to think that if a woman is dressed attractively, is acting independently or by herself in male company she is just "asking for it."  Women have proved themselves not only in the American military, but in many other forces as well and should not be intimidated from pursuing any vocation.

Legal enforcement needs to be tightened, but the real problem is culture.  Civil rights have been legislated and society has moved forward, but it is not too difficult to spot why they were and are necessary.  Gays are coming out of the closet and the rest of us are realizing it is not the end of the world and in fact they add value when we let them.  As we understand better a wider range of people and appreciate their contributions we all gain.

I had read about some Jewish men objecting to women singing as a sexual distraction.  A good hunk of the music I listen to include women vocalizing and realize many are playing musical instruments, composing and writing lyrics. They enrich everyone.

Women and men do come at things from a different perspective and as between any other two groups there is plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings.  We all have a tendency to think our views are right and don't always understand the other person might have their own reasons for seeing things differently.

What can be done?  Stronger legal enforcement will help restrict abuses and time will eventually allow military people to accept the benefits of including women.  Education can help, but if too forced will not be as effective as non threatening information.  Details do matter and implementation is critical.

As our civilization moves forward women will play an increasingly important role.  Everyone will benefit.  At least that is how I see it

Sunday, May 5, 2013

GREED--WILL IT DO US IN?

There are scientists who believe there are other life forms in the unfathomable universe.  Some are concerned that although they believe there has to be intelligent life it is suspicious that nothing has reached our attention.  Some speculation is that when a civilization reaches a certain point they self-destruct.  Who knows?

Our problem is right now on the one planet we are living in.  To many observant people it seems there is a self-destructive mechanism in effect.

Mankind (together with women) has progressed in scientific awareness and in wealth, but is there a limit?

Greed is a problem we can all point to others.   Most of us in the 99% think that if those greedy rich people weren't so selfish and dishonest the rest of us would enjoy life a lot more.  We hear the rich denigrating the laziness and entitled feelings of the rest of the population.  Could there be truth in both assertions?  I think so.

At our core the goal of all humans is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  This has been necessary for survival and to be fruitful.  Having climbed up from the brutal realities of our primitive beginnings we still retain our core.  Now we have different tools, different awarenesses and very definitely different circumstances.

It is true the world can be divided between leaders.  In the early days there were more constraints on the leaders.  What is a leader, but someone who gets other people to do things that the leader wants and that pleases them.  What is a follower but someone who delegates some responsibilities to a leader so that they as followers are free to enjoy what they can and avoid what they don't want.

Despite all the individual freedoms we value we have attained progress through groups.  Controlling the groups has been by definition a skill developed by a limited number of people.  But in essence the leaders are those who have been best at harnessing the skills and labours of the group.  Now we have been evolving towards a global village.

Inequalities have always been with us, but the Global Village is more unequal than in any one country.  At the same time global threats are more serious than ever.  The Global leaders are more powerful than ever and have their own agenda.  Power is more complicated in modern times  The leaders are by no means totally united and in fact there are extremists who are able to threaten the rest of us.  The invention of the inter-net has given power to the billions who have access to it.  The power of information flows across the globe and secrets that were easily hidden from the hoi polloi are very accessible so that people can make more informed decisions.  But technology and psychology enable those in power to manipulate opinions in many ways.

It does boil down to a mix of power and greed that is threatening our future.  Nuclear weapons mean that a small number of people by a mistake or deliberation can obliterate the rest of us--certainly put any survivors into a new Dark Age.  There are other weapons of violence including chemical, biological and technological.  Ideologues, vain and egotistical are eying these weapons or the threat of these weapons as a way to impose their will on the rest of us.  But we are doing other things by neglect--is climate change a threat--scientists overwhelmingly say it is so, but those whose power is based on fossil fuels use their resources to assert otherwise.  Pollution is tolerated because it helps a few rich people.  Poisoning our food supply is accepted as fewer and fewer control this vital resource.

Capital is globalized in that investment money can be shifted in seconds, factories can be relocated easily, workers easily replaced to get the lowest wages and avoid stifling regulations.  Workers for the most part are not globalized--it is true many can move if they have a lot of talent, but if they are relatively unskilled they are hampered by the expense of re locating, and legal barriers.  Politically the average voter has little power even in their own jurisdiction.

The desire to amass more money than any one person could spend in a lifetime appears to have more power than the long range interest of the vast majority.  At the same time as they are using psychology and technology to manipulate people into spending more than is prudent, Business owners are trying to lower costs of goods and services.  It seems like the purpose of the majority is to enrich the few.  An irony is the necessity of an income source to spend.

Those who have power use that power to maintain and boost their position in life.  Power and wealth doesn't end with one life, but is passed on in as controlled a fashion as the leaders can arrange.

Followers seem to value their own comfort more than protecting the rights of others. It is true that either in the voting booth or with armed combat the followers could displace corrupt greedy leaders, but there is a lot of risk.  Risk of failure is perhaps not as high as risk of embarrassment or jeopardizing their own comfort levels

The problems of the future do not just affect the 99%, they also affect the 1%.  What I see to be necessary if our civilization is to last long enough to communicate with another enlightened civilization in the universe is a shift from short term thinking to long term thinking.

I remember reading Ayn Rand who argued the virtues of selfishness, and went on to suggest that long term thinking is really more self serving than short term.  As one example of a problem is the tendency for investors to value quarterly results is that manipulation is increased at the expense of long term strategies.  We (as investors or followers) aren't valuing long term thinkers so in effect the leaders see an opportunity to manipulate us for their benefit.  You cannot legislate greed away, but hopefully more people can be induced to long term thinking.

The whole world seems to have been on a credit card binge.  At the lower end we find ourselves wanting things we never thought of before and finding our fantasies can be fulfilled.  At the top end politicians learn to get elected they have to make lots of enticing promises.  Owners of businesses find that in order to be competitive to the consumer  they use automation, outsourcing and disrupting union efforts.  We get trapped by our short term thinking.

When things go out of whack and the logical thing is to make cuts, we can't bear it. We think someone else should bear the pain.  Humans can accept some sacrifice as long as they aren't the only ones suffering.

When we all realize we are inter-connected we can better co-ordinate our efforts to solve problems.

The greatest danger might be weapons of mass destruction.  We need leaders that can work together. We need to understand and tolerate a much wider range of views in the world.  Choices made at the lowest levels do impact higher levels.

Unlike our cave dwelling ancestors we can no longer take the environment for granted.  Now that there are billions of people inhabiting the planet and generating previously unimagined amounts of waste we need to realize we are impacting the environment and making it a less healthy bubble. Followers can lead by example and leaders can study in greater depth and set examples as well. Reaching across and understanding differing attitudes we can make improvements for all our benefit.

A core problem relating to the environment is over population.  A delicate issue to be sure.  We have learned  key factors include education of women and urbanization.  These two factors have proved themselves so powerful that we have to be concerned about declining population in some parts of the world.  This issue requires study and monitoring.  There is danger of unexpected consequences such as gender based abortions, policies with underlying racist motivation etc.

A planet teeming with billions of pleasure seeking hedonists is not my goal or purpose nor do I favour a few at the top treating the rest of us as slaves.  The most critical goal is for everyone to have a sense of purpose that can be synergistic.  Traditionally that goal has been attempted through employment.  We work to make useful things or provide helpful services for other people and are rewarded.  Automation and technology have been used to reduce the need for human labour and thereby limiting the number of opportunities for a sense of purpose. Violent revolutions occur when enough people lose their sense of purpose.

To make life meaningful for more people (which is a higher goal than just creating wealth) everyone has to rethink our past.  Work as we have known it is not likely to disappear, but with fewer man hours required it might make sense to spread it around.  There has been a trend from making things to providing services that has been recognized by tax authorities.  This trend can be accelerated if we would acknowledge a few things.  Knowledge of all kinds is desirable so one possibility is to turn more of us into teachers not just learning job skills, but also life skills.  Ignorance of the world is still profound and tourism if it could be made easier could provide more employment.  A big opportunity would be organic farming.  Get away from factory production of food with chemicals, heavy equipment and forced low wages--it would be more expensive, but that means more people could have a more significant income and we would all eat healthier food and live in a more sustainable environment.  Green jobs in general lead to healthier people and are often more desirable jobs.

Each individual has to realize they do have power.  They need to understand the long range consequences of their decisions.  Education is part of the solution.