Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, February 24, 2003day link 

 The Great Pirates
picture Some hundreds of years ago the technology of ship building advanced so that it became practical to travel the oceans for extended periods of time. Thus whole new territories were opened to exploration and possible domination.

It became clear that it was impractical to assume that the law and order of the land could be applied to the sea. Thus the oceans became a zone of lawlessness and a battleground for whomever chose to enter the arena. It also became clear that those who fared best were those who mastered all the elements of survival at sea and who did their business under the veil of secrecy. It is those who mastered this game that we can call The Great Pirates.

A Great Pirate succeeded because of his comprehensive command of a whole set of different disciplines. He had a high proficiency in dealing with celestial navigation, the sea, the storms, the ship, the men, economics, biology, geography, history, and science. The better the Great Pirate could understand and anticipate the whole scene, the better he would do.

Great Pirates would travel, bargain, plunder, plan, negotiate, battle, and much more. He would use the science of ship building to amass a fleet, he would use his people skills to manage his crew and to negotiate with representatives of far away lands. He would do his activities out of sight of people on land and of his competitors.

A Great Pirate would naturally want to maintain his position, and he had to sleep once in a while. He therefore at first surrounded himself with dull-witted but loyal men of muscle. Only he himself planned and coordinated his operations, and his men simply did what they were told. However, when the Great Pirate expanded his operations it became clear that he needed something more than that.

The Great Pirate invented the brilliant scheme of specialization. It is both the way to expand his empire with skilled assistance and at the same time the assurance that only HE will ever know the full picture of what is going on.

The Great Pirates started to encourage and employ people of great skill in specialized areas. There might be, for example, a greatly skilled and experienced Navigator. And there might be a master Weapon Builder, an accomplished Master Historian, a Politician, a Ship's Captain, a General, and so forth.

Each of those people were cultivated to a high level of skill. But also, it was made clear to each one that they had better stay within their specific field, or they would lose their head.

The Great Pirate himself would be the ONLY person who knew the whole picture. He would know the plan, he would know where ships would go and why, he would know what they would find, who they would meet, he would know what to trade and what to steal, he would know who to trust and who not to. None of his people would ever be allowed near the full picture, and none of them could therefore possibly replace him. And thus his position was safe from any coup by those close to him. He always kept the true full picture in utmost secrecy and kept the skills and knowledge of all his people perpetually compartmentalized.

Through the ingenious scheme of specialization and compartmentalization of knowledge, the Great Pirates were able to expand their business immensely. They were able to expand their influence into different lands through carefully chosen and educated front people. They would chose local strong men in different territories, supply them with what they needed to assume power, educate them to present a proper public facade, but never giving them the knowledge of all the pieces in the game. The local strong man might be maneuvered into a position of King, assumed by his people to be the utmost authority, but in essence simply being another of the specialized agents of the hidden Great Pirates. The Great Pirate would naturally also cultivate agents in the fields of religion, education, science, military, banking, and so forth, and would naturally be able to play them out against each other if any one of them ever got ambitious beyond his assigned role.

The Great Pirate knew the world was round when everybody else were kept in the belief that it was flat. He knew about grand logistical schemes, he knew about international exchange media and trade balancing, and much more. He was the only one who saw the whole picture of the planet and its resources, and was therefore able to play his game totally unnoticed by the vast majority of the population of the planet. All through the magic of specialization ...

--- The above is my shortened rendition of what Bucky Fuller described in his book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth", in the chapter "Origins of Specialization"
[ | 2003-02-24 06:03 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 New social rules in a newly wireless society.
picture Smart Mobs mentions an article about the results of studies of cell phone usage, partularly among young people in Japan. The keitai (cell phone) use is so pervasive that it is effectively 100% for teenage girls. And now, the standard cell phones you get for free from the phone company have color screens, built-in cameras, Internet connectivity, etc. Particularly, the prevalent text messaging habits will seem strange to Americans, as text messaging hasn't really caught on here yet.
High school and college students generally do not have the home phone numbers of any but their closest friends. Before initiating a call to a keitai, they will, almost without exception, begin with a text message to determine availability; the new social norm is that you should "knock before entering." By sending messages like "Can you talk on the phone now?" or "Are you awake?" text messagers spare each other the rude awakening and disruption of a sudden phone call.

One teenage couple that participated in our study exchanged 30 text messages over the course of three hours as they watched television, ate dinner and did their homework, before engaging in a one-hour phone conversation. This voice contact was followed by another trail of 22 messages that kept them in contact until bedtime.

Keitai-wired youth are in persistent but lightweight contact with a small number of intimates, with whom they are expected to be available unless they are sleeping or working. Because of this portable, virtual peer space, the city is no longer a space of urban anonymity; even when out shopping, solo youths will send photos to friends of a pair of shoes they just bought, or send fast-breaking news about a hot sale that is just opening. After meeting face-to-face, a trail of text messages continues the conversation as friends disperse in trains, buses and on foot, nimble thumbs touch-typing on numeric keypads.

Just as Weblogs are distributing journalistic authority on the Internet, mobile media further de-centers information exchange by channeling it through networks that are persistently available to the mobile many.
There are some things I find appealing about that whole thing, about being in constant contact, even though I don't use my cellphone like that so far. Here's another article . People are less concerned about being late for appointments, because they're in constant contact. And they walk slower than they did 10 years ago, because they're always on the phone.
[ | 2003-02-24 18:21 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Web log event
Hm, there was another weblog event last Saturday in L.A., which I missed. I didn't really hear about it before seeing it on somebody else's blog later that evening. Annoys me. I want to know about everything. Anyway, a report is here.
[ | 2003-02-24 21:31 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 The world as energy
picture From Open Space and Whiskey River:
"See the world as energy, and become responsible for your energy. Realize that everything you do, say, and touch, everything you pass - even for a fleeting second - is affected and changed by you. You impact the animals and plants; the air, water, and buildings; and people - the energy of each drops or rises to reflect the subtle etheric pressure you place on it.

When you are angry, fearful, mean and vindictive, the energy of the room you are in starts to wobble and act chaotically. It metaphysically starts to implode. Anyone standing nearby will be robbed of energy and pulled down. Everything gets sucked into the vortex of your negative implosion.

With perception comes responsibility. Understand that if you are infinite you are everywhere, and you can be anywhere, and you are inside all things, and you affect them. Remember that the solidity of the world is an illusion created by the speed at which atoms oscillate. If they slowed down just a little, you'd be able to walk through walls. In an out-of-body experience, you have consciousness inside a subtle body that we believe weighs four grams. You can pass right through the wall.

In effect, physical reality is both opaque and ethereal - just a collective feeling. It's only by habit that you consider yourself solid. In a sense, you are a collection of particles, transmuted from being in the solid-particle state of physical existence to the more ethereal wave-state.

In the wave-state, you are an amorphous oscillation, existing at no particular place in space or time, with no particular human definition. That wave state contains your consciousness and can be driven by your force of will. Through it, you have an immense potential to exert yourself on the etheric reality. The wave can move, so you move. It's everywhere, so you can be everywhere."

-- Stuart Wilde, Silent Power
Indeed. Life is non-local. The illusion of the solid stuff comes from the way we think and feel and perceive.
[ | 2003-02-24 23:43 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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