JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 247 : 9 May 2008

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Book: The post-American world

Throughout history, no empire has remained dominant for more than 2 centuries. America has already past its second century and many historians are already seeing the early signs of decline.

The most recent (May 12, 2008) issue of Newsweek featured respected columnist Fareed Zakaria's new book, "The Post-American World", on the cover.

Here's an excerpt. This is included here, not as a complaint, but rather as another wake-up call for American patriots.

    Americans are glum. In April, a new poll revealed that 81% of Americans believe that the country is on the "wrong track." There are reasons to be pessimistic - a financial panic and looming recession, a seemingly endless war in Iraq, and the ongoing threat of terrorism.

    American anxiety springs from something much deeper, a sense that large and disruptive forces are coursing through the world. For the first time in living memory - the US does not seem to be leading the charge. Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people.

    Look around: The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. The largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. The biggest refinery is being constructed in India. The largest passenger airplane is built in Europe.

    The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Once quintessentially American icons have been usurped by the natives. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year.

    America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn't make the top ten.

    In the most recent rankings, only two of the world's ten richest people are American. These lists are arbitrary and a bit silly, but consider that only ten years ago, the United States would have serenely topped almost every one of these categories.

In my own view, there's one primary difference in America: Our power comes from our diverse population and ethnic mix of cultures and peoples. The roots of today's Americans are an eclectic combination of English, French, German, Eastern European, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Middle-Eastern, Indian, Mexican, Brazilian, and a host of others. Our sheer diversity is our strength.

New leaders WILL emerge.

Click Newsweek - The Post-American World

Click Review on Amazon.com - The Post-American World

Click The Rise and Fall of Empires

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Lee Iacocca - Where have all the leaders gone?

Lee Iacocca, former President of Chrysler, has always been my hero for his outspoken views on many topics.

Without any editorial tweaks, I'm including here the start of his recent book, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" just reprinted in paperback (April 2008). It warms and rekindles my patriotism.

    Had Enough?
    Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

    Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

    You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

    I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

    My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to, as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

    Who Are These Guys, Anyway?
    Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them, or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

    And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?

Click Youtube video: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Click Review & buy Iacocca's book on Amazon.com

Click Jim Pinto - Recommended reading

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The world's major religions

In the last issue of eNews (25 April 08) I mentioned that Islam had overtaken Catholicism as the world's largest religion. Many readers pointed out correctly that Islam is also fragmented into different segments, and so the true comparison is between all Christians (2.1 billion) and all of Islam (est. 1.5 billion).

Earlier estimates for numbers of Muslims were 1 to 1.3 billion, but high birth rates in Muslim countries continue to make Islam the fastest growing religion in the world.

Sunni and Shia are the two major denominations of Islam. About 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni, and the remaining 15% are Shia (also referred to as Shiite). If one accepts the total number of Muslims as 1.5 billion, then there are indeed more Sunni Muslims (1.3 billion) than Catholics.

Here are the major world religions (source Adherents.com):

Rank %
1 Christianity 2.1 billion 33%
2 Islam 1.5 billion 21%
3 Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.1 billion 16%
4 Hinduism 900 million 14%
5 Chinese traditional (Confucianism, Taoism) 394 million 6%
6 Buddhism 376 million 6%

Of the major religions (54% of the world) only Christianity and Islam are "Exclusive": claiming "we are right, you are wrong". The others all tend to be "Plural" or "Inclusive": Despite differences, we can live together; or, we're one family.

Click Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents

Click Jim Pinto - Religions are a divisive force in the world

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The roots of religious conflict

Religion is supposed to be a connection with God. And yet, it continues to be a divisive force in today's world. Some say that cultural and territorial differences are really the roots of war, and that Religions are just the convenient and most obvious labels.

Today, virtually all terrorism stems from militant Islam, which seems to encourage suicide bombers as martyrs. Centuries ago, both Christianity and Islam practiced violence, which some still remember. But the real roots of today's terrorism is that militant radicals provide credible explanations of what's happening in the world and suggest actions that make sense to the disgruntled and disadvantaged.

For militant Muslims, the motivations for attacks on Muslim countries seem clear: Religion and Money (Oil) - How else can anyone explain why America is spending $3 TRILLION on an unpopular war? How plausible is it to suggest that America merely seeks to bring "democracy" to Iraq, while pandering to repressive, despotic, oil-rich regimes such as Saudi Arabia?

To stop terrorism, the world needs a broad range of measures to ensure that militant ideologies are less plausible in the future. If we cannot negotiate with militants, we can at least stop the next wave of recruits. And terrorism can be minimized by vigilant police action.

Muslim militancy cannot be stopped by force, which simply inflames it further. Nor by criticism from non-Muslims, which is taken as infidel interference. Rather, moderate Muslim leaders must step forward to reinforce the peaceful and harmonious teachings of their own religion.

Click Religion in Conflict

Click Religion and Conflict

Click UK Observer - Seven ways to stop the terror

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Left or right brain dominance

The human brain has two hemispheres, left and right, connected at the base. Each hemisphere has unique functions, and the way you use these abilities determines a large part of your personality and behavior.

By the time humans are two years old, one hemisphere begins to dominate the decision-making process. The brain processes continue to improve until the age of about 15. Developing left-brain abilities is the predominant focus in schools and modern society.

Right-brained people are often misfits. In school, right-brained Albert Einstein was thought to be stupid. He would skip steps and couldn't explain his answers because his brain streaked toward the answer so quickly that he lost focus if forced to slow down. Leonardo Da Vinci, the inventor, scientist and artist was so right-brained that he needed to hold a mirror up to read his own mirror-image writing.

The left hemisphere is a "serial processor". It specializes in analytical thought and is responsible for dealing with "hard" facts such as structure, discipline, rules, time sequences, mathematics, categorizing, logic, rationality, and deductive reasoning. It is also responsible for details, knowledge, definitions, planning, goals, words, productivity, efficiency, science, technology, stability and physical activity. It mostly controls the right side of the body.

The right hemisphere is a "parallel processor" and specializes in "softer" aspects - intuition, feelings, sensitivity, emotions, daydreaming, visualizing, creativity, color, spatial awareness, first impressions. It is also responsible for rhythm, spontaneity, impulsiveness, physical senses, risk-taking, flexibility and variety, learning by experience, relationships, mysticism, play and sports, humor, motor skills. It mostly controls the left side of the body. So, the old belief that left-handed people are more creative does indeed have some scientific basis.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor has been studying brain functions for some years, and had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for. One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. She felt her left-brain functions slip away one by one - speech, movement, understanding. She studied and remembered every moment. Follow the video link (below) to watch her powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

A Brain-Type Test can determine which half of your brain is dominant, and to what degree. The test has 54 questions and can be done in about 10 minutes. Find out whether YOU are left- or right-brained.

The interesting point is that you can work to develop the non-dominant side of your brain, to help "balance" yourself. Take the test.

Click Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained? Take the test

Click The Right Brain vs. Left Brain - Visual Test

Click Video - Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight

Click Wiki - Lateralization of brain function

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Ian Ramsay-Connell [ramcon@ntlworld.com] from the UK responded to my article on industrial automation skills:
    "Automations skills shortages are very prevalent here in the UK, even though some would call this the birthplace of automation.

    "As an automation professional with an instrumentation apprenticeship and a degree in Control Engineering I am lucky, though not yet rich. The problem with attracting young blood to the profession is that it is not sexy enough compared with other IT related careers. Why would anyone choose to do a degree in automation?

    "My view is that we are developing a workforce who have detailed knowledge of aspects of automation (IT components, process issues, etc.) but not enough who can actually tie it all together to make solutions relevant to meet actual business demands.

    "I always felt a key attribute is understanding what can't be done more than what can be done, but to know this requires experience which comes from a practical grounding gained from apprenticeships and a structured career development programme.

    "It would be good if some of us old dogs could provide guest lectures to the schools and universities to provide encouragement, but it seems there's no time in the curriculum. Institutions such as the ISA and IMC are trying to address these issues and I hope they succeed.

    "I doubt we will see C&I apprenticeships in the Blue Chip operating companies return to the levels of the 1970's and professional institutions are raising the bar on chartered status. There are few degree courses in automation and some of those in the UK struggle to attract sufficient applications.

    "What's the answer? Make the profession attractive and let the laws of supply and demand which apply in other professions extend to automation engineers, i.e. pay them what they are worth."

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I got a LOT of feedback on my guru-debut video on "Living in the Present Moment". Neil Gillespie [neilg@touchnc.net] wrote:

    "I was pleasantly surprised to read about your video. I played it, and I thank you for doing it.

    "It is encouraging for me for to see an accomplished engineer like yourself venture into the realm of meditation and positivity. The extension is Spirit. But to just outline the vast possibilities between the two bookends of birth and death, in full realization of their certainties, is such a positive thing.

    "Attitude is a reflection of our understanding of Truth. I believe that, surely as man progresses into his understanding of Spirit and the relevancy to it of Science, that we will flower as a race of humans and be certain to live harmoniously and solve all the challenges we face, with the extra dimension of understanding."

Click Stimulate your right-brain - view the Jim Pinto Video
"Living in the Present Moment, Here & Now"

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Jim Fox [fox.James@att.net] responded to Glenn Birket's comments (eNews 25 Apr. 08) that China "is going to run all over the US":

    "It won't take 30 or 50 years. I believe China is already kicking our collective butts! And they have barely started using oil and gas. Just wait till they scare us by calling in the huge and growing debt including how many trillions in Iraq, for decades to come.

    "The situation looks bad, real bad, to me - with no end in sight. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so."

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