Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day 2017

The world stands up and cheers today for International Women's Day in 2017 because half the planet's population has been marginalized for most of recorded history. I supported this day by attending tonight's town hall at the World Affairs Council of Northern California. Representatives from Career Girls and the Global Fund for Women were on hand to describe their projects, along with a multimedia artist who shared examples of her work. It's easy to look at their success stories and think that gender parity is on solid ground. The global numbers show how much work remains to be done.

The OECD Gender Data Portal publishes data describing a global gender wage gap. We can go further than numbers by assessing the gap's impact on global systems. The World Economic Forum publishes its own annual Global Gender Gap Report. The gap in numbers is taking a long time to close, but closing it should be a moral imperative given the crucial contributions women have always made to the global economy. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (aka UN Women) describes the impact of female economic empowerment in detail.

Women don't need me to speak for them. Their work in the modern world speaks for itself, and deserves recognition.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Haiku of OSINT for 02/19/17

Study some region
Know culture and history
Be the top expert

Friday, November 4, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Haiku of OSINT for 01/25/16

Multifaith talking
Much holiness all around
Not much for action

From Interfaith Dialogue To Multifaith Polylogue

I learned a new phrase today at the Commonwealth Club: "multifaith polylogue." It's the hip new trend sweeping the interfaith dialogue community. Look for it in the Parliament of the World's Religions as participants broaden the discourse. Theologians have talked across faith divisions for millennia. Talk is cheap; deeds are worth more than words.

People of different faiths can discover that they share interests in mundane things like sports and the arts. More importantly, the Abrahamic religions all share narratives emphasizing charitable works toward strangers and the less fortunate. The Noahide Laws offer Gentiles a path to righteous recognition in Judaism. Other faiths should be so generous.

I wonder whether faith conversations travel across civilization's fault lines. One civilization axis for Judaism / Christianity / Islam can find links between the Torah, Bible, and Quran with little difficulty because they all originated from the Middle East's mystery cults and wisdom traditions. Another axis for Hinduism and Buddhism could account for the syncretism of Asian traditions. Taoism and Stoicism developed independently but their modern adherents may be astonished at their similarities.

Karen Armstrong's Charter for Compassion is modern syncretism's call to action. All it needs are some colorful icons and it will be as compelling for contemplation as the Sistine Chapel's frescos. The compassion movement also needs some archetypal characters like the ones in the Star Wars saga. I would suggest myself as such an archetype because I express compassion for the poor, unfortunate souls who cannot operate at my high level of morality.

Pascal's Wager for the existence of God does not overcome the Epicurean paradox of why an omnipotent deity would tolerate the problem of evil. Theologians of many faiths are welcome to polylogue themselves over this quandry until the cows come home. Compassion activists will meanwhile be busy walking sacred labyrinths, accepting mindfulness, practicing yoga, and drinking masala chai tea (organic and fair trade certified, of course). All of these efforts will garner the usual results in human history, namely political upheavals and wars as Fourth Turning generational crises run roughshod over everyone's best intentions. We all certainly meant well. It's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Haiku of OSINT for 11/11/15

Secret agent man
Unbelievable movie
Really popular

Assessing The James Bond "Spectre" Film

I have never before watched a James Bond film in a theater. I now know why after seeing Spectre today at my local cineplex. I paid to watch an uninformed fantasy about intelligence work. Once is okay, because I learned enough. Here comes the first ever movie review on Third Eye OSINT.

We can begin with elements that would never make sense in the real world of intelligence. Geopolitical differences between rival powers somehow become irrelevant (the "Nine Eyes" sharing arrangement between the Anglo-West countries and presumably the BRICS bloc). Field agents and agency principals display a stunning naivete about pervasive digital surveillance (Bond, M, and Moneypenny discussing background research). Operatives discuss sensitive policy matters out in the open in unsecure areas in front of uncleared people (Bond and Q at the Austrian hotel with Dr. Swann). Technical specialists plug away on sensitive projects using computers whose displays are visible to anyone in a public area (Q typing while on the ski lift). Small caliber handguns can hit targets at enormously long ranges (the speedboat chasing the helicopter) and also blow up facilities the size of a city block (the hotel at the beginning, the desert facility at the end). All manner of vehicles are conveniently placed for a quick getaway (Bond's plane in snowy Austria, his helicopter at the desert facility, and his speedboat on the River Thames), and of course our hero always knows how to operate them. Our hero also always uses his real identity and is never under an assumed cover. He wastes no time getting under the covers with his female leads while their lives are obviously in danger. Yeah, find me a real intelligence system that operates this way.

The standard Bond film tropes are everywhere. The world's most famous secret agent wrecks his very expensive car, defeats a larger man in a fistfight, easily shoots multiple assailants without reloading, and saves his favorite woman just in time. The evil leader always reveals his entire sinister plan to Bond, and Bond gets away without breaking a sweat. It's great that Bond's women are becoming increasingly competent fighters in their own right. Female moviegoers need strong heroines, but the heroines still show glaring emotional weaknesses and need to be rescued from very improbable dangers. Dr. Swann inexplicably leaves the London safehouse to wander away from Bond, only to be captured for display. A truly competent operative would have either stayed at the safehouse during the operation's most crucial phase, or volunteered to go with Bond as backup. Alas, the plot always needs a traditional resolution, and the damsel in distress must always end up as the plot device motivating Bond's final heroics.

Monica Bellucci made an indelible impression while conducting the necessary exposition in Rome. She proves that desire knows no expiration date. Kudos to the producers for casting an older woman in a seductive role. Ms. Bellucci is much closer in age to Daniel Craig (Mr. Bond) than Lea Seydoux (Dr. Swann), so the romantic chemistry of an age-appropriate couple makes more sense. I also think Dave Bautista is getting typecast as the heavy who goes light on dialogue. I wouldn't want to fight the guy. Bond fought the guy on the train without getting a scratch or even getting the carnation dislodged from his jacket's lapel, but that's why he's Bond.

The James Bond franchise is great, mindless fun. Many American men who entered adult life without surrendering their adolescent imagination must see Bond as a role model. He always gets disciplined, suspended, or fired but somehow retains access to all of the resources he needs to do his job. The magical Bond narrative is great escapism for anyone who can't escape a boring life or defeat a petty tyrant at work. I overthink a lot of Hollywood product that isn't aimed at me.