Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shaking Things Up

Instead of a normal post today, I decided to “shake things up” a little and just point you, the faithful readers of this blog, to a couple other things that have caught my interest in the past week:

Solving a Rubik’s Cube in 26 Steps

The Cure for Fear

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths about Human Nature

“There are lies…”


Tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive. A popular television series, which I like to watch when I can, House, MD, has a lead character—Dr. Gregory House—who believes that everyone lies. Why do people lie to one another? Wikipedia, home to the collaborative intellectual knowledge of the masses, states that lies are told because people have the “intention to deceive, maintain a secret or reputation, or to avoid punishment. As a whole, people want to be perceived in a certain way: Strong, powerful, helpful, kind, etc. They also want to keep portions of their life that they intentionally keep hidden from the world in that persistent state. Lastly, people generally seek pleasure and avoid pain. While punishment runs the gamut from the type of discipline that a parent gives to a child, it could also mean the shame given to a person from a societal perspective for doing things that are against the norm or outside other acceptable boundaries.

With the exception of psychopathic personality types, however, most people aren’t serial liars. Any poker player will tell you that each person has their “tells.” Any individual that is familiar with the operation of a lie detector understands the mechanics of the human body when they tell something that they know to be a mistruth. People who deal with other people enough has the experience to tell you what to look for in what a person says and does in regards to truths and lies.

Damned Lies

The thing to look out for here is the individual who doesn’t know that they are lying. While lying is mostly a matter of intent, it could also be considered a tool of the manipulative in order to gain control over the situation. In this respect, serial liars can take advantage situations by not being able to tell the difference between what a factual reality is and what things are fabricated. They will not have the “tells” of a person who feels guilty for their actions because they do not have the capacity to feel guilt for their transgressions.


Believe it or not, everyone has an agenda. Some might be simple enough: Get through my day and get home so I can relax. Others might be more insidious: Take over the world. Most fall in between. At any rate anyone may use statistics to get their point across, draw someone to action, and control their environment towards the outcome which they desire. Take, for instance, this insurance scenario:

Suppose that a zealous insurance CEO asks his statistician if drivers with two or more tickets in a three-year period were more likely to have an accident.[1] He would soon report back that drivers with two or more tickets have almost twice [2] the chance of having an accident.

Wow! Twice the accident rate! What fools! The CEO might think that by hitting these guys with higher premiums, he might make them think about their careless driving habits. Maybe it will teach them a lesson. The company can make quite a bit more profit, as other insurers are not going to try and steal the worst drivers away. Furthermore, the state motor vehicle departments start thinking about taking away these driver's licenses. Everybody thinks that these guys have to be gotten off the road before they kill themselves or someone else. Unfortunately, they aren't careless drivers. According to the assumptions, they are equally good at driving as everybody else. The statistics lied. The difference in mileage exposure alone is enough to produce a strong correlation between tickets and accidents.

While tickets isn’t, in and of itself, a contributable factor inasmuch as it indicates the entire risk that any one client is going to be for an insurance company if this were something that were correlated to the distance that a person drives in any given year, it may then gain more credibility. All things being equal, consider the case between the younger man and the older woman. Maybe the younger man doesn’t want to put down that he drives twice the norm in a given year—30,000 miles—while the older lady decides that she doesn’t want to let the insurance company know that she only drives a couple thousand miles each year. Either way, these individuals are likely to let the insurance company know something different about their driving habits either through inflating or deflating their numbers, respectively.

And the Truth…

In the end it is a good idea to remember that the human instinct is correct a good majority of the time, at least for those things within our own purview. Experts may be able to pull out statistics and serial liars may be able to influence your actions with their finely-honed skills, and everyday people might baffle you will bull…but in the end just make sure to do your research and trust your own gut.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Emergence of Context

Try to get a kid to eat their green vegetables. Being the rational adult that we are we attempt explaining to the youth why eating their vegetables, drinking their milk, not doing drugs or smoking, or staying in school are such good things to do because they all factor into the context of how their future will play out. Don’t stay in school, for instance, and you will have limitations placed onto your for how you to succeed in the world; do drugs and things get worse. Life is tough enough; it only gets worse when someone stacks the odds against themselves.

A recent study of the brains of children shows a stark contrast in the biology—and through that, its mechanics—between the younger brain, the older brain, and the points in between. While the human brain physically grows to full size (but not volume) by the time a person is six years old, it does not finish developing until early adulthood. The examples of context and long-term thinking show that children are not apt to have the mental traits of grown-ups. They may not be able to recall context with such great ease, but they do have the ability to recall discrete facts with better ease.

Gray matter grows, flourishes, and neurons—brain cells—develop sheaths of fatty materials on their ends as the brain matures. This biological process forms the basis for growing from individuals of finite facts to people of great associations of context:

But as people grow, their brains change. Before full volume is attained, the pruning starts. Grey matter gets picked away at different rates in different parts of the organ. Brain cells form white matter as their arms become covered in fatty sheaths that, like the plastic insulation around a metal wire, stop electrical signals leaking out as they zip along the nerve cells. As the grey matter diminishes, the white matter steadily increases. Which is why the brain can mature from an organ of overwhelmingly short-range connections into one with many long-distance links, as Bradley Schlaggar and his colleagues at Washington University, in St Louis, have found.

Essentially, this process creates the basis for two separate networks—instead of two physical parts of the brain—which develop to be able to simultaneously work out the challenges we face in our everyday lives. Through the use of a technique called graph theory—a versatile tool to measure everything from neural activity to power grid usage—researchers were able to map with some success how these networks act on their own and in coordination with one another. It also offers insight to the notion that adults can better resist impulses in order to focus on long-term goals.

In the end, however, all this winds up summarizing a conclusion that has been in the annals of wisdom for quite some time: The brain is a muscle, like any other. While it will grow and mature over time, how we use it over any given time will help to develop it—or foment an environment in which it is less likely to develop—no matter which decade of age in which we find ourselves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sun Tzu on Corporate Warfare: The Basics

Corporate warfare is the only means of growth for a firm.

There are Five Primary Factors in waging corporate warfare:

  1. Corporate Culture is what causes the people to have the same thinking as their superiors.

§ The corporate leader is simply doing the will of the customer, as if he or she and they are the same entity.

§ There must be no fear of danger and betrayal by or from either the corporate officer, management or non-management employee

  1. “Heaven” is the natural, uncontrollable forces related to the markets and it’s inherent segments, which may place constraints on operations

§ Traveling on a safe and easy route, as pertaining to the market environments

§ Must be flexible and able to adapt to sudden changes in environmental variables in the markets

§ Resources must be adequate to support a campaign under adverse variables

§ Support from staff elements must be effective and immediate

§ The leader must be well-trained and well-experienced to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace

§ There must be at least one strong leader in every business unit to urge and motivate their colleagues along

  1. “Ground” is the natural, uncontrollable forces related to the industrial environment and other elements which may place constraints on operations

§ Traveling on a safe and easy route, as pertaining to the industrial environment

§ Must be flexible and able to adapt to sudden changes in environmental variables in the industry

§ Supplies and equipment need to be adequate.

§ The officers, managerial, and non-managerial employees must be well-trained to handle fluctuations in variables in the industrial environment

§ There must be at least one strong leader in every business unit to urge and motivate their colleagues along

  1. The Corporate Leader displays the necessary traits of wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and discipline.

§ Wisdom is the quality of being able to make sound, logical decisions; perfected through years of study and experience.

§ Credibility is being able to gain the trust of others through dependable and consistent demeanor; as a leader’s word carries much weight and it makes for an easier task of rallying those subordinate to the Corporate Leader

§ Benevolence is the intentions of the corporate leader always being focused on doing things beneficial for his or her subordinates, the firm, and utmost—the customer. The corporate leader must not have concern for himself or herself, but he or she must be without bias and malice in their decisions and actions.

§ Courage is a necessary trait for a truly effective corporate leader. The courageousness of a leader reflects in where he is on the corporate battlefield, how he or she guides and motivates the subordinates.

§ Discipline prevents him from growing soft. Even at rest, the good corporate leader is always alert. The corporate leader should instill high standards in himself or herself as well as in their subordinates, both management and non-management. Low standards will cause a loss of a sense of urgency, and therefore overall readiness. “Laxness begets defeat.”

  1. Law,” or policy, procedures, rules, regulations, and the like are the controls that hold all of the other four elements together. It is the amount of organization, or housekeeping, the communications structure, the chain of command, and level of logistics and other support.

§ Free of clutter

§ Good communication, backed by strong communication channels

§ Urgency in amount of support and support structure

§ Control of expenses

§ Without an efficient system of moving essentials, the army will be weakened.

§ Effective management of other resources

§ The wise corporate leader considers the costs of doing battle closely, spending money and consuming resources like they were his or her own

§ Supplies should be replenished from the opponent’s provisions whenever possible

Every corporate officer, senior, middle, and supervisory manager must know and be able to apply these concepts, for they are supremely necessary in succeeding in any corporate campaign.

  • Knowing and being able to apply these elements lessens the risk to valuable resources, personnel, capital, and the image of the firm.
  • There is no substitute for a well-planned operation
  • There exists a critical importance in training and educating members of management at all levels.
  • Training and education were highly valued.
  • One does not attain the position as a corporate officer without possessing acute awareness of the principles of business, industry, and warfare.
  • One common cross-cultural denominator is that successful leaders and successful business units are fanatical about training their employees.

Be able to compare, contrast, and calculate these Five Principles against any and all organizations/firms involved in any campaign of corporate warfare.

  • Must be unbiased
  • Must be able to solve or otherwise adapt to any shortcomings that are found
  • Be able to adjust the strategic elements so that they fall in your favor
  • If the corporate leader knows the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent, then he or she can attack with great speed, and defend with great mystery.
  • Calculating requires quantitative methods
  • Contrasting requires qualitative methods

The corporate officer or manager who does not properly practice corporate warfare should be terminated from the firm, for they do not understand the way of corporate warfare. Ignoring them will prove detrimental to the operation. Given the choice between a corporate officer who practices tried-and-true concepts in warfare versus one who does not, a good human resources manager or manager closely involved with hiring should not hire the haphazard one, but the one who sees the full value of planning, purpose, strategy, and tactics.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Intelligence Types in Corporate Warfare

There are primarily five intelligence disciplines which significantly support corporate operations:

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

Technical Intelligence (TECHINT)

Image Intelligence (IMINT)

Communications Intelligence (CI)

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

The objective of most corporate campaigns, highlighting specifically the areas of marketing, advertising, selling, legal, mergers and acquisitions, and other key areas where the intent is to influence humans with a specific level of buy-in.

The most effective source of intelligence gathering is Human Intelligence.

Human Intelligence can be collected using a variety of methods.

§ Survey persons in the target market or industrial segment and debrief those persons who have recently had interpersonal contact with either. refugees.

§ Debrief new employees who are or formerly have been part of the target market.

§ Perform controlled collection.

§ Intelligence gathering by observation

§ Form strategic alliances with those individuals and organizations inside the target market, industry, or sector of industry along with members of the local population, obtaining intelligence information from any number of groups friendly to the corporation.

Corporate-based psychological warfare and other highly-controlled forces originating from the vision of corporate senior management utilize Human Intelligence developed from primary sources such as from controlled collection, Communications Intelligence, surveys as described above, debriefings as described before, and from other defensive or offensive Human Intelligence corporate warfare operations. To support these activities, Human Intelligence must be timely and accurate.

Intelligence information gathered from individuals or business units within a rival company, industry, or that hold key positions in the target market often provide intelligence-gathering business units with significant insights into the psychological situation within one of these specific areas or other target group. Under the proper circumstances, these individuals can also be used to develop products that can later be used in psychological operations. They can also be extremely valuable in testing, pre-testing, or post-testing said products.

Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)

Signals Intelligence is developed from the collection, evaluation, analysis, integration, and interpretation of information derived from intercepted electromagnetic emissions. Signals Intelligence sub-fields include Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). By integrating these forms of intelligence with intelligence from other resources, accurate targeting and threat data can be obtained and realized.

Signals Intelligence data supports psychological operations by providing products extracted from locating, monitoring, and transcribing threat communications and by intercepting non-communications releasers. These assets provide information and intelligence that help reveal activities or plans of opposing forces so that psychological operations can assist the corporate leader in developing effective countermeasures.

Image Intelligence (IMINT)

Image Intelligence comes from radar, photographic, infrared, and electro-optic imagery.

Psychological warfare analysts use Image Intelligence in varied ways. It helps locate and determine the capabilities and operational status of geographic locations of assets that the opposition has that may be a threat within a target geographic area or demographic.

By analyzing imagery of the spatial location and architecture of key structures, Imagery intelligence analysts can determine the ethnic or religious composition of a town or village. Other uses for Imagery Intelligence products include identifying and evaluating operational capabilities of transportation and/or logistics networks, factories, and other rival structures or systems.

Imagery Intelligence analysts use Image Intelligence to confirm or deny acts of acts of sabotage, demonstrations, and work slow-downs that are either the original PSYOP objective or an impact indicator of a PSYOP campaign or specific product.

Technical Intelligence (TECHINT)

Technical Intelligence consists of comparing Scientific and Technical Intelligence and battlefield TECHINT. Technical Intelligence provides business unit personnel with intelligence about other business unit or corporate technological developments and the performance and operational capabilities of business unit or corporate technological materiel. Corporate battlefield TECHINT can provide the tactical-level corporate leader with countermeasures to neutralize and defeat rival systems and materiel. Furthermore, in-depth Technical Intelligence can assist corporate leaders at levels higher than tactical in formulating business unit or tactical strategy.

Psychological operations-involved business units can use Technical Intelligence to focus their efforts on critical, highly technical threat business units.

Counter Intelligence (CI)

Counter Intelligence detects, evaluates, counteracts, or prevents the intelligence collection, subversion, sabotage, and terrorism of rival corporations, business units, or other entities. It determines security vulnerabilities and recommends countermeasures. Counter Intelligence operations support operational security, deception, and business unit protection.

Monkey Mondays: The Monkey and the Taco

Like Monkeys? Of course! Like Tacos?

Whiplash the Monkey...with tacos!