Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I Read Newspapers

Slimviews:  Commentary on Global Political and Economic Events by Slim Fairview Please also see also http://sidestreetjournal.blogspot.com/  Please do click the follow button for Slimviews--and please email a link to your friends.  Thank you.


Why do I prefer getting my news from newspapers?

That is analogous to why I prefer writing to talking. When I write, you can’t interrupt me. You can disagree with me. You simply cannot interrupt me.

“No one agrees with someone else’s opinion, only his own opinion expressed by someone else.” – My Dad.

You can stop reading what I wrote. You can tear up the paper, you can scream at the screen, you can even make a peanut butter and banana sandwich and shoot the computer, but you can’t interrupt me.

In addition to your disagreeing with me, and the aforementioned options for reacting to what I wrote, you can rise up in opposition. You can write an opposing piece or speak out in forums that offer the option.

Now, you have two options.

1. You can express an opposing view.

2. You can express your opposition to my view.

The latter, however, leaves your audience at a bit of a loss without their being able to read what I wrote. You must reference what I said. If you are preaching to the choir, it doesn’t matter.

However, if you are addressing people with a sincere interest in the topic, they will read what I wrote. At this point, you lose dominance over the audience. Your audience can read my monograph without interruption, form their own opinions, and draw their own conclusions. They may agree with you, they may agree with me. (Put your stick down. They can’t see you and they can’t hear you.)

Such is the way it is when I read the newspaper. I can read a columnist. I can read another. I can read two newspapers for opposing views. I can read the editorial, I can read an op-ed, and I can read the letters to the editor. I can form my own opinions. I can form my own opinions in quiet contemplation.

This option is seldom available when TV News becomes entertainment.

When those with opposing views appear on television, they can express their opinions in turn, express them simultaneously, tell half-truths, or engage in evasions or misrepresentations. That is not news. That is not debate. That is pure theatre. The theatre of the perturbed.

Any questions?

Well: “Don’t bother asking me. You don’t want to hear my opinion; you want to hear your opinion.”

From The Quotations of Slim Fairview.



PS.  I am not Paul Harvey.  Still, I am open to becoming a paid blogger, columnist, or commentator.

In the meantime, if anyone finds the monographs on my blog to be especially helpful, please do not hesitate to send me on of those tricked out laptops and few dollars tucked into the envelope with the thank you note.



Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Go Into an Ice Cream Parlour

You go into an ice cream parlour. You sit in a booth. You look at a menu. You like cherry vanilla ice cream. You check the sizes available. You look at the prices. You order cherry vanilla, you eat cherry vanilla, you enjoy cherry vanilla, you leave a tip, pay your bill and leave.

I go into an ice cream parlour. I stand in line at the counter. I see the assorted flavours in their containers in the freezer case. I see the maple-walnut, the butter-pecan, the chocolate. I see the dishes, the sizes, the cones, and the variety of cones, the sprinkles, and the toppings. I decide I can handle two scoops. Butter-pecan and chocolate. I ask for hot-fudge. I ask for wet-walnuts. I pay the bill, leave a tip and enjoy the ice cream, the toppings, and the experience.

You enjoy the ice cream. I enjoy the experience and the ice cream.
The problem arises when there are too many choices. Though perhaps not with ice cream, but perhaps with sweaters.

You have an event to attend. You shop for a sweater. The choices are red, white, and blue.
You don’t want white, because it shows every little spot. Red, well, you have a skirt to go with a red sweater, but only one. Blue is nice. You have a blue sweater but it is light blue. This is dark blue. It goes with several skirts. You buy the blue sweater. You have closure. You are happy.

Your friend is attending the same event. Your friend goes to another store. There are many colours from which to choose.

Your friend thinks green. Will it go with her outfit? There is mint green. Too light? Kelly green. Too bright? Forest green. Too plain? What about blue? Royal blue, navy blue, sky blue, or aquamarine?
Your friend decides on the Kelly green. Your friend gets home and has doubts about her choice. Your friend reviews the options she’d had in the store. Your friend does not have closure. Your friend is not happy.

There are different aspects to life. How we approach each event is determined more by the event.

The considerations:




Previous experience

Rather than approach the activity at hand, or the choices among different activities available, focus on the different aspects of the experience and match them up to what you are looking to find in the experience.

If all you want is an ice cream, buy a package of Klondike Bars at the supermarket. If all you want to do is wear a sweater, pull one out of your closet. When you go beyond that, think about what you really want from the experience.
For those who might enjoy an extended metaphor on the topic



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Friday, May 20, 2011

Designing Qualified Employees for the Renewable Energy Industry

On the news: A report on the two-year degree tech employee.

Part of the problem with the lack of qualified employees in the tech industry, specially the renewable energy industry, is the self-defeating ideas about qualified employees and schooling.

Our renewable energy industry may go out of business waiting to convince the public of the need for tech education then waiting for the supply of educated applicants to rise to meet demands in hiring.

The energy industry, (renewables) may just have to man up and own up to the fact that the traditional pipeline of qualified employees has gone the way of the dinosaur. (Allusion to oil intended.) What the renewable energy industry has to do is to educate and or train the needed employees themselves. Get rid of the "stuck in the mud" mentality of credentialism.

The programmes and solutions floating around have the same odious flavour of the Jimmy Carter job training idea of reducing (double-digit) unemployment: Tax business, to train people for jobs that won't exist because business can't afford to hire people due to higher taxes.

Real employers, with real jobs, train their own people. Energy does not get a magical pass. Hire people with the capability to learn the job. Put them through an on-the-job training programme to handle the mechanical aspects and an educational programme to educate them to the technical aspects.

It is analogous to the Theory plus Case Method of education

Good luck.



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Failure of US Diplomacy in the Middle East 3.0

The impending failure of Western Diplomacy discussed in the previous monograph on the topic is now focused on the US.

Few people analyse a situation as it is. Most interpret the situation in a way that best helps their agenda.

Here is an analogy. The math analogy plays well to America’s position in international testing among school students.

With global relations, the dispute is not that 10 x 10 = 100. Upon that, we can all agree. However, when the teacher poses the question to her class and Billy responds 99, we break into two camps. One camp says that 99 is 99% correct. The other camp says that 99 is 100% wrong. Neither side realises that Billy does not understand arithmetic.

We are so focused on the American paradigm that we lack the ability to grasp the concept of what we are dealing with.

In the previous monograph, I said that we assume that the Arab Spring will result in a region of Pro-Western democracies. In 1776, we had a revolution. We built a democracy. We assume the same will hold true for the Middle East. We simply do not allow, for example, that Libya will be a country run by ruling councils.

Let us assume, however, for the purposes of discussion, that there is a wave of revolutionary fervor throughout the Middle East. Let us assume further, that there are a dozen democracies. Why should we then assume that the democracies would become our allies and trading partners?

The problem with Western Diplomacy is that it is a product of Western Diplomacy. Perhaps we are attempting to celebrate the success of Ben Franklin, Ambassador to France—200 years ago. The conundrum? The Middle East is not France.

We have decided, over the past several decades, that we will treat people the way we want to be treated. Nothing wrong with that if we want to be treated with respect. The simplistic solution is to treat people with respect and we will be respected. The problem with that is that different people define respect in different terms.

“If we were more concerned with being respectable and dignified, we would be more often treated with dignity and respect.” Slim Fairview.

Libya is not Egypt. Syria is not Libya.

I’d said, on previous occaision, that we are not fighting three wars in the Middle East. We are not fighting two wars in the Middle East. We are fighting one war in the Middle East. I was wrong. The war we are fighting is with ourselves.

If the Arab Spring spreads to other nations, those nations may very well form a Middle Eastern Diplomatic Union. (Thing of The European Union except with more money, less debt.)

There might not be an OPEC style union but rather a free-market union. One with the Union Members’ self-interest as the cornerstone. Not an ideological self-interest, not a theological self-interest, but rather an economic self-interest. Are we prepared for another “front”? Financially? Economically?

View our immigration policies. We are disputing immigration reform. The two sides of the issue are the interests of the immigrants and our national self-interest. (Economic and Security) We applaud our munificence. However, almost all of the immigrants come from countries with relatively few freedoms and with poor economic conditions. We completely ignore the fact that the immigration rise can be attributed to the conditions in the countries from which the immigrants emigrate. We help a few thousand while a few million continue to suffer. We hurt many and help few.

We’ve had a history of embracing these failed polices: The pursuit of symbolic gestures over substantive gains. Here are some examples from the past 60 years.

Penal reform in the late 50’ and early 60’s intended to reduce recidivism in our prisons resulted in a rise in crime and a rise in the prison population.

Parole reform, intended to reduce recidivism resulted in a rise in crime and a rise in the prison population.

We repeatedly attempted to tax our way to prosperity. Then we attempt to cut the programmes the money is being spent on.

Add to that the fact that we’ve outsourced jobs to cut costs to increase corporate profits to stay in business. The result? We’ve put our American customers out of work here at home. The result? The American customer can’t afford to buy our products. The result? Lower sales. The result? Lower corporate profits.

What will happen if the Middle Eastern nations form a Diplomatic Union? They will go into the free market. China is becoming an increasingly more profitable customer. Latin America is emerging from economic turmoil to economic growth. Can anyone see a symbiotic relationship between the Middle East (oil), China (money), and Latin America (expanding markets)?

We don’t need to rethink our Middle Eastern Diplomatic relationships. We need to learn how to do business globally.

For additional reading:

The G-20 in Good Times and Bad


Global Management: A shift in the paradigm of corporate America.


The impending Failure of Western Diplomacy in the Middle East.


The Fallacy of US Diplomacy in Libya


Social Media is the Medium: Greater than the sum of its parts.





Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Can We All Come to a Consensus on Group Think?

We must liberate ourselves from the notion that a gutsy leader will arise to save us. Remember the admonition: "...a confederacy of dunces will rise up around him..."

I am now 4 decades into discussing group-think.

Let's assume for the moment that:

a. W still have group think.
b. We must get rid of group think.

Now, we are still discussing group think.

Is is possible that all the methods to get rid of group think have failed? As evidenced by the fact that we still have group think--yes.

Do we ever come up with a new way to get rid of group think? No.

Is that group think? Yes.

By constantly clutching to the notion that we must get rid of group think, and constantly pursuing the sames methods to get rid of group think, are we not merely perpetuating group think but also reinforcing group think?

The focus is always to narrow.

Bring as many different people into the group to get as many different ideas as possible.

Cultivate a culture of shared vision. (Shared vision?)
The visioning process.
Team building. (Cohesion)
Consensus building.(Group think)

Get rid of as many different ideas as we can until we have consensus.

Call this Leadership in Action.

I will be the leader. I will get as many different people on my team as I can. I will lead the group to share a vision. I will engage in team building exercises. I will achieve consensus.

If it works, I am a visionary leader. If it fails, I fell victim to group think.

And, now, you can see the process for what it is.

If you treat everyone to lunch, you will have achieved "Bread & Circus".



Mail: Slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Friday, May 6, 2011

Common Sense and Common Business Practices

Case in point.

There is a theorem in Geometry: If a line intersects a circle at one point, (tangent) then a line drawn from that point to the center point of the circle will be perpendicular. (90 degrees). This makes sense. If you think about it, it makes more sense. Common sense will say, “It seems to be impossible to be any other way.” (Still, common sense says, “Still, it must be proved.”)

One reason this must be proved is that theorems that are more complex are not easily deduced by looking at them. Therefore, you must learn proofs.

Still, common sense is a great way to avoid pitfalls. In addition, what I said above, contravenes what I believe. (About management, not about geometry.)

I believe common sense is still the better way to go most times. However, I also know that it is necessary to have some analytical support.

[Remember, I make only two claims. I have an analytical mind and the ability to speak in metaphors.]

The reason why people choose common sense, however, is that people become bogged down in analysis. This is due, in part, to a lack of common sense. In addition, there is an attempt to use analysis to delay implementing strategy by those who lack sufficient analytical skills to arrive at a conclusion. The conclusion part is what causes people to become flummoxed.

Now, what gives us the courage to formulate and implement strategy?

That courage is the result of experience, intelligence, education, and skill. From these arise the courage necessary to form a strategy you have faith in and to execute without the hesitation—hesitation that is rewarded with failure. You cannot jump halfway across a stream without falling in. (And you cannot turn back in mid-air.)

Another problem is the impediment of plausibility.

With computers, certainly, and with calculators at the very minimum, it would seem unnecessary to memorise the times tables. The argument could be made that the results of the calculator are valueless unless you know enough math to recognise the answers as the correct ones. However, that falls apart when you get into numbers larger than you might handle in the fourth grade.

Then, why memorise the times tables?

Well, there are other (ancillary) skills that you will acquire by memorising the times tables.

It helps to develop memory skills

It helps to develop concentration.

It helps to increase attention span.

It helps to develop the ability to sit in one place for a longer time.

It helps students to learn math more easily with fewer frustrations and distractions.

These are benefits acquired by memorising the times tables.

The other skills gained by memorising the times tables are quantifiable. Now, compare and contrast that with the statement:

“Memorisation stifles creativity.”

This statement may or may not be true. It may or may not depend on our definitions of creativity.

People will become bogged down with a discussion that pretends to analyse the facts. This, “becoming bogged down with analysis”, becomes the impetus for using common sense at the expense of substantive facts.

Common sense will tell us much when we are confronted with analysis offered up by those who lack common sense, embrace an ideology (or a product to sell), who lack analytical skills, and in general seek validation by attention seeking.

Common sense will tell you when the analysis is bad only when you lack the capacity to analyse.



Mail slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Thursday, May 5, 2011

GroupThink 2.0

I sat on an economic development committee for over two years. In that time, I observed a group of people, some professionals (CEO banking), economic development, etc. and community people. (Business people.)

I observed the group. There was no group think. It looked like someone trying to herd cats.

After two years of attempting to stimulate investment, attract business, deal with green fields and brown fields, we finally had the opportunity to entertain a state official of the department that hands out grant money. (It's their job to give money away.)

We put on a great presentation, tour, helicopter, luncheon, the works. We got shot down--unceremoniously. (As Mrs. Slocum used to say, "How ignimonious" sic)

Upshot. "We give money for projects, not plans."

They licked their wounds. Still, they did not accomplish much.

On another committee, (Finance committee of a government programme.) I opined on moving funds into technology related projects. Website development, improvement, etc. People listened to me. We voted, agree--unanimously--funds were moved. Subsequently, the web presence and technology use became vital. We were that much ahead of the game.

Group think is a result of consensus building which was a consequence of the absence of leadership. Too, an absence of followship.

I addressed that issue in another discussion where a budding expert was giving examples of how he/she helped groups avoid group think. In short, this individual encouraged group think.

It is somewhat disheartening to watch (as I watched the members of that economic development committee), people discussing the same issues that had been discussed, have been discussed, are being discussed and will continue to be discussed.

I've studied groups, been in groups, been in a group that studied itself, worked in groups, on committees, on a committee to form a committee to set up a programme to form committees, and I dissected the different structures used handle projects and explained why each does not work. However, as I am adamant in my opposition to articles that are descriptive and not prescriptive, I also set up an organisational chart that will work for one of my ppt. presentations.

As I read in clever book on management just the other night (While waiting for my cat to come home) Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles by Richard Courtney and George Cassidy.

"Parks are full of statues erected to honour leaders. There are no statues erected to honour committees."

"This too shall pass."

In the heat of battle, no one turns to a committee. Everyone looks to a leader. See who they are looking to. That is a leader. That is the leader.

In my much younger days, when I took a holiday job while I was working on a novel, the VP came in, furious, because the department was in a chaotic state. For the second time. He asked my supervisor,

"What do we have to do to get this straightened out?"

My supervisor looked to me. The VP looked to me. I had a second operation (holiday) up and running the following day. And I was not even an actual employee of the company. Only a holiday temp.

The VP did not say, let's form a committee to find a solution. I did not receive a smiley face key chain.

The flip-side to one aspect on group think is that people propose new ideas, however, 1. due to group think the ideas are rejected; 2. due to a lack of ability demonstrated by several members of the group, the new idea is rejected; 3 lack of ability of the "leader" the idea is rejected; there is a divisiveness among the group (for and against) we move into the mode of consensus building and the new idea is watered down to where it is palatable....

However! The biggest problem with respect to "group think" is hiding in plain sight. The word "group". In addition, if you do "win over" the other members of the group and all embrace your new idea you end up with [wait for it]

GroupThink 2.0

Now you have two conflicting ideas at play. 1. Getting rid of Group Think and 2. Consensus building. On the corporate level, you have Risk Management and Risk Assessment. There is a cost-benefit analysis that new ideas must go through.

Finally (or not) there is the needy member(s) of the group who, after having an idea rejected, refuse to accept that the idea was rejected on the basis of a lack of merit, but who feel personally demeaned, diminished, marginalised and so on.

A greater reason that people do not propose new ideas is a personal one--the lack of ability to make objective assessments.



Mail slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Hiding in Plain Sight Cite

The recent death of Osama Bin Laden (Geronimo ekia) in a million dollar home near Abbottabad has media tongues wagging. Why? The town is located in the outskirts of Islamabad the capital of Pakistan.
What we are really seeing as we watch the news is the clash between the subtle nuances of multinational Diplomatic Relations, and a simplistic view of the world.

Part of this arises from our exposure to Middle Eastern culture having been limited to the movies, Casablanca and Algiers. I will focus on the latter.

In Algiers (the capital of Algeria, a country in northern Africa), a French jewel thief (played by Charles Boyer) is hiding out in the “old quarter” in a place known to the world as The Casbah. However, the only thing we truly know about the Casbah, aside from it’s being a labyrinthine piece of ancient architecture, is what we learned watching cartoons as children.

In the Warner Brothers cartoon, a character (an amorous skunk) known as Pepe le Pew, would hotly pursue a black cat (who having ended up with a stripe of white paint down her back took on a skunk-like appearance). As he would embrace the feline of his affections, he would utter such romantic nothings as, “Come wiz me to zee Casbah”.

Back to Algiers.

In Algiers, in The Casbah, Pepe le Moko is visited each day by an Algerian Police Detective—Inspector Slimane. The good inspector knows, however, that it is impossible to arrest Pepe in The Casbah. This is the reason he is allowed to “find” him. In addition, he knows that if he arrests Pepe, he will not be able to bring him out of The Casbah. This, he has difficulty explaining to the visiting French Prefect. 

 (Now, you may call me a flawed human being, but I liked the inspector in the fez. My apologies to Turkey and to the Turkish people who’ve outlawed the wearing of the fez.)

Inspector Slimane’s admonition: “When one can’t use guns, one must work with brains.”

Now that we have a background in our limited understanding of the Middle East (Which we’ve learned from a movie set in North Africa) we shall move on to Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ally whose President is in an untenable position.

Pakistan and India enjoy a misalliance. India is Hindu, Pakistan is Muslim. Each enjoys a diplomatic affiliation with China. India is an ally and trading partner of the United States.

Pakistan is caught between having diplomatic and military ties to the United States and the West on the one hand and a people ardently opposed to the United States in particular and the West in general on the other. 

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has to maintain a level of stability with a political acumen that goes beyond anything we can imagine.  

The most difficult domestic problems we deal with in the political arena are the carping of those in the opposing party or an embarrassment cause by an extreme faction demonstrating for or against a position on an issue.

Some of the comments arising from the death of Osama Bin Laden and made by experts in global diplomatic and military affairs are: 

Osama Bin Laden was in a gilded cage. He couldn’t leave his compound. (Remember Pepe le Moko.) He was actually a prisoner of Pakistan.

The Pakistani government had to have known that Osama Bin Laden was there and gave him safe shelter.

Well, if we were watching the compound for eight months, the Pakistani government also had to have known we were there.

With the operations we were engaged in (the bombing of terrorist encampments), could the Pakistani government really believe Bin Laden would be safe if they harboured him in the Mansion on the Hill?

President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks were for the benefit of the Pakistani people.

President Asif Ali Zardari is charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of the people of Pakistan. And so on. 

There may be an element of truth to some or all of the above. This does not deny the Media the First Amendment right to express opinions; or to insinuate opinions by asking questions with an urgent tone and a forward leaning posture intended to suggest gravitas.

Diplomacy. In the refined and cultured and nuanced world of diplomacy, what is important is quite often what is unsaid, but understood. 

As my Aunt Jean once said of men’s jewellery, “I believe a man’s jewellery should be looked for but never seen.” 

In Diplomatic discussions, what we mean should be understood, not said.

A more clear explanation: From the Quotations of Slim Fairview
Diplomacy:  If it has to be explained, it isn't diplomacy.

We should understand that President Asif Ali Zardari has a job to do on behalf of the People of Pakistan. 

We should understand that we have also have a job to do.  

The Media has a job to do.  

However, most important, we should understand that in the area of International Relations, we should not use our playbook alone when we have people on our team from different countries.

This is why I posted the monograph, “The Impending Failure of Western Diplomacy in the Middle East.”  

The Link: 

It is also the reason I posted the monograph, “What do we want? When do we want it? How do we get it?  

The Link:

When I was a youngster sitting in school, grammar school, we were taught, 

“We may not agree with what they have to say, but they have the right to say it.”

Now, we are taught, 

“They may not agree with what we have to say, but we have the right to say it.”

We have abandoned our pursuit of fulfilling our responsibilities in favour of pursuing our rights. 

Defending our rights is a good thing. 

Defending our rights is slightly different from pursuing them.

Now, we see Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari being vilified about the location of Osama Bin Laden’s “Casbah”.

The assailing of Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari is neither fair, nor accurate, nor productive. It arises from our need to eschew the news in favour of entertainment.  

Too many people, today, choose a lust for symbolic gestures over substantive gains.


Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, May 2, 2011

What do we want? How do we get it?

US forces kill bin Laden in firefight in Pakistan - The Boston Globe

What do we want? How do we get it?

The issue of Afghanistan references my comments on the world relying on the Zero Sum Game approach to future planning.

It is easy to ask, "What do the Afghan people want?" However, different people in Afghanistan may have different agendas and goals. It is not sufficient to say, "What do we want, when do we want it?" The real issue is "What do we want, how are we going to get it?" Then you must add, "What do we have to give to get it?" Other Afghans have goals. Some are mutually exclusive. The Win-Win platitude is great. However, for both sides to get something, each side must give up something.

The question also relies on issues I’ve raised in my monograph, “The Impending Failure of Western Diplomacy in the Middle East.

Essential reading:


And a viewing of my SlideShare ppt. presentation

The Future of the G 20 in Good Times and Bad


Old Chinese Saying--A white horse is not a horse.

Chinese Wisdom: In the West, when you want privacy, you go into a lock room. In the East, when we want privacy, we go into an open field.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Santayana

Those who never learned history are doomed—period. Slim Fairview

From: The Quotations of Slim Fairview © 2011 Slim Fairview

Warmest regards,


Mail: slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview