jerryking + simon_kuper   18

What the lessons of 1918 can teach today’s world leaders
NOVEMBER 1, 2018 | Financial Times | Simon Kuper.

The Armistice of 1918 is a model for how not to treat other countries. The historian Margaret MacMillan points out that Germany’s humiliation didn’t mechanically cause the second world war: there were 20 years in-between. Still, visiting Compiègne, you inevitably think of contemporary parallels. Here are some lessons for world leaders gathering in Paris next week to commemorate 1918:

• In international relations, treat even your opponents like long-term business partners.
• Nationalist passions are easy to excite and hard to put back in the bottle.
• A humiliated country will look for scapegoats — and some people will jump from angry words to violence.
• Prosperity is fragile.
• Wars beget wars. Foch helped beget Hitler; the Middle Eastern borders drawn at Versailles helped beget today’s conflicts in the region; the Korean war isn’t dead yet either, and the American civil war lives on as a north-south culture clash....Still, peace in the region cannot remain the EU’s selling point. Precisely because Europeans have come to take peace for granted, they now (rightly) ask: “What have you done for me lately?”
• Absence of war is always a political achievement.
anniversaries  Armistice  Brexit  fragility  humiliations  leaders  lessons_learned  Margaret_McMillian  Simon_Kuper  WWI 
november 2018 by jerryking
Trump, Kushner and the businessman fallacy
Simon Kuper MARCH 8, 2018
The “businessman fallacy” — the notion that a rich businessman (never a woman) can run government better than a mere politician — is Donald Trump’s basic promise. That’s why the combustion of his son-in-law, fellow real-estate heir and senior adviser Jared Kushner — whose business dealings in the White House scream conflict of interest — is so telling. Kushner incarnates the businessman fallacy.......The businessman-turned-politician is often blinded by hubris. This usually stems from the “money delusion”: the idea that life is a race to make money, and that rich people (“winners”) therefore possess special wisdom.

Many businessmen imagine they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps in a free market, something that more people could do if only there was “less government in business”. This self-image usually omits context: the fact, say, that the businessman’s father built the company (before being jailed on a ridiculous technicality) or that government enforced his contracts and schooled his employees.....Rich Americans tend to feel contempt for politicians because they have learnt to treat them as lowly service providers who will sit up and beg for donations.
self-imagery  Simon_Kuper  Donald_Trump  Jared_Kushner  nepotism  White_House  conflicts_of_interest  oversimplification  privately_held_companies  family-owned_businesses  hubris  generalists  businessman_fallacy  heirs 
march 2018 by jerryking
Why some killer diseases are overlooked
Simon Kuper FEBRUARY 1, 2018

A poor-children’s disease — diarrhoea, which kills the most kids after pneumonia, is another example — won’t produce many well-off, articulate advocates. Moreover, there’s no simple magic bullet for pneumonia. The disease has many causes and two main forms: viral and bacterial. Health workers often misdiagnose it, sometimes because they haven’t been trained in pneumonia. And many health workers will continue to emigrate from poor to rich countries, says Tom Kenyon, who heads Project HOPE, a health NGO.

Still, difficult as pneumonia is, it’s fixable. Its death toll has fallen, albeit slowly.
attention_economy  brain_drain  disease  malaria  overlooked  pneumonia  Simon_Kuper  vaccines 
february 2018 by jerryking
Globish just doesn’t cut it any more
January 10th| FT | by Simon Kuper.

12 HOURS AGO

Globish: a simple, dull, idiom-free, cripplingly accented version of English with a small vocabulary. .....“What is well articulated in English on the internet becomes ‘truth,’” says Japanese writer Minae Mizumura in The Fall of Language in the Age of English.
millennials  English-speaking  machine_translation  English  Simon_Kuper 
january 2018 by jerryking
From climate change to robots: what politicians aren’t telling us
OCTOBER 26, 2017 | FT| by Simon Kuper.

Most politicians bang on about identity while ignoring automation, climate change and the imminent revolution in medicine. They talk more about the 1950s than the 2020s. This is partly because they want to distract voters from real problems, and partly because today’s politicians tend to be lawyers, entertainers and ex-journalists who know less about tech than the average 14-year-old....ronically, given the volume of American climate denial, the US looks like becoming the first western country to be hit by climate change. Each new natural disaster will prompt political squabbles over whether Washington should bail out the stricken region. At-risk cities such as Miami and New Orleans will gradually lose appeal as the risks become uninsurable......American climate denial may fade too, as tech companies displace Big Oil as the country’s chief lobbyists. Already in the first half of this year, Amazon outspent Exxon and Walmart on lobbying. Facebook, now taking a kicking over fake news, will lobby its way back. Meanwhile, northern Europe, for some years at least, will benefit from its historical unique selling point: its mild and rainy climate. Its problem will be that millions of Africans will try to move there.

On the upside, many Africans will soon, for the first time ever, have access to energy (thanks to solar panels) and medical care (as apps monitor everything from blood pressure to sugar levels, and instantly prescribe treatment). But as Africa gets hotter, drier and overpopulated, people will struggle to feed themselves, says the United Nations University. So they will head north, in much greater numbers than Syrians have, becoming the new bogeymen for European populists....The most coveted good of all — years of life — will become even more unfairly distributed. The lifespans of poor westerners will continue to stagnate or shorten, following the worldwide surge in obesity since the 1980s. Many poorer people will work into their seventies, then die, skipping the now standard phase of retirement. Meanwhile, from the 2020s the rich will live ever longer as they start buying precision medicine. They will fix their faulty DNA and edit their embryos, predicts Vivek Wadhwa, thinker on technology. ...Troubled regimes will also ratchet up surveillance. Now they merely know what you say. In 10 years, thanks to your devices, they will know your next move even before you do.
climate_change  politicians  automation  Simon_Kuper  slowly_moving  Vivek_Wadhwa  imperceptible_threats 
november 2017 by jerryking
How to avert catastrophe
January 21, 2017 | FT | Simon Kuper.

an argument: people make bad judgments and terrible predictions. It’s a timely point. The risk of some kind of catastrophe — armed conflict, natural disaster, and/or democratic collapse — appears to have risen. The incoming US president has talked about first use of nuclear weapons, and seems happy to let Russia invade nearby countries. Most other big states are led by militant nationalists. Meanwhile, the polar ice caps are melting fast. How can we fallible humans avert catastrophe?

• You can’t know which catastrophe will happen, but expect that any day some catastrophe could. In Tversky’s words: “Surprises are expected.” Better to worry than die blasé. Mobilise politically to forestall catastrophe.
• Don’t presume that future catastrophes will repeat the forms of past catastrophes. However, we need to expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form.
• Don’t follow the noise. Some catastrophes unfold silently: climate change, or people dying after they lose their jobs or their health insurance. (The financial crisis was associated with about 260,000 extra deaths from cancer in developed countries alone, estimated a study in The Lancet.)
• Ignore banalities. We now need to stretch and bore ourselves with important stuff.
• Strengthen democratic institutions.
• Strengthen the boring, neglected bits of the state that can either prevent or cause catastrophe. [See Why boring government matters November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.
The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages. pinboard tag " sovereign-risk" ]
• Listen to older people who have experienced catastrophes. [jk....wisdom]
• Be conservative. [jk...be conservative, be discerning, be picky, be selective, say "no"]
Simon_Kuper  catastrophes  Nassim_Taleb  black_swan  tips  surprises  imagination  noise  silence  conservatism  natural_calamities  threats  unglamorous  democratic_institutions  slowly_moving  elder_wisdom  apocalypses  disasters  disaster_preparedness  emergencies  boring  disaster_myopia  financial_crises  imperceptible_threats 
january 2017 by jerryking
How cosmopolitans can win the argument
9 April/10 April 2016 | Financial Times | Simon Kuper

1. Don't lead with facts. They rarely persuade anyone any more.
2. DOn't use elite spokespeople
3. You win arguments by winning over the middle.
4. Talk mainstream values
5. Don't repeat the other side's story, not even to refute it.
6. Avoid "Them and Us" stories
7. Show, don't tell.
8. Don't call people racists.
9. Don't be boring
Donald_Trump  cosmopolitan  howto  Simon_Kuper  logic_&_reasoning  nationalism  rhetoric  buy-in  emotional_commitment  counterintuitive  skeptics  disagreements  argumentation 
may 2016 by jerryking
Lessons in listening | Evernote Web
February 6, 2016 | Financial Times | Simon Kuper

(1) Ask people about themselves. Actually listen.
(2) Banish the idea that the person you're listening to is boring and predictable.
(3) Shut up!!!!!
(4) Make an encouraging remark or ask for elucidation.
(5) Allow silences to exist/occur.
(6) Ask questions
(7) A consultant who, instead of telling clients what he has to offer, usually asks them, "what's top of mind?"....[they respond]...[you counter with] "it so happens that we've for just the product for that".
(8) If folks are truly boring, get them to talk about their lives.
(9). Seduce. Ask people, "so what do you think we should change around here?"
Simon_Kuper  listening  howto  dating  questions  management_consulting  prospecting 
february 2016 by jerryking
Africa? Why there’s no such place
November 1, 2013 | FT.com | By Simon Kuper.

In 1969, it still just about made sense to talk of “Africa”. True, the continent was impossibly diverse, but most African countries above the white-run southern tip shared some basic experiences: recently decolonised, largely agrarian, poor and heading for dictatorship. For that generation, the fall of colonialism provided a real continent-wide bond. However, since about 2000 the experiences of African countries have diverged so starkly that it makes almost no sense to speak of “Africa” any more.
The very idea of “Africa” came from outside Africa, starting with Herodotus. The most influential African pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah, was inspired by black American and Caribbean thinkers such as W E B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey.
“Africa” stuck as a tag, because the continent rarely gets enough global attention to be discussed in more subtle terms. Typically the whole continent is labelled with a single phrase, supplied by Anglophone outsiders: Harold MacMillan’s “wind of change” in 1960, Bob Geldof’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?” in 1984, and The Economist’s “Hopeless Continent” in 2000. The global ruling class increasingly derives its conversation from The Economist and, in December 2011, the magazine’s cover proclaimed: “Africa Rising”.
… Dambisa Moyo, the Zambian economist, told me: “Francophone Africa versus Anglophone Africa versus Lusophone Africa – these are very different places.” Moyo says she uses the phrase “Africa” less and less: “I’ve moved away from that. I think it’s folly to put these countries in the same basket.” Nigeria’s economy, she notes, resembles other big oil exporters like Mexico and Indonesia more than it does Ghana or Zambia.
Indeed, African countries have been going off in different directions since about 2000, says Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, political scientist of Africa at Oxford university. Despite certain shared drivers – Chinese investment, cheap mobile phones, the end of the cold war – these countries have diverged sharply. Africa now has fast-growing democracies like Ghana and Botswana; repressive mini-Chinas like Rwanda and Ethiopia; corrupt oil states like Angola and Gabon; failed states like Chad and Somalia; and north Africa post-Arab spring. Not much connects these experiences. . . One-liners about “Africa” shroud this diverse reality. Morten Jerven, economist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, told a recent Oxford Analytica conference that instead of asking, “Is Africa rising?” we should be asking things like, “Is Lusaka rising?” Some capital cities are booming, but anybody who goes around saying “Africa is rising” should be forced to read Michael Deibert’s new book, The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair.
True, the word “Africa” still expresses an emotional reality. Since the 1940s, many Africans have come to feel African. It’s one of the identities they have, beside a local and national and perhaps global identity. “African” can be a positive identity. Often, though, it is simply used to mean a victim, a member of the lowest economic category. If that’s the identity, then nobody wants to be African…ditch weak-minded generalisations such as constantly using a single Ethiopian shoe company, SoleRebels, to stand for Africa’s supposed manufacturing rise…. Some geopolitical phrases obscure reality rather than reveal it. Like “the Islamic world” or “the international community”, “Africa” doesn’t exist.
Africa  Simon_Kuper  national_identity  China  China_rising  Dambisa_Moyo  generalizations  fallacies_follies 
november 2013 by jerryking

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