rshowalter - 09:36pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#340 of 367)  | 

Sometime on October 15th, a posting I made on July 25, 2001 in the Guardian Talk threads Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror - International and Paradigm Shift. . whose getting there? - Science was deleted by someone else. I believe that the posts were deleted to alter the record of the work lchic and I have been doing on the NYT Missile Defense board and here for more than two years. The deleted link described, with many citations, a detailed briefing that I'd given almarst - - the MD board's "Putin stand-in" in March of 2001.

I personally believe that Putin took time out of his schedule to attend to that briefing - a time-out referred to in Muddle in Moscow

Perhaps I'm incorrect, but that hope still seems consistent with the facts - - and it seems to me that Putin's performance since that briefing effort is consistent with attention to the briefing.

I comment on the deletion in MD4918

The deleted link is reproduced in MD4919 - 4923

For reasons that interested people can trace from links set out if they click "rshowalter" in the upper left hand corner of this posting - - lchic and I have been working under difficult circumstances, doing work we've felt a duty to do. My motives have been professional and economic, as well.

The "briefing effort" that took place on March 17 and 23, 2001 is something I'm personally proud of, and sets out principles that I believe are useful in national economic policy, for Russia and for other countries. I'm posting them here on the Guardian Talk thread - - Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman and think it reasonable to hope that people will refer to them.

I'm very grateful to the Guardian-Observer, and very much appreciate the postings I'm permitted to do here

rshowalter - 09:44pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#341 of 367)  | 

rshowalter - 04:57pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1126

From where I sit, Vladimir Putin seems to be a VERY impressive leader. Maybe because I have a soft spot for some of the kinds of sophisication that intelligence officers need. He's not being treated fairly in a ECONOMIST story that I found interesting, but the circumstances, I believe, may be much to his credit.

Muddle In Moscow starts and ends as follows:

One "conspiracy theory" is that the man is thinking, and taking time to concentrate.

The piece ends as follows:

That sounds like just what a brilliant leader, working to solve essential problems, is supposed to do. Get advice, integrate information, make judgements, for the sociotechnical system he leads, and figure out how to solve problems, and find new hope.

rshowalter - 05:06pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1127

I'm wishing, as I often do, that my old friend and partner Stephen Jay Kline were still alive. Steve and I worked together on two things - some math, and the logic of complex, and especially socio-technical systems. The part on sociotechnical systems is in large part written in Steve's

I'm going through some things I hope President Putin knows, in that book.

Steve wrote me a recommendation letter, that includes some things helicopter designers and other technical people ought to know, in and I gave a eulogy of Steve in his memorial service in Stanford Chapel that a lot of people liked.

I wish I could talk to Steve now, and ask

I can imagine some of the things Steve might say, and warn me to check, and I'm taking a little time to think about them.

rshowalter - 05:31pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1128

When we apply SIMPLE models of structure to circumstances that have a more complicated structure than we are thinking of, we can get into trouble.

We can fail to see how thing work.

And we can be misled by thinking we see "contradictions" where there are no logical contradictions -- though there may be aesthetic or moral tensions.

A complex system can be two "contradictory" things at the same time -- in different places within the larger structure -- without contradiction.

Bertrand Russell got caught up with this one -- but for complicated circumstances, and for dealing with complicated histories, it is an essential thing to know.

It you know it -- solutions that seem "classified out of existence" are seen, and these solutions can be real.

Some moral points can get clarified, too.

rshowalter - 09:45pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#342 of 367)  | 

rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1129

rshowalter Sat 17/03/2001 16:51

People can be guilty and victims at ONCE.

People can be monsters and good people at ONCE - in different aspects of their lives, or at different times.

An article that muddles this was published today which argued that because the Poles were victims themselves, they weren't guilty, or anyway, not very guilty, about what they did about to the Jews in WWII .

Life isnt that simple. It isnt that easy. There is no contradiction. Only the compexities of the human condition.

The Japanese somehow feel that the horrors that they perpertrated in WWII - among them atrocious crimes against women, can't be remembered, because somehow that would make the good things in Japanese culture unthinkable.

Rape Camp -- by Dawn Riley bNice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Mon 26/02/2001 05:14

Japan may be having problems now, because, here and in a lot of other ways, they are telling lies. Lies that keep them from facing more complex realities.

rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1130

The problems of Russia, and the problems of dealing with the horrors of the Cold War, and the miserable way it is continued, are morally hard enough. Because much of the truth is ugly. But the ugliness is not unthinkable, if one recognizes that one is not dealing with contradiction, but complexity, then one is dealing with situations where there is some hope of better action in the future. The ugliness of the past should not be forgotten, and it must be dealt with -- but it need not paralyze us.

The ugliness may involve crimes that need to be uncovered and punished. Or situations where only a secular redemptive solution is possible, or reasonable. In the situations that Russia faces, and the world faces, and America faces, it seems to me that there are some of each kind, and problems that require both approaches.

But, so long as people can understand the past well enough so that they can learn from it, and react in terms of a workable system of agreed upon facts, society can function well, and justly. For complicated enough situations, the only safe and reliable "system of agreed-upon-facts" has to be true.

The Russians, for decades, have been insisting in nuclear arms talks on a clear statement of historical facts. Americans have resisted. The Russians have been right on this matter. To go on, one needs the truth. Anything else is too likely to mislead in an unpredictable future, where people must act and cooperate on the basis of what they believe.

A sense of odds, of the reasons why truth is needed, is partly a technical matter. Let me digress, and say a few things about "complexity" as Kline defined it -- a sense, I feel, that gives TECHNICAL reasons why lies are damaging not only morally, but practically, too.

rshowalter - 06:02pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1131

In Chapter 4, p 63, Kline writes this:

So for complex systems, and especially sociotechnical systems, which are VERY complex, correct information matters, again and again, because it is used as feedback to run or modify the system. Unchecked assumptions can be expensive or disastrous. Lies can be disastrous. Because if the reliability of the information used in the feedback is limited, the function of the system is also limited -- and the system is likely to fail badly if it has to be changed.

The truth is known, in such a circumstance, to be much more safe, and much more advantageous, than lies or wrong ideas. And so checking for correctness is very practical, and lies, even very well intentioned or understandable ones, can be very damaging.

rshowalter - 06:10pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1132

Steve means something pretty simple when he speaks of his Index of complexity -- it is, for all the systems we looked at (and I put hundreds of hours into this part of Steve's work) C, the complexity number is constrained as follows:

V + P + L < C < V times P times L



The most complicated problems engineers can now solve explicitly have C < 5 (I'm expecting to extend that a bit. )

Human social systems, even simple ones, have C values in the billions. In such very complex systems, we must create, operate, and improve via feedback: that is, repeated cycles of human observations plus trials of envisioned improvements in the real systems."

And so the truth is crucial for function.

rshowalter - 09:46pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#343 of 367)  | 

rshowalter - 06:13pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1133

Here is the essence of the most effective psychological warfare - - you mess up a system, and can even shut it down, by telling lies.

Russia has been the victim of some very sophisticated and effective psychological warfare from outside, and has, to a significant degree, been weakened by lies its own people and goverment have told.

Similar things, to a lesser degree, can be said of America.

We need, for practical reasons, to increase the probability of right answers in our information systems -- we need to replace lies with truths.

On issues involving military balances, we need to very much increase it.

Especially because peace requires it.

Russia has a right, and an obligation, to get a clear understanding, that it can see and that other nations can see, of the threats to which it has been subjected, and the deceptions.

For practical reasons, and for moral reasons. Peace and prosperity both require it.

rshowalter - 06:17pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1134

As a practical matter, one checks facts and ideas by a matching process --- matching the logic step by step against trusted standards, and --- usually much more important, matching to see if what is said matches what is there when you check.

rshowalter - 06:19pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1135

Refusal to check, and refusal to permit checking, can be very dangerous, and damaging.

Especially where nuclear weapons are involved. And where nuclear weapons are involved, the most essential things are hidden, and have been hidden, and concealed, and lied about, actively and agressively for half a century of terror.

rshowalter - 06:24pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1136

In HUMAN terms, getting at the truth may, very often, require redemptive solutions -- because without them, the human resistance to finding the truth may be absolutely insurmountable. And the costs of "justice" -- even if you could decently define it - and sometime you can't - can be prohibitive.

But the TRUTH is essential, for moral and psychological reasons, and for practical reasons that become more compelling, at something like a factorial rate of growth, as systems become more complicated.

rshowalter - 06:35pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1137

My computer seems to be under fairly heavy attack --I may get slowed down a bit, but hope to keep on. ...

rshowalter - 09:47pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#344 of 367)  | 

rshowalter - 07:20pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1138

While I write other things, I'd like to repeat #1085 rshowalter 3/16/01 3:16pm #1086, #1073 rshowalter 3/16/01 12:56pm #1078 rshowalter 3/16/01 1:23pm #1079 and especially #1080 rshowalter 3/16/01 1:32pm

  • **** * * *

    rshowalter - 01:23pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1078

    I hope that it is common ground that we can misunderstand each other in many ways, dislike each other for many reasons, and have much about the past between us that displeases us, and still live in peace.

    Real peace - much farther from the brink of war, and a situation much more comfortable and much less expensive, than what we have now.

    Understanding and reconciliation on many matters might help. But we don't have to like each other, either now, or in the future, to live in peace.

    I hope we can agree to that. If we can, we can avoid fictions that can tie us both up, and make our interactions less comfortable than they could be.

    rshowalter - 01:26pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1079

    But it is important that we resolve misunderstandings that could lead to fighting, or that get in the way of complex cooperations that would be in our mutual interests.

    We can, I believe, hope to do this.

    That would make other reconciliations more likely, and we could be safer and richer, whether those reconciliations ever happened or not.

    rshowalter - 01:32pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1080

    I personally would like a chance to apologize for the actions of my country toward Russia since WWII - but when I say that, I'm speaking for myself, not for others.

    I was once at a lunch, in Madison, with some distinguished Russian educators. I proposed a toast, thanking the Russian people, whose sacrifices in the Great Patriotic War may well have given me, and others of my American generation, a chance to be born. That toast came from my heart. I personally think the conflict between our coutries has been a great human tragedy. But I can only speak for my own feelings here, not for my country.

    rshowalter - 03:16pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1085

    We also can't imagine (I don't pretend that this is logical, but at the level of our emotions it is real) that you feel we are threatening you with first strikes with nuclear weapons. This essential fact about Russia is not understood by most Americans, and is not even understood by most Americans in our military forces. I believe that, for peace, we Americans need to understand that for basic, unchangeable reasons, Russia does fear first strike threats from us.

    If Americans, as people, understood these things (and I grant you in a more perfect world, these would be easy things to show) other barriers to nuclear safety and a balanced peace would be relatively easy and certain to be surmounted.

    These things, in my view, are the most BASIC things that Americans need to understand, in order for us to step back from nuclear peril, and from unnecessary wars.

    . . .

    rshowalter - 03:31pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1086

    It is worth remembering that animals, including especially human animals, are opportunistic, and that misunderstanding can produce niches where groups of people can make a lot of money without anybody knowing. And then, these people will have both motive and power to see that the misunderstanding continues. I'm afraid that this may have happened.

    But the conspiracy part may have other explanations.

    The misunderstanding part is real beyond question.

    rshowalter - 09:47pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#345 of 367)  | 

    lunarchick - 07:47pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1139 of 1145)

    Putin has some respect for the truth. In his BBC online interview, when asked why Mrs P didn't figure largely he said "If I told her to do something she'd just do the opposite" ... It's good that Russian Women have independence and a mind of their own!

    On truth re Asia, with the concept of 'loss of faith', and failure to appologise to the wronged-Raped women of Korea. The nepotism, corruptin and failure to adhere to business principles has lead to the Economic Downturn in Asia. Bank loans were issued on relationship a basis not a business basis placing the Japanese economy in trouble for the past decade. Wasn't Japan by 1990 valued at the same value as the whole of North America. The day of accounting came.

    The lack of 'truth' in the Eastern economies can not only lead to disaster as above, but also to the takeover of the economy by 'straight' business managers and operators. The doors are opening slowly to world practice and dare I say it 'American Management'. To give American style management it's due it has evolved through practise and scholarship last century (C20).

    lunarchick - 07:52pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1140 of 1145)

    Thinking more on the 'insurance' matter, it occurs to me that the concept of any National State being able, at will or on little pretence, to create havoc for others, should be less of a happening than it has been in the past.

    Making States 'responsible' in relation to MD might be done by forcing an insurance policy over missile holders.

    It might be done by looking at the range of the weapon(s). Within that circular range, the cost of a strike out of the highest priced target should be calculated + the 'wide area' of the damage that could be created + the effect of the pollutant in the cloud and carried by wind.

    This would be the insurance price for each missile, cumulatively.

    Totally 'unaffordable' one would hope.

    Yet this needs to happen to put 'responsibility' into the minds of those with these lethal weapons.

    lunarchick - 08:01pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1141 of 1145)

    Doing something for a first time:

    Note the storming of the Russian Plane in the Gulf.

    The internet was used by the Russians to 'train' the local troups .. who then stormed the plane.

    The locals should have had all the information, which would have included the fact that the onboard weapons were a pen-knife and a kitchen-knife.

    On storming the plane, I'm going to assume that the troups were 'scared' and even though they knew there was no fire power within the plane, they forgot and wanted to first save themselves.

    In doing this innocent people died.

    Move this senario along to 'kids' working with MD buttons. A mature operator who had to make a decision whether or not to press a detonator button to lauch a nuclear winter killer rocket might think twice or three times, might rationalise, look for 'error' message. Whereas giving the button to the immature or 'warped' minded .. these might OBEY an order because they had been schooled in obeyance.

    Scarry Stuff !!

    rshowalter - 09:49pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#346 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 08:03pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1142

    There are some lawyers who might amuse themselves with that. Suing specific people, and specific organizations. Perhaps they could be organized, and act with a certain coordination. Might not be very expensive to do .....

    Now, I've got a something else, too "academic" maybe, but I want to build on it.

    rshowalter - 08:03pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1143

    There are a lot of nice ideas in Kline's Appendix C "Hypothesis, Guidelines, Data, and Queries

    Here's one I think politicians, and others trying to figure out reality from words, need to know:

    rshowalter - 08:04pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1144

    Here's a pair of guidelines, that Steve sets out for scholarly groups, that I think should apply to political and economic systems, too.

    The world views of the Russians and Americans each have some of the truth, but not all of it.

    Reframings that preserve what works well empirically, for both systems, might well improve things.

    Also, when a system as a whole fails, it doesn't necessarily make sense (for a social system, which is multiply articulated) to abandon and discredit all of it. There may be good reasons to preserve the parts that worked well. And may be good reason to be proud of all the parts of it that worked well in the past, and especially the parts that worked well consistently.

    rshowalter - 09:49pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#347 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 08:22pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1145

    In the West, more in America than anywhere else, the idea has been standard that conspiracies are somehow bad to talk about - that everything is the result of impersonal forces, or anyway, "nobody's fault" -- or, as a matter of convention, that's the way to talk about it.

    In Russia, and in Marxism in general, the idea has been standard that economic activity was based on decisions of people - and that these people, exercising social and technical power, determined outcomes.

  • ****

    Both patterns are sometimes empirically right, and sometimes empirically wrong.

    In cases where facts matter more than the comfort that comes from social fictions, it would make sense to consider BOTH the "conspiracy" kind of explanation, and the "no fault" pattern of explanation. In some cases, one pattern will work, and in some other cases, the other.

    In matters of war and peace, and especially where the nuclear terror is concerned, facts matter.

    And these facts should be determined, in specific detail. Because these facts matter so much. Russia, and the rest of the world, and the 99.99% of the American public which CANNOT have any interest in military misrepresentation, should insist on it.

    rshowalter - 09:14pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1146

    rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 2/14/01 7:18am sets out the advantages of sending in clear in the new internet world. Because mistakes and deceptions are so harmful to the workings of sociotechnical systems, it is important that we move toward more open ways of doing business. It is safe to do so.

    Dawn Riley spoke of "One thousand and one excuses have been made as to why the missile status quo will remain ... how can this chain of NONcommonNonSense be broken?"

    This seems clear to me - FACTS have to be determined. That will take staff work. Luckily, many key information sources that are now widely available on the internet.

    It may be that, for now, the US government will abstain from participating in any effort ot determine those facts - as it has sometimes vetoed the will of everyone else on the Security Council, or even the whole UN.

    If the current US government "declines to participate" would that vitiate the exercise?

    rshowalter - 09:15pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1147

    No. Because the government position crumbles when it can be shown to be based on lies and gross misjudgements. Our government may sometimes be skilled at evading facts, and much of our press may be motivated to "keep people happy"-- and maybe keep its owners happy, by ignoring unpleasant facts. But the evasions have their limits. And when the tide turns, it can turn forcefully. Newspapers don't like to miss the truth, it enough of their customers notice. Reporters are sometimes proud people, and they can have power as well. With the internet, information is hard to suppress.

    And there are MANY Americans interested in getting the facts.

    Could the US government just ignore this -- American society would not, and politicians, who care about votes as well as payoffs, couldn't either.

    Berle's rules of power are important here -- when the ideas behind an institution lose legitimacy, that institution's days are numbered. See especially rules #3 and #5

    rshowalter - 09:50pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#348 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 09:56pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1149

    I believe that this expository poem sets out a high, but also very practical, ideal. Working social systems make thousands of little "redemptive solutions" every day. We need a bigger one, but it seems to me that it ought to be obtainable. Russia needs it. The world needs it. The US needs it.


    I'm dreaming of redemption,

    not denial, not agony,
    not lies told or
    amorphous deceptions
    amorphously defended,
    but redemption.

    Redemption for all concerned,

    with a decent concern for all,
    with feelings felt and not denied,
    weights weighed, and not forgotten,
    needs of flesh, nerves, guts and mind
    all remembered, and workably in place
    with neither lies nor torture.

    I'm dreaming of redemption,

    where all concerned
    can know the same stories,
    and live with that,
    and look back and go on comfortably,
    not unreasonably proud,
    or unreasonably ashamed,
    in ways that work
    in private and in public.

    I'm dreaming of redemption,

    for myself, for the evil I've done,
    and the good I've tried to do and failed,
    and the limits and narrownesses that are
    unchangeably a part of me.

    And I'm dreaming of redemption for others,

    in similar ways, without pretense,
    with real, vital, feeling futures
    not closed off.

    There is too much good here,

    too much reaching for the good,
    too much hard, disciplined work
    in the face of pain and fear,
    too much to hope for.

    Too much to hope for the world, too,

    too much hope for primal needs of peace,
    too much of interest,
    too much condensed and seeming right,
    too much, from too many, that seems good,
    and moves me and others.

    No checkmate. No closing off of hope,

    no wallowing in agonies that might be,
    with more wisdom, and clean negotiation,
    assuaged and replaced
    by honest joy and comfort.

    No checkmate. I'm dreaming of redemption,

    and a world that goes on, safer and richer,
    and knowing more about redemption,
    because we've struggled.

    rshowalter - 09:51pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#349 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 09:57pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1150

    Can anybody tell me what looks hard, or unreasonable, about the proposal I set out in #266-269 ? rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am

    Granting that it would be hard, are people clear on why?

    Maybe there is something much better.

    But this pattern, which seems workable in many ways, might be considered as an idea that might suggest others.

    Here's one thing, that I've come to feel is very important.

    I think we should do this, and we can. For all the barriers, a few phone calls from a major leader, and the current nuclear horror could start to fade away.

    I'm signing off for tonight.

    rshowalter - 05:28pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1392

    almarst_2001 , I think the amount of good will that is latent, close to the surface, wanting to come out, in American and Europe is very great. Many -- and this is perhaps most true of people in the more literary parts of our culture, would LOVE to see a prosperous, happy, vibrant, RUSSIAN Russia - - not an imitation of the US - but a different cuture - doing well, and interfacing with other cultures.

    I believe that many people would WANT to see Russia as a success story - and on Russian terms.

    Putin is doing some of the right things -- reports of his achievements at the European Summit look very professional and very good -- and it seems to me that people are looking for "ways of doing business."

    There are things that the Russians I've dealt with don't know, that the culture needs to know -

    but I believe that the number of individuals, and businessmen, who would WANT a vibrant russia is larger than you may think. And hostility to Russia is narrower than you may think.

    rshowalter - 05:29pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1393

    There are things that Russians do BETTER than Americans -- for the money you had to spend, you ran a very impressive space program - especially on the analytical side. Many things in Russia are fine - and have been fine.

    But there are kinds of sloppiness that one sometimes sees in Russia that bother Americans -- and it would help if you learned what they are (find ways to ask in such a way that you learn what you need to know, not what you want to hear) that would, if a little changed, greatly shift the business attractiveness, and status, of Russia upwards.

    I think leadership in control and elimination of nuclear weapons, and in the establishment of military balances, may be a great public relations and business opportunity for Russia. Putin acts like he may think so, too.

    I find myself feeling afraid as I write this -- but trying to be helpful.

    rshowalter - 09:53pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#350 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 05:30pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1394

    I'll imagine that you're the great leader that the quality of your thought and "staff work" indicates.

    Suppose I take a shot, in the next hour, trying to speak of Russia as a "statistical ensemble of businesses -- with expected rates of return that make them unattractive" -- and discuss how you might radically increase the attractiveness of your country from a business point of view.

    I'll speak of "expected rates of return" -- as in compound rates of interest -- and talk about the key thing -- which is the total RISK DISCOUNT -- make Russia more reliable, and you will RADICALLY shift its marketability upwards.

    rshowalter - 05:36pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1395

    Perhaps this model is simple enough for you to use -and evaluate, punching numbers on a hand held calculator. Sometimes the biggest effects are easiest to see in a simple case, where relations stand out starkly.

    Suppose you think of an investment,

    and after a time of t expressed in years (which could be a fraction)

    and the PROBABILITY OF WINNING is a value a , between no chance ( a = 0 ) and certainty ( a = 1 ) so that 0<= a <= 1

    It is worth noting, and especially worth noting for Putin, how the value of a matters.

    rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1396

    Reliability is valuable (and unreliablility is very expensive ) from a gambler's (or investor's) point of view !

    rshowalter - 05:41pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1397

    the expected rate of return, r , for this lump model is

    r = [ln( aP/c)]/t

    In words, the effective compounded rate of return (compound interest) is the natural logarithm of the risk discounted payoff-to-cost ratio divided by the time between putting out the expenditure C , and getting the payoff P .

    rshowalter - 05:43pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1398


    rshowalter - 05:51pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1399

    So you want the probability of payoff, a , to be JUST AS CLOSE TO 1 AS YOU CAN GET IT.

    In fact, most business people, when they see a values much less than 1, don't keep on calculating values of investments.

    They turn away, and look for another game.

    That's happened to Russia. People have turned away, loked for other "games" - - other economies to invest in - - because the overall socio-technical reliability of Rusia is just too low.

    Putin is doing many of the right things to fix this. But perhaps he should be doing some things with more focus. Because Russians know how to get VERY HIGH P/C ratios, when things go well - they have the potential to enrich themselves and others -- if their work was more reliable, they'd be "good bets." But right now, many too many times, they've been too unreliable, a values have been too low, and now the whole country is regarded as a "bad bet."

    From where Putin sits - the question "what happens to a , in the ordinary cases of business?" ought to be the key question he asks, every time, about every economic policy. You can get a up without sacrificing humanity, or Russian cultural values.

    But you have to get it up, or Russia will be weak, when she should be strong.

    rshowalter - 05:53pm Mar 23 2001 EST (1400

    Better ability to interface with other cultures is part of getting a up.

    Fewer lies and evasions among yourselves is a way of getting a up.

    And some standard management skills are important - you may not like Friedman, but all the things he said about financial controls are true.

    rshowalter - 5:56pm Mar 23, 2001

    Americans would rather work with a really unattractive sonofabitch, who can do his job, rather than a much more attractive human being, who can't.

    You don't have to sacrifice your culture - many of us LIKE the idea of an authentically different Russia. But you have to, in an American phrase, "pull up your socks."

    rshowalter - 09:54pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#351 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 5:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (1402

    You need SOME PEOPLE who can talk RELIABLY about complicated technical and socio-technical matters WITH AMERICANS AND OTHER PEOPLE so they can work with you. That ought to be high on Putin's list of national objectives.

    Now, much too often, such conversations end in fights or misunderstandings. And that's not a problem of goodwill, from a business point of view, nearly so much as it is a problem that shifts a downward - disqualifying you as a business partner.

    rshowalter - 06:22pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1403

    You also need to be able to talk to EACH OTHER with a higher level of social and technical reliablity than you often show.

    rshowalter - 06:33pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1404

    Every single negative thing that business people frequently repeat about "Russia being a bad place to do business" you need to study carefully, and FIX.

    All the concerns are about reliability -- about problems with a .

    As a nation:

    rshowalter - 09:55pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#352 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 06:37pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1405

    The United States hasn't known how to make peace with you, and settled on a policy of scaring you into collapse -- and it worked, and we weren't honest to our own people while it was going on -- and American initiative being what it is, a lot of stealing may have been going on, as well.

    But once you collapsed, we still didn't know how to work with you (and maybe had forgotten how to talk to you, though we never knew how to do it well)-- and so things have stayed a mess.

    The exercise of cleaning up the terribly dangerous vestiges of the Cold War might go a long way toward solving these problems.

    (And the world may blow up if we don't do it.)

    rshowalter - 09:56pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#353 of 367)  | 

    rshowalter - 06:44pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1406

    I was talking a while back about Russian staffers talking to authors of particular books about particular differences in view. I wasn't kidding. It wouldn't necessarily cost much. But if Russian staffers could do THAT, they'd know a lot more about workable business negotiation. And the writers, likeley enough, would have good hearts, and try to sort your skils out.

    I was talking a while back about a "dry run" where Russia, and other countries, worked through with journalists a mock nuclear disarmament, and military balance deal - as realistically as possible, and with as clear explanations as possible.

    Russian staff would sweat bucketfulls in order to do that well -- but if they did the work, and put out the effort - with very articulate people of good will (and journalists are that) they'd learn a lot they need to know in order to actually get peace.

    The same things they need to know to actually get prosperity.

    For one thing, the dialog would involve one status exchange after another -- and Russians need to learn how these work, and how to do them.

    lunarchick - 06:47pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1407

    sono-fab-itch ... i'm working on this idiomatic RS!

    I would have to look at inter-Trade figures before commenting on trade into Russia .... much of which may be undisclosed and informal.

    Russia straddles Eurasia. As poster commented above the European aspect ususally preceeds the Eastern sector. Could there be any ligitimate reason to refuse inclusion in the EC. The advantages of such would be reduced warfare, increased trade, a continental rather than National feel. Access to the EC does depend upon 'fitness and readiness' in terms of an economy.

    rshowalter - 06:47pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1408

    And if Russians actually understood - down to "atomic scale" detail, how ONE complicated and problematic negotiation works itself out in America, they'd learn a lot, that they don't know now, that they need again and again.

    It should be EASY for Russians to negotiate to a reliable closure with competent people of other cultures. Now, it wrenches your guts. And it wrenches ours.

    (And for reasons like that, the world may blow up.)

    rshowalter - 09:56pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#354 of 367)  | 

    A key point that should be common ground, for all the disappointment and bitterness:

    rshowalter - 07:10pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1409

    Although it was a complicated circumstance in many ways, this is true:

    and we've just been through a decade where

    and during this decade, for all the disasters on the Russian side, it is also true that, as a class,

    It has been a mess. It has to be sorted out.

    . . . .

    rshowalter - 09:57pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#355 of 367)  | 

    And I suggested an exercise in MD1410-1415

    rshowalter - 07:30pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1410

    I'm washed out -- I'm going to break for the night, cook my wife dinner, and have a beer. Just before I do, I'll type out the books I looked at yesterday morning - each problematic from a Russian point of view. If Russian staffers could effectively discuss Russian difficulties with these books, well enough to enlighten these book's authors, it would be a significant test. I think a hard test for Russian staffers to pass now. But a test they could learn to pass.

    rshowalter - 07:36pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1411

    The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

    The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett

    All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

    Into the Storm by Tom Clancy (or something else by Clancy)

    The Masters and Science and Government by C.P. Snow (Snow's dead, but discussed with a competent administrator, preferably a Dean.)

    rshowalter - 07:41pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1412

    News and the Culture of Lying by Paul Weaver

    Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz

    Natural Obsessions by Natalie Angier

    Shadow by Bob Woodward

    The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman

    Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster

    rshowalter - 07:44pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1413

    The University: An Owner's Manual by Henry Rosovsky

    The Ends of Power by H.R. Haldeman

    The Almanac of American Politics by Michael Barone and Grant Ujfusa

    Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

    rshowalter - 07:51pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1414

    BEGINNING TO READ: Thinking and Learning about Print by Marilyn Jager Adams

    ED SCHOOL FOLLIES: The Miseducation of America's Teachers by Rita Kramer

    INEVITABLE ILLUSIONS: How mistakes of reason rule our minds by M. Piatelli-Palmarini

    AN INCOMPLETE EDUCATION by Judy Jones and William Wilson



    rshowalter - 07:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1415

    The Moral Sense by James Q. Wilson

    Moralities of Everyday Life by J. Sabini and Maury Silver

    I AIN'T GOT TIME TO BLEED: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up by Jesse Ventura

    All these are, by Russian standards, very strange books.

    They are very un-Russian books.

    I think, all very good books.

    If Putin had staffers who were clear about how un-Russian these books are, and how they are un-Russian, and if these staffers could discuss these differences with the authors in a mutually satisfactory way (and there are plenty of other very un-Russian books that could be discussed as well), Russian negotiating skills would be better, interfaces in business and other dealings would be better, and a would shift up.

    The discussions would be no good, except as practice, unless they happened for free, as status exchanges, and only then if, after the discussion, both sides thought the discussion had been worth the trouble.

    rshowalter - 07:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1416

    I'm off.

    rshowalter - 10:02pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#356 of 367)  | 

    I deeply appreciate the chance to repost that briefing on the Guardian-Observer Talk .

    When Dawn Riley pointed out Muddle in Moscow we were excited - - and did the best we could - in the hope of aiding international understanding and peace.

    It seems to me that the deletions of my record yesterday justify reposting the briefing effort - - and I'm grateful for the chance to do so.