Happy Writing

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We all want to be happy. And most of us work at it in many ways. But have you tried writing? It just may be the most beneficial thing you can do.

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve our disposition help reduce symptoms among cancer and other patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits, and even boost memory.

Want to try it? There are some fabulous “tactics, techniques and procedures” that will help you get started on the journey. Read more here

American Sniper – and More!

How do we feel about our special operations professionals? Most of us want them “on the wall” protecting us from forces that would harm us and our nation.

It is no surprise that the movie American Sniper, based on Chris Kyle’s best-seller has been such a mega-hit. It has resonated with Americans of all stripes.

We’ve come full circle. Recently, Rorke Denver spoke to the issue of why American Sniper has touched so many of us – and he takes on those who would denigrate heroes like Chris Kyle.

We know Rorke Denver as Lieutenant Rorke Engel from the movie Act of Valor and from our Novelization of that movie, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor. He knows whereof he speaks, having spent years with the SEAL teams, a command position training SEALs, and writing a best-selling book about his experiences.

We have carried this tradition forward in our re-boot of the best-selling Tom Clancy Op-Center series. We honor special operators for what they are – quiet, dedicated professionals.

Here is what we said in the dedication of the first book in the new series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

Decades ago, Winston Churchill famously said, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” More contemporaneously, in the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, in the courtroom dialogue, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) responds to an aggressive interrogation by Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) with, “We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns…Because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

This book is dedicated to the selfless men and women – in and out of the military – who toil and sacrifice in obscurity so we may sleep safely at night. They receive no medals or public recognition, and few know of their risks, dedication, and contributions to our security. They endure lengthy – and repeated – deployments away from their families. Yet they stand guard “on the wall” for all of us, silently, professionally, and with no acclaim.

The World in 2030

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What will the world look like in 2030 – a decade-and-a-half hence? That question bedevils nations and individuals. We all want to know. But how do we find out?

There are many sources and no lack of organizations and people “holding forth” with their opinions – some based on good sources – but many based strictly on conjecture.

For me, I’ve found it most useful to mine what the United States Intelligence Community – the IC – thinks. Their opinions are distilled from the collective efforts of the 16 agencies making up our IC. The U.S. IC is an $80B a year enterprise (yes, that’s “B” not “M”). Every five years they package what they know and share it with us in one of their Global Trends pubs.

NIC has been in existence for over three decades and represents the primary way the U.S. intelligence community (IC) communicates in the unclassified realm.  Initially a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the NIC now works directly for the director of national intelligence and presents the collective research and analysis of the entire IC, an enterprise comprising 16 agencies.  In a sentence: There is no more comprehensive analysis of future trends available anywhere, at any price. It’s not an overstatement to say this 160-page document represents the most definitive analytical look at the future security environment.

In addition to individual empowerment and the diffusion of state power, GT2030’s analysis suggests that that two other megatrends will shape our world out to 2030: demographic patterns, especially rapid aging; and growing resource demands which, in the cases of food and water, may well lead to scarcities. These trends, which are virtually certain, exist today, but during the next 15-20 years they will gain much greater momentum.

Read more about what the future will hold in my post on the Defense Media Network website here.

 

A Night at the Library – A Celebration on Local Authors

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Presented by Friends of the Coronado Library

A CELEBRATION OF LOCAL AUTHORS

On February 6, 2015, from 6:00 – 9:00 PM, Friends of the Coronado Public Library will present a fun and social evening with authors of Coronado at the annual fundraiser. We invite you to meet and mingle with our local authors, who have gathered for the first time ever to meet YOU! Tickets are $50.00 per person and include hosted food, wine and beer, as well as a $10.00 certificate to Second Hand Prose, the Friends’ Gently Used Book Store.

Click here to see more details!

Learn more about Author George Galdorisi

 

Mind-Body Balance

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Most of us are either crunching away on our New Year’s resolutions or have abandoned some, most or all of them. Most of the time we set the bar high – sometimes impossibly high.

 

The one resolution many of us do manage to stick with for a while is healthy eating. With so much information out there on nutrition, many of us finally “get it” and up our game and eat better. And we are all better for it. And combined with that, many of us are using our gym memberships too. So we are on a journey for healthy bodies. But are we ignoring our minds?

Here is some advice I found extremely useful:

Pico Iyer was an externalist — a person who’ll exercise great care over what he puts into his body and never think about what he puts into his mind. Who will dwell at length on everything he can see, in order to distract himself from the fact that it’s everything he can’t see on which his well-being depends. Who will fill his head with so much junk that he can’t remember that wolfing down Buffalo wings is not the problem, but a symptom.

An externalist makes a point — even a habit — of cherishing means over ends, effects over causes and everything that fills him up over everything that truly sustains him. He interprets health in terms of his body weight, wealth in terms of his bank account and success in terms of his business card. He’ll go to the health club, and never think of the mental health club, like someone who imagines the only arteries to be unclogged are the ones that course with blood. Pico has more to say on this – and it’s enriching.

Read more here.

 

Tough Technology

Technological success is a sure thing…right? Perhaps not so much. Here is a story of a corporate turnaround of a major technology company that went off the rails.

Dynamic and wildly profitable Internet companies like Facebook and Google may get most of the attention, but Silicon Valley is littered with firms that just get by doing roughly the same thing year after year — has-beens like Ask.com, a search engine that no longer innovates but happily takes in $400 million in annual revenue, turning a profit in the process. Mayer, who is 39, was hired to keep Yahoo from suffering this sort of fate. She believed it could again become a top-tier tech firm that enjoyed enormous growth and competed for top talent. And two years in, Mayer, who has a tendency to compare herself with Steve Jobs, wasn’t about to abandon her turnaround plan. On the afternoon of Oct. 21, she entered a web TV studio on Yahoo’s garrison-like campus to present the company’s latest quarterly results. But the presentation effectively became a response to Starboard’s campaign. Even though Yahoo’s revenue had decreased in five of the past six quarters, Mayer attested that she had “great confidence in the strength of our business.”

Read the entire article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/magazine/what-happened-when-marissa-mayer-tried-to-be-steve-jobs.htm

She’s Smart, She Has Personality. Who Wins?

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Self-control, curiosity, “grit” — these qualities may seem more personal than academic, but at some schools, they’re now part of the regular curriculum. Some researchers say personality could be even more important than intelligence when it comes to students’ success in school. But critics worry that the increasing focus on qualities like grit will distract policy makers from problems with schools.

If you have no interest in classical music or no interest in starting your business I doubt that you will be very gritty or display a lot of passion and perseverance. But personality assessment could help people find areas where they might be more likely to persevere — it could teach people what they’re naturally like, so they can make better choices. And rather than changing their personalities completely, people might simply learn behaviors to help them better deal with their existing traits. For instance if I know that I’m generally an introverted person and I don’t enjoy social events, I can teach myself four or five simple strategies to relate to other people.

Still on the fence? Read more here:

http://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/should-schools-teach-personality/

 

Who’s Really in Control?

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Can machines – robots – be trusted to make moral choices? Do we want to find out – or stop this technology in its tracks?

Imagine it’s a Sunday in the not-too-distant future. An elderly woman named Sylvia is confined to bed and in pain after breaking two ribs in a fall. She is being tended by a helper robot; let’s call it Fabulon. Sylvia calls out to Fabulon asking for a dose of painkiller. What should Fabulon do?

The coders who built Fabulon have programmed it with a set of instructions: The robot must not hurt its human. The robot must do what its human asks it to do. The robot must not administer medication without first contacting its supervisor for permission. On most days, these rules work fine. On this Sunday, though, Fabulon cannot reach the supervisor because the wireless connection in Sylvia’s house is down. Sylvia’s voice is getting louder, and her requests for pain meds become more insistent.

But what about armed drones? The military has developed lethal autonomous weapons systems like the cruise missile and is working on a ground robot to either shoot or hold its fire, based on its assessment of the situation within the international rules of war. It would be programmed, for example, to home in on a permissible target — a person who can be identified as an enemy combatant because he is wearing a uniform, say — or to determine that shooting is not permissible, because the target is in a school or a hospital, or has already been wounded.

There’s something peculiarly comforting in the idea that ethics can be calculated by an algorithm: It’s easier than the panicked, imperfect bargains humans sometimes have to make. But maybe we should be worried about outsourcing morality to robots as easily as we’ve outsourced so many other forms of human labor. Making hard questions easy should give us pause.

Read more here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/magazine/death-by-robot.html

Stepping Up Your Writing

Want to step up your writing and take it to next level? Here is what one writer suggests – reading at least 15 minutes a day.

I discovered that a reading regimen, even if only 15 minutes a day, requires discipline. William James wrote that discipline is needed in the formation of any new habit. In this case, the habit was reading regularly and outside my comfort zone. I often had to fight against an inclination to skip a day. But the relative brevity of the selections kept me on track—a hint to teachers who assign too much and thereby encourage cribbing and cramming. With a 15-minute assignment, I could push on, knowing that the end was near

Read more here:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/paula-marantz-cohen-a-year-of-15-minute-daily-doses-from-the-harvard-classics-1419637070?KEYWORDS=paula+marantz+cohen

Silicon Valley Comes on Strong

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What is happening to innovation in America?

Silicon Valley, where toddler-aged companies regularly sell for billions, may be the most vibrant sector of the U.S. economy, fueling a boom in markets from housing to high-end toast (how many $4-a-slice artisanal bread bars does a place really need?). But as recent innovations — apps that summon cabs, say, or algorithms that make people click on ads — have been less than world-changing, there is a fear that the idea machine is slowing down. And while Silicon Valley mythology may suggest that modern-day innovation happens in garages and college dorm rooms, its own foundations were laid, in large part, through government research. But during the recession, government funding began to dwindle. The federal government now spends $126 billion a year on R. and D., according to the National Science Foundation. (It’s pocket change compared with the $267 billion that the private sector spends.) Asian economies now account for 34 percent of global spending; America’s share is 30 percent.

But in the past few years, the thinking has changed, and tech companies have begun looking to the past for answers. In 2010, Google opened Google X, where it is building driverless cars, Internet-connected glasses, balloons that deliver the Internet and other things straight out of science fiction. Microsoft Research just announced the opening of a skunk-works group called Special Projects. Even Bell Labs announced this month that it is trying to return to its original mission by finding far-out ways to solve real-world problems.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/magazine/silicon-valley-tries-to-re-make-the-idea-machine.html