John Ralston Saul on The Collapse of Globalism

Just finished watching this amazing 2 part interview with John Raulston Saul that aired on TVO’s The Agenda this week. A really fascinating discussion of the real nature of Globalization and how and why Saul believes it failed.

I’m not sure I agree with everything Saul says, but most of it does make a large degree of sense. One of the most interesting things he explained (for me) was about the “Oil Crisis” that occurred in the 1970’s, of which Oil was only a part of the problem. The short version is that what really happened in the 1970’s was that we went from an economy of scarcity (there not being enough product) to an economy of surplus (lots of product available from multiple competing sources) and this rocked our whole financial system. Suddenly, there wasn’t big profit in making things anymore because there would always be so much competition out there to drive prices (and profits) down. Globalization was an attempt to solve this problem by “creating new markets through pulling down borders and bringing up standards of living”, thus creating more customers and in theory driving up prices again by making products scarce again. Of course, I’d say it didn’t work out so well for many reasons, including that those new markets became our factories where where produced products even more cheaply, and instead drove prices and profits down even more!

An interesting sidenote is that this is why in the 1980’s we saw a rise in Stock Markets and financial instruments, because making money by real investing didn’t produce the kind of profit people wanted anymore, so it became about playing with money in order to produce more money. Think about it, people don’t buy stocks because they care about a product or company, they buy them because they want to ride the wave and dump them at a time when they can make more profit from that stock.

Anyways, enough of my thoughts on the subject, spend the 50 minutes it will take to watch this 2 part interview (especially the second part) and give Saul a listen. It’s one of the most interesting interviews I’ve seen in a while, and I may just pick up his most recent book and give it a read.


Excellent Interview on Cybercrime with Misha Glenny

If you get the chance, absolutely watch/listen to TVO’s interviews with Misha Glenny on cybercrime. They’re really fascinating stuff, even to someone like me who already knows a bit about the topic. Glenny covers not only how it’s done, but who does it, and how they get involved with this shadowy underworld. He also talks about the most vulnerable place for cybercrime in the world- North America. Why? Give them a watch.


If Ian Fleming – author of the James Bond spy novels – were alive today, and wanted to write a non-fiction book about the burgeoning cybercrime industry and the ingenious characters involved in it, he’d be too late. British journalist Misha Glenny, former Central Europe correspondent for the BBC World Service, has already written that book. Drawing on over 200 hours of interviews with players on both sides of the law, Glenny, in DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia, weaves the shadowy, expansive global network of cyber criminals and the police that track them into a terse crime thriller.

via Misha Glenny: In Detail | The Agenda.

TeaNoWriMo Results/ Writing Update

Well, I tried to make July 2012 in Teacher’s Novel Writing Month, hoping that using this month off could help me boost my creativity and give me a jump forward.

How did it turn out?

Well, with a goal of around 50,000 words for July I managed to pull of a whopping 6000 or so. Yay me! 😛

As it turned out, July was a month filled with personal issues and obstacles that basically killed my writing time. It’s odd, really, sometimes I feel I’m busier and more occupied in the Summer when I’m not at the college than I am when the college is in full swing and I’m teaching and marking!

So yeah, TeaNoWriMo ended up being a bit of a bust.

But, was it a complete loss?

Not entirely.

First, while I wasn’t up to writing a lot at first, I did get some editing done. I’m almost done my first editing pass on the Twin Stars novel, with just the very last section to go before I can get into the second pass. (Which will be the point where I start to do serious line editing and polishing.)

Second, I did get some writing done on a project which has been stalled for almost three years, and in fact I think I finally got the darn thing back on track again. I won’t mention the project name because I don’t want to jinx it, but in the last two weeks or so I’ve added another 12,000 words to it and hope to add a heck of a lot more during the month of August.

Two things have added to my productivity that I thought I’d mention.

One, which I got from the Dead Robots’ Society podcast, is that I pulled out an ancient laptop I had that doesn’t connect to the internet, stuck it in the basement, put Scrivener on it, and made it into my primary writing machine. The basement is cool, which is important because our brains work best at 22-25 degrees celsius (72-77 F), and quiet, so I don’t have any distractions. Also, since it can’t connect to the Net (most important of all!) it forces me to stay on task and keeps me from checking my mail or FB. I’ve been amazed how much this has helped my writing and kept me in the zone.

Two, I’ve been making use of one of the Pixar Writer’s Tricks whenever I get stuck- I have a blank document running in the background, and when I get really stuck, I just start writing down what won’t happen next. It’s amazing how quickly those things on the list start to become what might happen next and get things moving again. Sometimes I also alternate writing what won’t happen next with what could happen next, and do a couple lines of that to see what ideas can fall out of the tree. It doesn’t matter if the “won’ts” are silly or off topic, as long as they’re getting written down and keeping you writing and thinking. So far it’s worked almost every time I’ve gotten stuck, even if I don’t always use what got written down.

So, in August if I’m not participating much online or blogging much, please forgive me. I’m trying to get done as much as I can before September, and literally not online most days except to check my messages using my iPhone.

Keep writing!