“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – General Sun Tzu
Good Friday (April 15, 2022) – Sun Tzu is one general that Vladimir Putin evidently didn’t consult.
Luck has hit the Russians like a dry sponge the past six weeks. That is, they have been struck lightly by it and seem oblivious to the nails driven into the hands and feet of their soulmates across the border. But in the wake of this war on cities – this crucifixion of cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv and Volnovakha – those of us who smugly thought we knew anything about the dark side of human nature have also found ourselves on the wrong end of our intelligence. We need to now reconsider much about our own “security” and what it really means. “War will surprise you,” another general, Dwight Eisenhower, said. He was wise to note it with such Zen precision. Because it will try your soul if you even are watching it through social media combat.Read more
“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” -Voltaire
The violence you saw on January 6 in the USA was not accidental. The violence was the point! Donald Trump used violence like a mobster to work over the American electorate and to let them know that next time it would be worse if they didn’t play along. Time will tell if the most robust of democratic nations and its oldest living republic will manage through the political plague. So far, the chisel to cut the stone for a new monument to civil unity seems dulled.
Political violence has been a tactic of every disgruntled, bullying ideologue or insurgency for as long as we have organized ourselves into communities. We saw it recently in Afghanistan. Despite the effort of people like ICF Visionary of the Year Amirzai Sangin to bring the nation into a new era through broadband communications, civil progress was thwarted.Read more
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
If the cliché “Ignorance is Bliss” were true, legal marijuana would go up in smoke. Our ignorance would be sufficient to keep us happily stoned. In our state of Bliss, we would be sublimely governed, assured that our rights were fully secured and knowing that our daily bread would produce loaves plentiful enough for generations. Would World Peace be far behind for dummies and cafones?
But as that bothersomely observant Greek Plato said about ignorance and its consequences, “Those who believe they are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” (Write in your own association to modern times here. _________ I’ll wait.)
One of my heroes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was a sharp observer of the human community. He famously reported on the utter collapse of the family and the coarsening of our social relations. He concluded famously, “We have defined deviancy downward.”Read more
“Our police are more trusted in our republic than our president.”
Here’s a “pop” quiz: name the source of that quote.
Hint: It does not come from an authoritarian leader of a country. Nor does it come from the United States in 2021.
It comes from representatives of the world’s most Intelligent Community: Tallinn, Estonia. It is part of a new podcast series that is my attempt to begin to get to the raw, poignant and seemingly intractable issues our communities continue to grapple with in this Era of COVID.
March 14, 2021 – Today was declared a day of remembrance in New York City. It was on this date one year ago that the first person in the Big Apple died from COVID19.
We posted as best we could the early weeks of this shock – an emotional and civic trauma unlike any other in my lifetime – in our “No Place BUT Home” series.
Words were not of much use as this city was hollowed out and whipsawed in a perfect storm; one where all of its cultural jewels and unique assets – bound together for generations like a Sicilian family – were unraveled so spectacularly that religious people proclaimed this novel corona virus the author of a “biblical epic.” It had its own exodus as 300,000 people fled the terror of ending up in a crowded or non-existent ICU. While some relied on religious analogies, readers of Sartre, author of The Plague (copies of the 1947 novel sold out in weeks), noted that life is tenuous, viruses have unimaginable power and that communities and societies can be overturned, transformed or even eviscerated in the time it takes to cough, lose your breath and die. In a few weeks, it appeared that our public health networks, our technology and our sophisticated rituals could not sustain us.Read more
When Sgt. Dominic Zacharilla and his armored group crashed through the gates of a Nazi death camp in 1945, they were followed by my Uncle Pete and his team of U.S. Army medics. While neither saw each other during the horrific campaign both were similarly shaken. Even General George Patton, leader of the American Third Army, threw up at the sight of the death camp.
Both of my uncles came home from war decorated and honored. They settled into unremarkable but decent lives in their hometown. Uncle Dominic went to a trade school and learned to become a barber, where he opened his own shop. Uncle Pete, a big brawny guy, worked in a family lumber business. Both loved fishing in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. Both raised families. Their children were educated, competent, successfully solid members of their communities. Two left the village and settled in other states.Read more
It was just Yesterday, or 25 years ago, as some people call it, that John, Robert and I produced an event in Toronto called “Smart95.” Most of you attending or downloading the video from this year’s ICF Summit were not there. But there were two features of that event that have withstood the test of time because their arrival was inevitable.
ICF produced the world’s first “smart” conference in the world in 1995 in Toronto.
Above image of Toronto is used under Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
The event in Toronto (a city that went on to become the Intelligent Community of the Year in 2014) was the first event in history to use the word “Smart.” You can look it up. John Jung named it and a search revealed it was not in use anywhere. It gives us bragging rights for life, I guess. Most important, it triggered a movement and a way of thinking that has spread out far and wide, from East to West.Read more
The Big Apple is the wrong name for New York this summer.
No one knows what will come to New York this autumn and beyond. It will not be the World Series, Tracy Letts’ new play or a fraction of our 65.2 million annual visitors. New York will not be as fine as apple pie by Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. These two holidays might not even be around by Christmas! Without its theaters, restaurants, museums and the everyday energy of vendors and street life, New York is a harsher, more hollow place, and no place for epicureans hungry for its unique slice of American culture.Read more
She hears it every night precisely at 7:00 PM.
But tonight, she was running late for her shift and talking on her phone as briskly as she was scurrying to confront what is left of “The Beast” inside New York Presbyterian Hospital. She and her colleagues – and those of us shouting our thanks at her from balconies, windows & the street - have managed to put this son-of-a-bitch of a virus on the run and bend it with the authority of a blacksmith pounding hot steel to a more desired shape.
“If you’re going through Hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill supposedly said.
For sure, we took that advice in New York. Some of us stayed here but kept going, grinding away in what now is recalled as an exhausting attempt to keep some shreds of the familiar life in the Great City close. But as a friend who left, returned for a few days recently but left again said, “Lou, I could not stay. It’s too heartbreaking.” Many left town to flee far away from what appeared to be Hell. The Epicenter is either the worst place to be or, for some, the only place to be. It depends on your core and your love of your town. You can leave it and still love it. I understand. I just have a hard time grasping or respecting it.Read more