Category Archives: Needs and Government

The Two Future Scenarios We Must Choose Between

Created May 13, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

One of these scenarios is very easy to visualize. It’s the downside scenario of war. We’ve seen the way this works and are extremely familiar with it. We can picture it, including sitting under a mushroom cloud ourselves, something I’ve been visualizing all my life.

The upside scenario is not nearly as easy to visualize. We as a race have not expressed much about that scenario. We seem morbidly attracted to dwelling upon the negative.

And yet we seemed to be making some progress there for a while.

In 2003, the late Mark W. Zacher, a pioneer in the study of global governance, wrote a paper published by Cambridge University Press called “The Territorial Integrity Norm: International Boundaries and the Use of Force”. In it, he cited nearly 100 academic authors in establishing his case that “coercive territorial revisionism” was on the decline since the end of WWII. Many of the scholars he referenced indeed painted the same picture.

Alas, today we see that this relatively halcyon period appears to have come to an end. WWII-size battles reducing beautiful cities to rubble in Europe are now happening again. Do we have to go back into the old game? Is it built into us that there will never be an end to people fighting for ground?

In the development of species, the hardwired instinct for territoriality behavior goes back at least as far as the first reptiles and perhaps even further back. But humanity, possessed of more obvious intellectual credentials than other Earth species, in discovering what instincts are, could use its brains to conquer instincts – or can we?

Why is it that Putin and his supporters feel the urgent need to own more land when they already are such a massive piece of geography? Opinions in the press suggest that he is driven to re-establish the U.S.S.R. And why would that be what drives him? Why would he not set equally lofty goals for leading the human race into space, or building larger particle accelerators than the west, or some other goal that is more original? The goal of simply taking over the neighborhood goes way back, it’s imitative behavior, it may make us remember a person in history but not necessarily in a positive way. It’s been done before. Why not show off by doing something new?

Why would China place such importance on taking back Taiwan which had previously been called Formosa? There are so many other things for China to do, and they are already doing most of them, and doing well at them. If the specter of war were swept off the table China should be among the most confident and hopeful nations on Earth. Why bother with adding another small swath of land to their country? When one takes land by force it’s only a matter of time before someone else is there attacking you to take that land back. It’s almost guaranteed to become a perpetual motion machine keeping war in the lives of your descendants for many generations if not forever.

The human race has so many better things to do rather than return to the old bullying game. It’s gotten so old. First, we have to bring the pandemic down to permanent containment, which implies far-reaching progress in being able to anticipate the directions mutations could take, and getting the jump on them before they go there. Then we have to bring everyone up to par in quality of life. Then we have to bring education up to an unprecedented level that is individualized to each person’s gifts and aspirations, lifelong education that starts in the home from birth and lasts throughout the individual’s lifetime. The list goes on and on after that, so many things to do to make us all feel a sense of purpose, of meaning.

Underneath everything else all of us are driven by a search for meaning. We didn’t make it any easier for ourselves when we made it unhip to allow for the possibility of God. Even in a world that avoids God like the devil, a person can still live a meaningful life by simply bringing her/his gifts out for the enjoyment of others. Putin and Xi each have huge canvases on which they are free to paint beautiful pictures the world can adore, why settle for the bad guy role, even if lies and censorship can make people keep their mouths shut? Why is that the way that Putin and Xi can make themselves the happiest?

If we didn’t have such a rich roster of activities into which we could happily throw ourselves, then maybe I could understand playing the war game, but that game has worn thin its welcome. We’ve had a good run since the end of WWII – not without enough violence for anyone with a taste for that stuff – but staying away from major wars. Why break the winning spree now? Just because they can? I suspect that is the real explanation.

But no one’s hands are clean. The rest of us have not done enough to paint the picture of what life could be like if there is world cooperation on the broadest scale. Dystopias have more drama in them, and more opportunity for action scenes, while utopias are easy to put down because cynicism is hip. So few if any utopian movies or television series or novels. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” came as close to a utopian vision of a united Earth culture as we’ve seen on television. Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1933) was a novel and then a movie which showed how a sequestered culture could live in harmony (the story of mythical Shangri-La).

When Joe Biden was elected, I wrote a series of fictional stories here in Pebbles in which Joe reached out to Vlad and Jinping and detailed how cooperation could be attained and how lovely that would be for everybody, with me hoping that was in his plans. My c dream soon collapsed, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. If we don’t detail the upside scenario we will continue to slide down into this downside scenario we’ve been stuck on for too long. Someday soon we may never again have the option of revisiting this upside visualization opportunity, there may not be a someday if we don’t start now.

Love to all,

Bill

What Are the Odds Against the Human Race?

Created March 18, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Today I gathered by Zoom with a few lifelong friends. One of them a man I’ve always admired and have learned a lot from about the advertising and media business. He’s as much a genius as ever and as much of a realist. And, whereas I’ve almost always been an optimist, he’s still a pessimist.

Today my mentor (I’ve been lucky to have many) argued persuasively about the end approaching. The quality of our leaders willing to put up with being endlessly mocked and slandered has fallen precipitously. Both our political parties taken over by their most radical activists, the parties locked into such hatred for each other as is hard to imagine ever going away. The leaders of big companies hypnotized, like Putin, by their own worldview, and seemingly unwilling to study the relevant facts and the numbers deeply themselves. Everyone below the top afraid to speak up because someone with greater power might be offended by something. 

My friend sums up the problem as The Age of Me, which he perceives came in about a half century ago, replacing The Age of We. Now everyone is so self-focused it’s as if their IQs have been effectively factored way down.

Ahead he sees revolutions, a total breakdown in civilization, only a minority living through it and rebuilding. And then the cycle possibly repeating itself, first rebuilding, and then hubris setting in, and it all falling apart again.

I agreed that we have had a mental illness pandemic for a long time and that the only pragmatic cure for it is for each of us pull himself and herself up by carefully watching and clarifying one’s own thinking. I added that our ability to communicate with one another also allows us to help each other in this process.

My mind flashes back to when I was about five. I always listened to my parents’ conversations and stopped them to ask what was meant by certain phrases. They were very patient and always answered. I remember asking what they meant by “Life Imitates Art”. My father explained that it works both ways, art imitates life (he pointed to one of my mother’s realistic paintings), and life imitates art, people identify with characters in plays and learn from their experiences vicariously.

So, from very early on I was always aware that perceptions make reality, fiction becomes fact as fact becomes fiction. “Thinking makes it so,” as Shakespeare put it.

In Mind Magic I wrote that we tend to perceive what we expect to perceive.

In Connectedness I pointed out that foremost modern quantum physicist John Wheeler theorized that we co-create reality. Jane Roberts’ Seth book series reframed this ancient idea for modern minds in the 1970s. Many people first heard this idea from The Secret, whose Law of Attraction echoes the concept of Karma. People have been considering such out of box yet logical ideas for at least 10,000 years.

All of this is relevant to our moral imperative for the existential threat of today. Regardless of how dire things look right now, it only makes things worse to dwell on problem definition, one must build into one’s own mental reflexes the immediate switch to solution orientation, which presumes hope and not hopelessness. As songwriter and playwright Stan Satlin said on the Zoom today, “We can’t accept defeat.” Every time our mind turns back to concern we must rechannel it into positive next steps we can take that will help even if only in a very small way, help ourselves, our loved ones, everyone and anyone.

Pagliacci knew that a clown’s role was to laugh and make people laugh, even if on the inside he was crying. Calm, patient, empathetic, we can help people creatively clarify their options and optimize their decisions for the closest thing available to a win/win outcome. The more of us take on this attitude and role, the faster we will recover from the brink.

Don’t be attached to success. Whether we collectively pull out of the nosedive is not the point. Another thing my father taught me when I was five was “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, what matters is how you play the game.”  

What are the odds against us? It all depends on how we play it. If we tone down the rhetoric and discuss calmly and soberly, the odds in our favor are excellent. If we continue the current raucous and insane behavior, we have to pray for divine intervention, it becomes our best hope.

Best to all,

Bill

Putin’s Test

February 25, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Putin feels very deeply that his Mission is to resurrect the Soviet Union. What he has decided to do is a test. Are the Western democracies as weak as they seem, and will they pull a Chamberlain? The latter gentleman is always remembered for his backing away from a bully.

Cuba all over again. However, figuring the odds as Putin has, he is not in the US backyard, I’m in my own damn backyard, and economic obstructionism is his only risk.

From the West’s point of view, there is a strong inertia for the policy that came out from the end of WWII: contain communism.

These three species of subcultures have always been around, and always will be: Utter Freedom, Considerate Freedom, and Fake Freedom. After all, we are part of God’s experiment with free will.

Under Utter Freedom, as with most of the native American tribes in North America before Columbus, there was a Chief yet if you stayed far enough away from him, you were in effect under no rule at all.

Under Considerate Freedom, there is a very active government that is well-intentioned.

Under Outright Totalitarianism, everyone knows who has the power, and how to stay invisible.

Let’s assume that most Americans would agree that the one of the three choices we all want is Considerate Freedom.

A small minority of Americans might prefer Utter Freedom i.e. anarchy but it’s hard to realistically imagine how a country the size of the USA could cooperate enough to remain militarily strong as an anarchy.

If we want to achieve Considerate Freedom everywhere in the world so that we can all get on with life without the war games of yesteryear, how would we deal with Putin’s Test?

Consider:

Some Ukrainians want to move closer to the West (this is using the normative taxonomy – reflecting a bias to consider Russia NOT part of Europe which goes back millennia). Some Ukrainians feel closer to Rus (the original name of the enormous landmass between what we call Europe and India/China).

In Rus, the leader feels so strongly about Russia regaining a former greatness, and the people feel so strongly about the threat of falling out of step, that they will follow the leader into a path which could literally mean the end of the world.

They are all figuring the odds and until the first nuke is tossed they hope it can all be walked back with blarney no one will question anymore since anything goes now in the way of public statements.

Realistically, the West will wage economic war but will not want to be the first to put the torch to the kindling. Not until an inch of NATO soil is touched, at which point, head for the hills.

The comparison with Chamberlain will be answered with “This has always been part of Russia, what business is it of ours.”

It’s all a balancing act.

People will say, “If people want out of the Ukraine, they should move West and we should welcome them in.” Why not? More people will move to Considerate Freedom from Total Totalitarianism the longer we can keep the game going without flameout.

What’s the best positive outcome of the situation?

The hopeful possibility that this will bring all Americans together.

The need to be externally strong does not permit of internal squabbling and separation. We should naturally unite and forget trivial differences when faced with a common threat several orders of magnitude larger. That would be the sane response.

If we do not unite internally we will morally forfeit the leadership of the world we’ve had for three quarters of a Century.

The outcome is still up in the air. Economic sanctions will follow first. We will see what they accomplish. Completely excluding countries that practice aggression from the benefits of world trade and cooperation may take a long time to fully work. Such methods may never have worked before but that’s where creativity can come in.

We will hear about the awful treatment of Ukrainians at the hands of Russian soldiers and our blood will boil.

But we cannot put out violence with violence. We cannot end hatred with hate. Escalation reached its natural limit in 1945 when atomic weapons were first used and their implications immediately understood.

Creativity and consideration are the only tools which will get us to the promised land here on Earth. We had a chance to go that way when Joe Biden took office. But instead our leaders fought each other and fell back into the predictable old ways of warnings and threats to other world leaders.

How long will it take for the human race to outgrow violence and childish thinking?

Mr. Putin has just turned the clock back a hundred years.

Obviously we cannot think of ending the arms race at the present moment. We must continue to carry the big stick. But we can at least speak in the soft voice. It will be a start to walking back this test of our skills.

The alternative ways of being have all been proven bankrupt. What is left to us is creative diplomacy and military readiness.

Best to all,

Bill

If We Spoke Compassionately

Created January 27, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

If We Spoke Compassionately to Everyone, It Would Make a Big Difference

Let me start with a very extreme case to prove my point.

If we spoke to Putin compassionately it might make a difference.

Soon after the Inauguration I wrote a series of three posts sort of like science fiction depictions of what the new President Joe Biden could do to make a clear break with the past and talk with the Russian and Chinese leaders as if there were no history of bad blood.

President Biden I guess did not read my posts or didn’t consider them as serious options.

It’s too bad because we all put our pants on the same way, we’re all human beings, a band of brothers and sisters whether we recognize it or not.

It would have had the advantage of surprise.

And not like Pearl Harbor.

More of a positive surprise, after all the hatred and suspicion.

Why continue to choose to fight when there’s a minute in which you can choose to proffer peace?

Right after being elected is just such a minute.

A window passed.

How long will we wait for another such opportunity?

We can do it right now!

We can really choose peace at any time. It just takes an authentic compassionate statement or two to stop the world. Stop the momentum of decades since we were allies. We were the best allies Russia and China ever had when we were fighting the Axis together.

Let’s remember those days when we were all larger than life heroes and not the blithering idiots we appear to have become. But that idiocy is just illusion being allowed to take over our minds.

All it really takes is getting in touch with our own humanity and putting our self in the other guy’s shoes for just a moment.

“Vlad, I know you’re pissed off because after all your hard work, the Soviet Union collapsed. I know you’d like to continue to play your cards to restore Rus to the greatness it deserves. I want you to succeed,” the US leader could say.

One country winning does not have to mean other countries losing.

“Vlad you say you and the Ukraine are one people, and I agree that you have been since the ninth century, but how can you welcome them back while threatening them with force? Isn’t there a cleverer way to win them back? I’m willing to help. I’d rather that brothers and sisters stayed unified. We’re all brothers and sisters, and one day we will all be unified. Then we will wonder how could it have taken this long to stop the bloody fighting among the human family?”

It cannot stop there with a nice moment and then back to business as usual. It has to be a permanent change, each of us is the only one who can do it.

If we all start doing it, it will spread like wildfire. Everyone wants it.

Stick to your principles, but offer them in a respectful and empathetic way, not with insults and threats. Show that you understand the opposition’s perspective, and where you agree with it. Show how those agreed principles led you to different conclusions; step by step, as if speaking to a beloved.

The tone of your voice has more of an effect than the words you use.

We Just Won an Emmy

Wednesday night January 26, 2022 I got a call and a link telling me that Next Century Media, my 1990s company, has won an Emmy for “Pioneering Development of Technologies to Collect granular linear TV Viewership Data including STB’s, ACR, Connected TV’s for Measurement, Marketing & Advertising”.

Three other companies each won the same award, and they had all built upon NCM’s technology to different degrees: Bell South, Cablevision, and DIRECTV. Bell South had integrated directly with NCM, and Cablevision and DIRECTV had adopted NCM algorithms that had been given pro bono to the industry as a standard, based on the request from then Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) CEO Jim Spaeth.

Many more people and companies deserve recognition for the invention of Set Top Box Data (STB). It’s always that way. It takes a community to accomplish anything of significance. Being able to work together and make it enjoyable is a master key to life. It seems like it’s going to make you go slower but it actually speeds up the upside outcome.

Bob Block built logging channel changes into his Telease set top box in 1972, although it didn’t have the algorithms yet to make it research currency grade data. John Malone and John Hendricks gave NCM the chance to deploy in what was then the world’s largest MVPD, TCI, later acquired by AT&T and today the largest part of Comcast’s footprint. John Malone’s Liberty Media owned TCI, and the NCM deployment of STB and addressable commercials (and personalized program recommendation and programmatic buying) was triggered by Discovery founder John Hendricks’ Your Choice TV (the conceptual grandfather of Hulu).

The NCM team was world class. My partner the late Len Matthews had been CEO of Leo Burnett then Y&R, President of the 4As and Undersecretary of Commerce. Deep thinker and award-winning copywriter Burt Manning had been Chairman of J. Walter Thompson. Lester Wunderman needs no introduction. Omnicom Chairman John Wren and global media head Arnie Semsky made the greatest use of our technology, and 20 other agencies and innumerable advertisers and media used it too. IBM, EDS, Groupe Bull all helped us get off the ground. Gian Fulgoni and Ed Dittus joined the Board.

NCM’s dedicated multinational multicultural full time team of 34 people in North America and Europe included the former CTO of the French NASA. The late Gerry Despain was a soft spoken genius who had led business optimization teams at GE and at Honeywell, and at NCM led the software development team of French and Belgian developers based in Versailles. Talk about agile rapid prototyping! I’ve never seen people turn my visions into working code so quickly.

NCM days were some of the best times of my life. The TRA technology and the RMT technology came out of NCM. Visible World and Invidi carried on NCM’s work brilliantly and now TV is rapidly becoming addressable everywhere, and granular clickstream (a term we coined meaning naturally-occurring audience data) is available universally in digital (who learned a lot from NCM, especially Dave Morgan) and fast becoming universal in TV.

I’m thrilled that we were recognized by the Television Academies. My humble gratitude will be expressed at the ceremonies in Las Vegas on April 25.

I must say, with the rewarding work I’ve been given through RMT and Bill Harvey Consulting, it feels to me like the 90s right now, all over again.

The best is yet to come for all of us.

Best to all,

Bill