Letter to President Obama

Sir my thoughts for your consideration,

I envision a country that is a global leader, that inspires strong work ethics.  I wish to live in a country that does not dole out money to those that claim need only those that are in need. 

Morality

Our constitution, the oath of office and our money all reminds us that we trust in God.  So therefore we must respect his laws and embrace the standards he has set for us.  I agree in a separation of Church (the organization) and State (the government).  What I do not agree is that this statement leads us to a secular state that does not respect moralities long established and given as commandments by God.

Healthcare

I believe in improving our health care system so that it is affordable and not a place for profiteering.  I am amazed at how expensive our health care system is and wonder why countries like Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom and Switzerland have equal care (not always timely for elective surgery) at a much low price per capita.  I see insurance companies and big business profiting from a health care systems that should be about cost plus services and not revenue and enormous profits.  I believe that the doctors should be responsible to administer the system while at the same time held accountable for the costs of the system.

Defense

I believe in a strong defense and think that we should have a civilian militia, but not guns in the hands of anyone who wants to go out and buy machines of mass destruction.  I am not sure where I stand on Iraq, North Korea, Islamic fundamentalism and other places where democracy is abused and people in power abuse the people they are suppose to serve.  I do not know if we are the global police force but I know we must play a strategic role. 

Globalization

I believe that the world is not one country, it is many states that must share in our planets resources and more importantly must protect our planet for our children and theirs.  We cannot thrive while others wither.  We cannot take advantage for our own benefit or we destroy what is God’s gift to man (and woman).

Freedom of Religion

Religion is a power force that is out of control.  Some of those with Islam as their faith wish to rid the world of those that do not share their beliefs.  Is Christianity any better, do we forget the atrocities of history.  I believe that we must insist that we the people respect God’s Ten Commandments and most importantly the two that Jesus taught us.  Love God and Love your neighbor.

Due process

I believe that the process of government (driven by big money, lobbyist and special interest groups) does not represent the will of the people.  We live in an age of technology, where we can us the Internet to put issues in front of the people and ask them to vote.  if we reflect on the definition of democracy we must remember that it is by the people not simply their representatives.  We should reflect on what democracy could become given the Internet and telecommunications.  We should think more about referendums, much like Switzerland does. 

Our republican form of government, I do not mean the party, is not a democracy; we are a republic that claims to be a democracy.  We should strive to exploit technology to create a true democracy. 

What see is that our republican government has flaws and does not have safe guards to assure us that our leaders vote the wishes of the majority.  Instead they fall into the trap of voting with those that can afford to buy their favor.

Greed and corruption

I think Wall Street is run by people that are only interested in lining their pockets through greed with Gold.  Salaries and risks need to be managed in a way that makes sure they seek to represent the interest of all the stakeholders and not just the interests of the speculators and sometimes shareholders.  Derivatives and the instruments of mathematics have created a trading environment designed to make those that can play the game rich, at the expense of the people who believe that others will look after their interests.

The environment

I believe that we are not offering the world a good example of how to be proper stewards of our planet and the biosphere we live in.  How can we expect others to cut back on carbon emissions and other diabolical chemicals pouring into the atmosphere, oceans, rivers and land if we sit and consume 25% of the world’s resources and represent less than 6% or the global populations?  How can we think that others will not follow our example and do what we should do if we don’t do it ourselves?  We must lead by example.  We must suffer the pain of finding ways to conserve energy, reduce pollution and clean up the environment before we complain about what China and others are doing as they race to catch up.

Taxes

I believe that we are over taxed and under served.  Too much goes to special interest groups.  If the people can see that their money is well spent and they benefit from the spending then we are willing to pay for the services rendered but if money is spent to help foolish people then we ponder why must pay. 

Land Use

I give two examples.  The Mississippi flood plain, will flood it is natural and the way the environment works.  If we let people build in these areas then the rest of us should not have to rescue them they must suffer for their own mistakes?  Now I do not wish to sound too callous, how were they to know that every hundred years the flood plain will be covered in water?  Well then Government should study and provide the zoning restrictions designed to make sure land is used intelligently.  The other is the fires and mud slides in California these will happen it is the way of nature.  We should not permit people to build in these, although beautiful, areas and then expect the government to come to their rescue.  If we want to live in places that are going to be destroyed by acts of nature then we should be held responsible for our own decisions and not expect the people to come to our rescue.  This being said we must be prepared since there will always be something we cannot control, like a meteor striking the planet or Yellowstone turning into a volcano.  But then we do know that these things can and ultimately will happen. 

So, yes prepare, but also insist the wer plan at the individual level, and shift our attitude – expect not from the government.  We must take responsibility for your own decisions and risks.

The Champagne Class of Income

Our economy is out of control when so much wealth can be concentrated in the hands of so few.  What did they do that affords them the right to amass wealth beyond belief.  If they do let them live a great life but make sure we tax them or demand that they invest in charities and good works.

Corporate Growth

We must maintain an attitude that is about keeping and bringing job to the United States.  It must be rational and not subsidies.  Farm subsidies do not assure a balance on a global scale.  Yes we must be self sufficient but when we create mountains of unused produce simply to make sure the farmer makes a lot of money something is wrong.  If we price food so that people cannot afford to eat then we are messing up the planet.  There is enough food to feed the world but it is not priced to feed the world.  Stop subsidizing what is not rational and once again lead the way.  Europe will follow if we lead and then food will be available for the poor in Africa and Asia.  As to corporations they must stop thinking about the next three months and the value of their shares.  They must remember their responsibility as stewards and focus on stakeholder value not shareholder value.  A country without employment is a country without consumption.

My request

I see a need for radical change that must be the will of the people.  Your job, as president, is to figure out what we want (the majority) and then lead us to achieve.  In the end, government is for the people.  Unless it can serve then it is not of the people.

e-ID – a public utility or a space of trusted third parties

In response to the article published by Consult Hyperion

Conference paper e-ID as a public utility Neil A. McEvoy

 

 

Universality

Interesting that as soon as you identify that I should be able to provide my identity to anyone anywhere you state that a national government can offer such a scheme.  That is counter intuitive and fraught with the issue of achieving global standards of identification, given the bureaucracy of most national governments. 

Yes, ICAO was able to agree on a template and specification for the e-passport.  Fortunately they had a template and various agreements and treaties to justify the work.  But when we start out with the basic premise that my identity is how I wish to project myself; we immediately move into a world of nuance with built in mechanisms to embrace and resist change.  That being said Homo sapiens’ have a perchance to employ tools we morph as society and our world evolves.

Picking the right band of stakeholders to assure universality requires that at some point people abandon the idea that there is Profit in defining how we will digitally represent a person’s identity.  Instead because the consumer/citizen wishes to project or required to provide their identity; we leave it to those seeking to receive the information to find the profit in knowing something about me. 

Having been raised in America I am drawn to the words in our declaration of independence that give us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Behind these words I believe I also have the right to my privacy and do not want to learn that morphing my identity into a digital form puts my identity at risk.  The citizen/consumer must be able to decide when and what information someone is able to scan.

All of this tempers my thinking about who should be engaged in defining the global standard for digital identity.

The two-way street

I could not say it better myself.  Like my business card, a police persons badge or a company id card.  We present these to each other to create trust between various parties and provide a degree of certainty that:

·         I am who I say I am

·         This is how you can locate and communication with me

·         Here is proof that I have the following rights and capabilities

Quick transaction

Very well said the exchange of information about my identity must be as easy as handing you my business card.  Everything after that is about the context of the transaction and will parallel the discussion and negotiations between the parties.

The gadget

My only addition to the supposition that the phone is the right gadget is the reality that we are talking about something that the citizen must be able to carry most anywhere.  So it must be the one object we always carry.  Some would argue this is the mobile phone; I would suggest that we not forget the more primitive device the purse or wallet.  Maybe as we think of identity we must also think of ergonomists and think about merging the phone into the wallet not the wallet into the phone.  Leather is eco-friendly warm and comfortable to the touch.  Metal or plastic tends to be brittle and cold. 

The next thought in respect to the gadget is it becomes the device I trust and will protect at almost any cost.  Should I worry about how trustworthy your device is?  All I want from you is the information you wish to share and any certificates others provide you that allow me to authenticate your rights and capabilities.  My trusted gadget is what I use to share information and certificates and what helps me absorb and as appropriate verify information and certificates others offer to me.

Extensions

Yes my information is mine and what I offer to others is my choice.

Scheme considerations

I am not convinced of the need for a central register.  Yes there is a need for third parties to attest to the citizen’s identity that others can trust and in lies the complexity of introducing a digital solution.  In fact what the citizen needs is a device they trust.  A device we trust, carries the information and certificates that third parties, who the counterparty trusts, capable of exchanging the appropriate digital data electronically.  In order to achieve this goal we must develop and support a cascade of standards, regulations, contracts and relationships that enable global interoperability thus assuring a meaningful means of exchanging our digital identity.

Before we go about defining the techniques that should be employed, I think we must first establish base principles.  Key must be the idea that there is no centralized register.  Instead those parties we as consumers are willing to trust and wish to position themselves as trusted third parties can build registries, recording those individuals they are willing to authenticate.  The citizen may wish to contract with an entity to provide support for the trusted gadget and the various relationships it supports. 

The author’s position on protecting privacy and meeting the needs of law enforcement is laudable yet scary.  I’d rather the protection offered by a distributed environment that still is capable of responding to directed queries from law enforcement and not blanket access to everything I or others have collected about me.

Make my gadget the gate keeper; allow service providers and those parties wanting the security of digital identity the ability through standards to build affordable infrastructure to read, with my permission, data stored in my gadget.  Avoid the complexity of establishing a global resister.  What we need to define is the architecture for a gadget that is capable of carrying and supporting a myriad of digital relationships with their linked need to assure proper identification.  We then need to agree on a common set of information that all sectors share.  Maybe the v-card is the base.

For more information I offer the following background and a concept for consideration.

The Promise of multi-application Smart Cards, refined to consider the device as the media

A bit of research to prove the consumer will understand

Mobile Payments and Banking – Consumer reaction is negative

UK consumers reject mobile payments

Security is a major hindrance, says study Written by Angelica Mari, 23 May 2008

I must admit I am confused about the potential for the Mobile Phone becoming a mechanisms we employ when making payments.  If I was simply to take the reaction in an article recently published on VNUNET.com, I would worry.  Yet in other articles and industry analyst speculate that by 2012 we will evolve to employing the mobile phone as our i means of payment.  As I suggested in a previous posting there is still a lot of work to do in developing the business case. 

Yes Vivotech reports phenomenal numbers of devices installed and Inside Contactless talks about the significant numbers of contactless cards deployed.  Standards are emerging and I am sure that EMVCO will develop the necessary security to protect Mobile Payments (assuming you don’t lose your phone).  Then there is the interesting reality that there are more mobile phone users than there are people with Bank accounts.  Micro-finance and developing worlds are embracing work like what Vodaphone is doing to drive payments in the P2P space to the mobile device. Yet when will all of these experiments and trials prove that the key issues of security and stakeholder profit are there?

Interchange is under threat

Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force
Hearing on H.R. 5546, the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008”

Today I sat down and read through all of the testimony and must admit, understanding the concepts of interchange, I am troubled by the testimony provided by both Visa and MasterCard.  Neither provided sound arguments to justify interchange.  Whereas those opposed, clearly demonstrated that Interchange benefited the large issuing banks at the expense of the merchant and consumer.  The only testimony that offered any sound support for interchange was that offered by John Blum.  Yet his arguments simply argued that without a fixed interchange structure smaller players would not be able to play, which does suggest the interchange mechanism, as a competitive process, is flawed.

Regulation is not the answer.  Yet, something must be done to assure that there are sufficient free market forces surrounding the calculation of the default Interchange rates.  

 Chairman’s Opening Statement

Witness list and links to their statements

Thomas L. Robinson
Vice President of Reglations
National Association of Convenience Stores
Joshua R. Floum
General Counsel and Corporate Sec.
Visa Inc.
Steve Cannon
Chairman
Constantine Cannon, LLP
Joshua Peirez
Chief Payment System Integrity Officer
MasterCard Worldwide
John Blum
Vice President of Operations
Chartway FCU
Edward Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director U.S. PIRG

Alternative Payment Methods

Ed Kountz of jupiter in his recent blog on Alternative online Payments offers an opinion that credit and debit cards where not designed for the Internet.  It is interesting to reflect back in history and remember when it was not the magnetic strip that was important to the execution of the transaction but the numbers printed on the front of the card a merchant could simply would say into a phone or type onto their telephone keypad to get an authorization. 

Move to the Internet and instead of asking the merchant to type in the account number and expiry date we ask the consumer to fill in an Internet form.  How can one argue that ISO7810-3 cards where not built for the Internet.

Back in the day, circa 1993, when we began to think about how we would secure payments over the Internet and address words like dis-intermediation.  It was clear that by any definition the ubiquitous credit card was already a vehicle for enabling eCommerce.  All the internet did was to take mail order and catalogue business and give it the power to become a global operation; no longer limited by the cost of a telephone call or postage.

Yes Mr Kountz is correct, there is a real issue with security and the Internet.  Yet the issue is no greater than what was faced when Card Not Present transactions started happening as telephone ordering became common place.  Did the payment associations attempt to keep up? MAYBE! 

First we saw the introduction of CVC2/CVV2 and address verification as tools to address the risks of someone who had captured the data on the face of the card from employing that card maliciously.  Not a bad solution, if the merchant was willing to make the changes to their web sites and call center procedures. 

Next came SET, now here was the perfect solution, yet at a cost that simply did not offer anyone a reason return on investment; even if Card Not Present Fraud was an issue.  Since then the payment associations tried to develop a simpler yet equally secure solution called 3D-Secure, Verified by Visa or SecureCode.  The idea is sound.   The issue of adoption came down to the simple issue of figuring out how to get the consumer to go through the additional step of activating their 3D-Secure password and better yet remember it.  Versus what became the reality, they simply said this is too difficult, I don’t need to buy that today, so they abandon the shopping cart.  Merchants saw 3D-Secure as a way to lose potential business and at a rate alarmingly larger than the cost of fraudulent transactions.

So what is the answer?  Create new means of payment that are designed for the specific trading environment (mobile, Internet, Mail Order, telephone Order, face to face …) or figure out how to get everyone to work together to come up with a workable solution that exploits the power of the Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express Brands.

In my opinion it is about communications and working together as a team.  Not once has the merchant been asked to participate in developing more secure solutions to payments.  They are simply told through compliance and rule changes this is what they shall do. 

Maybe the new Visa and MasterCard will find that merchants are now shareholders and bringing them to the table is in the interest of everyone especially the consumer.  Or is it time for a new payment Brand that is built to serve the merchant and operated by the Banks?

Interchange under judicial and legislative review

Today on Payments News – from Glenbrook Partners” they posted an article referencing the hearing taking place

Thursday 05/15/2008 – 11:00 AM
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force
Hearing on H.R. 5546, the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008”

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on US Interchange Fees

As we mentioned here on Payments News on Monday, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Thursday, May 15th beginning at 11 AM Eastern time on H.R. 5546, the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008”. As of tonight, the committee’s website doesn’t list the witnesses who will be testifying – but it promises that a live webcast of the hearing will be available.

As an editorial comment, many of us in the payments industry find the “solution” proposed in this legislation to be overly complex. Read the actual text of the draft legislation – and you may reach the same conclusion! We wonder whether the merchant community in fact would be well served by the remedies proposed. A very basic question comes to mind: “Is this the best you can do?”

The legislation that is under review can be found at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings.aspx?ID=204

My sense is that like Australia, Europe and other countries the USA Congress is ready to challenge the nature of how interchange is calculated and define methods of assuring merchants much reduced rates.  How the financial lobby will engage and how the associations will defend there position, should make for an interesting debate.

European ATM Skimming Fraud Jumps 43%

Reported by Epaynews.com

May 08 2008 : In 2007, ATM fraud losses rose by 43 percent in Europe to €439.01 million (US$683.7 million) from €306.48 million in 2006, reports EAST (the European ATM Security Team). Most of the losses in 2006 and 2007 were due to card-skimming at ATMs, the non-profit organization says.The year-on-year increase in fraud losses was mainly due to a €173.6 million increase in cross-border losses in 2007.
“These (cross-border) losses are occurring globally in countries where all or part of the ATMs deployed are not yet EMV-compliant,” EAST says. “Domestic European fraud losses have fallen year on year, an indication that the roll out of EMV-compliant ATMs is driving down fraud.”
 According to EAST, 78 percent of European ATMs are now EMV-compliant.
Card fraudsters are being forced to seek out non-EMV compliant ATMs to obtain cash, EAST says. “Incidents continue to be reported where data skimmed from EMV cards in European countries where ATMs are EMV-compliant, has been sent by criminals to European countries where ATMs are not fully EMV-compliant,” it says.
The skimmed data is used to make counterfeit cards that enable fraudsters to illegally withdraw cash from ATMs.

According to EAST, skimmed data is also increasingly being sent to countries in and outside Europe where EMV cards can be used as magnetic-stripe cards in ATMs. This takes advantage of a process known as “mag-stripe fallback”, which is designed to ensure that a card can be used even if its EMV chip is damaged or faulty.

Crooks Have Your Card and You Don’t Even Know It

How Thieves Copy Credit and Debit Cards and Drain Accounts

By ELISABETH LEAMY – ABC News

May 2, 2008—

 While your ATM card is tucked in your wallet, thieves half a world away could be cloning it and using it. The crime is called “white card fraud,” and ABC News investigated just how easy it is for thieves to make a copy of your card and use it to drain your account.

It’s difficult to get an exact figure, but it’s estimated that identity thieves net an estimated $345 million this way every year. Gary Burkey of Wilmington, Del., discovered somebody was withdrawing money from his account at ATM machines in a part of Pennsylvania he had never even visited.

Criminals get people’s numbers in a variety of ways. One way they capture card numbers is by installing skimmer devices over the slot where you insert your card when you use an ATM.

They also use hidden cameras to record your PIN. Miami Beach police have actual footage from a crook’s camera in Florida that shows a victim inputting his PIN. Clear as day: 1-4-2-6.

Click here for tips to protect you from today’s modern identity thieves.

“What makes this really sneaky, really devious, is once the criminals get the account information, they wait on it for a little while, said Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh of the Delaware State Police. They replicate the cards and when the consumer least expects, that’s when they go in and hit the account.”

ABC News found the machines used to copy cards for sale right on the Internet, even though there are very few legitimate uses for them. We had our choice of 30 machines and bought one for about $500. We were even able to request priority shipping and received the package the next day.

ABC took the device to Chris O’Ferrell, an ethical hacker for a computer company called Command Information, which helps the federal government secure its systems.

We handed over an ABC News credit card and O’Ferrell swiped it so the machine could capture the information on the magnetic strip. Right away, the data popped up on the computer screen: name and account information.

With another swipe, O’Ferrell transferred it to a blank white card that came with our kit. Any card with a magnetic strip can be made into a clone — gift cards, hotel key cards, etc.

In less than five seconds, we had a duplicate credit card.

“That’s it. That’s all there is to it,.” O’Ferrell said.

We cloned an ATM card too. At one point we even accidentally deleted the data on one of our source cards, but since we had a clone, we were able to put the data back on.

Once we had clones of our cards, the question was, would they work? We tried the Visa card out at a gas pump. Without actually making a purchase (we didn’t want to violate any laws) we inserted the card to see if it would get authorized.

When the “lift the handle and begin fueling” message came up, we knew our clone was working. We tested the cloned ATM card by checking our balance at an ATM machine. When the screen read “Hello Elisabeth Leamy,” that was our first clue that that one was working.

It’s a bonanza for crooks. They used to have to risk going into stores to buy pricey merchandise, which they then sold for cash. Now they can just drain ATMs. Authorities say specialized crews do nothing but hit ATMs, cashing out on behalf of other identity thieves and taking a commission. One Bulgarian gang pulled $200,000 out of a single cash machine in Florida.

More than 65 other countries in Europe, Asia and South America now use smart chip technology that makes card cloning almost impossible. But the United States has stayed with magnetic strips to avoid the cost of converting ATMs. By one estimate, we have 400,000 cash machines in this country.

“It’s totally unacceptable,” O’Ferrell said. “It makes it extremely easy for the criminals to clone our cards and steal our identities.” Experts say since U.S. credit and debit cards are so much easier to tap, U.S. cardholders have become targets.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Yesterday today and tomorrow

Once long ago there was a lady so fair
My heart was with her
My mind did pondered a future together
I understood then we each had a path we must follow
Each a Path leading to fields of fruit and bounty
Time passed and contact was lost
Yet her name stayed in my mind
Never to leave the subtle crevices of memory
Thoughts and feeling of joy kept the feeling fresh

Recently perchance our acquaintance once again remade
In yesterday unfinished was the relationship
In tomorrow expectation that are yet unknown
In today time to dream
A time to learn of of each other
A time to explore what was is and could be
No hopes, only dreams yet tempered by the realities of time

Genesis evolution creation and the power of God

During my journey from one of not wishing to believe to one accepting the power and grace of God; I explored science and hoped science would offer all the answers and ultimately be able to explain everything.  As my learning expanded, I came to appreciate that there was too much order in all that my eyes see and my mind perceives; I came to accept that only a creator could establish the order of the universe we live in.

When I reflect on the big bang and read Genesis 1:1-5 I see in those few words the fact that there was a Big Bang and it was when God created the light.  Those seconds and billions of years that followed, God set out to create the universe, and eventually create the planet we call earth.  All of that is the work of his “First Day”.  If we measure it in our time, billions upon billions of years passes; God created dark matter and let fly particles of matter and energy in the great blast he caused.  So great is his power and so glorious his vision was formed universe, galaxies, stars, suns and planets all turning so that there would be a time of dark and a time of light.  His first day’s work was done.

We know the foundation of all life on earth is made possible by the existence of air and water.  On the second day he created H2O and the air.  With these two creations he created the expanse between the water in the sky and the water on our planet.  So ended God’s second day’s efforts.

On the morning of the third day he created DNA and developed the structure of a plant cell.  He then spent the balance of the day manipulating this creation into what we know as the vast diversity of plant life.  He then blessed these various forms of vegetation to be fruitful, evolve and multiple.  On that day he set in motion the process that would allow these initial forms of vegetation to evolve into the multitude plant life we are familiar with today.  He wanted his various creations to evolve and enjoyed watching the new forms of vegetation emerge and recognized that some would not survive and in many cases decided to destroy those that were not pleasing to him.  He saw that his creation of numerous plant species was good and saw that his third day of work had come to an end.

On the fourth day he saw that for evolution to continue there must be times when the sun, with its great energy, would touch the earth.  So he parted the waters of the sky to form what we now call clouds.  He caused the planets to rotate and the sun to disappear and the other planets, stars and galaxies to become visible.  He set the earth’s rotation and orientation to align with all his other celestial bodies, causing there to be warm times and cold times.  By setting the earth to tilt and spin at a certain rate, he was able to create the seasons which further stimulated the growth and evolution of his first creation, vegetation.  The vegetation was now capable of  following the cycle of life he set in motion when he created the passage of the seasons.  By altering the strength of the light from the sun and intensity of the light of the moon he added diversity to his creation.  With this new process in place it was time for God to rest the evening of the fourth day.

On the fifth day God arose and decided to create creatures that would fill the seas and soar through the sky.  By using his creation, DNA, he moved on and created animal cells.  In the morning he created simple creatures to inhabit the sea and soar through the sky.  He saw that this was good and he caused these creations to be fruitful, evolve and multiply.  As the day progressed he continued to experiment and create more complex creatures by developing animal cells capable of performing different functions.  God continued to relish in the creation of diversity.  As he created each new species he continued to embed within them his concepts of evolution and enjoyed watching each evolve from its own kind and fill the sky and the sea with a diversity of birds and sea creatures.  And it was time for God to rest the evening of the fifth day.

On the sixth day he saw that the land was only filled with vegetation and saw that the richness of the vegetation of the land could support new forms of life.  So in the morning he caused the creatures that inhabited sky and the sea to evolve and descend from the sky and crawl out of the sea.  As the day progressed God further populated the land by creating new creatures.  Like he had done on the fourth and fifth day, he blessed these creations of the land and let them be fruitful, evolve and multiply.  As the day passed he noticed that some of his creations were so large that he could not allow them to continue to multiple.  Slowly but surely God evolved his land based creations to become what we know as the livestock and the wild animals.  God was selective is his process of creation and enjoyed creating a wide variety of creatures.  Yet,he also had an eye for beauty and diversity and would often determine that one or another was not fit to continue to exist.  Those that where pleasing to him, he allowed to flourish, multiply and evolve.  Others of his creations he saw where not good and he destroyed them.  In all his thinking there was a plan to create a creature in his own image.  As the creatures of the sea, sky and air evolved he selected only those creatures which would be suitable for the world man would also inhabit.  After a time he saw the success of  his process of selection and planned evolution.  His creations had evolved to the moment when he was ready to populate the world with a creature God could commune with.

So near the end of the sixth day – Genesis 1:27-28 – God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground”.

Given that he made man in his image, man had the ability to think, the power of free will and a rebellious willingness to create anew.  God also knew that through time our knowledge of where we live and all that is around us would grow and he would have to chastise us often to remind us of his power and dominion over all.

I could venture into the question of Sin and ponder how the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony. greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride fit into God’s plan.  What we do know is that God can see everything that will and has happened.  He knew Woman would listen to the serpent and eat of the fruit of the Tree he had forbidden them to eat from.  With this same clarity God knows that at different stages in the growth of our knowledge of how the earth and the universe was formed some would see themselves as God’s equal and decide that there was no need to reverie the one God.

These foolish men would forget to continue to pursue knowledge and instead stop and come to believe that the little knowledge they had acquired gave them the power to see themselves as Gods and to think that they understood ALL.

Knowing all of this, when God spoke with Moses he offered the ten commandments and reminded us in the first four commandments that there is ultimately only one.  He left us to recognize that we bow down to science or other idols we will lose sight of the reality of creation.  We would forget how God always intended there to be another question to ask, another space to explore, another particle to find, another marvel to ponder and other theories to test.  He understand dividing half by half over and over again would never reach zero or by exploring the universe we would never see the beginning and had no chance see the end for in the beginning there was God and int he end there will be God and on and on he goes.

As some one once explained “Something cannot come from Nothing”

He wants us to learn, yet he built something so complex in it characteristic of being both infinitesimally small and infinitely large that we can and will never reach a time when there is nothing more to learn.  Any scientist that stops in his quest for knowledge has lost sight of his reason for being a scientist.  Any human that accepts what he is told and does not continue to question will lose sight of the infinite power of God and become lost in a cloud of ignorance.  For God’s greatest gift is that we can always seek and learn and that we will always have more to learn and search for.

When I read Genesis I know I am reading the words of Moses and I know that Moses was listening to God telling the story of how he created all that we see around us.  What is clear is that God knew that man was not ready to understand the complexity of what he had done and so he offered Moses a simply yet vastly complex picture of his six days of work, knowing that we could explore and learn yet at the same time accept and be certain of his power.

What is amazing is that when we listen to the great scientists, the ones that continue to look deeper into what it is they are exploring they find that in the end there are no final answers, simply more questions.  This is exactly how God planned it.  He wants us to explore, he wants us to learn how to manipulate and utilize that which is around us.  What he also did was create something infinitesimally small and infinitely large so that through the reality of infinity we can and will never be able to find any other answer than the one written in Genesis, God created the universe and all that is within it, including the processes of reproduction, evolution, mutation and destruction.

Yes, like I did at the beginning of this email, he allows us to interpret the words in Genesis and wants us to further our knowledge and understanding.  He knows that through the ages we will understand some of the complexity of what he did.  BUT at the core the words that are in the Bible are the clearest way of saying everything and leaving us the responsibility to always question and learn.  Through this responsibility, God knows that in the end we will understand that only the creator could create the universe, in its complex glory.

Neither Chaos, Genetics or Evolution will ever be able to help us understand why only four basic elements can be combined in such a variety of ways to produce so many complex life forms.  The complexity of DNA and the cell and their ability to evolve are and will remain God’s greatest creation.  The stars nebula and beautiful clusters that fill the telescopes we use to see into the distance only offer us a glimpse of God’s love of art.

The order and chain of life is so structured.  Only the ONE has the knowledge and power to drive the creation of the universe and design the process of evolution, allowing the plants, birds, sea creatures, land animals and those most primitive of elements: matter and energy; to continue to create new and wonders things.  Only the one God has such intellect and power.

Of Jesus that is for another day.  There the story is of God deciding that he had to finally come to earth to teach us how to live together.  For unlike the other living things, we were given free will and unless we accepted his guidance we will and can destroy that which surrounds us.

We must remember, God almost gave up on us.  Remember how he destroyed all but those Noah took forward.  Jesus came to offer us salvation and more importantly to simplify the Ten Commandments down to two – Love God and Love Your Neighbor.   If we could simply do these two things then we would be at peace and like the other creatures of god’s creation live in harmony in God’s universe.

Our quest is simply to help everyone to understand that by living with those two commandments in our hearts and in our heads; we can live in peace and maybe one day return to the Garden of Eden.  With respect for the one unimaginable God and together as the common inhabitants of this plant, we can work as a team to be better than how we operate as isolated individuals seeking dominion over someone else.

With God’s Love

Power of Positive Thought

This week I took  a course offered by the Ontario Government called “Thought Patterns”,  presented by the York region franchise of the “Academy of Learning”.  The facilitator was a woman names Judith Seki.  Her background was amazing and her ability to engage and stimulate our group’s discussion was outstanding.

Some of the interesting things I learned and would like to share:

We have 3 seconds to make a first impression and 3 minutes to fix the other party’s impression of us.  Once set, it could take us years to overcome and turn that person, from someone who has a low opinion of us, into someone interested in spending time with us.

If we think about how much we can say or do in 3 seconds, let alone 180 seconds; we are limited and therefore must focus on some very simple, yet, ultimately essential attributes.

People will of course, unless it is a telephone call, immediately react to how we look. They will then think about things like: are we on time, do we know their name, are we smiling, are we standing up straight, do we look them in the eyes, is our attire appropriate, do we demostrate the appropriate level of respect, what is the tonality of our voice, how do we greet them and how do we respond to their greeting?

Obviously if the conversation is over the telephone, via email, IM or in a chat room we are limited by tools we can use.  Therefore our focus must be on the tone we employ in our written or verbal communications and the content we convey.

Three seconds is up, they have formed a first impression.  Now we have another 177 seconds of time to set that impression in stone.   Is our posture appropriate to the setting and conversation, do we have a good opening story (the 30 second helicopter or elevator pitch), do we listen attentively to what they have to say, do we let them talk two thirds of the time, are we pacing ourselves accordingly, is our tone and volume appropriate and do we show the right level of emotion?

Assuming we achieve a positive result in this first 3 minutes, the balance of the discussion is to determine if you are the right person for the job, is the product you are selling matched to their needs or will they hire you to help them achieve some specific task.

We then spoke about the three attitudes we can take in such initial meetings or frankly whenever we encounter others.  These attitudes are:

  • Aggressive which can be either positive or negative
  • Passive which can also be positive or negative
  • Assertive which is always positive and allows us the opportunity to take on an aggressive or passive attitude, based on the circumstances and what we are discussing or why we are having the discussion

Next we spoke about perception and how our brain processes input and develops output.  Interesting statistic –  more than 75% of daily conversation is negative.  During this part of the discussion I came away with a different understanding of perception and reality.  Bottom line, “My Reality” is unique and is based on how my neurons have been imprinted.

Can we change the way we perceive things and adjust the pathways of our brain?  Absolutely, we must understand our existing habits, attitudes and beliefs and determine which ones are not working for us and adjust our thinking and change, in a positive way, our attitudes, habits and beliefs.

Once we know what our negative habits, attitudes or beliefs are we can work on changing our thinking by thinking about what, why or how we would prefer to think and then:

  • Say It!  Earn one point for every-time you say it.
  • Do It! by exhibiting the new behavior. Earn ten points every-time you do it
  • Get It!  by having others provide positive reinforcement.  Earn 100 points every-time someone provides you with that affirmation.

The more points you earn the faster that new pathways will be established and the sooner the old negative pathways will cease to exist.

On the second day, after talking about what beliefs are and understanding we have the ability to choose how to believe,we were ready to move on to the next step.

We focused on how one goes about establishing goals and developing an action plan to achieve our goals.  We all knew that if we set our goals too big or made them unachievable then the results will be as one would expect.  So we must focus on defining bite sized goals.

As a consultant and executive I thought I knew how to set goals for companies, divisions, units or teams.  Yet even though I was on the right track, I learned some interesting lessons.

  • A goal can not be longer than one sentence.  It must start beginning with the words “I will be, do or have …”
  • They must be “SMART” Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Recorded and Time specific.

As a result of this session, I set my first three goals:

  • I will start talking to a minimum of 10 people every weekday by March 31st, 2008.
  • I will be recruited as an executive with responsibility for strategy, innovation, projects, products and/or sales support by the end of 2008.
  • I will take two trips for pleasure by December 31st 2008.

They are now recorded, they are measureable they are specific they are achievable and they are time specific.

At one stage during the course we were asked to develop four statements that began with the words “I have …”.  Each of us developed our four sentences and told them to another person.  Then Judith asked us to change the word “have” to “choose” and restate our four objectives.  Interesting how different it felt when we used the words “I choose …” verses “I have …”.  Suddenly from being a command, they become objectives that we each decided would positively improve our lives.  It was an eye opener to see how one word can change our whole emotional and physical feeling about what we set out to do.

Not wanting to simply record what I learned over the four days I will focus the balance of this blog on insights that I acquired.

Visualization, an interesting word with the powerful ability to allow us to focus on changing our attitudes, beliefs and habits from being negative to being positive.  Affirmation and self talk are tools we can employ to help focus our minds and help us to move forward towards a more positive attitude about ourselves and our situation.  Talking to ourselves in a mirror will remind us to have a happy face and look ourselves in the eyes.

As we progressed, each of us exhibited negative feelings, fears or distress.  As we discussed the obstacles that could delay or stop us from achieving our goals, many of us exhibited frustration.  As we explored the list of obstacles, we came to realize that obstacles are not external, but instead they are self imposed.

We came to understand that setting our goals requires that we:

  • Understand what you really want
  • Understand what it costs both in monetary and non-monetary terms
  • Understand that we might have to make sacrifices to achieve our goals

Obviously, as previously mentioned, our goals have to be achievable or they are not SMART.

Clearly in developing our action plan we may find others are involved or affected.  If we think about military tactics it is clear that if you surround your enemy and give them no means of escape; they will fight to the death.  So always leave those that could prevent you from achieving your goal a back door, so that they can get out of your way gracefully.

While understanding that we must make sure we leave others a way of exiting gracefully; we must also make sure that we close all doors that we could use to escape.

At one point during the session we had the opportunity to watch and discuss the film “Patch Adams”.  Our discussion focused on first impressions, perception, beliefs, goals, naysayers, memory joggers, visualization, self-talk, choice and obstacles.  Using Patch Adams, as an example of someone who emerged from being suicidal into the visionary and inspirational medical professional he is today; provided us with the clarity to understand, if we set our minds to something we can achieve amazing results.  It also reminds us that the most successful solution is laughter and making sure everyone has fun.

On the last day we moved on to addressing the subject of stress.  Judith reminded us that obstacles are self imposed whereas stress has chemical and physical ramifications.  Therefore we needed to pay attention to what caused us stress, what would or have been the results and how can we minimize or better handle stress.

The first time we identified what causes stress, we all focused on the negative.  Clearly how we identify the cause of stress comes from our perception.  Coping with stress is a balance between the stress we are under and our coping skills.

The interesting thing about stress is that stress can be either a positive or a negative force in our lives.  Starting out with the assumption that stress is all bad and therefore must be eliminated is not going to get us where we want to go.  Clearly each of us must develop methods and mechanisms to cope with the negative effects of stress such as meditation, music, hobbies, vacations, sex, laughter.  We must embrace an attitude of gratitude and one of seeking help and support.  Obviously, this is one person’s abbreviated list.  Others might include painting, aroma therapy or lying in the sun as part of their inventory of coping skills.

Bottom line, to address the negative causes of stress, we must develop an arsenal of tools and techniques to help us cope with these causes of stress.  Simultaneously, we must make sure we focus positive stress towards accomplishing our goals and get on with our daily lives.

To close the session we were introduced, through a video called “The Joy of Stress” to an extraordinary woman, Loretta La-Roche.  For forty minutes she had her live audience and those of us watching the video constantly laughing.

Through her use of humor she reminded us of what we had already learned; stress can be either positive or negative.  She told us that we had to “work to prevent a hardening of attitude”.  She told us that one of our greatest fears is what will others think and “is anybody watching”.

She asked us to commit ourselves to “Stop Global Whining”.

She demonstrated the power of humor.  She showed us that “laughter makes you happy”.  She reminded us that “laughter is contagious” and that working to make others laugh will brighten your day and, better yet, brighten their day.

She told us that if we walk around looking grumpy we will feel grumpy.  But, if we start out with a smile on our face we will feel happy inside.  “You feel how you think”, “your mind mimics your expression”, “how you look is how you feel” and “how you look makes you feel a certain way”.  All demonstrated by how we felt when she forced us to put a smile on our face and forced us to laugh.

She repeated a phrase we had heard earlier in our session.  A phrase that emerged when we listed the obstacles to moving towards a positive self; “fake it till you make it”.

She told us how it has been proven when people introduce some form of play in their work, productivity increases.  Imagine the shareholders reward if they demand that management makes coming to work fun.

She reminded us that we all think that we worry because it helps us to prepare.  Then she rattled off a series of statistics.

40%   of what we worry about will never happen
30%   of what we worry about are historic events
22%   of what we worry about are trivialities
4%    of what we worry about we is outside our control and cannot change
4%    of what we worry about are real events that we can act on

96% of what we worry about we can’t do anything about anyway.

So why waste all that energy.

One frightening thing she said and quite a sobering lesson.

“Optimists live longer”

and

“Pessimists are accurate, but, don’t live as long”

In closing she reminded us that

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift

That’s why it’s called the present

As I come to a close I am reminded that when I was a child I had very few things to worry about, I laughed at all sorts of things, I didn’t worry about what you thought of my antics and I had fun.

So in conclusion “Find Your Inner Child” have fun, laugh, smile and be happy.  That’s what I am going to try to do to help myself.

______________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in this program you can contact the York region of the Academy of Learning either on +1 (905) 836 8973 or +1 (905) 508 5791.  At this stage their program is  only available in the York region on Ontario, Canada.

Maybe you can convince them to license it to a franchisee near you.

Is God the joining of the Earth Father and The Earth Mother into one flesh, that which we call God

This morning my common law partner and I were embraced in the oneness God created to bring man and woman together as said in Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and will join with his wife and they will be one flesh. and Again Jesus says in Mark 10:6-8 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will join to his wife.and the two will become one, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Again in Matthew 19:4-6 Matthew once again quoted these words from our Lord Jesus.  In each of these passages God, both as father and son state very clearly that Man and Woman will bond and will become one with each other.  we can see this as the beginning of what we know as the intimate act of a man and woman when they physically join as one.

Yet we must think deeper than this.  Not only does man and woman join as God has ordained they also find deep and lasting enjoyment in this joining of the flesh.  For each the feeling and the sense of intimacy is different.  For the man, who I can speak for, it is an act that can, in some instances, be overpowering, it is an act that requires work as the man enters and pleasures his wife.  It is a demonstration of his power and is work.  For the woman, I can only imagine, it is a time when she receives her man within her womb.  It is a time where she shares in the intimacy of the oneness and it is a time where the woman cherishes and brings comfort to her husband.

So this oneness of a couple must also be a demonstration of the difference between man and woman.  The man is the stronger and more viral participate while the woman is the more giving and receiving participant.  Is it in this, God ordained the merging of flesh, that we begin to note the differences God built into man so that he would be the stronger, the one that would go out and work the fields and hunt for food.  While the woman is the more sensitive one that focuses on building binding relationships and meets her man in an act of intimacy pleasing to the two, reproductive of the species and most importantly a way of demonstrating her cherishing and giving spirit.

From these thoughts I then remembered, in Genesis 1:26 God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”.  This plurality suggests that God is not alone and that he made man in the image of the maleness of God and woman in the femaleness of God.  Does this suggest that God is actually two who have joined as one?

Then we read of angels and wonder from where they come.  Maybe it is from the joining of the male and female that is God.

Maybe the ancients or the gentiles who believed in concepts of an earth mother is simply an expression of the half of God that is female. Is it these same ancients who saw the powerful images of Zeus and Apollo, were they simply recognizing the maleness of what we know now as the one God, the union of the earth father and the earth mother?

China, socialism and the world of electronic health records.

Today during a most enlightened networking meeting, beyond what someone in transition normally speaks of, we got into a most interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Electronic Health Care Records

Somehow we got into a discussion of the evolution and problems involved in developing the electronic patient record.  The gentleman, who will remain nameless, remembered a conversation he had with a man who was involved with the United Kingdom’s work on the exploration of space.  This knighted individual apparently suggested the key issue with developing the electronic health record was the issue of creating the patient’s electronic history from the previous pencil and pen records.

His approach to solving this problem was to use prisoners as the codifiers.  Of course such an idea immediately causes one to worry about privacy and the threat to the patient and doctors when these prisoners were freed.

As we talked an interesting thought occurred.  How often is a patient’s history relevant?  How often is the doctor quite happy to meet with a patient and simply focus on the symptoms described during that  persons visit?

As we reflected, we both realized that often the patient’s history will never be pertinent to a future diagnosis.  In those situations where the history is relevant, let’s say 10%, then there is value to the effort of codifying historic medical records, charts and the like.  The doctor and his office staff can find the time to organize the codification of the relevant data.  Clearly such an approach with the reduction is the cost of establishing the basic health record, is connected with the value a complete electronic health record will have in reducing the cost of long term care, something insurance companies and public health authorities can understand.

For that 90%, after the doctor has become automated and is part of a system designed to capture and retain the Patient Health Record, at the next appointment the doctor in conjunction with the patient can record important facts such as allergies, reactions to drugs, existing conditions and any pertinent operations or procedures the patient can remember.

Only when this basic profile indicates conditions that will have future implications, is there a need to go through the effort of backtracking through the records and recording any pertinent information.

China and Socialism

I asked my companion what he was up to.  He talked about the five companies he was working with in China and the various trips he had taken to remote parts of that great country.  He said three things that stuck in my mind.

  1. He remembered a bus trip where he asked about unemployment.  His Chinese companions asked him to look out the window and tell them what he saw.  His response “everyone is working”, “there are no beggars on the street”.  They smiled and he was reminded that in this socialist environment one of the fundamentals is that everyone has work however menial it may be.
  2. We then spoke of the economic divide that is emerging and like in all countries this is a reality that will always exist unless we can evolve to that social utopia described as the purest form of socialism.  A society where every man works to his ability and everyone shares equally. He then reflected on the reality that mobile phones, TVs and other luxuries were everywhere and the age old work ethic that is China, will drive these people to want more, therefore, work harder to get more.  It is this work ethic that is China’s strength and will be the issue we will have to address as the world moves forward in time.  If we in the west continue to expand our leisure time and the Chinese continue to follow their nature and continue to focus on work.  Who will win?  I think the answer is evident.  Those that work  will be the ones who win.
  3. He then spoke of issues within the industrial complex where mine accident occurred or dangerous products are released.  The interesting comment was that those in power, the top three managers, are shot when such things happen.  Of course this form of behaviour is abhorrent and clearly a violation of Christian thinking or western thoughts of punishment.

Yet what is interesting, assuming they learn to balance the punishment (100 dead in a mine cave do to poor conditions and insufficient safety standards) to the crime, is that those ultimately responsible are ones that are punished.

I then reflected on what happens in our society.  The executives always seem to go unscathed.  They successfully push the blame down to the supervisors and little people who work and manage the place where the disaster occurred.

If we were to dig deep enough I am sure we would find that they did all they could do with the tools and budget they were provided.  Budgets and tools authorized by executives sitting in big offices taking down big salaries and only getting worried when shareholders not employees come screaming for justice.

Assuming that China is going to continue to evolve.  That they are going to embrace compassionate forms of punishment.  While at the same time maintaining their work ethic and maintaining the premise that responsibility is top down not middle down.  They will become not only an economic power to deal with, but a country with a strong moral sense of responsibility and thus a threat to the soft life that has become the western dream.

A dream that balances not working more than 40 hours a week with demands for more and more vacation.  China will be a country where hard work is rewarded, pleasures are sought and people have a moral sense of responsibility to each other.

We in the west need to be mindful and learn from those countries that take the goodness of socialism, merge it with the power of capitalism and the forces of the global economy.

As the World Turns everything changes and nothing is different

Often as I explore how our culture and our planet evolve; I am amazed at how we try to change everything with each succeeding generation.  We, and I remember when I was young, think that our thoughts are original and therefore believe that we were the first to dream it up.  Yet if we explore history we will find that the great and the unknown have probably already put forward the concept we believe to be so unique.  As an example think of the Helicopter, invented by Da Vinci, yet when he conceived it, he did not have the tools to make it work.

The difference is that as the tools become available we find that now we can build and create what we imagine is a new machines.  the reality, if we appreciate history, we find we now can  build those things that before were only in our or someone else imagination.

With those thoughts considered we find that we tend to circle back and adopt patterns that once were in vogue and then did not pass the test of time.  The best example is our explicate use of sexual overtones in advertising.  The idea that the spam we once  received for male enhancement products is no longer spam.  Today, these products are promoted on TV prime time. They are  simply examples of how we lost sight of the value of prudence and morality.  Do we want to learn about feminine products, or is that something our mothers will teach us or our doctors and health classes will education us about.  Do we need to know that your product is more absorbent than theirs or that you can go swimming if you buy this one?

Maybe in a generation or two we will once again realize that by exploiting the art of sex we create and stimulate thoughts that are not biblical and can in some cases harm people.  Then again, as so many great artists and photographers recognize, the naked body is a beautiful thing.  But, is the naked body art, when we use it to advertise cars, shampoo and who knows what else.

As a technologist I find that people think I have lost my edge given that I no longer understand the terminology they are using today.  Give me a thesaurus that matches words like a self contained subroutine to an object.  Then we can talk about methodologies.  Do these new words like “Cloud” improve productivity? I am sure some people believe they do.  More importantly do they assure the worlds population that they can get better jobs.  Do these new techniques assure the enterprise that we are doing a better job of documenting what we have built.  Does all of this assure the shareholders, stakeholders and customers they is getting what they asked for, are will to pay for and more important with cherish.

As an observer of our times I sometimes wonder if we are simply taken things to new extremes.  I wonder if our desire is simply to lure people into buying this or that.  For what?  Or are we simply selling products to earn a dollar, peso, euro, yen of pound.