Flirting is Good for Productivity!

Oliver James writes in the Guardian to argue the case for adults to be playful. He reports on a study by the Gestalt Institute in Italy that studied flirtation and sex among 1,000 employees, and which concludes that office flirtation is good for relieving workplace anxiety and stress and improves relationships with your partner. Apparently the benefits to productivity and relationships are gained in proportion to the way in which flirting behaviour mimics the play of children in being goal-less fun. Where it goes horribly wrong is not through the intervention of “Big Brother” but when people get stuck into power-seeking and use flirtation and the manipulation of desire to reach work goals…
He concludes

“And now it’s official: playful flirtation is good for you. Po-faced anti-flirts must learn to have more fun – but nobody should forget that it is only a game.”

Food for thought…

George Monbiot is nudging our consciences again. In his article “Genocide or Peace” he notes

“the Afghan winter, like the Russian one, is absolute. Aid workers with long experience of Afghanistan report that after the first week of November, there is nothing you can do”


One person requires 18kg of food per month to survive. If the UN’s projections are correct, and some 1.5 million manage to leave the country, around 6.1m starving people will be left behind. In five weeks, in other words, Afghanistan requires 580,000 tonnes of food to see its people through the winter, as well as tarpaulins, warm clothes, medicines and water supply and sanitation equipment. The food alone would fill 21,000 trucks or 19,000 Hercules transport planes. The convoy which reached Kabul to such acclaim yesterday has met barely a three thousandth of the country’s needs.

Footprints in cyberspace

Doc Searls refers to a list of former WTC tenants, and their corporate websites that in some cases seem untouched by events of the 11th, frozen where they were left in cyberspace. Hmmm.

“Collateral Repair”

…is the title of a thought provoking article by George Monbiot (who characterises himself as an “objector”) For him objecting to war is not about appeasing terrorists, nor does he view the events of 11th September as anything other than “a crime against humanity”, but he does argue strongly that if we forgo justice then the terrorists have already won.

His approach to resolving this situation, if evidence can be assembled that points to Bin Laden is to “cut out the world war and go straight to Nuremburg”. To encourage the Afghani people to drive out the Taliban and Bin Laden so that they can be brought before the courts he advocates massive humanitarian aid to these starving millions to “show the people that, unlike the Taliban, the West is on their side”.

What I found particularly interesting about this article was that far from being the sort of simplistic “all war is wrong” stance that most of the Western governments have accused the “pacifists” of adopting it does not duck the issue of bringing the perpetrators to justice, and it does offer a route that may stabilise the region rather than ferment further strife.

The underlying assumption on which it rests is that the Afghan people resent the Taliban but are both too weak to oppose them and too scared of the West. That is the presumption that needs to be tested over the coming weeks.

Different Views?

John Pilger wrote in the Guardian last week

In these surreal days, there is one truth. Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America last week and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else.

…and further urged us in the UK to “behave responsibly” and turn away from the imperialistic response to focus instead on peace and justice for all people. He compares the religious fundamentalism of Bin Laden and the Taleban with the foreign policy fundamentalism of the West – both result in the death of innocent people.

His article has attracted considerable comment both for and against, including a response from Ken Barnes in Sacramento who states

“It’ s quite obvious that John Pilger just doesn’t understand your situation …a continued lack of action will just worsen an already grave condition. “

So who should we believe? John Pilger is a widely-respected journalist. I don’t know who Mr Barnes is, but I get a sense of honest belief from his argument that I suspect many Americans share.

Surely it must be simple – one of these commentators must be right and the other wrong? Or can we look beyond that and understand a world where they are both right? And if we do that, then what action should we advocate?

What do these commentators believe in order to say what they do?

What is the intention of that belief?

Can we find anything in common between those intentions?

And how can we incorporate those perspectives into our own beliefs in a useful way?

If we are going to keep our way of life, regardless of the actions of those who would destroy it, then I suggest we all need our own answers to these questions…



I still don’t know what to think about current world events.
I’ve been trawling the web searching for contrasting opinions
that might help narrow down my thoughts. For example Dave Winer writes about his own attitudes to the America he lives
in and how they are changing, and contrasts this with the pulse
of anti-Americanism he feels in Europe. He and others refer to an
excellent Sunday Times article by Brian Appleyard. Appleyard quotes George
Orwell from 1941

"In so far as it hampers the British war effort,
British pacifism is on the side of the Nazis and German
pacifism, if it exists, is on the side of Britain and the
USSR. Since pacifists have more freedom of action in
countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act
more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively
the pacifist is pro-Nazi."

Now this really made me think – my late father was a
conscientious objector during WWII – and although I never quite
understood why, after his death I began to realise how much this
was about his very strong sense of his values. However,
I began to realise that the key difference between Jack and the
"chattering classes" who would knock America now was
that he did contribute to the war effort, albeit indirectly. As I
wrote in his eulogy

"This isn’t the time to recap the things he did,
except to note that in his work with the Civil Defence he did
his part to support the community he lived in, regardless of
the prejudice he often faced for his views."

So can our thinking be subtle enough to distinguish between
"not bearing arms" and "opposing the war" ?

The essence I think is the difference between on the one hand
supporting the society within which you live (even if you set
some barriers around what you consider ethical to do in support
of that society), or on the other reaping all of the benefits of
the society without supporting it. For all that the
"fashionable elites" (Islington or otherwise) wish to
knock America and the West in general, every aspect of their
lives revolves around being part of the Western world, from the
economic success of capitalism to the freedom under a democracy
to express their opinions.

Yes, undoubtably, there are many millions outside the West who
look at our lives (even the poorest of us) with envy, and perhaps
millions who look at us with hatred. Many of those who hate
exploit those who are envious to gather recruits to their cause.
The balancing trick our leaders have to follow is to defend us
against those who would destroy our way of life whilst ensuring
we do not create more enemies amongst the ones who merely envy.

A news article today about the background of the terrorists suggests
that they were far from being the dispossessed – so can there
really be any weight to the argument that says the West "had
this coming"?

Finally for this entry, I’d like to link to an article by
Robert Dilts, written the day after the WTC attack and simply
entitled Reflections
on September 11
Robert is one of the world leaders in NLP,
and a very gentle, thoughtful and spiritual man. In his article
he calls on us all to be awakeners, and says:

"The job of the awakener is to shine light into
situations which are dim, not cast his or her own shadow into
the darkness that is already there. Awakeners have no
illusions about human nature so they do not have negative
surprises. But they have a strong belief about what is

So I wonder what we believe is possible?

How The Mind Works

Just reading How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker. After the intro he dives into explaining the computational theory of mind, and now (in the chapter I am currently reading) revisits the theory of evolution and explains how this impinges on the growth of the human mind.

It sometimes takes me a few weeks to read a dense book like this, usually in 20 minute snatches on the tube, so watch this space, there will be more updates to come!