Joe, not responding to your message. But have you read David  
Weinberger's 'Everything is Miscellaneous- the power of the digital  

I think it's spot on and it overturns a lot of our (anyway, mine)  
preconceptions about databases and information systems, and, indeed,  

On 15 Oct 2008, at 23:08, Joseph Truss wrote:

> R & R,
> I like Friedman’s book too although it did take me some time to get  
> past the title and read the damn thing. I'm not misunderstanding his  
> use, but you know that  flatness paradigms take the air out of me.   
> If the world was simply flat, it could not join up and connect in  
> the way it does with its dense, multi-layered richness and near  
> simultaneity.  I think what the Internet does is fold space and time  
> so that this joining up and connecting can take place as if  
> everything is next to everything else - an advantage of virtuality.   
> Flatness otherwise implicates farther and farther distances from the  
> centre and each other and more time needed to connect (even inside  
> my tiny brain and my computer’s tinier chip!). The Internet may have  
> created the matrix within which we can have logical closure in  
> flatspace. It is already too complex to model in 2 dimensions.  What  
> is even more complex?  Brains!  We have a 3-D apparatus that  
> simplifies the world into 2-D as a matter of survival. I've heard  
> Stafford say that dichotomous thinking may simply be an artifact of  
> brain as neurons are binary - they either fire or don't.  Why do  
> dimensions matter? Stafford called dimensions ‘distinctions that  
> matter’. To represent the number of dimensions, we must have 1 more  
> distinction than there are dimensions. When paradigm shifted from  
> dichotomy, a two distinction polarity to embrace the new triadic  
> logic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, humanity’s consciousness  
> expanded.  A three distinction system is clearly better than a  
> binary one - but it can still only represent two dimensions (you  
> cannot turn a triangle - 3 points, into a tetrahedron no matter how  
> you rearrange the dots - you must add a 4th point). A three  
> dimensional system would have a fourth distinction.  Interesting to  
> ask what a four-some Trinity would look like? The fourth distinction  
> might be ‘the Void’ or ‘Mother’.  We rely on the simplicity of  
> representing triads and forget that they are, as in Plato’s cave,  
> the shadow of a whole object.  Making the shadow square rather than  
> triangular would be adding a distinction that didn’t matter.   
> Turning a triangle into a tetrahedron, now that adds a whole other  
> dimension.
> Wizard Prang chronicles the inter-transformable triad of Matter,  
> Energy and Information - of what whole object might this triad be  
> formed? What is the fourth distinction that matters? Is it also  
> inter-transformable with the others?
> Joseph Truss
> Abbey North Drummers
> Open Futures
> Team Syntegrity AG
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:54:55 AM
> Subject: Re: Toxic waste, loans, groans & moans
> I don't know Friedman, but really enjoyed 'The world is Flat'. One  
> of those books that at first sight is just plain wrong in terms of  
> its being written, but on reading raises many valuable issues. I  
> liked especially his comments about the realisation of the power to  
> go global as individuals (which is he key for him of ;Globalisation  
> 3.0) - 'the phenomenon that is enabling. empowering and enjoining  
> individuals and small groups to go global........easily and  
> seamlessly.......'
> Roger
> On 15 Oct 2008, at 00:59, R Clemens wrote:
>> Sorry but I must rudely drop this 'follow on 'in the mix and run to  
>> catch the train.
>> It is a good listen anyway -- but the key relevance relates to the  
>> comment by Friedmans that he can control or get a handle on  
>> anything he can name  (or words to that effect. He is referring to  
>> the US (Republican I think?) to associate green/climate change etc  
>> with being "a bit French ..."-- a very abusive slander it seems in  
>> their context.
>> It was/is this 'naming capacity' that I was linking to as part of  
>> governance. I have read elsewhere that it was an original Adamic  
>> function to name. I have also read that ancient shamanism is  
>> somewhat based on the ability to know the name of the spirit etc.
>> Thomas Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded
>> US author and columnist Thomas Freidman has won three Pulitzer  
>> prizes, his last book, The World Is Flat, was an international  
>> bestseller. In his new book he argues green politics has to be re- 
>> branded in the US, so that it is no longer the sole domain of  
>> liberals, but is something every red, white, and blue NASCAR Dad  
>> and Soccer Mom sees as patriotic and essential.
>> The link theme is 're-branding' and the VSM's capacity to serve the  
>> needs of/in the future.
>> --- On Wed, 15/10/08, R Clemens <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> From: R Clemens <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Re: Toxic waste, loans, groans & moans
>> To: "Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer" <[log in to unmask] 
>> >
>> Received: Wednesday, 15 October, 2008, 10:40 AM
>> Yes, I have read that -- a guest speech to conference or dinner I  
>> think. It makes sense to me to help explain variety but does not  
>> engage with the issue I'm trying to resolve. Your comment that SB  
>> did not really think in terms of criminality is perhaps closer to  
>> the  issue -- whether this is a strength or weakness is perhaps  
>> beyond dispute.
>> I think perhaps the re-threaded 'ethics vs morality' theme may be  
>> touching on this matter. In terms of action/operations/governance I  
>> think I have found something in the management fraud risk  
>> management area -- something I had done some reading on and  
>> forgotten.
>> Perhaps I need to re-think my understanding of the VSM at S5 level.  
>> If, as I was assuming, if implies some type of reductionism or  
>> variety attenuation down to a decision maker (identity, policy,  
>> homeostat in this case) then I have a problem with its real world  
>> mapping. But if we take Allende's view that S5 is "El Pueblo" then  
>> perhpas it is not an issue at all -- simply a process of self  
>> governance by the people. In this latter case who can define any  
>> meaningful absolute framework? Even cannibalism must be a decision  
>> by the people or chief. Human sacrifice -- simply a dietary or  
>> religious supplement process. Very amoral and very limited for  
>> certain situations of governance.
>> Let's cut to the core of it: does evil exist (personified or not)  
>> and if so then how does it relate to the VSM?
>> I'm happy if the VSM does not relate to this issue -- but in as  
>> much as it does not then it is limited in a core issue of modern  
>> emerging toxic state of affairs.
>> There was one comment by SB that I remember that may touch on this:  
>> did he not say somewhere that it would be better if the Cybersyn  
>> (VSM?) was destroyed than fall into the wrong hands? That it was a  
>> tool that could be used wrongly? This, I think would  relate to my  
>> point. One could perhaps say then, that the greatest achievement of  
>> the intervention in Chile was that the military did not pick it up  
>> and run with it. What if they had?
>> So, I guess, I have to come to the conclusion that this is simply  
>> life at S5 working through policy issues and their boundaries. The  
>> mafia are perhaps very viable and moral and ethical for their  
>> members -- and Somalia (or anywhere else or Other) are simply  
>> externalities. I can handle that -- albeit I'm disappointed.
>> --- On Tue, 14/10/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Re: Toxic waste, loans & groans
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Received: Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 7:04 PM
>> Thinking about it, in one of the books he does mention police in  
>> the context  of variety, as he did football teams. That in the  
>> limit (which would not be viable) variety would demand that every  
>> wrong-doer would require a policeman - whereas in the football  
>> example, viability is served by every player having an equivalent  
>> opposition player.
>> The critical issue - and perhaps you are saying the same thing - is  
>> the definition of the system-in--focus. The football game is, in  
>> Wittgenstein's meaning, a different language game from that of  
>> society. Language games have their own implicit rules and  
>> conventions  - their own 'family resemblances'.  And Stafford was  
>> fascinated by the whole thing of symbols, meaning, ritual, habits  
>> etc etc - all the crucial messy stuff of human life. And that  
>> doesn't always come out from the literature, where one can fall  
>> into the trap of treating the diagrams and conventions of the model  
>> in a vacuum.
>> Gets back to what I was saying about the use of 3D or diagrams that  
>> ENCAPSULATE a dense rich experience for their author, which is  
>> absent from the reader. If that is the case, the model does NOT  
>> encapsulate the author's experience for the reader, though there  
>> might be the illusion that it does.
>> Roger
>> On 14 Oct 2008, at 00:03, R Clemens wrote:
>>> Roger,
>>> Thanks for those thoughts -- they have stimulated my thinking  
>>> further.
>>> (I note you appeal to Allenna at the end and yet only emailed the  
>>> reply to me personally -- ? I'm getting a few of these and I've  
>>> had a few troubles as well with rejections from the Listser  
>>> because of embedded graphics or something which came through from  
>>> replies from others So, I'm assuming that it is the way the  
>>> 'reply' function works ... ? In any case the purpose, I assume of  
>>> this forum is to share thoughts etc, so ...)
>>> I have no problem with the label -- it is just a convenient way of  
>>> handling a difficult topic. Nelson Mandella spent many years  
>>> labeled by a regime (and state) and yet has proven to be become  
>>> one if the worlds most respected elders.
>>> And I live in a country that was once the toxic dumping ground for  
>>> many types -- including Irish freedom fighters. That was not my  
>>> point.
>>> However, you mention GW Bush, and by extension his 'haves' and  
>>> 'have mores' etc. It is perhaps close to what I'm seeking -- an  
>>> understanding of plutocracy and kleptocracy and how these seem  
>>> just too cozy at times. And of course the cynical would perhaps  
>>> say that kings with their 'mandates from heaven' simply emerged  
>>> from a successful protection racket business. One only needs to  
>>> consider Zimbabwe to see a certain madness at work today.
>>> In respect to Stafford -- interesting that you say he could not  
>>> use such a simple concept and yet the destruction of the work of  
>>> himself and others in Chile must have qualified for this type  
>>> label. However, in the end it is personal preference I guess.
>>> In any case, having committed it to the public ether (Listserv =  
>>> risk) and having now slept on it over night I think the essence of  
>>> what I was struggling with is in the recursion idea. Put simply,  
>>> that in some cases the so called System 1 is in fact a 'hollow  
>>> man' (we have a TV show here called Hollow Men) -- i.e. more  
>>> perhaps a 'system zero' where the centre of gravity is in the  
>>> recursion below the system in focus. I'm not really saying  
>>> anything new here I know -- and it still does not address the core  
>>> issue of disconnect from a governance perspective -- but it must  
>>> be cybernetics surely. At the macro level why so much investment  
>>> in police and military? I guess the closest direct link to another  
>>> manifestation would be to cancer cells in the body. They live,  
>>> they grow, but they are not connected to the whole like the rest  
>>> of the 'normal' cells.
>>> In a similar way, we could perhaps, using the case in point, say  
>>> the Italian Mafia, was originally a secret society that seems to  
>>> have had some origin in the Islamic period of that area and has  
>>> since descended into a self serving agent within the greater  
>>> society. And I'm not suggesting it has anything to do with Islamic  
>>> issues -- rather the remnant effects of a withdrawal or decay of a  
>>> major system (say at n+1).
>>> The question then is not so much how it comes about, or how it  
>>> works (it is viable of course with its own S5 -to-S1) -- rather  
>>> how the greater whole is impotent in dealing with it -- be it a  
>>> cancer in the body or a hit squad of assassins taking out high  
>>> court judges.
>>> It seems some of this identity must be culture. The body is a  
>>> collection of interoperative organs etc and yet it can also  
>>> support a brain tumor that eventually kills it.  Now some may say  
>>> that every system has the seeds of its own death within it -- an  
>>> perhaps that is what I'm looking at . Where are these seeds? ...  
>>> by way of origin, maintenance, governance, and perpetuation?
>>> OK -- I've left the save zones ... and thinking aloud is  
>>> dangerous ... but it seems a little naive if management  
>>> cybernetics cannot comment on this area -- perhaps that is why it  
>>> is dismissed by the management classes?  In fact this has reminded  
>>> me of something I did in my Masters thesis on sustainable  
>>> governance.
>>> There is a small field I came across in my Masters research into  
>>> 'sustainable governance' it related to management fraud risk  
>>> assessment. The Fraud Risk Triangle (e.g. see Ramos 2003) cites  
>>> three factors: incentive/pressure + opportunity + rationalization/ 
>>> attitude. (1)
>>> It was the third factor, the capacity to rationalise as a hidden  
>>> variable (2), that the forensic auditor has to determine. A very  
>>> interesting area of System 3*. There is also a very strong  
>>> emphasis on the role of risk synthesis in audit test design (3).  
>>> It is about the 'tone at the top' and at that time it was ENRON  
>>> etc -- but the story is the same.
>>> So perhaps it is not a separate 'entity' per se -- rather a tonal  
>>> relationship between the three factors of the fraud triangle that  
>>> allows poor governance outcomes?
>>> References (1, 2 & 3) if anyone is interested: I have uploaded my  
>>> thesis Appendix J (5 short summary pages) on this topic and the  
>>> associated Reference for these pages at:
>>> If anyone was to look to take action in response to these  
>>> interesting times then the lead-in on Appendix J covers the Lima  
>>> Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts (1998) and  
>>> International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)  
>>> (2004) which might be good places the G30 could start writing to.
>>> --- On Tue, 14/10/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>  
>>> wrote:
>>> From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Subject: Re: Toxic waste, loans & groans
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Received: Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 4:49 AM
>>> Russell.....interesting....
>>> Not addressing the substantive issues, but I don;t know of  
>>> Stafford writing about criminality. And, I am not surprised  
>>> (though Allenna needs to comment on this) because I guess that -  
>>> to a degree like myself - Stafford would see criminality as  
>>> something fairly trivial. Not in its effects or as a symptom of  
>>> social breakdown, but as a label.
>>> IN ANY CULTURE, criminality ISA (trivially) anything that goes  
>>> against the dominant logic of that culture.  That;s why Bush got  
>>> away with calling the Guatamo prisoners criminal instead of  
>>> prisoners of war (and, indeed, is the case in all tyrannical  
>>> endeavours, whether in the name of democracy or not [because inf  
>>> atc, they usually ARE in the name of something such as democracy  
>>> or freedom]
>>> Stafford dealt with - on a personal as well as a professional  
>>> basis - many criminal cases. To my knowledge - and we did talk  
>>> about it because I have skeletons in my cupboard - Stafford never  
>>> used the word 'criminal'. The concept with its moral overtones,  
>>> was foreign to him.
>>> However 'wrong' and 'right' were dear too him, but I imagine he  
>>> would have placed these within the context of 'viability'..
>>> I might be out of order here, Allenna??
>>> Roger
>>> On 13 Oct 2008, at 14:41, R Clemens wrote:
>>>> What I subsequently came to conclude, after posting this topic,  
>>>> was there is a need (for me at least) to better understand what  
>>>> the VSM has to offer by way of analysing this organised crime  
>>>> arena.
>>>> Organised crime, in my definition, can cover a broad set of  
>>>> antisocial activities -- wars of aggression even. However, in  
>>>> this case (below), and others like it, we can ask, perhaps, by  
>>>> way of the VSM, at a sustainable planetary scale, qui bono? -- i.e.
>>>> 1) Can all systems (issues) be reconciled upwards in recursions  
>>>> to a single unified whole?
>>>> 2) If so, then what is/are the relationships between the System  
>>>> 1s such that 'crime' can exist? Is this a necessary function,  
>>>> state or condition?
>>>> It seems to me that the core issues here, assuming the VSM is  
>>>> somewhat useful and accurate as a model to think with on this  
>>>> type/class of problem, must either revolve around sophistry or  
>>>> the question of whether is there really is dualistic reality (or  
>>>> dualism in reality)?
>>>> If sophistry, then we don't ultimately don't need to know more --  
>>>> as it is only a mental passing of time.
>>>> However, if dualism, then we need to understand what makes  
>>>> criminality viable and how this viability is ultimately  
>>>> sustained? That is, by way of theory, and by way of praxis.
>>>> As you point out, rightly I believe, a key issue here, if not the  
>>>> key issue, is where in the meta-system is this dualism: (a)  
>>>> located; (b) sustained; (c) balanced; (d) grounded in identity;  
>>>> (e deployed in policy; and finally (f) operationalised in action?
>>>> If the 'problem' is not in the meta-system per se, then how does  
>>>> it manifest in a viable universe -- i.e. it would seem that at  
>>>> least one System 1 must be at odds with another. Then it must be  
>>>> a System 3, 3* or 2 issue? Or the algedonic. Otherwise, it seems  
>>>> to me,  we must refute the notion 'universe' and start developing  
>>>> 'multi verses' etc -- which it would seem the VSM cannot easily  
>>>> address by definition (it being a model leading towards a unitary  
>>>> synergy I assume).
>>>> Now I can subscribe to the opposing thumb (makes a hand) theory  
>>>> -- but I find it difficult to see this specific situation of  
>>>> concern (e.g. as per this case study) as anything other than  
>>>> either systemic failure and/or theory failure. I am working  
>>>> through Beer's books as fast as I can, it's a hard slog, but I  
>>>> have not yet seen anything on criminality. Does this exist?
>>>> I'm not interested in conflicts due to subsidiary system 'freedom  
>>>> fighting' issues. Nor am I interested in the viability of the  
>>>> mafia etc -- I assume the VSM simply applies as per normal. What  
>>>> I am interested in is the fuzzy boundary where S5-S4-S3   
>>>> reconcile this issue logically and S3-S2-S1's in practice.
>>>> To ground this in the current thread: what is the commonality  
>>>> between these two case studies? (one focused on the virtual and  
>>>> the other on the very real). Systemic failure -- yes!  But there  
>>>> is intent also, and not just neglect or ignorance? And at the  
>>>> highest levels of governance it seems!
>>>> In what is this intent grounded and how is it explained via the  
>>>> VSM?
>>>> I am aware of many tribal narratives that attempt to explain  
>>>> (away mostly) this issue -- and I'm sure Dr Watson and Sherlock  
>>>> H. will be chasing Moriarty forever -- but does the VSM offer any  
>>>> help in addressing this issue in the real world of (future)  
>>>> sustainable governance?
>>>> Any ideas?
>>>> --------------------------------------------------
>>>> -----Inline Attachment Follows-----
>>>> Thanks for bringing this back to VSM specifics. This is a good  
>>>> example of the need for effective S5 of a global scope. It seems  
>>>> like this would be an appropriate focus for this group -- to  
>>>> articulate what that would look like -- and I emphasize  
>>>> "effective".
>>>> Doug McDavid
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>> 408-927-1565 (IBM tie-line: 457)
>>>> Business Architect -- Global Business Services and Almaden  
>>>> Research Center
>>>> IBM Academy of Technology ( 
>>>>  )
>>>> Doug Mandelbrot in Second Life ( 
>>>> 218/191/22 )
>>>> Board Member, New Media Consortium (
>>>> Blog:
>>>> "I start things, but I never" -- D. Stahl (Twitter)
>>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> It seems we have a significant systemic problem with our current  
>>>> approaches which require, to be 'viable', a dumping ground for  
>>>> toxic waste and toxic loans etc. It seems to be the same  
>>>> underlying problem with sustainality to me -- the Tragedy of the  
>>>> Commons.
>>>> In the case of Somalia (former) and Finance industry (latter) we  
>>>> see the outcome of a lack of good governace. In both cases it  
>>>> seems not having a working overwatch function is the problem  
>>>> (i.e. effective government and regulation) . Is this not related  
>>>> to the S5 level ultimately? Or do we target S3 & S3* -- or the  
>>>> whole rotten lot?
>>>> Somalia: 'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy
>>>> Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste  
>>>> off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the  
>>>> return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go  
>>>> towards cleaning up the waste.
>>>> The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that  
>>>> has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for  
>>>> nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates,  
>>>> based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.
>>>> . . . .
>>>> "European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the  
>>>> waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal  
>>>> costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.
>>>> "And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium  
>>>> radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium  
>>>> and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are  
>>>> hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."
>>>> . . . .
>>>> In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made  
>>>> by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and  
>>>> Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to  
>>>> the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders  
>>>> involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former  
>>>> president.
>>>> . . . .
>>>> However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told  
>>>> Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious  
>>>> companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.
>>>> "At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or  
>>>> some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these  
>>>> industrial firms," he said.
>>>> . . . .
>>>> The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's  
>>>> waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic  
>>>> waste.
>>>> In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed  
>>>> that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the  
>>>> start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as  
>>>> early as 1989 under the Barre government. . . .
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