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Holiday Recommended Reading

Top Billing! Callie Oettinger at Steven Pressfield OnlineThe Elephant in the Room

Callie has become a friend through many backchannel emails but she is known for work in the publishing world as a publicist for such luminaries as Col. TX Hammes, General Hugh Shelton, Nathaniel Fick and, naturally, Steven Pressfield. It is good to see Callie blogging with Steve; here’s a sample with some sage advice for would-be authors:

….For now, I want to jump back to Shawn Coyne’s first “What It Takes column”-“Getting the Meeting“-in which he shared the big elephant in the sales room:

“My colleagues and I were not in the business of selling to consumers. We made (and our authors made) our livelihood by selling to retailers.”

Delete the word retailers and insert traditional media and you’ll have the big elephant in the publicity room.

Traditional media has always been the way-point on publishers’ routes to connect with consumers. Book reviews, radio and television interviews, and magazine features have been the middlemen. With a few exceptions, direct-connects between publishers, publicists, authors and readers didn’t exist.

As we started building awareness for Steve’s blog, his work was featured by traditional outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the NY Daily News,  and Newsweek. These are the outlets publishers and their sales reps like to see.

Reality: None of these outlets triggered the traffic that we witnessed when Crossfit posted the name of one of Steve’s blog series on its site. That was Oct. 2, 2009, and we’re still seeing traffic from the Crossfit community today. The same is true for sites such as Small Wars Journal and individual bloggers Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. Instapundit) and Seth Godin.

Traditional media outlets have never covered even a dime in the dollar of books published each year. Everyone wants in, but there’s not enough room. And even though specific genres have never received equal coverage from traditional media outlets-military, science-fiction, and romance come to mind-many of the publishers and authors of these books continue traditional pitching, hoping something will stick. Why? Because that’s what’s always been done.

Those interested in having Callie’s professional expertise at their disposal can contact her at Oettinger & Associates.

Thomas P.M. BarnettThe final version of the Sino-American grand strategy “term sheet” , WPR’s The New Rules: Obstacles to a U.S.-China Partnership Made in U.S.A.? , Esquire: “When China Ruled the World” (January issue)

Due to some serious offline issues the past few months, I have not been able to devote a sufficient amount of attention to a number of significant projects and arguments going on in this corner of the blogosphere. A critical one is Dr. Barnett’s attempt to fashion a potential “grand bargain” for Sino-American relations, which he has done in partnership with John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, with the support of Wikistrat, for whom Tom is the resident Chief Analyst. Given the reception the proposal has received in Beijing, this is Tom’s most significant geostrategic work since The Pentagon’s New Map.

I am going to give this fuller analytical examination in the near future, but here is some explanation from Dr. Barnett:

….Okay, a gruesome analogy, perhaps, but apt. I’m here to tell you that America plunged its fingertips into the Middle Kingdom’s body politic across the 1970s, beginning with Nixon going to China in 1972 and culminating with Jimmy Carter’s normalization of relations in 1979. The first embrace allowed aged Mao Tse-tung to extinguish his nonstop internal purge known as the Cultural Revolution by firewalling his fears of Soviet antagonism. The second cemented China’s wary-but-increasingly-warm relationship with the United States and allowed Deng Xiaoping, who narrowly survived Mao’s insanities, to dismantle the dead emperor’s dysfunctional socialist model, quietly burying Marx with the most revolutionary of eulogies – to get rich is glorious!

Deng chose wisely: Reversing Mikhail Gorbachev’s subsequent logic, he focused on the economics while putting off the politics. This decision later earned him the sobriquet “the butcher of Tiananmen” when, in 1989, the political expectations of students quickly outpaced the Party’s willingness for self-examination. But it likewise locked China onto a historical pathway from which it cannot escape, or what I call the five D’s of the dragon’s decline from world-beater to world-benefactor: demographics, decrepitude, dependency, defensiveness, and – most disabling of all – democratization.

Eide Neurolearning BlogAnalogy as the Core of Cognition, Curiosity and the Creative Drive

Two excellent metacognitive posts by the Drs. Eide:

Jonah Lehrer adds this additional interesting reflection: “the scientists found is that curiosity obeys an inverted U-shaped curve, so that we’re most curious when we know a little about a subject (our curiosity has been piqued) but not too much (we’re still uncertain about the answer). This supports the information gap theory of curiosity, which was first developed by George Loewenstein of Carnegie-Mellon in the early 90s. According to Loewenstein, curiosity is rather simple: It comes when we feel a gap “between what we know and what we want to know”. This gap has emotional consequences: it feels like a mental itch, a mosquito bite on the brain. We seek out new knowledge because we that’s how we scratch the itch.”

This is a prerequisite for insightful breakthroughs – the desire to “know” is high without the student having internalized the “rules” of what the field consensus considers “impossible”.

Colonel Robert Killebrew at CNASCrime Wars: Gangs, Cartels and U.S. National Security (PDF)

This report is from late September but I only ran across it now – strongly recommended.

SEEDOn Education

Frames the epistemic problem of systemic paralysis by analysis in the face of uncertainty and complexity very well:

…The global skill gap arises because neither the high-level specialist within a discipline nor the policy-school graduate is likely to be equipped with the skills needed to solve global problems of a cross-disciplinary nature. The experts provide crucial insights, but their skills are typically focused on generating research, debating ideas, and addressing narrow issues rather than large-scale professional problem solving and management. Meanwhile, the policy graduate typically lacks the grounding in core scientific principles across the appropriate range of topics. The solution lies in training sophisticated science-educated generalists who can coordinate insights across disciplines while managing complex agendas for results.

The National Security ArchiveThe United States and Pakistan’s Quest for the Bomb

That’s it!

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