PREDATORY THINKING IN SPACE

 

In 1957, America was stunned.
The Russians launched Sputnik: the world’s first satellite.
It passed over the USA every 90 minutes, sending out radio signals.
The USA couldn’t shoot it down, they didn’t have the technology.
The entire country was petrified.
American newspapers went into hysterics.
With a fleet of satellites, Russia could hit the USA whenever they wanted.
America, the world’s most powerful country was defenceless.
At that moment the Space Race began.
For the next twenty years America would throw everything they had into beating Russia.
The world could see it was the one country they were scared of.
Russia officially became a global superpower, like the USA.
But what did it look like from the other side, the Russian side?
At the end of World War Two, Russia was broke, they could barely feed their own people.
They tried to build a nuclear missile like America had.
But theirs was too big, too unwieldy, too slow to set up.
So the scientists decided to see if they could use it to launch something, anything, just to keep their jobs.
A crude metal sphere would do, but how would they know if it worked?
They had no radar that could see anything that far away.
The cheapest and easiest way was to fit a small transmitter inside the metal sphere, just sending out “beep beep” signals.
So the Russian scientists sent up the little metal ball and listened for the “beep beep” signals to confirm it worked.
Then they went off to the canteen and thought no more about it.
But the USA didn’t know it was just an empty metal ball.
To them it was something out of science fiction, an immense threat.
When Khrushchev saw the American hysteria he immediately told the scientists to launch more ‘firsts’.
Russia couldn’t afford new missiles so they had to use what they had.
The missile that could just about get something up into orbit.
So they put the first living creature, a dog, into orbit.
Then they put the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit.
Then they put the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into orbit.
Then they had a cosmonaut make the first ever space walk, in orbit.
All the Russians had was a missile that could just about achieve orbit.
But the Americans didn’t know that.
With each ‘first’ the Americans got more hysterical.
As they did, they cemented Russia’s place in the world’s mind as the USA’s only real rival.
For Khrushchev it was a classic piece of marketing.
He made America spend all those billions on advertising Russia.
The world believed America had an equal.
Which is why you want the market leader to respond to your campaign.
To needle them into spending their money on a campaign that advertises your brand.
In the public’s mind it becomes a two horse race.
Your brand is elevated into equality with the market leader.
And that’s how, with hardly any money or resources, the Russian ‘space team’ took market share from the brand leader.
Of course America eventually won the space race, with their vastly superior resources they were always going to.
But Russia made sure the USA spent a lot of their money giving them a piggyback ride.

Read more on PREDATORY THINKING IN SPACE…

WHAT’S A CONNECTION?

 

A week or so ago, the BBC asked me onto a radio programme.

It’s called Moral Maze, and it does what it says on the can.

It debates moral issues.

Read more on WHAT’S A CONNECTION?…

A DIFFERENT KIND OF PREDATORY THINKING

 

Every country struggles with the problem of prostitution.

Traditionally it’s been treated as a crime.

The solution has always been to stop women selling their bodies for sex, by arresting them.

Read more on A DIFFERENT KIND OF PREDATORY THINKING…

IF YOU CAN’T STOP IT, STEER IT

 

Each year a group of neo-Nazis march through a small German town.

They march to the grave of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy.

The townspeople hate the neo-Nazis and the march.

Read more on IF YOU CAN’T STOP IT, STEER IT…

THE BEST BOOKS ARE THE ONES YOU ACTUALLY READ

 

Everywhere you look it’s the same thing: content is king.

I disagree.

Execution is king.

Content is what you find in school textbooks.

It’s information, it’s dull, it’s a penance.

Read more on THE BEST BOOKS ARE THE ONES YOU ACTUALLY READ…

DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD

 

In the third world, 2 million children die each year from diarrhoea and pneumonia.

But we have a treatment that could save 600,000 young lives.

Is it complicated, is it expensive, is it rare?

Read more on DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD…

WHAT DO YOU USE FOR FUEL?

 

In his biography Peter Mead talks about his first job.

He was sixteen, he’d just left school with two ‘O’ level GCSEs.

He was applying for a job as a dispatch boy.

Read more on WHAT DO YOU USE FOR FUEL?…

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIVING AND SURVIVING

 

The vital things for homeless people are food and shelter.

That will keep them alive at least, but it won’t solve the whole problem.

It won’t make them feel like worthwhile human beings.

Read more on THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIVING AND SURVIVING…

DEFINITELY NOT MEADIOCRE

 

I just read Peter Mead’s new autobiography, it’s fascinating of course.

But not for the reason you’d think.

You’d think it would be difficult for him to choose the happiest moment of his life.

Read more on DEFINITELY NOT MEADIOCRE…

WHERE TOUGH GUYS ARE WEAK

 

Prisoners lose touch with their kids while they’re inside.

This alienates them from normal loving relationships, and consequently from the rest of society.

Official statistics show, this makes them eight times more likely to re-offend.

Read more on WHERE TOUGH GUYS ARE WEAK…

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