Dear Shipmates:  Thanks for the fellowship during our sea/land voyage up the West Coast of Africa. We have to admire Jim Kelley and Marty Klein – brilliantly interesting intellects that make a lot of sense – and also the foto work by Tenacious Tor Lund.

Our one big disappointment was not hearing Brian Shuler play the piano.  Has anyone read his resume?

Photos: We selected 1000 (discarding 13000) fotos to edit in adobe CS6. We also copied some fotos from the share computer in the mudroom, lower deck to fill in foto-ops we missed. Some of these appear similar to photos just released in the recent guest photo download which has a copyright. We do not plan to use our photos for commercial purposes; rather for our extended family, educational and teaching purposes; although some may end up on YouTube with credits wherever appropriate. . 

So far we have placed about 500+ fotos on  for our extended family.  The remaining need more editing before inclusion. In any event you are welcome to take any of the fotos by clicking on the link below, as long as they are not used for commercial purposes.

These fotos are low resolution for web surfing.  If anyone wants high resolution fotos from our NAS, let us know by private email.

Eventually, we will create a high quality multi-media video and slide show.

We hope everyone appreciates the work by Phil Strauss to make this contact list available.  We do not want to abuse this list.  If anyone wants to communicate with us, we should be delighted to hear from anyone and everyone, but please do not use the Phil Strauss Contact List.   We own a lot of bandwidth on the internet so you can find us in a lot of places if you want to contact us.

Thanks for your fellowship making it an outstanding educational adventure.

Carole and Joe Brophy

Ps: The Explorer trip will help Joe in his teaching classes at Dartmouth and Colby Sawyer in the fall on the NIC Global Trends 2030 report, as well as lectures. What happens in Africa is an important part of the Global Assessment. If you are interested in what’s on his mind, or have a point of view, let him know; otherwise hope to see you all again on Lindblad.   We also would love to hear about any plans for additional National Geographic Lindblad trips y’all are planning. We are booked solid until next January 2014.  Then we are on the go again.


Please ignore the following notes unless you have nothing more important.

Carole and Joe took the West Africa Trip to round out our understanding of the world situation. We love Lindblad too.  We have about 100 pages of notes that we are trying to digest to make an entertaining summary of our trip and all the wonderful people we met.

The African trip fits perfectly into a course on NIC Global Trends 2030 that Joe was asked to teach this fall. Big governments and corrupt governments will be somewhat overwhelmed by change and lack of competency and will be forced to cede power to NGOs and non-state states. The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace is an example of an NGO, started by women in Liberia that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, the movement started with thousands of local women praying and singing in a fish market daily for months. They collectively mobilized their efforts, staged silent nonviolence protests that included a sex strike and the threat of a curse.  Being Irish, Joe would never mess with a curse.

The voyage was a mind altering experience for us; changing some of our beliefs and reinforcing other beliefs.  For example, Joe now believes that Islam is indeed the greatest of belief systems; Mohamed got it right!  [Greatest in the sense of fervor and effectiveness and sustainability.]

We spent six weeks in Africa on the National Geographic/Lindblad expedition ship - Explorer with 120 passengers, average age about 70, [anyone know the actual average age?] the majority with advanced degrees and well known in their respective fields.  The ship was our luxury hotel with 3-5star meals and outstanding service (thank you Renaldo!).  We sailed the west coast from Capetown [a mini-San Francisco, and seemingly pronounced cape-ten by locals] to Morocco, a total of 10,000 miles (7500m at sea and 2500m inland on bumpy roads), stopping at 24 ports in 17 of the purported 64 countries of Africa.   We were denied or refused entry in certain countries like Nigeria and Demrep Congo for security reasons; someone please correct us if we are wrong.

Africa is incomprehensible and unfathomable and does not lend itself to generalization, but it is rich in people and mineral resources. it contains about 64 countries, about 3500 languages from about 100 language families, about 1.1 billion people, give or take 20%; no consistent data; nobody knows for sure; there are only a few regional statistical gathering coalitions. 

A continent of extremes, rich and poor, but mostly poor people (but not in spirit) – virtually no middle class.  Suffering from a great population displacement caused by political turmoil and war, and/or hope for jobs in the port cities with offshore oil drilling; which some believe a scourge. For example, the progressive (and gay but durable) King Mohammed VI, Morocco refused offshore oil drilling in favor of rebuilding the interior infrastructure of Morocco to encourage people to work outside of the big cities.  King Mohammed VI may be a visionary. The NIC Global Trend 2030 anticipates the annual surplus capacity of shale gas may exceed 8 million barrels, at which point OPEC would lose price control and crude oil prices would collapse, adversely impacting oil-export economies; and a boon to the USA.

The maternal mortality rate in mid-Africa is a shocking 30 to 50 times that in the USA.  The USA is four times greater than Finland and 20 times greater than Estonia; in the USA drug use among minorities may be the factor, although Amnesty International blames higher rates in the USA on racism.

Another disturbing observation in poorer countries is the litter and debris. The debris may have resulted from the years of war and turmoil which unfortunately involved teen-age children fighters who were forced to kill their parents; perhaps producing a numbness to life and the environment. 

In large area markets like the Gabon market, the litter and garbage was repulsive and seemed inexcusable.  Joe stepped out of his assigned mini-van to snap a picture when suddenly all the buses moved on without him.  Lost in the middle of the teeming variegated Gabon market!  After cerebration, Joe moved up to a conspicuous equilateral triangular island (side = 25’) which facilitated the convergence and branching of three roads.  The island was filled with smelly gurgling garbage teeming with a haze of microbes from rotten bananas to fish gizzards; but the upside was a colorful glob of garbage for a suitable foto-op. Joe waited patiently for an hour+ with a few picky egrets, watching everyone watching him, until he was rescued by Brian Schuler (anyone read Brian’s resume?)  Snapping hundreds of pictures of the piles of variegated garbage from various angles.

In many towns we did not find a single garbage can.  This was in sharp contrast to Arab and/or predominately Islamic countries, which were for the most part free of litter, or, where dirt and rubbish were swept into neat piles; except for plastic bottles on the sides of roads.

The young black people are handsome and attractive. Many had perfectly formed teeth; who provides the dental care?  The young people were engaging, smart, energetic, entrepreneurial and friendly.  Those people we talked with seemed spiritual in persona, especially the educated Muslims.


It was said by our on-board experts that Blacks are Christian or Muslim by day, but animist by night.  Many tribal cultures like the Celts were pagan, animistic: (little people, spirits in animals, plants, in the forests and pools, and inanimate objects); and that Caribbean Voodoo was a byproduct of animism and Catholicism.

Islam is growing because it is easier to become a Muslim than a Christian for reasons only partially detailed here. But black Islam behavior differs in practice from Arab Islamic culture.  The Koran (Qur’an) describes a cosmic way of life with lots of vague and often contradictory rules; the mullahs are lawyers; so in many cases, it is not too complicated – you can’t eat pork and you must pay 2.5% to take care of the poor.

Other times it gets quite complex and fuzzy.  Remember, Islam is cosmic polity controlled at the local level; there is no papacy.

Islam describes a brotherhood, a culture, a way of life, a civil and ecclesiastical and military polity at the “local” level.  There is no Pope, but instead: lots of theatres and players; so it is easy to take a “Boston Marathon” incident and generalize to blaspheme the Muslims.  The”Hate Islam” propaganda the USA is founded on mis-disinformation.  The USA did not start as a cosmic polity; church and state were separated; many branches of knowledge were compartmentalized within legal and now politically correct boundaries.  The 11,500 people killed annually in alcohol related accidents are not described as Christians or Jews, but rather drunks and/or victims.

Christianity (which is wonderful from my personal perspective as a once would be novice Trappist [OCSO] monk,  with 16 years of high quality catholic schooling, and hundreds of hours of private theology tuition)  is dogmatic and ritual based, created by theologians and guarded by priests who are not lawyers.  For example, the Trinity describes a mind boggling theology, not easily intellectually accessible to pagan, animists or of any practical importance in their daily living.

Christianity as we know it today in the USA is not a way of life; it is neither tribal nor cultural; nor is it a political block; there is no Catholic vote.  “Tis individualistic: “me and my creator.”  Many Christians will disagree with this description; claiming they practice their religion as a group and as a way of life. However, most Christians do not practice within a Christian culture but rather in a social milieu; . t’is not possible!;  the exception being religious orders. The USA is an inexorably growing  as a pervasive secular culture.  This argument does not apply to  Judaism, Mormonism or Opus Dei which are very strong cultural belief systems. 

It would seem that a fair way to assess the cosmic Islamic culture is to compare it with the emerging secular culture in the USA which is a growing cosmic polity shielded more and more by political correctness and weak rule of law.

When one compares violence in an Islamic culture with violence in a secular culture like the USA, the statistics are actuarially entirely favorable for Islam.  Islamic violence is dwarfed by the secular violence in the USA: murders, rapes, abortions, suicides, deaths as a result of criminal and illegal activities. About 3% of Americans have spent time in prisons; the highest percentage in the world.  Secularism is more violent than Islam by a factor of at least 1000 to 1.  Some would argue that abortion is non-violent.

Religions not rooted in a cultural milieu will wither; consequently Islam will continue to grow inexorably faster, but not quite exponentially faster, than other belief systems.  Global Trends 2030 also sees Islamic terrorism fading away; perhaps paving the way for Islamic non-violent global domination.   Certainly, in the absence of competent governance and rule of law, which pervades most of the world, people turn to religion or NGOs.  Another important factor is the surging economy of Turkey which is now ranked about #17, and could emerge in the top 10 economies by 2030 and as a leader in a new Ottoman empire.   Today about 23% [CIA World Fact Book] of the world is Muslim; by 2050 we should expect the Islam to be the majority belief system.

Global Trends 2030 sees Islamic terrorism being replaced by “other” terrorist organizations with WMD technology at their beckoning. Counter-terrorists experts see the terrorist threats contained.

Global Trends 2030 speculates whether the modern liberal order will survive.  One could argue that in the years beyond 2030, the ultimate confrontation will be cosmic Islam versus cosmic secularism. (Parenthetically, it is interesting to note that Islamic countries have low [favorable] GINI coefficients.)


It seems that most of the young people in Africa have cell phones, and a cell phone business.  My cousin, John Francis Mitchell, vice-chair, Motorola, who invented the cell phone, would have been so pleased to visit Africa today. []

While driving to the hinterlands in both Togo and Liberia, Joe counted as many as 50 motorcycles per minute (almost all with two passengers) driving aggressively in the opposite direction towards town.  We were told by the bus tour guides, (those of which we could barely comprehend) that the motor cycles cost about $700 each and all are made in or by China.

One has to be impressed by the vitality of the young people, and saddened with the knowledge that they are being robbed of the new national wealth being created by their corrupt leaders. They all are victims of war and turmoil brought about by corrupt leaders and adversaries who in many cases were pawns in the Russian/Cuban/West Cold War.

Joe wants to argue that colonialism was not all bad (all things considered and considering all the humanitarian abuses on all sides); but why then didn’t African colonies go the way of Scotland, Canada, and Australia?  Corruption! Joe seems to think that the French had a more powerful and positive influence on African colonies much of which may have been eroded by the recent wars and turmoil.  Joe was surprised at times to find that he could communicate better in French than English in the French speaking countries.

Half the people now live in cities and 75% in slums – held together by string and chewing gum.  The move to the cities was accelerated by new off shore oil production without adequate housing infrastructure.  Unfortunately, at least 15% of oil exports disappear into purloin-pockets of corrupt leaders.  [Corruption index by country:]

According to Explorer chief scientist, Jim Kelley, a small area, about one tenth of 1% of the world’s sea surface, off the western shores of Africa, is so rich in nutrients because of the upwellings, that it produces 50% of the world’s fish.  [Joe has not been able to reconcile these %s with oceanic data and needs guidance from Jim Kelley.]  The fish mamas [e.g. along the Takoradi fishing village near Cape Coast Castle, Ghana] keep track of all fish production in their heads which is remarkable considering the complexity in the chain of 23 nodes in the fish marketing and distribution system.  There is a great deal of illegal fishing off West Africa.  China is a very major player in fishing off Africa.

It is reported that the Africans like the Chinese.  The Chinese are hidden but occasionally you’ll find a coolie hat on a serious looking Chinese supervisor, directing a work gang of black people.

There are at least one million and perhaps as many as 3,000,000 Chinese in Africa. They are somewhat hidden but they integrate well in the local towns.  The Chinese do not live in enclaves but are integrated with the Africans. When they plant a vegetable garden, they plant one for their African neighbor; source: Professor xxxxx, Dartmouth in a recent lecture.   China makes no political or humanitarian demands on their hosts.  They build cricket and soccer fields and big stadia for free for the local communities, while working on bridges, harbors and uranium and precious mineral mining. 

Slavery: ranks with genocide as the greatest of evils. Slavery and genocide are related.  Slavery is a major flaw in Christian fellowship.  The word slavery derives from the word Slavic.  The Slavic people were enslaved by the Celts and Romans. Forty % of the Roman populous were slaves. The Celts had a caste system. White slavery probably existed as long as black slavery.  The African tribal chiefs enslaved blacks, to eliminate rivals and adversaries, and for profit.  The trade winds and sugar made slavery inevitable.  [Worth a quick study of this oceanic trade wind phenomenon.].  About 14 million black slaves were exported.  Two million died in passage. Ten million went to Brazil and Caribbean and eventually died off or intermarried.  Sugar cane production was brutal work and many slaves in Brazil and Caribbean were worked to death.  One-half million slaves were sent to the USA for cotton production; and were well cared for (relatively speaking). The American slaves octupled in number by the Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves in 1863. [Most of these facts were discussed by Professor Marty Klein; and we have corroborated all of them.]

We were fortunate to have three world class professors on board on sabbatical.  Martin Klein, a NYC suburb Jewish kid reminded Joe of the Jewish kids in his NYC gang as a youth.  Joe’s gang was named the Celts, and they wore green jackets, and they included several smart Jewish kids who went on to become Wall Street lawyers. Klein is now professor of African history at UToronto, wrote 8 books on Africa and slavery. Joe’s esteemed cousin, Reverend John C. Sivalon, from Butte MT, former Superior General of Maryknoll Missions, was Superior General in Tanzania for 25 years.  He and his colleagues said that Professor Klein was highly regarded in academia.  Klein’s frequently asked question by students:  “How can European Christians sell slaves?”  Klein’s answer: “How can European Christians kill each other in European wars?”  Klein’s final analysis:  European Christians (and earlier cultures) viewed Slavics and Blacks as inferior humans. Joe, who was a Celt in a previous life, believes cultural racism is coded in the genome. In the case of the Celts it was rooted in superstition and superior weapons and fighting skills.

The young blacks that we met and observed have a can-do attitude.  No hoodies; no Al Sharpton’s; sorry folks; don’t mean to offend any liberals. Joe is thick Irish (thick is pronounced with a silent h). His papa planted and picked periderm pomme-potatoes for Protestants for pennies per pound (kilo-pounds, that is) in Ireland as a pre-teenager. His mama was abused by the Black & Tans.  After Joe’s visit to Africa and discussions on slavery (which Joe abhors), he now believes racism is way over-hyped in the USA, and that informed Blacks should play down the rhetoric.

Certain Africa countries, coalitions and cultural groups can have a very bright future if they divest from their corrupt leadership problems. China may be good for Africa.

Joe has a lot more to say in his annotated slides and videos; a picture is worth 1000 words. His work will find its way to YouTube.

Joe has been asked to teach courses in the fall at Dartmouth and Colby Sawyer on the NIC CIA Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds Quadrennial Report. He has been deeply involved with these quadrennial reports for the past 20 years. The reports have been excellent but tend to underestimate the acceleration of change.


The catalog description follows: Global Trends 2030 Alternative Worlds: quadrennial report by the National Intelligence Council for the President. The reports have been in ILEAD's curriculum for more than 15 years. 


“. . . The idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant . . .” we resist it. John Maynard Keynes. “We are at a critical juncture in human history which could lead to widely contrasting futures,” Chris Kojm, director NIC. “By 2030, no country will be a hegemonic power.” Power will flow from big government to non-states & informal networks largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750.  However, there are “game changers” including “a resurgence of American Power.”  Which outcomes are more likely?

The report solicited input from world leaders.  The estimates focus on megatrends (predictable), game changers & alternative worlds. There's uncertainty about the influence of technology except for biological & lethal precision weaponry available to groups who do harm. Given the several 2030 scenarios, what should the POTUS, Congress, Military & CIA be doing now to optimize the options available to our children?

Classes include half-hour discussions, expert analyses and videos; short presentations by willing class members, and polls of opinions to assess our changes in thinking.


December 2012; NIC 2012-001; Isbn  978-1-929667-21-5; Twitter:  @odni_nic


Acceleration is a key concept to anticipate and analyze future trends and changes. Our mind is programmed for linear abstraction. Analysis of logarithmic graphs compared to linear graphs helps improve comprehension of futures.  Joe believes we are on the foothills of accelerating Kurzweilean change that will stun most folks. The NIC CIA report is uncertain about the force of technology in 2030, except that a wider spectrum of instruments of war—especially precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weaponry—will become accessible. Individuals and small groups will have the capability to perpetrate large-scale violence and disruption—a capability formerly the monopoly of states.

One of the likely-unlikely alternative world scenarios is the diminution of big government to a world driven by “non-nation states,” informal networks, and “NGOs. Future technology (on the workbench today) will enable all of this and more.  African cultural units, which in many cases cross country boundaries, could be a major force if unleashed (maybe with the help of China.)  The young people in Africa are very smart and entrepreneurial but they have been screwed over by their corrupt leaders.  If the young people are unleashed effectively, then African coalitions could be a powerhouse.

We are at the foothills of change that is incomprehensible unless one stares at graphs displaying the underlying exponential forces in play.

Brophy Saturday 29 June 2013 - 10:46 pm | | Brophy Blog

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