I am walking through an airport in one of the Europe’s capitals. Passing along rows of monitors I cannot help watching the advertisements. As I walk, one advertisement changes another but the main theme remains. There is always a white family or a bunch of white friends and the main protagonist helping them is black. Every single time. The main character is black and he helps white people, who are, of course, helpless. Mind you, the public at the airport is uniformly white. What is that? What are we supposed to think when we see that?Permanent link to this article →
“Russia has pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But the dispatch of Russian fighter jets Thursday to patrol borders and drills by some 150,000 Russian troops — almost the entirety of its force in the western part of the country — signaled strong determination not to lose Ukraine to the West.” — AP reports.
I certainly do hope so. Of course, in our strange world all sort of weird things happen, but it would be despicable for Russia to let Ukraine and especially Crimea fall under the rule of Western Europe.
Overall, I am getting stronger and stronger feeling that this whole thing with Ukraine is just a way for the West to shift the attention of Russia from the Middle East, like Syria, Egypt and Iran, towards something more immediate and close. They probably reckon Russia will not be able to deal with several problems at the same time and will concentrate on the problem on its own border rather than far, far away. Pulling Russia into this game will get the West all sorts of political benefits, tie up Russia’s resources, allow manipulation of the country’s perception abroad and so on. Even so, I believe Russia must not abandon Ukraine.Permanent link to this article →
I was standing in the queue to the border control in Frankfurt. A small queue, ten people or so, two windows. When I was the second in queue, two guys run from behind and create a second queue parallel to ours. I expressed my displeasure in no uncertain terms, asking them to queue behind us. They just stayed there and kept saying that there are two windows and there should be two queues. And everyone else is just pretending not to be there. Unfortunately the dim young German border guard took it upon himself to order two queues. Understandably, he did not want a fight. On the other hand, the rude and egoistic assholes win again. What does it tell me? I guess I will try to make sure my children can play rude egoistic assholes to get ahead in the world. I just hope it will not become their nature. Welcome to an ever worse world, everyone.Permanent link to this article →
I get hit sometimes by sudden realizations of monumental nature. Or so they seem to me at the time. Here is another one that hit me right after breakfast the day before. It is good food for thought:
Consequence: your idea of independent thought and action is likely different from the person that you are talking to unless you grew together in one village and even then.
I was thinking about how talking to Germans and Americans is different, how differently they react to similar questions. I am seeing a seriously different attitude towards independence and autonomy of thought. People feel themselves entitled to completely different ways and they also expect the corresponding familiar behavior from others that often does not match on the other side, resulting in unmet expectations and disappointment.
The Americans appear to be bent on autonomy, they believe they are on their own, they are in a sort of a fight of “me against all” or something similar. I am exaggerating, of course, but I do so to make my point. They feel entitled to complete independence of thought and taking decisions. Americans will happily tramp on your fingers when it suits their personal interests. They will use any opportunity to get ahead personally and will not like to be held back into the group.
An American manager does not assume automatic allegiance from his subordinates, especially from across levels. Neither would he rely on the colleagues and management until he is sure where their interests align. Americans are nearly direct in finding out the details of their situation. The end result is, of course, that you cannot assume the good will and allegiance on the part of an American colleague unless you can find out that your interests align. And if you happen to have opposite interests… there is no compromise, usually, so it would do you good to prepare for the battle.
The Germans seem to be on the other side of the scale. They do not seem to be interested in autonomy. Apparently they think it is a virtue to proclaim their allegiance and uphold their loyalty to whatever group they happen to be in, even to the detriment of their own interests. Again, I am exaggerating to make a point. Germans will actually forgo chances to get ahead in the world if it would cause others to doubt their loyalty ever so slightly. Mind you, I am not talking about politicians here but about normal people working in German companies. They will insist on getting things done “properly”, which in their mind means through the “right channels of hierarchy and allegiance”.
In practice, this means respecting multiple structures. There is the structure of the company where the subordinates are automatically loyal to their manager. There is the structure of the professional groups where one belongs nearly automatically. There is the structure of rules and guidelines that have to be respected to the letter and represent a yet another allegiance. So when you talk to a German colleague, you better find out what structures he belongs to and try to use those to your advantage instead of attempting to extricate a German from his “natural alliances”. On the other hand, it may turn out that you already belong to some such structure together and that would make your colleague automatically your ally. Is it not wonderful?
This attitude towards independence is also influenced by the person’s own character but for most people this adjustment is minimal. What is your own attitude? Are you independent or loyal? What are your expectations of others? You have to answer these questions to remove one more veil from your understanding of the world and improve your communication.Permanent link to this article →
Permanent link to this article →
Only because I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game we’re playing, we can’t win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that’s all.
– George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
The business world never seizes to amaze. Another great company bites the dust – Sony Corporation. The company was brought to a complete distraction in just 15 years. Well, ok, it still exists but that is, first, not for long, and second, that is a pitiful shadow of the once great company.
In the news, Sony is selling its computer business “to concentrate on mobile”. What a load of bullshit. Sony is also apparently spinning out its TV business. Am I the only one that finds it all hard to believe? Sony, the great empire of video everything – video recording, video transmission, video viewing, video gaming – is going to concentrate on mobile phones. What a joke. Sony always had and still has the greatest technology in video and throwing all that out of the window is just, well, business nonsense. And therefore something else will happen.
I have a feeling of a deja vu with this story. Nokia folded while being the market leader to concentrate on, what, networks. Now Sony is folding while being the market leader to concentrate on mobile. Nonsensical explanations at best for the rest of us.
When did it all start? Sony started to sell off its assets, buildings in the first place, some time around the turn of the century. That was a clear indication of things going quite wrong financially – someone wanted the cash and did not care at what price to the company it would come. That started the financial erosion of the company that progressed swiftly: I do not think Sony owns much in terms of property anymore. Sony announced to stop manufacturing the Aibo robot dog in 2006 and that was the clear beginning of an end in technological sphere. Best and inventive products were not encouraged, the research engineers were the first to go in the several job cut rounds that followed. No new and exciting products came out.
There could be more at play that is obvious to me but these two pillars of destruction: financial erosion and enforced technological stagnation are already unsurprisingly sufficient to bring a company to its knees. Or to bring Sony to an extremely vulnerable position, ready for a takeover, if you prefer. And that is exactly what we see happening – takeover of key businesses of Sony by overseas companies. That is what it is all about. Who will get the Sony logo?
Good-bye, Sony. I will keep a fond memory of you.Permanent link to this article →
I quite enjoy reading Zen Habits and recently came across a discussion of social isolation that happens to people who are not quite like everyone else.
Being different means some people don’t know what to talk to me about, because the normal topics don’t apply to me. It’s harder for them to relate.
Yes, I can certainly see how that may happen. We were talking with a friend the other day and he mentioned that other people find it difficult when he does not talk to them of sports and politics. They seem not to know what else they could converse about. And we, me and him, can roam the city together for the length of a whole day and never run out of subjects to discuss. And we never talk about football.
I do not like myself to talk trivial subjects like sports. I think sport is there to do it, not to talk about. So it is great if you play football and can tell me about your game, but if you only see it on television, why talk about it? I often have this difficulty with business people of all sorts. They would invite me to a dinner and then fall into an awkward silence when they find out I do not plan to have a meaningless conversation about baseball. And then it is like if they have nothing else to talk about! People feel themselves on unfamiliar ground, they are lost, they struggle to find a subject of conversation…
But behold – just ask a few questions to find out what really interests them, and the same people will liven your whole evening with tales of fishing in Thailand or going around the world in a kayak. Is it not far more interesting and enjoyable than a place-filling and time-wasting standard sports conversation? And if they do not have any interests beyond eating, drinking and watching sports on television, I do appreciate that they never call on me again.
Sometimes I just don’t feel like hanging out with people who are being unhealthy or going through life not caring about what they do or who just want to get drunk or stoned. I don’t think they’re bad people, but it’s not that fun for me.
Precisely. We do not want those people to waste the time of our lives. Let us have conversations that matter.Permanent link to this article →
It has been my opinion for many years now that a human cannot stay permanently the same or to stop developing and maintain the available level. Trying to maintain the existing situation leads to degradation. Once you stop, degradation kicks in. So how could we maintain the resistance to change while avoiding degradation if we really, really want it?
There is probably no way to maintain a permanent status quo over all aspects of life. However, there could be a way if we wanted to maintain the situation in a limited area or in a single aspect of the life. Change and learning could be moved, at the expense of some loss in effectiveness, from one area to another.
Strangely, the nowadays popular “minimalists” have made me think about it. Simply put, they resist clutter in their lives and homes. Leaving aside all the positive effects, many of them basically manage to resist changes in the level of material possessions they have. Some of them go as far as to live with just one hundred things for years. And at the same time they are active, creative people.
There is a difference between passively refusing change and actively resisting it. If you simply refuse to change and stay put, you will not learn anything new and will start forgetting the old, so you go down the degradation path. But you can also start actively resisting the changes, analysing them, finding new creating ways to avoid new things coming into your life. That makes you advance in other areas, like creative living, and certainly would keep you as a whole from degradation.
Basically, it is not the end that matters but the means. As long as we are active, as long as we are analysing, thinking, creating, life goes on. This all comes back somewhat to the well-known: “Live the life, do not let it happen to you.”Permanent link to this article →
When I watch the sea I wonder about men. I had this realisation that men are very much like the sea. The sea is ever-changing and still always the same. One can watch the sea for hours in its ever-changing glory and no two waves will be exactly the same. And the sea waves will continue to beat against the shore in this same way long after we are gone.
What does this have to do with men? Men have a lot of resistance to change and inertia. It is very, very hard to make men change. Men rarely learn and often keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And yet, at the same time, men are the most flexible creatures, with a great capacity for learning, adaptation and change. Men keep constantly changing, learning bits and pieces all the time, adapting to this and that while remaining stubbornly entrenched in their ways. Is this not amazing?
The dualism makes men great and at the same time it is the downfall of men. The full spectrum from total conservatism to fluidity is available. Unfortunately, we like getting stuck on one or the other side. Attaching yourself to one or another extreme ensures the downfall like nothing else. Look, we have the freedom to choose from the whole range of behaviour and thinking, there is no inherent limitation, we do not need to get stuck one way or another. We want to maintain the freedom, the ability to be both at the same time.
Only, to choose, to be able to use the choice, man must first become aware. Aware of his situation, aware of the possibilities, aware of the choice.Permanent link to this article →
Happy New Year! Best wishes to all, health and wealth and all!Permanent link to this article →