A possible agenda for a tech workers solidarity movement

The USA example of resistance against Trump in the form of Tech Solidarity quickly gained a following in the Netherlands with TechSolidarity.nl and here in Berlin with some TechSolidarityBerlin. I’ve had a small role in both of those groups’ creation but I’m currently not an active participant.

Tech Solidarity’s success is of course unique to the local environment and Pinboard’s prior activism in tech. That said there are a lot of similarities that make similar movements over here possible and necessary. The Netherlands and Germany have elections this year and are faced with similar populist disruptions. The technology industries here are also very heavily dependent on expat workers who have specific issues and interests. Maybe the time is ripe for people in technology to organize themselves.

The idea of the Berlin organization is not to duplicate efforts. There are already lots of initiatives in Berlin that address most parts of this agenda. What tech solidarity should do here is 1. posit an encompassing vision of what we want to achieve and that it is possible to achieve that together 2. function as a switching board to match people who want to do things with things that need people.

I’m associated with the Berlin meetup but I haven’t attended any of the American events so we had to piece together what we thought would be an agenda for our local context. I suggested these five points that I personally think are relevant and critical right now.

  1. Maintain the freedom of movement and other liberal values that make Berlin and Europe an amazing place to live and work.
    Europe is an unique place in the world—increasingly so, though not as unique as we might like to think. The high standard of living and freedom enjoyed here attract people from all over the world.
    Those positive qualities and the new people they attract are not seen as positive by all Europeans alike. Populist movements want to close borders, go back in time and tear down the institutions of our liberal open societies. These measures will affect foreign workers and immigrants much more than they will local residents.
    What can we do to maintain and strengthen our local social democracies, the institutions that make up Europe and how can we scale out these values?
  2. Make it so that foreigners in Berlin can and do participate in local civil society.
    This is not just a problem for foreigners but they suffer from much higher hurdles when it comes to this. Foreigners are often here temporarily, usually do not speak German and do not get to vote. It is harmful to both residents and to society as a whole for people to be disenfranchised.
    What can be done right now to circumvent those limitations and what needs to be done in the future to create a more vibrant and inclusive civil society?
  3. Support diversity initiatives of all kinds in the workplace.
    In most tech companies in Berlin diversity is neither valued or practiced. Diversity has proven benefits to everybody involved. Also by not starting to practice this now the industry is putting themselves on the back foot when it comes to the future.
    What can we do to increase the awareness and practice of diversity?
  4. Use our skills and resources to help local immigrants and refugees.
    People working in technology have access to an immense amount of economic and social opportunities. People who are new to Berlin or who have already lived here for a while should have access to the same opportunities and be able to contribute their efforts and perspectives.
    How can we educate and include people without traditional paths into technology and make the sector as a whole more open and inclusive?
  5. Formulate actionable positions on professional ethics (data retention, car exhausts etc.).
    We need to formulate professional standards for people working in technology and back them up when they need to hold these up. The potential to do things that are unethical and harmful is increasing rapidly but not everything that is possible should be economically determined.
    What are ethical red lines that we can agree upon and what is practical support we can offer people?

Highlights from The Name of the Rose

”there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.”

He seemed unable to think save with his hands, an attribute I considered then worthier of a mechanic.

Such is the power of the truth that, like good, it is its own propagator.

It does not seem to me that they were preaching things contrary to the Gospel, but when the session of earthly things is in question, it is difficult for men to reason justly.

When female nature, naturally so perverse, becomes sublime through holiness, then it can be the noblest vehicle of grace.

In the Italian city, on the contrary, you must have noticed that goods serve to procure money. And even priests, bishops, even religious orders have to take money into account. This is why, naturally, rebellion against power takes the form of a call to poverty. The rebels against power are those denied any connection with money, and so every call to poverty provokes great tension and argument, and the whole city, from bishop to magistrate, considers a personal enemy the one who preaches poverty too much.

The simple are meat for slaughter, to be used when they are useful in causing trouble for the opposing power, and to be sacrificed when they are no longer of use.

He replied that when your true enemies are too strong, you have to choose weaker enemies.

“But why do some people support them?” “Because it serves their purposes, which concern the faith rarely, and more often the conquest of power.”

I was upset. I had always believed logic was a universal weapon, and now I realized how its validity depended on the way it was employed.

Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

I was told that in that period, for fifteen days and fifteen nights, the rhetoricians Gabundus and Terentius argued on the vocative of ‘ego,’ and in the end they attacked each other, with weapons.

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means, a precept that the commentators of the holy books had very clearly in mind.

Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.

Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.

Europe Was Left #7 – Geert Wilders and PVV’s Decisive Moment

It’s Monday, February 20th and coming to you from Berlin I’m Alper for episode 7 of ‘Europe Was Left’.
The coming Dutch elections are dominated by the specter of Geert Wilders’s far right PVV (the Dutch Freedom Party). The PVV has been on the stage for about a decade now but this is the first election where they are leading in the polls.

Things should be looking up for them, but not everything is going as smoothly as it should.

Some repositioning from their direct competitor the ruling right-wing VVD and other parties has deflated Wilders’s poll lead from its all-time high of 35 to some 25 seats for our parliament of 150. Still huge but no longer unassailable by our current prime minister Mark Rutte.

Not having the electoral stamina to cash in on this early lead was to be expected but there are some other signs that Wilders is stumbling.
He bowed out of the first major television debate with the flimsiest of excuses. Additional parties had been invited to the debate than had been initially agreed upon because the field had narrowed. That change proved too much for Wilders and he refused to participate.

Then he bowed out of another debate by the same television channel because they had interviewed Wilders’s brother about his politics and their family ties. Wilders said this was a disgrace and again refused participation.

His brother does not much approve of Wilders’s extremist politics and has said so occasionally on Twitter over the past years. In the interview he said he’d like their family ties to be reinstated and told that he himself has been the target of threats from Wilders supporters. This is ironic since it is Wilders himself who is always paraded as the imperiled politician.

Two debates down, we are in a situation where he will be only in two major debates before we get to vote. One debate the day before the elections and the other two days before the elections. You would almost think that Wilders’s positions don’t hold up to scrutiny by his political opponents.
Wilders also had his official campaign start last Saturday in Spijkenisse, a town that is the epitome of the beleaguered white working class. For being the candidate who leads in the polls he didn’t manage to draw a huge audience of rapt supporters. Somewhere between 80 and 200 people showed up, about as many as the number of people from news organizations present to cover the event.

Dutch state broadcaster NOS tried to play up his support and opened the eight o’clock news saying that ‘unbelievable crowds of people’ were present. They were supposed to say ‘unbelievably small’ but found themselves too beholden to Wilders to be able to say the truth.

Flanked by his protection detail Wilders attempted to hand out fliers barely able to reach beyond the thicket of domestic and international press.
Wilders is under protection because he offended a bunch of dudes with small dicks ages ago but that doesn’t matter that much anymore. The protection itself has become inseparable from the entity that is Wilders. It is the source of his moral high-horse and his electoral appeal. He has admitted in private that his visible security detail nets him several parliament seats at least.

But threats to ethnically cleanse the Netherlands, such as Wilders has expressed, are not speech that deserves protection. During his last interview Wilders pedaled back from this position but even then: threatening to ethnically cleanse the Netherlands publicly and then backing off when pressed, is also not a speech act that deserves protection.
Yesterday world famous comedian Arjen Lubach aired a long segment exposing the emptiness of Wilders’s where none of his extremist statements are grounded in any kind of reality or backed by even an inkling of a plan.

Lubach’s segment was necessary. Dutch journalists, too afraid to estrange the angry old white man still buying their newspapers, have been lax and mostly absent when it comes to rebuking Wilders. A clear history and overview of the absurdity of Wilders’s position is useful both as a reference and to obliterate any votes he might get from people still susceptible to reason.

What Lubach doesn’t get though is that—well of course Wilders voters don’t watch his show—but more than that it is exactly the impossibility and unreasonableness of Wilders’s positions that makes him so attractive to a certain kind of voters. This is the quality that most makes him a fascist. Wilders’s positions do not need to be practical, or reasonable or anything else, the only thing they need to be is extreme, broad and damaging to elites, foreigners and other undesirables.

Fascists do not care that lots of treaties will have to be rescinded or the constitution will have to be cut up. The one in the White House doesn’t and Wilders won’t either.
I think Wilders is recusing himself from debates and interviews and any other kinds of public exposure that he can’t control because he is getting nervous. The coming elections are his last and best opportunity to seize power and become prime minister of the Netherlands. But even this best opportunity is still pretty uncertain.

If he doesn’t succeed this time and we manage to keep him out, he’ll have to while away another four years in opposition while people better than him govern the country. He can stand on the sidelines and shout things that are even more extreme—or try it, I’m not sure more extreme is physically possible anymore at this point—and spend the rest of his time collaborating with foreign powers and media.

What will be left of him after another four years? Not much I reckon. A decisive electoral defeat come March 15th will stop Wilders and after that we’ll be rid of him.
That’s all for this episode. Like Europe Was Left where you find it, keep the comments coming and talk to you soon.

Highlights from Open City

A grouch through and through, but it was he who first taught me the value of memory, and how to think of it as mental music, a setting to iambs and trochees.

We were all confused about what was happening; we were American, had always thought ourselves so, and not Japanese.

It was I, no less solitary than he but having made the lesser use of the morning, who was to be pitied.

But I was touched not only at the passage of these fixtures in my mental landscape, but also at the swiftness and dispassion with which the market swallowed even the most resilient enterprises.

This was part of my suspicion that there was a mood in the society that pushed people more toward snap judgments and unexamined opinions, an antiscientific mood; to the old problem of mass innumeracy, it seemed to me, was being added a more general inability to assess evidence.

Africa was always waiting, a substrate for the white man’s will, a backdrop for his activities.

It was the art of a country that had an aristocracy but did not have the patronage of courts: a simple, open-faced, and awkward art.

But atrocity is nothing new, not to humans, not to animals.

We had to leave because the future was uncertain. We would have been targeted, that was almost certain, and who knows what else might have happened.

It was only years later, when I became interested in these things for my own sake, that I surmised that my oma, heavily pregnant, had likely been one of the countless women raped by the men of the Red Army that year in Berlin, that so extensive and thorough was that particular atrocity, she could hardly have escaped it.

Not that I liked labor for its own sake—far from it—but I found something true in the work, found something of myself in it.

And the French are lazy, she said, they hate working and are envious of the Flemish. I’ll tell you this in case you don’t hear it from anyone else.

Had Brussels’s rulers not opted to declare it an open city and thereby exempt it from bombardment during the Second World War, it might have been reduced to rubble.

Islam, in its conservative form, was on constant view, though it was not clear to me why this should be so: Belgium had not had a strong colonial relationship with any country in North Africa.

He knew then that difference is never accepted. You are different, okay, but that difference is never seen as containing its own value. Difference as orientalist entertainment is allowed, but difference with its own intrinsic value, no. You can wait forever, and no one will give you that value.

There’s always the expectation that the victimized Other is the one that covers the distance, that has the noble ideas; I disagree with this expectation. It’s an expectation that works sometimes, I said, but only if your enemy is not a psychopath. You need an enemy with a capacity for shame.

It seemed as if the only way this lure of violence could be avoided was by having no causes, by being magnificently isolated from all loyalties. But was that not an ethical lapse graver than rage itself?

It’s a test case of what I believe; people can live together but still keep their own values intact.

But I have been disappointed. Europe only looks free. The dream was an apparition.

If we try to speak to the Palestinian situation, we hear six million.

He had brought me too close to his pain, and I no longer saw him.

That doubt that said, these, too, could have killed and killed and only later learned how to look innocent.

For people to feel that they alone have suffered, it is very dangerous. Having such a degree of resentment is a recipe for trouble. Our society has made itself open for such people, but when they come in, all you hear is complaints.

We’d used up our common ground, and there seemed nothing left to chat about.

It has been much too difficult to pass legislation of this kind. Future generations will perhaps wonder what took us so long.

I am used to it, but it never ceases to surprise me how easy it is to leave the hybridity of the city, and enter into all-white spaces, the homogeneity of which, as far as I can tell, causes no discomfort to the whites in them.

Dutch Public Broadcasting Goes Fake News

Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV —the far right Dutch Freedom Party— had his campaign start today for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Spijkenisse, one of his traditional strongholds.

The eight o’clock news of the NOS (the Netherlands’ state broadcaster) opened with this and their reporter Michiel Breedveld on the scene in the video below said it had attracted ‘an unbelievable crowd of people’.

Other reporters who were on the scene today (1, 2) said the number of people Wilders had attracted was somewhere between 80 to 200 and that the ratio of supporters and press was about 1:1.

Salima Bouchtaoui: ‘Spijkenisse this Saturday morning. Lots of press. And lots of police. Few people.’

Haro Kraak: ‘There were at most 150 supporters of the PVV, probably fewer. And at least as much press, probably more.’

There seems to have been so much press that this was what it looked like most of the time.

This incident is oddly reminiscent of Trump’s inauguration where the actual number of people present was much lower than was claimed by the administration.

But the crucial difference is that Trump was the liar. Wilders could spread the lie that his campaign start ‘had the most people ever’ but why should he if the state broadcaster does it for him?

Update: Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant (a newspaper I’ve given some grief before) calls the NOS’s coverage bad and harmful.

Update: De NOS have posted a rectification on their single page hard to link they use for this.

It’s not the opening of the evening news, but it will have to do. Notably they say they have used ‘wrong words’ to describe the event and they still put the number of supporters at several hundred.

Dutch newspapers should do their jobs

Just another day in the Dutch election campaign.

Geert Wilders posts a photoshopped image (tweet) of Alexander Pechtold his most direct opponent and says ‘Pechtold is protesting alongside Hamas terrorists.’

This is in reaction to the statement by Simone Kukenheim, Alderman of Amsterdam, who said Amsterdam would not recognize fascist policies under a possible Wilders government and could look to secede.

Alexander Pechtold was not amused since he has had to defend himself from death threats caused by these kind of insinuations before. Unlike Wilders Pechtold does not gain that much electorally from having his life put in danger.

This seems to have gotten really under Wilders’s skin (I talk a bit about it at the end of Europe Was Left #4), maybe because a sovereignty move from Amsterdam would effectively make him a foreigner again.

I inquire whether there is a Dutch newspaper that will do their jobs and take him to task for spreading a false image. Margriet Oostveen posting the original tweet works at the Volkskrant. The Volkskrant is what some people in the Netherlands consider to be a quality newspaper.

I don’t get a reply from her but a question back: ‘Which paper are you subscribed to?’ The answer is that I just subscribed to the New York Times. I am actually looking for a Dutch publication right now and can’t find anything suitable.

I offer to buy any article of theirs that is critical of Geert Wilders. I am told I am lazy and I should get lost. I then remember @Disruptia had pointed out that Margriet Oostveen just wrote a fairly neutral piece about Pegida.

Then later that afternoon former politician Tofik Dibi tweets a quote from the same Volkskrant where the political editor of that newspaper Frank Hendrickx in his coverage seems to have written that ‘It is unclear whether the PVV (the political party of which Geert Wilders is the dictator) knew the image was doctored.’

The second tweet is him saying that sentence was removed. I found and purchased the piece on their site using Blendle and I couldn’t find that sentence in it. The article isn’t even that bad but that makes it all the more difficult to understand how something that stupid could end up in there.

This is one case, the above mentioned nuancing of right-wing extremist group Pegida is another and the list goes on and on. The only thing you could say is that the Volkskrant is not as bad as some other Dutch newspapers. But at this point I don’t have much use for effectively slanted, pretending to be fair and balanced reporting.

Finally I said ‘Volkskrant more like Völkische Krant’ which is not fair. I take that back. But they definitely aren’t a Münchener Post either.

Highlights from Blue Mars

it might have been only a temporary confluence of interests, but everything was temporary now— with so many traditions broken or vanished, it left what John used to call the necessity of creation;

They were apolitical, supposedly, like civil servants— empiricists, who only wanted things managed in a rational scientific style, the greatest good for the greatest number, which ought to be fairly simple to arrange, if people were not so trapped in emotions, religions, governments, and other mass delusional systems of that sort.

For the adepts, the walk from Sabishii up onto the massif must have been an aesthetic journey, filled with allusions and subtle variants of tradition that were invisible to him. Hiroko would have called it areoformation, or the areophany.

To see the landscape in its history, to read it like a text, written by its own long past;

Less obviously visionary, perhaps, less spectacular, less active; an acceptance of what was there; love of rock, for rock’s sake. For Mars’s sake.

That must be why they’re killing each other— they know what they’re thinking themselves, and so they suspect all the others. How ugly. How sad.

“The so-called risk of the capitalist is merely one of the privileges of capital.”

You don’t know about this partly because you are ignorant, and partly because metanationalism itself steadfastly ignored and denied all alternatives to it.

And justice and freedom do not contradict each other as much as has been claimed, because freedom in an injust system is no freedom at all.

In your mental traveling you can journey back into the past, retrace your steps, see where you turned and why, then proceed onward in a direction that is different because it includes these loops of understanding.

It was power politics and hierarchy to these people now, they had forgotten the real issues involved.

What mattered to them was not the result of any single disagreement, but the successful use of the process.

Of course her reading of Bogdanovism was relatively simple: things should be just, Arkady had insisted, and everyone free and equal; the past didn’t matter; they needed to invent new forms whenever the old ones looked unfair or impractical, which was often; Mars was the only reality that counted, at least to them.

She was a power; and people knew it; and power was corrosive. Power was powerful, in more ways than one.

If millions and millions of Terrans began to pour up onto Mars, they all argued, what then of Mars— not just of the landscape itself, but of the Martian culture that had been forming over the m-years? Wouldn’t that be drowned in the old ways brought up by the new influx, which might quickly outnumber the native population?

We have a lot of time to fill. And the only work really interesting enough to pursue over the long haul would be raising a kid, don’t you think?

It was hard to give up being a revolutionary. Nothing seemed to follow from it, either logically or emotionally.

in an expanding universe, Spencer had said, order was not really order, but merely the difference between the actual entropy exhibited and the maximum entropy possible. This difference was what humans perceived as order.

“And the land is in the shared stewardship of everyone. We still own personal items as property, but land as property has never happened here. That’s a new social reality, we struggle with it every day.”

What now was lacking? Peace of mind? Nanao would have laughed. The presence of other old friends? Well, there would be other days for that. Now, in this moment, they were two old brothers in arms, sitting on a sea cliff. After all the years of struggle they could sit out there all afternoon if they liked, flying a kite and talking. Discussing their old friends and the weather. There had been trouble before, there would be trouble again; but here they were.

And as the process continued, and a hundred and then a thousand asteroids and moonlets were given a local habitation and a name, the process took fire, becoming what some called the explosive diaspora, others simply the accelerando.

People now ordinarily understood capitalism to have been the clash of feudalism and democracy, and the present to be the democratic age, the clash of capitalism and harmony.

In this pressured situation, history was little comfort; so far they had dealt with it well, but never before had humanity responded to a crisis of need with any longterm consistent sensible sanity; mass madness had erupted before; and they were the exact same animals that in previous centuries, faced with matters of subsistence and survival, had slaughtered each other indiscriminately.

They did not fully understand that patriarchy no longer mattered, and perhaps never had— that it had always been caught in the Kegel grip of uterine law, which operated outside patriarchy with a biological power that could not be controlled by any mere politics.

“It’s like a rainbow. Without an observer at a twenty-three-degree angle to the light reflecting off a cloud of spherical droplets, there is no rainbow. The whole universe is like that. Our spirits stand at a twenty-three-degree angle to the universe. There is some new thing created at the contact of photon and retina, some space created between rock and mind. Without mind there is no intrinsic worth.”

The Chinese are still jammed into their country like sardines, and they don’t give a damn about the intrinsic worth of China itself, much less a barren moonlet on the edge of the solar system.

You can try sabotage like the Reds did on Mars, but they can blow you off the moons here just as easy as you can them, and they’ve got a million replacements for every colonist they lose.

Their attitude was deeply hypocritical, as most of those applauding made their living from Terran tourists, and all of them were immigrants or the children of immigrants; but they cheered anyway.

And so the newcomers can’t cope. They cluster in immigrant ghettos, or new towns entire, and keep their traditions and their ties to home, and hate everything here, and all the xenophobia and misogyny in those old cultures breaks out again, against both their own women and the native girls.”

We’ve tried to integrate newcomers every way we know, but they clump, naturally, and you can’t just break them up.

But so many problems are rising— cases of sharia, family abuse, ethnic gangs getting in fights, immigrants attacking natives— usually men attacking women, but not always. And young native gangs are retaliating, harassing the new settlements and so on.

Mars right now is the battleground of past and future, and the past has its power, but the future is where we’re all going. There’s a kind of inexorable power in it, like a vacuum pull forward.

Science was a social construct, but it was also and most importantly its own space, conforming to reality only; that was its beauty

If nothing was real but this moment, Planck instant after Planck instant, an unimaginably thin membrane of becoming between past and future.

People in the streets, that’s the only thing governments are afraid of. Well, or term limits. Or free elections! Or assassination. Or being laughed at, ah, ha-ha-ha!

Highlights from Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

The right decision, even when all seems lost, can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The wrong decision, even when a victorious outcome seems all but certain, can result in deadly, catastrophic failure.

They must literally risk life and limb to accomplish the mission. For this reason, they must believe in the cause for which they are fighting. They must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most important, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.

Such concepts are simple, but not easy

These principles empower those teams to dominate their battlefields by enabling leaders to fulfill their purpose: lead and win.

No doubt, as an outstanding leader himself, he felt somewhat responsible.

I was the leader. I was in charge and I was responsible. Thus, I had to take ownership of everything that went wrong.

They must first look in the mirror at themselves. The leader bears full responsibility for explaining the strategic mission, developing the tactics, and securing the training and resources to enable the team to properly and successfully execute.

Every mistake, every failure or shortfall—those leaders would own it.

The best leaders checked their egos, accepted blame, sought out constructive criticism, and took detailed notes for improvement.

there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

Consequences for failing need not be immediately severe, but leaders must ensure that tasks are repeated until the higher expected standard is achieved.

Leaders should never be satisfied. They must always strive to improve, and they must build that mind-set into the team.

His attitude reflected victimization: life dealt him and his boat crew members a disadvantage, which justified poor performance.

“We may not be winning,” said the CTO resolutely, “but we’re making the right decisions.” “If you aren’t winning,” I responded, “then you aren’t making the right decisions.”

When it comes to performance standards, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.

As a critical part of our culture, we constantly challenged each other to tests of physical strength.

I didn’t believe that this mission made sense. I didn’t believe it was smart. I didn’t believe it would be successful.

But once I understood and believed, I then passed that understanding and belief on, clearly and succinctly, to my troops so that they believed in it themselves. When they understood why, they would commit to the mission, persevere through the inevitable challenges in store, and accomplish the task set before us.

Even when others doubt and question the amount of risk, asking, “Is it worth it?” the leader must believe in the greater cause. If a leader does not believe, he or she will not take the risks required to overcome the inevitable challenges necessary to win.

Every leader must be able to detach from the immediate tactical mission and understand how it fits into strategic goals.

But in the minds of her sales managers, she was still The Boss: experienced, smart, and most important, powerful. That position demanded a high level of reverence—so high, in fact, that for an employee to question her ideas seemed disrespectful.

Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It is a group of leaders working together, up and down the chain of command, to lead. If you are on your own, I don’t care how good you are, you won’t be able to handle it.

It was immaterial which units did what or who conducted the most operations. It was about the mission and how we could best accomplish it and win.

Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own.

This isn’t his fault, it’s yours. You are in charge, so the fact that he didn’t follow procedure is your fault. And you have to believe that, because it’s true.

If you approached it as he did something wrong, and he needs to fix something, and he is at fault, it becomes a clash of egos and you two will be at odds. That’s human nature. But, if you put your own ego in check, meaning you take the blame, that will allow him to actually see the problem without his vision clouded by ego.

When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster.

He fearlessly stood in the window braving incoming enemy rounds as he unleashed three to five round bursts of his own into insurgent positions.

Even the greatest of battlefield leaders could not handle an array of challenges simultaneously without being overwhelmed. That risked failing at them all. I had to remain calm, step back from my immediate emotional reaction, and determine the greatest priority for the team. Then, rapidly direct the team to attack that priority.

It is crucial, particularly for leaders at the top of the organization, to “pull themselves off the firing line,” step back, and maintain the strategic picture.

I trusted them to lead. My ego took no offense to my subordinate leaders on the frontlines calling the shots. In fact, I was proud to follow their lead and support them.

Every time we called for help, the company commander fearlessly placed himself and his men at great risk. He personally saddled up and drove out in his tank to bring the thunder on our behalf and beat back enemy attacks on SEAL positions.

Teams must be broken down into manageable elements of four to five operators, with a clearly designated leader. Those leaders must understand the overall mission, and the ultimate goal of that mission—the Commander’s Intent. Junior leaders must be empowered to make decisions on key tasks necessary to accomplish that mission in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Leaders must be free to move to where they are most needed, which changes throughout the course of an operation.

Situations will sometimes require that the boss walk away from a problem and let junior leaders solve it, even if the boss knows he might solve it more efficiently.

If frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases.

No matter how exhausted from an operation or how busy planning for the next mission, time is made for this debrief because lives and future mission success depend on it.

It was a realization for him that even when a leader thinks his troops understand the bigger picture, they very often have difficulty connecting the dots between the tactical mission they are immersed in with the greater overarching goal.

Leaders must routinely communicate with their team members to help them understand their role in the overall mission.

I needed to check my negative attitude, which was corrosive and ultimately only hampered our ability to operate.

Leading up the chain takes much more savvy and skill than leading down the chain. Leading up, the leader cannot fall back on his or her positional authority. Instead, the subordinate leader must use influence, experience, knowledge, communication, and maintain the highest professionalism.

Don’t ask your leader what you should do, tell them what you are going to do.

Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike.

If someone isn’t doing what you want or need them to do, look in the mirror first and determine what you can do to better enable this.

Regardless, leaders cannot be paralyzed by fear. That results in inaction. It is critical for leaders to act decisively amid uncertainty; to make the best decisions they can based on only the immediate information available.

Instead of letting the situation dictate our decisions, we must dictate the situation. But for many leaders, this mind-set was not intuitive. Many operated with a “wait and see” approach.

Discipline equals freedom.

The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win—you pass the test. If you are mentally weak for that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail.

Instead of making us more rigid and unable to improvise, this discipline actually made us more flexible, more adaptable, and more efficient. It allowed us to be creative.

If frontline leaders and troops executing the mission lack the ability to adapt, this becomes detrimental to the team’s performance.

A true leader is not intimidated when others step up and take charge. Leaders that lack confidence in themselves fear being outshined by someone else.

It is a leader’s job to always mitigate as much as possible those risks that can be controlled to accomplish the mission without sacrificing the team or excessively expending critical resources.

Leaders must never get so close that the team forgets who is in charge.

Highlights from The Lathe of Heaven

“The insistent permissiveness of the late Twentieth Century had produced fully as much sex-guilt and sex-fear in its heirs as had the insistent repressiveness of the late Nineteenth Century.”

There was an acceptant, passive quality about him that seemed feminine, or even childish.

No doubt Haber had a lot of ambition and found it hard to believe that a man could be without it.

He arrived at ideas the slow way, never skating over the clear, hard ice of logic, nor soaring on the slipstreams of imagination, but slogging, plodding along on the heavy ground of existence.

That one worked but didn’t get approved, it came under the brainwashing laws, we decided.

That reality’s being changed out from under us, replaced, renewed, all the tune—only we don’t know it? Only the dreamer knows it, and those who know his dream. If that’s true, I guess we’re lucky not knowing it.

But the big man was like an onion, slip off layer after layer of personality, belief, response, infinite layers, no end to them, no center to him.

The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.

Refugees from southwest Portland had to walk through it; women carried their children and walked weeping with pain, in thin shoes full of broken glass.

To be, the will to power must increase with each fulfillment, making the fulfillment only a step to a further one.

But change need not unbalance you; life’s not a static object, after all.

Every step forward that I force you to take, you cancel, you cripple with the deviousness or stupidity of the means your dream takes to realize it. You try, each time, to take a step backward.

There were still gray people now, it was said, particularly in the Middle West and Germany, but most of the rest had gone back to white, brown, black, red, yellow, and mixtures

Books and movies of 2016

Like every year the books I read and the movies I watched. Recommended ones are in bold.

Books

The book situation was shameful but instead of reading a lot of books, I wrote “Designing Conversational Interfaces”, so I’ll call that even.

  • “PACE: A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Complete Cash Flow Clarity” Jesse Mecham
  • “Agile Game Development with Scrum” by Keith Clinton
  • “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • “The $1 Prototype: A Modern Approach to Mobile UX Design and Rapid Innovation” by Greg Nudelman
  • “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” by Joan Didion
  • “The iPhone App Design Manual: Create Perfect Designs for Effortless Coding and App Store Success”
  • “Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book: The Ultimate Guide to Trends, Themes and Styles in Mobile Web Design”
  • “Factotum” by Charles Bukowski
  • “Mobile Design Pattern Gallery: UI Patterns for Smartphone Apps”
  • “Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • “Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd” by Frans Osinga
  • “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” by Cal Newport
  • “Green Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • “The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics” by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Movies

This went a lot better with 72 if you count the individual installments of the Decalogue.

  • Inside Out
  • Princes Mononoke
  • Kingsman
  • Dekalog IV
  • District 9
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Persona
  • Her
  • Dekalog V
  • Into the Wild
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Code Inconnu
  • The Hateful Eight in 70mm Roadshow at Zoo Palast
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Relatos Salvajes
  • Dekalog VI
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Sicario
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
  • Knock Knock
  • Dogville
  • Tropa de Elite
  • Prelude to Axanar
  • Fast & Furious 6
  • Addicted to Sheep
  • Paths of Glory
  • Spirited Away
  • Decalogue VII
  • Fast Five
  • The Martian
  • Django Unchained
  • Annie Hall
  • Dekalog VIII
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
  • The Assassin
  • Amy
  • Toy Story 3
  • Whiplash
  • Dekalog IX
  • Lammbock
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Pusher
  • Like Father Like Son
  • Ex Machina
  • The Revenant
  • Burn After Reading
  • Dekalog X
  • Pusher II
  • RoboCop by José Padilha
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Der siebente Kontinent
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Spectre
  • Easy Rider
  • Dredd
  • Show Me A Hero
  • Pusher III
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Wall Street
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • The Wind Rises
  • Aeon Flux
  • Copie Conforme
  • Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky
  • The Neon Demon
  • The Wailing
  • İklimler
  • World War Z
  • Thor
  • The Physician