Highlights from Homage to Catalonia

The Spaniards are good at many things, but not at making war. All foreigners alike are appalled by their inefficiency, above all their maddening unpunctuality.

for some reason all the best matadors were Fascists.

When a man refused to obey an order you did not immediately get him punished; you first appealed to him in the name of comradeship. Cynical people with no experience of handling men will say instantly that this would never ‘work’, but as a matter of fact it does ‘work’ in the long run.

It was not till late March that I saw a bomb worth throwing.

I admit I was amazed and scandalized when I first saw it done. The idea of trying to convert your enemy instead of shooting him! I now think that from any point of view it was a legitimate manoeuvre.

Actually churches were pillaged everywhere and as a matter of course, because it was perfectly well understood that the Spanish Church was part of the capitalist racket.

This alliance, known as the Popular Front, is in essential an alliance of enemies, and it seems probable that it must always end by one partner swallowing the other.

The Anarchists were the opposite of the majority of so-called revolutionaries in so much that though their principles were rather vague their hatred of privilege and injustice was perfectly genuine.

The Communist’s emphasis is always on centralism and efficiency, the Anarchist’s on liberty and equality.

When I joined the militia I had promised myself to kill one Fascist–after all, if each of us killed one they would soon be extinct–and I had killed nobody yet, had hardly had the chance to do so.

If there is one thing I hate more than another it is a rat running over me in the darkness.

I have felt exactly the same thing when stalking a wild animal; the same agonized desire to get within range, the same dreamlike certainty that it is impossible.

Many of the normal motives of civilized life–snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.–had simply ceased to exist.

And, after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. The effect was to make my desire to see Socialism established much more actual than it had been before. Partly, perhaps, this was due to the good luck of being among Spaniards, who, with their innate decency and their ever-present Anarchist tinge, would make even the opening stages of Socialism tolerable if they had the chance.

A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within sound of the guns.

It is a horrible thing to have to enter into the details of inter-party polemics; it is like diving into a cesspool.

There are occasions when it pays better to fight and be beaten than not to fight at all.

Anyone who has served in Spain knows that the one operation of war that Spaniards really perform really well is that of feeding their troops.

Since 1930 the Fascists had won all the victories; it was time they got a beating, it hardly mattered from whom.

My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, suits me so well.

To be killed in battle– yes, that is what one expects; but to be flung into jail, not even for any imaginary offence, but simply owing to dull blind spite, and then left to die in solitude–that is a different matter.

I have the most evil memories of Spain, but I have very few bad memories of Spaniards. I only twice remember even being seriously angry with a Spaniard, and on each occasion, when I look back, I believe I was in the wrong myself.

Highlights from Rules for Radicals

“The establishment in many ways is as suicidal as some of the far left

If we fail to communicate with them, if we don’t encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right.

We must first see the world as it is and not as we would like it to be.

Political realists see the world as it is: an arena of power politics moved primarily by perceived immediate self-interests, where morality is rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest.

The pursuit of happiness is never-ending; happiness lies in the pursuit.

Concern for our private, material well-being with disregard for the well-being of others is immoral according to the precepts of our Judaeo-Christian civilization, but worse, it is stupidity worthy of the lower animals.

In short, ethics are determined by whether one is losing or winning.

The ninth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.

To oversimplify, what Gandhi did was to say, “Look, you are all sitting there anyway—so instead of sitting there, why don’t you sit over here and while you’re sitting, say Independence Now!'”

The Haves develop their own morality to justify their means of repression and all other means employed to maintain the status quo.

and as we use purifying synonyms, we dissolve the bitterness, the anguish, the hate and love, the agony and the triumph attached to these words, leaving an aseptic imitation of life.

To pander to those who have no stomach for straight language, and insist upon bland, non controversial sauces, is a waste of time.

he knows that worn-out words like “white racist,” “fascist pig,” and “motherfucker” have been so spewed about that using them is now within the negative experience of the local people

They knew not only of my concern about their plight but that I liked them as people. I felt their response in friendship, and we were together. It is in this totality of the situation that I did what, otherwise, would have been offensive.

With very rare exceptions, the right things are done for the wrong reasons. It is futile to demand that men do the right thing for the right reason—this is a fight with a windmill. The organizer should know and accept that the right reason is only introduced as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved, although it may have been achieved for the wrong reason—therefore he should search for and use the wrong reasons to achieve the right goals.

Communication on a general basis without being fractured into the specifics of experience becomes rhetoric and it carries a very limited meaning.

Organizations are built on issues that are specific, immediate, and realizable.

It is impossible to maintain constant action on a single issue. A single issue is a fatal strait jacket that will stifle the life of an organization.

We learn, when we respect the dignity of the people, that they cannot be denied the elementary right to participate fully in the solutions to their own problems. Self-respect arises only out of people who play an active role in solving their own crises and who are not helpless, passive, puppet-like recipients of private or public services.

One big problem is a constant shifting of responsibility from one jurisdiction to another—individuals and bureaus one after another disclaim responsibility for particular conditions, attributing the authority for any change to some other force.

You can insult and annoy him, but the one thing that is unforgivable and that is certain to get him to react is to laugh at him. This causes an irrational anger.

They are right; but we must begin from where we are if we are to build power for change, and the power and the people are in the big middle-class majority.

They see the poor going to colleges with the waiving of admission requirements and given special financial aid. In many cases the lower middle class were denied the opportunity of college by these very circumstances.

People must be “reformed”—so they cannot be deformed into dependency and driven through desperation to dictatorship and the death of freedom. The “silent majority,” now, are hurt, bitter, suspicious, feeling rejected and at bay. This sick condition in many ways is as explosive as the current race crisis. Their fears and frustrations at their helplessness are mounting to a point of a political paranoia which can demonize people to turn to the law of survival in the narrowest sense.

The frenetic scene around them is so bewildering as to induce them to either drop out into a private world, the nonexistent past, sick with its own form of social schizophrenia—or to face it and move into action.

The middle classes are numb, bewildered, scared into silence. They don’t know what, if anything, they can do. This is the job for today’s radical—to fan the embers of hopelessness into a flame to fight.

Highlights from the God of Small Things

“Inspector Thomas Mathew seemed to know whom he could pick on and whom he couldn’t. Policemen have that instinct.”

Some days he walked along the banks of the river that smelled of shit and pesticides bought with World Bank loans.

He oiled himself with warm, peppered coconut oil, kneading his old, loose flesh that stretched willingly off his bones like chewing gum.

the Loss of Sophie Mol grew robust and alive. It was always there. Like a fruit in season. Every season. As permanent as a government job.

savoring their teacherly disapproval, touching it with their tongues, sucking it like a sweet

It was as though the window through which their father disappeared had been kept open for anyone to walk in and be welcomed.

not of the wedding itself so much as the fact that she had permitted herself to be so painstakingly decorated before being led to the gallows. It seemed so absurd. So futile. Like polishing firewood.

Ammu said that human beings were creatures of habit, and it was amazing the kind of things they could get used to.

The nodder nodded as Rahel’s ancestral lineage fell into place for him.

When she looked at him now, she couldn’t help thinking that the man he had become bore so little resemblance to the boy he had been. His smile was the only piece of baggage he had carried with him from boyhood into manhood.

Name of the Game

I’m putting this here so I don’t have to keep looking it up.

The name of the game by John Boyd is moral leverage for grand strategy:

Preserve or build up our moral authority while compromising that of our adversaries in order to pump up our resolve, drain away adversaries’ resolve, and attract them as well as others to our cause and way of life.

Highlights from The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation

”Association with those you hate is suffering.”

It is very hard. It turns out to be quite a handful, quite a project, for us to keep everything at the ideal level.

The conclusion is that everybody is neurotic, that neurosis creates discomfort and anxiety, and that basic anxiety is happening all the time.

We can’t just practice passion, aggression, and ignorance on ourselves alone; we do it to somebody else as well, and someone always gets hurt.

We generate their anxiety, and they also generate it themselves; and we end up with what is known as “the vicious circle of samsara.” Everybody is constantly making everybody else feel bad.

We would like to watch the birth of our child and its growth, so that finally we will have a child who is competent and good because of our training.

The torturing process we impose on ourselves is a habitual pattern, or ape instinct.

You don’t want to be born into the next world, but unfortunately, the situation is such that you are born into the next world.

As we get older, we are not getting the entertainment we used to get out of things. We have already experienced practically everything that exists in our world.

We want our own particular habits to keep happening, and we do not want to give anything up, viewing that as a sign of weakness.

Then, quite conveniently, they blame somebody else, if they have a scheming enough style of thinking; and if they don’t, they just freak out with their mouths open.

Nothing will satisfy you. Nothing will be wish-fulfilling at all, absolutely not. Something is not quite working. Whether you are smart or dumb, it doesn’t make much difference: things don’t quite work.

Since you carry your burden of suffering with you all the time, you have grown accustomed to it. You have learned to live with it.

Therefore, with greater clarity, pain is experienced more harshly, more precisely and directly

The original problem began because you lost your awareness. You cannot lay that on someone else.

There doesn’t have to be a second meaning all the time, and you don’t have to philosophize everything. There could be pure motivation.

Basically, both eternalism and nihilism are ways of trying to nourish one’s existence and one’s ego. They are extreme views in the sense that either you couldn’t care less and nothing is a problem, or there is a problem, so you have to be on the right side of it.

Simply perceiving it through your mind and seeing the futility of it, realizing it is just a game, is the saving grace. That seems to be the point of the practice of meditation.

This ignorance is a different sort of ignorance than the initial triggering process. It is not basic bewilderment but rather simply boycotting situations, ignoring things, refusing to see things in an intelligent way.

Taking life, stealing, and sexual misconduct are regulated by social norms. Some forms of these actions are approved by law because they go along with the basic scheme of society; others are not approved by law because they interfere with that scheme.

You hope that if you speak your harsh words loudly and clearly, they will be a kind of weapon or bomb that you can throw into the midst of society, into the midst of your friends, or into the midst of your enemies.

As the creator of harsh, destructive words, you hope that you can destroy society, concepts, ideas, feelings, and theories of all kinds.

Because you feel so rugged and primitive, you are afraid that you might be excluded from that vision, so you stick to your particular logic, your jumbled-up confusion, your poverty mentality.

First we have to interrupt our ignorance, and second we also have to interrupt our passion. By interrupting both our ignorance and our passion, we have nothing happening in terms of the samsaric world. We have already unplugged the refrigerator.

A person experiences a glimpse of cessation as a kind of appetizer. If the appetizer is good, you have a sense of how the main course will be.

The Buddha said that cessation could be experienced. He said that suffering should be known; the origin of suffering should be renounced; the cessation of suffering should be realized; and the path should be regarded as the truth to resolution. That’s almost word for word.

We begin to feel that we could prevent such problems by being highly disciplined and by having a genuine connection with our own mind and thought patterns, which could be good or bad, virtuous or otherwise.

You practice due to your own inspiration. Nobody can make you do it if you don’t want to.

The only possibility is that at one and the same time, the simplicity of the practice can be developed with respect to the tradition and discipline, and your intuition can be developed according to your own basic understanding of life. That is the point of profundity.

Beyond that, you are becoming highly disciplined. You are realistic, proper, and industrious; you have self-discipline and project dignity. Such ordinary decency is recognized as a token of cessation.

You begin to see the value of the intellect, which in this case means sharpened clarity rather than theory. Instead of resorting to Jungian or Freudian styles of psychologizing everything, you are simply experiencing your life and understanding how it works.

“Because everything is impermanent, everything is always painful and subject to suffering.”

On the path of accumulation we are working with ourselves and we are inspired to make sacrifices. We accumulate good merit by developing a good attitude and performing good deeds. We cultivate simplicity and sacrifice.

There is a tremendous sense of humor and relaxation, and a sense of openness, gentleness, and goodness. You are beginning to feel the effect of your practice. It is beginning to work, and you feel positive. It is like coming out of a steam bath: your muscles have relaxed; you feel so healthy.

Highlights from Managing Humans

”You must see the people who work with you.”

The presence of rigid, e-mail-based status reports comes down to control, a lack of imagination, and a lack of trust in the organization.

The courage it takes to stop this meeting five minutes into the scheduled hour because there is no discernible way to make progress.

It’s great that your freak has chosen to freak out. The alternative is that they’re not saying a thing and have decided to leave the company.

A meeting agenda would help, but as most meetings proceed without one, you’re on your own.

It’s a noble act, speaking your mind in front of all your peers. But it’s also a waste of time.

Roles and agendas in these meetings are simple. Talkers are talking and listeners are listening. Get it? There is no problem to be solved other than the transmission of information. The quicker it happens, the sooner everyone is back to work.

Exhibiting your power and knowledge as a manager isn’t always the best method of communicating.

Blindly landing process without considering the culture it needs to support it is a recipe for disaster.

Each additional person levies a communication tax, and unless we figure out how to constantly improve our communication, we’re just going to get slower.

Bright-and-shiny inflection points are full of energy, but unless that energy is carefully channeled back into the building and immediately acted upon, all an off-site represents is a frustrating opportunity to dream, but not to act.

Use the development environment to build the product. This means you must be familiar with your team’s tools, including the build system, version control, and programming language.

Process is the means by which your team communicates.

What I am saying is that any big decision, any big problem, deserves time and consideration.

I know there is no controlling the world, but I will fluidly surf the entropy by constantly changing myself.

The game here isn’t just overcommunication and Grapevine eradication; I’m still worried I missed something in the plan, and the status spamming is another means of vetting both the plan and the progress.

These people, called managers, don’t create product. They create process.

We all get shit work, but it’s the responsibility of the guy or gal in charge to dole this work out fairly and consistently.

Each week that passes where you don’t share the joy, despair, and discovery of software development is a week when you slowly forget what it means to be a software developer.

A strategic hire is someone who is going to push their agenda, their opinion.

A tactical hire is a person who is filling a well-defined need.

Your job interview isn’t over until you’ve changed to become part of a new team.

There are chronically negative nerds out there, but in my experience with nerd management, it’s more often the case that the nerd is bitter because they’ve seen this situation before four times, and it has played out exactly the same way.

Yeah, they’re going to argue, but it’s the argument you want your teams to have. It’s not a fear-based “Should we or shouldn’t we?” it’s “Let’s do this thing, let’s make sure it gets done, and let’s make sure it gets done right.”

As an aside, let me stress how bad of a career move it is to not know who you are going to be working for when you arrive. The 30-minute interview you have with your future manager is a critical piece of information when you decide whether or not to make a move.

My personal favorites are mechanical organics. These folks have all the slick tricks of organic information gathering, but they’ve got the astounding organization skills of the mechanic. They know everything and never forget a bit. I mean it. Organic mechanics are frightening. They have extreme depth of knowledge, but there is no obvious organic thread that ties it all together. Here’s the scary part. There is a thread. There is a purpose. They just aren’t letting you see it. Organic mechanics will keep you on your heels and just when you think you’ve figured them out, they’ll change everything. I hate that. I mean, I love that.

Wait, don’t these holistics have product to ship? No, they have multiple products, but they’ve hired rock-star inwards to get the products built to specification and on time so they can focus on figuring out what to build next and who they’re going to need to build it.

I’m not suggesting that outwards don’t care about the daily professional shenanigans within the company; they do, but they’ve also hired a group of rock-star holistics to run their company. The rub is this: while it’s not their job to run the company on a daily basis, they are accountable for it.

What you need to know about your manager is how much he cares about this growth and, more importantly whether he sees this as his growth opportunity or the team’s.

You are not that person, because once you are rewarded for releasing crap, you begin a blind walk down a path of mediocrity that ends up with you working at Computer Associates on a product no one has heard of and that no one cares about.

Highlights from Unfortunately, It Was Paradise

Here or there, our blood will plant olive trees.

Ours is a country of words: Talk. Talk.

I ask: Is it true, good ladies and gentlemen, that the earth of Man is for all human beings as you say? In that case, where is my little cottage, and where am I?

Can a people be born on a guillotine? We have the right to die any way we wish.

In this hymn we lay a dream, we raise a victory sign, we hold a key to the last door, to lock ourselves in a dream.

I gaze upon trees guarding the night from the night and the sleep of those who would wish me death.

The stars had only one task: they taught me how to read. They taught me I had a language in heaven and another language on earth.

I will come out of these walls a free man, like a ghost when he floats freely out of himself. I will go to Aleppo. Dove, fly with my Byzantine ode to my kinsman, and take him this greeting of dew.

Who am I after your two almond eyes? the male stranger asks. Who am I after your exile in me? the female stranger asks.

Every time she hits a certain note, her jinn casts its spell on us. And we are transported to another time.

Nothing causes us pain— not the final parting of the doves nor the cold in our hands nor the wind around the church.

Do not glance at the twin partridges sleeping on her chest.

I saw three of my friends crying, sewing my burial shroud with golden threads.

I was born in spring to keep the orators from endlessly speaking about this heartbreaking country, about the immortality of fig and olive trees in the face of time and its armies.

Homeland for him, he tells me, is to drink my mother’s coffee, to return at nightfall.

He used to arrive like a sword dipped in wine, and leave like the end of a prayer.

And I died, I died utterly. How tranquil and peaceful is death without your crying? How tranquil and peaceful is death without your hands pounding on my chest to bring me back? Before and after death I loved you, and between I saw nothing but my mother’s face.

Highlights from This Earth of Mankind

Modern! How quickly that word had surged forward and multiplied itself like bacteria throughout the world.

Thomas Aquinas, she said, once saw two people who were born in the same year, in the same month, on the same day and at the same hour, even in the same place. The joke played by astrology was that one became a great landowner and the other his slave.

In his body ran some Native blood. Who knows how many drops or clots.

Under the illusion he was actually a Dutch citizen he strove to act as one for the sake of his grandchildren’s future.

She is just a nyai, living in sin, giving birth to illegitimate children, low in moral character, selling honor to live easily and in luxury.

Her attitude toward her daughter was refined and wise and open, not like that of Native mothers.

The Dutch generals almost gave up. The Dutch were only ever able to destroy the children, the grandmothers and grandfathers, the ill, the pregnant women.

Once in their lives people must take a stand. If not, they will never become anything.

My world was not rank and position, wages and embezzlement. My world was this earth of mankind and its problems.

I felt so totally Javanese. But when the ignorance and stupidity of Java was mentioned, I felt European.

So don’t indulge yourself. Strengthen your heart.

You are among the first of the educated Natives. Much is demanded of you.

“May I ask why Mr. Mellema did not like Dutch literature?” “I don’t really know, miss. But he used to say that it was dominated by triviality, had no spirit, no fire.”

If that vengefulness was missing, she’d be truly, brilliantly outstanding, Minke.

“Shame is not a concern of European civilization.”