Sunday, February 18, 2018

Can we (safely) adopt the key traits of the minds of snipers in our business and private lives?

This is my review of David Amerland „The Sniper Mind. Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty and Make Better Decisions”. (

As I know the author in person and feel honoured by our relation – I started reading his new book soon as it was published. I valued his technical books high and one of them (“Google Semantic Search”) was already a great source for inspiration for myself and my co-workers and a confirmation that our investment of time and energy into Semantic Technologies was not a misplaced effort.

Since then, and despite two more books in the general area of the social media and SEO domains, David started to evolve toward more fundamental matters that have impact on the life of businesses in the digital era and us – as the pillars of these businesses. His “The Tribe That Discovered Trust” touched the most vital feature of the business in the digital world – the trust – and how to create and regain if it was lost.

“The Sniper Mind” goes even further and marks David’s entry into an area that could perhaps be called business self-help books (what is in some sense corroborated by its subtitle), although I’m afraid to apply such a classification to that outstanding book…
Before I go to the essence of the book, I must admit I was initially deeply concerned if I ever would like it! My fear came straight from David’s choice to choose snipers and their minds as a source of inspiration! My convictions, beliefs and everything I value in life is based on the foundation of the utmost importance of human life. I really believe that killing a person is to kill the entire universe with its meaning – because the meaning of the universe, the world, societies and the nations comes, to me, only from the representation of the reality in and by our minds. To be clear, I’m not solipsists of any kind – I just am sure that everything we attribute to the concept of MEANING comes from and only from human consciousness and human spirit embedded into, or emerging from, our brains and bodies.
Whatever side they take, the side we find as “our” or even morally justified – the role of the snipers is to kill. This is just a fact we can’t deny. Of course, I’m old and experienced enough not to subscribe to idealistic pacifism at all cost, and I understand that in too many cases today, when we have people whose goal is to kill and destroy – there is often no other way than to kill them before they kill us and our beloved. I understand it. Nonetheless, there was a huge barrier inside myself to accept lightly David’s choice…

So it took me long time and tens of turns of the pages from its more than 400 leaves tome to cope with my resistance…

That time came with the help of the author, who suddenly explained it all:

“Sniper skills are next to useless to us, of course, unless we can metaphorically bottle them and transfer elsewhere”

Later, long into the book he makes it even clearer:

"The aim of this book is not so much to uncover the overlaps between all the different activities people engage in and then connect the dots between them to draw a picture of the mind's ability to perform at seemingly unhuman levels. That would be pointless. Everything uncovered, documented, itemized, and explained is designed to give us a chapter-by-chapter skill set to work upon, improving our own capabilities, acquiring new ones, changing our mind-set so that we are no longer ruled by circumstance, we are no longer blindly reacting to events around us and are capable of taking positive action to make our own decisions and control our own destiny"

So here we are, reading about the snipers’ experiences in their battlefields. We are able to know many by name (like famous John Ethan Place, Craig Harrison or Simo Häyhä and many more), some of others remained anonymous.

David Amerland deeply analyses the most important skills of great snipers to find that what makes them great is not only related to the military training – in many ways the more important is their ability to control filings and emotions, and act in constructive way in situations where most of us would be, at least, demotivated. We discover, through their experience, that it is impossible to draw a boundary between the mind and the body – the lesson frequently forget today…

All this has lots to do with the working of our brains. The book is full of references to neuroscience and psychology (can’t forget great references to the works of Amy Cuddy or David Eagleman). What I liked the most are the references to the meditation techniques, Zen and Vedic Sanskrit teaching (including the great: “Yad bhavam tad bhavati” – “You become. As you think”). In one of the Appendixes to the book the author gives the simple, yet effective lesson of meditation. We are frequently reminded in the book about the “other” dimension of our consciousness: “I listened to the silence of my mind” – comes from one former SEAL sniper.

All this relates to our, “normal” lives. I specifically made the word quoted, as in today’s business (and frequently – our private life) environments, nothing is normal anymore - and what we need, is exactly the strength of character and an ability to focus to the absolute maximum – to empower ourselves and the others – to create “a motivational platform” upon which we can build and grow and avoid “excessive worries” and “negative outcomes”. (Now I quote the concept from the book and syndromes it helps to dispel).

The book has interesting and repetitive structure, which helps to understand how a given facet of snipers’ experiences translates to a “Business Cases” and which skills of the snipers form an “Acquisition List” we could apply to our business activities.

There is a sentence in the book that perhaps makes this review complete:

"Because of the complexity of each of us as individuals is a microcosm of the world around us, the first battle we fight which we need to win is always with ourselves"

And with this quote, which so beautifully summarizes the central David’s Amerland message, I end my review.

I strongly recommend the book to all who understand how difficult is to be active in business today and who need support, guidance and examples … DAVID AMERLAND helps multi-national clients and start-ups to organize their SEO and Social Media strategies. He is a business journalist, author and international speaker. He blogs about social media and search engine optimization, writes for a number of prominent websites including Forbes, and advises corporations on their social media crisis management techniques. His books on SEO, Social Media and web trends demystify the complexity of the subjects they cover for readers around the world.

 Mirek Sopek
Lodz, Poland, February 18, 2018

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Alternative reality of (some) young people in Poland ...

Not long time ago I got into a fierce arguments with some young men and women on Facebook. The dialog was in English, because it started from my comment about the article on the wall of some prominent Eurosceptic who, for a while, was an advisor to some Eurosceptic minister for foreign affairs of Poland.

One young man, in a typical manner to many young people, called me moron, uneducated and an enemy of Poland. He used mudslinging language to speak about many Polish politicians and journalists.

Normally, I should stop answering and ignore the hothead. However, in the course of the discussion he used arguments that are so frequently used today by the right-wing populist government to justify their crackdown on the democratic institutions in Poland, that I decided to refute some of them.

I do not expect these hotheads to change their mind - my experience tells me that once they fall into the false realm and the alternative reality - they stay there. However, I feel moral obligation to refute the crazy fallacies. Perhaps my silent voice will be noticed by some people …

Fallacy No 1 - The majority of judges (14/15) of the previous Constitutional Tribunal (before the unconstitutional changes made by PiS (Law and Justice - ruling right-wing party) in December 2015) were "appointed by PO". Liberal "PO", The Civic Platform was in power for 8 years in Poland, now is in opposition.

First, Constitutional Tribunal Judges are appointed by Polish Parliament. The legal system does not allow any other bodies to appoint judges (in some other jurisdiction such possibilities exist). So a political party can not appoint them. However, as the judges are recommended by the MPs and the MPs belong to specific parties or parliamentary clubs, if someone wants to prove that a judge is political, the one can find who recommended him (which group or club) and use the recommendation as a surrogate of "the appointment". This is of course a very twisted argument.
So, if we want to dig deeper, the only remaining resource to corroborate the suspected judge's "affiliation" is to look into the voting on that judge and see if she/he was appointed by the parliamentary majority or indeed only by the party or a coalition that recommended her/him.

Following the resource, I have computed the percentages of votes that were cast for some selected prominent judges of the previous court:
Prof. Leon Kieres - 79%
Prof. Andrzej Wróbel - 56%
Prof. Małgorzata Pyziak-Szafnicka - 58%
Stanisław Rymar - 47%
Prof. Marek Zubik - 47%
Prof. Piotr Tuleja - 81%
Prof. Sławomirę Wronkowską-Jaśkiewicz - 97%
Prof. Stanisław Biernat - 63%
Prof. Andrzej Rzepliński - 52%

What is important in my calculation is that I computed the percentages of the approving votes to the total number of MPs (while, perhaps, I should use the number of voting MPs in any given voting - what would result in much higher scores - I just wanted to minimise the bias)

So what we see, is that in only two of nine cases, the judges were elected with the percentages of votes below 50% of all MPs.

One could ask - so where was the argument of these sceptics coming from? As I wrote above, their first fallacy is to substitute "recommendation" by "appointment".

However, what they also forgot to tell is that the current majority (PiS) was basically not recommending judges to Tribunal even when they could. They started doing so only after they changed the law and allowed for non-constitutional changes of the Tribunal rule... Why they did not do so - I do not know. Perhaps they did not have "loyal" judges or whom they had was like Mrs. Julia Przyłębska (who passed her exams low and was (in 2001) negatively recommended for a position at a local court)? To the horror of many, such undereducated judge became later the ... president of the Constitutional Court...

Fallacy No 2. The judges were corrupt and were exonerating each other.

This fallacy was officially presented by Mr. Morawiecki - Polish Prime Minister and was already rejected by the Supreme Court after the accusations by the minister. I translated it already to English and published here. Despite the call by judges, Mr. Morawiecki did not make any substance to this claims. Well, it was always possible, that some isolated judges or persecutors were corrupt. It happens everywhere. However, Poland was known to fight the corruption on all levels of the system, including the judiciary. As I'm seasoned businessman and scientist here for the last almost 30 years, I witnessed how gradually the corruption was going away from our life. We made remarkable progress, and it is visible in the constant growth of indexes of transparency.

Fallacy No. 3 -  around 75% of all Polish media outlets are owned by Germans.

This argument is now more and more often risen in the official media. To me it is a signal that the ruling party will attempt the crackdown on the free media, and it is easy to "sell" such a step saying "75% is owned by Germans".

What is the reality then?

When we speak about television, we have no German owner in any of the 10 most important outlets. The market is divided into Polish and American capital (with Scripps Networks Interactive as the most important non-polish player owning 4 out of 10 outlets). However, if you calculate the percentage of viewers - you get the number close to 30% of the audience watching "American owned" outlets. And I do not even need to tell to reasonable people, that they do not really represent "American interests" in their messages ...

When we analyse the press, first come daily newspapers. Here, after polish owned press (55%) we indeed have German-Swiss capital with... 43% of the titles' readers. When we analyse weekly journals, the majority (80%) is in polish hands, with only Newsweek (20%) belongs to German-Swiss owners.

Now, comes The Radio....
Here, only one family (RMF) is in "German hands" with about 26% of the listeners. About 15% is in "French hands" and all the rest in "Polish hands"...

Finally let's see the digital media (internet portals). Here we have about 44% in "German" and "German-swiss" hands, and everything else is shared between polish (40%) and American owners (16%) .

So, where the claim about "75% of media outlets" comes from?
It is just a pure fantasy...


There are many people, who are totally blind to the facts and the reality. They became so anti-EU that it sounds really dangerous.

In one totally amazing case, a young woman wrote that "EU gave us Biedronka" (Biedronka /The Ladybird - is the low cost stores network), and forgot about the open boarders, ability to do business all across Europe, free travels and ability to leave, invest, learn and teach in so many countries...

I marvel how totally blind are those people.

In another case, I had a person who (I mentioned him above here) who was a consultant to the Polish ministry of Foreign affairs... Can you imagine that? In this case I think it is not just stupidity and empty naivety. This is just open hostility and hatred to the brave Polish people, disguised as the "truth telling" agent ... BTW, this minister was just dismissed by its own political friends, so that guy I refer to is no more than a laughing stock now...

Enough. God: have mercy on us…


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hundreds against several - the open letter of more than 2500 polish scientists against 15 supporters of the government ...

The original Polish & English translation can be find here:

"Recently, 15 Polish scientists have written a letter to Frans Timmermans, criticizing triggering Article 7 against the Polish government.
We respect anyone's right to voice their opinion. We also respect those who signed the letter—many are our colleagues and teachers. However, we find the key claims of the letter unfounded and its language deeply divisive, even offensive. The purpose of the present statement is to make clear that a significant part of the Polish academic world rejects the accusations and innuendos contained in the letter, as well as its hostile tenor. The main claim of the letter is that European Union is trying to "overthrow our democratically elected government" , in order to destroy the strong Polish democracy, so as to be able to govern Poles and other European nations, using "a totalitarian social engineering" of political correctness and to keep supporting a host of "domestic and international thieves". Another reason is Polish government's refusal to admit refugees and, especially, the Polish "freedom of beliefs perhaps the most hated by the EU officials" . These grave charges were made with virtually no justification. They are supported only by sweeping statements like "our current judiciary system represented nothing but a self-protecting postcommunist organization". At the same time, the authors implore their "friends from academia and beyond" (in a letter addressed to Mr. Timmermans) to "think whether you have some serious grounds to believe your media. What if they lie?". In reality, there are absolutely no grounds to believe the main statements of the letter. The claim that the EU hates Polish freedom of belief and is trying to destroy it is preposterous. The opening criticism "It is strange by itself, that these EU personalities, themselves just appointed - not elected, love so much democracy" is an attempt at irony but comes out as a clumsy insult. The authors present no legal arguments or expertise, beyond a vague statement that "the proposed changes in our judiciary system are the same or are very similar to those, which exist in other Western countries systems for decades". In view of the international political situation, and of the Polish geographical position, it is of utmost importance for Poland to remain one of the key EU states, and for this it is imperative to treat the statements by the EU authorities seriously. We regret to conclude that our colleagues decided to put their signatures under a letter of dubious quality, containing standard propaganda slogans instead of arguments, written tenuously, inaccurately and aggresively. We want to make clear that we do not support its contents, its hostility or its awkward style. Statements on important political subjects should be argued carefully and we are supporting the idea of such a discussion. Making arbitrary accusations, regardless of one's political views, is harmful for the community, for Poland and for Europe."

I have also signed the letter.
Mirek Sopek

PS. The photo I used here was made by AFP Photo/Wojtek Radwanski (from

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Statement of Poland's Supreme Court related to the public enunciations of Poland's Prime Minister.

With regard to the numerous public enunciations of the Prime Minister of Poland, Mr. Mateusz Morawiecki related to the courts of Poland, including the Supreme Court (i.e. in his exposé and especially in his article in “Washington Examiner” from December 13th, 2017) it must be firmly declared that his thesis about the domination of the communist time judges over the Supreme Court is plainly false and cannot be used to objectify to the collective move of 40 percent of judges into the compulsive retirement.

The fact of a given judge sentencing in the times of the Polish Peoples Republic does not automatically render the judge judicially dependent on the communist regime, or the one, whose actions were uncreditable. If Prime Minister has access to the information about the particular cases and particular judges, he should present them publically, instead of casting injurious generalisations.

Similarly, he should act, when he claims that some court proceedings were “led by bribes, whenever the case was more profitable”. Any facts about such cases, which are known to the Prime Minister, should immediately be transferred to the persecutor office. The Supreme Court community supports unconditional persecution and severe punishing of corrupt judges. In the same time, we strongly protest any unconfirmed, highly biased, and stereotypical references to imaginary cases, particularly made by the Prime Minister of the Polish government and published abroad. Such activity brings harm to thousands of honest judges, who are the important part of the state of Poland.

We support the system of random allotment of cases to individual judges mentioned by the Prime Minister. Such a system should also be applied to Supreme and Constitutional Courts – what unfortunately, was not introduced by the previous reforms. However, we strongly protest against the claim about the practice of “purchasing” of cases by judges.

We also cannot agree with the accusation, directly pointing to the Supreme Court, about the alleged favouring of criminals who betray the VAT system. We have already extensively explained all the related partcular cases. It must also be noted that the Supreme Court did not participate in the acquittal of the criminal charges against Mr. S. Kociołek (the claim by the Prime Minister on December 17, 2017 in Szczecin). In this case the Supreme Court considered the persecutor annulment and abolished the sentences of acquittal.

From the Prime Minister of Poland, whose opinions shape the opinion of the public, we should expect matter-of-factness, and the use of facts that were verified and confirmed.
(translation: Mirek Sopek)
The original:

and here:

Wobec licznych wypowiedzi Prezesa Rady Ministrów Mateusza Morawieckiego dotyczących sądów, w tym Sądu Najwyższego (m. in. w exposé, a zwłaszcza w artykule opublikowanym w „Washington Examiner” z 13 grudnia 2017 r.), stanowczo stwierdzić należy, że teza o dominacji w SN sędziów okresu komunizmu jest chybiona i nie może stanowić obiektywnej podstawy do grupowego przenoszenia w stan spoczynku 40 proc. sędziów. Sam fakt orzekania w czasach PRL nie świadczy o tym, że dany sędzia sprzeniewierzył się niezawisłości i postępował niegodnie. Jeśli Pan Premier dysponuje wiadomościami na temat konkretnych spraw i konkretnych sędziów powinien przedstawić je publicznie, a nie posługiwać się krzywdzącymi uogólnieniami.

Podobnie postąpić powinien wtedy, gdy stwierdza w odniesieniu do spraw sądowych, że „gdy sprawa wygląda na najbardziej dochodową, wymagane są łapówki”. Wiedza o takich sprawach powinna być udostępniona przez Pana Premiera organom ścigania. Środowisko SN popiera bezwzględne ściganie i surowe karanie sprzedajnych sędziów. Sprzeciwiamy się natomiast odwoływaniu się do niepotwierdzonych, obiegowych opinii i stereotypów i to w wypowiedziach Premiera polskiego rządu, publikowanych także za granicą. Krzywdzi to tysiące uczciwych sędziów, którzy są ważną częścią polskiego państwa.

Poprzeć należy system losowego przydzielania spraw poszczególnym sędziom, o którym wspomniał Pan Premier. System taki powinien jednak konsekwentnie działać także w Sądzie Najwyższym i Trybunale Konstytucyjnym, czego dotychczasowe reformy nie przewidziały. Sprzeciw budzi natomiast zagadkowa teza o praktyce kupowania spraw przez sędziów.

Nie możemy pogodzić się również z kierowanym wprost do Sądu Najwyższego zarzutem rzekomego sprzyjania przestępcom wyłudzającym VAT. W sprawie tej składaliśmy już obszerne wyjaśnienia. Zaznaczyć trzeba także, że Sąd Najwyższy (będący częścią wymiaru sprawiedliwości III Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) nie współuczestniczył w uwolnieniu od odpowiedzialności karnej S. Kociołka (przemówienie Premiera w Szczecinie 17 grudnia 2017 r.). SN w 2015 r. uwzględnił w tej sprawie kasację prokuratora i uchylił wyroki uniewinniające (sygn. II KK 340/14).

Od Prezesa Rady Ministrów, którego wypowiedzi mają niewątpliwy wpływ na kształtowanie się opinii publicznej, oczekujemy rzeczowości i posługiwania się sprawdzonymi i potwierdzonymi informacjami.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Decoding Reality The Universe as Quantum Information

"Decoding Reality - The Universe as Quantum Information" is a very important book in the recent series of hot discussion related to the role of information in physics, quantum computing and the relation of information to the theory of gravitation. Written using relatively simple language can be comprehended by literally everybody. Its author, Vlatko Vedral is renowned physicist specializing in the quantum information theory. He is Professor of Physics of the University of Oxford and of the National University of Singapore.

However, the great value of his book to me was in its references to philosophy and epistemology that were both very deep and comprehensive. I was glad to discover that he finds the fundamental value in the Popper's method of falsifiability (which is, to me, the most important method in all sciences). However, he pointed my attention also to the "negative theology" of the Cappadocian Fathers, which, when applied to the deepest mysteries of the reality - is perhaps the only way to start from. Of course the author applies it to the interplay between information and the reality... In that context, he also makes other interesting references to some other spiritual tradiations....

The book ends with the quote from Lau Tzu. I'm leaving it with a thought about the wisdom of the thinker who wrote it some 2600 years ago...:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The forgotten truth

remember who made you
and those before you
and those before them.

all the ancestors are within you,
stretching back to Creation.

years hence,
whom will you be within?

from Philip Toshio Sudo:
Zen Sex
The Way of Making Love

Saying it is an amazing book, is like saying nothing. Yet, for many deep reasons it is hard for me to write a typical review. Or, at least, it is difficult now...

Let me only say, that it touches deeply the realm touched by "Song Over Songs", and speaks also to those who while being in love could not have children with those they loved so much, and to those who could not have them at all. One of the deepest and truest book about love I ever read...

Beyond this terrific book, this was also the discovery of its author, Philips Toshio Sudo.
His books and his life is a true lighthouse for those who sail across the oceans of lives.

Gainesville, November 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing"

I just finished reading (i.e. listening to) a great book: "The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer" by David Leavitt. (BTW, I just learned he has ties to the University of Florida in Gainesville). It was a great and informative reading about the man so important to both modern sciences and computer sciences alike. What is interesting in the book is perhaps an analysis of some links between Turing's fascination of  the machine intelligence and him being gay. I do not think anyone before Leavitt (who is also openly gay) could touch these topics. While, surely, I do not share many of the Leavitt's opinions being on the thin boundary of objective reading of Turing's papers and, in some way, biased reading from the position of gay person - I must say it was an interesting account, and in some deeper sense explains Turing's fascinations...

Boulogne-Billancourt, September 15, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

My "discovery" of the great XX philosophers...

Of course, the "discovery" here is just a metaphor. I knew about them, but did not yet have time to read their works.
This is now changing ...
Tim Maudlin:
David Lewis:

more to come here about them ... :-)


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On recent folly about (corrupt? fake ridden?) media ...

Let me paste here what I recently wrote to a great friend of mine. We differ on politics, yet we have a great respect to each other...

As for the general outcry against media recently. I find it very bad. See, instead of bashing the media, we must find counterbalancing views and the media that present them. THEY EXIST. For many years we were accepting the diversity of the media and we were selecting those who, in our opinion, represent better what is going on. Today the trend is different - we claim the media is corrupt the media spread fakes. Well they sometimes do. But instead of undermining their right to do so, we try to say they have no right to exist. We must be careful, because that usually helps those who come and try to limit the freedom of the media. I saw it here: for years the right wings here were spreading the news of the media corruption, and now they, in power, practically eliminated the freedom of public media (we still have strong private media, thanks God).

In my opinion, the buildup of distrust against the media is exactly what our common enemy likes the most. You know who I have in mind. So, instead of speaking against the media, find the media that speaks well. It exists.

Mirek - Lodz - Poland August 30, 2017