Sunday, July 22, 2018

You who wronged

Dawid Winiarski.
Beaten by Polish police during protest
against taking over of courts... 
You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,
Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Striking gold medals in your honor,
Glad to have survived another day,
Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.

You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date. […]

[Czesław Miłosz - Translated by Richard Lourie]

Saturday, March 10, 2018

We are writing to you from Poland...

And from many other places in the world, where we live, study and work. We, the Poles, who do not agree with how current policy casts a pall over the Polish-Jewish relations developed over the years. We write to all of you who look at Poland today with disbelief, sadness or anger.

We write because we want you to know that regardless of how radical and inappropriate the positions of Polish authorities or certain groups are, these are not the positions and views of us all. We ask that you keep current politics in perspective, although we know how difficult this may be. There are millions of people in our country for whom the Polish-Jewish dialogue and the truth about common history are important. We write to you as friends to friends, so that you may know that we are there, in Poland and the times that history and heritage bound us, and that we are also bound together in daily life and the future.
The Holocaust was an unimaginable tragedy of the Jewish people – a great failure of humanity. Today, instead of maintaining humility and respect for its victims, attempts are being made to divide us, Jews and Poles.
A law has been ratified by the Polish parliament, which provides imprisonment for speech, statements are being made that seek to whitewash Poles’ involvement in the Holocaust, thoughtless actions are being taken by politicians that arouse anti-Semitic sentiment – all this is not being done in our name. There are more of us, people who think like us, who, seeing what is happening now, feel anger.

We may feel bitterness, we may feel sadness, we may feel rage, but all together we want to say: enough of the silence and divisiveness. We will not allow the years of reconciliation to be destroyed. Only complete truth and solidarity can be the foundation of our co-existence.
Truth, because the pride in those Poles who heroically helped the Jews will not obscure the wrongs that Jews confronted in Poland, including from citizens of our country. We want the whole truth about the Holocaust, however painful it may be. Remembrance of millions of Jews, citizens of Poland, murdered during the war, teaches us to learn from the past.
As in years past, today is also about solidarity. It is about solidarity in seeking the truth, solidarity with the descendants of Holocaust victims, solidarity with the people expelled from home in 1968, and solidarity in the face of anti-Semitism.
We are united by more than a thousand years of common history; Jews are and have been Poles for hundreds of years. They created and continue to create our common country. Anti-Semitism is also aimed at us because it is aimed at people and freedom of speech. That is why we want to say it loud and firmly – NO TO ANTISEMITISM. No to misrepresenting history. That is why we should all unite at this particular time around the truth about those terrible times. So that they may never be repeated. Truth and solidarity are the only ways we can return together to the path of reconciliation so needed by both our nations.

Signed by NGOs:

A Million
Akcja Demokracja
Archiwum Osiatyńskiego
Berliński Kongres Kobiet
Bydgoskie Forum Obywatelskie
Centrum Pomocy Prawnej im. Haliny Nieć
Demokracja Siemiatycze
Dziewuchy Dziewuchom Węgorzewo
FARSA Londyn
Femini Berlin Polska
Forum Dialogu
Forum Kraków
Front Gorzów FG 2018
Fundacja ClientEarth
Fundacja im. Bronisława Geremka
Fundacja Liberte!
Fundacja Idealna Gmina
Fundacja im. Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego
Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego
Fundacja Judaica Centrum Kultury Żydowskiej Kraków
Fundacja Krystyny Jandy na rzecz Kultury
Fundacja Lege Pharmaciae
Fundacja Obserwatorium Żywej Kultury – Sieć Badawcza
Fundacja Ośrodek Kontroli Obywatelskiej “OKO”
Fundacja Pole Dialogu
Fundacja Szkoła Liderów
Gildia Polskich Reżyserów Dokumentalnych
Gildia Polskich Reżyserów i Reżyserek Teatralnych
Gildia Reżyserów Polskich
Grupa Artystyczna Teraz Poliż
Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka
Inicjatywa #WolneSądy
Inicjatywa “Nie w moim imieniu”
INPRIS – Instytut Prawa i Społeczeństwa
Instytut Spraw Publicznych
Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej
Komitet Obrony Demokracji
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Dolnośląski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Kujawsko-Pomorski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Lubelski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Lubuski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Łódzki
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Małopolski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Mazowiecki
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Opolski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Podkarpacki
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Podlaski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Pomorski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Śląski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Świętokrzyski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Warmińsko-Mazurski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Wielkopolski
Komitet Obrony Demokracji Region Zachodniopomorski
Krytyka Polityczna
Kultura Liberalna
Kultura Niepodległa
Lęborskie Dziewuchy
Manifest Wolnej Polki
Obywatele Kultury
Obywatele Nauki
Obywatele Solidarnie w Akcji
Obywatele RP
Obywatele Dla Edukacji
Ogólnopolska Federacja Organizacji Pozarządowych
Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet
Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet: Gryfino, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Jelenia Góra, Katowice, Kielce, Kraków, Koszalin, Lublin, Opole, Piła, Piotrków Trybunalski, Poznań, Puławy, Sanok, Sławno, Świnoujście, Warszawa, Węgorzewo, Wrocław, Zajęczniki, Zgorzelec, Zielona Góra
Polski PEN Club
Polskie Stowarzyszenie im. Janusza Korczaka
Poznań Wolny Od Nienawiści
Pracowania Badań i Innowacji Społecznych STOCZNIA
Protest Kobiet
Radomianie Dla Demokracji
Radomska Inicjatywa Kobieca
Sieć Obywatelska Watchdog Polska
Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej
Stowarzyszenie im. Jana Karskiego, Kielce.
Stowarzyszenie im. prof. Zbigniewa Hołdy
Stowarzyszenie im. Janusza Korczaka
Stowarzyszenie Klon/Jawor
Stowarzyszenie Kongres Kobiet
Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Kultury Niepodległej
Stowarzyszenie Pisarzy Polskich
Stowarzyszenie Otwarta Rzeczpospolita
Stowarzyszenie Obserwatorium Żywej Kultury – Sieć Badawcza
Stowarzyszenie Stop Stereotypom
Stowarzyszenie Śląskie Perły Rybnik
Studencki Komitet Antyfaszystowski
Toruńskie Dziewuchy
Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie
Unia Polskich Teatrów
Warszawskie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom
Wspólna Zielona Góra

Suported by Lech Wałęsa.

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…


Macrospherology of humans. Globes - volume two of Peter Sloterdijk's Spheres

I have been reading the second volume of Sloterdijk's magnum opus for a couple of months now. I still haven't found the time for a f...