Tag Archives: books

The Art of Conflict Management by Professor Michael Dues

I recently finished listening to  (at least first pass done, maybe revisit it later – most of Great Courses titles worth revisiting/more than one listen) of 24 lectures series from The Great Courses on conflict management – “The Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond” by Professor Michael Dues from University of Arizona.The Art of Conflict Management

This course uses dramatizations to illustrate conflict situations and ways of handling them, and tries to emphasize practical side (some assignments suggested in the end of each lecture) which is as usual by far more difficult than any theory.

My takeaways from this course is number of interesting models and shortcuts to think about conflicts (triangulation, defunct conflict strategies etc.), then science and history behind widespread buzz-word “win-win”. It was interesting to know ideas behind the word which is being thrown around sometimes mindlessly nowadays. We can trace back almost any concept or technology to the initial (in hindsight sometimes plain and simple) idea or scientific paper. For Kerberos technology it was project Athena, based in turn on a paper published in 1978 by Needham and Schroeder (Needham–Schroeder protocol), for win-win idea it was 1948 Morton Deutsch’s PhD paper about win-win solutions. Basically he distinguished 2 types of conflicts: competitive conflict, a situation that requires one party to lose in order for the other to win, and pure conflict, a situation in which both parties can fully win. This is important distinction and gives you different point of view on possibilities for conflict resolutions, in addition to point of view which is formed by long standing idea of  adversary system which comes from Ancient Greece.

There also was a nice overview lecture on overarching managerial theories – really good summary on each and overview of transition from one to another. I also liked  the story mentioned at some point there on etymology of the word bureaucracy (which is French in origin, and combines the French word bureau – desk or office – with the Greek word κράτος kratos – rule or political power).

Next I going to start listening to my first audio book in French which is surprisingly enough “Le journal d’un fou” by Nicolas Gogol 🙂 And I also got another title from The Great Courses – “Building a Better Vocabulary” by Professor Kevin Flanigan.

Nietzsche & Bodybuilding :)

Not so long ago I discovered very good blog about serious literature where the author tries to give his own interpretations to the great works of literary classics, posts there are dense and try to uncover main ideas contained in literary works and what was possible meant by their authors. And more over each post accompanied with short YouTube video (on average 5 mins) where blog’s author speaks about the book in question with some presentation/graphic material. Here is the link to this blog: The Great Conversation

I should admit that the amount and quality of content in this blog is amazing, and personally I’m going to follow it 🙂 Also if you a bit into great literature and on look out for thoughts and ideas which literature contains in abundance, you may be interested in this blog too.

Now to the topic of this post of mine. 🙂 “Nietzsche & Bodybuilding”, where is connection you may ask? 🙂 Well in the analysis of Nietzsche’s “On suffering”  which you may find on aforementioned blog author draws some parallels between Nietzsche views on suffering and bodybuilding. Though it is a bit unclear to which particular work/works of Nietzsche this blog post corresponds to (looks like it is about Nietzsche views on suffering in general) I enjoyed it anyway.

Let me quote a bit from this post:


Nietzsche claims that man is composed of two parts – a creative part and a part that is created – in other words, mind and body. According to him, the body is meant to suffer, and the mind is meant to fashion something beautiful out of the suffering of the body. “In man creature and creator are united: in man there is material, fragment, excess, clay, dirt, nonsense, chaos; but there is also the creator, the sculptor, the hardness of the hammer, the divinity of the spectator, and the seventh day – do you understand this contrast? The body must be fashioned, bruised, forged, stretched, roasted, and refined – it is meant to suffer.”

An athlete, such as a bodybuilder, is the epitome of this idea. A bodybuilder subjects his body to the pain and suffering of training in order to create a physique that is aesthetically pleasing. The weightlifting adage, “No pain, no gain,” is an echo of Nietzsche’s ideas.

It is also somehow reminded me about one of the best essays on working with weights I read so far – Iron and the Soul by Henry Rollins. This one may interest you if you are avid gym goer or just thinking about what it gives or may give you.

As a person interested both in literature/ideas and sport I found these parallels interesting. Another interesting thing I learnt for this blog so far is the fact that Einstein once said that “Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist” (this is from the post  DOSTOEVSKY: The Brothers Karamazov)

What does it take to learn a second language?

Recently I watched a nice video on language learning (How to learn any language in six months by Chris Lonsdale) – man claims that you can start talking in a new language in 6 months if you approach this problem right. I would say that this is overly optimistic and he means just some good conversational level, not perfect fluency, as according to my knowledge once you past your teens your chances to achieve perfect fluency are slim (though I personally never equate negligible chances to the “loud” word impossible 🙂 ).

Well, current research tells us that if you started learning new language as an adult (past your teens) then, even after investing loads of time and maybe also given some gift/predisposition to the language, you hardly achieve perfect fluency – as you most likely will be imperfect in terms of handling pronunciation and some other aspects of your non native language especially in stressful situations or when you tired. But anyway it’s not an excuse or reason for not striving to perfection.

As I did some clean up in my house I decided that it’s high time to get rid of all these English textbooks which I amassed while learning this language. So if you are more on a visual side of perception (i.e. prefer pictures to text) here is what it takes to master a language:


Though this doesn’t include university textbook and a couple of very early textbooks from classes I did afterwards (those not survived the time), class handouts, notebooks and, you know, it’s difficult to take a picture of all the work/cool time you had with these books 🙂

Anyway it’s high time to arrange English text books give away so that I can focus on French (so far I have only 3 books 🙂 ) which I’m currently learning.

Review: Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing

Some Remarks: Essays and Other WritingSome Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson\nMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a good mix of (mostly short-form) writing: from a little bit unexpected (like introductory piece about perils of sedentary lifestyle) to proper “Neal’s style” things. By “Neal’s style” I mean “extremely rich in details, festooned with brilliant and simply explanations of difficult things/ideas and really thought provoking”. I especially liked “Mother Board Mother Earth” (fascinating introduction to the world of submarine cabling which provides foundations for our modern communication systems) and rocket-science/big project execution related pieces “Locked In” & “Innovation Starvation”. And if you are fan of Baroque Cycle there are some related interviews in this book too.

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Review: Oracle 12c For Dummies (For Dummies

Oracle 12c For Dummies (For DummiesOracle 12c For Dummies (For Dummies by Chris Ruel\nMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

For Dummies series does amazing job in explaining everything in plain language without dramatic loss of depth or excessive oversimplification. They are very good to get you started with the subject.\nMy first tech book long time ago was Networking for Dummies (in Russian), and it was both fun to read and informative, all my tech knowledge prior that was based upon trial and error approach 🙂 Probably should re-read latest edition of Networking for Dummies for the sake of knowledge refresh and very good memories of 1st experience of for Dummies series :)\nAs for Oracle 12c book: I preordered digital edition from Amazon, and overall it nicely covers quite a wide array of things you need to know to approach Oracle 12c RDBMS. It seems that Oracle 12c system far more sophisticated/feature-rich platform than MS SQL Server – though probably I just don’t know MS SQL Server well enough (need to go through respective for Dummies book?). To some extent there is more to learn here platform wise as it can run both on top of Linux and Windows – so there are far more options and ramifications for deployment and configuring it.\nThe only bad thing about this edition is amount of very obvious typos/editing errors – didn’t expect that from respective brand/publisher. When language errors obvious even for non-native speaker it’s not what you want to allow as respective publisher I guess.

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