Friday 11 October 2019

Mighty Scorpius and Paul Crocketts

Two minis I've painted recently with extra copies. Always a pleasure to paint a model for the first time. UV lime fluo resin used for the first time to, great stuff!

Sunday 6 October 2019

#18/2019 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

In this business book, consultant and speaker Patrick Lencioni, puts forward a model that aims to identify 5 key dysfunctions of a team that doesn't perform well (or 5 elements that work well in a good team if you look at it from another perspective.

He brings them up in astory of Kathryn Petersen, newly appointed CEO of fictional company. She is portrayed as a perfect boss who always does the right thing. While it might seem a tad naive, the author smoothly uses this background to put his ideas into tangible context. Situations that Kate faces are not extraordinary, and she is always able to use the right too(s) to solve conflicts and plan ahead. These allow Lenconi to really drive his point and present more argument for using the model he proposes. While this approach might be perceived as 'touchy-feely', I'd say its relative simplicity makes it a tool that is more easily applicable.

The five dysfunctions are:

1. Absence of trust - the fear o being vulnerable in front of the team limits opportunities of building trust.
2. Fear of conflict - maintaining status quo for the sake of artificial harmony can be destructive as it makes productive discussion very challenging.
3. Lack of commitment - if the goals aren't clearly defined and not everyone is able to participate in the process, making decisions becomes too complicated.
4. Avoidance of accountability - if teams are determined to avoid interpersonal discomfort, and fear making one another uncomfortable, small issues fester and become much more problematic with limited chances of fixing them.
5. Inattention to results - focusing on personal goals does not go in line with collective ones and more often than not one will need to shift their priorities to accommodate group goals.

#17/2019 The Institute

I was bitterly disappointed with King's last couple of novels so I approached this one with caution. At first it felt like good old Stephen King but the familiarity I initially found comfort in soon turned into something else. It's hard to put my finger on what that is exactly but as I kept on reading I found myself rediscovering familiar tropes, characters. While it made me feel comfortable as a Constant Reader, it didn't feel refreshing. Over the years and dozens of novels written by King that I've read, I've come to appreciate him for two main skills. Building an atmosphere and using meaningful stories for characters who don't play major role in the story. These small additions were often very memorable. Brother of one of main characters from "The Dark Tower" who replied to all questions by saying: Johnny Cash, people who survived the initial wave of virus in the Stand only to have their lives cut short (the runner, the girl who locked herself up in the icehouse). They really helped with setting the right tone. And these appear here in a way but they don't have that kind of impact...
The story begins in a small town of DuPray. Tim Jamieson, a former cop who was forced to quit his job due to an unfortunate accident, starts working as a night knocker there (a kind of security guy who works at night). After this initial start, the plot shifts to Luke Ellis, a young prodigy who is about to begin a new chapter in his impressive education career. Hi life changes drastically as he is kidnapped and locked in "the Institute", an under the radar place where children who may have telepathic skills are kept. As he tries to survive there, he soon discovers the real reason behind keeping kids with psychic powers there. This leads him to a decision that will affect not only him, but also potentially the entire humankind. 
"The Institute" is a solid page-turner, by far better than couple of King's recent books put together. It lacks elements that a person who's read more than 60 books by King could find surprising and innovative, and it's nowhere near as good as his best books like "Green Mile" or "The Stand", but it is a good read nonetheless.

#16/2019 Homo Deus

A very interesting take on the current state of humanity. The author aims to give a comprehensive answer to questions of our origin. current existence and future of mankind. He combines elements of history, philosophy, biotechnology, as well as other sciences in a seamless way. As a result, 21st century is seen as the age of greatest change in mankind's history. 
Death is one of the main topics he discusses. If people are at some point able to achieve immorality, how would this affect our society and inter-human relations? The conclusions he puts forward are both interesting and slightly troubling.
Can happiness be achieved? If we take a biotechnological point of view, we could talk about flipping the "happiness switch" and the ca[ability of experiencing the joy without having any actual reason for it.
These discussions are contrasted with some surprising statistical data. Nowadays more people die as a result of suicide than as casualties of war. There are more deaths as a result of obesity than starvation. 
Harari's book can lead to some serious reflections on who we are and what's in store for us. Despite the potential of technological achievements, many of these thoughts are worrying.
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