Death in the city of lights/ David King

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Dr Marcel Petiot. Convicted serial killer in 1944 Nazi-occupied Paris.

You’ve got a serial killer. You’ve got WWII. Interesting combo.

50 to 60 victims?

At the time of discovering his misdeeds, he was a married man with a wife and a 16 year-old son.

Like most stories about serial killers, the telling is in the investigation and hunt for the killer, rather than the kills.

It is a story of Nazi occupation of France, as much as a story of a serial killer in war-time Paris. Interwoven to the hunt for Petiot are stories of personalities like Albert Camus, Sartre and Pablo Picasso, who were residents in 1941 Paris. Also the dubious and colourful underworld characters.

Chpt 15 War in the shadows – guerrilla tactics (terrorist tactics if seem from Germany’s eyes) against the Nazi occupational forces in Paris.

Epilogue: author explains that he first started researching on the Marcel Petiot case when he was preparing for one of his lectures on WWII.


10 ways to change the world in your 20s/ libuse binder

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2009 publication. A primer and how-to book on environmental/ social activism. US context, I.e. many organizations and NGOs mentioned exist only in the US. Interspersed with case studies of people in their 20s who are active/ successful environment/ social-related volunteerism/ activism, businesses.

Written primarily for people in their 20s, though it’s equally relevant for anyone interested.

Appeals to those motivated to do something good for people other than themselves. The pointers are pragmatic and grounded, and covers enough ground as an introduction. But may be insufficient for those who are already aware of the broad strokes and require depth. Could also appear as simplistic at first reading for some parts, e.g. “get help from celebrities” but I think as a primer it’s enough.

Ratings on the impact/ expected commitment on time, cost, lifestyle.

Covers areas like material goods, personal hygiene, food, water usage, energy usage, travel, ideas for environmental advocacy.

Green America “21 things you didn’t know you can recycle”.

Most plastics do not biodegrade but photodegrade (need sunlight to do so). And when degraded they only become smaller pieces and may still enter our food and water systems.

On “decoding plastics”: the different grades of plastics, their toxicity to humans, their recyclability. Plastics are numbered:
1-2: recyclable, like PET and HDPE plastics used for bottled drinks, soap bottles. But not for repeated use, as they have been shown to leach chemicals after repeated washing or heating.

3: non-recyclable; vinyl or PVC; potentially hazardous as they leach lead and plasticizers.

4 -5: recyclable; plastics used for food storage and wraps. Safe for repeated use.

6: polystyrene or styrofoam. Potentially recyclable but not yet practical to do so (too light weight). Leaches a carcinogen, styrene, as it breaks down.

7: anything that isn’t graded from 1 to 6 is put under this category. Contains both recyclable (e.g. Plant or Corn-based plastics; polylactide) and non-recyclable/ non-biodegradable plastics (polycarbonate)

On how to launch a campaign on our own:
– research
– Messenging
– partnership
– communications
– build media relations
– help from celebrities

A section on why global warming should matter to you.
Carbon footprint calculator. See EarthLab,
Reducing waterprints (rate of using potable water, and also indirect usage of producing the goods we consume).

Standing ground: an imprisoned couple’s struggle for justice against a communist regime/ Kay Danes

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“‘never give up hope, even when it seems hopeless,’ they said” – chapter 10, ‘Innocence Lost’.

2009 publication.

Engaging read, if you give it a chance beyond the first few pages. It’s in a personal narrative style so there’s no creative hook at the start. But the unfolding series of events was intriguing. In the end, Kay Dane does make a compelling case that they have been wronged, willfully imprisoned and extorted by Laos government officials.

Story of an Australian couple, kerry and kay danes, and their year-long imprisonment in Laos. Written by the wife, Kay (33 at the time of her ordeal). They were embroiled in a power struggle of a sapphire mine in Laos, of which they were made scapegoats.

Husband was ex-SAS. Took up a job managing a security services company in Laos. Family moved to Laos. Wrote that life in Laos was dangerous and yet offered new perspectives to their children.

Description of the ways there was corruption among staff and blatant extortion by Laos government officials.

Expanding their security/ personnel protection business to Thailand.

Corruption and theft by employees, in spite of higher salaries.

Embroiled in a dispute between client company and local dissidents. Hints of criminal associations and potential inside betrayal. Increased tensions and risk to personal safety.

Kerry’s creative and steadfast resolve to overcome problems. But an unappreciative and unsympathetic head office.

Dispute comes to a head; seizure by Laos government of client premises and property. Kerry concludes business/ security services. Death threats. Kay deciding to relocate to Thailand. Reported by government planted spy.

Kerry taken into custody; Kay arrested at the border; unexplained charges.

Sending the children, 11 and 9, back to Australia.

Kay summarily incarcerated in prison. No charges read. Husband whereabouts unknown. Fear, uncertainty and despair. Unsympathetic guards, cruelty. Meeting cell mates. Knowledge that husband was alive. First meeting.

Kindness from fellow prisoners.

*”you do not let them see you are scared, Kay,” she said.*

Showing a guard sincerity and kindness.
Friendships among prisoners.
Death of a fellow foreigner detainee.

“life In Laos is cheap”

Media reports, inaccuracies, lies, family’s attempts at public support. Australian government into the fray.

Unexpected appointment as the prison doctor.

False promises all round.
Laos Vice-minister officially appointed to look into the case.
Settling into a sense of normalcy.
New prisoners.
An unexpected chance to speak to her own children.
International press attention. Foreign investments to Laos somewhat stalled.
Bombings and signs of continued armed confrontation within Laos.
Seemingly unending delays, false claims, stalling for time.

Sixteen weeks since their detention without trial.
Intervention by the Australian prime minister. Diplomatic channels.
Gradual letters from home. Badminton in the prison.
Unexpected treat: ice cream!

Yet another lot of foreign prisoners. Torture.

Catching a bird. Setting it free.

Court date.
A friend risking his safety to testify for them.
Danger in the night.

Outpour of international support. Detractors also.

Showdown in court.
Anger. Despair.


Freedom. Farewell.
Free, but not completely.


Tales of inspiration: stories of faith, hope and love that will touch your heart and make you believe/ werwinkski, c.a.

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Christianity-faith focused. Series of individual anecdotal accounts, describing encounters with the Christian faith, prayers, angels. Most come across as having a philosophical slant rather than outright evangelical.

Stories read like readers’ letters to a Christian magazine. Nothing particularly moving or touching (if you were expecting stories to be like ‘ for the soul’ style). Won’t instantly make all people believe, if that’s what the title implies.

Probably for Atheists, the stories are more ammunition on self-fulfilling prophesies. To staunch Christians, the stories could be affirming their faith.

Creating personal presence: how to look, talk, think and act like a leader/ dianna booher

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2011 publication.

Reads like a blog. Anecdotal mostly (not saying this was good or bad; just was). Chapter on “think like Hollywood”, on telling a story as part of putting points across, was quite a nice section, and the “think on your feet” on dealing with tough questions.

4 parts:
– look (body language, handshake, movement, dress, surroundings)
– talk (choice of words, physical voice qualities,
– thinking
– act.

Logic, emotions, character.

Work desk. Does it say a competent person works here, or that the person is overwhelmed and disorganized?

Use of space.

(aside: I like this quote cited in the book. Sir Ken Robinson, on the state of British Education system: “… Picasso once said this. He said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.”)

Chapter 15: Think on you feet.
Pause rather than utter um, ahs.
Respond rather than react to the question.
never repeat a faulty premise that was in a loaded question.
Summary statement, elaborate (with facts or concise points), give one example, conclude/ re-state.

Dining etiquette. What are your utensils.
BMW – left to right: bread, meal, water.

In the arms of the sheikh/ kaori himeki

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Manga with English text. Pulp fiction storyline. Good for quick flip on a Sunday no-brainer morning, those sort of days.

Self-made girl meets aloof but nobel hearted sheik prince. Warms his heart and he also makes her fall for him inevitably. Kidnap/ assassination risk, to spice things up.

Strategic thinking: a nine step approach to strategy for marketeers and managers / Simon Wootten & Terry Horne

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Suggests that one can think strategically if one can think through these 9 steps (involving a combination of thinking, communication, and planning skills):
1. Gather strategic intelligence
2. Make strategic assessment
3. Create strategic knowledge
4. Make strategic predictions
5. Develop strategic vision
6. Create strategic options
7. Take the strategic decisions
8. Create and communicate the market-led strategy
9. Plan and manage projects to implement the changes

Steps 1-3 are to “escape from the past/ create usable knowledge”. Steps 4-6 are to “focus on the present/ Direct present action”. Steps 7-9 are to “invent the future/ improve future performance”.

Cites Charan: strategic thinking involves thinking for yourself as yourself, and as another. Involves thinking clearly and expressing clearly what you think.

That strategic leaders need not necessarily be found at the top of the organization. Leaders have to be prepared to listen.

“Questioning and thinking will feed your thinking… Once you understand, you will need to communicate your understanding.”

Key to comms: 20 minutes max (attention span), 3 things (images, stories, facts etc to reinforce those 3 points).

Comms is one thing; getting ppl to be motivated to move in the same direction is key.

Motivation comes from belief. Belief is based on 2 components: a thought plus a feeling. Left & right brain (I.e. idea with an optimistic emotional image that listener can identify).

Direction of the comms is from the past (story or an experience), via the present (idea or opinion), towards the future (plan or action). Quantify the risk of being wrong; there is always a chance of being wrong. Thinking of the future also requires an imagination of what the future might be; supported by critical thinking to decide if the idea is desirable or feasible.

Five basic thinking skills: memory (use aids; take notes), imagination, empathy and emotion (feeling), numeracy, verbalise (talk it out, think aloud).

That prediction can be aided by talking to experts/ older people, younger/ would-be consumers, broad general knowledge (“luck favours the prepared mind”).

Ethical thinking, use morality as a guide. Quotes Abraham Lincoln: “when I do good things, I feel good. When I do bad things, I feel bad. That is my religion.”

(List of questions that critical thinkers ask)

16 stages for thinking about complex & turbulent situations (see
Horne & Doherty, 2003)


1. Strategic Intelligence – What’s changing out there: TEMPLES

2. Strategic Assessment – Considerations for a self-assessment:
money, management, mental muscle
Morales, mores, market reputation
Materials, movement, machines

3. Strategic knowledge = strategic intelligence + strategic assessment

Strategic Predictions: scenario planning; change nothing (assess impact of this on customers, competition, finance etc); worse case scenario.

4. Strategic Vision. Consider CATSWORLD in developing a strategic vision:
customers, actors, transformation, sub systems, “way we do things here”, owners, resources, limitations/ legal, decisions (how they are made).
Create a optimistic view of the future; determine a hopeful strategic direction; set motivating markers, milestones, review points.
Keywords: optimism, positive future, possibilities.

5. Strategic Options:
identify obstacles, worse fears, worse case scenarios, also best hope. Then identify how those may be removed/ reduced; or how obstacles may be removed to get to “best hope” case.

6. Apply creativity in identifying options (this is where ethics come into play). Suggests speaking to individuals in addition to brainstorming.

7. Strategic decisions. Talks about checklist of areas to consider, aided by intuition.

8. Create & comms the market-led strategy:
A sample of the executive summary provided (which is based on the earlier steps). Talks about how to present.

9. Plan & manage projects to implement the changes.
Managing resistance (suggest at least 70% will resist to some extent). Considerations: has anyone else done this? What is the picture at the end? Who will keep selling the benefits of change? Whose decisions will be crucial? Who owns the change? Who are the main stakeholders of the change?

Resistance to change; sometimes disguised as supportive suggestions., e.g, form working committees.

On project management.

A chart showing a flow diagram. Assessing staff. Delegate to those with high abilities & high motivation. Encourage/ sell/ praise those with high abilities but low motivation. Tell/ direct those with low ability but high motivation. Train those who are low in abilities and motivation.

List of reading references relating to strategic thinking and leadership.

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