Asioita jotka olen oppinut Saksassa elämisestä vajaassa kahdessa päivässä

Yllättävän hyvin pärjään englannilla ja elekielellä, koska ruosteessa oleva koulusaksani toimii sen verran, että ymmärrän suunnilleen, mitä saksalainen sanoo minulle saksaksi. Tästä huolimatta paikallinen työtoverini varoittelee, että en tule pärjäämään puhumatta saksaa itse.

Osassa jalankulkijoiden liikennevaloja on punaisia valoja tuplasti ilman mitään syytä.

Se keltainen boksi liikennevalotolpassa on näkövammaisille. Ei pidä antaa hämätä, että se pitää valon väristä riippumatta koko ajan samaa ääntä.

En ole tarpeeksi nopea pakkaamaan ostoksiani saksalaisessa ruokakaupassa.

Toimistoaikoja noudatetaan. Vaikka toimistossa olisikin ihminen paikalla, toimistoajan ulkopuolella ei saa palvelua.

Rathaus Galerie Essenin Realista saa Vaasan leipiä. Markkinointinimenä ainakin hapankorpulla on Finn Crisp.

Vaasan hapankorppu
Vaasan hapankorppu

Essenin rautatieasemalla myydään suomalaista patonkia. En tiennyt sellaista olevan olemassakaan.

It’s been a long day…

The story starts yesterday evening when I, with my father, visited the Helsinki-Vantaa airport to check in. I was flying with an exst (extra seat) reservation due to my physical size, and none of the self-service options worked. The upside was, I got to bypass all the long lines to the baggage drop desks and take the short queue to the service desk. With a boarding pass in hand, it was time for one last sauna in Finland, a short night’s sleep, and an early morning plane trip.

Things went well in Finland. We had lots of snow; this was no problem. We left the gate about on time, taxied to a deicing station and then took off without much of a fuss.

Deicing at EFHK
Barely above the clouds
Barely above the clouds

The fish salad I had ordered online was delicious. I seemed to get jealous looks from fellow passengers.

Finnair fish salad
Finnair fish salad

En route I saw a lovely cumulus (cumulonimbus?) cloud towering from the rest of the cloud cover.


The trouble began on approach to Düsseldorf. First, it seemed like we were given a long route, and indeed, we landed somewhat behind schedule.

On short final to DUS
On short final to DUS

And then we stopped, on the taxiway. The flight crew told us that our parking space was not ready, and no estimated time of readiness had been offered by the ground controller. It appears a little bit of snow put the whole airport into chaos. To a Finn, it looked ludicrous.

Waiting to park at DUS
Waiting to park at DUS

Eventually, we were allowed to disembark. Then, we were left waiting for a full hour for our checked baggage. How the heck does it take an hour to unload some bags from a plane?

Finally, I was able to take the nice Sky Train from Düsseldorf Airport to the airport’s train station. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the Sky Train in operation, but here’s one of the terminus at the train station and a part of the overhead track:

Sky Train terminus at the Airport Train Station
Sky Train terminus at the Airport Train Station

I then took the S1 train to Essen main railway station, where I had an hour to kill. I spent that time walking around the station, with my bags stowed in an expensive locker at the station.

Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf
Essen Hbf

I then went and collected my guesthouse apartment key, figured out how to get online there, and finally went to see my host at the University. Afterward, I spent an eternity looking for a simple grocery supermarket in the Essen downtown. It was hard to find, but I eventually chanced into a Real from where I was able to buy some essentials; but it is really hard to figure out what to buy when most of the brands are totally different from what I am used to.

This has been a very rough day, and I am glad it’s nearly over. Tomorrow, my three-month research visit to the University of Duisburg-Essen starts in earnest.

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Plan B

“Other people,” she said, apparently to the room at large, “give their wives flowers.”

Plan B is a rather different book from those published earlier in the Liaden series. First of all, it was first published about a decade after the previous book, due to commercial issues not under the authors’ control. Second, it is a plot-driven story with good solid existing characters instead of being a character-driven book with a plot to keep the characters active.

Some reviewers have placed the Liaden series under the category of military science fiction. In my opinion, Plan B is the only one that truly fits that label. The action takes place on a Liaden planet that comes early in the book under attack by the Yxtrang, with the invasion continuing until the end of the book. Military units, particularly the impromptu defense force formed of mercenary units that happened to be on-planet at the time of the attack as well as local volunteers, feature prominently; the familiar characters take on military roles if the already did not have it; and military action (involving land forces and air forces as well as space combat) is central to the plot.

This change of pace is well justified by the story arch of the Agent of Change sequence, of which this is the penultimate volume; after all, at this point, the characters have been introduced, the chess pieces have been placed on the board and all the initial moves have been completed. All that remains is actually seeing who comes on top in the fight.

Below the fold, I will discuss the book in a bit more detail; the discussion contains SPOILERS for Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, and Carpe Diem.

Continue reading “Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Plan B”

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Carpe Diem and Prodigal Son

Normally, it takes me two to four weeks to listen to an audiobook from beginning to end, depending on the narrator’s speed, the length of the book and how much I invest daily in it. You see, normally I only listen for no more than an hour, often no more than 30 minutes, a day, while getting ready to sleep in the evening. Sometimes I manage a book in one week, if I have been having difficulty catching sleep and thus ending up listening for two hours or more an evening.

This week has been unusual. I’ve been at home due to a stomach bug since Wednesday, with not much energy to do anything. Listening to an audiobook is an easy way to spend time in bed, or in the bathroom, and takes less energy than actually reading myself, or even watching television. And if I happen to drift off (which happened often in Wednesday when I had a moderate fever), the Audible player’s automatic timer stops playing after 30 minutes or so (annoyingly, I must remember to set it up that way each time), and rewinding allows me to find a place I still remember having heard. Spending 12 hours listening to a book a day is not unusual in these circumstances. Thus, it is not surprising that I finished the 15-hour book Carpe Diem a little more than a day after I had finished Agent of Change. I capped it by reading (from an ebook, not an audiobook) the short story Prodigal Son, which revisits the key setting and characters of the novel I had just completed.

Carpe Diem continues directly from where Agent of Change left off, in fact overlapping by a chapter. Given that, this review will necessarily contain spoilers for Agent of Change. The book also picks up characters and worldbuilding from Conflict of Honors, which is a loosely connected prequel published between these two books; while Carpe Diem can perfectly well be read without that background, it does (like this review) contain some spoilers for Conflict of Honors.

Prodigal Son additionally contains significant spoilers for Plan B and I Dare, since it’s set after the events of those books. I will avoid those spoilers in this review.

Continue reading “Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Carpe Diem and Prodigal Son

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Agent of Change

Since it was first recommended to me, the Liaden series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller has been on my regular re-reading list as one of my all-time favorite series. I’ve just started another reread – well, actually, I’m listening for the second time to the Audible audiobooks. Earlier today, I finished Agent of Change.

This is one of the most logical places to start the series; after all, it is the first book written and published. It is, however, not the earliest in chronological order, and there are good arguments for starting from, for example Conflict of Honors, or from several other portal books in the series. I am, however, drawn always first and foremost to Val Con and Miri, whose story starts here.

Here we have two relatively young people, both in perilous trouble when the story starts, who against their better judgment team up as they run one step ahead of their pursuers. Along the way, they set a room on fire, dine with large intelligent turtles, start a firefight between two factions of their pursuers, drink with mercenaries, and ride a psychedelic starship made of rock. Despite all these fireworks, the plot is fairly simple, with obstacles thrown in and evaded in entertaining but a bit too easy manner. Instead, the focus of the story is firmly in these two characters and their developing relationship, dealing with one’s low self-esteem and the other’s deadly mind programming, each helping the other.

Something that has bothered me over several rereads is whether Val Con deliberately mislead the turtles to interpret certain of his actions as taking Miri as his wife. As Miri later comments, it is usual to let the bride, at least, know before conducting a wedding ceremony (not to mention the huge issue of consent that is just waved away). Given that a turtle is an unimpeachable witness of such things, that could potentially lead to all kinds of nasty business. The issue is never directly confronted in the books, although the consequences are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

This book introduces us to the key aspects of the setting. There’s Val Con’s (so far unnamed) employer, whose unsavory methods (if not its goals) are made clear; there’s the Juntavas, on whose black list Miri had ended up; there are the four major power factions in the galaxy (Terrans, Liadens, and Yxtrang, which are all variants of human, and the larger-than-life Clutch Turtles) with their main relations clearly specified; and there is the surprisingly well-established role of independent mercenary companies in warfare. Val Con’s Clan Korval is mentioned but not developed much, and so is Clan Erob, which will feature significantly in several later books. The setting hinted at is richer than it first seems, but that is not surprising considering that (I believe) Sharon Lee had been working in this setting for a long time before anything was published about it. (I sometimes wonder why nobody ever comments about the name of Clan Erob.)

There are aspects of the detailed setting that betray the books’ 1980s vintage. Nobody carries comms on their person; instead, communications terminals are always bulky enough to require a desk, with public comm booths everywhere. Messages are frequently carried in printouts instead read from screens. There is no ubiquitous information network. These are, however, forgiveable. However, the larger setting contains aspects that have fallen mostly out of sf favour (psi being the most notable); I don’t mind, but others may.

Val Con’s survival loop is introduced very early on. It is an interesting idea, a device that computes a (presumably Bayesian) probability of mission success and personal survival for the situation at hand and allows its user to compute probabilities for many contemplated courses of action. Many specific probabilities are mentioned in this book, and most of them seem unnaturally low. If an agent has 70 % probability of survival, then it shouldn’t take many similar missions for them to get killed. But then again, as Val Con notes, he was not expected to survive even this long.

It is a beautiful book; Lee and Miller certainly have the gift and skill to use the English language in masterful ways. The book contains several languages in dialogue (Terran, High Liaden, Low Liaden, Trade, Clutch, and Yxtrang), which are indicated by differences in the style of English. Of all the authors and series I like a lot, Lee and Miller certainly take the top slot in English usage.

The audiobook is narrated by Andy Caploe. He reads very clearly, to the point of annoyance, but I at least get used to his style fairly fast. His character voices are recognizable but far from the best I have heard in audiobooks. The narration is serviceable.

Agent of Change is available in several formats: a Baen Free Library e-book, as part of the omnibus The Agent Gambit (ebook and paperback), and Audible ebook.

The social construction of chairs

No, I’m not writing about several people getting together in a wood shop to chat and make single-seat furniture.

Last July I started a series of blog posts about epistemology (that is, the philosophical theory of knowledge). In that opening post, I made the following claim:

How can I decide the (correspondence-theory) truth of the simple theory “there is a chair that I sit upon as I write this”, a statement I expect any competent theory of truth to evaluate as true? Under the correspondence theory of truth, my theory says (among other things) that there is some single thing having chair-ness and located directly under me. For simplicity, I will assume arguendo that there are eight pieces of wood: four roughly cylindrical pieces placed upright; three placed horizontally between some of the upright ones (physically connected to prevent movement); and one flat horizontal piece placed upon the upright ones, physically connected to them to prevent movement, and located directly below my bottom. I have to assume these things, and cannot take them as established facts, because this same argument I am making applies to them as well, recursively. Now, given the existence and mutual relationships of these eight pieces of wood, how can I tell that there is a real thing they make up that has the chair-ness property, instead of the eight pieces merely cooperating but not making a real whole?

Recall that the correspondence theory of truth says that a theory is true if every thing that it says exists does actually exist, every thing it says doesn’t exist actually doesn’t exist, the relationships it says exist between things actually exist, and the relationships that it says don’t exist actually don’t exist.

That argument almost screams for the following two rejoinders: the pieces of wood make up the chair, or, in other words, once you have the pieces wood in the correct configuration, the chair necessarily exists; and, it’s splitting hairs to wonder whether there is a chair that is distinguishable from the pieces of wood it consists of.

But both rejoinders fail. The first rejoinder says that eight pieces of wood automatically become a single thing when they are arranged in a chair-like configuration; but that is a claim about the reality, which itself needs to be evaluated under the correspondence theory of truth, and we are back where we started (albeit with a much more difficult question). The second rejoinder says that it doesn’t matter whether there is an existent called “chair” that is separate from its constituent pieces of wood; but that’s either a misunderstanding of the correspondence theory (it most assuredly does matter to it whether a thing exists) or an expression of frustration about the whole problem, effectively a surrender that masquerades as a victory.

As I mentioned in the original post, most scientists prefer to adopt a modeling appropach instead of the correspondence theory; the attitude is that we don’t care about whether a chair exists, because even if a chair does not exist, there still are the eight pieces of wood that carry my weight and we can pretend they make up a chair. Another way to say this is that a chair is a social construct.

The concept of social construction seems to have begun from a 1966 book, The Social Construction of Reality by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. I must confess right now that I haven’t yet finished the book. However, if I understand their central claim correctly, it’s this: a social institution is always originally created as a convenient (or sometimes even accidental) set of customs by people who find it useful, but as its original creators leave (usually by dying) and stewardship passes to a new generation who did not participate in its creation (and as stewardship is passed many times over generations), the institution becomes an inevitable part of reality as people perceive it; in this sense, Berger and Luckmann (I think) hold that social reality is a social construct.

Ancient Egyptian woodworking via Wikipedia
Ancient Egyptian woodworking via Wikipedia

In the case of my chair, way back in the mist of prehistory, it presumably became a custom to arrange wood or other materials in configurations that supported a person’s weight. The generation that invented this practice probably just were glad to have places to sit. Their descendants, to the umpteenth generation, were each taught this skill; it became useful to refer to the skill not in terms of arranging materials but in terms of making things to sit on; further, some people never learned the skill but purchased the end result of another people’s skill; especially for these unskilled-in-wood-arrangement-for-sitting people, a chair was a real thing, and they often weren’t even aware that there were pieces of wood involved. I am one of those people: I had to specifically examine my chair in order to write the description in my quote.

In a 1999 book, The Social Construction of What?, philosopher Ian Hacking looked back at the pile of literature that had grown over the three decades since Berger and Luckmann’s book, and tried to make sense of the whole buzzword “social construction”. This is another book I haven’t finished yet, but I have found those parts I have read very enlightening. No-one who has read scholarly literature in the so-called soft sciences can have missed the tremendous impact social constructionism has had on it, and it’s hard not to be aware that there is a large gulf between many hard scientists and social constructionists evoking strong feelings on both sides. A big theme in Hacking’s book is the examination of whether (and if so, in what sense) there is an actual incompatibility between something being a social construct and an objectively real thing.

For me, however, it suffices to acknowledge that whether or not chairs exist in the objective world, they do indeed exist in the social world. Thus, once I have eight pieces of wood configured in a particular way, I indeed have a chair.

Hacking points out, however, that claiming an idea (call it X) to be a social construct is conventionally taken to mean several possible claims. First, that someone bothers to claim X a social construct implies that X is generally taken to be an inevitable idea. Second, claiming X a social construct is tantamount to claiming that X is not, in fact, inevitable. Third, many writers also mean that X is a bad thing, and that the world would be a better place if X were changed or eliminated. He classifies social constructionist claims in six “grades”: historical, ironic, reformist, unmasking, rebellious, and revolutionary. Of these, reformist and unmasking are parallel grades, while in other respects the list is in increasing order of radicality. Historical and ironic constructionism merely claim that X seems inevitable but actually is not; they differ in their attitude to X. Reformist and unmasking constructionism add the claim that X is a bad thing but neither actively seek change; they differ in how they regard the possibility of change. Rebellious and revolutionary constructionism additionally call for and attempt to effect change, respectively.

With respect to chairs, I am clearly an ironic social constructionist. I point out that we think chairs are inevitable but they, actually, are not; but I do not regard chairs as a bad thing. However, given current claims about the ill effects on health of sitting, I might eventually become even revolutionary.

Where do you stand?

Planet Haskell email is broken (UPDATE: fixed)

I became aware about a week ago that Planet Haskell’s email address had not received any traffic for a while. It turns out the email servers are misconfigured. The issue remains unfixed as of this writing. Update: this issue has been fixed.

Please direct your Planet Haskell related mail directly to me ( for the duration of the problem.

Henkilökohtainen moraalisaarna

Joulukuun alussa minulle sattui tilanne, jota en olisi halunnut kokea ja jota toivottavasti en joudu kokemaan uudestaan. Toivon ettei sellaista tai vakavampaa kukaan muukaan joutuisi kokemaan, mutta se on toiveajattelua.

Kovin moni ihminen, jolle olen tapauksesta kertonut, on aluksi syyttänyt minua liiasta kiltteydestä. Tämä syytös on tullut myös ihmisiltä, joihin minulla on luottamuksellinen suhde, muun muassa työterveyden puolelta. Jokainen on, kun olen sitten oman kantani kertonut, todennut että olin toiminut oikein.

En ole kovin uskonnollinen ihminen, mutta seuraava lainaus Raamatusta (Matt. 25:31–46 vuoden 1938 suomennos) kuvaa hyvin omaa moraalikoodiani tähän tapaukseen liittyen:

31. Mutta kun Ihmisen Poika tulee kirkkaudessaan ja kaikki enkelit hänen kanssaan, silloin hän istuu kirkkautensa valtaistuimelle.
32. Ja hänen eteensä kootaan kaikki kansat, ja hän erottaa toiset toisista, niinkuin paimen erottaa lampaat vuohista.
33. Ja hän asettaa lampaat oikealle puolelleen, mutta vuohet vasemmalle.
34. Silloin Kuningas sanoo oikealla puolellaan oleville: ‘Tulkaa, minun Isäni siunatut, ja omistakaa se valtakunta, joka on ollut teille valmistettuna maailman perustamisesta asti.
35. Sillä minun oli nälkä, ja te annoitte minulle syödä; minun oli jano, ja te annoitte minulle juoda; minä olin outo, ja te otitte minut huoneeseenne;
36. minä olin alaston, ja te vaatetitte minut; minä sairastin, ja te kävitte minua katsomassa; minä olin vankeudessa, ja te tulitte minun tyköni.’
37. Silloin vanhurskaat vastaavat hänelle sanoen: ‘Herra, milloin me näimme sinut nälkäisenä ja ruokimme sinua, tai janoisena ja annoimme sinulle juoda?
38. Ja milloin me näimme sinut outona ja otimme sinut huoneeseemme, tai alastonna ja vaatetimme sinut?
39. Ja milloin me näimme sinun sairastavan tai olevan vankeudessa ja tulimme sinun tykösi?’
40. Niin Kuningas vastaa ja sanoo heille: ‘Totisesti minä sanon teille: kaikki, mitä olette tehneet yhdelle näistä minun vähimmistä veljistäni, sen te olette tehneet minulle’.
41. Sitten hän myös sanoo vasemmalla puolellaan oleville: ‘Menkää pois minun tyköäni, te kirotut, siihen iankaikkiseen tuleen, joka on valmistettu perkeleelle ja hänen enkeleillensä.
42. Sillä minun oli nälkä, ja te ette antaneet minulle syödä; minun oli jano, ja te ette antaneet minulle juoda;
43. minä olin outo, ja te ette ottaneet minua huoneeseenne; minä olin alaston, ja te ette vaatettaneet minua; sairaana ja vankeudessa, ja te ette käyneet minua katsomassa.’
44. Silloin hekin vastaavat sanoen: ‘Herra, milloin me näimme sinut nälkäisenä tai janoisena tai outona tai alastonna tai sairaana tai vankeudessa, emmekä sinua palvelleet?’
45. Silloin hän vastaa heille ja sanoo: ‘Totisesti minä sanon teille: kaiken, minkä olette jättäneet tekemättä yhdelle näistä vähimmistä, sen te olette jättäneet tekemättä minulle’.
46. Ja nämä menevät pois iankaikkiseen rangaistukseen, mutta vanhurskaat iankaikkiseen elämään.”

Oikeastiko minun olisi pitänyt antaa ihmisen, jota en silloin tiennyt väkivaltaiseksi valehtelijaksi, viettää yönsä ulkona pakkasessa? (Ehkä olisi joku muu yöpaikka ollut löydettävissä, mutta niitä ei tullut silloin mieleeni.)

Vastaavasti, kun ei-aivan-tuoreita mustelmia ja vammoja naamassaan kantanut nainen pysäytti minut kävelylenkilläni joskus aiemmin syksyllä, annoin hänelle sen bussirahan jota hän kovasti halusi jotta pääsisi pois Keltinmäestä. Annan bussirahaa usein myös laitapuolen kulkijoille, kun pyytävät.

Olen myös kaupan kassalla antanut kanssaihmiselle pienen määrän rahaa, jotta ostos saadaan maksettua. Kerran kaukoliikenteen bussissa täydensin erään kulkijan matkakassaa muistaakseni jollain vitosella, jotta hän pääsi kotiin (kun kertomansa mukaan sovittu kyytikaveri oli tehnyt oharit). Olen yleensä pyytänyt, että maksavat eteenpäin eli auttavat vastaavasti jotakuta muuta, kun apua tarvitaan.

Tiedän, että suurin osa avunpyytäjistä tekee sen vilpillisin mielin ilman todellista avun tarvetta. Mutta minä en usko omiin ihmisenlukukykyihini niin paljon, että uskaltaisin luvata tunnistavani todellisen avunpyytäjän hyvästä valehtelijasta. Siksi autan, jos kykenen ja tilanne ei haiskahda liikaa. En voi niiden kymmenien huijareiden takia jättää auttamatta sitä yhtä todellista avuntarvitsijaa.

Pitää toki mainita, että minullakin on rajani. En yleensä anna katukerjäläisille enkä osta lapun kanssa kerrostaloja kiertäviltä kaupustelijoilta. Ehkä se tekee minusta tekopyhän. Toisaalta, olen vain ihminen.


Kielitoimiston sanakirja ei tunne sanaa “fitness”. Oxford English Dictionary mainitisee toki sanan liikuntaan liittyvän erityismerkityksen, mutta antaa lisäksi seuraavat muut yleiset merkitykset:

1. a. The quality or state of being fit or suitable; the quality of being fitted, qualified, or competent. b. The state of being morally fit; worthiness.
2. a. The quality or condition of being fit and proper, conformity with what is demanded by the circumstances; propriety.

Fitness tarkoittaa siis sopivuutta, sitä että on oikeanmuotoinen kalikka haluttuun reikään.

Sitä minä vaan, että mitä helvettiä tällä on mitään tekemistä liikunnan, terveyden ja hyvän olon kanssa? Tai edes urheilun (nopeammin, korkeammalle, voimakkaammin, eikä sopivimmin, mukautuvimmin, lauhkeimmin)?

Selfie salilla jäähdyttelyn jälkeen
Selfie salilla jäähdyttelyn jälkeen

En ole mikään fitnesskarju. Olen ihminen, joka liikkuu terveytensä vuoksi.

Yhdistyksen kokouksen puheenjohtajana

Olen saanut kunnian johtaa varsin monta yhdistyksen kokousta vuosien varrella, ja minulle on muodostunut siihen jonkinlainen rutiini. Ajattelin nyt kirjata ylös joitakin kokemuksestani heränneitä ajatuksia. Tämä ei ole mikään puheenjohtajan alkeiskurssi; oletan, että peruskokoustekniikka ja -juridiikka on lukijalla hallussa.

Kirjoitan nyt erityisesti yhdistysten kokouksista eli kokouksista joihin kutsutaan kaikki yhdistyksen jäsenet. Johtamani kokoukset ovat olleet tyypillisesti isompia kuin hallitusten kokoukset mutta mistään massakokouksista ei ole ollut kyse.

Yleensä saan vihjeen etukäteen, jos minua aiotaan esittää kokouksen puheenjohtajaksi. Joskus arvaan sen muutenkin. Joka tapauksessa ennakkotieto tai -arvaus antaa tilaisuuden valmistautua kokoukseen.

Ennen kokousta luen esityslistan läpi ja mietin, mitkä asiat ovat mahdollisia ongelmia ja miten ne voisi välttää sekä miten niistä voi selvitä jos välttäminen ei onnistu.

Tarkistan säännöistä kokouksen kannalta keskeiset kohdat. Otan säännöt mukaani niin, että voin niihin tarvittaessa vedota kokouksessa. Otan mukaani myös yhdistyslain, johon joskus joutuu vetoamaan.

Erittäin tärkeää on muistaa ottaa mukaan kynä ja runsaasti muistiinpanopaperia!

Puheenjohtajan roolissa en koe voivani osallistua asioiden käsittelyyn aktiivisesti. Siksi kieltäydyn kunniasta, jos aion jossain asiassa ottaa aktiivisen asian ajajan roolin. Esimerkiksi kokouksessa, jossa olen jonkin asian valmistelija tai esittelijä, en mielelläni toimi puheenjohtajana. Näin siksi, että asian ajaminen vie huomiokykyä kokouksen johtamiselta, ja päin vastoin.

Itse kokouksessa puheenjohtajan tärkein tehtävä on huolehtia siitä, että kokousväki tietää, missä mennään: mitä asiaa käsitellään, mistä ollaan päättämässä ja mitä päätettiin. Pidän siksi erittäin tärkeänä muistaa tehdä olennaisimmat muodollisen kokoustekniikan mukaiset julistukset: asiakohtien avaaminen, esitysten kirjaaminen ja toteaminen sekä päätöksen julistaminen. Myös asiakohdan sulkeminen (“asia N on loppuun käsitelty”) on myös hyvä muistaa.

Puheenjohtajan yhtä tärkeä tehtävä on huolehtia, että kaikkia kokouksen äänivaltaisia osallistujia kohdellaan tasavertaisesti. Tämä tarkoittaa kokousväen jatkuvaa tarkkailua puheenvuoropyyntöjen yms varalta. Puheenvuoropyynnöt kirjaan aina ylös ellen voi niitä välittömästi myöntää (esimerkiksi koska joku puhuu samaan aikaan). Myönnän puheenvuorot pyytämisjärjestyksessä, antaen jonon ohi vain työjärjestyspuheenvuorot ja harkinnan mukaan (vain erityisestä syystä) vastaus- ja kommenttipuheenvuoroja. Jos puhuja tekee esityksen, kirjaan sen heti ylös ja varmistan ääneen puhujalta, että olen ymmärtänyt sen oikein. Toisin kuin olen monen puheenjohtajan nähnyt tekevän, tehtyä esitystä en tiputa hiljaisesti pois käsittelystä; silloinkin kun on ilmeistä, että esitys on keskustelun kuluessa vanhentunut, otan asian puheeksi (saatan esimerkiksi kysyä, että haluaako esittäjä luopua esityksestään, tai kysyä, kannattaako ko. esitystä vielä joku).

Puheenjohtamisen hankalin vaihe on, kun asiassa on runsaasti erimielisyyttä, joka johtaa useisiin kilpaileviin esityksiin. Äänestysjärjestyksen miettimiseen voi hyvin käyttää aikaa; juosten kustu äänestysjärjestys on pahempi kuin lyhyt kokoustauko. Selkeät äänestysohjeet pitää aina muistaa antaa ja on samalla syytä pitää huoli, että koko kokousväki on äänestyshetkellä skarppina. Liian monta kertaa olen nähnyt tilanteen, jossa joku kokousedustaja ei ole tiennyt, mistä äänestetään.

Kokousta (aivan pienimpiä työryhmiä ja hallituksia lukuunottamatta) ei minusta siis voi johtaa kovin epämuodollisesti. Olikin kiva kuulla, että erään paikallaolijan mielestä viimeisin johtamani kokous oli muodollinen mutta rento.

Millainen sinusta on hyvä kokouksen puheenjohtaja?