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Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Blower's Daughter




The Blower's Daughter (2001) by Damien Rice featuring Lisa Hannigan

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky

I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We'll both forget the breeze
Most of the time
And so it is
The colder water
The blower's daughter
The pupil in denial

I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...
My mind...my mind...
'Til I find somebody new

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Alt-Left vs Alt-Right

A recent article in Wired magazine caught my interest. It claims that "there is no Alt-Left, no matter what Trump says". Apparently, Trump had made the following comment on the Alt-Right march in Charlotteville: “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” (eg, NYT, Wired) Could this be a typical case of denial by an American liberal?

I believe in balance and symmetry in life. Hence, it's unlikely that there would not be something like an Alt-Left when there is something called an Alt-Right. The main issue with both Alt-Left and Alt-Right is in its definition. In the absence of a proper description, both groups have labeled the extreme proponents of the two main American political parties in the Alt-category. 

The symmetry and balance between the Alt-Left and Alt-Right is a little puzzle. 

The Alt-Right is a mix of fascist, nationalist, and white supremacist movements with lots of support for a strongman like the Russian President (eg, Newsweek). The Russian support for the Alt-Right could be viewed as an anomaly, which it is not. For decades, Russia is a nationalist kleptocracy and oligarchy. Hence, it makes perfect sense that Russia supports nationalist movements all-over Europe and USA. Russia also believes in Divide and Rule.

The Alt-Left represents lots of support for personal liberalism (eg, LGTB rights, pro-choice). Liberalism was originally a philosophical movement (liberty, equality) around the time of the Industrial Revolution. It evolved partly into Capitalism (economic liberty) and partly into Politics (liberty, equality). Now, Liberalism seems to evolve into a human rights movement. 

The Alt-Left are interested in the rights - rather than duties - of individuals and blame society for not recognising their rights. The Alt-Right want a strongman to protect society and are willing to sacrifice individuals' rights in that process. This is the area where the Alt-Left and Alt-Right collide: individuals versus society. Hence, balance and symmetry after all.

Since this week, my 23 July 2017 Dutch language blog on Liberalism is the #1 in my most read blogs. This came as a surprise as I do not have many Dutch readers. That Dutch blog deals with a similar issue: economic (right) versus personal (left) liberalism. I assumed it was a typical Dutch issue. Perhaps my readers have recognised its universal context before I did myself. 

The above analysis supports the global surge in Nationalism and the problems of Internationalism (a.k.a. Globalism) in coping with nationalist arguments. Internationalism is advocating for the free movement of individuals, while Nationalism argues that it is protecting society. The persistent request for the rights - rather than duties - of individuals will eventually create a backlash in the rest of society. Someday, society will say: "Enough is enough". 

Enough is Enough (1979) by Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer


Friday, 18 August 2017

The 45th President and the Peter principle

Twitter's hashtag PIMPOTUS made me remember the Peter principle that argues that "managers rise to the level of their incompetence". Wiki: "The Peter principle is a concept in management theory formulated by educator Laurence J. Peter and published in 1969." I have used a similar - scientific - analogy: the lower one's specific gravity, the faster (s)he will rise in an organisation.

The hashtag is a well crafted combination of the word pimp and POTUS. The Urban Dictionary defines the word "pimp" as a "person into marketing [of] prostitutes". The word POTUS stands for President of the United States. The combination of both words refers to a devastating story on Trump Model Management that is developing in some maverick international and US media.

Mainstream media may only report this story in September 2017 as their lawyers will be busy covering every legal angle, before they authorize its publishing. International news media started reporting on this as of 6 August 2017 (eg, link 1link 2). Recently, some US news blogs followed: first Palmer Report, then Patribotics blog. The latter one is devastating.

The Trump Model Management story might be the final nail in Trump's coffin. It would imply that US voters elected a criminal and a traitor as their 45th President. For some, this news will be too much. For others, this news will be beyond their belief. For some, this news is irrelevant for their unwavering support. This latest news, however, fits Trump's personality: "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." (2005 Billy Bush video)

In 2015, Reuters reported that "Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC agreed to the assessment of a $10 million civil penalty by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, according to a proposed consent order filed on Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware." Hence, no prosecution.

In 2017, the NY Times reported that "A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to a $25 million agreement to settle fraud claims arising from Donald J. Trump’s for-profit education venture, Trump University, rejecting a last-minute objection to the deal." Hence, no prosecution.

Early 2017, the Atlantic published an impressive list of "the many scandals of Donald Trump: a cheat sheet". A June 2016 Newsweek Exclusive reported about "Trump's 3,500 lawsuits, unprecedented for a presidential nominee". An April 2017 Vanity Fair article disclosed that "the Trump campaign has quietly settled millions in lawsuits". Hence, no prosecution.

Donald Trump might never have ended up in his current mess if he had remained what he was: a real estate and casino mogul, operating in shady businesses like Trump Model Management and Trump University. The US government would probably never have allocated its vast resources in prosecuting Trump and his associates.

Ironic Phases (2013) by The Prosecution - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Netflix gems

Below I have put a list of some openly hidden Netflix gems. Most of them are hardly mentioned in mainstream recommendations.

Australia:

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (8.4 in IMDb, Wiki) is about a female detective operating in Melbourne during the Roaring Twenties. Each episode deals with a part of human history which is refreshing to know about. The female character is strong and the male characters are mostly sidekicks. Unlike its fearful title suggests, most episodes are fun to watch.

Rake (8.7 in IMDb, Wiki) is about a colourful criminal defense lawyer operating in Sydney. This TV series is highly entertaining, partly because of the absurdness of his clients' cases, and partly because of the likeable weirdness of the main character. The use of Australian local politics as a background tool, strengthens the overall story.

Denmark:

Rita (8.2 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about a rebellious divorced high school teacher, who also tries to raise her own children. Rita does whatever she wants, when she wants it, and with whom she wants it. The other teachers are interesting sidekicks and may remind you of your past. Forget about watching the spin-off called Hjørdis (7.3 in IMDb).

Norway:

DAG (8.6 in IMDB, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about a relationship counselor in Oslo. Dag's advice to his clients is unorthodox because he believes in solitude himself - and in Elvis. Dag is like a rock amongst his funny weird sidekicks. However, even rocks have meltdowns.

Lilyhammer (8.0 in IMDbWiki) is about an American mafia member hiding in Norway through an FBI witness protection programme. The show is absolutely hilarious because his American attitude often collides with Norwegian attitudes. The main character is played and co-written by Steven van Zandt, who is also known as the guitarist Little Steven in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. Several cameo appearances, including Bruce Springsteen.

USA:

Grace and Frankie (8.2 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about life starting at 70. The 1st episode may not feel as comedy given what happens: 2 divorces and a belated coming-out of both husbands. Grace and Frankie is one of the finest American comedies.

Jane the Virgin (7.8 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious telenovela inside another telenovela. The show is partly in Spanish, mostly in English, and guided by a funny narrator. Season 2 was, however, too much for me.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Worldviews or Weltanschauung

In my 10 August blog on Change: cause or effect??, I stumbled on a concept that was largely unfamiliar with me: comprehensive worldviews - or its German equivalent Weltanschauung. Andrea C. Walker of the Oral Roberts University identifies 3 philosophical World Views: Contextualist, Mechanistic, and Organismic. Her descriptions are helpful but tough to read. Hence, I made an explanatory diagram that simplifies each worldview.

The Contextualist worldview implies that "the meaning of any behavioral event is dependent on the context in which it occurs". Hence, the WHY abbreviation in my diagram.

The Mechanistic worldview "involves the fundamental belief that it is possible to tease apart various factors that influence behavioral change". Hence, the famous Who, When, What, Where and How factors in my diagram.

My diagram shows that 2 out of these 3 worldviews take the situation on planet Earth as a foundation or start. This choice feels like the court case against Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) all-over again: the Earth is (not) the center of the Universe.

Ancient Code: "The first person to think of the universe as a great organism was the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, but the idea of the universe as a living organism was largely formulated by Plato, then by the Stoics, Plotinus and Neoplatonism."

The 3rd Organismic worldview requires considerable imagination. Hence, a recent Nautilus article wonders whether a "living creature can be as big as a galaxy" and concludes that "life is constrained to be about the sizes we see on Earth". Its lack of imagination is rooted in the definitions of "life" and "living creature". Hence, its conclusion makes sense.

This view also explains why humans have great difficulty with (not) classifying viruses in Nature's Tree of Life. Today, there is still a scientific debate whether viruses are alive or dead. Scientists still do not know (i) where viruses came from and (ii) how old they are (eg, NatGeoScience AdvancesScience Alert, Scientific American). Viruses might be older than Earth (eg, link).

The ancient Organismic worldview is in line with a modern concept called panpsychism. Wiki: “In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of mind." 

My problem with these concepts is that they tend to be mutually exclusive. The limitation on the imagination in our mind, defines the limitations of our ideas. See some similar quotes.

Eye in the Sky (1982) by Alan Parsons Project - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Self Forgiveness

It’s hard to forgive. Sometimes because we don’t want to forgive. Perhaps because we prefer to hate. Perhaps because there’s just too much to forgive. Sometimes we want to forgive but we just don’t know how to forgive. There are plenty of reasons for not forgiving others. Forgiving ourselves is even harder.

We all make mistakes, big and small. When these mistakes happen to others, we apologise to them provided that we feel accountable and/or responsible. Apologising to ourselves isn’t that common. Over the years, we build guilt and shame for the mistakes that didn’t hurt anybody but ourselves. In the absence of a confessional and absolution, only self-forgiveness remains.

I tend to think, feel and believe that the ability to forgive others is a prerequisite for self-forgiveness. I doubt that sociopaths and psychopaths are an exception as they appear to have no conscience, no regret, no remorse and thus no need for self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness without forgiving others, might work for narcissists.

The absence of self-forgiveness will block self-acceptance and self-love. Self-love has an internal focus and is the opposite of narcissism which has an external focus. Narcissists probably even lack self-love. A lack of self-forgiveness, self-acceptance and self-love has 2 behavioural extremes: a high self-esteem (e.g., arrogance, narcissism) and a low self-esteem (e.g., submissiveness).

Both extremes will look for external love to compensate for a lack of internal or self-love. This external love may be found at work and/or in a relationship. It’s unlikely that this compensation will last long. No volume of external love can compensate for a lack of self-love.

Hence, disappointments will continue to happen as expectations are always too high. These disappointments will reinforce low self-esteem. It’s an ongoing negative loop that feeds and grows our Dark Side until we feel “empty” inside. Its negative loop can only be broken by Forgiveness - to others. The Dark Side probably rejects self-forgiveness. It must shrink first by lack of oxygen (eg, anger, fear, hate).

Forgiveness requires our vulnerability and our remorse over motive, not consequence (quote). This invokes "my" BIG/small concept. I think, feel and believe that a vulnerable - or small - attitude actually amplifies a personality. Maintaining a BIG personality (without showing vulnerability) makes people actually look small as they lose believability and credibility. Deflating your personality requires losing pretences without losing confidence in yourself.

It took me decades to forgive myself, accept myself, and to love myself for WHO I am, not for WHAT I am or once was. I am convinced that forgiving others was a necessary first step. It's primarily a mindset as it relates to the absence of hatred and the shrinking of your Dark Side.

Forgive Yourself (2014) by Inna Modja - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki

When the blame opens up the window
You can’t keep holding now, it’s got your soul
When you’re facing your darkest shadow
You choose your side in battle
Blow by blow
You can’t fight the feeling
The pain is too deceiving
You just keep believing
That nothing’s really wrong


Monday, 14 August 2017

The Art of War: Barking dogs never bite

Barking Dogs Never Bite is a 2000 South Korean dark comedy-drama film (IMDb, Wiki). "Barking is an alarm sound. There is no threat of aggression signaled by the dog unless it is lower pitched and mixed with growls" (Psychology Today). Hence, its common meaning: (i) noisy threats often do not present real danger, and/or (ii) people who make threats rarely carry them out.

Based on the ancient advice by the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu in his famous book The Art of War, one can only conclude that barking in warfare is uncommon and ill-advised. Some relevant Sun Tzu quotes:
  1. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
  2. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
  3. If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
There has always been "division" between the American "sovereign and subject"; "subject" being the executive branch (eg, President and military) and "sovereign" being the legislative branch (eg, Congress). This explains the ever-changing American approach to North Korea.

"North Korea’s Kim dynasty has mastered the art of brinkmanship for decades: scare the world with missiles and nuclear tests, strike a deal with the West, and then watch the aid money flow in." (BB)

On 21 October 1994, the Agreed Framework was signed between North Korea and the USA (ie, Bill Clinton). Wiki: "The objective of the agreement was the freezing and replacement of North Korea's indigenous nuclear power plant program [] , and the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. Implementation of the agreement was troubled from the start, but its key elements were being implemented until it effectively broke down in 2003."

The Bush team's hawkish stance began to crumble when North Korea carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006. (eg, QuestiaRG)

Bloomberg: "The Obama administration sought to end all that with its policy of "strategic patience" - essentially no longer rewarding North Korea for bad behavior."

The current President, Trump, is skilful in deception and in threats. Threatening the enemy with a pre-emptive strike and/or nuclear retaliation is the exact opposite of deception techniques in warfare. Trump's threats might be intended to deflect and to deceive from other issues (eg, RussiaGate, TrumpGate), and/or to boost his current 33% job approval rating (eg, AP, Laurence Tribe's tweet, PR).

"Sun Tzu constantly warns that we must judge people's intentions by their actions, especially when people communicate their commitment to future actions. [] The problem at the heart of any commitment is our believability." (Source)

Paranoimia (1986) by The Art of Noise - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2