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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The road to recovery from a burn-out (2)

My 12 June 2015 blog still makes me proud: The road to recovery from a burn-out or depression. It offers solutions and dealt with the How question. The increasing number of people suffering from - and talking about - a burn-out has left me wondering about the Why and What question.

Recently, I had an epiphany. I connected several of my concepts like Body Mind & SoulChange, Faith Beliefs & Willpower, and Needs Wants & Beliefs. Then I tweaked the diagram in my 27 February 2017 blog on "The process of Change". The updated diagram at the end of this blog may help understanding the Why and What behind a burn-out.

Most Change is external and comes to us through our bodily senses (eg, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting). Our mind needs and wants to understand (eg, listening, recognizing) this input before it is willing and able to accept and believe that input. It takes willpower for executing internal Change. Without faith, any internal Change will be short-lived.

I had never realised that external Change may also affect one's faith, without going through the entire Change Management process (from left to right in the diagram below). Once your faith "breaks" then willpower and beliefs will immediately break down too (domino effect).

The resulting burn-out will require a long recovery period because it involves your faith and Soul. A burn-out is not a sickness of the Body as the Body works just fine. I still recall visitors at my home who wanted to see how a burn-out looks like. Well, you can't see anything.

Neither is a burn-out a mental sickness as the Mind still works fine, apart from an immense confusion. My doctor didn't prescribe me any medicine as she concluded that I perfectly understood my own situation. She offered talking to some professionals which should help sorting out my confusion. I spoke to 3 of them but none earned my professional respect.

Hence, I decided to "talk to myself" and doing my own "soul searching". I am convinced that this immense confusion relates to our (broken) faith and (hurt) Soul (eg, NY Mag, 2007). Our emotional and rational distance to the concepts of faith and Soul, may explain the long duration of our recovery. Restoring the balance between Body, Mind & Soul takes time. My writing allowed for and/or coincided with some important breakthroughs. It's like diagnosing yourself.

During my 18 month recovery, I minimised external bodily / sensory input like people, music, radio, and TV. Sounds disturbed the thinking inside my mind: a new understanding, accepting and believing. Actually, I am still limiting artificial sounds because I have grown accustomed and fond of Nature's quietness.

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear." A Jalaluddin Rumi quote and Ram Dass quote.

I am happy sharing this diagram with you:

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Empowerment (2)

My friend didn't expect part 1 of this blog as my answer to her question on empowerment. She kept asking me how I thought about equal opportunities and equal pay for women in top positions. It's important to realise that I don't believe in equality in this specific context, simply because no one is equal – or should be. See my 2015 blogs on Equality (part 1part 2).

I asked my friend which candidate a company should pick: the best candidate or a woman? She opted for the first. That implies that she doesn't believe in positive discrimination. Neither do I. It also implies that this discussion is really about equal qualifications. Equal qualifications may exist in exceptional situations but not in general.

According to the Economist, more than 90% of the world's businesses are family businesses. These privately owned companies are in for the long-term. Hence, they must appoint the best candidate in order to protect their interests. That leaves less than 10% of businesses in which other considerations could prevail. These other criteria could indeed still rule in certain countries with a macho, masculine or patriarchal culture - like my friend's country.

Fighting the appointments in the less than 10% is one option. Another option is to start your own company. Obviously, I asked my friend why she doesn't want to be CEO in her own company. She complained about funding. As her profession doesn't require much capital expenditure or working capital, money cannot be the real reason.

After many years of consideration, I realized I didn't want a CEO role, whether in private or public companies. The CEO job requires a personality structure which I do not have and also do not want to have. Also see my 14 April 2015 blog. Furthermore, being CEO requires making even more hours than being CFO. Lastly, informal power has its own advantages.

Leadership requires certain characteristics. Psychology Today: “Throughout most of the animal kingdom, leadership is based on size and power: The leader of a group of chimpanzees is simply a big bully, who threatens the other group members into submission. Some human leaders, such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Uganda’s Idi Amin, and Russia’s Joseph Stalin, have tended to follow this model as well.” The same can be said of some CEOs.

Most people do not fit in leadership roles, regardless of gender. The remuneration of leadership roles may create envy in the minds of some. Once you really know these roles, you will lose your envy. Many years ago, a team member asked me how I put up with the pressure in my Finance Director job. She said that she could never do what I did. She preferred her own job and go home at 4.30 PM. Then I didn't really understand her. Now I do.

The discussion about empowerment of women in CEO roles is opaque on so many levels. Firstly, it's only about the less than 10% public companies. Secondly, if the best candidate should prevail then the discussion should be about equal qualifications rather than equal gender. Thirdly, the CEO role requires a personality structure that is not the most appealing one in society. Seriously, who wants to be The Boss once you really know that role??

The Boss (1979) by Diana Ross - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I was so right (so right)
So right
Thought I could turn emotion
On and off
I was so sure
So sure (I was so sure)
But love taught me
Who was, who was, who was the boss

Monday, 29 May 2017


A friend asked me to write about empowerment of women. She sent me an example from the FT of 23 May 2017: “Women far under-represented at UK venture capital firms”. After some consideration on empowerment, my mind focused on the word "power". I have nothing against power as long as it's used for a (good) purpose.

In her example you could focus on the first or second part of the sentence. The first could suggest inequality, the second could suggest “vulture capitalism”. However, I’m focusing on the purpose of power in her example. The only thing I can come up with is Money, one of the 7 Belief systems. Without philanthropyMoney does not bring purpose in life - apart from Consumerism.

Throughout history, people have realized that Knowledge equals Power (Imam Ali, Francis Bacon, Michel Foucault). Following mathematics, this equation must work both ways. Both also need each other. Power without Knowledge is not lasting in history. Knowledge without Power isn't sustainable either, as it tends to get lost in human history.

Knowledge often brings a distinct purpose in our lives. This may explain why women are over-represented in the Knowledge domain of the 7 Belief systems. The Knowledge domain includes areas like caring, education, medicine, and science.

The Power domain of the 7 Belief systems is represented by Money, Politics and Religion. Often men are over-represented in these 3 Belief systems. Perhaps it's as simple as the male peacock bird in Nature: Power brings (social) status. There may be no further purpose to Power. This may also explain my limited focus in life on Power.

Human history suggests that women had important Knowledge based roles: clairvoyant, medicine woman, priestess. Essentially, men were looking for food and provided protection to the tribe. The male purpose was rooted in strength. Strength and Power are linked throughout human history.

There's a Dutch saying which translates like “the one who isn't strong, must be smart”. This may explain why women are so skilled in making men do whatever they want. Again, Knowledge (informal power) versus Strength (formal power).

The male Power role has always been limited in time as male Power is based on temporary (mature) strength. Maintaining Power without strength, requires evil thinking and ruthlessness.

The female Knowledge based roles were permanent roles (e.g., clairvoyant, medicine woman, priestess). The shifting focus to temporary roles rooted in female beauty, is intriguing. It might relate to a female quest for (temporary!) Power, or empowerment.

The equation Knowledge = Power has a 1st derivative: Women equal Men. Within human society men do not last long without women - and vice versa. The female quest for empowerment (or Power) implies leaving the Knowledge domain. This may bring the opposite (inequality) of what women want (equality).

Run the World (Girls) by Beyoncé (2011) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Sunday, 28 May 2017

PVV gedoogkabinet

Voor de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen van 15 maart 2017 leek een PVV minderheidskabinet tot de mogelijkheden te behoren. Ik schreef er 8 blogs over, vooral om deze mogelijkheid tegen te houden. Er zijn nu bijna 80 dagen verstreken en er lijkt geen uitzicht op een meerderheidskabinet. Een minderheidskabinet komt in beeld. Mogelijk wordt dit een kabinet gedoogd door de PVV, met dank aan D66 en GroenLinks.

De gesprekken met GroenLinks knapten op het gebied van immigratie. GroenLinks ziet geen verschil tussen asielzoekers en gelukszoekers als het op immigratie aankomt. Een houding die veel lijkt op de Belgische Socialistische Partij. Immigranten zijn vooral potentiële PS stemmers. Kortom, hoe meer, hoe beter.

De beteugeling van immigratiestromen is een hoofdzaak voor CDA en VVD. Het valt domweg niet uit te leggen aan Nederlandse kiezers waarom gelukszoekers uit niet-asiel gerechtigde landen (o.a. Afrika, Azië) hier opgevangen zouden moeten worden. Deze opvang vermindert ook de bereidheid voor de opvang van diegenen die wel een serieus beroep op asielrecht doen.

De verwachting is dat de huidige immigratiestromen gering zijn bij wat de komende jaren en decennia nog gaat komen. Economische migratie uit Afrika en Azië neemt reeds snel toe. De mogelijkheden van gedwongen terugkeer zijn vaak klein omdat hun thuisland een (financieel) belang heeft bij enerzijds hun vertrek en anderzijds hun inkomen uit het buitenland.

Er is daarom een bittere noodzaak om immigratiestromen te beteugelen. Voor een minderheidskabinet wordt dat lastig. Het eerdere weglopen van verantwoordelijkheid door de PVV, is nu overgenomen door GroenLinks. Dit biedt echter ook onverwacht grote kansen voor PVV gedoogsteun aan een minderheidskabinet. De PVV zal graag bereid zijn om haar andere verkiezingsslogans op te offeren om haar belangrijkste doelstelling alsnog te realiseren.

Het weglopen van verantwoordelijkheid zal gevolgen (moeten) hebben bij eventuele vervroegde verkiezingen. Het stemmen op kleine of splinterpartijen mag misschien goed voelen maar levert dus niets op. Zelfs SP stemmers beginnen dit nu langzaam in te zien. Werkverschaffing voor parlementsleden kan geen doel op zich zijn.

Ik sluit niet uit dat de PvdA nog steeds bezig is om haar kabinetswaarde te maximaliseren. Mogelijk is zij echter te laat door het arrogante geklungel van D66. Een minderheidskabinet van CDA en VVD zal veel weg hebben van een verstandshuwelijk. Als er geen liefde is tussen partijen dan moet het verstand het wel over nemen.

Het succes van een toekomstige minderheidsregering biedt kansen om uit de wurggreep van de kleine(re) partijen te komen. Tevens wordt het belang van een vooraf gesloten politiek compromis ("regeerakkoord") sterk verminderd. Wisselende parlementaire meerderheden doen bovendien recht aan een parlementaire democratie.

Afgelopen vrijdag deed een jonge gescheiden werkende moeder met jonge kinderen, bij mij haar beklag over het feit dat zij geen enkele prioriteit heeft bij (her)huisvesting. Tegen beter weten in, vroegen we ons beiden openlijk af wie dan wel prioriteit heeft. Zolang alle immigranten een (kansloos) beroep op asiel mogen doen, zullen sociale uitkeringen (o.a. bijstand) en woningnood exploderen, en zal het politieke draagvlak in Nederland verder blijven eroderen.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite) - 1990 - by Quincy Jones

Tell me a secret
Because tonight I want to learn all about
The secrets in your garden

I wanna read your mind
Know your deepest feelings
I wanna make it right for you
Baby show me
Let me share the mystery, oh

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Listen to your heart tonight
Make it, alright
Come on, come out tonight

I know a melody that we could sing together
I've got the secret key to you
Let's make music, harmonizing ecstasy
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Sing it to me

Here in the garden
Where temptation feels so right
Passion can make you fall
For what you feel
In the garden, we can make it come alive
Every night oh, woman
Your secret garden oh oh
Yeah in the garden

I need to be with you
Let me lay beside you
Do what you want me to all night
Gonna hold you, ooh baby can I touch you there

Come on, come on, come on, come on
I can keep you satisfied, baby
Come on, come on, come on, all night
Oh we oh we baby
Come on, come out tonight

I'll take good care of you
That's what a man is supposed to do
And I'll be there for you all the time
Let your head down, let me get you in the mood
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Take me with you

Into the garden where the temptation feels so right
Passion can make you fall
For what you feel
In the garden we can make it come a live
Every night, oh woman
Here in the garden

You know I've never wanted anyone
I've never wanted anyone as much as I
As much as I want you
I want you to show me
I want you to tell me how you feel
All the secrets

If you think I'm gonna take care of you
If you think I got what'cha need
Sure you're right.

If you think I'm gonna be good to you
If you think I like what'cha do
Sure you're right

Saturday, 27 May 2017


It’s hard to believe that I’ve never written a blog on Acceptance. In my 900+ blogs, I did mention the term “Acceptance” quite frequently though. Acceptance should be dealt with along the Which, How, What and Why question. Which is about scope. How is about solutions. What is about a scientific analysis. Finally, everything follows Why.

Besides grief, the hardest kind of acceptance is self-acceptance (Which). Without my 2013 burn-out and my 18 month recovery, I still might not have accepted myself for who I am rather than what I was (my roles). Sometimes, I notice that people envy my self-acceptance. Well, I have paid a heavy price for it. Only with the knowledge of hindsight, I know it was worth it.

My solution (How) for Acceptance is to stop resisting Change, "go with the flow", and learning from the lessons that Life is teaching. A Tiny Buddha blog points in the same direction: "The Power of Acceptance: Stop Resisting and Find the Lesson".

Tiny Buddha: "Part of the real beauty of life is that it’s unpredictable. Nothing is permanent, everything changes; and of course, a lot of things can happen that will transform who you are and have an impact on your life. The problem is that we need to cultivate the ability to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it." Note: italics are mine.

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has developed a world-renowned scientific analysis (What). She has identified the 5 DABDA steps for processing grief: Denial (my blog), Anger (my blog), Bargaining (my blogs), Depression (my blog) and - finally - Acceptance. A special kind of acceptance in processing grief is called Closure (my blog). 

Acceptance always relates to Change, especially negative Change (e.g., a loss of a loved one, a break-up, a job dismissal, losing treasured possessions). Humans have a habit of resisting and fighting Change. Hence, these 5 DABDA steps also apply to Change: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. 

My 27 February 2017 blog, The process of Change, explains Why acceptance is so difficult. Acceptance is not the final step for embracing Change. Three more steps follow Acceptance: believing, willpower and faith. Willpower is required for execution of Change. Faith brings enduring willpower. However, believing (in Change) is the hardest part of all.

More than 2 years after my break-up, I wrote my Changing my belief blog. It casually mentioned “that I’ve finally approached the Acceptance stage”. Initially, I used a rational perspective and convinced myself that the break-up was right. Later, emotions took over because there was/is mutual blame and guilt involved. By the end of 2016, I finally believed that she and I had made the right choice to break-up in mid 2014. 

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” Quote by Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)

Accept Yourself (2014) by Joss Stone ft. Nitin Sawhney - artist, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki

Accept Yourself (2013) by Nitin Sawhney - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki

Friday, 26 May 2017

Crony Capitalism

The Netherlands is toying with a new idea: protecting stock-quoted companies from unwanted Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). This idea should help Dutch listed companies (e.g., Akzo Nobel, Unilever) against hostile foreign buyers (e.g., KHC, PPG). The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs is considering a 1 year cooling-off period following an unsolicited and unwanted merger or acquisition. This proposal is quite different from the Dutch situation some 400 years ago.

Wiki: “the Dutch East Indies Company, was originally established as a chartered company in 1602, when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on the Dutch spice trade. It is often considered to be the world's first truly transnational corporation and the first company in history to issue bonds and shares of stock to the general public.”

Listed companies in any country seem to generate a lot of “noise”: bonuses, IPO’s, M&A, remuneration, severance payments, stock options, and so on and so forth. The majority of all businesses is however privately owned and seldom heard or seen in the news.

The potential delisting of a public company is often accompanied by (wildly) diverging views of stakeholders, like bank(s), buyer(s), customers, employees, government, management, shareholders, suppliers, and trade unions. The (financial) press is often used by one or more of these stakeholders to advance their interests.

Over the last 30+ years, I didn’t develop much sympathy for listed companies. Usually things are over-the-top: ambitions, failing projects, headquarters, in-fighting, politics, remuneration, waste. As a result, entrepreneurship often suffers. Strategic delistings may bring back entrepreneurship. Financially driven delistings often bring excessive debt, excessive cost cutting, fire sales, sale & lease backs etc., to recoup overpriced delistings.

A cooling-off period of 1 year may sound sympathetic but to whom?? Future buyers are scared off, underperforming management buys time, employees become worried and may decide to leave. Stay-on bonuses will have to be paid to the best and brightest employees, some middle managers, and obviously top management.

It's almost funny: during an IPO the well-informed selling shareholders create wealth at the expense of poorly informed buying shareholders. Then management does the same through excessive remuneration and underperformance. Finally, a buyer comes along and then the government restricts shareholders' right to sell.

Once, the stock exchange was an example of Capitalism and a means of raising money for expansion and spreading risks over wealthy individuals (e.g., Lloyd’s). Today you wonder if a stock exchange is a system in which (IPO) wealth is privatised to sellers and future underperformance and bailouts are socialised to share buyers and taxpayers.

The cooling-off period might be an example of crony capitalism. Wiki: “Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.”

Game Over (2016) by Cool Uncle ft. Mayer Hawthorne

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)

Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder) by Maxwell (1996)
artist, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


It happened the moment
when you were revealed 
'Cause you were a dream
that you should not have been 
A fantasy, real 
You gave me this beating, baby 
This rhythm inside 
And you made me feel good
and feel nice and feel loved 
Give me paradise 

Shouldn't I realize 
You're the highest of the high 
If you don't know then I'll say it 
So don't ever wonder 

So tell me how long 
How long it's gonna take until you speak, babe 
'Cause I can't live my life 
Without you here by my side

You gave me the feelin', feelin' in my life

Shouldn't I realize 
You're the highest of the high 
If you don't know then I'll say it 
So don't ever wonder 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


The FT of 16 May 2017 mentioned a new word, accelerationism, and its description fascinated me: “Imagine that technology and capitalism shift into a higher gear and speed up to cause the maximum disruption. That is the premise behind accelerationism, a fringe philosophy that went from a plot strand in a science fiction novel to an intellectual movement that is gaining influence around the world.”

This new term fits in yesterday's blog about Religion and Science being swapped between the Knowledge and Power domains of the 7 Belief systems. Faith and Technology may emerge instead. The combination of Money, Politics and Technology in the Power domain, could indeed cause maximum disruption to society.

Somehow, Faith, Philosophy and the Truth (in the Knowledge domain of the 7 Belief systems) seem unable to keep the balance in the "Knowledge = Power" equation. The revised Power domain feels potentially (much) stronger than the revised Knowledge domain. Hence, the potential of maximum disruption by Accelerationism.

The Guardian long-read of 11 May 2017 states that the term Accelerationism was introduced in the 1967 science fiction novel “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny. Guardian: “One plot strand concerned a group of revolutionaries who wanted to take their society “to a higher level” by suddenly transforming its attitude to technology.”

In my 23 March 2015 blog, I introduced the term “Technological Revolution of 1800-2100”. Technology has had a major impact on our societies: Mechanization (1800-1900), Automation (1900-2000), and Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (2000-2100). The pace of Technology within our society is clearly still accelerating.

Accelerationism is more than its underlying components like cybertopia and seasteading, Technology, Transhumanism, and perhaps even Urbanization. Accelerationism is an (extreme) belief in Capitalism (i.e., Money and Politics) and Technology at Warp-speed.

Last Sunday’s episode of Robbert Dijkgraaf’s documentary The Mind of the Universe, states that Technology and Nature are much less apart than we assume. Technology usually follows the principles of Nature and might thus be viewed as a man-made extension of Nature. While Technology is now mainly our servant, prof. Dijkgraaf predicts that Technology is likely to become a Master (and servant) in our lives.

I'm convinced that Accelerationism is the unstoppable way forward. I don't like this direction however. I'm reluctant to let Technology (over)rule my life, similar to the 2013 Sci-Fi movie Elysium. I'm convinced that Accelerationism will also create counter movements based on a belief in Freedom and Nature (e.g., off-the-grid).

Some may view Accelerationism a dangerous idea without realizing they're already participating. The ongoing miniaturization of Technology has already created new human addictions (e.g., FOMO, “social” media, texting). Soon we will be wearing (Google) “sun” glasses, similar to the current virtual reality headsets. After voice contact, human eye-to-eye contact is the next one to suffer. Talking sex robots forebode a further loss of human contact.

p:Machinery (1985) by Propaganda - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Another hope feeds another dream
another truth installed by the machine.
A secret wish the marrying of lies
today comes true what common sense denies.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Religion and human instinct

On 16 May 2017, the Ulster Institute for Social Research (Northern Ireland) and the Erasmus University (Netherlands) published a study with the heading: Why is Intelligence Negatively Associated with Religiousness? On the surface, the outcome may suggest another insult to Religion. However, this scientific study actually promotes Religion to human instinct.

In my 10 October 2016 blog, human intelligence is categorised by using 2 dimensions: known and unknown. Known knowns are Facts while unknown unknowns are imagination or fantasies. Known unknowns are human beliefs, resulting in opinions. Unknown knowns are human instincts, resulting in feelings. History, Legends and Myths respectively follow facts, instincts and beliefs. Imagination separates human and artificial intelligence.

The new scientific classification puts Religion in Legends, or human instincts generating (religious) feelings. This classification is better than Myths or Imagination. It also does justice to the fact that all ancient human civilisations have always displayed signs of Religion. This scientific study concludes that religion is an evolved instinct, while intelligence "involves rising above our instincts."

I have no problem with this conclusion as people often confuse Faith with Religion. The more you learn about Religion, the less you believe in Religion. However, the more you learn about Faith, the more you believe in Faith. For people who have Faith, there is no difference between Ahura Mazda, Allah, God or Yahweh – apart from the deity’s name. Faith connects the Sumerian beliefs, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Man-made Religion separates all 5.

There is an interesting contradiction: while Religion is promoted from myths (or imagination) to instinct, Science is in the process of being demoted from facts to beliefs. See my recent Experts blog. The underlying reason is similar: humans are subjecting a belief system for their personal interests. Hence, the saying “God hates Religion” (my blog 1, my blog 2). Religion should be about Faith, not about (human) Power.

In my concept of the 7 Belief systems, Religion is in its Power domain together with Money and Politics. Science is in its Knowledge domain together with Philosophy and the Truth. The fluidity arising from the above suggests that Religion and Science could swap from domain. Religion may then be rebranded in Faith. Science may then be labelled Technology. These new classifications make sense and could once even have applied.

The above also suggests that the real issue is not about intelligence. It’s about how you use a given intelligence. It's about open mindedness versus closed mindedness, ignorance and stupidity. The more you attack a Belief system (e.g., Religion, Science), the less open minded it becomes. Defensiveness creates closed mindedness. Then it was Religion, now it is Science.

It's worthwhile repeating the opening line from  J.R.R. Tolkien's book  The Lord of the Rings: “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” Replace the word “ring” with “religion” to get the full meaning of his words. Replace “ring” with “science” and it refers to the Islamic Golden Age.

Wisdom is never found by letting a certain Belief system dominate your life. Wisdom is in accepting all of the 7 Belief systems: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth. Wisdom is not making a choice between its Knowledge or its Power domain but in accepting both. Wisdom requires open mindedness rather than intelligence. I suppose that was my Awakening.

Human (2016) by Rag'n'Bone Man - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Maybe I'm foolish, maybe I'm blind
Thinking I can see through this and see what's behind
Got no way to prove it so maybe I'm blind

Monday, 22 May 2017

Needs, Wants, Beliefs & Awakening

Last month, Elizabeth Gilbert postedMartha Beck video explaining her concept of the Pyramid and the Pool. Martha Beck points towards the Chaos in today’s world and that everything seems upside down. Chaos is often a forebode of Change. In her view, this Change may constitute an Awakening. That word hit a nerve inside me. I realised that Awakening may represent the 4th and final layer in my 2nd concept of Needs, Wants, Beliefs.

In my 23 March 2015 blog, I mentioned that I expect a New Renaissance following the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100. Such a New Renaissance could also be called a collective Awakening and is based on several joint developments: increase of global population, increase in average human age, urbanisation, and mass unemployment of seniors due to AI and Robotics (e.g., BBC, my blog). The end of Beliefs may trigger an Awakening.

The new astrological Age of Aquarius, following the Age of Pisces, points to an Awakening. Wiki: “Astrologers believe that an astrological age affects humanity, possibly by influencing the rise and fall of civilizations or cultural tendencies." The Age of Aquarius (see my 18 April 2016 blog) is said to bring "a period of group consciousness". And also a "purification of our inner and outer selves" and a "cleaning up of our planet". This is however mirrored by "the appearance of dictators, self-expression, and the rising influence of the entertainment industry" (Wiki).

The pace and volume of individual changes may feel overwhelming today. It's still unclear whether we are heading towards Chaos or a new Equilibrium. Whatever the outcome, Change is the default continuum and Chaos and Equilibrium are its temporary states (see my 12 March 2016 blog).

In my recent “Upside Down” blog, I wrote that Change may be brought by people rather than their leaders. This was another example of upside down Change. The Martha Beck video essentially claims the same: the Awakening happens as water (pool) is stronger than a structure (pyramid). Water is represented by enlightened people and pyramids by social structures.

Wisdom is at the center of my 1st concept of the 7 Belief systems. How do you arrive at Wisdom? It's easier said than done. My 2013 burn-out created a life altering moment because of its severity and its 18 month duration. Perhaps, an awakening follows such life altering moments. Similar to (part of) the Tao philosophy: the more I'm quiet, the better I can listen.

The willingness to sacrifice your own life is the key criterion for a Belief system. This resulted in my concept of the 7 Belief systems, being: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth. However, these 7 Belief systems are also the reason to take someone else’s life. That alone made me wonder about the existence of another layer in my concept.

Adding the layer of Awakening on top of Needs, Wants and Beliefs makes perfect sense as it finally points to Wisdom. BBC Future 2017: "Wisdom is something that’s hard to define and yet somehow we know it when we see it." [] "Wisdom mustn’t be confused with intelligence" (eg,  my 2016 blog). [] "The wise people tolerate uncertainty and remain optimistic that even tricky problems do have solutions. They can judge what is true or right. It’s quite a list."

According to Star Trek, Space is the Final Frontier. For futurists, the brain is the next logical frontier. I think, feel and believe that Wisdom is the final frontier to mankind. To quote William Shakespeare: “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”   Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish!

Awakening (2007) by Switchfoot - artists, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Old Fox is on the run

In view of today's blog, I have reread my 11 November 2016 blog: The Old Fox. My predictions were quite accurate. Its accompanying song, by a 70s band called The Sweet, is even more appropriate today: Fox on the Run (video).

The Trump-Bannon Revolution of Disruption, Chaos and Destruction will use its remaining time to create further "assaults on U.S. institutions" (eg, CNN, FT, Independent, WP) or further "erosion of trust in U.S. institutions" (eg, Gallupthe Hill, WP). It's unlikely that Trump will resign himself. He will call the GOP's bluff on his impeachment.

An impeachment may lead to his removal from office. However, please remember that Bill Clinton was acquitted. Richard Nixon resigned before the Watergate scandal impeachment proceedings could begin. The impeachment procedure is explained on Wikipedia. Most important is that a "removal requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate".

Trump's removal is far from sure as several high-ranking GOP members are also involved in KremlinGate (eg, hacking DemsRussian money-laundering). These assertions are based on the blogs of Louise Mensch (Rep) and Bill Palmer (Dem). Mainstream news (eg, CNN, NYT, WP) usually confirm their stories but often several weeks later. 

It's not only the GOP that is involved in KremlinGate. I was flabbergasted to see Jill Stein (U.S. Green Party) attend a Kremlin dinner together with the recently ousted Michael Flynn and the Russian President (eg, Daily BeastMedium, Palmer Report, RAW Story). Jill Stein's efforts to challenge the 2016 Presidential election outcome suddenly leave a bitter taste. The Democratic Party has its own Russian ties (eg, Forbes, Washington Times). 

I am not saying that KremlinGate is much ado about nothing. KremlinGate might be far worse than most people are imagining right now (eg, Trump offering treason for hacking). The facts that will come out in the forthcoming months are probably beyond our imagination. The Waterford Whispers News even started a satirical rumour: "New House Of Cards Series Cancelled ‘Because It Can’t Compete With This Shit’".

Why did KremlinGate happen? Is it indeed a Very Long Con by the 44th President? Actually, I almost hope so as the alternative (eg, closed mindedness, ignorance and stupidity) is not promising. In a certain way, the Russian President got what he wanted: "assault on U.S. institutions" and "erosion of trust in U.S. institutions". By doing so, voters may believe that an autocracy or a kleptocracy is better than a parliamentary democracy. It's his Win-Win game.

Trump's eventual removal from office may invoke a new McCarthyism: "the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence" (Wiki). I think, feel and believe that the aftermath of the Trump-Bannon Revolution of Disruption, Chaos and Destruction may continue for several more years.

Fox On The Run (1974) by The Sweet - artists-1, artists-2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Fox On The Run

Fox On The Run (1974) by The Sweet - artists-1, artists-2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I don't wanna know your name
'Cause you don't look the same
The way you did before
Okay, you think you got a pretty face
But the rest of you is out of place
You looked alright before

Fox on the run
You scream and everybody comes a running
Take a run and hide yourself away
Foxy on the run
Fox on the run
And hide away

You, you talk about just every band
But the names you drop are second hand
I've heard it all before
I don't wanna know your name
'Cause you don't look the same
The way you did before

Fox on the run
You scream and everybody comes a running
Take a run and hide yourself away
Foxy on the run
Fox on the run
And hide away

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Human curiosity (2) and AI

The benefits of internally oriented human curiosity are creativity and imagination (see part 1). The ideas of Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne may have been science fiction then but are in use now. In 1973, Michael Crichton (1942-2008) wrote and made a movie called Westworld. It was a fantasy about robots and "romance, violence or anything else". Science and Technology nearly always follow the creative ideas from Sci-Fi.

On 15 May 2017, the BBC reported on a sex robot that can talk. This is one of the less frightening ideas from the 1973 movie Westworld and its 2016 remake by HBO. However, the robots in Westworld also start killing humans which overrules Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Apart from programming robots killing people, how could this happen?

In part 1 of this blog, I concluded that the sequence in Life is: consciousness, external curiosity, self-awareness, internal curiosity, thinking, and (extreme) beliefs. Only humans appear to fit in the last 3. Internal curiosity (the Why question) seems to be a prerequisite for thinking. According to German philosopher Bettina Stangneth, thinking evil is a consequence of human thinking. Hence, internal curiosity should be the gateway to Artificial Intelligence.

In my view of consciousness, Artificial Intelligence would be able to gain consciousness, external curiosity and self-awareness (e.g., C-3PO, R2-D2). Programming external curiosity requires “inefficient” deviations from efficient default algorithms. Full – or “strong” - Artificial Intelligence would need to overcome internal curiosity, thinking, and beliefs. Latter development could – and thus would - be extremely dangerous to humans.

I am curious Why we explore a field that is potentially lethal to humans. The answers to human behaviour are always based on the 7 Belief systems: Money (profits), Politics (e.g., using killer robots in human wars), Science (because we can), Love (helping others), Philosophy (human superiority), and the Truth (e.g., just machines). What about Religion??

Late 2016, "the Vatican hosted a high-level discussion in the world of science, gathering experts to discuss the progress, benefits and limits of advances in artificial intelligence". It appeared that long-term concerns were remote: “Frankly these are questions that we are not worried about right now because we just don't have the technology that's anywhere near the kind of power that's required. So these are philosophical discussions but not immediate problems.” (CNA).

The CNA article makes however no reference to Yahweh’s wrath on the Sumerian Tower of Babel or the 4th Commandment from Exodus 20-4-6: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them []”.

AI robotics might be today's version of the Tower of Babel or the 4th Commandment. We are building something that may have the potential to destroy mankind. Science fiction was ahead with the Terminator movie series. Time travel warned humans against the Rise of the Machines. As noted above, Science and Technology nearly always follow science fiction.

I am relieved that internal curiosity may be an impossible hurdle to overcome towards artificial thinking. It took evolution nearly 4 billion years to come up with its most sophisticated life-form ever, and the human brain is the most complex structure in the universe.

The subconscious human Fear over artificially intelligent robotics is genuine and should be trusted. An update of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics would not be misplaced as machines are about to become artificial humans. This might be virtual insanity.

Virtual Insanity (1996) by Jamiroquai - artists, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Friday, 19 May 2017

Dimensions: Space, Time and assumed others

Last Monday, I had a remarkable conversation. A friend doubted that I believed in the 4th dimension. That immediately raised my curiosity and suspicion. Hence, I asked her: What is the 3rd one? The writer of that book saw Past, Present and Future as separate dimensions. I told her to read better books. She replied by asking me to write a blog on dimensions.

Originally, dimensions were: 1 (a line), 2 (length and width) or 3 (length, width, depth). Definitions have emerged since. The aforementioned dimensions now belong to the dimension of Space. I suppose that Space was the earliest dimension known to humans (eg, cave art).

More advanced humans must have realised that there is yesterday, today and tomorrow. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity treats time as a dimension similar to the 3 original spatial dimensions (Wiki). While humans can travel in Space, travel in Time remains a scientific debate.

Time and Space are the only known dimensions to humans. Nevertheless, many humans assume that there are more dimensions than Time & Space.

A 3rd dimension is the concept of a parallel universe - or Multiverse - which is ingrained in our society. The religious concepts of Heaven and Hell could be seen as examples of a Multiverse. Harry Potter's wizard world is another example. There are scientists supporting and disclaiming the hypotheses of a Multiverse. On 15 April 2017, researchers at Durham University believe they may have discovered the first evidence of the “multiverse” (arXiv, DurhamGuardian, RAS).

Another friend told me a story that she and her boyfriend were driving on the highway to a certain destination. They suddenly arrived at a small village, without realising how. The people in the village were shocked to see them arriving. My friend turned the car and left. They somehow found the highway again, without knowing how.

The next day they tried to find back that village but couldn't as if it had never existed. The idea of portals - or gates - to another dimension has been used in movies like Stargate (1994, IMDb), John Carter (2012, IMDb), and Harry Potter (eg, portkey). Some scientists claim that black holes could be portals to a parallel universe (eg, ExpressNew Scientist).

The white light in near-death experiences may constitute a 4th dimension. Sumerian religion assumes that the divine human soul travels during our sleep and after our death. Sumerian religion and people with near-death experiences are all positive about that dimension.

Light might be a 5th dimension. Stephen Hawking claims that the light surrounding black holes stores information (eg, BBC). The idea of light storing information is less weird than you might think as fiber-optic cables use light to transport information.

Last but not least, the string theory assumes many extra dimensions apart from Space and Time and its combination SpaceTime.

The 5th Dimension - Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In (1969)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Human curiosity (1)

I was wrong to classify curiosity before consciousness, self-awareness, thinking and beliefs in yesterday's blog. Curiosity is a complex field of scientific study, and especially human curiosity. We must separate external (or perceptual) curiosity from internal (or epistemic) curiosity. Humans have both, animals only the 1st one. It's a tough question: Why are we curious?

External curiosity either relates to a sense of Fear or a Risk/Reward bonus (e.g., food, sex). Internal human curiosity relates to the Why question. On the surface, internal curiosity appears to be inefficient and a waste of time from an evolutionary point of view. The benefits of internal curiosity may be long-term or even non-existent. So, why are we curious anyway?

All life-forms are geared towards survival and consciously adapting to external threats. External curiosity is found in many animals and all humans. Self-awareness is restricted to humans and to certain animals. Inner curiosity is probably restricted to humans and is also closely related to human thinking. Human beliefs follow human thinking.

Hence, this appears to be the evolutionary sequence in Life: consciousness (all), external curiosity (many animals, all humans), self-awareness (certain animals, all humans), internal curiosity (humans), thinking (humans), and beliefs (humans). My 3 March 2017 blog also mentions another related piece of the evolutionary puzzle: boredom.

A 2014 BBC article states that boredom triggers curiosity. External curiosity typically results in risky habits with negative health consequences (e.g., smoking, drinking, taking drugs). The reward is a temporary feeling of satisfaction. Repeating these habits, in order to maintain these moments of satisfaction, may develop into an addiction.

Internal curiosity typically results in positive features like creativity and imagination (BBC). Hence, I concluded that Boredom (Time related) and Curiosity (Space related) appear to fill the transitional vacuum between the layers of my Needs, Wants & Beliefs concept, and ultimately also between Beliefs and extreme beliefs.

Internal curiosity is likely to require a much bigger brain in order to facilitate the explosion in the number of “computations”. You need to hold certain information (eg, ideas) while adding new and subtracting old information. The default animal and early human brain could not support that. The evolutionary success of creativity and imagination has always supported the more advanced species. That process of natural selection should however still be ongoing.

The human fear of competitive species is evidenced by our external curiosity in extraterrestrial life (e.g., SETI) as well as our internal curiosity (e.g., Fermi paradox). Both imply that we are conscious about the potential threat that aliens may constitute to the human species. Our imagination has resulted in many Science-Fiction movies, mostly rooted in Fear.

The impact of human curiosity is well-illustrated by the excellent documentary The Mind of the Universe, hosted by Prof. Robbert Dijkgraaf. At the end of episode 2, he quotes Imam Ali (599-661 AD): “Knowledge is Power and it can command obedience. A man of knowledge during his lifetime can make people obey and follow him and he is praised and venerated after his death. Remember that knowledge is a ruler and wealth is its subject.”

It's hard to answer why humans are curious, even for myself and I'm a very curious person. I use external curiosity (eg, news) to trigger internal curiosity (the Why question). I just love to understand things. Understanding brings a kind of “satisfaction”. Perhaps my “satisfaction” used to relate to Knowledge, Power and Wealth. Today, it's about Wisdom which lies in between the Knowledge and Power domains - and thus the center - of the 7 Belief systems.

Down to Earth (1987) by Curiosity Killed the Cat - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Expectations (2)

In my recent blogs, I have mentioned the upside and downside of having (no) expectations, without realising - and thus mentioning - my 14 August 2015 blog on Expectations. This blog explained the link between expectations, disappointment and (un)happiness.

PsychologyToday: "A new MRI study from University College of London indicates that the secret to happiness is low expectations. Author and neuroscientist Robb Rutledge says, “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.”

Apart from this How, it's also good to know What kind of expectations we have. A recent FB post mentioned an article on the "6 things you should stop expecting from others"Stan Slavov, the writer, made an impressive list in which items #3 and #4 appear to be similar:
  1. Don’t expect people to respect you if you don’t respect yourself enough.
  2. Stop expecting people to know what you are thinking.
  3. Stop expecting from everyone to make you happy.
  4. Stop relying on others for your own well-being.
  5. Don’t expect people to be fine all the time.
  6. Stop expecting people to fit in your idea of who they are.
The complexity of Expectations becomes clear once you identify its underlying components: our assumptions on a future and uncertain event regarding others and/or ourselves. These assumptions include our assumed statistical probabilities on Winning & Losing. Winning makes us happy (others) or improves our self-respect. Losing does the opposite. 

Having no expectations would change the equation as Losing would no longer be possible. The outcome would become either Neutral / Indifferent or a Win. Such an outcome may even feel like a Win-Win game. If having no expectations would be better then Why do we have expectations?

Perhaps the answer is hidden in the word game. A game arouses our curiosity. It may work like a multistage rocket: curiosityconsciousness, self-awareness, thinking, beliefs, and finally expectations. An expectation is nothing more than an opinion rooted in beliefs while facts are based on knowledge. Also see my 31 March 2016 blog: Why are opinions stronger than facts?

The multistage rocket from the previous paragraph already tells me that having no expectations is impossible. Being human implies having expectations. It is however possible to avoid high and apply low expectations, as both are human choices. Please also reread my 1st paragraph: "the secret to happiness is low expectations". 

"My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations." Quote from Michael J. Fox

Expectations (2014) by Brika - artist, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki