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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Self-Acceptance

My "rental" dog has been picked up. I am all alone again, naturally (song). Initially, I felt more alone with the dog than without the dog - and almost lonely. I didn't expect this feeling at all and I didn't like it. This new feeling made me observe the other dog caretakers during my frequent daily walks. I started seeing them in a different light.

The above feeling triggered a fresh wave of negative feelings which I hadn't felt for a while. In my 15 August 2015 blog, I already mentioned that men seem to have a "male period cycle". I am not alone in this belief. The Daily Beast, 2015: "Jed Diamond, therapist and author of The Irritable Male Syndrome, who is a believer in the “male period,” said that “men have hormonal cycles just as women do.”

I decided to discuss my negative feelings rather than hiding them. It's easier discussing them rather than avoiding or ducking the repeated question: "Is something wrong??" However, soon the discussion was about her feelings rather than mine. I had to deal with my negative feelings myself but I am used to that. Over the years I have learned to accept and to acknowledge them. Denying these feelings takes more time in getting rid of them.

Remarkably, my tactic was recommended in a Big Think article of 28 August 2017 following a July 2017 study by UC Berkeley: "The Psychological Health Benefits of Accepting Negative Emotions and Thoughts: Laboratory, Diary, and Longitudinal Evidence." UC Berkeley News: “We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.”

Big Think: "Feelings of disappointment, sadness or resentment appeared to inflict more damage upon people who avoided them, or criticized themselves for experiencing such emotions. [Quotes:] "It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being.” “People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

One of the side effects of having a dog was the inability to focus on my writing. Part of the fresh wave of negative feelings was a - new - feeling of uselessness. This reminded me of my 2015 blog following a 2015 FT blog by Lucy Kellaway: "Feeling useless at your job is painful but ensures you never are". Her 2015 blog is a recommended read for anyone (not) having a job.

Acceptance, including self-acceptance, may be the "last resort" that we try in our lives, when all other options have failed. I think, feel and believe that this last resort relates to the last A in the DABDA model by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial (my blog), Anger (my blog), Bargaining (my blogs), Depression (my blog) and - finally - Acceptance (my blog).

This should imply that self-acceptance is the "last resort" for the burnout and depression epidemic around us (eg, BBC, HuffPostScientific American).

The Last Resort (1977) by the Eagles - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Political risk

According to Wikipedia, “political risk is a type of risk faced by investors, corporations, and governments that political decisions, events, or conditions will significantly affect the profitability of a business actor or the expected value of a given economic action. Political risk can be understood and managed with reasoned foresight and investment.”

Recently, the CEO of Denmark’s largest pension fund made an interesting statement to Bloomberg: “Politics and economics have decoupled a lot in recent years. Politicians populate an insulated world of their own, while companies live in another sphere. If you’re afraid of politics in one place you can just move production elsewhere. As long as politics doesn’t get out of hand and turn into military action, it will stay in its own sphere and not influence companies much."

This year the Netherlands might break the post-WW2 record of the longest cabinet formation (1977: 208 days). As a consequence, the current Dutch cabinet is the longest post-WW2 cabinet ever with 1,758+ days. Given the lack of political progress, the 2017 Dutch Cabinet formation is hardly front page news. There is no evidence that the absence of a new Dutch cabinet affects the Dutch economy in a negative way. Some cynics may argue the opposite is true.

The political situation in the USA has created a domestic and international mess ever since Donald Trump got elected as the 45th President. However, the negative impact on domestic and international economic affairs has been negligible thus far. Does this imply that political risk in Western economies no longer exists?

Brexit could suggest that political risk is very much alive as the negative impact on the UK economy becomes more clear day by day. However, the Chancellor's post-Brexit emergency budget was never required (eg, BBCFT). The political risk was overstated. Moreover, UK politicians on both sides are slowly reversing course, including UK Labour (eg, FTGuardian).

Hence, Brexit isn’t an example of political risk but of British arrogance. The UK is finally realising that it made a terrible miscalculation in their expectations about the EU stance towards a Brexit. The UK actually assumed that it had the upper hand in the EU-Brexit negotiations. Human stupidity isn’t a risk according to Einstein but a certainty. Hence, Brexit may never happen.

There are many more examples in which political risk doesn’t affect the economy. The common denominator is a democracy guarded by a separation of powers in its 3 branches: the executive, judicial and the legislative branch. This separation is absent in autocracies and political risk is omnipresent in those territories.

The decoupling of economics and politics is thwarted by a rise in autocracies. Life always looks for symmetry and balance (my blog). A rise in autocracies is an indicator for future military conflict. The proposed bill by US Congress to restrict the power of the US President in declaring war (without consent of Congress), is a welcome sign of the times (eg, CNNIndependent).

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Quote by Albert Einstein

Sign of the Times (2017) by Harry Styles - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

We never learn, we've been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from
The bullets, the bullets?


Monday, 28 August 2017

Cultuurliberalisme vs cultuurmarxisme

Mijn recente blog over Liberalisme staat op #1 van mijn meest gelezen blogs. Ik heb echter geen 750 Nederlandse lezers; waarschijnlijk niet eens 50. Het succes van die blog - en dat onderwerp - heeft me verrast. In mijn recente Engelstalige blog over de Alt-Left vs Alt-Right zag ik de oorzaak. Eigenlijk ging mijn Nederlandstalige blog over cultuurliberalisme.

Cultuurmarxisme is inmiddels een “trending topic” geworden (o.a. Volkskrant) maar dat label is misplaatst. Cultuurliberalisme is het vierde - “mensenrechten” - stadium na liberalisme als filosofie, als economische keuze, en als politieke richting. In al die gevallen gaat het om individuele vrijheden van de mens, ondernemer, politicus tegenover de Staat en samenleving.

Van 1800 tot circa 1900 ging de inrichting van onze maatschappij over de strijd tussen Arbeid vs Kapitaal. Van circa 1900 tot 2000 werden die labels gewijzigd in Links vs Rechts. Sinds circa 2000 is er een nieuwe tweedeling. In eerste instantie ging ik uit van Nationalisme versus Globalisme / Internationalisme; zie mijn 13 juli 2016 blog.

In mijn recente Engelstalige blog kwam ik tot een iets gewijzigd standpunt. Nationalisten zijn vooral defensief omdat zij vinden dat hun cultuur en de maatschappij bedreigd wordt. Die angstgevoelens vertalen zich in haatgevoelens jegens diegenen door wie zij zich bedreigd voelen, zoals "de" immigranten, "de" Islam, Links-Liberalen, en "de" media.

In Amerika is er een duidelijk onderscheid tussen sociaal liberalen (Democraten) en conservatief liberalen (Republikeinen). Andere politieke stromingen stellen daar nauwelijks iets voor. In andere Westerse landen bestaat dit onderscheid ook maar het conservatief liberalisme heeft dan vaak eerst nog een Christelijke mantel om zich heen.

De sociaal liberalen kiezen voor de vrijheid van het individu. De conservatief liberalen kiezen voor de bescherming van cultuur en maatschappij. In de praktijk kent het tweede echter een beperkte definitie: de witte Christelijke heteroseksuele man (en vrouw). Deze boodschap wordt door buitenstaanders dan ook vaak als antisemitisch, racistisch en/of seksistisch gezien.

De conservatief liberalen stellen zich primair als groep op. De sociaal liberalen zijn vaak meer bezig met het benadrukken van hun onderlinge verschillen dan met het groepsbelang. Dit zou moeten betekenen dat conservatief liberalen – c.q. nationalisten – meer kans op succes hebben. Echter, hun leiders verspelen die kans telkens door de domheid van Rechts & Nationalisme.

In mijn blogs van 2 maart en 4 maart beschreef ik het fenomeen van de domheid (ignorance) van Rechts en Nationalisme versus de arrogantie van Links en Globalisme. Deze domheid vertaalt zich momenteel in een strijd voor de belangen van de witte Christelijke heteroseksuele man en vrouw. Deze arrogantie vertaalt zich nu in politieke discussies over verplichte orgaandonatie, beëindiging van voltooid leven, meerouderschap maar zonder een maatschappelijke discussie.

Cultuurliberalisme wordt nauwelijks als gevaar gezien in tegenstelling tot Nationalisme. Het Nationalisme - of conservatief liberalisme - is echter in belangrijke mate een politiek antwoord op sociaal cultuurliberalisme. Dit antwoord klinkt steeds luider.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

It Was A Very Good Year




It Was A Very Good Year (1961) by Frank Sinatra - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

[spoken intro:]
Here's an awfully pretty folk song

When I was seventeen it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights on the village green
When I was seventeen

[brief instrumental]

When I was twenty-one it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair and it came undone
When I was twenty-one

[brief instrumental]

Then I was thirty-five it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means, we'd ride in limousines their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

[brief instrumental]

But now the days grow short, I'm in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs, and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

[brief instrumental]

It was a mess of good years

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The burden of consciousness

I haven’t written much for the past 7 days. Babysitting my girlfriend’s dog was time consuming although the dog rested a lot. She seems unaware of the absence of her usual caretaker. Time dimensions, like past and future, seem irrelevant to her. The dog’s absence of consciousness seems like a blessing - to her, my girlfriend, and to me.

Human consciousness implies having lots of irrational fears, an ongoing pursuit for happiness and satisfaction. In several countries, there seems an epidemic of burnout and depression (eg, BBC). It’s impossible to separate irrational anxiety, dissatisfaction and unhappiness from human consciousness. For some - if not many – people, consciousness is a burden.

All articles that I've read about consciousness assume that it's a higher level in Life and Nature. I have never questioned that assumption - until now. In her 2016 book  Thinking evil, the  German philosopher Bettina Stangneth attributes evil to human thinking - or consciousness (see my blog). The mere fact that we can think, implies thinking good and bad things.

Unlike any other species, humans think about the origin of the Universe, the reason for being alive, whether there’s a Supreme Being or not, and so on and so forth. Humans have lots of questions and few answers. In general, this does not add to our happiness and satisfaction.

Military people think a new war is increasingly likely, either a systemic (e.g., WW3) or a political war like China-India (eg, CNNIndependent, my blogTrouw). Human consciousness is adding to this likelihood rather than preventing it from happening. Throughout history, advanced human civilisations have had an increased likelihood of collapsing (eg, Futurism).

The assumption that human consciousness constitutes a higher life form might be wrong. Perhaps human consciousness is a (rather recent) statistical outlier and anomaly (see next paragraph). If that would be the case then we may never find “intelligence” in the Universe. It’s probably dead already (eg, Futurism) and/or collapsed under its advanced state (eg, Futurism).

There have been lots of human species for the past 3-4 million years (eg, my blog). Homo sapiens (the anatomically modern human) is dated to around 340 thousand years ago (eg, my blog, NYT). The arrival of Homo sapiens sapiens (the behavioural modern human), dates to around 40 to 50 thousand years ago, and wiped out all other humanlike species (my blog).

The behavioural modern human has never liked competition and still doesn’t. Human competition is now about gender, race, religion, sexuality, skin colour, and so on. Any human difference qualifies for being ousted from a group – or exterminated for being “dangerous”.

My “rental” dog accepts all other dogs during my daily walks. Sometimes there’s a (mutual) snub but mostly dogs are fine after smelling each other. Dogs do not separate deeds, words and thoughts. Only humans question each other’s (true) motives and (true) intentions. That is the burden of human consciousness.

Mad World (1982) by Tears For Fears - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere



Mad World (2003) by Gary Jules - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3



Thursday, 24 August 2017

Netflix gems (2)

When I was young, I enjoyed watching the 1974 TV series Little House on the Prairie (IMDb, Wiki), based on the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957). The father figure, Charles Ingalls, was played by Michael Landon. His son is involved in a successful new feel-good and retro-TV series, broadcasted by Hallmark Channel - and Netflix.

Hallmark TV is a gem but unlikely to be found in a foreign default cable TV subscription. Netflix however offers several of its successful feel-good series. Hallmark's success was recently covered in a Washington Post article: “We intentionally branded ourselves as the happy place. Hallmark's tagline is “the heart of TV.” I recommend the following 3 Hallmark/Netflix shows.

Good Witch (7.3 in IMDb, Wiki)
The series is about people living together in a small American town. Occasionally, it shows Canadian car license plates because it was filmed in Hamilton, Ontario. Most characters feel like stereotypes and are rather predictable in their behaviour: a flaunting mayor, a desperately seeking woman, a spoiled city kid raised by a formerly famous divorced brain surgeon who is now a general practitioner in a small town. These stereotypes underpin the absence of any anxiety. This series feels like a perfect mountain stream, flowing along while bypassing all obstacles on its way. The leading actress is a modest and smart clairvoyant, as well as a living symbol of perfection, and the hidden puppet master in this town. It’s kind of amazing that this typecasting works that well. Nearly every episode has a well-considered message to its audience about morals and values.

Chesapeake Shores (7.8 in IMDb, Wiki)
This American TV series is filmed in the astoundingly beautiful Canadian surroundings of Vancouver Island. The story is about a large family from Irish origin, headed by a wealthy divorced building contractor. The father is a well-known actor (e.g., Everwood). For various reasons the family gradually reunites in Chesapeake Shores, including the mother who - allegedly - had run away from her family. Each family member has his/her own subplot: a daughter divorcing, a son returning from war, a rebellious daughter, and so on. The mix of these plots works well. There’s one leading actor outside this family who once had – and still has - a romantic interest in the oldest daughter. Both actors have slightly more airtime than the other actors.

When Calls the Heart (8.6 in IMDb, Wiki)
The Washington Post article mentioned this TV series which I had missed or ignored on Netflix. I’ve seen 3 or 4 episodes thus far. This show has some resemblances with the 1974 series Little House on the Prairie and not only because of its director/producer/writer Michael Landon Jr. The story is situated in a small Canadian coal mining village around 1910. Its main actors are a coal mine executive, a Royal Canadian Mountie, and a school teacher. The timing of the story could suggest another costume drama TV series. The clothing seems however merely functional in creating authenticity. The coal mining executive does not appear to be a 1-dimensional bad-ass character exploiting human lives while being driven around in the only automobile in town. The Pinkerton private cops seem to have a less heroic role in this series.

Feels So Good (1977) by Chuck Mangione - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Dogs and cats

I’ve never had a dog in my life. I used to think that I’m more of a cat person. I’m not so sure anymore after babysitting a dog. Babysitting is an appropriate term as there are many resemblances. I’m not only referring to feeding and cleaning poo. A baby attracts lots of attention and so does a dog. Some babies and some dogs also get lots of admiration.

I like both cats and dogs but for different reasons. Cats are independent and smart and seem to pick their caretaker while making their caretaker believe that it’s the other way around. Cat owners are convinced that cats “talk” to them. Cats indeed make lots of sounds, allegedly a 100 different sounds. Cats use different sounds for different instructions to their caretakers (eg, Cornell). To some extent, cats own the house and allow humans to cohabit with them.

Dogs have a different kind of smartness as dogs build friendships with humans by gazing in our eyes. As far as scientists know, only dogs’ eyes secrete oxytocin with humans. No other animal does. The nickname of oxytocin is the bonding hormone. The dog-human friendship may suggest an imbalance and a dog’s dependence on humans. I’m convinced that this dependence is mutual because the friendship is mutual. Hence, the phrase that a dog is man’s best friend.

I’ve underestimated the socialising aspect of dogs. Walking the dog brings dog “owners” together. Over time, this may result in additional – human - friendships. There seems to be a world out there divided in dog (or cat) lovers and the rest of humanity. Not loving dogs (or cats) may easily label you as “unsuitable” in the eyes of a potential romantic interest. To some extent, I sympathise as people who don’t love animals have a kind of undefined weirdness. It’s something like: how can you love humans if you cannot even love animals?

Unlike a dog, a cat will never be your friend. A cat just tolerates you around because humans buy food and open food boxes. My mother’s cat is a walk-in cat who previously lived with her neighbour. The neighbour didn’t feed the cat properly and/or regularly. Hence, the cat switched “owner” and the neighbour is still angry with my mother for feeding a hungry cat.

I’m amazed how well a cat and dog can live together in a given house. The cat may still be impressed with the dog’s size and hide when the dog comes running. However, the cat may also be hiding behind doors and scare the dog with its (friendly) nails. Outside it’s a different ball game: any cat is a potential toy – rather than prey. It’s remarkable that cats and dogs are like frenemies: friends at home and adversaries outside. I suppose humans make the difference.

Another striking feature is the type of dog that humans pick. It’s still hard for me seeing a man walking a tiny dog. It’s more awkward than a small elderly lady with a giant Danish dog. I wonder about the saying that a dog owner resembles his/her dog (or vice versa). I’m walking with a combination of a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Belgian Shepherd Dog. It’s a powerful combination of dogs. Unfortunately, the dog easily gets blamed by other dog owners.

I’m still in doubt whether my trial will be continued. Having a dog changes your life, just like a baby does. Babies become adults when growing old. Dogs always remain like a child. Partly, that is their core strength. Partly, it puts a mortgage on your life. A dog's life doesn’t last as long as a mortgage. It’s hard losing a best friend, over and over again. I still remember the pain.

Speak Like a Child (1983) by The Style Council - artist 1, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Into My Arms




Into My Arms (1997) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

But I believe in love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candles burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms


Note: for my birthday girl !

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Earth's magnetic pole reversal

One of the 8 known causes of climate change is the impact of plate tectonics (BGS). Plate tectonics may also control reversals in the earth's magnetic field, according to a 2011 study. A reversal from the magnetic north to south pole is often preceded by many centuries of instability. The reversal itself may, however, happen within a human life time.

"Earth's magnetic field acts like a giant invisible bubble that shields the planet from the dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun in the form of solar winds" (SA). Hence, a weakening may cause increased cancer rates (UC-B) although "fossil records reveal no mass extinctions or increased radiation damage during past reversals" (SA).

A magnetic pole reversal may seriously harm power grids and communications systems. In the past, external magnetic field disturbances have burned out transformers and caused blackouts (UC-B, SA). Wiki: "In 1989, a geomagnetic storm energized ground induced currents that disrupted electric power distribution throughout most of the province of Quebec".

Wikipedia mentions 4 known magnetic field reversals:
The timing of these reversals, and the duration of preceding "instability", raises some questions.

According to a recent August 2017 study of the University of Utah, "Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged from each other around 744,000 years ago" (eg, JT). Behavioral modern human beings "suddenly" arrived around 40,000-50,000 years ago. Simultaneously, the Neanderthal became extinct around 40,000 years ago for unknown reasons. Even the first magnetic field reversal seems to correlate with the history of human evolution.

Since 2014, satellite images by the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed "that Earth's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than previously thought, decreasing in strength about 5 percent a decade rather than 5 percent a century. A weakening magnetic field may indicate an impending reversal, which scientists predict could begin in less than 2,000 years." (SA, 2014-10)

Apart from ESA's satellite observations, we also have dramatically increased nonmelanoma skin cancer incidences, (non-cyber attack related) power grid blackouts, and an increasingly unstable climate that seems drifting southbound, while warming up colder countries and heating up warmer countries. Drifting plate tectonics suggest a climate "shift" rather than a "change".

The forthcoming magnetic pole reversal even correlates with the arrival of Humanoid sapiens.

New Kid in Town (1976) by The Eagles - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 11 August 2017

Is Homo sapiens only one species?

The European Neanderthal became extinct some 40,000 years ago. The Asian Homo floresiensis was still alive some 50,000 years ago. The surge of the behavioral modern homo sapiens around 40,000–50,000 years ago, seems to have wiped out all other human species. Is Homo sapiens the only species left? Actually, this question is much harder than it seems like.

The 1st problem is definition as there is "no true type specimen of Homo sapiens" (Smithsonian). In the absence of a default specimen of Homo sapiens, the 2nd problem is human diversity. This is the reason why race became an issue as people were separated amongst colour. The Out-of-Africa migration theories I and II ended the scientific debate but not the racial debate. 

Diversity once again became a scientific debate following human genetic clustering. Research revealed that DNA diversity outside Africa was much less than within Africa. On the one hand, this supported the Out-of-Africa theory through the serial founder-effect: "the loss of genetic variation that occurs when a new population is established by a very small number of individuals from a larger population" (eg, 2009 study).

On the other hand, this research also revealed the existence in Africa of "14 ancestral population clusters that correlate well with self described ethnicity and shared cultural or linguistic properties" (2010 study). This finding reopened the racial debate on scientific grounds. 

"In the late 1990s Harvard evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin stated that "no justification can be offered for continuing the biological concept of race. [] Genetic data shows that no matter how racial groups are defined, two people from the same racial group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different racial groups. This view has been affirmed by numerous authors and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists since." (Wiki)

The DNA comparisons revealed another issue. Nat Geo: "Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have between 1 to 2 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have none, or very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia."

Other studies revealed that some "populations in East Africa, including Ethiopian highlanders who live near Mota Cave, carried the highest levels of Eurasian ancestry". This back-to-Africa gene flow was revealed in a 4,500-year-old man from Ethiopia (eg, Nature, 2016). The last Ice Age of 25,000 to 13,000 years ago, and the subsequent melting of ice causing the Great flood of 11,000 BC - 4,000 BC, probably drove people back to higher and warmer areas, like Ethiopia.

"Few men are of one plain, decided colour; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary as much, from different situations as changeable silks do from different lights." Quote by Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773)

Human Beings (1998) by Seal - artist, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2