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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Fast vs Slow thinking (2)

Several centuries ago, terms like homo universalis, polymath, or Renaissance man were still in use. It represents "an ideal [] from the notion expressed by one of its most-accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72), that “a man can do all things if he will” (Britannica). Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is another example.

The ever accelerating increase in Knowledge caused this ideal to be out of reach for - probably - every human. Science & Technology created solutions through the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 and its 3 major waves so far: Mechanization(1800-1900), Automation (1900-2000), and Artificially Intelligent Robotics (2000-2100). Subsequently, a new Renaissance (2100 - onwards) might take place (my 2015 blog).

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are necessary to support fast thinking in humans. It allows us to concentrate on slow thinking and being creative. The daily overload of fast thinking is already wearing us out, both emotionally and physically. Fake news (my 2016 blog) thrives with fast thinking. Separating between fact and fiction requires slow thinking.

Any new technology wave is likely to create a new addiction (eg, car, TV, PC, game console, social media). A positive explanation is that the addiction is about learning the pros and cons of that technology. For several months, I was once hooked to my Commodore 64 (1982-1994) and its gaming and its BASIC coding capabilities.

The 3rd technology wave of AI Robotics is likely to create new addictions, such as a virtual reality adventure parks and/or amusement parks, like Westworld (my 2016 blogbook, 1973 movie, 2016 HBO TV series). Another likely (future) addiction might be sex robots. Westworld (1973) already integrates both concepts. Virtual and/or augmented reality are also bound to change the way we learn (eg, elearning-2016Medium-2017). 

The end of the 3rd technology wave of AI Robotics may also bring the successor of Homo sapiens, being Humanoid sapiens (my blogs). The philosophical concepts behind this development are Accelerationism and Transhumanism. Humanoid sapiens would (once again) be able to combine fast and slow thinking. Most likely, Humanoid sapiens would also finally be able to escape the Great Filter in the rise and fall of nations (my blog).

Every force always has a counterforce. Nowadays, Science & Technology are still in the Knowledge dimension of the 7 Belief systems. The decline in Religion and the increase in Technology may cause a future swap between these dimensions. Also see my recent blog: Technology is our new Religion. This would be the negative scenario.

FT, 2018: "The Fangs — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — are having a crisis that encompasses the cognitive, the political and the economic. Activists, regulators and even some tech executives themselves are calling for an investigation into the addictive nature of smartphones and social media." To some extent, Technology is the new "bread and circuses".

Temptation (1983) by Heaven 17 - artists, lyricsmy 2016 blogvideo, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Note: all italic markings by LO

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Fast vs Slow thinking

This blog is the result of several seemingly unrelated articles: "Is technology making the world indecipherable?" (Aeon), and "In praise of slow thinking in the internet age" (Quartz). Latter article refers to another Quartz article: "Be like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: If you’re not spending 5 hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible".

The terms fast and slow thinking come from the 2011 NYT best-selling book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by 2002 Nobel prize winner Daniel KahnemanWiki: "System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical". Also see my related 2017 blog Focus vs Distraction, and my 2018 blog The decline in common knowledge (2).

The evolutionary sequence in Life appears to be as follows: (1) awareness (all life-forms), (2) external curiosity (many animals, all humans), (3) consciousness (some animals, all humans), (4) self-awareness (certain animals, all humans), (5) internal curiosity (humans), (6) thinking (humans), (7) believing (humans), and (8) wisdom (humans). In panpsychism (my blogs), everything is deemed being conscious (Quartz, 2018).

Artificial Intelligent Robotics has already mastered awareness and external curiosity. I expect it will also master being conscious and self-aware

I do not expect that AI will ever reach the state of unconscious, subconscious, or superconscious.

Also see my 7 August 2017 blog on The 4 levels of Consciousness - an integrated framework

Technology is creating or facilitating a split between Artificial Intelligence - or Knowledge - and (human) Intelligence. Humanoid sapiens (my blogs) - or transhumanism (my blogs) - may once combine both again.

This split is consistent with the difference in fast and slow thinking. Technology and fast thinking are increasingly becoming the "same".

Slow thinking is the breeding ground for creativity (eg, ideas, inventions) and/or learning. Ironically, technology does facilitate slow thinking but only when used properly (eg, Guardian #1,  Guardian #2). Unfortunately, technology is also becoming an addiction; see my recent blog: Technology, the new Religion.

Slow Down (2016) by Douwe Bob - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Monday, 29 January 2018

Eight Reasons To Be Skeptical About Blockchain (Forbes)

"Given the turbulent, even frothy environment for disruptive digital technologies, one novel entrant promises to be among the frothiest: blockchain. The secure distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain has exploded out of the realm of the dubious cryptocurrency into a hype-driven category of its own.

VC money is pouring into numerous blockchain startups. IBM IBM +1.13% is betting the farm on the technology. Pundits around the globe are calling for blockchain to reinvent everything from equities trading to charitable giving.

And yet, aside from Bitcoin itself, real-world implementations of blockchain are few and far between. Has the hype exceeded the reality? Let’s see what a number of skeptics have to say.

Blockchain is a Solution Looking for a Problem

As blockchain exploded from its cryptocurrency roots, it quickly took on new life, as proponents rushed to figure out what else it was good for. “‘Blockchain is a solution looking for a problem’ is a sentiment that we heard several times while conducting this research—a fair representation of the reality,” says Axel Pierron, founder and managing director of financial consulting firm Optimas LLC. “Rather than investing in ‘catch all’ blockchain-related initiatives, the industry should focus its attention on evaluating the various solutions that can address the issues that need to be solved.”

The Open Data Institute also warns about selecting the ‘right tool for the job.’ “We think that the government should go further and think about how it can convene sectors(such as finance, agriculture, or health care), identify common challenges in those sectors and then determine which technology approaches – whether blockchains or not – are the most appropriate in helping to address them,” the ODI blogs. “Blockchain technology is a new tool in our toolbox. We need to use it when it is the right tool for the job at hand.” (Emphasis in both paragraphs is theirs.)

End-Users Don’t Really Want to Use Blockchain

It’s difficult enough to use Bitcoin for any day-to-day task, let alone blockchain. “But still, eight years after Bitcoin launched, Satoshi Nakamoto remains the only creator to have built a blockchain that an appreciable number of ordinary people actually want to use,” opinessoftware engineer Jon Evans, principal at HappyFunCorp and columnist for TechCrunch. “No other blockchain-based software initiative seems to be at any real risk of hockey-sticking into general recognition, much less general usage.”

Perhaps a proof of concept would help? Blockchain aficionados have implemented an online trading card game they call the Rare Pepe Game to explore the potential of the technology.

Even this simple example, however, proves wanting. “[The Rare Pepe Game] also shows how a game can be built on a blockchain with virtual goods and characters and more,” explains Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures. “And it shows how clunky this stuff is for the average person to use. Just playing around with this over the last few days showcases to me all of the technical challenges that blockchain technology still has to overcome before it can become mainstream.”

Blockchain Will Increase Transaction Costs

By disintermediating financial institutions, so the reasoning goes, multiple parties can conduct transactions seamlessly, without paying a commission. However, cost savings are dubious. “Moving cash equity markets to a blockchain infrastructure would drive a significant increase of the overall transaction cost,” Pierron continues. “Trading on a blockchain system would also be slower than traders would tolerate, and mistakes might be irreversible, potentially bringing huge losses.”

Unlikelihood of Sufficient Adoption

The promise of blockchain in large part depends upon enough parties using the same implementation of the technology – a classic example of the network effect. However, it’s unclear any particular blockchain solution (other than Bitcoin itself) will ever be able to reach this threshold.

Without such universal adoption, blockchain’s practicality is questionable. “It’s obvious that a credit union-only distributed ledger system will require universal adoption to be of any use,” says John San Filippo, cofounder and principal at OmniChannel Communications. “It’s my experience that trying to achieve universal adoption of anythingin this industry is an act of pure futility.”

Blockchain is Too Complicated

The technology behind blockchain is complex enough. Add it to the complexity of a heavily regulated business environment, and blockchain may not even get out of the gate. “Blockchain is thus also turning out to be more complicated than most of us thought,” warns Kris Henley, communications manager with the Centre for the Digital Economy at the University of Surrey. “Its tremendous potential is mitigated by its steadfast resistance to being a ‘magic’ solution, and its need for regulation like so many game-changing technologies of the Digital Economy.”

Optimas’ Pierron chimes in as well. “Processing trades via blockchain would not simplify the capital markets, but rather move the complexity around,” he adds.

Performance Issues

Because of its inherently distributed, peer-to-peer nature, blockchain-based transactions can only complete when all parties update their respective ledgers – a process that might take hours. As ledgers grow, furthermore, people question whether they will bog down. “Blockchain has a lot to prove in its performance,” says Peter Hiom, deputy CEO at the ASX trading exchange.

The transaction delay may also be a deal-killer. “The delay before the final assurance that a transaction has been recorded ‘for good,’ that can be up to a couple of hours, would create too much uncertainty for market participants, especially during time of high volatility,” continues Pierron.

Blockchain Ledgers’ Immutability Isn’t Always a Good Thing

One of blockchain’s most touted benefits is the immutability of its ledgers: once participants record a transaction, no one can change or delete it. Such immutability prevents the correction of mistakes to be sure – but there are other issues as well.

In fact, immutability may cause blockchain to run afoul of regulation. “Digital ledger technologies must be chosen based on user needs and legal requirements,” writes the Open Data Institute. “For example; tamper-proof and immutable data stores prevent the modification of stored data, but this may not always be an acceptable property. The EU ‘right to be forgotten’ requires the complete removal of information; if that data is in an unchangeable system like a blockchain, this could be impossible.”

Blockchain is a ‘Trojan Horse,’ Sent by Radical Libertarians to Undermine the Global Financial System

Take this one with a large grain of salt to be sure – but at least one Bitcoin entrepreneur has stated this position. “I have no problem with the financial industry inviting the Trojan Horse of blockchain technology into their walled garden, because I know how powerful the technology is,” says Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder at cryptocurrency startup ShapeShift.io.

I’ve warned about the Libertarian context for Bitcoin before, but if any members of this devoted but misguided group believe that blockchain alone will disrupt the financial industry, they are out of touch with how cautious the industry is.

In fact, the more likely blockchain is to disrupt the global financial system, the less likely it is to succeed. For disruption to be a positive business force, it must drive new competitive advantage, not simple chaos. Blockchain may be disruptive, but it’s still an open question whether it’s too disruptive for its own good."

Source: Forbes Magazine, James Bloomberg: Eight Reasons To Be Skeptical About Blockchain

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Legs


Legs (1983) by ZZ Top

She's got legs, she knows how to use them.
She never begs, she knows how to choose them.
She's holdin' leg wonderin' how to feel them.
Would you get behind them if you could only find them?
She's my baby, she's my baby,
yeah, it's alright.

She's got hair down to her fanny.
She's kinda jet set, try undo her panties.
Everytime she's dancin' she knows what to do.
Everybody wants to see if she can use it.
She's so fine, she's all mine,
girl, you got it right.

She's got legs, she knows how to use them.
She never begs, she knows how to choose them.
She's got a dime all of the time,
stays out at night movin' through time.
Oh, I want her, said, I got to have her,
the girl is alright, she's alright.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The dollar is our currency, but it’s your problem

In November 1971, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, John Connally, spoke the following (in)famous words during a Rome G-10 meeting: "The dollar is our currency, but it’s your problem." (eg, Bloomberg, HB, IPE, Reuters, ZH). Almost 50 years later, his words are all over the news again.

On Thursday, the FT published an interesting - related - article: "Has the US dollar stopped making sense?" John Authers tries to explain the recent US$ sell-off while "global economic markers would normally signal a stronger greenback" (FT video).

The article also refers to the current US Treasury Secretary's recent comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Steven Mnuchin suggested a "reversing [of] 25 years of Treasury Department strong dollar policy by asserting" that, "obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities." (eg, DR, FT#1, FT#2).

Trump's subsequent comments had little impact on Mnuchin's words: “The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar.” “Our country is becoming so economically strong again and strong in other ways, too.” (eg, CNBCFortune). 

Mnuchin and Trump suggest a currency war, or "competitive devaluations". Reuters: "The term "currency war" has found its way into a number of research notes and they echo Nixon's treasury secretary John Connally's famous "The dollar is our currency, but it's your problem"."

During Trump's presidential campaign, he vowed "to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive". He "threatened to slap tariffs on countries like China, which he claims are gaining an unfair trading edge due to poor trade deals or purposely depressing their currencies" (USA Today). It seems that Trump is indeed delivering on his 2016 campaign promises (eg, CNNWP).

A weaker dollar may also help Trump's idea of buying back US government debt at a discount (eg, CNNEconomist, PolitiFact, WP). Trump's idea mirrors his longstanding business practices. In 2016, Trump said to CNBC: "I am the king of debt. I love debt. I love playing with it."

In business, Trump's idea is already dangerous as bluff will not help reaching a creditors' settlement. You must be willing to bankrupt your company, like Trump indeed does (PolitiFact).

In government, bankruptcy is - usually - not an option, at least for most countries. The Economist (2016): "But if the deal were voluntary, it wouldn't help the American government. And if it weren't voluntary, it would wreck the financial system and the economy."

Comparing Trump with a (diplomaticlegislative, political, racial) arsonist (in chief) makes sense. Arson is "the crime of intentionally starting a fire in order to damage or destroy something". Also see my blogs on the Trump - and Bannon/Farage - Revolution of disruption, chaos and destruction (parts #1, #2, #3, #4).

Putting Out The Fire (with gasoline) - a.k.a. Cat People (1982) by David Bowie


Note: all bold and italic markings are by LO.

Friday, 26 January 2018

If Bitcoin is a scam, is Blockchain too?

Several months ago, a Kenyan friend asked me if she should invest in Bitcoin. She had no clue what Bitcoin was. Two weeks ago, an acquaintance asked me to join him in buying Bitcoin. He invested a large amount. Despite recent price decreases, he still had a profit. I strongly advised him to cash his Bitcoins. He was reluctant to do so as he expects the price to go up again.

The start of the bearish US Bitcoin futures trading, and the increasing global regulation around cryptocurrencies (eg, Bitcoin, Ethereum, others) have caused a steady decline in their prices. There is, however, still a weird and significant Bitcoin pricing variance between South Korea and the rest of the world - the Kimchi premium. Apparently, there is either no arbitrage in Bitcoin, or the complex and/or time consuming Bitcoin buying/selling procedures prevent arbitrage.

There are more weird facts about Bitcoin and Blockchain. Some of them have been mentioned in my 2015 blogs on Bitcoin and on Blockchain. Despite its extreme popularity, few people actually know something about both, let alone their fundamentals.

Bitcoin is an artificial and digital currency which has no underlying (or intrinsic) value compared to official currencies (eg, Euro, US$). Its price is entirely based on market speculation. The Bitcoin price is (very) volatile as Bitcoin supply is fixed (ie, maximised) and demand is variable - and surging worldwide. Cashing profits by divesting Bitcoins is becoming more and more difficult (eg, regulations, reputation risk at regular banks).

The supply of new Bitcoins is a process called "mining". Essentially, ever larger numbers of computers are busy cracking increasingly difficult algorithms, while using more and more electricity (eg, cooling, processing power). The volumes of electricity used have been raising recent alarms (eg, CNBC). This architecture is by design and is not a design flaw.

Identities of cryptocurrency owners are hidden behind a "private key" of many (random) computer characters (eg, NYT). Hence, Bitcoin was rather popular amongst criminals. Acquisition and divestment of Bitcoins is often not supported by regular banks. Obscure companies and/or banks facilitate such transactions - at hefty fees (eg, FT).

In 2015, I concluded that Bitcoin is likely a Ponzi or pyramid scheme. The ones who entered first will become rich by divesting through the entrance payments of newcomers and latecomers. Both have little to no idea what they're investing in. The truth may finally be revealed in 2018.

That raises a vital question: if Bitcoin is a scam, could Blockchain also be a scam?

News coverage that Kaspersky Lab's anti-virus software algorithms are also being used as Russian spying software, has changed my mind (eg, my 2015 Blockchain blogThe Times, Wiki). If Bitcoin is a scam then the Blockchain algorithms may also have a scamming purpose.

Money's Too Tight To Mention (1985) by Simply Red

Now what are we all to do
When the money's got a hold on you?


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Technology, the new Religion

Wherever and whenever you walk, you will see people with their heads bowed to their smartphone screens. The "bowed head tribe" - or dī tóu zú - is already a Chinese term for people with "their heads lowered, gazing at their phones" (BBC Future, 2016). Usually, a bowed head also reveals a kind of submission, in this case towards Technology.

Netflix released a picture of this "bowed head tribe" for promoting the 2016 episode Nosedive of Black Mirror (IMDb, The Verge).

Wiki: "The episode is set in a world where people can rate each other from one to five stars for every interaction they have, and which can impact their socioeconomic status."

This storyline isn't even futuristic as it's based on the Social Credit System, currently being implemented in China. Also see my 2017 blog:
"China: from Hukou to Social Credit".

Yesterday's FT featured an article with an intriguing analogy in its title: "Why quitting smartphones is the new quitting smoking". I have already minimised my notification alerts. My iPad and iPhone are usually also beyond arm's length. Nevertheless, I know deep down that I'm addicted to my devices. This addiction is also known as FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out (my 2016 blog).

In contemporary society, there are several trends: a decline in Religion (or secularism - my blog), an increase in Technology (my blogs), and an (ongoing) increase in Urbanisation (my blogs). I think, feel and believe that these trends are connected. Urbanisation, the oldest trend, might be the (silent) driver behind the decline in Religion and increase in Technology (and others).

There are two most impressive videos (about 3 minutes each) that I recommend watching: the History of Urbanisation from 3700 BC to 2000 AD based on a 2016 study published in Nature, and the Earth's history from a Time and a Technology perspective from Business Insider.

The decline in Religion and the increase in Technology are the reasons for my prediction that there will be a future swap in the Knowledge and Power dimension of the 7 Belief systems. Currently, we (still) have Science (including Technology) in the Knowledge dimension, and Religion in the Power dimension (next to Money and Politics).

Technology (including Science) is already moving towards the Power dimension. Faith (formerly named Religion) will be moving to the Knowledge dimension (my blog). I am still considering what this will do to the old proverb "Knowledge equals Power" (eg, Francis Bacon, Michel Foucault).

Ayo Technology (2008) by Milow - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

She's always ready, when you want it, she want it
Like a nympho, the info


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Fear of Love (2)

Part 1 of my blog The Fear of Love resulted from an unexpected break-up. It came out of the blue. My distrust and/or mistrust have taken over since. From experience, I know how hard it is for me to restore my trust in someone. I also know that my cycle of Doubt-Fear-Hope-Love (see below) will always continue. I'm not too worried about my current phase. It will change.

I am more worried about childhood memories and their impact on the Fear of Love. It's one of the reasons why I failed to recognise the signals in my marriage. That marriage was doomed to fail. A subsequent relationship was also doomed to fail due to childhood memories. The older you get, the more likely you meet someone who was hurt in her/his past.

The absence - or presence - of loving parents is not a guarantee for a failure - or a success - of your own relationship(s). I have seen examples that go both directions. I have once been betrayed and was desperate to forgive, for many months. I have also been betrayed while - to some extent - I'm still loving her for her added value to my life. Each situation has its own merits.

My mother claims that I was (am) too transparent. Perhaps she is right. However, I prefer to be open rather than hiding my fears and worries. I did that for many years before. If someone can't handle these fears and worries then she shouldn't be in my life. Better sooner than later. Frankly, this is the essence of what led to the unexpected break-up.

To some extent, I do fear and worry that my failed marriage was a bad example to my children. I cannot change anything about that past. I can only change the future and I am doing that. To some extent, parents are accountable but they are not responsible (my blog) for their children's (love) life. Often people confuse these related concepts, like irony and sarcasm.

While writing this blog, the phrase "sins of the father" came to my mind. According to Wikipedia, this expression "derives from Biblical references (primarily in the books Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers) to the sins (or iniquities) of one generation passing to another." Although I do notice some relevance, I doubt that I believe in the concept of (family) curses.

Change is the only constant in our lives. Any equilibrium (eg, doubt, fear, hope, love) is just temporary. Adaptation to Change is essential for survival. Still, Change is also what we fear most of all. Also see my other blogs on Change and/or Fear.

Each new day, I notice that Hope is reclaiming lost ground on Doubt and Fear. Soon, I will again find the time and (new) place to open my heart. 

Perhaps that is the miracle of love.

The Miracle of Love (1986) by Eurythmics 

How many sorrows
Do you try to hide
In a world of illusion
That's covering your mind?
I'll show you something good
Oh I'll show you something good.
When you open your mind
You'll discover the sign
That there's something
You're longing to find...

The miracle of love
Will take away your pain
When the miracle of love
Comes your way again.

Cruel is the night
That covers up your fears.
Tender is the one
That wipes away your tears.
There must be a bitter breeze
To make you sting so viciously -
They say the greatest coward
Can hurt the most ferociously.
But I'll show you something good.
Oh I'll show you something good.
If you open your heart
You can make a new start
When your crumbling world falls apart.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The decline in Common Knowledge (3)

Late 2017, I wondered why December 21, being the shortest day of the year, isn't the start of a new year. Why aren't September and October the 7th and 8th month? Another remarkable date is March 31, the end of the financial year in countries like Japan. All these calendar anomalies are connected. It's another example of the decline in Common Knowledge (part 1, part 2).

The problems above arise following the differences between astronomical years and calendar years. Calendar years are a human invention, like Time itself. An astronomical year "is the orbital period of the Earth moving in its orbit around the Sun" - or 365.2425 days over a 400 year cycle (Wiki). Hence, every 4 years we have a leap year that adds 1 day (February 29).

"A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial or administrative purposes" (Wiki). The human list of calendars includes the Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Gregorian, Hebrew, Hindu, Julian, Islamic, Mesoamerican (eg, Maya), Roman and Rumi calendars. The current - Western - calendar is the Gregorian calendar.

The Julian calendar, as proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, took effect on 1 January 45 BC. January 1 has become the start of any new (Western) year ever since. The original 10-month Roman calendar was still (more or less) in line with astronomical years; "winter was left as an unassigned span of days" (Wiki). Hence, the new year started in March. September and October were still the 7th and 8th month in the Roman calendar. 

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar succeeded  the Julian calendar. This had a huge impact: in several parts of Europe 10 calendar days were cancelled. In 1752, the UK removed 11 calendar days. In 1923, Greece skipped 13 days. This cancellation also - but indirectly - explains the 10 day difference between December 21 and 31.

Financial years running from 1 April to 31 March still reflect the astronomical year and the ancient Roman calendar (before 45 BC). Financial years running from 1 January to 31 December are a consequence of the Julian calendar (45 BC). Hence, any claim that the accounting profession was responsible for this, must be wrong. 

Another calendar anomaly is December 25, the day we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Historically, December 25 has always been a very important - "pagan" - date as it was considered the birthdate of Mitra - or Mithra in Zoroastrianism (my blogs). Moreover, the similarities between Mitra (or Mithra) and Jesus, and/or the Sumerian goddess Inanna and Jesus are striking (eg, Ancient OriginsPatheos, source, my blogs on Sumer, Wiki).

The decline in Common Knowledge about (ancient) religions amplifies current contradictions and hides historic common grounds between Sumerian religious beliefs, Zoroastrianism, and the 3 Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

Common Ground (2016) by Our Last Night - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki

We can't find common ground, so we agree to burn it down
We can't let it burn down, so we need to find common ground


Monday, 22 January 2018

Faith (2)

"Is Faith always a belief in a Supreme Being?" My blog on Types of Knowledge vs Emotion and Ratio (2) triggered that question. To some extent, my 2016 blog on Faith answers this question. Nevertheless, it feels appropriate to re-address this issue as the concept of Faith (my blogs) plays a vital role in my topics.

I have drawn up a new diagram to illustrate my words below.

There is a universal philosophical view that the forces of nature and/or the Universe are either Good or Evil. The Sumerian religious beliefs of some 5,000 BC already document this view (my blogs on Sumer).

The subsequent religious beliefs of Zoroastrianism (my blogs) reiterated these views.

The main 3 Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) still use these ancient concepts.

The soul (my blogs) is the connection between the divine and the earthly component in humans.

Our Faith is an incoming energy source. Trust - or faith - is an outgoing energy source, directed to my concept of the 7 Belief systems.

To clarify - or confuse - things: Faith (with a capital letter F) is what many people often call religious beliefs - or even Religion. Trust is what many people call faith (without a capital letter F). However, Religion is a human - or man-made - codification of religious beliefs, while serving human purposes in the Power dimension of the 7 Belief systems.

Excerpt from my 2016 blog: "I think, feel and believe that Faith is something like a connection between dimensions, similar to a WiFi signal. The connection isn't always stable and its strength varies constantly. We cannot hear, see, smell or taste its signal. It is beyond human senses. Still it's there. Getting closer to the WiFi router (ie, the source), usually gives a better connection."

I still stand by that 2016 conclusion and I would not be able to improve its wording. We often refer to that connection between dimensions (eg, SpaceTime) as a (religious) belief in a Supreme Being (eg, Allah, God or Yahweh).

Mahatma Gandhi once stated: "God has no religion." I would add: Allah, God or Yahweh wants our faith and gives Faith in return.

Higher Love (1986) by Steve Winwood - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is a wasted time
Look inside your heart, I'll look inside mine


Sunday, 21 January 2018

No More Drama


No More Drama (2001) by Mary J. Blige - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

So tired, tired of this drama
No more, no more
I wanna be free
I'm so tired, so tired

Broken heart again
Another lesson learned
Better know your friends
Or else you will get burned
Gotta count on me
Cause I can guarantee
That I'll be fine

No more pain (no more pain)
No more pain (no more pain)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one's gonna make me hurt again

Why'd I play the fool
Go through ups and downs
Knowing all the time
You wouldn't be around
Or maybe I like the stress
Cause I was young and restless
But that was long ago
I don't wanna cry no more

No more pain (no more pain)
No more games (no more games messin' with my mind)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one's gonna make me hurt again
No more tears (no more tears, I'm tired of cryin' every night)
No more fears (no more fears, I really don't wanna cry)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
I don't ever wanna hurt again
Wanna speak my mind, wanna speak my mind

Uh, it feel so good
When you let go
Of all the drama in your life
Now you're free from all the pain
Free from all the games
Free from all the stress
So find your happiness
I don't know
Only God knows where the story ends for me
But I know where the story begins
It's up to us to choose
Whether we win or loose
And I choose to win

No more pain (no more pain)
No more games (tired of your playin' games with my mind)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No more, no more, no more, no more
No more tears (no more tears, no more cryin' every night)
No more fears (no more waking me up in the morning)
No drama, no more in my life

No more drama, no more drama
No more drama, no more drama
NO MORE DRAMA
NO MORE DRAMA
NO MORE DRAMA
NO MORE DRAMA
NO MORE DRAMA
No more drama in my life
So tired, tired of this drama

Strange Way



Strange Way (1978) by Firefall -artists, lyrics, video, Wiki

Didn't I hear you cry this morning, didn't I feel you weep?
Teardrops flowin' down on me, like rivers in my sleep.
And in my dream of laughter, you came creepin' with your fears.
Telling me your sorrows, in the tracings of your tears.

That's a strange way to tell me you love me
When your sorrow is all I can see
If you just want to cry to somebody, don't cry to me, no
Don't cry to me, no

Didn't I hear your voice this morning, didn't you call my name?
I heard you whisper softly, but the words were never plain.
And in your dream of darkness, I came shinin' like the sun.
Waiting for the laughter, but the laughter never comes.

That's a strange way to tell me you love me
When your sorrow is all I can see
If you just want to cry to somebody, don't cry to me, no
Don't cry to me, no

Didn't you feel alone this morning, didn't you need a friend?
And in your darkest hour, you came runnin' back again

That's a strange way to tell me you love me
That's a strange way to tell me you love me
That's a strange way to tell me you love me

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Types of Knowledge vs Emotion and Ratio (2)

My draft blog on the Types of Knowledge vs Emotion and Ratio received several remarks on my plotting of Beliefs. These remarks were anticipated and fully in line with my own thinking and wondering. Why is a Belief system, and in particular Religion, low on Emotion and high on Ratio?

The ultimate criterion for any Belief system, including Religion, is the willingness to die for that belief (eg, Crusades). A willingness to kill someone (else) follows emotions like greed, jealousy, or lust. For some this belief is Love, for others it's about Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and/or the Truth. These 7 beliefs constitute my concept of the 7 Belief systems.

Developing any of the 7 Belief systems takes time. Any belief needs to shape itself in your (rational) mind. Essentially, it's about internal curiosity (my blog). Emotions are triggered by (sudden) external events and are about external curiosity (my blog).

Excerpt of my 2017 blog: "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."

In my view, Religion is a derivative belief from Philosophy, its origin. Hence, it makes sense that Atheism, a philosophical view, is slowly being considered as a new religion (eg, Guardian, link 1, link 2, NatGeoQuora). Clearly, Philosophy is about internal curiosity (Ratio) although it might once have been triggered by external curiosity (Emotion).

Indeed there is a lot of emotion involved in Religion. It is, however, important to separate cause and effect. When any Belief system, and in particular Religion, is under external attack then it invokes lots of emotion - at both sides. That emotion is a consequence and not a cause. Without an external attack, there is little emotion in a Belief system.

An internal attack on a Belief system is usually labelled as a burnout - or a crisis of faith. A quote from a 2007 NY Magazine article: "In a culture where work can be a religion, burnout is its crisis of faith." Note: italics by LO.

It's also important to distinguish Faith from Religion. Faith is the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, regardless of his/her/its name (eg, Allah, God, Yahweh). Religion is the man-made institute claiming that their religion - and their deity - is the only and true religion. 

This explains why Religion is part of the Power dimension of the 7 Belief systems, next to Money and Politics. Faith is part of the Knowledge dimension - and in particular part of the Belief system Philosophy. I reiterate my prediction that Faith will once supercede Religion. By then, Technology will claim the current place of Religion.

"God has no religion." An astute quote by Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948).

Faith (1987) by George Michael - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 19 January 2018

The 45th President and the What-If question (2)

I don't like What-If questions (my 2016 blog). Nevertheless, part 1 was about what-if Trump gets ousted or re-elected. Robert Mueller's investigation in the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections triggers another question: what will happen if the 45th President was elected through (voter) fraud? Would that make him an illegitimate 45th President?

Obviously, a fraud would explain the largest ever variance with the popular vote. It would also explain seemingly insignificant but surprising and weird variances that were only noted in the 2016 election results of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won by some +1% of the votes while avoiding mandatory recounts (eg, CNNPRWP, Wiki).

I'm not sure the US could handle the outcome of an illegitimate 45th President. Denial (my blog) seems a realistic 1st step. Subsequent steps would normally be Anger (my blog), Bargaining (my blogs), Depression (my blog) and - finally - Acceptance (my blog). These 5 steps are known from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' model of processing grief - or Change.

The consequences of an illegitimate 45th President would be enormous. Could an illegitimate 45th President have appointed a legitimate Cabinet? If not, should every single decision by the entire (current) Administration be considered illegitimate?

So far, most of Trump's decisions were about destroying the Obama legacy (eg, NYT). Other far-reaching decisions are his judicial appointments (eg, Economist). Some of these (contested) decisions were stopped by Republicans as the Trump appointees did not even have the basic knowledge to perform their jobs (eg, CNN).

A most important issue is the following: if the 45th President got his job through (voter) fraud, what happens to the (outcome of the) 2016 US Presidential elections??

One route would be the annulment of the 2016 US Presidential elections. This would bring the USA in line with the 2017 presidential elections in Kenya. Another route is that Trump's opponent should and/or would have won the 45th Presidency, if only following the largest-ever discrepancy in the popular vote.

A certainty is that the results of Robert Mueller's investigation and/or the legitimacy of the 45th President will be contested in court for years. It's conceivable and probably even likely that the (voter) fraud details will never be released to the general public.

“You’re worried about what-ifs. Well, what if you stopped worrying?” A quote from Driving Off Bridges by Shannon Celebi.

(I don't need) No Frauds (2017) by Nicki Minaj, Drake & Lil Wayne


Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Fear of Love

The ending of yesterday's blog came as a surprise, also to myself. The draft blog initially featured the Fear of Love video below. Suddenly, I realised that Fear of Love might well describe my own behaviour. The entire concept of the Fear of Love is/was new to me. I had always assumed (my 2015 blog) that they are each other's antidotes.

A 2014 Psychology Today article mentions 7 reasons why "most people are afraid of love". I can relate to the first 2 of them: (1) Real love makes us feel vulnerable (my blog), and (2) New love stirs up past hurts (my blog).

The same writer, Lisa Firestone, also wrote a subsequent 2014 Psychology Today article: "5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Love" (ie, How).

Her 2nd article contains an interesting line: "The (LO: 1st) blog itself was based on my father Dr. Robert Firestone’s theory of the “fear of intimacy” []".

Quote: "The Fear of Intimacy describes how we often shun or inadvertently push away the love of others. Many will be surprised to learn that the real resistance to intimacy can’t be attributed to our partners, but from to an enemy lurking within." 

Quote: "The problem arises when the positive ways a lover sees us conflicts with the negative ways we view ourselves. Though we may not be entirely aware of it on a conscious level, most of us, to some extent, have a of fear of intimacy." Note: italics by LO.

Lisa Firestone's second PT article mentions 2 (out of 5) obstacles that can and should be addressed: (1) "Look at your (childhood) history", and (2) "Stop listening to your inner critic". Based on my own experiences, there is indeed reason to find the cause for the Fear of Love (or intimacy) in one's past (eg, childhood). Furthermore, our subconscious Doubts and Fears indeed feed that "critical inner voice" in our mind.

Removing those obstacles - or fears - is something completely different. As long as we believe in those fears, they feel and are genuine. It takes a set of new Beliefs to remove old Beliefs, and Willpower to execute these new Beliefs. However, any new Belief is short-lived without Faith. Changing your Faith (eg, in Love) might even be worse than dealing with the Fear of Love.

To be continued.

Fear of Love (2012) by Noosa - artistFblyricsvideoWiki


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Types of Knowledge vs Emotion and Ratio

Some weeks ago, I read an interesting Forbes article claiming that Intuition is the highest form of Intelligence. I have some sympathy for this view although I would use Knowledge rather than Intelligence. Human intelligence is usually assessed through an intelligence quotient (IQ) and/or an emotional quotient (EQ).

My diagram below pictures 4 types of Knowledge: Intelligence, Intuition, Fantasy and Beliefs. The risk management terms "(un)known" and "(un)knowns" have been borrowed from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2001 book Fooled By Randomness (PDF).

These 4 types of Knowledge also appear in my blogs about the 4 levels of Consciousness, being: conscious (eg, intelligence, beliefs, fantasy), subconscious (eg, intuition), unconscious, and superconscious.

The idea for the X and Y axis came from a recent Nautilus article which mentioned work by Susan Fiske, who is a professor at the Princeton University Department of Psychology.

Susan Fiske categorizes her X and Y axis by warmth and competence, which I translated in emotion and ratio for my diagram.

My diagram plots Wisdom in the center as Wisdom uses all 4 types.

The diagram raises some interesting observations: Beliefs are low on emotion and high on ratio. Intuition is the opposite: high on emotion and low on ratio. Intelligence (IQ and EQ) is both high on emotion and ratio. Fantasy has little relationship with emotion and ratio.

Our emotions are often stronger than our ratio, especially in case of aggression, anxiety and fear (eg, Nautilus). Our intuition senses danger and fear while our intelligence tries to minimise such seemingly overdue evolutionary emotions (eg, my blog). Hence, my sympathy for the Forbes article: if highest means strongest then I cannot but agree. 

1 John 4:18 claims: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." If this is true then I have never met perfect love. I do believe in François de La Rochefoucauld's words: "We promise according to our hopes (intelligence) and perform according to our fears (intuition)". 

Intuition (2003) by Jewel - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2