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Saturday, 31 December 2016

A brief history of the Past & Future (2)

The end of a year is a time for looking back and forward. I have made a similar effort with different time scales. I used the Earth's axial precessional cycle of 25,860 years and its astrological equivalent of 12 Astrological Ages of 2,155 years each. I used the 2012 cosmic alignment theory as a start.

I plotted the 12 Ages against the dimensions of the 7 Belief systems: Politics, Religion and Money (Power domain), Philosophy, Science and the Truth (Knowledge domain) and Love (independent). The result is an interesting history of our Past and Future.

The summary below shows that we know almost nothing about the period 24,500 BC to 4,000 BC. We probably know more about the period labelled "BEFORE". What happened?? In today's vocabulary we would probably blame climate change for the missing data.

Today, we live in an interglacial period following the Last Glacial Maximum (? - 24,500 BCE) of the Quaternary Ice Age (2.58 million years ago-onwards). The period of deglaciation (aka global warming) started some 22,000 years ago and is still ongoing. The global melting of ice caused an extreme sea level rise (aka the Great Flood) of some 140 meters between 17,000 BCE to 5,000 BCE. Its global destruction must have been beyond imagination.

Nevertheless, the "first" extremely advanced Sumerian civilization starts at 4,000 BC out of thin air. Latter is not entirely true as the Sumerians do refer to older sources. These sources are a mystery as most scientists claim that there was no human civilization before 4,000 BC despite several anomalies (eg, blog 1, blog 2, blog 3). Some scientists remain convinced that there must have been an early and advanced civilization which would then explain the Sumerian civilization.

The summary shows the known developments since 4,000 BC for each of the 7 dimensions, and the "expected" developments for the next 2,000 years (Age of Aquarius). Developments suddenly feel entirely "normal". With hindsight, several of my blogs are connected to this summary.

















 History Repeating (1997) by Shirley Bassey - blog, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 30 December 2016

Globalization: Trade & Technology

Auditing taught me there are 4 things worth safeguarding: money, goods, hours, and information. A new book by Richard Baldwin called The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization brings a new perspective to these 4 elements.

Richard Baldwin "argues that globalization takes shape in three distinct stages: the ability to move goods, then ideas, and finally people. Since the early 19th century, the cost of the first two has fallen dramatically, spurring the surge in international trade that is now a feature of the modern global economy." (Quartz)

For thousands of years, transport of money, goods, hours and information was difficult. That was the main reason why wealth only increased slowly. Technology has created these means of transport: eg, wheel, truck, ship, train. The Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 has brought immense wealth although its distribution - not its existence - created global and national imbalances. See the 5 December 2016 speech on globalization by Mark Carney, the BoE governor.

Richard Baldwin states that only human labour (ie, hours) was not yet globalized. Technology is now about to change that too. Baldwin argues that outsourcing of jobs is essentially an outsourcing of technology (ie, information) as the people do not follow their jobs. The newest technology does allow a globalization of people by means of telepresence and telerobotics.

Telepresence has a lot to do with "holography, the science and practice of making holograms" (Wiki). Quartz: "Telepresence is half of a table with life-size screens, good light, lots of cameras, and microphones. Then the other half of the table is somewhere else. When people sit at the table you have a very strong impression that they are in the same room."

Telerobotics "is the area of robotics concerned with the control of semi-autonomous robots from a distance, using Wireless networks or tethered connections. It is a combination of two major subfields, teleoperation and telepresence." (Wiki). Quartz: A well-known telerobotics example "is the surgeon operating at a 100-kilometer distance from the patient".

The earliest example of a differentiation between work and work place is our day of "working at home". Actually many of us could work from any location and still do our job. An auditor could use telerobotics to attend a physical stock count while being thousands of kilometers away and monitor the process through the robot's "eyes" and "ears".

I have little doubt that using robots will be cheaper than outsourcing manufacturing jobs to low-income countries. The real challenge is with jobs in the services industry, which represents about 85 to 90% of our Western economies. Quartz: "It will create great opportunities in many of the countries that have been left behind by earlier globalization, for instance almost all of sub-Saharan Africa and South America."

The gradual introduction of a Universal Basic Income is strongly connected to the above. Quartz: "the most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning".

We've Only Just Begun (1970) - The Carpenters - artists, lyrics, video, wiki-1, wiki-2


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Nationalism vs Internationalism (3) - Multiculturalism (2)

Ever since my childhood, multiculturalism has been a hot topic and near taboo in the Netherlands. Birthday parties were a means to let steam off and to hear the vox populi. The first criticism that I remember was about the "temporary" Spanish workers who were imported to work in the Dutch steel mills in the 1970s. Many never left and probably similar to other countries.

Being different (eg, language, religion, skin colour) was enough to stir up the fears (eg, crime) of the local population. This common fear is most likely a leftover from our distant past. The sight of other tribes was a forewarning for trouble. Essentially, people still don't trust strangers.

Globalization resulted in lots of emigration and immigration. Urbanisation led to a gathering in cities. This resulted in a cultural divide between cities and rural communities (eg, villages). This us and them subsequently resulted in a political divide between cities (then left, now internationalist) and villages (then right, now nationalist).

In the previous century, the various Labour parties embraced newcomers as they were future Labour voters. Mandatory integration of newcomers was hostile to the Labour agenda. Hence, newcomers kept their own culture (eg, language, religion, traditions) and lived closely together in the suburbs of big cities (eg, banlieue, Bijlmermeer, ghetto).

The private & public Canadian efforts to help Syrian newcomers (eg, NYT) is an eyeopener how to deal with multiculturalism and also change & fear management. It's the opposite of how European countries treat newcomers. Learning the local language is essential in fear management for both locals and newcomers. Watching foreign TV is a main obstacle in domestic integration.

The solution to anti-multiculturalism isn't sending all newcomers back. Closing mosques violates most constitutions unless we change them and close churches and synagogues too. I doubt that nationalists can get away with that. Closing the borders is an illusion unless we build fences, walls and watch towers around our countries.

My proposed solution is as follows: Treat all newcomers like migrant workers rather than "refugees". A buddy system is available for certain groups (eg, families). Every newcomer is directly entitled to a temporary permit for housing and working. There will be no welfare entitlements. Permits will only rollover in case of good behaviour and being self-supporting.

All temporary permits are subject to a 3 strikes-out law. Criminal behaviour directly qualifies for expulsion. A Federal Republic of Europe should have the power to send back criminals to their home countries, else the Australian solution will be a backup plan.

The above solution supports both the Internationalist and the Nationalist agenda. It should also be a creative solution to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

Illegal Alien (1984) by Genesis - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

It's no fun being an illegal alien
No, it's no fun being an illegal alien


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Nationalism vs Internationalism (2) - Multiculturalism

recent GPF article called "In Defense of Nationalism" made me wonder about the relationship between the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100, the Left-Right Divide of 1800-2000, the surge in Nationalism of 2000-onwards, and the occurrence of two World Wars.

The Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) was the 1st part of the Technological Revolution (1800-2100). Technology and Trade are intertwined and a major cause for both global wealth and imbalances in the distribution of wealth. Technology has also created human fearsmechanisation (19th century), automation (20th century), and Artificial Intelligence & robots (21st century).

The combination of wealth imbalances, (military) technology, and fear & despair created a toxic cocktail in Europe during the first half of the 20th century. Nationalism was its consequence. To a certain extent, the same elements - wealth imbalances, technology, and fear - are creating another toxic cocktail today.

The political answers to the above started with the political Left-Right divide, and similar Left-Right international alliances (ie, NATO, Warsaw Pact). The surge in post WW2 global wealth ended the political relevance of the Left-Right divide (1800-2000) and created new social issues: Globalization, Multiculturalism and Urbanisation.

Today's political answer to the above is Internationalism (aka Globalisation) versus Nationalism. Globalisation was late in addressing its wealth imbalances (eg, housing, jobs, urbanisation, welfare) and underestimated its new fears (eg, cultural identity, immigrants, irrelevance, Islam, refugees, technology). Nationalism surged on these weaknesses and its denial by Internationalism. The Great Recession (c. 2008 - c. 2012) was probably its tipping point.

Technology and international trade will continue to be drivers of global wealth. Anti-globalization is mainly about the distribution of wealth and not about its existence. While young people are addicted to technology (eg, smartphones, social media), older people fear losing their jobs to Artificial Intelligent robots. I expect that a Universal Basic Income will become the (Western) political solution to address this fear (and wealth imbalance).

Multiculturalism in Europe has resulted in a modern and mutual version of Apartheid. Each group maintains its own culture (eg, language, religion, traditions). There is a mutual lack of willingness to integrate as each cultural group considers the other group(s) as inferior. To some extent, Islamic terrorism in Europe is proof of the failure of Multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism will keep Internationalism (we Need you) and Nationalism (we don't Want you) divided, and similar to the wealth imbalances in the Left-Right divide (1800-2000). However, Urbanisation will continue to erode the importance of Nationalism. This observation is less comforting than you might expect. Hippocrates once stated that desperate times call for desperate measures. Heinz Guderian, a German WW2 general, once stated: "There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people".

 We Are The World (1985) by Michael Jackson - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The War on Christmas

The American War on Christmas has reached The Netherlands. Even the Dutch PM interfered in this debate: "Let's not create an atmosphere in which Christmas wishes are no longer allowed, like Black Pete would no longer be allowed." (eg, VK). The connection in that sentence between Christmas and Sinterklaas (aka Santa Claus) & Black Pete is intriguing.

Even the Pope criticised our version of Christmas: “Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts, but cold toward those who are marginalised. This worldliness has taken Christmas hostage. It needs to be freed.”

The War on Christmas is the result of a continued decline in religion. In 2016, half of the Dutch population says they are religious, which is 5% down compared to 2015 (eg, Dutch News). The situation in the USA is very different: "the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now [in 2014] account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007." (Pew)

I understand and appreciate the above opinions. My personal "war" on Christmas is different. Before, I felt uncomfortable spending lots of my time eating, drinking and chatting. Now, Christmas is a day in which I ride the highs and lows in my rollercoaster of loneliness and solitude (part 1, part 2). I soften the blows with music, writing and some TV. However, listening to my favourite music often makes me even more melancholic.

The difference between happy holidays and merry Christmas may seem trivial but hides a cultural war. Some claim it's about political correctness and not upsetting Islam. Latter is weird as Jesus - or Isa ibn Maryam - is also a significant prophet in Islam, "being mentioned in the Quran in 93 ayaat with various titles attached such as "Son of Mary", "Spirit of God", and the "Word of God" among other relational terms, directly and indirectly, over 180 times." (Wiki)

More and more, I think, feel and believe that the ferocity in maintaining traditions (eg, Christmas, Black Pete & Santa Claus) is part of the new divide between Nationalism and Internationalism. Possibly, attacks on ancient traditions are even viewed as an attack on White Supremacy (part 1, part 2). WW2 has learned that there is a relation between Nationalism and White Supremacy.

Fear of Change is another reason for the ferocity of this cultural debate. Even ancient traditions are now subject to Change. Most humans dislike Change whether in private, at work or in society. The ever-increasing pace of Change is shown in this 3 minute (must-seeBusiness Insider video

For many years, Christmas has become the European equivalent of the American Thanksgiving Day: a get-together holiday for families with food, drinks, chatting and possibly prayer. In times of secularization, there is nothing wrong with such a new meaning.

 Last Christmas (1984) by Wham!



R.I.P. George Michael (25 June 1963 - 25 December 2016)

Monday, 26 December 2016

Zwart-Wit denken

Toen ik Joan net leerde kennen zag ik haar als een trotse zwarte vrouw. Zij corrigeerde mij daarin. Zij was mokka, niet zwart. Voor mij is ze altijd zwart geweest want ik was (en ben) trots op haar kleur. Niet eens zo lang geleden vergeleken we onze kleur. Mijn bruine zomertint kwam nagenoeg overeen met haar huidskleur. Officieel was ik echter wit en zij zwart. Tja.

Zelden of nooit zul je van mij racistische daden zien, of woorden horen. Toch heb ik wel racistische gedachten. Meestal betreft dat trouwens witte mensen, niet zozeer gele, bruine of zwarte mensen. Ondanks haar onnodig provocerende uitspraken vind ik Sylvana Simons vooral een hele mooie zwarte vrouw. Joan vond haar een bitch. Daar zit dus ook het verschil in beoordeling: uiterlijk versus innerlijk. Wat innerlijk betreft: wie wind zaait, zal storm oogsten.

Witte mensen hebben zeker een superioriteitsgevoel, sommigen bewust en de meesten onbewust. Dat gevoel is gebaseerd op de historie van de afgelopen, zeg, 500 jaar. 4000 voor Christus was de kennis van de Sumeriërs reeds ongeëvenaard. Hun astronomische kennis stelt ons regelmatig voor raadsels. Witte superioriteit is in belangrijke mate gebaseerd op onwetendheid.

In de jaren 60 ontstond er een Amerikaanse beweging "Black is Beautiful". Ik geloof daar nog altijd in maar niet zozeer om culturele redenen. Joan geloofde ook in dit gevoel en straalde dat dus ook uit. Ik mis dit gevoel regelmatig bij andere zwarte vrouwen. Bij het minste probleem wordt de wederzijdse huidskleur in de strijd geworpen. Dat slaat elke discussie dood.

Ik weet wat het met je doet als je telkens hoort en voelt dat je niet goed genoeg voor iemand bent. Op een gegeven moment ga je dat bijna geloven. Ik heb me daaraan uiteindelijk ontworsteld maar wel met een echtscheiding als gevolg. Een gevoel van minderwaarde (of meerwaarde) is een gevolg van de omstandigheden waarin we verkeren: milieu, opvoeding, relatie, religie, school, vrienden.

Joan en ik hebben onderling nooit in kleuren gedacht. Bij een ruzie gingen we niet terug naar onze huidskleur. Onze kleurverschillen waren altijd een bonus, nooit een malus. Wij waren/zijn allebei trots op onze eigen kleur. Ik denk, voel en geloof dat onzekerheid over de eigen witte of zwarte kleur een hoofdrol in de discussie speelt.

Zelfwaardering is een bevrijding. Het heeft mij jaren gekost om allerlei angsten en twijfels stuk voor stuk op te ruimen. Ik ben nu op een punt dat ik mezelf accepteer, en waardeer, zoals ik ben. Als ik nu verander is dat omdat ik het zelf wil, en niet omdat een ander dat wil. Zelfwaardering brengt rust maar geen stilstand. Integendeel, want die rust was de voorbode van groei.

Tegenwoordig zie ik zelfwaardering vaak ontaarden in narcisme. Waar zelfwaardering een brug naar anderen creëert, breekt narcisme die vervolgens weer af. De behoeften piramide van Abraham Maslow geeft een goed inzicht: de menselijke behoefte aan waardering en erkenning door anderen is het op één na hoogste niveau. Zelfwaardering is onderdeel van het hoogste niveau.

Frank Boeijen Groep - Zwart Wit (1983) - artiest, tekst, video, Wiki-1Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Denk goed na aan welke kant je staat 
Denk niet wit (denk niet wit), denk niet zwart (denk niet zwart) 
Denk niet zwart-wit 
Denk niet wit (denk niet wit), denk niet zwart (denk niet zwart) 
Denk niet zwart-wit 
Maar in de kleur van je hart 
Maar in de kleur van je hart


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas Everybody


Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody (1973) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
It's the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red-nosed reindeer?
Does it ton-up on his sleigh?
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

[Chorus:]
So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you've got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell you
That the old songs are the best?
Then she's up and rock 'n' rolling with the rest

[Chorus:]
So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun

What will your daddy do
When he sees your momma kissing Santa Clause?
Aaah ah aaah aahh

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Are you hoping that the snow will start to fall?
Do you ride on down the hillside
In a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head
Then you've been "Slade" (slayed)

[Chorus:]
So here it is. Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun
So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun

So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun
So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
(It's Christmas!)
Look to the future now
It's only just begun

Saturday, 24 December 2016

A Left turn to Nationalism

Early 2002, Pim Fortuyn, a former member of Dutch Labour and also Liberals, started his own political party by cherry-picking from the political agendas of the Dutch Left and Right. He was murdered 9 days ahead of the 2002 general election. In 2005, Geert Wilders broke up with the Liberal Party and started his Freedom Party, again by cherry-picking from the political agendas of the Dutch Left and Right. Fortuyn and Wilders are the earliest adopters of Dutch nationalism.

On 21 December 2016, the new leader of the Dutch Labour Party announced that he "pleads for progressive patriotism". He added that "we should not let Dutch patriotism only to the right-wing parties []". Another interesting remark:"We will stop with labour migration as a business model for low wages." Let's call a spade a spade: the Dutch Left has finally joined Nationalism.

On that same day, former vice PM Nick Clegg (UK) confirmed this in another Dutch newspaper: "The world's eyes will be focussed on Holland in March. Fortuyn and Wilders in the Netherlands were ahead of developments in the UK and the rest of Europe. Dutch center politicians are more skilled in dealing with populism."

Nick Clegg: "If people feel threatened or insecure, they look for comfort within their own tribe or an alleged mythical past. The center Left ignored the cultural uncertainty following the socio-economic uncertainty of the financial crisis. One of the biggest mistakes, of which I am guilty too, was that the center Left let patriotism to the Right. How can populists be seen as patriots when they will reduce the role of the UK and will impoverish the country?"

The Dutch interview with the new Labour leader did not address multiculturalism, its Achilles' heel. The radical left Dutch Socialist Party was once the 1st left-wing party to address multiculturalism. The irony is that it never became a leading topic as multiculturalism was also a main source of voters on the Left in all European countries. A classic Catch-22 situation.

The Left turn to Nationalism will not be complete without addressing multiculturalism. Nationalism - or Patriotism - has 2 main drivers: anti-globalization and anti-multiculturalism (including but not limited to anti-Islam). Hence, I expect that this swing will fail miserably. It's more likely that the Left will lose rather than gain voters by this late turn.

Nationalism needs to make a choice regarding religion. Are they against all religions or just one? Latter may be more complicated and confusing than they now expect. Nationalism needs to make up its mind about free markets and international trade. Anti-globalization is about the distribution and not the existence of wealth. Being against international trade agreements will hurt both.

The transition from the Left-Right divide (1800-2000) into Nationalism vs Internationalism (2000 - onwards), will take a few decades to mold itself. Internationalism is a proven successful concept since WW2. Nationalism has to be more than its current anti slogans. Given export dependence, it's hard to see Nationalism becoming successful without a Federal Republic of Europe.

Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise. A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The Byrds - Turn ! Turn ! Turn ! (1965) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven


Friday, 23 December 2016

Federal Republic of Europe (3)

All roads lead to Rome, a proverb meaning that different paths can take to the same goal (Wiki). This is just one of the thoughts that I had, after seeing a Backlight episode on the Republic of Europe. In this public TV documentary, the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot explains her way forward to a European Republic. While I agree on her goal, I disagree with her path.

In several of my blogs, I have advocated for a United States of Europe (part 1part 2), similar to the Federal Republic of the USA. This model allows for maintaining cultural identity (eg, language, religion), political identity, and the resulting differences in cost of living, income, taxation, wealth and welfare. Nations would become semi-independent states in a Federal Republic. The Federal Republic mostly controls the outer layer (eg, borders, defense, Supreme Court).

Ulrike Guérot's proposed path is a European Republic of 50 regions and universal taxation and welfare, despite the huge European differences in cost of living. The result would be an enormous redistribution of wealth from northern to southern European countries. Hence, her idea will never happen. That is a pity as I do share her goal of a European Republic.

Today's political situation in Hungary and Poland shows the limitations of the current European model. There is no political union, just an economic and monetary union (eg, EU). Sovereign nations can basically do whatever they want. In the worst case, the EU could restrict their voting power or kick some countries out. 

Perhaps a Federal Republic of Europe would initially also need an Electoral College model in order to guard the interests of less populated states. A popular vote model would benefit urbanisation and thus the most populated states. The lifespan of an Electoral College model should probably be limited to one full generation (or 100 years) to prevent hijacking elections, like in the US (230 years).

A Federal Republic of Europe would still allow for some situations like in Hungary and Poland. The intriguing Netflix series Designated Survivor shows the limitations of the U.S. President when it comes to State legislation (eg, episode 4, IMDb, Wiki). Ulrike Guérot's model would not have such limitations which is another reason why it will not be implemented.

A Federal Republic of Europe can neither be labelled Left or Right, nor can it be labelled Nationalist or Internationalist. It would provide lots of Power which would and should make it interesting for all political parties. A Republic of Europe with 50 regions could easily be politically "hijacked" by the most populated State which is another reason for non-implementation.

The German Federation of 16 federal states shows that this federal republic model works. It allows for diversityidentity and unity. It would probably even allow for other countries to merge into that German federation (eg, my 13 February 2015 blog on a Dutch-German merger). I think, feel and believe that I will see a Federal Republic of Europe in my lifetime.

Nena - In Meinem Leben (2010) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Nationalism vs Internationalism

I consider myself an internationalist although I have growing sympathy for the nationalist agenda. I do not favour the early adopters of nationalism (eg, Farage, Le Pen, Trump, Wilders) mainly as they usually only offer slogans and no solutions. I do however recognise their importance in the new political divide: Nationalism vs Internationalism (see my blog, GPF).

The increase in global wealth following the post WW2 globalization has made the Left-Right divide nearly meaningless. The distribution of this wealth is where the Left and the Nationalists meet each other. Both blame Globalization and to a large extent for the same reason. Multiculturalism is where both differ in opinion. Left has already lost the popular vote on that topic.

The Left has to make a choice between Nationalism and Internationalism to become relevant again. This choice will cause a break-up, similar to the early drifters on the Right (eg, Wilders). Once the break-up on the Left is completed then the new divide is clear: nationalists vs internationalists.

I think, feel and believe that Internationalism will have far reaching consequences. Some of them have been outlined in my 14 March 2016 blog "Change: urbanisation, City States and democracy". The concept of countries will no longer be relevant in global City States - a new Hanseatic League. This borderless phenomenon already exists in Europe since the 1985 Schengen treaty.

Today, Nationalism is mostly regarded negatively. Ultimately it will become the default response to GlobalizationMulticulturalism and to Urbanisation. I am not sure how Nationalism will deal with secession demands by cities and regions (eg, California exit, Catalonia, Flanders, Mombasa, Scotland). An island like New York City is another excellent candidate.

Urbanisation had a profound impact on the 2016 US Presidential election. Until mid December 2016, Clinton has 2.8 million votes more than Trump of which 4.3 million in California (eg, Cook Political Report, Independent). Urbanisation is often underestimated.

On 26 May 2015, the FT published an article by the Dutch-American political scientist Ivo Daalder. Quote: "For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas. By 2050, 6.5bn people, two-thirds of all humanity, will live and work in cities. In 1950 fewer than one billion did so." (eg, 2014 U.N. report).

Nationalism thrives in rural areas which are increasingly being vacated by people looking for work in cities. Cities keep on expanding as a result of Globalization, Multiculturalism and Urbanisation. Based upon the astonishing FT and UN numbers, I doubt that Nationalism can survive in its current shape and form. Nationalism probably needs less European borders to survive.

I recommend having another look at my 6 October 2016 blog: A brief narrative of the future.

Simply Red - Wave The Old World Goodbye (1999) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

What is Aleppo??

On 8 September 2016, Libertarian candidate in the 2016 US Presidential elections Gary Johnson replied with the question "And what is Aleppo??" when a TV reporter asked Johnson what he would do - as a President - about the situation in Aleppo, Syria (video).

After reading this 13 December 2016 Independent article you may ask the same question: What is Aleppo?? Aleppo is a Sunni city in a Sunni country in which Al-Qaeda (or Sunni) "rebels" fight an alleged Alawite / Shia President. It's dangerous to label anyone as guilty or innocent. The ancient concept that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" does not apply in Aleppo.

For Christians, all Muslims are the same whether Shia or Sunni. We don't know the difference and we don't care. Yet, this difference is crucial in many Arab conflicts. In the most simplest of terms, the situation is as follows: Al-Qaeda - Sunni - Saudi Arabia & Turkey versus Hezbollah - Shia - Iran. The Arab conquest of Persia in 651 still defines Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Arab conflicts are often too complicated to understand in the West. Arab countries seldom interfere openly in Arab conflicts, apart from covert support to Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah. Turkey's intervention in Syria is very limited and also dualistic in nature (eg, Haaretzlink 2).

While editing this blog, the fallout of the Russian and Turkish involvement in Syria becomes clear: the Russian ambassador in Turkey was just assassinated (eg, WP). Moreover, Russia also still feels the backlash of the Chechen-Russian conflicts and the Soviet-Afghan war.

I think, feel and believe that Western involvement in Arab conflicts has caused more long-term harm than short-term relief. In the 20th century, unrestricted oil supply was probably enough reason to get involved. In the 21st century, fossil fuel importance has only been decreasing. Nowadays, there is lots of downside and little upside to get involved in Arab conflicts.

Arab conflicts are a minefield as Politics and Religion are intertwined. When we treat Arab conflicts as political conflicts then we are blamed for being anti-Islam. When we treat Arab conflicts as religious conflicts then we are blamed for apathy (or worse). It's a No Win situation. We will always be blamed for (non) interfering in Arab conflicts.

The exception to the above is the joint Arab-Western fight against ISIL (Wahhabi Sunni) as this group's long-term harm (eg, to Islam) is even worse than its short-term pain (eg, terrorism).

Hence, I favour Donald Trump's new realism that the “destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally come to an end” and that American soldiers will no longer be “fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting.” I also favour his view that “we will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with" (eg, Politico).

Aleppo citizens now face the consequences of relentless Islamic terrorism in Western societies. Empathy, guilt and shame have turned into blame towards Islam and Muslims. Frankly, I am full of doubt and find some relief in this Bertrand Russell quote: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

The Beatles - Help (1965) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help!


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A conceptual framework

Since 12 March 2015, I have been writing about human belief systems. After adding Love in April 2015, this resulted in my concept of the 7 Belief systems, including its Knowledge and Power domain and Wisdom in its core.

On 4 April 2016, I started writing a book on this concept. While writing, I realised that I had only scratched the surface. I stopped writing and started looking for the missing pieces. This resulted in a 2nd, larger, concept called Needs, Wants & Beliefs in my blog of 19 September 2016.

My blog on Time & Space (1) made me realise that my 2nd concept only addressed Time while Space was missing. My 2 December 2016 blog on Faith finally resulted into my 3rd concept Faith, Beliefs & Willpower in my blog of 3 December 2016 which includes both Time & Space.

My recent blog on soulmates was partly based on my early 2016 interest in Zoroastrianism as a predecessor of the main 3 Abrahamic religions, being Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I think, feel and believe that our soul is the linking pin between our dimension of Time & Space and dimensions unknown to us (eg, multiverse).

The diagram below is the result of the above. Its top layer is an assumption and outlines my current beliefs. To a large extent, this diagram is based on the principles of Zoroastrianism. Some people claim that its dualism (devil vs God) is in between polytheistic and monotheistic religions. I reject that claim. All religions are ultimately based on this dualism (negative vs positive forces).

This diagram also shows that the conceptual similarities between religions are far more relevant than its differences.

This is also the main reason why I prefer Faith (in mind) over man made Religion (in appearance).

The moment of reckoning will not be about our individual choice of religion but will only be about whether we lived a good life - or not.

If anything, I am impressed by the symmetry, elegance, and simplicity of this diagram which are often at the heart of Physics (eg, PDF).

Lira - I Feel Good (2006) - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki


Monday, 19 December 2016

Trump: a Win-Win scenario

As you might know, I prefer to read left wing (US: liberal) media in order to balance my thinking. These media (eg, Guardian, NYT, WP) are all negative on Donald Trump. Even mainstream right wing media (eg, Economist, FT) are rather negative towards Trump.

Donald Trump's intended appointments are often of a provocative nature. One of them would abolish the Ministry he will be heading if he had the opportunity (eg, Rick Perry). Trump is a master in diversion tactics. During his campaign, each next scandal distracted the attention at the former scandal. At some point you just don't care anymore.

The Trump appointees for his Administration give a similar picture. Only one provocative appointee would probably get much resistance during confirmation hearings. A Cabinet full of them is likely to divide the opposition. Hence, divide and rule. A smart move though not a wise one.

It's hard to see how one could unite a bunch of billionaire and millionaire appointees, who typically have strong faith, beliefs and willpower. Their willingness to compromise is usually undermined by their financial independence (a.k.a. f@ck you money). The result might be a lot of Cabinet fighting and media attention. Somehow this approach also fits Trump's diversion tactics.

I think, feel and believe that a Trump success or failure would both result in a Win-Win scenario.

Trump's failure would prove all of the current left-wing (US: liberal) and mainstream right-wing arguments why Trump - or nationalists in general - cannot be successful. A Trump failure would be their Win. Trump's failure would then help prevent other nationalists from winning in other countries. I have no problem with such an outcome.

A Trump success would stop the West from interfering in Islamic wars and simultaneously creating new Islamic terrorists fighting their Western "invaders". A Trump success would stop the global outsourcing of jobs to low income countries. A Trump success would cause US companies to pay their fair share of corporate income tax rather than using international tax loopholes. A Trump success would improve infrastructure (eg, airports, roads, schools).

The above successes are the same issues why I once favoured his candidacy. His appalling personal behaviour subsequently changed my mind. I opposed his personality, not his plans.

The above also makes me wonder why we are so afraid of a Trump success. There are 2 main explanations: Love and Fear. His supporters love him. So it must be fear. Are we that afraid that Trump would indeed become successful and that he would challenge our beliefs?

Donald Trump has some good plans. His appalling behaviour is a distraction. Both might somehow be related. Perhaps he needs these distractions for being able to execute his plans. I only hope that his distractions are not covering up something that I might be overlooking.

Alice Cooper - Elected (1972) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice
I wanna be elected
I'm your yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce
I wanna be elected
Kids want a savior, don't need a fake
I wanna be elected
We're gonna rock to the rules that I make
I wanna be elected, elected, elected
I never lied to you, I've always been cool
I wanna be elected
I gotta get the vote, and I told you about school
I wanna be elected, elected, elected
Hallelujah, I wanna be elected
Everyone in the United States of America
We're gonna win this one, take the country by storm
We're gonna be elected
You and me together, young and strong
We're gonna be elected, elected, elected
Respected, selected, call collected
I wanna be elected, elected


Sunday, 18 December 2016

You Do Something To Me


Paul Weller - You Do Something To Me (1995) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


You do something to me
Something deep inside
I'm hanging on the wire
For a love I'll never find

You do something wonderful
Then chase it all away
Mixing my emotions
That throws me back again

Hanging on the wire, yeah
I'm waiting for the change
I'm dancing through the fire
Just to catch a flame
An' feel real again

Hanging on the wire, yeah
Said I'm waiting for the change
Oh, I'm dancing through the fire
Just to catch a flame
An' feel real again

You do something to me
Somewhere deep inside
I'm hoping to get close to
A peace I cannot find 

Dancing through the fire, yeah
Just to catch a flame
Just to get close to
Just close enough 
To tell you that

You do something to me
Something deep inside

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The fear of being irrelevant

On 27 November 2016, the Guardian published an interview with anthropologist Genevieve Bell on Artificial Intelligence (AI) entitled: "Humanity’s greatest fear is about being irrelevant". That article raised a red flag in my mind. This interview is restricted to the fear of human irrelevance following the introduction of AI robots.

Most of my life, I didn't bother about the fear of being irrelevant. Education, career, relationship, children were much more important than such existential questions. Life-altering moments make you start questioning things that were previously tedious. Similar questions (and implicit fears) are: Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Am I worth it?

In my 25 August 2015 blog, I compared humans to ants (builders) and to grasshoppers (destroyers). This ant-human comparison is frequently used in science (eg, Gowdy & Krall (2016), Hou (2016), Mark MoffettNatGeo - burying dead ants). A 2016 Scientific American article - Trapped in a Black Pit, Ants Refuse to Give Up - makes clear how ants differ from humans. 

The 2015 scientific link between AI, ants, and humans may shed some light on the irrelevance issue. Princeton: "Researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) report for the first time that these structures [of "living" bridges] are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants exhibit a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive robots that can cooperate as a group, the researchers said." Note: italic markings are mine.

Ants are part of a group, and a group provides synergy. A colony of ants can do much more than its individual ants could ever achieve. It's the same with humans. Our relevance is being part of a whole (eg, family, study, work). Only when we drift apart from the whole and become an individual then the fear of being irrelevant will come up.

The answer to this fear of being irrelevant is in beliefs, which is the core element of my 3 concepts: (1) Faith, Beliefs & Willpower, (2) Needs, Wants & Beliefs, and (3) the 7 Belief systems

This belief would likely be in Philosophy ("I am (not) irrelevant), in Politics (eg, representing the Unneeded Unwanted & Unbelieved), in Religion (countering Fear with Faith), or in looking for the Truth

Since my 8 January 2016 blog "Also sprach Zarathustra", I have been intrigued by Zoroastrianism. Slowly, I am seeing the connection between my thinking, my 3 concepts, and the teachings of Zarathustra

This updated drawing represents my new insights and I am happy to share them.


Shota Adamashvili - Irrelevance (2014?) - artist, FB, lyrics, TED, video, Wiki


Friday, 16 December 2016

The Russian Connection

For some time, I have been wondering why the Russian meddling (eg, NYT) in American and European elections (and referenda) is not becoming a prominent scandal. It's even being disputed. Such news would have been a major scandal in the 20th century. What has changed??

The Left-Right divide was prominent in the 20th century. The Soviet Union was the main communist enemy of the "capitalist" West. Back then the Friend or Foe identification in geopolitics was simple. On 8 December 1991, the Soviet Union broke up (Wiki) and communism was considered defeated and capitalism was declared as Winner.

Since 1992, Russia has changed from an authoritarian communist regime into an authoritarian nationalist kleptocracy. The perception of Russia being an enemy has slowly dissolved since 1991. The Russian leader (1999-today) is widely perceived as a strongman nowadays.

Post WW2 international trade - or its popular nickname Globalization - created enormous wealth although its distribution was cause for increasing concern. The American "Greed is Good" culture caused several shockwaves in the globalised economy (ie, 2007 U.S. mortgage crisis2007-2008 U.S. banking crisis2008-2012 Great Recession). The blame for these various crises has shifted many times to many parties but has ended with Globalization.

Back in the 1990s, left-wing radicals had already organised anti-globalization movements and declared Globalization as the new enemy. After the 2008-2012 Great Recession, these left-wing radicals were joined by former right-wing politicians who turned into nationalists.

Globalization became the new enemy in politics. The nationalist view is like this: if globalization isn't the answer then certainly nationalism must be. I have some conceptual sympathy for this view as bulkheads indeed strengthen (shipping) structures and absorb shockwaves.

The view on Russia has slowly changed from a communist Foe into a nationalist Friend. This fundamental change was caused by a shift from Left-Right to Nationalism vs Internationalism. Also see my 13 July 2016 blog and this 30 November 2016 GPF article. The breakthrough of nationalism in politics finally became visible in 2016 (eg, BrexitTrump).

An American-Russian connection would affect China, Europe and Turkey. Early indications are that Trump will pick a fight with China while openly befriending Russia (eg, new US Secretary of State, Trump-Taiwan, U.S.-China trade war). China and Europe may need to develop closer ties. Turkey can no longer switch sides between America and Russia and may then again export its Political Islam into Arab countries and the North African parts of its former Ottoman Empire (see map).


ABBA - The Winner Takes It All (1980) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

The winner takes it all
The loser's standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Soulmates

Soulmates is a combination of two diverse though connected concepts: mates (friends) and soul. Most people would probably define a soulmate as a unique friendship between the opposite sex. Based upon my own experience, I'm sure that soulmates are not unique and I doubt that they are restricted to the opposite sex.

I'm fortunate to have known 2 soulmates. Unfortunately, one of them has recently deceased. Missing soulmates leave a permanent void in our life unlike "regular" broken friendships or relationships. Finding "closure" and "moving on" is nearly impossible in case of a soulmate, whether alive or deceased. I recommend watching Beyond Closure, a wonderful TED video by Nancy Berns who is a Professor of Sociology at Drake University.

I think, feel and believe that soulmates are connected through their souls and also that the soul is the linking pin between our dimension and those that we cannot sense (eg, feel, hear, see, smell, taste). I suppose that a soul contains our identity (ie, thoughts, words, deeds). To a certain extent, we can "sense" certain thoughts of soulmates as if they are broadcasting.

The connection between souls and immortality is all around. In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, Lord Voldemort becomes immortal because he has found a way to split his soul in several parts which are hidden in Horcruxes. Although the word horcrux was invented by J. K. Rowling, the underlying concept is much older. A good example is Aladdin, a Persian folk tale from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, who releases a jinnī from an oil lamp in a magic cave.
 
The Faravahar is the main symbol (see right) of Zoroastrianism and still is a national Iranian symbol.

The explanation of the Faravahar is interesting: A bird-shaped old wise man carrying 2 rings. The ring in the center symbolizes the eternity of universe or the eternal nature of the soul. The wings represent good thoughts, words and deeds while the tail represents bad thoughts, words and deeds. The legs or loops represent positive and negative forces in life. (site)

Zoroastrianism was the official religion of Iran before the Muslim conquest of Persia in 652 and is - to a certain extent - the predecessor of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Persian prophet was called Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) and their Supreme Being, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord). Also see my 8 January 2016 blog: Also sprach Zarathustra.

After writing the above, the word "soulmate" suddenly gets a new meaning to me. A soulmate is the rare person with whom your soul connects for a reason (eg, friendship, love). A breakup or death does not end such a connection as a soul is immortal and also not physical in nature. 

“In a world full of temporary things, you are a perpetual feeling.” Quote by Sanober Khan

Natasha Bedingfield - Soulmate (2007) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Here we are again, circles never end
How do I find the perfect fit
There's enough for everyone
But I'm still waiting in line