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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Chinese implosion - part 2

On 9 January 2016, I published my blog Chinese implosion. Its last paragraph said "If this Chinese capital flight to safer harbours with a higher return accelerates - or gets "stopped" by the Chinese government - then this may finally become the tipping point for the imminent Chinese implosion. Its devastation will not stop at the Chinese borders though."

I suppose I missed the 8 January 2016 FT article: "China steps up capital controls to stem outflows". In its 20 January 2016 press release, the International Institute of Finance (IIF) claims that China had a $ 676 billion capital outflow (eg, FTIIF). A 27 January 2016 article by Bloomberg claims that China has a remaining $3.3 trillion of foreign exchange reserves. This reserve appears massive until you compare it with its population and its current capital controls.

Bloomberg: "Here’s another way of looking at the scale of the problem China faces: If just 5 percent of its 1.3 billion population sent the maximum $50,000 allowed out of the country, it would deplete the entire $3.3 trillion in reserves. Citizens frequently skirt the rules -- from pooling quotas to using so-called underground banks."

On 30 November 2015, the IMF approved the reserve-currency status for China's yuan claiming that the yuan meets the standard of being “freely usable”. The IMF reviews the composition of the basket every five years and rejected the yuan during the last review, in 2010, saying it didn’t meet the necessary criteria. The addition will take effect 1 October 2016. (eg, Bloomberg).

Interestingly, since the 30 November 2015 IMF decision, the yuan took an immediate dive: see the yuan/$ diagram to the left. The current dive of the yuan is market driven unlike the previous one in August 2015.

The big losses early August 2015 reflect the unexpected and consecutive devaluations of the yuan by China (eg, Bloomberg, CNNGuardian).

For 2016, the IIF expects that "China would see further large overall capital outflows as it continues to struggle against macro headwinds and to intervene heavily to stabilize its currency."

There seems to be an interesting kind of symbiosis: China needs the yuan to become a reserve currency in order to profit from its future currency demand. The USA and other countries could use the resulting transparency over China's true economic situation as this may indeed reveal that China is the new Japan (eg, BloombergCBS, FT, Forbes, IndependentZeroHedge).

The Chinese similarities with Japan refer to the strong Japanese economic growth until the early 1990s, resulting in an asset price bubble, financed by excessive loan growth quotas, Central Bank lowering interest rates, ultimately causing a stock market crash, and already two lost decades of economic growth ever since (eg, Wiki).

David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto (ex Japan) - Forbidden Colours (1983) - lyrics, Wiki


Saturday, 30 January 2016

The 7 Belief systems - a revisit

During 2015, my concept of the 7 Belief systems slowly evolved. In my 14 March 2015 blog, I presented the initial 6 Belief systems: Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, and the Truth. I concluded that "the essential element of any belief system is the willingness to die for your belief". It took me 2-3 weeks to realise that Love is a separate 7th Belief system. History is full of people who were willing to die for believing in Love.

Still some things were nagging inside me. Most of all the concept of Power. In my 24 November 2015 blog I finally concluded that "the ultimate answer is that Power is worth killing for but not - and by definition - worth dying for. The ultimate goal of Power is to retain power." In that same blog I assumed that Knowledge and Power are each other's opposites. I was wrong. 

In my 29 January 2016 blog, I concluded that "accumulating Knowledge can be used for gaining Power or Wisdom". Despite the proverbial equation "Knowledge = Power", actually Wisdom is the opposite of Power rather than Knowledge. 

In my blog of 31 December 2015, I included Faith, Hope & Love as a separate core triangle within my concept of the 7 Belief systems. However, yesterday's blog on interconnectedness made me realise that the triangle Faith, Hope & Love can also be represented by the 3 labels Love, Philosophy and Religion of the 7 Belief systems.

Hence, I decided that it's high time to revisit my concept of the 7 Belief systems: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth, and to include all new insight in 1 diagram.

In the accompanying diagram, I have reordered the labels of the heptagon in order to show where Wisdom and Power are primarily located.

Wisdom covers the labels Philosophy, Science and the Truth.

Power covers the labels Money, Politics and Religion. In authoritarian situations, Power will usually also absorb PhilosophyScience and the Truth and even try to absorb Love.

Love is the only label that is fully separate from Power and Wisdom - in normal situations. Perhaps because Love is the greatest of all.

The triangle Love, Philosophy and Religion may represent the triangle Faith, Hope & Love.

The eternal human quest for Knowledge warrants a place in the center of the 7 Belief systems. During this quest, people may make a choice for Good (Wisdom), Bad (Power) or - in most cases - a hybrid version of several of the 7 elements. And some people may even become blind for one - extreme - side of the 7 Belief systems and be willing to die for that one.

For the moment, this diagram constitutes my current thinking. To be continued.

Alan Parsons Project - Old and Wise (1982) - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 29 January 2016

Interconnectedness

Some of my recent blogs made me realise that several topics strongly relate to one another. At some time, the image of a tribal 'medicine man' popped up. I suppose that this role is the earliest form of a "staff department" within a hunter/gatherer community. Essentially, the tribal "medicine man" combines religion (gods of nature) and science (eg, medicine) in a preacher/teacher role.

In my view, the tribal specialisation of the "medicine man" was the first human attempt to gain a competitive advantage towards other tribes. Soon afterwards humankind discovered the equation "Knowledge = Power". One could very well argue that little - if anything - has changed since.

Even the ancient advanced cultures, like the Maya, still combined religion and science in one person. "The Mayan practice of astronomy was delegated to the ilhuica tlamatilizmatini, or "wise man who studies heaven". These priest-astronomers had a great amount of power, given the fact that they could essentially 'predict' the future. Their knowledge of the patterns of the sky, and of the mathematics that solves more complex patterns, led them to an exalted position in Mayan society". (source)

In fact, the distinction between religion and science is of a quite "recent" nature. Until several centuries ago, religion still provided the main scientists. Subsequently, most of the famous (Western) scientists came from (very) wealthy families. However, until the mid 1900s it was still common within (Catholic) families that one of the sons became a priest either from poverty or prestige.

Science has now evolved into a wide range of fields covering almost every conceivable topic. The downside of this ongoing scientific specialisation is that a "silo approach" has ruled for a long time. Interconnectedness - or multidisciplinary research - is only slowly returning. Quite recently, the very same has happened in my own field: the Risk Management domain has been carved out of the Finance domain and then created unconnected silos and each with an island mentality. The former interconnectedness between Finance and Risk - at CFO level - is largely gone.

The above could be visualised in the following diagram:

Note: The word pyramids is still in yellow as it's my interpretation of its (scientific) purpose. 

In my view, everything in life is connected whether we like it or not. Even apparent opposite forces like Religion and Science are connected - like yin and yang. Accumulating Knowledge can be used for gaining Power or Wisdom. Interconnectedness requires a balance (in life). Else we micromanage, lose focus on the bigger picture, and drift to one of the (extreme) edges of the 7 Belief systems.

In the Greek philosophy of Aristotle, this balance is called the Golden Mean. In Chinese philosophy of Confucius it's called the Doctrine of the Mean. In the Asian philosophy of Gautama Buddha, this concept is called the Middle Way.

For years, my life was out of balance and I found solace by successfully focusing on work. Then I hit the proverbial Brick Wall and "crashed". My writing has enabled me to get my life back in balance again, for which I am immensely grateful. Now I am looking (and waiting) for a new balance in life.

Jackson Browne - Lives in the Balance (1986) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Vulnerability

In my 19 January 2016 blog on truly unique relationships, I introduced three new criteria of which two have been dealt with in an earlier and in a subsequent blog: forgiveness and togetherness. Initially, I assumed that vulnerability would be self evident. And perhaps it's self explanatory to most. There is however one aspect within vulnerability which is very special to me: big versus small.

During our life we play many roles: At home, at parenthood, at sports, at school, at work. Each of these roles are different in nature as we emphasise - and enlarge - a certain part of us. In all these situations, we show the big version of ourselves to others. The small version - the boy/girl inside us - gets easily ignored and neglected. A proper balance in life also requires being able to show our vulnerability. Else the big version gets more and more inflated. Until it bursts.

Showing the small version of ourselves requires a deep trust in the person to whom we show it. We need to be sure that this person will not lose respect in us after showing our vulnerability. It is quite likely that we will use moments of intimacy to show - and communicate about - our vulnerability. These moments of vulnerability are likely to enhance the feeling of togetherness. Together they would also constitute a basis for obtaining forgiveness for any mistakes and misunderstandings.

There is a clear downside to opening up to someone and showing your vulnerability as you may get rejected and/or your words may be held against you at a later date. That fear, besides the potential laughter and ridicule, is reason enough to be very careful in picking the moment and the person. It's probably wise to dose the opening up process and to start by picking intimate moments.

Somehow I think and feel that the small version can enlarge - rather than inflate - the big version of us. To some extent, our big version may give us the courage to show our small version. In that way, showing our vulnerability may make us a "bigger", better and a completer person. I suppose this is the essence of personal growth.

There is a big misconception about showing vulnerability at work. Many people prefer to pretend to be "big" to the person offering help at work. However, studies have shown that not accepting the help offered will cause a loss of respect for the one who is struggling. And do the reasons for offering help (eg, compassion, ego boost, self-interest) really matter? The reasons for not accepting help do matter (eg, false ego, false pride, shame). Also see my 9 September 2015 blog: Show some emotion.

As usual, our (mis)conception about vulnerability is rooted in our upbringing, education, past experiences and role models. And again, although financial warnings claim that "past performance is not indicative of future results", our emotional alert system does think so. To many people, past negative experiences are indicative for future relationships. Also see my 10 January 2016 blog.

We all need someone who is on our side and who will learn us to trust again. It's never really too late for that.

Joan Armatrading - Never is too late (1977) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2 

Don't be afraid
We all need someone
Who is on our side
Some things must not wait
And a pledge short lived or long
Is all that's needed
Who'll help

Asking for help from someone
Is not too easy


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Check. Double check.

Monday evening I had a lighthearted discussion with my new best friend about checking your partner when in a relationship. She started this topic by saying that when you live in one house, you are more able to check upon each other. I told her that I never check anything as I fully trust my partner. The moment my trust gets dented then we are on a downhill trend towards the end.

During that conversation, I suddenly remembered a strange event in which a former partner once told me that I didn't care for her as I never checked upon her. I was baffled by her attitude. To me this was turning the world upside down. Is there even a connection between checking your partner and caring for him/her?? Or is checking upon your partner an expression of feelings like suspicion or jealousy? Also see my 2015 blogs on jealousy dated 20 September and 23 September.

One of my reasons for not checking my partner is a very old and great statement by the French writer Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680): "In friendship as well as love, ignorance very often contributes more to our happiness than knowledge". In practice this means that I don't ask about her former partners and neither does she ask about mine. I don't even know their names.

We do tell each other about how former partners have affected our current behaviour. Our emotional luggage includes the scars from previous relationships. The behaviour of a new partner may remind us of the behaviour of a former partner. That reminiscence may stir up fears. It's important to contain such fears as early as possible before they get overwhelming. As Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said: "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears".

Being a qualified auditor myself, I have ample experience with checking. In general, there are two basic approaches to checking: a positive and a negative mindset. When applying a positive mindset, the intention is to verify and confirm that management's assertions give a true and fair view. When applying a negative mindset, the intention is to find mistakes in order to prove that management's assertions do not give a true and fair view.

In a relationship things are quite similar to auditing. However, these is one huge difference: there is no legal or third party (eg, bank) requirement to verify and confirm your partner's assertions. Hence, only a negative mindset (eg, jealousy, suspicion) would be the reason for checking your partner's assertions with the sole intention of finding mistakes in his/her alleged whereabouts.

Once you do find discrepancies between alleged and actual whereabouts then you are still in the dark about the reason for hiding the deviation. Sometimes you are just spoiling a surprise being organised by your partner. Bringing a suspicious mind into a relationship seldom ends well. Also see my 29 September 2015 blog on this issue.

Not checking upon your partner requires trust. Giving someone your trust is - at least in my opinion - a sign that you care a lot about that person. Even enough to give that person her/his freedom. Only a negative mindset would require your partner to issue a daily statement on her/his whereabouts.

“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” Charles F. Glassman

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) – Suspicious Minds (1969) - (artist, lyrics, Wiki)

Why can't you see
What you're doing to me
When you don't believe a word I say?

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds

So, if an old friend I know
Drops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

Here we go again
Asking where I've been


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Palpable emptiness

Last Sunday evening, I experienced a new feeling which can only be described by the odd looking words "palpable emptiness" - or in Dutch: "voelbare leegte". In itself these words appear contradicting: How can you feel an emptiness? This feeling of palpable emptiness clearly felt different from missing someone or longing to be close with someone - at that very moment.

Frankly, I assumed this feeling was unique. I couldn't even figure out how to translate the Dutch words "voelbare leegte" into English. Nevertheless, Google Translation immediately came up with the words "palpable emptiness". I wondered about the correctness of this translation and did an additional Google search on these 2 words. To my surprise, my feeling is far from unique.

Please don't get me wrong as I still enjoy my solitude. It allows me to do the things I love (eg, writing) and like (eg, listening, reading, watching) and in the order of my liking. Yet Sunday evening, these activities felt inappropriate as if my priorities were wrong. The song that sprang to mind that evening was the Burt Bacharach / Elvis Costello classic "This House Is Empty Now" (lyrics).

I didn't really like this feeling of palpable emptiness. Perhaps as I (sub)consciously realised that I was getting dependent on someone else's presence. While writing this blog, I suddenly also realise its link to concepts like "togetherness" and "vulnerability". Please also see my blogs of 19 January 2016 and 20 January 2016.

Palpable emptiness often has a negative connotation in psychology. Latter is well illustrated by this Gloria Smith quote: “Sometimes the emptiness in a room becomes palpable as if you could reach out and touch it real, hear its silence, feel its black nothingness. It invades your spirit, your soul like a stealthy misperception; a liquid lie that whispers and will not die, and makes you fight to stay alive.”

Notwithstanding this negative connotation with depression, there is another way to look at this. A feeling of palpable emptiness may also reflect a deep connection with someone else. In that context, it would express the element of togetherness in the 7 elements for a truly unique relationship, being: communication, forgiveness, intimacy, respect, togetherness, trust, and vulnerability.

So far, this new feeling is not an overwhelming one. I do think - and feel - that this new experience is a recurring one, which is slowly getting stronger, although its frequency is still quite mild. Hence, I think I may be able to contain it. I have never really been someone with high peaks and low valleys in my emotions. Learning to control my emotions has taken away a lot of its inflammability and intensity (eg, PT). I do acknowledge that there is a flip side to that coin (eg, spontaneity).

Later that Sunday evening, I decided to share this new feeling with my new best friend. Her only comment to me was: "Beautiful!". And I must agree.

Whitesnake - Is this love (that I'm feeling) - 1987 - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Is this love that I'm feeling,
Is this the love, that I've been searching for
Is this love or am I dreaming


Monday, 25 January 2016

The Origin of Languages (2) and The "not invented here" syndrome (3)

The study into our Origin reflects one of our deepest desires of knowledge: the birth of a human, the birth/origin of mankind, the birth/origin of our Earth and of our Universe, and even what could have predated the birth of our Universe. This quest for understanding is deeply rooted in mankind.

The oldest pillar of this study is based on visual evidence (eg, archeology, astrology, astronomy). More recent ones are based on genetics and sounds (eg, linguistics, interstellar space). The scientific challenge is to get the same results while using different sources (ie, genetics, sounds, visual).

Carbon-dating of organic material gives accurate results. Genetic dating allows "geneticists to look back in time and trace the history of past populations from analysis of the DNA of people alive today" (NYT). Linguistic dating is a rather new discipline. There was a long-held belief by linguistics that the origin of spoken language only dates back some 5,000 or 10,000 years. (NYT-1NYT-2)

On 15 April 2011, Quentin Atkinson published his rather revolutionary research in Science Magazine claiming that "an origin of modern languages predating the African exodus 50,000 to 70,000 years ago puts complex language alongside the earliest archaeological evidence of symbolic culture in Africa 80,000 to 160,000 years ago" (Science).

Obviously, this research got a lot of attention (eg, NYTWSJ) and was also severely contested (eg, Max Planck InstituteNatureScience). NYT 2011: "A researcher analyzing the sounds in languages spoken around the world has detected an ancient signal that points to southern Africa as the place where modern human language originated. The finding fits well with the evidence from fossil skulls and DNA that modern humans originated in Africa".

NYT: "It also implies, though does not prove, that modern language originated only once, an issue of considerable controversy among linguists. The detection of such an ancient signal in language is surprising. Because words change so rapidly, many linguists think that languages cannot be traced very far back in time. The oldest language tree so far reconstructed, that of the Indo-European family, which includes English, goes back 9,000 years at most". And suddenly, the "Not Invented Here" syndrome is back again! Given the dating of civilisations, languages must follow.

The timing of the oldest language is rather crucial as there is little doubt that language is essential for migrating from hunter/gatherers to advanced civilisations (eg, my 23 March 2015 blog). In my view, there is also little doubt that ice ages and their reversal (eg, interglacial period, Great Flood) mark the natural ending - and new beginning - of human civilisations, including languages.

Since the start of mankind, some 3 million years ago, the earliest of humans have tried several times to expand from Africa into Asia and Europe (Out of Africa I and II). Each time these earliest human civilisations were not advanced enough to survive the glacial periods in Asia and Europe. Only areas near the Equator (eg, Kenya) allowed human survival during these Ice Ages. The last expansion was successful, some 60,000 to 125,000 years ago. Also see my 2015 blogs of 26 April and 22 June.

According to a 2016 Bloomberg article, it's the first time ever that humans have been able to delay the next Ice Age with some 100,000 years. Every cloud (eg, global warming) has a silver lining.

Kate Bush - Cloudbusting (1984) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sunday, 24 January 2016

How do you know if you love(d) someone?

Perhaps this is a weird question to many people. Well, count your blessings! For some people, including me, this question is far from obvious. I have asked myself this question given certain of my recent blogs. I do not have an answer as I may be in denial (again). A few days after I wondered about this rather theoretical question, two other people confronted me with the very same question. The first confrontation was somewhat painful. The second time I was prepared and on guard.

I do need to know the answer to this question, if only to stop making further mistakes. Several years ago, I was in deep denial about having loved someone. My mind said it wasn't possible in such a short timeframe. Despite that rational denial, my heartache lasted for many months. At some point, I gave up denying and acknowledged the assertion of having loved her.

During that process of giving up denying, I received an interesting explanation for my deep denial: I have never really known what love is - without getting in too much detail right here, right now. I just suppose that I do not recognise 'love' and - worse - that I have plain denied, and still deny, that it has happened to me. This situation has to stop as it's blocking my progress.

Somehow, I feel that this question is much more likely to come from a male than a female. Reasons for that include the typical male upbringing, our inability to give birth, and perhaps most of all the existence - or absence - of role models. We only learn through education and experience. If you have not "learned" about love, how can you even recognise it??

The problem is usually that you only realise what you miss after it's gone. Also see the YouTube videos and lyrics of Dutch bands like: Bløf - Dichterbij dan ooit, De Dijk - Als ze er niet is, Is Ook Schitterend - Voltooid Verleden Tijd. Or Linkin Park's Until It's Gone and Counting Crow's Big Yellow Taxi.

My challenge is to realise what I would miss before it's gone. My mind says that it can't be that difficult to learn this. And I trust this message. I think and feel that I am already applying what I have learned. Perhaps as I stopped fighting myself and just "go with the flow" of things in life - nowadays.

I'm wondering if this is what the new hypes - self-compassion and mindfulness - are all about. In that case, I will gladly join.

It has taken me many, many years to answer the question - I Want To Know What Love Is - but slowly I am getting there. It's really never ever too late to learn.

Foreigner - I Want To Know What Love Is (1984) - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I'm older

Now this mountain I must climb
Feels like a world upon my shoulders
Through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me

I'm gonna take a little time
A little time to look around me
I've got nowhere left to hide
It looks like love has finally found me

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The "not invented here" syndrome - Part 2: Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza (Egypt) is another scientific mystery regarding at least ageing and purpose. The Sphinx was largely buried in sand when found by the young prince - and later pharaoh - Thutmose IV around 1400 BC. To memorise his finding, he placed a granite slab between the sphinx's front paws - the Dream Stele - which mentions that the prince was resting near the buried Sphinx and that a god appeared in his dream ordering him to excavate the Sphinx (Wiki).

Some 3000 years later, in 1853, a French archaeologist named Auguste Mariette discovered the ruins of a building adjacent to the Sphinx that would later be called the Valley Temple. In 1925, French archaeologist and engineer Emile Baraize probed the sand directly in front of the Sphinx and discovered yet another Old Kingdom building—now called the Sphinx Temple (Smithsonian).

Wiki: "Though there have been conflicting evidence and viewpoints over the years, the view held by modern Egyptology at large remains that the Great Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafra, the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza". Although the English Wiki page does not give a date for the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Dutch Wiki page does and refers to "recent research by John Anthony West and Robert M. Schoch who dated the sphinx at 10,500 BC based on signs of erosion by rain". 

An article on the Smithsonian website gives a very nice summary: "Nobody knows its original name. Sphinx is the human-headed lion in ancient Greek mythology; the term likely came into use some 2,000 years after the statue was built. There are hundreds of tombs at Giza with hieroglyphic inscriptions dating back some 4,500 years, but not one mentions the statue". 

Again the "not invented here" syndrome: there's no record of advanced civilisations before 4,000 BC. Hence, the dating of any scientific mystery must be after 4,000 BC. And all contradicting evidence must be erroneous.

To my surprise, sphinxes are not limited to Egypt. Latter is mentioned in the article "10 unexplained similarities between cultures" by the interesting Learning Mind site: "According to the ancient Greek tradition, the Sphinx had a human head, the haunches of a lion and the wings of a bird. For the Greeks, it was a woman, for the Egyptians a man. This mysterious creature that was considered to be a powerful guardian can be found in various parts of the world". Indeed, Wikipedia refers to sphinxes in Egypt, Burma, Germany, Greece, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey.

"In contrast to the sphinx in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece, where the traditions largely have been lost due to the discontinuity of the civilisation, the traditions of the "Asian sphinx" are very much alive today" (Wiki). Based upon these traditions we know that the sphinx serves a purpose of taking away the sins of the devotees when they enter a temple and to ward off evil in general. It is therefore often found in a strategic position on the temple gateway, or near the sanctuary (eg, shrine) (Wiki).

The above is also relevant for the Egyptian legend about the Book of Thoth, "a name given to many ancient Egyptian texts supposed to have been written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and knowledge". The Westcar papyrus, "an ancient Egyptian text containing five stories about miracles performed by priests and magicians", suggests that the Book of Thoth is stored in secret rooms of Thoth's shrine. Many people assume that Thoth's shrine is part of the Great Sphinx and its Temples. 

To date, people are still looking for this mythical library, also called the Hall of Records. Without a discovery, the mystery - and the "not invented here" syndrome - will continue.

Note: all bold and Italic markings are mine.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The "not invented here" syndrome - Part 1: Pyramids

Actually, there is a little bit of a problem with several scientific mysteries. At the very least, their ageing is disputed amongst scientists. I have been wondering, why especially ageing is severely debated. I think it ultimately comes down to a simple issue: the "not invented here" syndrome.

Wikipedia: "Not Invented Here (NIH) is the philosophical principle of not using third party solutions to a problem because of their external origins. False pride often drives an enterprise to use less-than perfect invention in order to save face by ignoring, boycotting, or otherwise refusing to use or incorporate obviously superior solutions by others". It's not only in business, it's also in science.

In other words: there's no record of advanced civilisations before 4,000 BC. Hence, the dating of any scientific mystery must be after 4,000 BC. And all contradicting evidence must be erroneous.

One of the best examples in this respect is the ageing and purpose of pyramids. LearningMind: "Nobody knows the real purpose for the construction of pyramids. They were not only built in Egypt, as most people might think, but they can be found all over the world. Although experts say they were used as tombs, it is known that this was not their only intent".

Pyramids are found in: Algeria, Brazil, Cambodia, Canary Islands, China, Egypt, FranceGreece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mesopotamia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Samoa, Sardinia, Spain and Sudan. Some other - alleged - pyramids are severely debated: Australia, Bosnia.

Carbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon (Wiki). Dating pyramids is difficult as the organic material in its stones may date back millions of years. Smithsonian: "Limestone (eg, Great Sphinx of Giza) is the result of mud, coral and the shells of plankton-like creatures compressed together over tens of millions of years". Carbon dating structures with wood is much simpler. 

Ancient structures are often carbon-dated in an indirect way. In Indonesia they carbon-dated the cement in between stones. The result is a highly controversial and a staggering 9,000 to 20,000 years. "According to the results of our carbon tests, the ancient buildings on Mount Padang in West Java are at least 10,000 years old," Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a seismologist from the Indonesian Institute of Science (eg, Daily Mail, Facebook, Jakarta Post, Nature, SciDevNet, SydneyHerald, Wiki).

The main alleged and undisputed purpose of pyramids is religious (eg, tombs). Another alleged and undisputed purpose is astronomical (eg, LiveScience). Yet, we still do not understand this excessive focus on astronomy - or the origin of their highly advanced knowledge - although exact time keeping (eg, Maya calendar) appears to be a main part of that focus. And there are many other "less serious" theories about the purpose of pyramids (eg, beacons for aliens, grain storage, power stations).

The only thing that is missing is a "smoking gun", a reference to an object or fact that serves as conclusive evidence. Discovering the Hall of Records - an Edgar Cayce prophecy - might constitute such conclusive evidence. According to Edgar Cayce, the 3 Atlantean Halls of Record were located in Egypt near the Sphinx, underwater in the Bimini area, and in the Yucatan area. As long as his prophecy isn't a discovery, the mystery - and the "not invented here" syndrome - will continue.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

From Russia with "Love"

Quite recently, the Politico daily news briefing had a weird heading: "The new cold war - Russian infiltration of European political parties". It refers to an article in the Telegraph of 16 January 2016: "James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, has been instructed by the US Congress to conduct a major review into Russian clandestine funding of European parties over the last decade". Similar coverage may be found at the Independent and ZeroHedge.

At a first glance there is nothing new to this topic. However, the Telegraph article mentions some really weird examples: "Officials declined to say which parties could come into the probe but it is thought likely to include far-right groups including Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Northern League in Italy and France’s Front National which received a 9m euro (£6.9m) loan from a Russian bank in 2014". Note: bold markings are mine.

And it gets even more weird: "Russian influence has also been detected in a referendum in the Netherlands next April over whether to block the EU’s closer relations with Ukraine. Sources said arguments deployed in support of the referendum “closely resembled” known Russian propaganda".

This referendum has been initiated by an organisation called "GeenPeil" (UnPredictable) which is supported by an organisation called "GeenStijl" (No Style). Basically, GeenStijl has populist right wing sympathies which are hardly heard on mainstream Dutch TV. Latter probably explains their public support. I have covered this referendum in my 4 January 2016 blog and concluded that "the Ukrainian President is right: voting NO in the Dutch referendum is a YES for Russia".

I do sympathise with the many people who argue that the EU has become too big and that Ukraine should not also become part of the EU. However, these are emotional arguments. From a rational point of view, it is in our long-term interest to absorb the countries which seek shelter from Russia. Russia and Turkey are both a serious threat to Europe and both as a result of its current (effective) leadership. Europe has no other choice then to formalise its role of being a de facto Superpower for the majority of the past 5,000 years". Please see my 4 January 2016 blog.

This American political instruction to have their intelligence services perform a major European review gives some mixed feelings. From an American political perspective, nearly everyone in Europe is a leftie or a communist. From a European political perspective, nearly everyone in US Congress is a gun-crazy, ignorant, far-right extremist. The result of such an intelligence review can hardly be welcome to anyone.

An American review of the Russian part in the European "refugee" crisis would make much more sense. Russia stirred up the Syrian crisis and its historic ally Greece continues to welcome "refugees". Politico: "One common complaint is [that] news reports on the refugees often picture families and women, even though single young men make up the vast majority of those arriving".

More and more top EU politicians express their concern that the refugee crisis is far more capable of breaking up the European Union than any crisis before (eg, Juncker, Timmermans, Tusk).

From Russia with Love (1963) - IMDb, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Togetherness

In yesterday's blog I introduced a term without any explanation: togetherness. This term does not even have a Wikipedia page, only a reference to another term: solidarity. The Cambridge Online Dictionary gives the following meaning: "the ​pleasant ​feeling of being ​united with other ​people in ​friendship and ​understanding", while the Oxford online dictionary says: "The state of being close to another person or other people". I think and feel that the latter one is more appropriate.

I suppose that togetherness gives one the feeling that "we are in it together - for better and worse, through thick and thin". That feeling isn't necessarily pleasant though. It's much more about commitment and determination. It is a feeling of a deep emotional bond. What (wedding or friendship) rings express on the outside, togetherness expresses on the inside

Ideally, togetherness is also like synergy, a concept which is usually expressed by the equation: 1+1=3. Wikipedia: Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia/synergos, meaning "working together".

To me, togetherness and solitude feel like Yin and Yang, opposite forces that complement each other. My 10 April 2015 blog said: "In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another". (Wiki)

Togetherness versus solitude is ultimately about balancing the time spent together versus apart. Both are equally important. When you're together your mind may wander off to being alone again, and when you're alone your mind will wander off to being with her (him) again. 

Couples have a different way of spending time together, either it is a mutual conscious choice or someone just takes the lead in the couple and the other one just follows in a rather compliant / docile / obedient way (NL: volgzaam). Latter will ultimately cause frustration with the other person as there is little to no room for that person's preferences. 

The Dutch expressions "vrijheid in gebondenheid" ("restrictive freedom") versus "vrijheid in verbondenheid" ("freedom in unity") may explain the subtle difference. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find similar subtle English equivalents. The key word in both Dutch expressions is the center word "bond". However, a bond can be restrictive in nature (eg, handcuffs) and can also represent a unity (eg, a friendship ring).

Over the years, my concept of togetherness has evolved from 'restrictive freedom' to just 'freedom' and then to 'freedom in unity'. Ultimately, I know I need a friend, someone I can talk to and who will understand what I'm going through (adaptation from Glenn Frey's song below).

The concept of togetherness is also reflected in Don Henley's words of farewell after Monday's death of Glenn Frey: “I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life.” (The Guardian)

R.I.P. Glenn Frey (1948-2016) - The One You Love (1982) - artist, lyrics, Wiki

I know you need a friend, someone you can talk to
Who will understand what you're going through
When it comes to love, there's no easy answer
Only you can say what you're gonna do

Your heart keeps sayin' it's just not fair
But still you gotta make up your mind

Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you
Or are you goin' back to the one you love?
Someone's gonna cry when they know they've lost you
Someone's gonna thank the stars above


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

What makes a relationship truly unique?

Last Sunday, a friend - whom I have never even met - mentioned to me that she is "beginning to understand that there can never be 2 same or similar relationship. Each is different. Or maybe it's just what I had with you that is unique". I answered her the following: Each and every relationship is different in several ways. Some you miss and most you don't. I think you only miss the ones that genuinely touched you. How these relationships touched someone may also be different but I suspect it does relate to a deep sense of "intimacy".

She agreed with me and came with an interesting definition of intimacy: "Intimacy is the experience of emotional closeness. It occurs when two people are able to be emotionally open with one another, and reveal their true feelings, thoughts, fears and desires. This can only occur when both people are able to genuinely trust one another, and feel able to take the risk of being vulnerable". (Mensline)

For several days, this very same topic has been on my mind too. Most of the women whom I have known did not make a lasting impression on me - for very different reasons. I do not even miss the person whom I have briefly though intensely loved late 2012. I still have no clue who she really is. Probably because she is a compulsive liar. On the other hand, I sometimes still miss the woman with whom I had a struggling relationship of nearly 5 years and who used to be my best friend.

So what makes a relationship or - perhaps better - a bond between 2 persons truly unique?

In my 15 July 2015 and 10 August 2015 blogs, I have mentioned the four key ingredients of a viable relationship: communication, intimacy, respect and trust. Mensline: "Men often confuse sex and intimacy. Sex and intimacy are not the same thing. Sex without intimacy can be very unrewarding, just as sex with intimacy can be deeply passionate and fulfilling. It is also possible to experience intimacy without sex".

Mensline: "Many men have been socialised to appear to be strong and in control. This perceived need to hide any weakness can interfere with their ability to experience intimacy, since real intimacy always involves some degree of vulnerability. Men may abandon relationships and intimacy because they fear that they will lose their sense of being independent. True intimacy is not about giving up your independence. It’s about balancing the sense of yourself while still being connected with another. Note: Italic markings are mine.

Initially, I suspected that the uniqueness of a relationship relates to the rare situation in which the 4 key ingredients of a relationship are perfectly balanced: communication, intimacy, respect and trust. Some would probably call such a person a soulmate. Also see my 14 July 2015 blog.

Given the aforementioned, I feel that a truly unique relationship has 3 more key ingredients on top of the other 4 key ingredients. Togetherness (rather than (in)dependence) and also vulnerability seem additional ingredients to me. However, 'forgiveness' may actually still be the Heart of the Matter. 

Don Henley - Heart of the Matter (1989) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin' that anger, it'll eat you inside

I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore


R.I.P. Glenn Frey (6 November 1948 - 18 January 2016)

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Rise and Fall of Civilisations - part 2

In my blogs of 14 and 15 January 2016 (Piri Reis Map and Great Flood), I mentioned the possible existence of highly advanced civilisations that were wiped out by the Great Flood which caused a global sea level rise of (at least) +120 meters (+400 feet) and which lasted from (at least) 11,000 BC to some 4,000 BC. Many of the "mysterious" ocean findings (see list in my 15 January blog) have two things in common: low depth and high ageing.

Given the picture to the left, I am surprised why these discoveries are considered a "mystery" as human beings still continue with what they have always been doing: to build large settlements close to the oceans, seas and/or rivers.

The underlying logic is quite simple as such locations enable efficiencies in drinking (water), food (fish), trade (harbour), transport (boats, ships), war (naval bases, swift transport of many troops) and even waste disposal.

My 25 March 2015 blog on the "Rise and Fall of Civilisations" already stated: "Most of the oldest and largest cities in the world that we know, are built near the sea or along major rivers. The opportunity for trade following the availability of (water) transportation (i.e., ships) is most likely to be the main reason. Our civilisation went from (tribal) hunter-gatherers to farmers, from trading (posts) to cities and ultimately to nations."

A great example is the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns. It dominated Baltic maritime trade (c. 1400–1800) along the coast of Northern Europe. It stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (c. 13th to 17th centuries). (Wiki). Also see my 28 May 2015 blog.

The real question is what happened after the immense destruction that came with the Great Flood. Just imagine a global sea level rise of 120+ meters (or 400+ feet)! How did new civilisations arise without the knowledge of 10,000+ years which must have been largely lost during the Great Flood? 

The 1995 worldwide bestselling book Fingerprints of the Gods (27 languages and > 3 million copies) by author and journalist Graham Hancock mentions some most remarkable myths. These creation myths refer to a person (and his helpers) who came to bring knowledge about nearly anything after the Great Flood (eg, Osiris, Thoth, Quetzalcoatl, Viracocha).

Even a skeptic like me is fascinated by this book.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Intelligence and/versus Love

Last Friday, I noticed an intriguing post in Facebook from Expanded Consciousness: "Why highly intelligent people struggle to find love", written by Justin Gammill (see his blog and article). His article felt strangely familiar. Justin gives three main reasons why highly intelligent people have a harder time falling in love: They are more analytical, more guarded and single by choice.

Intelligent people tend to have better foresight. Foresight, in and of itself, is basically just the ability to analyze a situation, recall relevant past experiences, and make an educated assessment of the future possibilities of the situation. Apply that mentality to a relationship and you get situations where smarter people are quicker to duck out of a relationship at the first sign of trouble. (JG)

Another side-effect of relying on experience when it comes to love is that intelligent people tend to be way more guarded. They have a harder time opening up because that analytical brain never stops reflecting back on past situations where they opened up to someone, and ultimately got hurt in the process. For this reason, other people assume the person is cold or distant, two characteristics no one wants in a partner. (JG)

Highly intelligent people think analytically, even when it comes to things like relationships. Therefore, intelligent people realize that being alone is better than being with the wrong person. It’s a rational, thought-out decision. So, in essence, most really smart people are single because they want to be. It is a rational, thought out decision – not a circumstance of their situation. (JG)

I am afraid that Justin is right in his observations. Actually, the situation is even far worse when I add some of the more relevant observations from a Huffington Post article by Dr Ali Binazir: "Smart people spent more time on achievements than on relationships when growing up", and "by virtue (or vice) of being smart, you eliminate most of the planet's inhabitants as a dating prospect".

An article in Higher Perspective (5 Reasons Why Intelligent People Have The Hardest Time Finding Love) gives a nice summary about smart people: too analytical, better be alone than with a wrong partner, relationships often end, you tend to be intimidating, you know to protect yourself.

The above has even resulted in 2 "new" words in the female - rather than male - domain: sapiosexual and dating down. The former has been the topic of my 27 August 2015 blog. The latter is - to a large extent - the female answer to the scarce sources regarding the former. The concept of "dating down" is explained in these articles: Dr Marcia Reynolds, Cosmopolitan

The above may even explain my mother's remark on a new relationship after my 2010-2014 one had crashed: "It will not be easy for you." Nevertheless, I am also slowly accepting the underlying truth in a conclusion by my former partner. Even if I would choose to be single again, there will always be women who are willing to smoke me out of my self-chosen solitude as intelligence is an aphrodisiac to women. 

For me, the trade-off between being together or alone is - and remains - a difficult one.

Neil Diamond - Solitary Man (1966) - artistlyricsWiki-1Wiki-2

Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man, solitary man


Johnny Cash - Solitary Man (1966) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Chris Isaak - Solitary Man (1966) - artistlyricsWiki-1Wiki-2


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Relationships and money issues

The subject of money and relationships is a hard one for me as I lost a relationship over it. I have also lost at least 1 friendship over money. Nevertheless, I accepted a request to write a blog about this topic. In order to be able to write a blog on it I had to make a mind map first. That mind map has resulted in the following diagram.


















This model is not a real-life dynamic one but a static one and hence it has some limitations. Even though this model should represent the basic drivers. Each individual comes with his/her opinions in a relationship (eg, through parents, religion, education, friends, media). These opinions translate into essential decisions about spending money: either now (eg, consumption) or later (eg, investment).

If both partners have similar opinions - and decisions - about money then an important element for disputes has been eliminated. This may even be an important reason for finding a partner from the same social background.

Essentially, there are 2 extreme views on a relationship and thus also about the usual money issues in a relationship: Love and Power. It should be noted that both partners can have either view and not necessarily the same view. Essentially, Power leads to inequality and then to disputes. Money is an easy tool for such disputes as it meets the SMART criteria. Love can and will delay disputes about money, either temporary or permanently, as Love is all about equality and sharing.

Love, Money and Power are 3 elements from the 7 Belief systems. Money and Power have been friends since the beginning of mankind. Love must be powerful to balance the other 2 elements in a relationship. Money issues between partners and friends - in business or private - are usually quite destructive. This also explains the ancient saying: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

ABBA - Money, Money, Money (1976) - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ball...


Friday, 15 January 2016

The Great Flood (11,000 BC - 4,000 BC)

Today an email about vacation destinations notified me of the existence of a mysterious underwater museum near Cancun, Mexico. The research for yesterday's blog on the Piri Reis Map already revealed another mysterious underwater location - The Bimini Road - which is even part of the 5 greatest unsolved enigmas of humanity. The list of mysterious underwater objects is much longer.

A Google search revealed many hits (eg, link 1234, 5, 6). Here are some impressive ones: 
- the Cuban underwater city: -600 to -750 meters, possibly -50,000 years (eg, link 1, ECNatGeo)
- giant "monumental" stone structure in the Sea of Galilee, Israel: -9 meters, >4,000 years
- Lake Michigan's Stonehenge: -12 meters, perhaps 10,000 years
- the the Yonaguni monument near Japan: -5 meters, 10,000 BC
- the Greek city of Pavlopetri part of UNESCO's underwater cultural heritage: -3 meters, 5,000 years
- underwater city in Gulf of Khambhat, India: -30/40 meters, -4,000 to -9,500 years (in dispute)

In many of these mysterious underwater objects there are 2 striking features: relatively low depth and a high ageing. Both support a Great Flood at around 13,000 years ago (11,000 BC) and which lasted for some 7,000 years (until 4,000 BC); see yesterday's blog.

I just found a most intriguing graph. "This figure shows sea level rise since the end of the last glacial episode based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005". (source)
The only "mysterious" element about these underwater objects is the fact that we know almost nothing about our oceans although 71% of Earth's surface is covered with water (Wiki). Less than 0.05% of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage or the spires of undersea volcanic vents (Scientific American). In fact, we know more about the moon and other planets than our oceans: Venus 98%, Mars 60% and our moon even 100% at a seven meter resolution (Scientific American).

NatGeo: "Ancient stories of massive floods pass from generation to generation and in many places in the world are integral to a people's spoken history. The tales differ by locale, but commonly feature torrential rains or a hugely destructive wall of water bursting into a valley, destroying everything in its path. In many cases, the flooding is an act of retribution by displeased gods". 

NatGeo: "Many scholars argue that the real rising sea level slowly invaded the Stone Age hunting territories for thousands of years, and the stories compress this event into overnight floods, storms, and destruction." Note: all bold and Italic markings are mine.

The very rapid sea level rise of around 14,000 years ago may indeed have wiped out some ancient highly advanced civilisations (eg, list of prehistoric mega-tsunamis in Wiki).