Total Pageviews

Friday, 22 September 2017

Slavery, a convergence of human beliefs

A few days ago, the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that 40 million people lived in modern slavery in 2016 (GS, ILO). That is more than 3 times the total number of 12.5 million Africans who were forced into slavery between 1500 and 1866 (Smithsonian). The ILO news report (PDF) got less media attention than the average International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

It is wrong to assume that only humans indulge in slavery. The slave-making ants, a brood parasite, also enslave their own species. Interestingly, there are 2 types of slave-makers: permanent social parasites and facultative slave-makers. The 1st type cannot live without slaves and will experience high mortality. The 2nd type will adjust to self-sufficiency within 30 days (eg, BBC, Cracked, my blogs on ants-humans, Nat Geo, Wiki).

According to Wikipedia, "evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed in many cultures. Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations because it requires economic surpluses and a high population density to be viable. [] slavery became widespread only with the invention of agriculture [] about 11,000 years ago".

War and slavery are closely related. In the ancient Sumerian civilization, "serfs and slaves made up majority of population and were responsible for all manual labor. [] Eventually, the Sumerians made slaves of other Sumerians they had captured in their wars with each other, but originally they acquired their slaves from peoples beyond Sumer. [] And they justified their slavery as would others: that their gods had given them victory over an inferior people" (source).

Slavery is rooted in 6 of the 7 Belief systems: Money (trading profit), Philosophy (eg, Aristotle, inferiority), Politics (spoils of war), Religion (eg, holy books), Science (eg, Darwin), and the Truth (eg, Snopes). Slavery might even be an example of a convergence of the 6 selfish human beliefs. This convergence is perhaps the reason that human slavery still exists today. 

Love, the 7th Belief system, is the only selfless human belief compared to the 6 selfish beliefs. Mumford and Sons have beautiful lyrics to reflect this: "Love; it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free". Songs like "Love will set you free" are quite common: Engelbert Humperdinck, Kodaline, Whitesnake. Please listen to my favourite one below.

Someone may now argue that the original text contradicts my argument as "the truth will set you free". However, verse 8:32 of John the Apostle states: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". As always, context is crucial and is found in preceding verse 8:31: "So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples."

Like any true prophet, Jesus' word was about (selfless) Love. Not Money, not Philosophy, not Politics, not Science, not the Truth, and certainly not Religion as "God has no religion" (Mahatma Gandhi). Please also see my blogs Faith vs Religion and Humanoid Sapiens (5).

Love will set you free (1980) by Carrie Cleveland
artist, bio-1, bio-2info-1, info-2, lyrics, video, Wiki

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Time chill factor

Dutch temperatures always feel different than the official ones due to the wind chill factor. The word "time chill factor" does not exist although the word "chillen" has a time-related meaning nowadays. Nevertheless, everyone feels his/her own relative time compared to the absolute official time, as shown on clocks. PBS: "Since no brain is the same, every person will have their own limits of time perception and their own sphere of now".

The wind chill factor relates to "the perceived decrease in air temperature felt by the body on exposed skin due to the flow of air" (Wiki). Similarly, the "time chill factor" would then relate to the perceived decrease - or increase - in elapsed time as felt by the human mind due to a lack - or abundance - of images and/or sounds.

Today's concept of Time is an ancient Sumerian invention and rooted in astronomy following (i) Earth's daily orbit around its own axis, (ii) the moon's "monthly" (ie, 29.5 day) orbit around Earth, and (iii) Earth's annual orbit around the Sun. Also see yesterday's Fasten your seatbelts blog.

The Sumerian civilization used a Base-60 rather than a decimal or Base-10 system for its calculations. Today, we still have 60 seconds, 60 minutes, and 24 hours in a day rather than 100 seconds, 100 minutes, and 8.64 hours. Base-60 can be divided by more numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) than Base-10 (1, 2, and 5). Also see my blogs on Numbers and Why is Life digital?

It's interesting that the saying "times flies when you're having fun" originated around 1800, shortly after the Industrial Revolution (c. 1760 - 1820/40). I am convinced that the 3 phases of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 define the current "time chill factor": (1) Mechanization (19th century), (2) Automation (20th century), (3) Artificially Intelligent Robotics (21st century).

The time chill factor is illustrated by a superb Business Insider video which rightfully claims that it "will change your perception of time". The last 20 seconds of this 3.5 minute video show the enormous acceleration of changes as a result of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100. Please also see my 24 May 2017 blog on the philosophical belief in Accelerationism.

Marc Bolan (1947-1977) once stated that "time passes so slowly if you are unaware of it and so quickly if you are aware of it". His statement connects the relative awareness and consciousness in the human mind to the absoluteness of time. It also explains why some people feel bored (eg, teenagers), while other people are running out of time. Also see my blog Busy busy busy.

The time chill factor is also relevant to what we refer to as the Now or the Present. Actually, this period is "the recent memory of the immediate past and the expectation of the near future" (PBS). The Now or Present may not even exist given the finite speed of light and/or sound, and the required processing time of our brain. If the Now does exist, it lasts less than a second.

Time (Clock of the Heart) by Culture Club - 1982 - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Time is like a clock in my heart

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Fasten your seatbelts

Earth rotates around its axis with 1,600 km (1,000 miles) per hour. Given Earth’s circumference of some 40,000 km, this process takes 24 hours. We call this morning, afternoon, evening and night. Similarly, Earth also rotates around the Sun with a speed of 107,000 km (66,000 miles) per hour. It takes Earth some 365 days to complete this orbit around the Sun. We refer to this as spring, summer, autumn, and winter (eg, astrosociety).

Rarely do we feel nauseous as our conscious brain does not register Earth’s speed. To some extent, it’s similar to sitting still in a high speed train. You need to look outside and focus on an object to notice speed. Inside a train, both Time and Space feel different.

The Sun (including its orbiting planets like our Earth) is orbiting around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy with a speed of some 70,000 km (43,000 miles) per hour. It takes the Sun some 225 million years to complete this orbit, a.k.a. a galactic year. The Milky Way Galaxy itself travels by 2.1 million km (1.3 million miles) per hour through the Universe. Still, we are oblivious.

The moon orbits around the earth in 29.5 days; we refer to this period as (lunar) months. The moon's average orbital speed is 1,022 km per hour. The moon’s orbit affects Earth’s tides due to gravitational changes. The moon also affects human bodies. The most common example is the female menstruation period. The relationship between lunar positions and sleeping patterns is still debated (eg, AWMP). Yesterday’s New Moon did however affect my sleep.

The Sun’s impact seems relatively clear: daylight and warmth. Sunlight exposure also has negative and positive human health effects. Please also see my related blogs on weather, mood & pain, sunlight & viruses, climate & personality, skin colour. The absence of sunlight causes an urge for sleeping. Several studies indicate that sleeping cleanses our brain from toxic substances (see my 2016 blog). Please also see my sleep related blogs on wintersleep and addiction.

The Sumerian civilisation (my blogs) is the first documented one that studied the movements of the 5 visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), moons and stars (e.g., our Sun). These studies must have resulted in conclusions on the predictability of seasons, tides, weather, etc. The predictability of this information still lives on in almanacs, like the Babylonian Almanac, Dutch Enkhuizer Almanak (1595), and various other almanacs.

The predictability of human character lives on in astrology and in various Zodiacs (eg, Sumerian, Babylonian, Chinese, and Western). Perhaps the thinking was like this: if humans live on Earth then the Gods must live on other planets and stars. Similar to astronomy, the position of these planets and stars "must" predict one's character and destiny at birth.

In comparison with a hard science like astronomy, the soft science of (Chinese and Western) astrology still gives an impressive - about 80% - match: GoToHoroscope (eg, my blog). 

Life in the Fast Lane (1977) by Joe Walsh - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Faster, faster. The lights are turning red.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Find it in your heart

FIND IT IN YOUR HEART (2017) by Michael McDonald

When desire moves from head to heart
You may lose the luxury
To have your fun and play it smart
Take your pleasure and still be free
Oh, the loneliness at the end of every dream
Don’t you know that there’s more to this
Let go of all your reasons
And find something to believe

You gotta find it in your heart
You’ll only find it in your heart
Love’s the truth that sets us free
You’ll only find it in your heart

Now you found someone who cares
You got your life all figured out
But the truth is you’re not really there
‘Till you give in beyond a doubt

Let go of your fantasies
And start looking for something real
Your best thinking is what got you here
Illusion will be shattered by the truth that love reveals

You better find it in your heart
You’ll only find it in your heart
Love’s the key that sets us free
Oh girl, get out of your head

Let go of your fantasies
And start looking for something real
Your best thinking is what got you here
Illusion will be shattered by the truth that love reveals

You better find it in your heart
You gotta find it in your heart
Love will never be the same
Oh girl, get out of your head

You may think it’s a matter of choice
But there’s only one answer, only one voice

REPEAT CHORUS 3x (alt. lines)

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Love, the selfless belief (2)

The conclusions of part 1 of this blog were unexpected. Of the 7 Belief systems, 6 are selfish (Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) and 1 is selfless (Love). We understand the 6 selfish ones quite well. The 1 belief that is beyond our comprehension, is the selfless one. Love is a fuzzy concept, similar to friendship. No wonder both are related.

Another conclusion was the ageing of the 7 Belief systems: Love has been there for eternity while the other 6 beliefs "only" for several thousands of years. Three of the four ancient Greek words for love - éros (romantic), philía (brotherly/sisterly), and storgē (parental) - apply to another fundamental concept of society: familyAgápe refers to divine/spiritual love, the love of Allah, God or Yahweh for mankind (ie, families) and vice versa.

The concept of family is often referred to as the cornerstone of society. The concept of love is what keeps families together. Without love, families drift apart. Hence, love is the ultimate cornerstone of society. Without love, a society is no longer a society but a sum of individuals. 

Today, there are 7 Belief systems of which Love is the least understood of all. The other 6 are evenly divided over the Knowledge and Power dimensions. Both dimensions created a balance: Knowledge = Power. Since a decade, both dimensions are actively working together - again - on a centuries old concept: immortality (my blogs: 2016, 2017.1, 2017.2).

Immortality has always been a quest of Science (eg, alchemy, elixir of immortality, the Holy Grail, philosopher's stone). These quests needed financing by wealthy principals (Money & Power). Most religions do recognise immortality but only for the Soul, not the Body. Transhumanism is a contemporary philosophical belief related to longevity and immortality.

A quest for immortality is a selfish quest for eternal Life. Longevity and immortality are already becoming a goal for living. Love used to be that goal. Both do not go well together.

The book and film Bicentennial Man (IMDb) deals with the conflict between eternal Life and eternal Love. Isaac Asimov suggests that a choice must be made between eternal Life and eternal Love. 

Today's lack of Love suggests that (selfish) Life may already be replacing (selfless) Love as a goal for living. It may explain the many conflicts all around us.

In 1976, Stevie Wonder already said the same as I do today: Love's in need of love today.

Love's in Need of Love Today (1976) by Stevie Wonder - 

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain

It's that love's in need of love today
Don't delay; send yours in right away
Hate's goin' round breaking many hearts
Stop it, please, before it's gone too far

Friday, 15 September 2017

Love, the selfless belief (1)

Early 2015, I completed my concept of the 7 Belief systems by adding Love as a 7th belief system. Three of these 7 beliefs belong to its Knowledge dimension (ie, Philosophy, Science and the Truth) and 3 belong to its Power dimension (ie, Money, Politics, Religion).

The 7th belief system - Love - is however linked to both dimensions through the trinity of Faith (ie, Religion), Hope (ie, Philosophy) and Love. This trinity is known from 1 Corinthians 13 which states the following famous words: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Verse 2 and 3 of 1 Corinthians 13 links Love to the Knowledge and Power dimensions: (v2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (v3) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Verses 4-7 explain why Love is the greatest of all: (v4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (v5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (v6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (v7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In other words, Love is selfless (NL: onbaatzuchtig). The "love" for all other 6 belief systems is not selfless but selfish. This "love" may be either be qualified as ambition (Politics, Religion, Science), domination (Philosophy), envyjealousy (the Truth), or greed (Money). 

Love is the only eternal belief system which has been with humanity since its origin. Knowledge can vanish over time. A quote from J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Lord of the Rings: “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” Power often matches with human life and ends with human death.

Love is the least understood belief system. In order to describe it, we use adjectives: parental love, brotherly & sisterly love, passionate (or sexual) love, pragmatic love, romantic love, self-love (narcissism), and divine / spiritual love (eg, Allah, God, Yahweh). Let's not forget loving Nature, a friend (friendship), or a country (patriotism).

The ancient Greeks had at least 4 different words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē (Wiki). Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee defines 6 styles of love in his 1973 book Colours of Love (Wiki). A 2016 Psychology Today article defines 7 types of love. Although we have known Love for thousands if not millions of years, we still ask ourselves: What is Love?

What is Love? (1993) by Haddaway - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Banning fossil fuel cars

During 2015, I wrote several blogs on the diesel engine emissions scandal at Volkswagen Audi Group: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. My 6 October 2015 blog predicted that the VW emissions scandal would become a pivotal point for electric cars. In 2016 and 2017, several countries have announced a ban on selling fossil fuel cars: China (timing t.b.d.)France (by 2040), India (by 2030)Norway (by 2025), and UK (by 2040).

The main disadvantage of an electric car is its dismal driving range. The top 10 of electric cars with the "longest" driving range is quite revealing: from 150 to 539 km - or 93 to 335 miles (source). The ultimate solution will be a power grid woven into the main roads that either sells electricity to - or buys electricity from - electric cars (see my 2017 blog).

In the meantime, hydrogen powered cars may fill the gap between fossil fuel and electric cars. Digital Trends: "Driving a hydrogen-powered car has some ups and downs. On the plus side, you get the green benefits of an EV without the range anxiety, because you can refill the car with more hydrogen. On the minus side, hydrogen refueling stations are rare – at least for the moment. It’s also challenging to obtain hydrogen in a way that’s both green and efficient."

Digital Trends: "With the recent arrival of the Honda Clarity, there are now three automakers offering cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The first was the Hyundai ix35 in early 2013, and then came the Toyota Mirai — and more than a dozen other automakers have fuel cell vehicles in development." In 2018, Hyundai will introduce an emission-free hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) which has a target driving range of 580 km (360 miles) on a single charge (JD Powers). 

The existing worldwide number of fossil fuel cars was estimated on 1 billion in 2010 and is expected to grow to 1.5 billion in 2025 and 2 billion in 2040 (eg, GCR, HuffPost, WEF). These numbers are somewhat similar to mobile phones: 1 billion in 2012, and a record number of 1.5 billion smartphone annual shipments in 2016 (eg, eMarketer, Strategy AnalyticsTelegraph). Harvesting precious metals from cars will become an industry as in mobile phones.

There is another analogy that bugs me. In the late 1980s, the sale of vinyl records declined sharply following the success of the compact disc. Around 2000, vinyl records went almost extinct (eg, Forbes). Vinyl record sales are once again booming (eg, clubs, DJs, nostalgia).

The future closing of oil refineries may however never happen if and when electricity grids are as vulnerable as they now appear to be. The Guardian, 6 September 2017: "Hackers attacking US and European energy firms could sabotage power grids". Or Washington Post, 12 June 2017: "Russia has developed a cyberweapon that can disrupt power grids, according to new research".

The Automotive industry was once built on human emotion (ie, love). Americans and Europeans still fear self-driving cars (eg, Fortune, GM, IJ, Newsmax). Hacking electricity grids may even cause an early death of EVs. Nostalgia for fossil fuel driven cars may return sooner than we think.

Nostalgia (1984) by David Sylvian - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

The sound of waves in a pool of water
I'm drowning in my nostalgia

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Linking anxiety & depression to bacteria & viruses

Remember the old saying about having a knot in your stomach or that someone's stomach is in knots about something? Its usual meaning is about being nervous or worried. Recently, I noticed several articles on the link between gut bacteria and anxiety (eg, Futurism, Medical Xpress). They all refer to an August 2017 study in the open access journal Microbiome.

Around the same time, some other interesting studies and related articles appeared on bacteria or microbes: (1) 99% of the microbes inside humans are currently unknown to science (eg, Futurism, PNAS), and (2) bacteria can communicate to one another electrically (eg, Quanta magazine, Science). The words "paradigm shift" in a November 2014 study ("Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience") imply that this insight is rather recent. 

A 3rd article is about a September 2017 study in Science Advances on "Unveiling the role and life strategies of viruses from the surface to the dark ocean". Deep sea life is full of bacteria and viruses: 1 liter contains 40 million bacteria and 600 million viruses (eg, NRC). There seems to be a symbiosis between both. Both also play an important role "in the production of dissolved organic carbon in the dark ocean, a major pathway in carbon cycling."

To many people, bacteria and viruses are responsible for spreading diseases. TV advertising is often about selling antibacterial products (eg, soaps). This view is slowly changing. Guardian, 2016: "Antibacterial soaps were banned from the US market on Friday in a final ruling by the Food and Drug Administration, which said that manufacturers had failed to prove the cleansers were safe or more effective than normal products."

A 2012 Public Health Reviews article by American epidemiologist Steven Coughlin already linked anxiety and depression to viral diseases. Excerpt: "The studies summarized in this review indicate that there are important linkages between anxiety and depression and viral diseases." A 2014 Daily Mail article wondered: "Could depression be an infectious disease? Condition is caused by parasites, bacteria or virus and could be prevented with a jab, expert claims."

Dr Gerard Clarke of University College Cork basically confirms this 2014 Daily Mail notion in the recent Medical Xpress article: "This is early stage research but the possibility of achieving the desired impact on miRNAs in specific brain regions by targeting the gut microbiota - for example by using psychobiotics - is an appealing prospect."

A quote from a 2016 HuffPost article: "The quality of life of many people suffering from mental illness has been improved by antidepressants, antipsychotics and so on, and so these drugs will always have a place in society. However, there are also quite a few patients who do not respond to conventional medication, and this is where I think psychobiotics can come into play."

Treatment of anxiety and depression with psychobiotics comes closer to the trinity of Body, Mind & Soul. Depression is, however, related to broken faith and a hurt/tired Soul (eg, my Fatigue blog, my 2nd blog on burnout & depression2007 NY Mag, 2017 Patheos blog).

Soul Sick (2009) by Rob Thomas - artist, FBlyrics, songvideo, Wiki

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Lucifer (Netflix)

Lucifer is perhaps today's weirdest Netflix show. Its IMDb rating is high (8.3) although the underlying ratings are either extremely low or high. The main layer of the show is a sequence of - at bestmediocre police detective stories. The show is still worthwhile watching because of a 2nd layer of developing and intriguing personalities.

People who liked the 2007-2014 TV show Californication (8.3 in IMDb) may also like Lucifer, as the absurd and weird ingredients in both shows trace back to its developer Tom Kapinos. Californication used rather 1-dimensional characters and lots of (sick) humour. Similar to The Sopranos (1999-2007 and a 9.2 in IMDb), a psychologist finds out about Lucifer.

The mixed feelings about Lucifer are better understood once I reveal that the main character is actually the devil taking a vacation in Los Angeles (sic!) and "helping" the police as a consultant. The absurdness of this plot is just too much for many. The acting by Tom Ellis is another reason for bad reviews on IMDb. Tom Ellis plays Lucifer as a mere obnoxious fellow rather than a cunning and devious person like Matt Damon in "The talented Mr. Ripley" (bookIMDb, movie).

Watching this show made me realise that I know almost nothing about the concept of the devil. We prefer not mentioning his name as if that doesn't make him exist. Probably, our fear of him increases his power over us. J.K. Rowling used the same concept in her Harry Potter books (eg, wizards' fear over mentioning Voldemort's name).

My lack of knowledge (eg, Samael) is also the main reason that I am still watching. Although Lucifer (a.k.a. Samael) claims he is the devil, he is not just evil. He struggles with his task, blames his principal, and uses a psychologist for understanding humans - and himself. Lucifer has no remorse for bad people and even likes punishing them for what they did in life.

Lucifer also likes stirring up anger and (carnal) desires in humans, granting them favours, and then calling in these IOU's. Both anger and desires can easily lead to the Dark Side (my blogs). Lucifer may be accountable for stirring up anger and desires but he does not feel responsible for human decisions (my blogs). Humans always have a choice for (not) listening to him.

Challenging human faith in a Deity (eg, Allah, God or Yahweh) is another one of his specialties as Lucifer expects humans to be hypocrites. Lucifer however respects true Faith when he meets it. Lucifer's power is rooted in human fear. Fearing the devil only makes sense when we know that our thoughts, words, and deeds are/were bad (eg, immoral).

This idea of the devil is in line with my own concept. Humans are accountable and responsible for our own thoughts, words, and deeds. We cannot hide our own responsibility behind God - or the devil. Neither can we claim that our actions were in line with their will. Both show us a path but it's our own (daily) decision which one we take.

The devil made me do it (1982) by Golden Earring
artists, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

The devil made me do it, oh, oh, oh,oh
It was the act of a man possessed, now
The devil made me do it, oh, oh ,oh, oh
Your honor, I am innocent

Monday, 11 September 2017

Libertarianism: a philosophical belief in Freedom

I'm still puzzling on disintegrating societies and the surge in both nationalism and personal liberalism. In my recent Alt-Left vs Alt-Right blog, I mentioned 2 basic concepts: duties and rights. In most societies, duties and rights are intertwined. In Western societies there is a decoupling between duties and rights, similar to a decoupling between economics and politics (my blog).

This decoupling became clear when I compared my youth with the present. In the 1960s and 70's, family life was still the cornerstone in villages. For many, work was in close vicinity. There was a clear connection between duties (work) and rights (income). Essentially, that situation was not that much different from ancient tribal life.

Since the late 20th century, several factors have eroded family life and many families are scattered over a province/state, a country or even spread over various nations. This caused a decoupling amongst family members. Almost simultaneously, another decoupling occurred between employers (work) and employees (income) as lifetime employment no longer existed. Both decouplings created a "direct" connection between governments and citizens. Citizens pay taxes (a duty) and expect much in return (rights).

Tribal life defines the Needs stage of civilizations (eg, food, shelter). The Wants stage - a.k.a. Consumerism - arrived around 1950 (eg, cars). Since (at least) the 21st Century, we are in the Beliefs stage of civilizations and we focus on one or more of the 7 Belief systems: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth (eg, Alt-Left, Alt-Right, Greed, Liberalism, Narcissism, Nationalism, Political Islam, White Supremacy).

What I've called personal liberalism in earlier blogs, might actually be a belief in freedom. This philosophical belief is called Libertarianism and is related to Liberalism (my blogs). Although this belief has some - including extreme - sides (eg, Alt-Left vs Alt-Right), the general notion is that the government does not own its citizens. Hence, their concept of duties is minimal and is maximal towards rights.

This philosophical belief in freedom - a.k.a. Libertarianism - is responsible for a decoupling between duties (work) and rights (income) within society. The 3rd wave of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 may even prove them right. Massive unemployment due to Artificial Intelligent Robotics (my blogs) may well cause a decoupling between duties (no work) and rights (universal basic income). See my various blogs on Universal Basic Income.

The decoupling (i) between family members, (ii) between employer (work) and employee (income), (iii) between society (city, village) and burghers/citizens, and (iv) between government (taxes) and citizens (rights) is either unsustainable or a tipping point towards what life will be like in 2050. My 6 October 2016 blog - A brief narrative of the future - paints a similar, though slightly more gloomy, picture.

Me & Bobby McGee (1969) by Kris Kristofferson - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Ball Is In / Out

Chalk Dust – the Umpire Strikes Back (1982) by The Brat - IMDblyricsvideoWiki

Brexit Talks cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher (a.k.a. KAL) from the Economist

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Trump-Bannon Revolution of disruption, chaos and destruction (2)

The old cunning fox did it again: he suddenly sided with Democrats "Chuck and Nancy" and infuriated his own Republican party. The Democrats think they have scored a major win. The only one who has won is Trump. He once again divided his enemies and will rule for some more time. Trump needs time for (i) creating disruption, chaos and destruction, (ii) erasing the Obama legacy, and (iii) letting the Trump businesses profit from his Presidency.

Trump made a cunning and smart move by favouring a 3 month plan to fund the US government, raising the US debt ceiling, and providing emergency relief to the victims of hurricane Harvey. Trump can play the good cop and Republicans are the bad cop. A 3 month plan is also a guarantee for continuing the Trump-Bannon Revolution of disruption, chaos and destruction. In this chaos, Trump works hard on "delegitimizing Barack Obama" and erasing the Obama legacy.

The Republican party wanted to raise the US debt ceiling for a much longer period and even after the midterm elections of 6 November 2018. Trump is eager in keeping this contentious issue on the table as leverage in his ongoing negotiations. The Democrats would normally have opted for a longer lifting of the debt ceiling but could not resist playing political games with the Republicans. Trump finally drove a wedge between the recent bipartisan efforts in US Congress.

Trump's latest Machiavellian move is probably payback for the bipartisan legislative efforts of Democrats and Republican in restricting Trump's executive power (eg, my blog). Trump cannot afford a bipartisan Congress. He must divide and rule to win time for executing his agenda. As the saying goes: "The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war" (source).

The daily political turmoil in USA hides one successful Trump effort: deregulation. Trump's massive deregulation efforts serve all 3 parts of his agenda: (i) creating disruption, chaos and destruction, (ii) erasing the Obama legacy, and (iii) letting the Trump businesses profit from his Presidency. Most of Trump's deregulation efforts are clouded in secrecy (eg, Barron's, NYT).

This deregulation also affects the Trump Cabinet, as top jobs in Trump’s Administration are mostly vacant (eg, NYT, WP). The NYT blames Trump for being "exceptionally slow in nominating people to serve in leadership positions below the secretary level". However, this conclusion conflicts with a recent NYT / ProPublica investigation on the effectiveness of the Trump deregulation teams (eg, NYT, ProPMPR). It also conflicts with the swift appointments of political aides at every Cabinet agency (eg, WP).

The Democrats and Republicans should realise that they have a common and inside enemy. Until then, Trump will switch political sides whenever convenient to him. The almost 50/50 deadlock allows for this opportunistic approach. The Democrats have handed Trump a further extension of his Presidency and another round of disruption, chaos and destruction. The old cunning fox is far from senile although he prefers his many opponents to believe he is.

Fox the Fox - Precious Little Diamond (1984) - artistslyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Friday, 8 September 2017

Federal Republic of Europe (5)

Yesterday's NYT morning briefing made an astute observation by claiming that "for many in Brussels, the migration issue and others dwarf negotiations with London over Brexit". A related NYT article added: "The European Union has huge issues bearing down: shoring up the euro currency; handling Greek debt; coping with the challenge to democratic values in countries like Poland and Hungary; and terrorism, security, migration and borders."

I think, feel and believe that the EU's challenges with Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are related to Brexit. These countries learned from the UK that pushing the EU will grant them concessions. These countries have also learned that a referendum will spiral out of control. These countries will also understand that playing their citizens and simultaneously playing the EU, requires different messages for different audiences.

The Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian citizens are actually much more powerful than the EU, as they can vote down their government. The EU cannot kick countries - like Hungary, Poland or Slovakia - out of the EU as the "EU bylaws provide no mechanism for expelling a member state" (FP, 2010). The EU may win in court from Hungary and Slovakia but implementing such rulings is something entirely else. The ECJ court ruling will probably change little to nothing.

The EU was successfully held hostage by the UK for several decades, until the Brits gave away their power in the 2016 Brexit referendumMrs May's divide and rule approach did not work so far as the EU-27 keep a close guard. The UK tries raising its negotiation leverage through more contentious issues (eg, Northern Ireland). Ultimately, the UK will succumb as "any (trade) deal is better than no deal". Independent, 2017: "Theresa May's 'no deal is better than a bad deal' Brexit logic could end up destroying the British economy".

I am confident that the governments in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have no appetite in repeating the Brexit disaster. Any exit in Eastern Europe would imply losing very much EU money, and also an uninvited welcome from Russia. These countries prefer to be softly bitten by Brussels than being bitten hard by Moscow. Many of their citizens will still remember the Soviet Union and/or the 2014 Crimea annexation by Russia.

The EU seems to be stuck in between a rock and a hard place. Before Brexit, I would indeed have acknowledged this. Brexit has opened my eyes and those of many other EU citizens: eg, Pew (June), Independent (June)Independent (August). Being inside the EU is a precious right. The absurd U.S. political theater since Trump's election, has only reinforced this belief.

The EU opposition in Eastern Europe (and elsewhere), the Brexit disaster, and the impossibility of expelling EU countries, has led to a new momentum that has not been dared before: a political union. The Brexit disaster has learned that the EU-27 will have little to no choice in accepting or rejecting. Helmut Kohl's - "my girl" - Angela Merkel may complete his legacy.

My Girl (1979) by Madness - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

My girl's mad at me
I didn't wanna see the film tonight
I found it hard to say
She thought I'd had enough of her
Why can't she see
She's lovely to me?
But I like to stay in
And watch t.v. on my own
Every now and then

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The autumn of my years

Next year will be a year of change, lots of change. 2018 will bring me a greenfield situation in which nearly every option becomes a variable. Sometimes this prospect is overwhelming and makes me melancholic for a life with fixed options. It took me some time in realizing that these variable options are mostly sequential rather than happening parallel.

At 57, I am in the autumn of my years which is mostly a relief. I do not wish to be younger and also do not envy younger people. Since this week new neighbours have arrived. Their blissful noises reminded me of 1993, when I arrived in my current home. Life was full of material expectations back then (eg, promotions). Now my expectations are mostly immaterial (eg, learning).

I am looking forward to my early (self) retirement. I still plan to travel to Italy and resume my Italian language courses. I imagine escaping the Dutch winters in the southern parts of Italy. The last couple of years, I have grown accustomed to living a slow life. This is probably the main criterion in my search. It translates by looking for areas close to a forest and water.

In my recent blog on Liberalism, I mentioned that "being free and poor is rather meaningless". This comes close to a part of a Jean-Paul Sartre quote: "[] freedom as the definition of a man [who] does not depend upon others []". I am - and feel - privileged to be able to do the things that I do, like writing these (blog) articles without repeatedly asking for donations.

This blog is part of my legacy. Several years ago, I introduced myself to someone and he suddenly realised that I was the same person as the one he had noticed in some old audit files. Obviously, my jobs are also part of my legacy but it feels as if I was just pushing paper. Writing helps me in various ways - and hopefully others too.

Today is the first time that I realise that each day is a greenfield to me. My scheduled activities are minimal: eating and sleeping. The rest is for reading, thinking and learning, and writing about it. Not being able to write makes me edgy. Writing unwinds me and puts me in a state of trance.  Quite often, my writing drains my (mental) energy; even more than a day at the office.

I am slowly realising that certain things in my life are connected: forest, nature, sea, slow life, and also writing. So far, I saw them as some random and non-intersecting variables, although I admit that my subconscious knew better. I am just no longer interested in "life in the fast lane" (lyricssong, Wiki). I'm only interested in a slow life with all of its consequences.

Recently, someone asked whether I'm working again. I didn't bother answering. I have learned my lesson that having work can be worse than not having work. My usefulness is no longer derived from what role I fulfil at work but from who I am in life. Not working doesn't make you (feel) useless but not living will do that. The danger lies in the belief that working equals living. Now I'm in the autumn of my years, and I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs.

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

Monday, 4 September 2017

The behavioral impact of natural disasters

There’s a lot of speculation whether animals can predict natural disasters (eg, link). The word predict is used in the context of feeling or sensing it before humans do. There’s not a lot of information about the impact of natural disasters on changes in human behaviour. Do humans feel or sense that change is on its way? Books and songs seem to confirm this.

Some 70+ of my 1,000+ blogs deal with Change. Some of these 70+ blogs indicate that I think, feel and believe sense that major - including systemic - change is forthcoming (eg, my recent blog, my 2016 blog). My feeling is based on the aggressive and erratic human behaviour that I notice all around. Changing human behaviour is first an effect of and then a cause for Change.

This subject came up in a conversation about the global unrest and its possible direction. My girlfriend feels that human unrest might be the consequence of unrest in Nature (eg, earthquakes, floodings). The more I think about this correlation, the more I am inclined to accept it.

A 2008 study on “Natural Disasters and the Risk of Violent Civil Conflict” by Philip Nel and Marjolein Righarts of the University of Otago is helpful. The introduction already states that "this question that has received remarkably little attention in the voluminous literature on civil war".

The 2008 study concludes: “We find that natural disasters significantly increase the risk of violent civil conflict both in the short and medium term, specifically in low- and middle-countries that have intermediate to high levels of inequality, mixed political regimes, and sluggish economic growth. Rapid onset disasters related to geology and climate pose the highest overall risk [].” Note: all italic markings by LO.

The casual remark in this 2008 study on climate predates the ferocity of the current climate change debate. The erratic climate change debate is probably a significant indicator that natural disasters do indeed affect human behaviour. This impact follows the familiar DABDA sequence: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and – someday - Acceptance.

Animals lack “the burden of consciousness” and use the default behaviour of (moving) life-forms: the fight or flight response. Although migration patterns of early humans were not obstructed by guarded and impenetrable borders, fighting with indigenous tribes was common. In the absence of flight options, fighting seems the only option left for today's humans.

The global unrest suggests a systemic reordering in the first half of this century, with or without a preceding military conflict. The new 2017 book of US historian Alfred W. McCoy predicts the forthcoming fall of USA as a global SuperPower by 2030, and a systemic reordering. In several of my blogs, I have expressed a similar belief (e.g., my 2016 blog).

I think, feel and believe that the cost of another global SuperPower is prohibitive. Hence, several regional superpowers will arise: the Americas (USA), the Arab world (shia Iran & sunni Turkey), Asia (China or India), Europe (Federal Republic of Europe and perhaps a new Soviet Union). Regional superpowers may bring regional stability. Regional stability may bring global stability.

Human Nature (1983) by Michael Jackson - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2