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Friday, 31 March 2017

The flip side of the 7 Belief systems

Mankind exists for almost 3 million years and has long struggled to survive in Nature. Some 50,000 years ago, mankind “suddenly” developed consciousness for yet unknown reasons. The modern conscious human aligned with animals (eg, dog, horse) in farming and hunting and wiped out much older human versions (eg, Neanderthal).

The exponential growth of modern conscious humans occurred since the start of the Technological Revolution of 1800 - 2100. Before, the human population size was constrained by economic (eg, poverty) and health issues (eg, pandemic diseases).

Improvements in Science & Technology created better healthcare, increased longevity, and an exponential growth of mankind to almost 11 billion by 2100. However, the UN assumptions do not give much confidence in their prediction (see my 25 May 2016 blog).

The forthcoming decades are likely to show a toxic combination of: (1) climate change and human relocation, (2) overpopulation and human relocation, (3) poverty and human relocation, and (4) the availability of weapons of mass destruction. A few days ago, the UN stated that “the possession of nuclear weapons, which are linked with the threat of their use, is fundamentally incompatible with humanity’s common aspirations for peace and security.”

All life forms are in a certain stage of Needs, Wants & Beliefs. The simplest life forms, like plants and trees, are in the Needs stage and just consume what they need (eg, light, water). More complex life forms, like birds and monkeys, use tools to get what they desire (Wants). Conscious modern humans also developed Beliefs, next to their Needs and Wants.

The key criterion in defining a Belief system is the willingness to sacrifice your own life for a belief. This criterion defines the 7 Belief systems, being: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth. However, these same beliefs are also used to kill other humans.

The modern conscious human being does no longer have natural rivals as we build houses for safety and security, and visit doctors and hospitals to cure illnesses. Our only rival is our fellow human being which is probably due to our consciousness and human belief systems. We may have more trust in an animal (e.g., dog) than in another human.

On several occasions, Stephen Hawking has warned mankind that the next 100 years may be decisive in human survival. Science and Technology, in the Knowledge domain of the 7 Belief systems, may be abused by any combination in the Power domain (ie, Money, Politics, Religion). Such abuse may come from terrorists or countries (eg, North Korea).

Our human beliefs brought tremendous progress but extreme human beliefs also pose an existential threat to human survival. Basically, humans are their own worst enemies. This observation doesn't appear to be random. Our human belief systems may also be the "reset button" of Nature.

Where Do We Go From Here / Games People Play (1980) - The Alan Parsons Project


Thursday, 30 March 2017

The fear and love for asking Why

Recently, a former girlfriend informed me that she is in The Netherlands. That news came as a blunt surprise and I asked her: Why did you inform me? I told her I preferred not having this information. Why did I prefer not knowing? I fear that she may still have an impact on me.

So, why did I bother to ask my question?? On the one hand, I feared her answer. Yet my curiosity is nearly always stronger than my fear. I need and want to understand as I believe in understanding, which is essential in my life. Curiosity is either a love for knowledge (positive) or interfering in other people’s affairs (negative).

My love for asking the Why question may even explain why I became an auditor as the Why question is key in that profession. This thought never occurred to me before. However, loving the Why question may result in hating its answer. I still remember asking my former partner several times "But Why??" She struggled to keep the truth from me. Her final answer hurt me too much.

Given the above, the Why question triggers one of two primal emotions: Fear or Love. Also see my 17 May 2016 blog: Human Emotions (2) – a revisit. Yesterday's blog showed that the Why question is either explained by randomness (eg, butterfly effect, chaos theory) or by destination (eg, fate, karma). Both are connected through the fear and love that life has an (unknown) meaning. The usual result is either Atheism (fear, randomness) or Faith (love, destination).

Often we do not want to know the answer to a Why question as we fear its answer. Why did a loved one die at a young age? The answers typically correspond with the former paragraph: randomness versus destination. We may not like both answer and prefer to be angry (eg, Supreme Being). I do not believe that death is like a losing lottery ticket (ie, randomness). Nevertheless, destination is also a tough answer to accept (eg, time is up, purpose ran its course). Still, I prefer the latter because it's easier to accept.

An answer to Why may cause Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and ultimately Acceptance, or DABDA, the 5 stages of processing grief as developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Understanding the meaning of things is key in Acceptance. Attributing randomness to things is casting doubt rather than bringing acceptance.

The Why question is related to the Needs, Wants & Beliefs stages in Life. Human consciousness classifies us in the Beliefs stage and separates us from other living organisms which are either in the Needs (e.g., plants, trees) or in the Wants stage (e.g., birds, monkeys). Humans either believe that we have a purpose (Faith) or believe that everything is random (Atheism).

Human consciousness made us aware of the vast interconnectedness in Universe, Nature and Life. It's extremely unlikely that interconnectedness is random as both are opposites. Hence, the existence of interconnectedness made us believe that this phenomenon must be part of something bigger. The search for the meaning of Life - or Why - is deeply ingrained in humans. 

The Creator has a Master Plan (1995) by Brooklyn Funk Essentials 
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Everything follows Why (5): How vs Why

My 28 March blog revealed a 5th (and final ?) concept which I had unknowingly mentioned several times before: Everything follows Why. Why is one of the most common questions of children but usually not of adults. I remember a Dutch children’s rhyme: Why? That's why! That's why is no reason: when you fall of the stairs then you are quickly downstairs.

On 25 March 2017, I read an interview with American physicist Lawrence Krauss about his new book: The Greatest Story Ever Told (So Far). He claims that the Why question is the wrong question in Science as it suggests a meaning. In Krauss’ view everything in our Universe, Nature and Life is an “insane coincidence”, a “lucky accident”. The only relevant question in his view is How.

The absence of any meaning and presence of total randomness conflicts with my beliefs. I believe in the meaningful interconnectedness in Universe, Nature and Life. Interconnectedness is the very opposite of randomness. Krauss’ explanation that our Universe, Nature and Life are an “insane coincidence” is – frankly speaking - insane to me.

Krauss’ perspective was, however, helpful in understanding my dilemma in writing this blog. Krauss is a distinct atheist. Atheism is the opposite of Faith. Both are rooted in (anti) Religion, one of the 7 Belief systems. Beliefs are the core of our opinions while facts are rooted in Knowledge (see my 31 March 2016 blog). Krauss’ scientific opinion is firmly rooted in his anti-religious belief.

If Atheism, randomness, and How are related then it makes sense that Faith, meaning, and Why are also related. The meaning of events is important to many - if not most - people on this planet. Several "professions" try to make sense of it: astrologists, fortune tellers, Tarot card readers. The meaning of life is also a leading theme in art, books, movies and music.

The meaning of life - and living a meaningful life - is deeply ingrained in human consciousness.
Nevertheless, our human consciousness only started some 50,000 years ago. Scientists are still puzzling about the How and the Why of that “sudden” development in modern humans.

The “Why am I here?” question reflects the existence of human consciousness. The 7 Belief systems (ie, Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) are often helpful in addressing the Why question. However, all 7 provide different answers.

My current answer on the “Why am I here?” question is basic: to help other people. Helping others has always been a driver even when other ambitions were more prominent (eg, career, family, study). For a long while, I focussed on developing my talents. However, talents are only tools to certain means. Such a focus relates to the How rather than the Why question.

More and more, I feel that life is about contributing to Change and that our individual meaning or purpose (ie, Why) varies in Time (when), Space (where), and History (how, what, who). We might be chess pieces on a multidimensional chessboard. Then meaning and randomness converge.

Why (1992) by Annie Lennox - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2



Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Change = When Where What How Who and Why

I have noticed that Change has become more and more important to me. Nevertheless, one of its parameters, Time, is meaningless to me. My personal change reflects ageing, growth and maturity that will hopefully bring Wisdom. There’s also mutual change when 2 people meet and create change together. Mostly, I'm fascinated by the accumulation of individual changes that constitutes Change.

Change can be identified by its main parameters: who, when, where, what and how and its most intriguing one, Why. Time represents When. Space tells us Where an event happened. History reveals What and How events took place and sometimes Who (ie, participants). The Why is either attributed to destination (e.g., fate, karma) or randomness.

Time is our primary measurement of Change (When). Without Time we would not be able to pinpoint important events of Change. The astronomical changes between our planet Earth and our Sun were once used to create time concepts like a year, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds. The 60-base units reveal Sumerian origin (c. 4,000 BC).

Space is our secondary measurement of Change (Where) and usually represents length, width, and height. Every place (e.g., city, village) has a unique position, defined by latitude (north-south) and longitude (east-west) and loxodrome. These are astronomical positions using the sun and stars as reference. Astronomical or celestial navigation was the ancient navigation at sea.

History is our tertiary measurement of Change. History usually only reveals What and How as the detailed account of participants (Who) and the exact time-stamp (When) are often lacking. History is codified in art (e.g., drawings, paintings, sculptures), books, and music (e.g., lyrics).

Ancient human art (e.g., cave drawings) probably reflects their perception on Change: What (i.e., event) and Where (e.g., mountains). Time was irrelevant. Some human cultures still use only 3 labels: Past, Present and Future. The Present is even arbitrary considering its extremely short duration.

Change only creates events (i.e., marker of change) when changes of individuals collide. A solitary person with no interaction does not create events and (s)he does not leave any legacy. Some events are important and will become part of History. Without events there would be no History.

Change feels like a flow to me, like a "river", collisions between two individuals feels like "rivers" entering a "lake" and which start mingling, historic events feel like many rivers entering an "ocean" and creating a "tsunami" of Change.

A collision between humans may bring romance (love), faith (religion), knowledge (science), moral values (philosophy), trade (money), wars (politics), and information (truth). These collisions of individual change ultimately create human beliefs: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, and the Truth (ie, the 7 Belief systems).

This rather unexpected article came in a flow of inspiration and brings personal change, including a 4th concept that “horizontally” aligns to (1) the 7 Belief systems, (2) Needs, Wants & Beliefs, (3) Faith, Beliefs & Willpower, and (4) Change (e.g., Time & Space, History). Suddenly, I see my 5th and perhaps final concept: Why – as Everything follows Why.

Change (1983) by Tears for Fears - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Monday, 27 March 2017

Why is there no European blueprint?

The DNA of any organism contains a kind of blueprint how it will grow and specialise in due time. Technically, "the DNA is not the blueprint of life; rather, it contains many of the basic codes and signals for the development of an organism" (HP). The mere idea is fascinating in itself.

Human beings have more difficulty in organising themselves than our DNA does. Still we do have some principles like: leadership, management, specialisation, span-of-control, and the preferred size of an organisation. When a company grows we create business units, then subsidiaries, divisions, and so on. Nearly all companies have such a top-down approach.

The European Union (EU) is an anomaly as it has a bottom-up approach. Its member states are the shareholders of the supranational EU. This anomaly can also be seen in its management structure: the European Commission is a kind of executive board of directors. However, the real power is with the European Council, which acts like a supervisory board of directors and as shareholders.

The discussions between EU and member states are not much different from discussions between holding companies and BU's, subsidiaries or divisions. Many of these discussions are about accountability and responsibility, budgeting, management fees, and reporting.

Nevertheless, the EU's bottom-up approach is a core issue in the discussions on the national interests of EU member states and the international aspirations of the European Commission. Hence, the EU is often mentioned in discussions on nationalism vs internationalism.

I'm only aware of one company that faced a similar, paralysing, structure for many years: Rabobank, "a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company" (Wiki). In 2015, all 110 Rabobank outlets merged into 1 bank and the head office finally obtained control (eg, NOS).

A similar merger in Europe would either create a Federal Republic of Europe of semi-independent states (similar to Germany and USA) or a European Republic of many provinces. Latter is proposed by the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot. Her proposal assumes a far-reaching European solidarity following a universal European taxation and welfare, despite the huge European differences in cost of living. Clearly, her plan resembles a modern kind of communism.

Following the recent string of GPF articles on Nationalism by George Friedman, I am shifting my beliefs a little. He is focusing on national identity (eg, common language, religion) as the main source for Nationalism, while I was focusing on fear as its main source. My new thinking is that Nationalism is rooted in the fear over losing national identity

This poses a dilemma as there is no European identity. This suggests that the EU cannot even sustain without its national member states. First and foremost, I am Dutch. I'm not European as Europe is just a geographical location rather than a cultural identity. My understanding of English (fluent), German (average), French-Italian-Spanish (basic) does not bring a European identity.

Perhaps the surge in Nationalism is due to the lack of a serious alternative. Recent news points in that direction: "German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a champion of a federalist EU, has set aside his longstanding belief in closer integration and advocated a looser “multi-speed governance” for the bloc as it tries to rediscover its sense of purpose in a 60th anniversary summit." (FT)

Europe - The Final Countdown (1986) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Advice For The Young At Heart



Advice For The Young At Heart (1989) by Tears for Fears


Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work ?
Too many people living in a secret world
While they play mothers and fathers
We play little boys and girls
When we gonna make it work ?
I could be happy
I could be quite naive
It's only me and my shadows
Happy in our make believe
Soon...
And with the hounds at bay
I'll call your bluff
Cos it would be okay
To walk on tiptoes everyday
And when I think of you and all the love that's due
I'll make a promise, I'll make a stand
Cos to these big brown eyes, this comes as no surprise
We've got the whole wide world in our hands
Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work ?
Love is promise
Love is a souvenir
Once given
Never forgotten, never let it disappear
This could be our last chance
When we gonna make it work ?
Working hour is over
And how it makes me weep
Cos someone sent my soul to sleep
And when I think of you and all the love that's due
I'll make a promise, I'll make a stand
Cos to these big brown eyes, this comes as no surprise
We've got the whole wide world in our hands
Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work ?
Working hour is over
We can do anyhting that we want
Anything that we feel like doing
Advice...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Internet of Things

Recently, the natural gas supplier informed me that my gas meter would be replaced by a modern, internet connected, smart meter. That new smart meter would monitor my gas usage (and adjust billings) more frequently. The letter suggested a mandatory replacement.

A Google search and a 21 March 2017 TV program learned that these new smart meters reveal anomalies in usage that were subsequently declined and rejected by the gas supplier. Upon delivery of the meter, the suggestion in the letter appeared to be false and I declined delivery.

The Internet of Things is slowly but gradually taking over our lives and efficiency is its main USP. Some examples of WiFi connected household appliances a.k.a. home automation:
1. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): eg, Google Nest thermostats
2. Lighting control system a.k.a. smart lighting: eg, Philips Hue
3. Appliance control & integration: eg, Netflix, indoor positioning systemssmart refrigerators
4. Safety: leak detection, smoke detectors and CO detectors
5. Security: security alarms sent to various parties (eg, owner, police, security firm).

A few years ago, the cyber hacking of cars was considered big news. Wired, 2015: "Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country." (eg, Wired 2016)

Some day in the near future, the cyber hacking of homes, houses, and office buildings will also be big news. Early March 2017, WikiLeaks revealed that "televisions, smartphones and even anti-virus software are all vulnerable to [] hacking" which "potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide" (eg, WP).

Cyber-attacks on bank accounts, banks, and even central banks are common. Probably the most feared cyber-attack is on electricity plants. It was the central theme of a 2015 book by journalist Ted Koppel: "Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath". 

On 23 December 2015, "the first confirmed hack to take down a power grid" happened in Ukraine. Wired 2016: "The power wasn’t out long in Ukraine: just one to six hours for all the areas hit. But more than two months after the attack, the control centers are still not fully operational, according to a recent US report".

The combination of the Internet of Things and cyber-attacks on electricity plants and/or power grids are frightening as nearly everything depends on electricity. An internet outage may hurt us but an electricity outage is far worse (eg, airco, computers, food, heating, internet, lightning, phones).

The Internet of Things is about efficiency and interconnectedness rather than about safety and security. Ransomware on our homes, houses, offices and plants may bring back awareness. Johan Cruyff, famous Dutch soccer player, once said: “Every disadvantage has its advantage”.

Mr. Robot Soundtrack DDoS Hacking Song - IMDb, USA TV, videoWiki


Friday, 24 March 2017

What will happen when globalisation retreats?

Nationalism is on the rise worldwide. We know Why (ie, Fear) and we know Who (eg, Turkey, Russia, UK, USA, and Philippines). The impact (How, What) of surging Nationalism on globalisation was covered in a recent article in The Economist.

Globalisation is about the free flow of people, goods/services, capital and information (ie, What). To a large extent, these 4 represent the economic input (eg, capital, labour, land, and entrepreneurship / management) and output (eg, goods, information, services) factors. Restricting these free flows (eg, America First) will restrict and hurt economic input & output.

A recent example on the What: "Nissan demands Brexit compensation deal before making UK investment. The plant in Sunderland produces about a third of the UK’s car output and is heavily dependent on exports to the single market". Carlos Ghosn: “If there are tax barriers being established on cars, you have to have a commitment for carmakers who export to Europe that there is some kind of compensation.” (Independent).

A country-first approach only makes sense on a superficial level. It does not take into account that products are assembled by using raw materials, intermediate goods (eg, engines), and auxiliary materials. Each of these production inputs is usually part of an international supply and value chain. Import barriers are likely to cause price inflation which will hurt the final customer, being the voter in elections.

The relationship between low inflation, deflation, supply and value chain, including outsourcing, is a theme in Chris Farrell's book Deflation: What Happens When Prices Fall. "The main drivers of deflation are global competition, outsourcing, and the emergence of our Wal-Mart style economy, all of which provide the competition that drives down the prices of goods and services and increases our standard of living." (source)

The How usually aims at unwanted (i) people and (ii) products/services. Sometimes its focus is on (iii) restricting (outgoing) capital flows a.k.a. capital controls (eg, China). Sometimes its focus is on (iv) restricting information through censorship (eg, China, North Korea). 

Examples of the How are: (1) the British exit from the European single market (Brexit), (2) import barriers such as Trump's 20% border taxTrump's Mexican border wallTrump's travel bans

On the short to medium term, a retreat from globalisation and a surge in Nationalism will cause price inflation (eg, UK) due to (1) a currency depreciation (eg, UK), (2) additional taxation (eg, border tax, import tariffs), and (3) a decrease in competition (eg, less suppliers).

On the long-term, a retreat from globalisation and a surge in Nationalism is likely to boost conflicts between nations due to the individual country-first approach (eg, The Economist). Larger countries will try to expand and dominate smaller countries; sometimes by military force.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (1985) by Tears for Fears

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Trump-Bannon Revolution: Disruption, Chaos & Destruction

Donald Trump promised disruption (eg, "drain the swamp") and delivered chaos (eg, WP). Trump's chaos might be an excellent masquerade for Bannon’s promise to “destroy the state” (e.g., 2013 Daily Beast, 2017 Snopes, my 8 February 2017 blog).

Each action by the Trump Administration seems geared to disruption, chaos, and destruction. Many people still blame this on Trump's ignorance and/or inexperience rather than a deliberate and well-considered course of action.

Some examples: 1) controversial Cabinet appointments who aim to fight their own departments, 2) continuous stream of falsehoods, baseless claims, or alternative facts 3) huge federal budget cuts and a simultaneous increase in military spending, 4) continuous leaks on dubious connections with other nationalist countries (eg, Russia, Turkey). All of this makes you wonder about the Why (e.g., extreme beliefs) and the Who (e.g., domestic or foreign principals). 

As long as you believe that there is no new American Revolution going on, people will continue to respect its governmental institutions (eg, President) even while their President does not (eg, Trump's attacks on judicial system). Once you believe that Trump's actions are illegitimate or unconstitutional then respect and trust are gone and everything changes.

The Trump-Bannon Revolution is taking place in the minds of people rather than on the battlefield. It's a silent revolution that will not be televised (see Gil Scott-Heron song below). I do not believe that Trump and Bannon are ignorant and/or inexperienced. I do believe that both leverage on the closed mindedness, ignorance and stupidity of a large part of the American population. Allegedly, Vladimir Lenin referred to such people as "useful idiots" (Wiki).

The crucial factor in the Trump-Bannon Revolution is Time. They cannot push too hard else Trump will be impeached (eg, CNN, TIME). Similarly, they cannot go too slow else Trump will lose public support. It's a delicate balance of attacks, diversions, and replenishment. Consequently, disruption, chaos and destruction remains on their daily agenda.

Some people will assume that it's about "removing all traces of the Obama Presidency". I believe it's way beyond that. Essentially, it's about "destroying the state", including its checks and balances. Russia and Turkey have shown what will come in place: an autocracy.

The danger for the Trump-Bannon Revolution - and my hope - is in a Sun Tzu quote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971) by Gil Scott-Heron



Gil Scott-Heron's explanation of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (video)



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

African starvation vs Western climate change

Between 5,000 to 11,000 years ago, and for a period of some 6,000 years, the Sahara desert of North Africa consisted of savannas and wooded grasslands, a.k.a. “Green Sahara”. In the middle of that period, some 8,000 years ago, the Sahara climate changed for a period of some 1,000 years and people relocated due to the drought. Sources: Nature, Phys, Science AdvancesUoA.

On 10 March 2017, the United Nations warned that some 20 million people in 4 North African countries are "starving to death" (UN). This area is the eastern part of the ancient Green Sahara which is better known as the Horn of Africa and the birthplace of mankind. Global climate change caused a long period of drought in this area. The UN is begging for money.

Late 2015, the UN (sic !) climate change conference in Paris announced to “extend the current goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in support by 2020 through 2025, with a new, higher goal to be set for the period after 2025” (source).

It's slight maddening to see the UN fighting to raise money for saving the lives of 20 million people due to climate change, while the UN also commits to spending an annual amount of $100 billion for something that (i) may happen and (ii) is largely outside human control.

I'm puzzled why the immediate certainty of death of 20 million (black) people is less important than the possible long-term relocation of (white) people. I'm also flabbergasted why many people are panicking about the impact of climate change and why few people bother about African mass starvation due to climate change.

The Trump Administration is unlikely to offer help as (i) it doesn't believe in climate change, and (ii) plans to cut federal budgets earmarked for foreign aid (State dept) and climate change (EPA). The budget savings will be transferred to the US defense budget. Following that US announcement, China and Russia have also announced defense budget increases.

Military budget allocations offer less relief to mankind than climate change prevention or foreign aid. Every Euro or US$ spent on feeding people shows immediate relief. Money spent on preventing climate change even accelerates a new Ice Age.

Early 2016, Bloomberg published an intriguing article: "The good news on global warming: we've delayed the next Ice Age". Also see my blog of 23 March 2016. A new Ice Age would (i) hurt more than global warming, and (ii) hurt Western economies more than Africa.

The above perspective never occurred to me until I read an interview with Richard Tol, who is a professor in Economics and the Economics of Climate Change and who also worked on the IPCC. My blog of 22 December 2015 provides an English summary of his Dutch interview: +2 degrees? So what??

Once you let this perspective sink in then your beliefs start changing.

I'm Going Slightly Mad (1991) by Queen - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Political Islam in Europe (5) - a Turkish Jihad

On 13 March, the European Commission stated that its 1963 EU Association Agreement with Turkey will de reconsidered if the amendments to the Turkish Constitution will be approved. On 15 March, the German Defense Minister questioned Turkish membership of NATO (eg, GS, TIMES).

On 16 March, the Turkish Foreign Minister claimed that "Holy wars will soon begin in Europe” as "there is no difference between the social democrats and fascist Wilders" (eg, HurriyetIndependent). His words suggest a public call for a Jihad in Europe. If this threat would materialise then the EU and NATO agreements are in serious jeopardy. Turkey can afford losing the EU but cannot afford losing its protective NATO umbrella.

Without its NATO membership, Turkey would be exposed to its 3 arch enemies, being: Iran (east), Russia (north) and Europe (west). Its southern borders are protected by its former territories in the Ottoman Empire and the African and Arab deserts. With or without its NATO umbrella, a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire could happen stealthy and also seemingly voluntarily.

Some of the countries on the North African Mediterranean coast (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) might welcome the expansion of political Islam and thus accept a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, this expansion would not (immediately) threaten its 3 arch enemies. Interestingly, Russian troops were recently deployed in Egypt to support a Libyan general (eg, Guardian).

A Turkish eastbound expansion (i.e., Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria) would be a huge threat to its arch enemy Iran. It's more likely that Russia would support Iran than Turkey. Russia is well aware that the next expansion would be northbound, into the Balkans and possibly even further. The Russo-Turkish wars have been fought for many centuries.

Turkey can only continue its threats to Europe and its Ottoman resurgence as long as it is protected by NATO's article 5. Without NATO protection, Turkey is relatively weak as its military was severely punished for its alleged 2016 coup attempt. This might also explain Turkish flirtation with Russia and its flirts with China.

Turkey needs an enemy to convince its domestic and foreign citizens that its 2017 constitutional referendum should be approved. It's unlikely that Turkish behaviour will become civilised after that approval. A Turkish autocracy is in the making and a dictatorship is likely to follow. The revival of the Ottoman Empire is an obvious next goal.

Russian and Turkish nationalism might indeed collaborate. However, Russia is first and foremost a kleptocracy and it's unlikely that Russian government would want to jeopardise their semi-public accumulation of wealth (e.g., 2017 Navalny report). Iran and Turkey are enemies (1) ever since the 651 AD Arab conquest of Persia and (2) also because of the Shia (Iran) vs Sunni (Turkey) division in Islam religion.

Turkey applies Sun Tzu's advice from The Art of War: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Monday, 20 March 2017

Misperceptions on the 2017 Dutch general election

To a large extent, Dutch and international media are reporting that the Dutch far-right populists lost the 2017 Dutch general election. This view is wrong in several ways. It's important to address these misperceptions in order to understand what is really going on.

First and foremost, Geert Wilders did not lose as he increased his number of parliamentary seats from 15 to 20 (+33%). Even this comparison is arbitrary as it compares with the official outcome of the 2012 election. After 3 defections, the actual number of PVV seats was 12. In practical terms, Geert Wilders increased his seats from 12 to 20 (+67%). Labeling this as a "loss" is ignorant.

Secondly, the PVV is not a far-right party as its political agenda is Nationalist with mostly left-wing promises. Recently, two Dutch newspapers confirmed that Geert Wilders' PVV (1) often voted "left-wing" (NRC), and (2) that the PVV often voted pro-Russia in the European Parliament (Telegraaf). Thirdly, the term populist is utterly misleading as all politicians are populists - by definition.

The alleged loss of Geert Wilders is rooted in Wilders' personal disappointment as he expected (sic !) more than 20 seats. Interestingly, the nationalist media in Russia (RT), Turkey (Hurriyet), and USA (Breitbart, Fox) were also disappointed in Wilders' lack of victory (eg, AD, Independent).

The Turkish reaction even suggests that Turkey deliberately staged the 11 March 2017 diplomatic incident in Rotterdam in order for Geert Wilders to win the 2017 Dutch general election. Such an outcome would have benefitted the President's various claims about Europe (eg, fascist, nazi).

The ginormous loss of Dutch Labour got little attention: from 38 to 9 seats (-76%). This loss was not compensated by other left parties. As of 2017, left-wing parties only represent 37 out of 150 seats (2012: 57). This marks the final turn from Left-Right to Nationalism vs Globalism.

Nationalism in Dutch Parliament should not be underestimated as - apart from Geert Wilders - most small(er) parties are probably Nationalist. The resulting fragile 4-6 party coalition government will represent the leftovers of Internationalism (a.k.a. Globalism). Nationalism is stronger than ever before following the 2017 Dutch general election, although spread over various small(er) political parties with conflicting interests (eg, Islam party DENK vs Freedom Party of Wilders).

Recently, The Economist has featured 2 articles about the retreat of Globalism during a synchronised upswing of the global economy. For the time being, Fear (rooted in Nationalism) has won from Hope (rooted in Internationalism). Internationalism (a.k.a. Globalism) is not convincing in delivering its unique selling proposition (USP's): prosperity, safety and security.

Decades of excesses in Globalism (eg, asset price inflation, corporate bonuses, frauds, Ninja loans, Ponzi-pyramid schemes, management remuneration) resulted in various global crises (from real estate to banking into a global economic recession) and a post-crises lack of accountability and responsibility.

Austerity measures caused additional anger as household incomes declined and cost-of-living increased. The surge in young male labour migrants (rather than actual refugees) claiming European welfare including free housing, was the final push towards widespread anger and protest.

Reclaiming voter confidence will take time. As Dutch politician Johan Thorbecke (1798-1872) once said: "Trust comes on foot but leaves on horseback".

What's Going On (1971) by Marvin Gaye - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Be Good (Lion's Song)


Be Good (Lion's Song)



Be Good (Lion's Song) - 2012 - Gregory Porter - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Be good is her name and I sing
My lion's song and brush my mane

She would if she could
So she pulled my lion's tail and cause me pain
She said lions are made for cages
Just to look at in delight
You dare not let'em walk around
'cause they might just bite

Does she know what she does
When she dances around my cage and says her name

Be good be good

Be good is her name
I trim my lion's claws and I...
And I cut my mane
And I would if I could
But that woman treats me the same

She said lions are made for cages
Just to look at in delight
You dare not let'em walk around
'cause they might just bite

Does she know what she does
When she dances round my cage

Be good is her name
I sing my lion's song
Brush my mane

And she would
If she could
So she pulled my lion's tail
And cause me pain
She said lions are made for cages
Just to look at delight
You dare not let'em walk around
'cause they might just bite

Does she know what she does
When she dances around my cage?

Be good
Is her name
I trim my lion's claw and I...

And I cut my mane

And I would if I could
But beee good

Treats me the same

She said lions are made for cages
Just to look at delight
You dare not let'em walk around
'cause they might just bite

Does she know what she does
When she dances around my cage?

She dances around my cage
Does she knoooow?
Does she knooooooow?
Be good
Be good
Be good
Be good

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The love for solitude and fear of loneliness

My recent blog called “The unbearable heaviness of emptiness” inspired a friend to mention a different though slightly related subject. He said that he carefully avoids crowds while on vacation but dislikes being in the middle of nowhere. I have noticed that other people refer to this as solitary versus social. I doubt that these are true opposites. Most people will have a unique and preferred mix of both. Rarely one of these is 100%.

The love for solitude and fear of loneliness refers to this unique mix of solitary and social. In her book The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron "states that about 20% of the population finds itself exhausted and often overwhelmed by too much social activity and 80% has no such issue. But that 20% still needs a supportive community to interact with but with less face to face time than non-HSPs" (Quora).

I prefer (want, believe) being in the 20% group (love for solitude) but I still need social interaction, probably as I also fear loneliness. The idea of being all alone is not appealing. My preferred mix might be 80-20 or even 90-10. It depends on Time (e.g., season) and Space (e.g., location).

Solitary animals are often predators. That made me wonder about humans. The TV series Dexter (IMDb) would indeed confirm that solitary humans are “predators”. I consider myself as a predator for Knowledge. Some people are clear predators for Power (eg, my 2015 blogTIME). I do like – perhaps even love - Power but mostly in an informal capacity (informal power).

Noticing the terms “solitary confinement” and “mental health issues” pointed me in an unexpected direction. Too much social activity may create mental health issues and thus the love for solitude. Too little social activity causes (proven) mental health problems which may explain our fear of loneliness. Interestingly, a solitary activity like sleeping removes the toxins from our brain and thus improves our mental health (eg, BBC, my 2016 blog).

Young people may not recognise the above. Wherever you go you see young people with earphones, focused on the screens of their smartphones. Technology seems to create a paradigm shift from social activities towards apparent solitary behaviour. The information overload from social media is addictive and tempting. This phenomenon is called FOMO, the fear of missing out.

One group has not yet been mentioned: socialites. Wiki: "A socialite is a person (usually from a privileged, wealthy, or aristocratic background) who has a wide reputation and a high position in upper class society. A socialite spends a significant amount of time attending various fashionable social gatherings".

This blog has summarized several other blogs on 3 of these 4 compartments and puts them in a wider perspective. I've also learned more about myself while writing this blog which is an unexpected treat.

Fear And Love - Big Calm (1998) by Morcheeba - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


1960 What? 1960 Who?


1960 What? 1960 Who?



1960 What? (2010) by Gregory Porter - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning
That ain't right

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning, ya'll
That ain't right

There was a man, voice of the people
Standing on the balcony, of the Loraine Motel
Shots rang out, yes, it was a gun
He was the only one, to fall down, ya'll
That ain't right, then his people screamed

Ain't no need for sunlight! (Ain't no need for sunlight)
Ain't no need for moon light! (Ain't no need for moon light)
Ain't no need for street light (Ain't no need for street light)
It's burning really bright (Real bright)
Some folks say we gonna fight (Gonna fight)
Cos' this here thing just ain't right (Ain't right)

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning, ya'll

Whoooooo

Motor city is burning, ya'll

Great god of mine, the Motor City's burning!

Whoooooo, it's burning

Young man, coming out of a liquor store
With three pieces of black liquorice, in his hand, ya'll
Mister police man thought it was a gun, thought he was the one
Shot him down, ya'll, that ain't right
Then his momma screamed!

Ain't no need for sunlight! (Ain't no need for sunlight)
Ain't no need for moon light! (Ain't no need for moon light)
Ain't no need for street light (Ain't no need for street light)
Cos' it's burning really bright (Real bright)
Some folks say we gonna fight (Gonna fight)
Cos' this here thing just ain't right (Ain't right)

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning
Great god of mine is, great god of mine is burning
Hey, put out the fire, brothers, it's burning

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

Yeah, 1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning, ya'll
That ain't right

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning, ya'll
That ain't right

There was a man, voice of the people
Standing on the balcony, of the Loraine Motel
Shots rang out, yes, it was a gun
He was the only one, to fall down, ya'll
That ain't right, then his people screamed

Ain't no need for sunlight! (Ain't no need for sunlight)
Ain't no need for moon light! (Ain't no need for moon light)
Ain't no need for street light (Ain't no need for street light)
Cos' it's burning really bright (Real bright)
Some folks say we gonna fight (Gonna fight)
Cos' this here thing just ain't right (Ain't right)

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
19, hey, the Motor City is burning
The Motor City is burning
Great god of mine, it is burning
Great god of mine, it is burning
Hey, hey, hey, it's burning
Can't you see that's it's buning, hey, hey

1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?
1960 What? 1960 Who?

That ain't right
That ain't right
That ain't right
That ain't right

Friday, 17 March 2017

Political Islam in Europe (4) - Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire is an area of interest to me as I think, feel and believe that the current Turkish President wants to revive its glorious history. To explain the rise of the Ottoman Empire, it's necessary to address the fall of the Byzantine - or Eastern Roman - Empire. The geographical overlap between both empires is impressive.

The Roman Empire (27 BC-1453 AD) had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa and Asia (picture).

The Western Roman Empire, headed by Rome, began to disintegrate in the early 5th century.

The Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, headed by Constantinople, survived until 1453 AD when it was captured by the Turks. 

The fall of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire probably relates to its weakening following the Black Death pandemic that started in Central Asia and then moved westward into Europe. 

Wiki: "The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–1353. [] The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population. [] The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century."

From a geographical perspective, the Ottoman Empire basically mirrors the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. This overlap suggests a kind of voluntary succession from the Byzantine to the Ottoman Empire.

This Wiki picture excludes Vienna in the north west. The reason is that the Battle of Vienna (1683) was lost by the Turks. 

The current size of Turkey reflects the post-WW1 adjustments following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire, its ally.

The map also shows the arch enemies of Turkey: Iran (east), Russia (north) and Europe (west). Its southern borders are protected by African and Arab deserts. The Ottoman Empire is largely non-EU and non-NATO territory. Turkey can afford to lose its 1963 EU Association Agreement but cannot afford to lose its 1952 NATO membership. That would expose Turkey to all of its arch enemies.

Young Turks (1981) by Rod Stewart - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Trots op Nederland

De astronomische nederlaag van de PvdA heeft me verrast. Niet het feit dat dit verlies niet werd gecompenseerd door andere linkse partijen. Per saldo is er een nadrukkelijke verschuiving in de Nederlandse politiek. Velen denken daarbij nog steeds in termen als Links - Rechts. Ik kies zelf voor de nieuwe tweedeling Nationalisme versus Globalisme / Internationalisme.

Links dient een keuze te maken. De SP kiest duidelijk voor Nationalisme. Waar GL voor staat zal duidelijk moeten worden. De Partij voor de Dieren profileert zich inmiddels als echt groene partij en zet zich nadrukkelijk af tegen Globalisme. Ik vermoed dat GL ook kiest voor Nationalisme.

De PvdA wilde niet kiezen tussen het verdedigen van het regeringsbeleid en haar politieke gedachtengoed. Die tweeslachtigheid in doen en laten is een belangrijke reden voor haar verlies. Het wegpraten van 4,5 jaar regeringsbeleid tijdens de verkiezingen suggereert een gebrek aan oprechtheid. Iedereen ziet dit, behalve de PvdA.

De PvdA heeft nu een unieke kans om zich te profileren als enige “linkse” partij die internationale samenwerking omarmt (pro-EU, pro-globalisme, pro-immigratie, pro-NATO, pro internationale solidariteit). Deze profilering kan zij het best bewerkstelligen binnen Rutte-3. Als beloning behoudt PvdA'er Dijsselbloem zijn zware functie in Nederland en Europa.

Ik acht de kans klein dat dit gaat gebeuren. Niemand in de PvdA neemt vooralsnog enige verantwoordelijkheid voor deze enorme nederlaag. Mogelijk dwingt de ledenraad dit alsnog af. Eigenlijk zou iedereen collectief moeten aftreden. Ahmed Aboutaleb is waarschijnlijk de enige persoon die de partij daarna weer kan opbouwen. Zijn charisma is bovendien partij overschrijdend.

De Nederlandse welvaart is gebouwd op internationale diensten en handel. Helaas is Globalisme echter een scheldwoord geworden waarachter Nationalisme zich verschuilt. Een kabinet van CDA, D66, PvdA en VVD garandeert een internationaal perspectief. Nationalisme is altijd het beginstadium van internationale conflicten (o.a. Amerika, Nazi-Duitsland, Turkije, Rusland).

Ik ben trots op Nederland dat angst en Nationalisme (o.a. PVV, SP) niet het komende Nederlandse regeringsbeleid zal bepalen. Nederland biedt daarmee hoop aan Europa. Internationale samenwerking noodzaakt overleg en oplossingen. Waar gepraat wordt, wordt niet gevochten.

De 2017 verkiezingsuitslag in Nederland markeert de definitieve draai van Links vs Rechts naar Nationalisme vs Globalisme. De welvaartsgroei via Globalisme maakt een onderscheid tussen Links en Rechts enerzijds achterhaald en anderzijds overbodig.

In essentie is Nationalisme vooral tegen allerlei zaken: EU, Globalisme, immigratie, islam, NATO. Hun oplossingen (bijv. grenzen moeten dicht) zijn enerzijds schijnoplossingen en veroorzaken anderzijds ernstige schade aan de economische positie van Nederland. 

Je kunt het leuk vinden of niet maar uiteindelijk draait alles om geld. Zonder geld zou er nauwelijks internationale handel, welvaart en/of welzijn zijn.