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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Netflix gems

Below I have put a list of some openly hidden Netflix gems. Most of them are hardly mentioned in mainstream recommendations.

Australia:

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (8.4 in IMDb, Wiki) is about a female detective operating in Melbourne during the Roaring Twenties. Each episode deals with a part of human history which is refreshing to know about. The female character is strong and the male characters are mostly sidekicks. Unlike its fearful title suggests, most episodes are fun to watch.

Rake (8.7 in IMDb, Wiki) is about a colourful criminal defense lawyer operating in Sydney. This TV series is highly entertaining, partly because of the absurdness of his clients' cases, and partly because of the likeable weirdness of the main character. The use of Australian local politics as a background tool, strengthens the overall story.

Denmark:

Rita (8.2 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about a rebellious divorced high school teacher, who also tries to raise her own children. Rita does whatever she wants, when she wants it, and with whom she wants it. The other teachers are interesting sidekicks and may remind you of your past. Forget about watching the spin-off called Hjørdis (7.3 in IMDb).

Norway:

DAG (8.6 in IMDB, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about a relationship counselor in Oslo. Dag's advice to his clients is unorthodox because he believes in solitude himself - and in Elvis. Dag is like a rock amongst his funny weird sidekicks. However, even rocks have meltdowns.

Lilyhammer (8.0 in IMDbWiki) is about an American mafia member hiding in Norway through an FBI witness protection programme. The show is absolutely hilarious because his American attitude often collides with Norwegian attitudes. The main character is played and co-written by Steven van Zandt, who is also known as the guitarist Little Steven in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. Several cameo appearances, including Bruce Springsteen.

USA:

Grace and Frankie (8.2 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious comedy about life starting at 70. The 1st episode may not feel as comedy given what happens: 2 divorces and a belated coming-out of both husbands. Grace and Frankie is one of the finest American comedies.

Jane the Virgin (7.8 in IMDb, Wiki) is a hilarious telenovela inside another telenovela. The show is partly in Spanish, mostly in English, and guided by a funny narrator. Season 2 was, however, too much for me.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Worldviews or Weltanschauung

In my 10 August blog on Change: cause or effect??, I stumbled on a concept that was largely unfamiliar with me: comprehensive worldviews - or its German equivalent Weltanschauung. Andrea C. Walker of the Oral Roberts University identifies 3 philosophical World Views: Contextualist, Mechanistic, and Organismic. Her descriptions are helpful but tough to read. Hence, I made an explanatory diagram that simplifies each worldview.

The Contextualist worldview implies that "the meaning of any behavioral event is dependent on the context in which it occurs". Hence, the WHY abbreviation in my diagram.

The Mechanistic worldview "involves the fundamental belief that it is possible to tease apart various factors that influence behavioral change". Hence, the famous Who, When, What, Where and How factors in my diagram.

My diagram shows that 2 out of these 3 worldviews take the situation on planet Earth as a foundation or start. This choice feels like the court case against Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) all-over again: the Earth is (not) the center of the Universe.

Ancient Code: "The first person to think of the universe as a great organism was the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, but the idea of the universe as a living organism was largely formulated by Plato, then by the Stoics, Plotinus and Neoplatonism."

The 3rd Organismic worldview requires considerable imagination. Hence, a recent Nautilus article wonders whether a "living creature can be as big as a galaxy" and concludes that "life is constrained to be about the sizes we see on Earth". Its lack of imagination is rooted in the definitions of "life" and "living creature". Hence, its conclusion makes sense.

This view also explains why humans have great difficulty with (not) classifying viruses in Nature's Tree of Life. Today, there is still a scientific debate whether viruses are alive or dead. Scientists still do not know (i) where viruses came from and (ii) how old they are (eg, NatGeoScience AdvancesScience Alert, Scientific American). Viruses might be older than Earth (eg, link).

The ancient Organismic worldview is in line with a modern concept called panpsychism. Wiki: “In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of mind." 

My problem with these concepts is that they tend to be mutually exclusive. The limitation on the imagination in our mind, defines the limitations of our ideas. See some similar quotes.

Eye in the Sky (1982) by Alan Parsons Project - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Self Forgiveness

It’s hard to forgive. Sometimes because we don’t want to forgive. Perhaps because we prefer to hate. Perhaps because there’s just too much to forgive. Sometimes we want to forgive but we just don’t know how to forgive. There are plenty of reasons for not forgiving others. Forgiving ourselves is even harder.

We all make mistakes, big and small. When these mistakes happen to others, we apologise to them provided that we feel accountable and/or responsible. Apologising to ourselves isn’t that common. Over the years, we build guilt and shame for the mistakes that didn’t hurt anybody but ourselves. In the absence of a confessional and absolution, only self-forgiveness remains.

I tend to think, feel and believe that the ability to forgive others is a prerequisite for self-forgiveness. I doubt that sociopaths and psychopaths are an exception as they appear to have no conscience, no regret, no remorse and thus no need for self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness without forgiving others, might work for narcissists.

The absence of self-forgiveness will block self-acceptance and self-love. Self-love has an internal focus and is the opposite of narcissism which has an external focus. Narcissists probably even lack self-love. A lack of self-forgiveness, self-acceptance and self-love has 2 behavioural extremes: a high self-esteem (e.g., arrogance, narcissism) and a low self-esteem (e.g., submissiveness).

Both extremes will look for external love to compensate for a lack of internal or self-love. This external love may be found at work and/or in a relationship. It’s unlikely that this compensation will last long. No volume of external love can compensate for a lack of self-love.

Hence, disappointments will continue to happen as expectations are always too high. These disappointments will reinforce low self-esteem. It’s an ongoing negative loop that feeds and grows our Dark Side until we feel “empty” inside. Its negative loop can only be broken by Forgiveness - to others. The Dark Side probably rejects self-forgiveness. It must shrink first by lack of oxygen (eg, anger, fear, hate).

Forgiveness requires our vulnerability and our remorse over motive, not consequence (quote). This invokes "my" BIG/small concept. I think, feel and believe that a vulnerable - or small - attitude actually amplifies a personality. Maintaining a BIG personality (without showing vulnerability) makes people actually look small as they lose believability and credibility. Deflating your personality requires losing pretences without losing confidence in yourself.

It took me decades to forgive myself, accept myself, and to love myself for WHO I am, not for WHAT I am or once was. I am convinced that forgiving others was a necessary first step. It's primarily a mindset as it relates to the absence of hatred and the shrinking of your Dark Side.

Forgive Yourself (2014) by Inna Modja - artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki

When the blame opens up the window
You can’t keep holding now, it’s got your soul
When you’re facing your darkest shadow
You choose your side in battle
Blow by blow
You can’t fight the feeling
The pain is too deceiving
You just keep believing
That nothing’s really wrong


Monday, 14 August 2017

The Art of War: Barking dogs never bite

Barking Dogs Never Bite is a 2000 South Korean dark comedy-drama film (IMDb, Wiki). "Barking is an alarm sound. There is no threat of aggression signaled by the dog unless it is lower pitched and mixed with growls" (Psychology Today). Hence, its common meaning: (i) noisy threats often do not present real danger, and/or (ii) people who make threats rarely carry them out.

Based on the ancient advice by the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu in his famous book The Art of War, one can only conclude that barking in warfare is uncommon and ill-advised. Some relevant Sun Tzu quotes:
  1. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
  2. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
  3. If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
There has always been "division" between the American "sovereign and subject"; "subject" being the executive branch (eg, President and military) and "sovereign" being the legislative branch (eg, Congress). This explains the ever-changing American approach to North Korea.

"North Korea’s Kim dynasty has mastered the art of brinkmanship for decades: scare the world with missiles and nuclear tests, strike a deal with the West, and then watch the aid money flow in." (BB)

On 21 October 1994, the Agreed Framework was signed between North Korea and the USA (ie, Bill Clinton). Wiki: "The objective of the agreement was the freezing and replacement of North Korea's indigenous nuclear power plant program [] , and the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. Implementation of the agreement was troubled from the start, but its key elements were being implemented until it effectively broke down in 2003."

The Bush team's hawkish stance began to crumble when North Korea carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006. (eg, QuestiaRG)

Bloomberg: "The Obama administration sought to end all that with its policy of "strategic patience" - essentially no longer rewarding North Korea for bad behavior."

The current President, Trump, is skilful in deception and in threats. Threatening the enemy with a pre-emptive strike and/or nuclear retaliation is the exact opposite of deception techniques in warfare. Trump's threats might be intended to deflect and to deceive from other issues (eg, RussiaGate, TrumpGate), and/or to boost his current 33% job approval rating (eg, AP, Laurence Tribe's tweet, PR).

"Sun Tzu constantly warns that we must judge people's intentions by their actions, especially when people communicate their commitment to future actions. [] The problem at the heart of any commitment is our believability." (Source)

Paranoimia (1986) by The Art of Noise - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Into My Arms




Into My Arms (1997) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

But I believe in love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candles burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms


Note: for my birthday girl !

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Earth's magnetic pole reversal

One of the 8 known causes of climate change is the impact of plate tectonics (BGS). Plate tectonics may also control reversals in the earth's magnetic field, according to a 2011 study. A reversal from the magnetic north to south pole is often preceded by many centuries of instability. The reversal itself may, however, happen within a human life time.

"Earth's magnetic field acts like a giant invisible bubble that shields the planet from the dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun in the form of solar winds" (SA). Hence, a weakening may cause increased cancer rates (UC-B) although "fossil records reveal no mass extinctions or increased radiation damage during past reversals" (SA).

A magnetic pole reversal may seriously harm power grids and communications systems. In the past, external magnetic field disturbances have burned out transformers and caused blackouts (UC-B, SA). Wiki: "In 1989, a geomagnetic storm energized ground induced currents that disrupted electric power distribution throughout most of the province of Quebec".

Wikipedia mentions 4 known magnetic field reversals:
The timing of these reversals, and the duration of preceding "instability", raises some questions.

According to a recent August 2017 study of the University of Utah, "Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged from each other around 744,000 years ago" (eg, JT). Behavioral modern human beings "suddenly" arrived around 40,000-50,000 years ago. Simultaneously, the Neanderthal became extinct around 40,000 years ago for unknown reasons. Even the first magnetic field reversal seems to correlate with the history of human evolution.

Since 2014, satellite images by the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed "that Earth's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than previously thought, decreasing in strength about 5 percent a decade rather than 5 percent a century. A weakening magnetic field may indicate an impending reversal, which scientists predict could begin in less than 2,000 years." (SA, 2014-10)

Apart from ESA's satellite observations, we also have dramatically increased nonmelanoma skin cancer incidences, (non-cyber attack related) power grid blackouts, and an increasingly unstable climate that seems drifting southbound, while warming up colder countries and heating up warmer countries. Drifting plate tectonics suggest a climate "shift" rather than a "change".

The forthcoming magnetic pole reversal even correlates with the arrival of Humanoid sapiens.

New Kid in Town (1976) by The Eagles - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 11 August 2017

Is Homo sapiens only one species?

The European Neanderthal became extinct some 40,000 years ago. The Asian Homo floresiensis was still alive some 50,000 years ago. The surge of the behavioral modern homo sapiens around 40,000–50,000 years ago, seems to have wiped out all other human species. Is Homo sapiens the only species left? Actually, this question is much harder than it seems like.

The 1st problem is definition as there is "no true type specimen of Homo sapiens" (Smithsonian). In the absence of a default specimen of Homo sapiens, the 2nd problem is human diversity. This is the reason why race became an issue as people were separated amongst colour. The Out-of-Africa migration theories I and II ended the scientific debate but not the racial debate. 

Diversity once again became a scientific debate following human genetic clustering. Research revealed that DNA diversity outside Africa was much less than within Africa. On the one hand, this supported the Out-of-Africa theory through the serial founder-effect: "the loss of genetic variation that occurs when a new population is established by a very small number of individuals from a larger population" (eg, 2009 study).

On the other hand, this research also revealed the existence in Africa of "14 ancestral population clusters that correlate well with self described ethnicity and shared cultural or linguistic properties" (2010 study). This finding reopened the racial debate on scientific grounds. 

"In the late 1990s Harvard evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin stated that "no justification can be offered for continuing the biological concept of race. [] Genetic data shows that no matter how racial groups are defined, two people from the same racial group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different racial groups. This view has been affirmed by numerous authors and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists since." (Wiki)

The DNA comparisons revealed another issue. Nat Geo: "Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have between 1 to 2 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have none, or very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia."

Other studies revealed that some "populations in East Africa, including Ethiopian highlanders who live near Mota Cave, carried the highest levels of Eurasian ancestry". This back-to-Africa gene flow was revealed in a 4,500-year-old man from Ethiopia (eg, Nature, 2016). The last Ice Age of 25,000 to 13,000 years ago, and the subsequent melting of ice causing the Great flood of 11,000 BC - 4,000 BC, probably drove people back to higher and warmer areas, like Ethiopia.

"Few men are of one plain, decided colour; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary as much, from different situations as changeable silks do from different lights." Quote by Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773)

Human Beings (1998) by Seal - artist, FB, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2