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Monday, 20 November 2017

Rearview mirror

Many - if not most - of us are interested in the past and the present and the causes of events, including their (moral) accountability and/or responsibility. Even the people who are interested in future consequences, often cannot refrain from blaming others. Blaming others, however, seldom contributes to finding solutions. Why are few people interested in tomorrow's solutions?

Thinking about future consequences takes time, which is usually a constraining factor for many. Often it's also necessary to apply assumptions (my blogs) during our thinking. Assumptions are dangerous as they are "the mother of all mistakes" (my 2015 blog). Using the past as an assumption for extrapolating into the future makes sense as often "history repeats itself".

Our vocabulary makes a difference between (historical) factsopinions, and (future) predictions. In general, we do not believe in predictions. More and more, people do no longer believe in facts (eg, history, science). More and more, people only believe in their own opinions.

Hence, opinions are often stronger than facts (my 2016 blog). Essentially, predictions are opinions on future events. Nevertheless, predictions rank lowest in this hierarchy. The only predictions that we like, are horoscopes and weather predictions. We believe that the former is innocent gossip and we can always blame the weatherman.

The belief that our own opinion ranks higher, might be the best explanation for our (ferocious) use of the rearview mirror, like on social media. Internet trolls leverage on this belief by using social media "to provoke, inflame or defame others they rarely know offline or online" (source).

Another explanation for using our rearview mirror rather than looking forward, is our fear of the future. The future is uncertain and open to Change, and we generally dislike both. In this view, people who formulate opinions on the future (ie, predictions) should not be trusted.

Generally, people like to blame others (my 2015 blog) and also like to hold them accountable and responsible. It's hard discussing the accountability and responsibility (my blogs) of future consequences if the future is still open to Change. It's much easier blaming people for events that can no longer be changed as these events are part of history.

The odd thing, however, is that many of us try to control the present. We know that we cannot change - or control - the past. The present is however nothing more than today. Moreover, control is a consequence (output) rather than input. It takes a lot of effort to achieve some control.

Looking in the rearview mirror is a waste of time to me. Being right or wrong may seem important but it doesn't change anything to the future consequences. Blaming someone for being wrong in the past, is a guarantee for blocking a future. Solutions are all that matter.

Perhaps, a rearview mirror is important to those who are not interested in solutions.

Rearviewmirror (1993) by Pearl Jam - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Im Nin'alu


If there be no mercy left in the world,
The doors of heaven will never be barred.
The Creator reigns supreme, and is higher than the angels
All, in His spirit, will rise

By His nearness, His life-giving breath flows through them.
And they glory in His name
From the moment of genesis, 
His creations grow,
Captivating and more beautiful.

The wheel in his circle thunders
Acclaiming His Holy name
Clothed in the glory of His radiance,
The six-winged cherubs surround Him,
Whirling in His honor
And with their free wings sweetly sing,
Together, in unison

Im Nin'alu (1978) by Ofra Haza - artist, lyrics, lyrics-2, lyrics-3video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Notes: The above translation by Keren Barak appears on Ofra Haza's 1984 album Yemenite Songs. In USA, this album was renamed into: 50 Gates of Wisdom (Yemenite Songs). "The Fifty Gates of Wisdom are an essential concept found in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Jewish Qabalah" (source).

Saturday, 18 November 2017

I'll Take Care Of You

I know you've been hurt
By someone else
I can tell by the way
You carry yourself

But if you'll let me
Here's what I'll do
I'll take care of you

I, I loved and lost
The same as you
So you see I know
Just what you've been through

And if you'll let me
Here's what I'll do
I just have got to take care of you

You won't ever have to worry
You don't ever have to cry
I'll be there beside you
To dry your weeping eyes

So darlin' tell me
That you'll be true
'Cause there's no doubt in my mind
I know what I want to do

And just as sure
One and one is two
I just got, I got to take care of you
I just got to take care of you
Take care of you

I'll Take Care Of You (1959) by Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart

Note: originally by Bobby Bland

Friday, 17 November 2017

Mindhunter - a Whydunit

Recently, I read somewhere that Mindhunter is the #1 binge-watch show on Netflix. Frankly, I had ignored Mindhunter as it seemed just another a dime a dozen crime show. Its #1 binge-watch rating made me wonder about my initial assessment: so many people cannot be wrong. This week I watched the first episode. I can tell you this: it's definitely not a dime a dozen crime show.

The setting is in the early 1970's, when I was a teenager myself. The atmosphere feels authentic as attention has been paid to details (eg, goldplated digital Pulsar watch). I still remember those watches as they were quite popular. All cars are American brands as the invasion of Japanese cars had not happened yet. Episode 4 introduces a car that looks Japanese. Actually, it's a Ford Pinto which still ranks as the #1 ugliest car of the world.

The pace of Mindhunter is (very) slow which fits the early 1970s as I recall myself. Nevertheless, the background music already suggests an accelerating society. This mix of fast and slow is seducing and captivating. After only 1 episode, this has become my favourite Netflix show.

The main 2 characters are each other's opposites: old school versus new school. The respect for each other's experience and knowledge makes them become a successful team. Their opposites also emerge from the interviews with prisoners: die-hard, skeptic, bad cop versus a friendly, sensitive, good cop. In episode 3, the former says to the latter that being able to act as a prisoner's friend makes him one of the best cops ever.

Netflix's Mindhunter is about psychology which explains its name. Old school detective work was about "What + Why = Who". In 9 out of 10 situations, the perpetrator could then be caught. The decreasing 1970s crime solve rates showed that the police had a serious problem. Without a "Why", just about anybody could be the perpetrator.

The emergence of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (1972-2014) at the FBI Academy was probably an answer to the increasingly missing "Why" component in crimes. Mindhunter focuses on the early days of the FBI's BSU. Interviewing prisoners for their motives, and collaborating with the academic world, was (very) uncommon. This makes Mindhunter a fascinating watch.

Unlike many other crime shows, the Whodunit plot is almost irrelevant in Mindhunter. Essentially, this Netflix show is a search for the Whydunit, and slowly emerging Whodunits. The focus on the "Why" is required to narrow down the number of possible suspects. Politics soon gets involved as it might be a new way for increasing the crime solve rates.

The 1995 book and 2017 TV-series Mindhunter (8.8 in IMDb) is a freeze-frame on the 1970s, when forensic science was still about fingerprints (USA: 1905 onwards) rather than DNA (1984 onwards).

Freeze-Frame (1982) by The J. Geils Band - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The 4 stages of Life

Following my recent blog on the cycle of happiness and satisfaction, I noticed a 2015 article about Carl Jung's 4 stages of life. I realised that a similar 4 stages of life also transpire from my recent blog. In my 29 October 2016 blog, I had already covered Carl Jung's 3 births of the human spirit. It made sense to me to reconcile these topics. The result is my diagram below.

Compared to my recent blog on the cycle of happiness and satisfaction, I have shifted all 4 quadrants 90 degrees to the left, in order to synchronize with Carl Jung's 4 stages of life. The result below is pretty amazing considering the similarities.

The diagram suggests that Carl Jung's concepts validate my concepts of (i) Needs, Wants & Beliefs and (ii) Awakening. To some extent, the births mirror the Body, Mind & Soul concept. The 4 stages of Life also mirror the 4 seasons of Nature: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

The words spirit and soul have a connection to the ancient Sumerian civilization of 4,000 BC.

Essentially, the spirit or eṭemmu is the earthly component while alive, and ghost after death.

The soul or zaqiqu is the divine component at birth (breath of life) and death (last breath).

Carl Jung's 4 stages of Life and the 3 births of the human spirit both indicate a learning process in which the spirit and soul are shaped by good & bad deeds, words and thoughts during life. Soul and spirit follow separate ways after death. Please see my blog on soul vs spirit for clarification.

We will learn that all our choices (ie, deeds, words and thoughts) have consequences. That is the essence of (good & bad) karma. Both choices and consequences will tell us what is important. We only care about people who - and things that - are important to us.

The above is captured in a quote from the Tao Te Ching by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:
“Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will? Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.”

The Four Seasons / Le quattro stagioni (1725) by Antonio Vivaldi feat. Janine Jansen
video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Project Europe

Last Monday, Project Europe made a major leap forward without too much noise. Of all 28 EU member states, 23 agreed to join a military defence pact, called Pesco (eg, FT, NYT, Quartz). From a European perspective, this move is almost similar to the 1999 introduction of the Euro currency. From a NATO perspective, nothing much has changed. For Russia, a lot has changed. Project Europe is the main reason for Russian interference throughout Europe.

Project Europe started in 1951 when Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands founded the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

In 1957, its purpose was enlarged and its name rebranded in European Economic Community (EEC).

In 1960, 8 other European countries raised a similar group, called the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In 1970 and 1991, 2 other countries joined.

In 1973, the UK and Denmark left EFTA and joined the EEC. In subsequent years, 4 other EFTA members did the same.

In 1993, the EEC changed its name into European Union (EU) through adoption of the Maastricht Treaty. Until 2004, only 3 countries joined the EU: Greece, Spain and Ireland.

Since 2004, the EU has expanded significantly and picked up twelve East European countries: 9 countries in 2004, 2 in 2007 and 1 in 2013. These countries had been in an economic and military vacuum since the fall of the Soviet Union (1922-1991). Economic expansion by the EU is considered a military threat by Russia, which loses buffer states and/or a potential for expansion.

Remarkably, all 12 East European countries have signed Pesco. This probably relates to their fear over Russia and its military expansion (eg, 2008-Abkhazia, 2008-South Ossetia, 2014-Crimea, 2014-Eastern Ukraine). Moreover, continued Russian election interference in Europe, UK, and especially USA, has now created what was once unthinkable: the prospect of a European army

The Russian efforts to weaken Project Europe have become a boomerang that may even threaten the 2018 Russian presidential (re) election (eg, BI, Express, TIMETimes, WP).

Leningrad (1989) by Billy Joel - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Hide in plain sight

"The Cambridge Spy Ring was a ring of spies in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and was active at least into the early 1950s" (Wikipedia). When you think of spies, you think of cloak and dagger. Considering their business of espionage, secrecy is key for spies. Perhaps there is one better option: hiding in plain sight.

The people whom are mentioned in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller share a similarity: they all hide in plain sight. Perhaps this very characteristic makes (some) people doubt the allegations of "conspiracy against the United States" a.k.a. high treason (my 31 October 2017 blog). How can a well-known businessman or politician be a spy or a traitor??

Well, betrayal or spying is usually either about ideology, love, and/or money. Ideology is the preferred motive. Money can always be outbid and turn someone into a double agent. Ideology is a synonym for a belief. Hence, the 7 Belief systems (ie, Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) are also applicable in this area.

It's intriguing why some news articles hardly raise any fuss or noise. Guardian, 4 November 2017: UK's Foreign secretary among three senior past and present Foreign Office ministers targeted by people linked to FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Moscow.

Soon the UK may have its Westminster 5 after having had its Cambridge 5 in the 1950s and 60s. Some of the prominent names in the Vote Leave campaign for Brexit immediately spring to mind, like Boris Johnson the Foreign Office minister. Brexiteer Nigel Farage is also a "person of interest" in the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia (Guardian, 2 June 2017).

Last weekend, Dutch newspaper NRC reported that a Dutch politician knowingly misinformed the families of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. This Dutch politician used a fake Ukrainian witness who corroborated the Russian version of the downing of the airplane with a Buk missile. The Dutch politician offered his apologies in a Tweet and later on Facebook, while claiming to be looking for "the truth" and the perpetrators.

Ironically, China and Russia both use Facebook and Twitter for their political interference while banning them at home (NYT, 8 Nov 2017). This might explain the Russian investments in Facebook and Twitter, as leaked in the Paradise Papers (Guardian, 5 November 2017). 

On 30 October 2017, Guardian and NYT reported that "Russian influence reached 126 million through Facebook alone". This news received much less attention than the initial - Facebook based - assessments of 10 million on 2 October (eg, CNN, Guardian, Reuters).

"That's what a good crime novelist - any good novelist - should do with you: play with your perceptions while showing you everything in plain sight". Quote by Harlan Coben, writer.

Hide in plain sight (2016) by Jim James - artist, Fblyrics, video, Wiki