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Monday, 31 August 2015

Black is Black versus Black is Beautiful

I am angry. Angry about a U.N. comity deciding what is best for the annual Dutch children's party called Sinterklaas - or Santa Claus as the Americans call it. On the evening of 5 December, the Dutch children get presents from parents and siblings. Usually presents accompanied by funny rhymes.

A few weeks prior to 5 December, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain. He is dressed like a bishop and rides on a horse while in The Netherlands. He is accompanied by helpers who climb on the roofs of family homes and deliver the presents through the chimneys. On December 6 he leaves back to Spain where he resides. So far so good. (Wikipedia)

The U.N. comity's problem is however in the use of the colours in this children's party. Sinterklaas is a white guy with a long beard, a red coat and a red miter - like a bishop. The horse is also white and the helpers are black - so called "black Petes". A few Dutch - black -activists have been able to get the U.N. interested in this open display of racism - as they refer to it.

Saint Nicholas - or Sinterklaas or Santa Claus - was the bishop of Myra, a city that now belongs to Turkey. (Wiki) In those day, the Moors lived in Turkey and also in Spain. Wikipedia: "The Moors were Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors were initially of Arab and Berber descent, though the term later covered people of mixed ancestry and Iberian Christian converts to Islam". Hence, it's quite likely that the "black Petes" represent Moors. However, nobody even cares about such "details". Black is black (Wiki).

On Friday 28 August 2015, a U.N. body called on the Netherlands on Friday to revamp its "Black Pete" Christmas tradition, where white performers black up to entertain children, as many saw it as a "vestige of slavery". Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte quickly dismissed the recommendations, saying it was not the government's job to shape folklore. "Guys. Folk traditions, come on. What Christmas songs you should sing, how you celebrate Christmas and Easter – this isn't what politics is about," he told reporters in The Hague. (Reuters

Black Pete, who often appears with bright red lips and a curly black wig, has become a fraught topic in a country which has long regarded itself as progressive and tolerant. Surinamese, Antillean and African minorities perceive the tradition as a legacy of colonial racism. The National Platform on Slavery, a group which campaigns for atonement for the Netherlands' past role in the slave trade, said many black children found the depiction disturbing. Last year, an Amsterdam court ruled that Black Pete was racist, but the decision was overturned by the country's highest administrative court. (Reuters)

Actually, I am wondering: what happened to 'Black Power', Black Pride' and 'Black is Beautiful' ?? Since when is being black equal to being a victim? The Dutch - black - activist may win this battle but will lose the underlying war. Basically, such U.N. statements acknowledge that being black is still equal to being a former slave. 

How can the black community ever develop a sense of pride and dignity when being black - by legal and political definition - means that you are a victim - and never a victor?


Friday, 28 August 2015

Sweet dreams

Last night it happened again. I woke up around 4AM from a bad dream. A really bad dream of which I understood its meaning. I did see 'Luther' earlier that evening. Luther is a thrilling BBC TV series (IMDb), broadcasted on Netflix, about an English copper. I stopped that episode twice as I couldn't stand what I was about to see. I walked away, and returned again to finish watching it.

I cannot recall having had sweet dreams - ever. I have even asked friends to stop wishing me 'sweet dreams' and just wishing me to 'sleep well'. The few people that I have asked this question, they all said that they do not have 'sweet dreams' either. I do not dream often - I think. When I do dream then I usually cannot recall my dream unless they were really bad.

My dreams are usually action, anxiety and/or fear related and they feel like movies to me. I am not starring in my own movies but no one is. They may even carry full (yet unknown) names but no faces, just the outline of a face. A part of my dreams may even be in full colour but usually it is much more like greyish. Sometimes I receive images (e.g., a magazine cover) that look very realistic but which seem non-existent in real life and also meaningless.

Actually, I prefer not to dream at all. It feels to me as if my dreams contain messages which I should understand and to which I should act accordingly. However, the symbolism of my dreams is often far from clear. Sometimes I ask the help from a friend to understand my own dreams. I prefer not to ask as my dreams are private and should remain private. Her explanation to a scary one made sense to me but only increased its already existing dark symbolic meaning.

Last night's dream felt like another serious warning from the dark side. This time I went back to my most happy moment in life where I felt an immense feeling of homecoming. I was walking again in the Indian Ocean with my bare feet in the warm ocean water. The white sand started radiating white light - for my protection. It worked. Nevertheless, I had to repeat this a few times before the warning actually stopped. I was not afraid though. Since watching the 2005 movie Constantine (IMDb), I understand the symbolic meaning of this dream.

Recently, scientists are suggesting that there may be more universes than just our Universe - its concept is called the 'multiverse' (Economist video, my June 11 blog). Think of our Universe as one board of chess. A multiverse is then like a simultaneous chess game. To me it seems possible that our subconscious is connecting to the multiverse while we are dreaming. During our awake time we tend to block all signals that we cannot understand. At night, the blocking is remote. I can live with that but don't always like it.

For science the multiverse is new. For science-fiction it is not. There are quite some movies in which a parallel universe (e.g., InceptionMatrixSliding Doors) or a multiverse (Thor) is the central theme. In fact, science and technology (reality) often follow science-fiction (dreams, fantasy). Leonardo da Vinci is a great example (Wikipedia) but Jules Verne too. In case of inventions (e.g., tools) this makes perfect sense. In case of concepts - like the Multiverse - it is actually quite surprising.

Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream. Khalil Gibran

Sweet dreams (are made of this) - Eurythmics - 1983 (lyrics, Wiki)


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sapiosexual

The term sapiosexual was once thrown at me by a young, well-educated, smart Kenyan woman. Given my ignorance with this word and her rather erratic behaviour, I immediately assumed that this term was an insult. Boy, was I wrong. The term was not even about me but about her!

I still have difficulty remembering this strange word and most of all as it is rarely used. And much to my own - and probably your - surprise, once you know its meaning: A person sexually attracted to intelligence or the human mind (Wikipedia). In my view, the mind is indeed a powerful turn-on - and turn-off. Hence it's the 1st hurdle in the 7 hurdles of establishing a relationship (August 20 blog). 

I have been struggling with the difference in perception between men and women when it comes to either The 7 Stages of Love - For Men (May 13 blog) or the 7 Hurdles (August 20 blog). In general, men fall in love much later than women. Perhaps this term - sapiosexual - is a reason why women are able to think and feel that they are in love with a man - even prior to meeting him. 

The term sapiosexual tends to be used amongst young women which may make perfect sense given increased female/male equality and also given the erosion of social classes in many societies. Men seem to relate less to this term than women. My Google search resulted in some interesting - female - comments and also interesting sites (FacebookEliteDailyYourTango):
  • "All women claim to be sapiosexuals, including myself. What fraction of us can actually be considered as sapiosexual is debatable. [..] Also, every woman has her own standard of 'intelligence'. For some it is low, for others, quite high. So in relative terms, all women can be considered as sapiosexuals." (Quora)
  • "[..] Girls still go for looks but a very healthy percentage of them prefer a man with intellect. [..] Coming to the percentage part, as per my experience with both men and women, around 72% percent women in India are sapiophiles." (Quora)
  • "I find the human body of both sexes very attractive but I will not take any interest, if they do not show any signs of real intelligence. The more intelligent they are, the more attractive they are to me." (Loner Wolf)
Nevertheless, I still struggle with the difference in male/female behaviour when it comes to Love. Knowing this difference, it can - obviously - easily be misused. And that fact may well explain topics like a five-date-rule (DailyMail) and popular movies around that theme: Friends with Benefits (2011) and the funny Think Like A Man (2012). Latter movie is actually based on the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey. This book for women, describes Harvey's concept of what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy and commitment. In my view, at least the movie is a recommended watch for women.

I do realise that my personal struggle is also about the same thing that is keeping relationships between men and women interesting as we are never ever finished understanding each other. Often it's like "the more I know, the less I understand" (Don Henley, lyrics, video, Wiki) or “The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know.” (Albert Einstein)
Intellectual passion drives our sensuality. Gretchen Rubin (an adapted Leonardo da Vinci quote)

Is She Really Going Out With Him ? Joe Jackson, 1978 (lyrics, Wiki)


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

I'm a Believer

Yesterday I was asked to classify - or label - myself as a writer as that would help "selling me" to the public. My answer was that I'm a Believer. I believe in Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth. I call these the 7 Belief systems and I love writing about them. It is also a 1966 song by The Monkees (lyricsvideoWiki).

Like the Who's Pinball Wizard (lyrics, video, Wiki), I shoot each of my daily topics like a pinball against the boundaries of these 7 Belief systems, where they then somewhere find a resting hole. These 7 Belief systems keep me balanced and sane in my opinions. They prevent bias, partiality and prejudice. I'm not making my life any easier by choosing all seven (7) rather than just one (1) like so many people do - and I also did. Yet, I am not many people. I am Me Myself I (lyrics, video, Wiki).

My recent ecology blogs of August 24 and August 25 are a perfect example of this pinball concept. Ecology hits all of the 7 Belief systems. Depending on your personal belief, your opinion will shape along this heptagon. The drawing is made by László Németh (source).

The drawing also shows that everything is connected. Closed minds (1 Belief) reduce the heptagon to a single line but forget that this interconnectedness is still there but just less visible. Open minds try to see whether the heptagon is actually an octagon, nonagon or decagon (Yahoo) - or the Circle of Life itself (link 1, link 2)

My writing has become the most fulfilling job in years. It allows me to Give You The Best That I've Got - Anita Baker (lyrics, video, Wiki). As David Gilmour of Pink Floyd said at the 2015 release of their superb The Endless River album: "I suspect this is it". (album excerptRS article, interview)

On the other hand, there is still an ambition to write a book about Religion and Science. I am shaping that book in my head and through this blog. It will be about how both interact rather than oppose. The drifting apart of Religion and Science is probably my deepest concern in life.

I am still that "naive" that I think and feel that I can make a difference. To people. To opinions. To ignorance. I am creating and building my legacy though I'm still unaware where it may lead.

I feel privileged to be able to do what I do. Nowadays I call this period my long overdue sabbatical. I never had a clue that I had a talent for writing. Yet all of these thoughts and ideas have been circling in my mind for many, many years but never found a way out. I assumed that no one would be interested - in reason. Today I have 263 published blogs and 13,620 page views.

I sit here by myself. And you know I love it. You know I don't want someone. To come pay a visit.
I wanna be by myself. I came in this world alone. Me myself I. Joan Armatrading

I'm a Believer - The Monkees - 1966


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Ecology part II - Ants and Grass hoppers

Last night I heard the Dutch song again whose lyrics say “Vraag niet naar de weg, want iedereen is de weg kwijt”. It's a 1985 song by Fank Boeijen called Kronenburg Park. These lyrics would translate something like “Don't ask for directions because everybody has lost track”. (lyrics, video, Wiki)

This beautifully crafted song line carries a lot of truth. Many of us will not even realise that we have lost track until a life altering moment hits us in the face. It's not easy changing a Belief system though. The Love for Money (IMDb-Jerry Maguire) doesn't automatically change into the Pursuit of Happiness (IMDb). At first we experience the Unbearable Lightness of Being (IMDb). If we survive this then we move forward towards Eat Pray Love (IMDb).

Of all the 7 Belief systems, only Love is in need of Love today (lyrics, 2001 video, Wikipedia). Somebody asked me yesterday “Where did Love go?” Actually, it's a difficult question.

At an individual level, we still experience love. On a larger scale, Love has been eroded by the erosion of our family ties. Work and income are no longer close to our (family) roots. Families drift apart - all over the world. Everyone is now on his/her own. In the absence of family, work and income now prevail over anything else. Nowadays, we prefer to give our family members financial support rather than emotional support.

The dismantling of community structures will further continue in decades to come. Ivo Daalder in the FT of 26 May 2015: "For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas. By 2050, 6.5 billion people, two-thirds of all humanity, will live and work in cities. In 1950 fewer than one billion did so." Also see my May 28 blog on global city-states. There may be little choice given the expected further increase in the mismatch between jobs and people (e.g., robotics).

It's hard to see how and why the impact of this further dismantling of community structures would not have a disastrous impact on human behaviour and human well being. Egocentrism and survival of the fittest are likely to become of paramount importance.

Is there a solution? Only when we are willing to accept a massive loss of prosperity.

In essence, such a solution would require us to be living in small to medium sized, self sustainable, rural, farming like societies without debt and perhaps even money. They would consume what they produce and vice versa. Let me call this the ant colony concept.

Reality is that we are heading for a society based on an enormous concentration of individuals in a “few” extremely large city-states. Increased prosperity is based on an accelerated depletion of natural resources and an enormous amount of waste in the immediate vicinity. It's quite likely that they will need to swarm out, find and conquer other planets to keep up with that lifestyle. Let me call this the grasshopper concept.

The choice is ours: either we live like ant colonies on Earth or like the grasshoppers of our Universe. 

Love's in need of Love today - Stevie Wonder (2001)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)

Further to today's blog - Après nous le déluge! - I would like to also share this great Marvin Gaye song from his 1971 (!!) ecological album What's Going On. Nothing has changed much since.


"Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" - Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (1971)


Woo ah, mercy mercy me
Ah things ain't what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east
Woo mercy, mercy me, mercy father
Ah things ain't what they used to be, no no
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas, fish full of mercury
Ah oh mercy, mercy me
Ah things ain't what they used to be, no no
Radiation under ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh mercy, mercy me
Ah things ain't what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land
How much more abuse from man can she stand?
Oh, na na...
My sweet Lord... No
My Lord... My sweet Lord


Love's In Need Of Love Today

Today's blog - Après nous le déluge! - made me remind one of the greatest songs ever. This song is even more true nowadays.

"Love's In Need Of Love Today" - Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life (1976) 

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to every-body
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

The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy ev-er-y-body
We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and peace you treasure
Then you'll hear me when I say

Oh that
Love's in need of love today
love's in need of love today
Don't delay
don't delay
Send yours in right away
right a-way
Hate's goin' round
hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
break-ing hearts
Stop it please
stop it please
Before it's gone too far
gone too far

People you know that
Love's in need of love today
love's in need of love today
Don't delay
don't de-lay

Send yours in right away
right a-way
You know that hate's
hate's
Hate's goin' round
goin' round
Breaking many hearts
break-ing hearts
Stop stop it please
Before it's gone too far
gone too far

It's up to you cause
Love's in need of love today
love's in need of love today
Don't delay
don't de-lay
Send yours in right away
right a-way
You know that hate's
hate's
Hate's goin' round
goin' round
Breaking-hate's tried to break my heart many times
break-ing hearts
Don't-you've got to stop it please
stop it please
Before before before
gone too far

Love's in need of love love today
love's in need of love today
Don't delay
don't de-lay
Send yours in right away
right a-way
You know that hate's going around
hate's goin'
Hate's going around hate's going around
round break-
And it tried to break up many hearts
ing hearts Stop
You've got to I've got to They've got to
it please
We've got to They've got to We've got to
gone
Stop it before it's gone too far
too far
Love's love's in need of love
love's in need of love
Did you ever think that love would be in need of love today
to-day don't
Don't delay
de-lay
Send yours right away
right a-way

Hate's hate's
hate's goin' round
Bring it down a little love is very peaceful
So bring it down a little
stop it please
gone too far
love's in need
of love today
don't delay
right away awaaaay
love's in need
of love today
don't delay
right away awaaaay
hate's goin round
breaking hearts
Well, please stop it
Um L-O-V-E love Oh, L-O-V-E lo---------ve
love's in need
of love today
don't delay
right away
Just give the world LOVE.
1976 original:

2001 remake:

Après nous le déluge!

I have started reading the ecological foot print of Pope Francis, Laudato si'. It is a huge document and it may take me a while. I recommend reading - at least - the summary of this document, as published by NYT. Since reading it, the sole thought that popped up in my mind, is the title of this blog: Après nous le déluge! The expression means, "I don't care what happens after I'm gone, I don't care even if the whole world is destroyed. (Wikipedia)

Laudato si' blames consumerism, free markets and our throwaway culture (including the poor, the elderly and the unborn). This also explains the negative response from various politicians as Religion is clearly interfering into the traditional domain of Politics. Unfortunately, the "blame game" is seldom useful for finding solutions. However, it's hard to see where solutions should come from.

Science and Technology are seen by some as the solutions to all of our problems. They disregard that both are also part of the root cause of old and new problems. Science and Technology are now at the frontier of killer robots and designer babies

Politics has rarely been able to come up with solutions and has become a disappointment to many. As Grouch Marx once said: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” 

Religion should offer consoling but is more and more the cause of hurt and grief. For me, it has become difficult to respect and trust "my" Roman Catholic Church after all its scandals. For Muslims, it must be very hard to understand why other Muslims are able to use fear, murder and destruction and still claiming to be true believers. Yet in their core, both Christianity and Islam are about Love. Love for God and others (nature, including humans).

Money can't buy me Love (Beatles) and is often seen as the root of all evil (Bible). Money is also highly addictive: Dirty Sexy Money (IMDb). Nevertheless, Money is merely a transparent measure of (in)equality rather than anything else.

Probably the solution is somewhere in (a combination of) the 3 other Belief systems, being: Love, Philosophy and the Truth. Accepting that solution may require a miracle - or a disaster. Or both.

I am convinced that many share the above but feel powerless to make a difference. Hence, we look the other way and silently think: Après nous le déluge.

On an individual level, we do have an option: Pay It Forward (IMDb). This movie is about a plan - "Pay It Forward" - which means that the recipient of a favour does a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back. However, it needs to be a major favour that the receiver cannot complete themselves (Wikipedia). There actually may be some Truth in this Philosophy. Love for God and others (nature, including humans) is indeed the key to our survival.

"Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop. This necessarily entails reflection and debate about the conditions required for the life and survival of society, and the honesty needed to question certain models of development, production and consumption. It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interrelated, so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand. A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings. It follows that the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality."
Pope Francis, Laudato si', #138.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Guilt

Life’s been good to me. It's a great song by Joe Walsh from his 1978 “But Seriously, Folks” album (lyrics, video, wiki). I say that as I do not carry the burden of guilt. I have been soul searching for some time now but it seems that I'm free of that burden. Recently, two women confessed to me that they carry a lot of guilt. One of them asked me to write this blog.

I doubt that guilt has ever been the main topic of my blogs as I don't relate to it. I tend to write about topics that are in my heart and soul. Guilt has definitely been a side topic in my blogs as it is the consequence of our actions – or the lack thereof.

Let me start with a major difference: guilt can either be genuine OR can be projected by others onto you and just feel genuine as its message has been repeated that often that we actually start believing it. In Dutch, we have an interesting saying: "de schuld hebben of de schuld krijgen".

Unfortunately, the English translation of “schuld krijgen” isn’t really helpful (“blame”). A more relevant translation – in the context of this blog - would be: guilty (“schuld hebben”) and be held guilty (“schuld krijgen”).

One of the women I referred to above, feels guilty for what she did to me. She can't forget what she did and has difficulty to live with that guilt. Unfortunately, I have no clue how this – guilt - feels. Hence, I can't explain its magnitude in this blog. I told her that I have forgiven her. She knows but she can't forgive herself. In my view, forgiving yourself is an element of accepting and loving yourself. And I do know how hard that is! I'm convinced that loving yourself / accepting yourself is the most difficult goal in life. Yet, happiness is the reward.

The other woman feels responsible for neglecting her children on crucial moments in their lives. In her absence, bad things happened. She assumes that her presence would have made a difference. In itself that assumption is true. However, it is only a timing difference. The bad things would have happened anyway but either earlier or later. Obviously, it doesn't help that the perpetrator is (still) in deep denial. As always the perpetrator projects the guilt inside onto others. And the power of any message lies in repeating it. Disbelief ultimately becomes belief.

I was asked by one of these two women whether I feel guilt about my divorce or its consequences. My answer is no. None whatsoever. I have considered my divorce for 10 years. Some day I realised that this marriage was destroying me inside. Eating me alive. My divorce was a matter of self preservation as I was dying inside. The aftermath was long and hard (an understatement) but I survived and it was all worth it. I feel no guilt as there was no guilt.

To the woman who still feels guilty towards me, I can only repeat over and over again that I have forgiven her. She will never be able to forget what she did to me (and neither can – or will - I) and that fact should hopefully prevent repetition towards other men. Yet, I urge you to please forgive yourself by accepting and loving who you really are.

The other woman should realise that the perpetrator is (still) sick and that her absence or presence only resulted in a timing difference. The act itself could not be avoided. Projecting guilt towards others for this, is “sick” and is also resulting from this “sickness”.

Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through. I can't complain but sometimes I still do. Life's been good to me so far. Joe Walsh

Friday, 21 August 2015

The AND / OR dilemma

Remember the Queen song “I want it all”?? See lyrics, video, wiki. Few of us actually relate to this desire. We seem to be programmed to make choices in life. Usually we go for the OR rather than the AND. In fact, it takes some time to even see that there is an AND. When we have little time to contemplate, we just go for the OR.

It took me time and effort to amend my default OR setting. I can't really say that I have managed a default AND setting yet as I do notice regular fallbacks. Nevertheless, I'm more and more aware of this setting in myself - and in others. My increased awareness will help me in steadying my new default setting.

I think and feel that it is the parents who teach their children that they can't have it all and that they must make a choice (e.g., food, drinks, toys). And to be fair and honest, there's a lot of truth in those two statements. The downside is that we are programming our children to think digital (“OR”) rather than creating solutions (“AND”).

It's also tempting to argue that the OR’s in Life must imply a missed opportunity. I’m a firm believer of using the talents that were granted to us by birth. The AND’s in Life could easily undermine that use. However, lately I think and feel that I have confused the maximising and the optimising of talents. Why would someone only have 1 set of talents?? Ironically, even my confusion was related to the AND / OR dilemma........

Moreover, talents used to be the name for money in the Bible. Like dollars and/or euros. Money can be invested by either putting everything at risk for one opportunity OR by spreading over several opportunities to minimise total risk. I haven't seen the AND yet in this case. The analogy with personal talents escaped me for long. I maximised rather than optimised.

Maximising my business (finance) talents made sense to me as the rewards were (very) high. My years of abundance have lasted very, very long. Nevertheless, my subconscious has always known that the famous 7 years of abundance are likely to be followed by the notorious 7 years of mischief. My personal (finance) talents are making me survive these 7 years of scarcity.

Putting all my talents in one opportunity was rather confronting once the music stopped playing (also see my March 13 blog called "When the music stops playing"). It felt to me like taking away a child’s only toy. You keep on looking for that toy until you realise it's really gone. Then the blaming starts. Finding a new toy takes patience and inner peace. And – previously unrecognised - talent.

In essence, I went from maximising my business talents to maximising my new personal (i.e., writing) talents. I was reluctant to find a creative solution for combining both talents. Since several months I'm actively looking for an opportunity that allows me to combine (“AND”) my talents. This is new to me and also distinct progress.

As Freddie Mercury would say: I WANT IT ALL.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

The 7 Hurdles

I just heard someone’s voice for the very first time in my life, after having had a good conversation earlier today. We have also just connected in social media. I just wrote to her that the second hurdle has been taken. That remark to her made we wonder about the stages in a relationship. At least from my perspective. My male perspective may however be quite interesting to women.

For me communication is essential. If there is nothing to say to each other then why even bother continuing with that person?? If that person has nothing to say to you now then why would it be different in a week, month, or year?? Let alone a marriage of 40 years. In my view, communication is the 1st hurdle in any relationship.

The 2nd hurdle is a "2D" physical attraction which is usually only based on pictures or a Skype call. Obviously, these pictures represent a favourable selection and may therefore not give a complete image of that person. Only one unfavourable picture may even be adequate to become a showstopper (e.g., alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, nose ring, tattoos).

Once the second hurdle has been passed then hurdle #3 - the voice - gets important. A voice can be a major turn on or a turn off. I have encountered both situations. I still recall hearing the voice of a certain woman for the first time and getting totally intoxicated and overwhelmed by it. Yet, she used two types of voices for two kinds of situations: ice cold and sizzling hot. Impossible to deal with.

The 4th hurdle is meeting each other. Either it confirms our assumptions, beliefs, and emotions, or it becomes a deception as that person’s "3D" behaviour does not match our expectations. The differences that we perceive between images and reality may be subtle or even gross, depending on the honesty in self representation by that person.

If a meeting does not create a longing for touching and kissing then something is fundamentally wrong and the 5th hurdle becomes an exit. In such a case, there's no physical chemistry. The bonding hormone – oxytocin – does not activate an advancement to the next – sixth – hurdle. In fact, this exit is like a “better safe than sorry” as a new relationship should not be like brother & sister.

Unfortunately, sexual intimacy tends to come in quite late into new relationships. It is however far from sure that this 6th hurdle can be taken successfully. Sometimes there's an immediate match, sometimes there is a potential but it clearly needs further effort, and sometimes there is just no match. Latter is quite painful as both persons had already completed five earlier hurdles and their mutual expectations and emotional investment had been mounting.

The 7th hurdle is the most important one of all: making it work on a daily basis. Seeing a person 24/7 rather than some stolen hours takes mutual adjustment. I think and feel that it is much easier to accept someone’s flaws at a young(er) age. I notice that people of my age (55) are not willing to make much compromises when it comes to a new partner. Obviously, the (non) existence of Love makes a huge difference in accepting compromises and flaws.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Ann Landers, American journalist, 1918-2002

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Feeling exposed

Recently I felt nervous as I was about to meet someone whom I hadn't seen for a year. The last time we had seen each other before, was when she had collected her stuff from my house. That day had been stressful. The recent meeting went bad. Also see my August 10 blog. Afterwards, I wondered where my nervousness or anxiety had come from. Intuition? Subconscious? Conscious?

Nervousness, stress, anxiety — the feelings all seem to arise together in some fashion. And it’s no accident. Thousands of years ago, when food was consumed after having just killed it, a fight or flight response was boilerplate to humans’ survival. Over time, we phased ourselves out of the food web, but the hardwired response stayed. Now, when we have a big first date or a speech to give, our brains foolishly think our lives are in real danger. (MedicalDaily)

Despite popular belief, nervous sensations are actually quite useful. They date back thousands of years ago to a time when most of what humans didn't know, didn't understand or couldn't predict could literally get them killed. If early humans were fearless enough to walk onto an unfamiliar grassy prairie, for instance, they ended up becoming dinner for a wild animal that was lurking in that grass. If they were fearless enough to eat a lot of an unfamiliar food, they poisoned themselves or got sick. (HuffPost)

So humans and other animals developed a built-in fear of the unknown. In a dangerous, uncertain world, it was quite helpful for early humans to be able to react to danger quickly and effectively. This fear response was wired into the nervous system. It is designed to give you a great deal of strength, smarts, and speed when you are under attack. When early humans were confronted by dangerous wild animals, for instance, their fear response helped them to run and hide. It also helped them to find the strength needed to club an animal over the head. (HuffPost)

Hence, evolutionary scientists claim that it is a left over from our distant past and that is doesn't serve a purpose anymore. Yet, scientists that study human behaviour still think it has a purpose. I agree with latter view. I feel that being nervous still has an important purpose unless it turns into fear.

After some soul searching, I conclude that the feeling of nervousness, stress or anxiety is related to a feeling of 'exposing' ourselves (e.g., an audience, a date, an embarrassment, a situation). The level of exposing only went from physical to social. Nevertheless, exposing yourself may still bring hurt and pain onto yourself. In that context nothing has changed compared to thousands of years ago.

Exposing ourselves makes us vulnerable and may bring us hurt and pain - or joy. To cope with the related nervousness / anxiety / stress, we have been given some great evolutionary tools: increased energy and strength, sharper vision and hearing, more endurance, and less pain. These tolls stem from our brain that turns on our sympathetic nervous system. This triggers the release of (anti) stress hormones such as adrenaline and norepinephrine. (HuffPost)

Nearly each day I'm exposing myself in this blog (e.g., beliefs, emotions, opinions, views). Rarely I'm nervous before, during or after writing. But perhaps I'm lying to myself.

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” Mark Twain

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A political, religious & scientific consensus on climate change. What's next??

Today leading Muslim scholars, academics and faith groups will publish a declaration in Istanbul explaining why 1.6 billion Muslims around the world have a religious duty to help tackle global climate changes (Politico). Roman Catholic Pope Francis released his ecological footprint, Laudato si’, on 24 May 2015. On June 8, the G7 announced their efforts to reduce the impact of climate change. It's quite remarkable to see consensus between Politics, Religion and Science.

Most of the 8 scientific reasons for climate change are well beyond human control, being: (1) strength of the sun, (2) changes in the Earth's orbit, (3) changes in the orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation, (4) quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, (5) carbon dioxide content of the oceans, (6) plate tectonics, (7) ocean currents and (8) vegetation coverage on the land. Also see my May 9 blog on Climate change - trust but verify. Nowadays, there is however little doubt that greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming (see this great Bloomberg infographic).

The main difference that we perceive is the pace of global warming. Yet that number is based upon an interval of 135 years while the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. From a statistical point this sample might be meaningless. Moreover, Earth’s ecological system has always been able to counter some threats. Also see the 'climate hiatus' article in Science magazine of 14 August 2015.

Scientists have determined that we are currently in an interglacial period of (at least) the 5th Ice Age, called the Holocene. The next glacial period is expected in some 80,000 years from now. Previous interglacial periods have caused the same phenomena as we see now, like melting polar caps. One could even argue that there is no (new) climate change as climates have always changed and will always change. Also see my June 22 blog on Ice Ages and the development of (human) life.

Evolutionary scientists have linked the rise and fall of previous Homo versions to (inter)glacial periods of the current Ice Age. Based on this link, I'm skeptic that Homo Sapiens (i.e., us) will survive the next glacial period of this Ice Age. Also see my July 8 blog on Transhumanism and Evolution and my June 22 blog on Ice Ages and the development of (human) life.

The current migration from Africa to Europe is even ironic in a certain way as Europe is quite unlikely to survive a new glacial period. It's quite likely that the successor of Homo Sapiens will once again originate in Africa and swarm out to other parts of the Earth when the new interglacial period will be announcing itself. Also see my April 26 blog called Out of Africa.

Remarkably, our human future has always been in Africa, near the equator. Human investments near the equator (e.g., knowledge) may be very helpful to give the next Homo species a head-start. On the other hand, it might also delay / postpone the development of such species as Homo Sapiens is likely to fight any competition. Also see my August 13 blog called Who's afraid of whom?

The forthcoming glacial period of the current 5th Ice Age cannot be avoided by human action. Yet perhaps Homo Sapiens may one day have the power (i.e., knowledge, money, tools) to delay this glacial period. Moreover, the current accelerated pace of global warming may even be in our best interest as it might even be delaying the next glacial period. However, it may also accelerate the next glacial period. Nobody seems to know (see NYT article). 

Nevertheless, it is the only relevant question, from whatever angle you look at it: is 'global warming' accelerating OR delaying the forthcoming glacial period of the current 5th Ice Age?? The answer to that question should really determine our course of action. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Apologies and the 7 reasons for non-apologists

Apologising is hard, also for me. I really don't like it when I'm wrong. It is even worse to admit that I was wrong. Not in the office anymore since a brutal lesson from one of the senior audit partners. I still pity my colleagues in the adjacent rooms when David shouted at me. David said that I was my own worst enemy and he was absolutely right. It was one of my most valuable lessons ever. Admitting your mistakes is a sign of strength, not of weakness. Beating around the bush - which I then did - is a sign of weakness. I will never ever forget David's lesson. I took it to heart.

In private life, it's much more difficult to admit that you were wrong as it usually affects the delicate balance of powers in a relationship - or so we think. Each relationship (e.g., husband/wife, parent/child) is like a pair of scales (NL: weegschaal). Admitting mistakes puts weight to one's scale and the other scale lifts up - or benefits. Yet this is our perception, it's not the view of the one who is hearing - or expecting to hear - the apology.

Considering the above, some people may never apologise. In my blog of August 15, I mentioned an PsychologyToday article stating 5 reasons why some people will never apologise. Remarkably, my reason above is not even (explicitly) mentioned in these 5 while I think it is a very common reason.

For non-apologists, saying "I’m sorry" carries psychological ramifications that run far deeper than the words themselves imply; it elicits fundamental fears (either conscious or unconscious) they desperately want to avoid:
1. Admissions of wrong doing are incredibly threatening for non-apologists because they have trouble separating their actions from their character.
2. Apologising might open the door to guilt for most of us, but for non-apologists, it can open the door instead to shame.
3. While most of us consider apologies as opportunities to resolve interpersonal conflict, non-apologists may fear their apology will only open the floodgates to further accusations and conflict.
4. Non-apologists fear that by apologising, they would assume full responsibility and relieve the other party of any culpability.
5. By refusing to apologise, non-apologists are trying to manage their emotions. They are often comfortable with anger, irritability, and emotional distance, and experience emotional closeness and vulnerability to be extremely threatening.
and I use this opportunity to add two of own reasons:
6. Apologies seemingly affect the interpersonal and delicate balance of powers in relationships of various kind (e.g., husband/wife, parent/child).
7. Postponement of apologies easily leads to further delay. Delay becomes avoidance as apologies appear to be no longer relevant given time elapsed. (NL: "mosterd na de maaltijd", "oude koeien uit sloot halen", "van uitstel komt afstel").  

All of the above does not imply that the other person has forgotten that the apology is overdue. Yet apologising is not about forgetting but about forgiving. Like in Don Henley's Heart of the Matter:

"But I think it's about forgiveness, 
Forgiveness, 
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore".

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Choices

Once in a while I get moody and reflect on the choices that I've made in life. And I ask myself if my main life's choices are still valid. I call that a "hiding in my shell" moment (see my June 2 blog). This brief period may also involve sadness in case of lack of progress on my goals. Sadness over expectations (see my August 14 blog) is typically more intense and may involve a much longer period (e.g., depression). My "period" may take a few days and then it's gone again. In some ways, this "period" may remind of something entirely else.

According to women's magazine Cosmopolitan, it may be the male version of PMS and called IMS - or "Irritable Male Syndrome. "This can be attributed to men experiencing a drop in testosterone, the hormone that gives them their mojo. Their IMS can happen at anytime, as testosterone levels fluctuate during the day, but they tend to be highest during the morning and drop as the day goes on."

Perhaps it's IMS that I'm experiencing. Perhaps not. Fact is that I re-evaluate things during that period. Usually the outcome is that I stick to my choices. Sometimes there is temptation to run away from some of them and to make some dramatic and/or drastic changes. However, when I outweigh the pros and cons of such changes, my status quo becomes less gloomy.

I don't mind changing my status quo but I am not looking forward to it. I am not a stranger when it comes to the Fear of Change (see my February 23 blog). And I am certainly not using rose-coloured glasses (NL: roze bril) when looking at my pros and cons. The pros need to clearly outweigh the cons, else it's a no-go. I am a Calculated Risk guy, not an emotional one when it comes to decisions.

Serious or important choices require a balance between head/mind, heart/emotion, and guts/intuition. Doubts (see my June 26 blog) imply that they are not (yet) in balance or in sync. All 3 need to point into the same direction: yes or no. A monthly - or whatever period - reiteration of that process makes sense as a "no" could well imply a "not now". When all 3 did point in the same direction, there should be no post-decision regret (see my June 7 blog). And for the record, hardly any decision is final. It usually just takes an apology to rectify.

Yes, sometimes we need to apologise after making a wrong decision. For some sorry seems to be the hardest word, for some it's easy. Just compare Elton John (lyrics, video, wiki), Chicago (lyrics, video, wiki), Morrissey (lyrics, video, wiki), Nirvana (lyrics, video, wiki), Player (lyrics, video, wiki), R.E.M. (lyrics, video, wiki) and The Temptations with Sorry is a sorry word (lyrics, video, wiki). For a Top 25 of "best" apology songs go to this link. The difference in all of them is sincerity. The hardest part of saying sorry is not saying it but meaning it and then implementing it. (link)

I just noticed a very interesting PsychologyToday article that gives 5 reasons for why some people will never apologise. This is a highly recommended read and it would require an entire blog rather than just a paragraph to explain this concept. Hence I prefer to just provide the link right now.

Life is about making choices and accepting their consequences. Fear makes us delay taking decisions that ought to be taken. A wise decision is without doubt or regret. A wise (wo)man apologises for a wrong decision and corrects it. Leon Oudejans

Friday, 14 August 2015

Expectations

Following a conversation of yesterday evening, today's topic - expectations - has been on my mind. Expectations are like time-boxed personal goals. Not realising them - either in time or ever - leads to disappointment, disillusion or devastation depending on the importance of the expectation.

new MRI study from University College of London indicates that the secret to happiness is low expectations. Author and neuroscientist Robb Rutledge says, “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.” (PsychologyToday)

Actually, this makes a lot of sense when I look at my past. Late 1991 I suffered a big disappointment when an expected promotion did not occur. When it did occur 6 months later, the pleasure - let alone happiness - of achieving it was minimal.

I now also fully realise that my 2013 heartache was due to very high expectations from my side and no expectations from her side. We were never able to bridge that "Grand Canyon" in expectations though I kept on trying numerous times. Devastation was the result.

Nowadays, I live with a minimum of expectations and feel happy and satisfied most of the times. Actually, I'm stress free as a result of keeping my expectations at a minimum level. The only serious deviation happened last Friday when I felt anxious for a meeting. That encounter went very bad and I felt very stressed as a result. I was unable to reach out and change the situation. I only thought about how that situation affected me, myself and I.

New research suggests that when we feel stressed out, we have a very hard time seeing the world from someone else's point of view. In other words, anxiety seems to be an enemy of empathy. A recent paper helps explain this phenomenon by linking anxiety to egocentrism. (GreaterGood)

If this is all the case, then why don't we learn from this by lowering our expectations? 

In my view, this is related to society's perception of being successful - or not. I have had high expectations, about myself and others, most of my life. Most of my own expectations have been fulfilled and I felt proud about my success but I seldom felt happy about it. Usually I was already very busy achieving my next expectation. 

It's not easy lowering your expectations when you are still in a "going concern" mode. I suppose it takes a life-altering moment. This also implies that expectation management is an entirely different concept. Expectation management is about setting realistic - not low - expectations in a "going concern" mode. Low expectations are seldom viewed as realistic (e.g., Budgeting).

Lowering expectations is a strictly personal issue. Conveying this to others may not bring empathy. Our society expects us to be ambitious. We should however realise that setting goals and expectations are related but not similar. I still have my 3 goals in life but I have no longer expectations when I will achieve them. I will not let go of my 3 goals as they are important to me. These goals bring purpose. Expectations bring stress and reduce the feeling of happiness.

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Who is afraid of whom?

Last night I watched a movie that made me think different about things. Some things, not all. The movie is called Bicentennial Man and is based on short story by Isaac Asimov of the same name. The movie is about an (immortal) robot, transforming himself into an Android to blend in with humans, and then doing everything he can to be recognised as a (mortal) human being. This is one of the few movies that pictures a loving robot. Apart from the Spielberg movie A.I., I can't recall any other.

Aliens and robots are usually viewed as (potentially) hostile in Sci-Fi movies. After seeing tonight's movie, I'm convinced that this anticipated robotic hostility is another intriguing example of reverse human psychology and human projection on a scale that I didn't perceive possible until now. Also see my April 16 blog on reverse psychology and projection.

We humans survived Evolution, at least until now, and we came out on top of the competition, called “Survival of the Fittest”. That fact makes as very suspicious of any potential new, better equipped, competitor. Robots and aliens fit in that box. We fear losing our #1 position. Not to known “enemies”, like insects, snakes, etc. We fear unknown, potential, enemies. We fear becoming #2 or worse. We fear being hunted like we now hunt the present #2, #3 and so on (e.g., Terminator).

We humans must be the most feared species on Earth, from the perspective of any other species. If only as we seem to be the only species that kills for fun, either our own species or any other species. The other species only kill for food, never for fun. Moreover, we humans don't like competition. We do everything to eliminate competition. In business, love, religion, sports, and anywhere else.

The combination of these two human traits, eliminating competition by killing, is the central theme in many Sci-Fi movies, especially when it comes to aliens. It's inconceivable to human beings that an alien could be friendly and would not be interested in wiping us out on Earth. In fact, that is probably exactly what we humans would do when we would need to leave a depleted Earth: find a new planet and kill the indigenous population to avoid competition (e.g., natural resources). Even on Earth there are plenty of examples of doing just that. Hence, my view of reverse psychology towards and projection onto aliens and robots.

According to evolutionists, feeling fear is a crucial element in human survival. Fear of heights, of water, of insects, of large open spaces, of crowded spaces, and so on. They all had (rather than have) an evolutionary purpose in human survival. Without feeling fear, inexperienced human beings (e.g., children) would die easily. Given the duration of pregnancy and raising children into experienced adults, feeling no fear might be prohibitive for becoming the #1 species.

Feeling fear towards Artificially Intelligent (AI) robots – or aliens - indeed makes perfect sense from an evolutionary angle. However, it's always a human being who is creating that AI. And, "some of the biggest names in science and technology have called for a global ban on “killer robots”, amid warnings that crossing that threshold would start a new global arms race" (FT). 

In my view, the species that we should fear most, is our own. From an evolutionary angle, we may still be considered rather primitive, violent creatures. Looking forward to a human "upgrade".

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Mind Games

For some time I have been mentioning the concept of (unconscious) reverse psychology in relation to people who are in denial. In a much broader context, reverse psychology is also a tool in (conscious) mind games. The distinction between unconscious and conscious is quite important. The unconscious reverse psychology is (subconsciously) aimed at the person using it while (consciously) projecting it towards others. Hence, the sheer complexity of this phenomenon. Conscious reverse psychology is both aimed and projected towards others (e.g., parents towards children).

Each and everyone of us plays daily mind games towards others. It's our way of influencing someone’s behaviour without asking. Asking may result in a negative response and also reveal our agenda towards the other person. Any question is much more informative than its answer. A question reveals intentions while an answer may easily avoid the question. Asking questions can also easily backfire on the person who's asking. Mind games avoid that trap.

In my view, women are masters in playing mind games. No doubt this is a key element in the distrust amongst women. Women are always suspicious about the true intentions of other women. And they are often right in being suspicious. It's one of the reasons many women prefer working with men as mind games are more unilateral in such situations. It's easy to fool men as they often lack suspicion.

In my view, the (evolutionary) explanation could well be found in this old Dutch saying: the one who lacks strength must be smart (NL: wie niet sterk is, moet slim zijn). Either you use force to get your way or you outsmart the other person by fooling him and make him think that it was his idea in the first place.

Obviously, men have learned from female behaviour. Yet men have a fundamental problem when it comes to dealing with women as they have two heads and one is tiny. And a lot of male behaviour stems from their dickhead. Many – if not most, or all – female mind games are aimed that men use their dickhead rather than their brain. And usually it works well.

I doubt any mother teaches their sons how to deal with women. I also doubt that any mother does not tell their daughters how to deal with other women – or men. In this entire context, it's easy to see why women think they're mentally superior to men and are the stronger species. And it's probably even true. If only because hardly any man could deal with the pain of giving birth. The words strong and strength are related but not the same. You can be strong without strength and vice versa.

While women have mastered individual mind games, men have mastered collective mind games, mostly as a result of thousands of years of military experience. Collective mind games are required as – for thousands of years - men work in groups (e.g., army, hunting) and to a much lesser extent as individuals. Moreover, evolution taught men to cooperate - and thus trust each other. Basically, you need to convince a group which requires a different skill set.

Whether it's corporate (mind) games, military (mind) games, or psychological mind games, Sun Tzu’s ancient (military) advice still remains valid: “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.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Bitterness

Recently, a young foreign woman accused me of bitterness in our chat. It would be easy for me to waive this accusation by using terms like reverse psychology and projection (see my April 16 blog). I say "easy" as I only hear this accusation from women when they are upset. And I don't feel bitter. Although to be honest, I should add the word 'anymore' to that previous sentence. However, let's suppose - at least for arguments sake - that this label "bitterness" would indeed make sense.

There has been a lot of bitterness inside me during my married years. My daughter has only seen that side of me for years and has never seen the new me so far. I think and feel that bitterness is the result of a combination of prolonged disillusion and lack of hope that the situation will change. Bitterness may be found in relationships or at work. No doubt everybody knows a bitter colleague. And I seriously doubt that studies and sports are exempted from bitterness.

Sure I'm disappointed in relationships and in women. For me, it is difficult to find someone that meets the 4 criteria for a viable relationship, being communication, intimacy, respect and trust. In nearly each and every situation, there is at least one deficiency. And in the rare situation where all 4 criteria do match, there is no mutual love. I just realised that my disappointments may well relate to my lack of experience with relationships. I started "late", have had only two so far, and both failed.

Nevertheless, the difference between bitterness and disappointment is Hope. Hope is a fundamentally positive outlook on Life. Carpe Diem versus Memento mori. Also see my April 12 blog on the (new) classification of human emotions. And Hope is what I regained in life, after first losing it.

Bitterness is a kind of anger and part of the 7 stages of human recovery after experiencing a loss: shock/disbelief, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, acceptance & hope (link). Some people never come to the next stage - or the final stage. Denial is a notorious hurdle. Depression too. I have experienced all of these stages in recent years. It's my firm belief that Faith is a powerful tool for conquering these 7 stages. Without Faith we would either drown or indulge in our emotions.

A new Love is another powerful tool to conquer a loss. Nevertheless, I feel and think that Love is like a Monopoly card that lets you make a jump to Start while avoiding all hurdles (jump-start). Avoiding these hurdles is like skipping a class: sooner or later you have to deal with it unless you're truly exceptional. For most of us, it just adds to our dark side of "undealt-with" human emotions.

Remarkably, it is highly recommended to women to start dating after experiencing a loss: "One of the most important steps in rebuilding your life after divorce is to start dating. It'll be hard, but the sooner you starting dating, the easier it will be for you to regain your emotional well-being." (link)

Obviously, there are more roads to Rome than just one. I have tried both: first dating and then a full loss recovery. My fundamental problem with dating - after a loss - is the lack of Lessons Learned. You are bound to make the same mistakes again. To date I am only in the stage of 'how' to apply my lessons learned which is almost an entire blog in itself.

It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. Bill Gates quote

Monday, 10 August 2015

Mistakes versus Lessons Learned

My ex girlfriend recently said that she made a big mistake and that she is about to make the same mistake again. I could have been hurtful to her by acknowledging her mistakes. And - to be honest - a part of me is actually thinking she did. However, if she made a mistake by leaving me then I made a mistake by letting her leave me. I could have stopped her. I could still ask her to stay. But I will not.

She did not make a mistake. She took a decision. A decision which may actually have been long, long overdue. I cannot bring her everything that she needs. But to be fair, perhaps no one can. She meets the 4 criteria for a viable relationship: communication, intimacy, respect and trust. However, one essential element is missing: mutual love. Love doesn't grow. It's either there or it isn't.

Her decision to leave was the final step in my transformation. I could not have become the person who I am today while still being together. I have never considered that our break-up was a mistake as mistakes can be fixed. And neither she nor me was genuinely interested in fixing it. I have been angry with her for a while but realised that this decision was key in my recovery and transformation.

In response to her alleged "big mistake", I wrote: "you need to do this and start repairing yourself. You can't do that with me. You may make the same mistake again but you're welcome back once you have learned from your mistakes and repaired yourself. It's a high price but I paid that one too".

Last Friday we exchanged some remaining items which still were with the other person. This brief encounter was terrible, for both of us. I expected to see a happy person who is about to emigrate to her new love but saw an angry person instead. We exchanged some bitter words afterwards. Then I remembered the question that had already been raised by some people: does she still love you??

That lingering question in the back of my mind, made me write to her that "our break-up was the final step in my transformation. I was and am not able to save you as I'm not strong enough to do that. You can only save yourself by first have the will to change. Only then others may be able to help you. The best person to help you will always be you / yourself. I know. That's my farewell song / blog to you: I wish you peace. Read the lyrics carefully, especially the last line."

We did not make a mistake in breaking-up. Else we would have corrected it by now. Mistakes allow us to learn, correct and improve. Being angry over our mistakes is normal but this angriness should not prevent us from learning why we made that mistake. Accumulating anger and not dealing with it is indeed the perfect recipe for making a new mistake. In that sense, my ex girlfriend is indeed right in expecting to make another mistake.

The only reason for this expected new mistake is that she is not learning from her previous mistakes. She does not deal with her dark side. She just accumulates anger and blames others. Nevertheless, she is the best friend I have ever had and could ever wish for. Life can be unfair at times.

"If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person. It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit." William J. Clinton, 42nd American President

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pride and Prejudice

Yesterday I had an argument while chatting with a woman. Her question to me was full of blame and prejudice towards me and I got upset. The subject is a sensitive one for me, and for most fathers who don't see their children following a nasty divorce. My original title for this blog was: Why do women assume (so much)? I then realised that assumptions are not a female prerogative. Nevertheless, how do Pride & Prejudice fit into Evolution??

After ample soul searching, I couldn't come up with an answer to that question. Hence, I concluded that Society must have taken a detour within Evolution. Assumptions do fit in Evolution as they fill the voids in cumulative human knowledge. Also see my May 26 blog on Assumptions. The question that upset me was based on prejudice rather than on assumptions. The difference between assumptions and prejudice is like the difference between logic and emotion. Assumptions are basically neutral. Prejudice always has a negative connotation.

Actually, Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Wikipedia) gave me my first glimpse of the final answer. Both men and women have their pride and prejudice. It's inherent to their role within Society. The changing role of women within Society (e.g., voting rights, the necessity of female (factory) labour due to the impact of WW1 and WW2, Egalitarianism) has created independence for women. Independence from men. Still this is not the answer. It's an ingredient.

The final answer came to me when I analysed male pride and prejudice, which is obviously far more easy for me. While pride and prejudice do not make sense from an angle of Evolution, it does since the introduction of Money within Society. Money is the ultimate distinction between people, the haves and the have-nots. Money as in the “root of all evil”. Also see my March 17 blog on Money. Obviously, the concept of Pride has evolved in Society and (female / male) independence now plays an important role within Pride.

Prejudice has evolved to a much lesser extent than Pride. Often its unspoken content relates to racism or sexism. Yet, prejudice usually still has a degree of subtlety. It is not often that we hear prejudice being said in the open, and loud and clear.

Yesterday evening I was shocked to hear the Dutch midnight radio news stating the words that Donald Trump had said about the female FOX News anchor who had been hosting the first GOP Presidential Debate. Early on in the debate, Ms Kelly asked him why voters should elect a man who has called women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals". Mr Trump joked that he only said that about TV personality Rosie O'Donnell before adding: "I don't have time for total political correctness." (BBC)

Yet, his political incorrectness went from bad to worse. After the debate, while speaking on CNN, he said "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever”. A major US conservative forum has dropped Donald Trump as a speaker, saying it was unacceptable for him to suggest that a journalist was tough on him because she was menstruating. (BBC, CNN)

Donald Trump’s Pride and Prejudice is based on Fuck You Money. If the GOP has any pride left then they kick their prejudiced Trojan - or Trump - Horse out a.s.a.p. Also see my July 24 blog.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Migrants and refugees

The EU is facing a massive migrant and refugee problem along many of its borders and seems to be out of breath when it comes to solutions. The difference between migrants and refugees also becomes more and more opaque: are economic migrants rescued from a sinking ship refugees? The influx of new migrants and refugees will not stop as long as the current regulations remain the same. How about changing the rules of the game?

From a demographic angle, the influx of an additional labour force is not unwelcome. Other considerations seem to outweigh them, at least until now. These considerations are mostly of a financial nature (e.g., food and housing) and also of a nationalistic nature (e.g., naturalisation, voting rights). Other countries don't face this dilemma (e.g., Middle East). They attract cheap labour and offer these migrants an income to support their family at home. What's wrong with that? Seriously.

The USA also has a huge migrant issue. At times, they treat it as a (political) problem but mostly they tolerate it as the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages. The American migrant issue is basically a copy of the European one, albeit that drowning at sea is replaced by not surviving a journey from Mid to North America. Most of these migrants are working illegally in companies or at family's homes. They fulfil a vital role in American society. Other countries still accept foreign migrants provided that they have a (substantial) minimum wealth which allows them NOT to appeal to and use domestic welfare for a certain minimum period during their stay. What's wrong with these concepts?

Like in the USA, there's a lot of demand in Europe for “unskilled” labour: gardening, housekeeping, nursing, shop attendant, etc. However, most of us cannot afford this as European labour is expensive, in general too expensive. The only goal of most migrants is to earn money, to support their family and kids back home, and to return home “someday”. They don't need our passports, just our work permits. And to be entirely clear: there will be no access to shelter or domestic welfare.

Obviously, a huge influx of an additional labour force would put serious pressure on lower wages. Dutch household helps asking for 15 euro an hour (excluding travel expenses) without declaring this to the Dutch revenue, will indeed suffer. Frankly, they are only able to get this (undeclared) pay as the labour market is totally out of sync in that segment. Having several clients a week, this pay easily adds up to some 2,000 euro undeclared monthly net income.

The lowering of wages would stop at a point where the help would no longer be interested to work given his/her personal expenses for food, housing and financial support back home. I'm confident that this break-even point is higher than we may now assume. I expect that this lowering of European wages would - sooner rather than later - stop the additional influx of labour.

The solution for Europe’s migrant and refugee issues is a rather simple political issue: are we prepared to give work permits – or tolerate an illegal workforce, like in the USA – to migrants and refugees without giving them any prospect of a passport, voting rights or welfare? 

I'm quite confident that the migrants and refugees would accept this proposal but would European politicians ???

Friday, 7 August 2015

The fundamental lack of trust between men and women

Yesterday I had the privilege of looking into a female mind during a conversation with a foreign woman. She had approached me by “liking” me on a social network site. I deliberately use the word “privilege” as men don't often get such an opportunity.

After my conversation I suddenly realised the fundamental distrust between men and women when it comes to relationships. This distrust starts by wondering about each other's intentions, continues with questions on the sincerity of each other's feelings, culminates into assumed – rather than verified - explanations regarding each other's behaviour, and ends with rejection based upon these prior assumptions. It's almost a miracle that relationships between men and women still develop.

Despite the success of books (e.g., men are from Mars, women are from Venus) and movies (e.g., What Women Want), it seems that mutual knowledge is still remote. Women are still a mystery to men. Men are still unreliable creatures to women. Ultimately, both men and women have a fundamental lack of trust towards each other (e.g., intentions, feelings, behaviour).

Based upon prior experience, women wonder about the true intentions of men. Will he introduce me to his parents or am I just for fun? Secondly, women wonder about the sincerity of male feelings. Does he say he loves me to get the next level or to get intimate with me? Male behaviour may easily cause further questions. Why does he still look at other women, am I not good enough for him?

In general, men underestimate the level of insecurity inside women. From the outside, women appear to be very confident of themselves. I suppose that this inside-outside contradiction is an essential part of the “mystery” of women, at least in male perception. Moreover, women have the nasty habit of beating around the bush, not saying what they really feel/think, which men may easily view as lying. Hence, the male lack of trust in women.

Based upon prior experience, men also wonder about the true intentions of women. Is she really interested in me or just in my successful role in society? Secondly, why does she feel good about me, can't she get a better/younger/more attractive or more successful man? Thirdly, some female behaviour may be irritating and frustrating, like answering “It's ok” or “Nothing” to serious male questions or using (lack of) sex as a weapon. Men are no clairvoyants, especially about women.

In general, women underestimate the level of male trustworthiness, especially once men are in a relationship. From the outside, it may look like that men chase every woman within their perimeter. I suppose this inside-outside contradiction is an essential part in the perceived unreliability of men, at least from a female angle. Moreover, most women are well aware that they cannot trust another woman when it comes to stealing their man. Lastly, women know that men don't even realise what another woman is capable of when it comes to getting what she wants.

Based upon the above, it looks like a miracle that men and women still develop relationships. Yet, it's not psychology that is responsible for relationships but chemistry. The famous hormone oxytocin is not only responsible for bonding but also for developing trust in a relationship. And sexual intimacy, one of the cornerstones for a relationship, also delivers regular quantities of oxytocin. (John Gottman)

Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you. William Arthur Ward, American writer (1921 - 1994)