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Saturday, 30 April 2016

The origin of beliefs

The first 3 words that came to me while staring at a blank piece of paper and thinking about today's topic - the origin of beliefs - were: fear - belief - love. Both extremes, fear and love, gravitate towards the center: belief. I am fascinated by human belief systems and evolutionary psychology and thus the combination of both makes perfect sense to me.

While researching a different topic - tolerated theft hypothesis - I stumbled on a useful piece of information: "Advocates of the hunting hypothesis tend to believe that tool use and toolmaking essential to effective hunting were an extremely important part of human evolution, and trace the origin of language and [origin of] religion to a hunting context". (Wiki)

While digesting that information, the following diagram appeared in my mind:

I believe in the elegance of simplicity and this diagram feels convincing to me. Let me explain its essence.

The ongoing human survival against the forces of nature - even today - is essential in this diagram. During this survival, we either satisfy our basic needs (eg, food, water, shelter) or we do not (eg, hunger, thirst, no shelter). 

Satisfaction is cause for celebration, a feast with music and dance (also see my blogs on the origin of languages, part one and two) and the worship of the forces of nature. The opposite (ie, mourning) gives similar results.

Wiki: "A number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies such as Neanderthal societies may also have practiced early forms of totemism or of animal worship. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal bear-cult existed".

The steps from animal worship to multi gods (polytheism) and then towards 1 God (monotheism) make perfect sense to me. I doubt it will stop there. I expect that the current religions will once "merge" into 1 universal religion that will put the Universe as its center. One could argue that the differences between Nature and Universe are far less than the differences between current religions.

A quote from the book (and movie) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: "Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity and principals of uncertainty. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives.”

John Mayer - Belief (2006) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Is there anyone who ever remembers
Changing their mind
From the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud
One time

Oh, everyone believes
In how they think it ought to be
Oh, everyone believes
And they're not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you're trying for

Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It's the chemical weapon
For the war that's raging on inside

Oh, everyone believes
From emptiness to everything
Oh, everyone believes
And no one's going quietly

[2x]
We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for

(Is there anyone who you can remember
Who ever surrendered
With their life on the line?)

[2x]
We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
Belief can
Belief can
What puts the folded flag inside his mother's hand?
Belief can
Belief can


Hat tip to ASK for suggesting this song with its beautiful lyrics!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Am I losing you forever ?


Am I Losing You Forever ?

It seems like yesterday you came into my life
And I began to see a little bit of life
Now you always told me our love was oh, so strong
Is it really just the plan leaving when I get home?

To make our love more than a passing thing
You can't say we never tried
But the way you say goodbye to her
I feel like you're slipping right out of my life, oho

Am I losing you forever?
I don't understand
Am I losing you, will I ever?
Will I see you back again?

Am I losing you forever?
Will I be a lonely girl?
Am I losing you, will I ever?
Will I see you back again?

We've opened silly ways as years passed by
I know you'll have your friends, baby
You know I got mine

Now I always trusted you, 'cause love was in my heart
Why don't you gonna tell me what to do
Are we drifting apart?

Friends tell me it's just a normal thing
Something that'll be over soon (Be over soon)
But do they know that I lose everything (I lose everything)
And I can't make it on my own, ohoho

Am I losing you forever?
Baby, I don't understand
Am I losing you, will I ever?
Will I see you back again?

Am I losing you forever?
Am I gonna be a lonely girl?
Am I losing you, will I ever, ever
See you back again?

Am I losing you forever?
What you're doing to me, babe?
Am I losing you, will I ever?
Oh no, I can't stand the feeling

Am I losing you forever?
Oooh, baby, how can you leave?
Am I losing you, will I ever?
I always trusted you

Am I losing you?
Am I losing you?

Am I losing you?
Am I losing you?

Mai Tai - Am I losing you forever? (1985) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sometimes Love is not enough

The title of today's blog was used in the 2015 movie "5 to 7" (IMDb). It's about a French diplomat in New York, his much younger French wife, and their 2 kids. Both use the 5 PM to 7 PM hours for extramarital affairs. The married woman finds a young aspiring writer and starts an affair. He falls in love with her and she falls in love with him. He breaks the rules of the affair by proposing her to marry him. She accepts his proposal but then changes her mind and he loses her forever. She becomes his muse in his successful writing career. The movie suggests a happy ending for all but not for them. Some ingredients in this love story feel very familiar to me.

I prepared this picture for a new - unpublished - blog "the origin of beliefs" as I think and feel that Love is the oldest Belief system known to mankind.

Unfortunately, sometimes even Love is just not enough as Doubt and Fear can even be stronger than Faith and Hope.

I am a survivor and I look forward to the future with Faith and Hope. Nevertheless, I still have my doubts and fears when it comes to Love.

I have difficulty with people assuming a victim role as they they typically look backwards and keep focussing on their doubts and fears.

It is very difficult to fight against a known past by promising an unknown future. I like to repeat the superb quotes from the French writer Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) who once said: "Hope and fear are inseparable. There is no hope without fear, nor any fear without hope". "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears".

One of the reasons why I refuse to be a victim, is that living with only doubts and fears would be unbearable for me. Being a Pisces, I have plenty of doubts in my life anyway. I allow subconscious fears (eg, intuition) to affect my behaviour. However, I prevent conscious fears from ruling my life. As we say in Dutch: Fear is a bad advisor (NL: Angst is een slechte raadgever).

The cycle Faith, Hope, Doubt and Fear works in mysterious ways around Love. Each of us will always be in one of the four dimensions of this ongoing cycle around our Heart. Besides being a cycle there are also balancing components: Hope and Doubt balance each other, just like Fear and Faith do too. In this context, Faith is the antidote for Fear.

And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. (Corinthians)

Syreeta Wright - Blame It On The Sun (1980) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Where has my love gone?
How can I go on?
It seems dear love has gone away.
Where is my spirit?
I'm nowhere near it,
Oh yes, my love has gone astray.

But I'll blame it on the sun,
The sun that didn't shine,
I'll blame it on the wind and the trees.
I'll blame it on the time that never was enough,
I'll blame it on the tide and the sea,
But, my heart blames it on me.

Who poured the love out?
What made this bitter doubt?
Is peace not here for me to see?
I wish I could tell you,
What I am feeling
But, words won't come for me to speak.

But I'll blame it on the sun,
That didn't fill the sky,
I'll blame it on the birds and the trees.
I'll blame it on the day that ended once too soon,
Blame it on the nights that could not be,
But, my heart blames it on me.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Afscheid


Afscheid - Robert Long

Jij zit tegenover mij en kijkt me aan
En vertelt me dat de vlam is uitgegaan
Omdat ik niet deed wat jij wel van me wou
Niet de dingen zei die jij graag horen zou

Je verwijt me dat ik jou nooit echt begreep
Omdat ik niet met jouw favorieten dweep
Ik weet dat je mooi en welgeschapen bent
Maar de buitenkant daar raak je aan gewend

Nu heb jij de glans nog van de jeugd
En je vind dat ik dat zien moet als een deugd
Maar na de lente raakt een boom z'n bloesem kwijt
En een mens z'n schoonheid na verloop van tijd

Ik heb je zonder dat je 't wist geobserveerd
En na weken heb ik langzaamaan geleerd
Dat je ondanks dat je zoveel mensen kent
Net als ik soms toch ontzettend eenzaam bent

Luister even naar wat ik je zeggen wou
Voordat ik het straks dan toch weer voor me hou
Ik weet niet of het er voor jou nog wel toe doet
Misschien kennen wij elkaar wel niet zo goed

Dat je weggaat is je recht, maar wees niet kwaad
Weet dat jij een grote leegte achterlaat
'T doet me meer dan ik je zeggen kan verdriet
Ik zal je missen, ook al denk je dan van niet

Als je tijd hebt, sta nog even bij me stil
Omdat ik een soort van foto maken wil
Die geëtst wordt door een scherp gepunte stift
En jouw beeld voor altijd in mijn hersens grift

Zodat later als ik oud zal zijn en traag
Maar het leven beter door heb dan vandaag
Ik m'n ogen sluit en oproep uit m'n geest
Jouw portret, zoals je vroeger bent geweest

Nou, vaarwel m'n lief, 't gaat je verder goed
Ik weet zelf nog niet hoe ik nu verder moet
Kom weer terug wanneer je honger hebt of pijn
De stad is groot genoeg om eenzaam in te zijn

Robert Long - Afscheid (1974) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)


You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)

Sometimes you start feeling so lost and lonely
Then you find it's all been in your mind
Sometimes you think someone is the one and only
Can't you see it could be you and me?
But if there's any doubt
Then I think I'll leave it out

'Cause I'll tell you one thing
You can't get what you want
Till you know what you want
Said you can't get what you want
Till you know what you want

Sometimes you keep busy reaching out for something
You don't care, there's always something there
Sometimes you can't see that all you need is one thing
If it's right you could sleep at night
But it can take some time
But at least I'm here in line

'Cause I'll tell you one thing
You can't get what you want
Till you know what you want
Said you can't get what you want
Till you know what you want

Sometimes you can't see that all you need is one thing
If it's right you could sleep at night
But it can take some time
But at least I'm here in line

'Cause I'll tell you one thing
You can't get what you want
Till you know what you want
Said you can't get what you want
Till you know what you want

I'll tell you one thing
You can't get what you want, what you want
I'll tell you one thing
You can't get what you want, what you want

Joe Jackson - You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) (1984)


The Verdict


The Verdict by Joe Jackson

Did you do me right?
Did I do right by you?
When I bare my soul it seems you do not hear
Can this be true?
Am I a fool to fight?
I could do just what you say
But I'm following my heart and that takes me another way
It's not easy when there's no one giving prizes at the end

Waiting in the wings
Wishing that the band would start to play
As the show begins
Wonder what the critics have to say

Waiting
Waiting
For the verdict

Some people live so fast
They're so scared of getting old
Some people keep on working 
All they do is line their graves with gold
We don't know what happens when we die
We only know we die too soon
But we have to try or else our world becomes a waiting room
Would you testify for me?
I think I'd do the same for you

Waiting in the dark
Waiting for the phone to ring all day
My witness disappears
Wonder what the jury has to say

Waiting
Waiting
For the verdict

Waiting
Waiting
Waiting
Waiting

Joe Jackson - The Verdict (1984) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Who likes insults anyway??

Several years ago, I was insulted at work in relation to a project I was working on (alone). I realised that it was a deliberate attempt to provoke me. Under lots of stress I was still able to control myself as I realised that my principal would suffer from an emotional response. My loyalty to my principal was far greater than my deep anger towards my insulter. Later I was informed that the incident was part of a ploy against my principal. I delivered my project and the humiliation was theirs.

About a decade ago, I finally lost my temper at home and insulted my daughter. She never forgave me. Over the years, she forgot that my insult had been a response to her ongoing provocations and insults towards me. Today I cannot even remember her insults as they did not stick very long. Mine was deliberately mean. I wanted it to stick to her and I succeeded. Until today, it has sticked for some 7-8 years and I have not really spoken to her for the last 6 years. Am I proud of losing my temper? No. Am I sorry? Yes. Does it change anything? No.

The Turkish President does not like insults and who can blame him for that? Nobody likes insults, especially when they stick. I think his response is over the top but it's consistent with the victim role he has been assuming since he got into Power. See my 18 February 2015 blog: "Victim role - politicians, bankers and corporate bosses".

Based on the above, I think and feel that insults are delivered to provoke someone. Nevertheless, even insults may have a purpose. A purpose would be to "speak your mind" and to "clear the air". Without a purpose, insults are just to ridicule someone for the sake of ridiculing. Some, if not most, of the insults to the Turkish President feel like ridicule to me: "unkind words or ​actions that make someone or something ​look ​stupid" (dictionary).

The freedom of speech is not meant for protecting ridicule. I think it would be a proportionate response if a judge would label ridicule as contempt. However, we don't want free speech martyrs and thus imprisonment is out of the question. A monetary fine would be appropriate, depending on the nature of the ridicule. A confirmative verdict could already be an adequate victory.

The real problem with insults is that they sometimes stick. The worst insults are the ones that contain some truth in it. The mean ones. Like the one that I made to my daughter. I was able to hurt her that much as I was aware of her vulnerabilities. And that feels more like betrayal than an insult. As John le Carré once wrote: "Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love".

Betrayal is an immense breach of trust. The famous Dutch liberal politician Thorbecke was once quoted saying: "Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback". Repairing trust is like playing chess with the Horse: 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I need to be very careful with its alternative: 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Sometimes it's better not to make a move forward when you are convinced that it will lead to 2 steps back.

We are mean to someone if and when we deliberately want to hurt the other person (in return). The subsequent revenge & retaliation cycle is never ever helpful in solving issues. Only forgiveness is. Forgiveness should not come easily, else its message is often misunderstood.

“Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.” Quote by Al Capone

Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney - FourFiveSeconds (2015) - lyrics, video, Wiki

I think I've had enough
I might get a little drunk
I say what's on my mind
I might do a little time
'Cause all of my kindness
Is taken for weakness

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Life and Death

Last Saturday, I published a blog about viruses. Viruses are again not in the most recent "Tree of Life". Most scientists argue that viruses are not alive as they lack metabolism. Only some scientists disagree. A 2015 Science Alert article claims that viruses should be included in the Tree of Life as they "ARE alive and older than modern cells".

For the past 10 years or so I have been trying to find and reconnect with a friend from school. Unfortunately, he has a first and last name that is very common in my country. Consequently, I got too many search results in Google. Last Friday, I finally tracked him down as I had found his address in one of my old agendas. His wife told me that he had died more than 12 years ago. That news shocked me.

Life and Death are such strange concepts. I am alive and alone. He is dead and left a wife with two young children. I am still looking for the "explanation" as it seems such a contradiction. To some extent, I think and feel that the explanation is about Purpose. The Purpose in Life and perhaps even in Death. Latter is too hard to explain right now as I am just at the beginning of my soul searching.

Being all alone has made me wonder several times why I am still around. I used to get my purpose from work and raising a family. Those days are gone. The only thing that lets me to believe that I still have a purpose is my writing and perhaps my caring for others. My compassion is however also my Achilles heel and has also brought me misery.

Ancient wisdom teaches that everything around us is "alive". Ancient polytheistic religions focus on the living earth, fire, sky, water and wind. However, "some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth". See my 21 April 2016 blog: History, legends and myths.

Today we prefer seeing things in black and white. We separate Life from Death but we don't know what to do with viruses. Are viruses dead or alive? It looks like a bloody simple question to most humans but even scientists don't have an answer. Perhaps we should apply the duck test: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. 

On 12 January 2016, I wrote a blog with the title: "The meaning of Life = living a meaningful life". I am particularly proud of this paragraph which I then wrote:
"The meaning of life cannot be the pursuit of happiness as both happiness and well-being are the result of living a meaningful life. I think the meaning of life is to use your unique talents in the interest of humanity and also in your personal interest. At the end of our road, we shouldn't need to wonder whether we lived a meaningful life. Obviously, talents need to be used for the purposes of virtue rather than vice. Vice may give meaning to Life but doesn't create a meaningful life".

I have lost two dear friends already, one in 1998 and now another one in 2003. I cannot explain why. Perhaps they know themselves. I strongly feel that my Purpose is keeping me alive. Somehow I start to doubt that Love is a Purpose in itself. The only thing that I do know is that Love does not separate Life from Death. Love is all around.

The Troggs - Love Is All Around (1967) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Monday, 25 April 2016

Silly old me

You must have realised by now that the Alison Krauss / John Waite song (Missing You) was meant for you. It was my way of letting you know that you're still on my mind and that I still miss you. Not each day but many, if not most of the days. Simple things can bring back memories. I thought that cleaning up the fridge and the food supplies would help me forgetting about you but the resulting emptiness is even more evidence of your departure.

I am unable to move on. Yes, it's my problem and I know that very well. I can analyse, deduct and write about letting go & moving on but it doesn't make me an expert in practice. Our time together is just too long to forget. Moreover, as we both experienced my worst years ever. My Nemesis is still around and is clearly also not moving on with her life.

The conflict inside me is once again between heart, mind and soul. Logic dictates that our differences are bound to create new problems in case we would reconnect some day. My foolish heart woke up too late and misses my best friend and lover. And my soul misses its mate. My heart and soul are pushing me to reconnect with you but my mind refuses because it seems so unfair to you and maybe even selfish. Teardrops are the result of this internal conflict. And this blog.

Being a male, I always think in solutions. At times, I contemplate driving to you with some tulips or roses, just to say “Hi”. I know this idea is silly even though you might like it silently. At other times, I consider selling my stuff and build a place together with you, somewhere in the sun.

My problem is that I don't know if you're happy. Happy with your new life, happy with him. In the absence of data, I build assumptions and I then use those assumptions to even worry about you. Not smart, I know. “A little silly”, as Queen Maxima would have said. Ultimately, I am human after all, with fears, hopes, and lots and lots of disappointments as my expectations towards other people have always been too high.

With hindsight I realise that I screwed up. And not only once but probably several times. I thought you had forgiven me. I guess I was wrong. I didn't see your revenge coming. Probably as it came so late. You achieved what you were looking for as your revenge hurt me. Your dating with another man hurt me even more. I made the silly decision to compete with you by also dating someone, and I hurt a friend in that process. Much later, my subconscious started comparing others with you. The fact that you "won" should have alarmed me but I failed to understand what was happening to me.

Some time ago, someone made me realise that I loved you despite my denial. That was already the second time this happened to me, and that new revelation came as a shock. I still believe in your astute explanation for my inability to recognise love even when she is “just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” (Notting Hill).

Actually, that movie is one of my all-time favourites. At the end of the movie, Hugh Grant proposes to Julia Roberts and they live happily ever after. Last week, I even wondered what you would do if I would make a similar move on you. Silly old me……

Billy Vera - At this moment (1981) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

What did you think I would do at this moment
When you're standing before me with tears in your eyes?
Trying to tell me that you have found you another
And you just don't love me no more

What did you think I would say at this moment
When I'm faced with the knowledge that you just don't love me?
Did you think I would curse you or say things to hurt you
'Cause you just don't love me no more?

Did you think I could hate you or raise my hands to you?
Now come on, you know me too well
How could I hurt you when darling, I love you?
And you know I'd never hurt you, woah oh

What do you think I would give at this moment?
If you'd stay, I'd subtract twenty years from my life
I'd fall down on my knees, kiss the ground
That you walk on, if I could just hold you again


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Old Friend


Old Friend

A million times or more I thought about you
The years, the tears, the laughter, things we used to do
Our memories, that warm me like a sunny day
You touched my life in such a special way

I miss the way you run your fingers through my hair
Those cozy nights we cuddled in your easy chair
Oh, no, I won't let foolish pride turn you away
I'll take you back whatever price I pay

Old friend, it's so nice to feel you hold me again
No, it doesn't matter where you have been
My heart welcomes you back home again

Remember those romantic walks we used to take
You held my hand in such a way my knees would shake
You can't imagine just how much I've needed you
I've never loved someone as I've loved you

Old friend, it's so nice to feel you hold me again
No, it doesn't matter where you have been
My heart welcomes you back

Old friend, this is where our happy ending begins
Yes, I'm sure this time that we're gonna win
Welcome back into my life again

Yes, I've tried to live my life without you
Knowing I had lost my closest friend
Although I've been in love from time to time
Knowing I will never find the kind of love I had when you were mine

Old friend, it's so nice to feel you hold me again
No, it doesn't matter where you have been
My heart welcomes you back

Old friend, this is where our happy ending begins
Yes, I'm sure this time that we're gonna win
Welcome back into my life again
Welcome back into my life again
Welcome back into my life again

Phyllis Hyman - Old Friend (1986) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Tipping Points - viruses

The new Tree of Life as published by Nature Microbiology on 11 April 2016, has already stirred up some noise. Mostly as human beings have become a rather obscure leaf on this Tree of Life.

The new Tree of Life (pic) mostly focuses on 92 Bacteria clusters (see upper 75%), and to a much lesser extent on the 26 Archaea clusters and "all five of the Eukaryotic supergroups" (see lower 25%).

For your information: human beings are part of the Ophistokonta, one the 5 Eukaryotic supergroups. "The opisthokonts are a broad group of eukaryotes, including both the animal and fungus kingdoms" (Wiki).

This Tree of Life somehow feels like these "reversed" business organisation charts (eg, link) where the sales persons who have customer contacts are on top of the chart and the CEO is at the bottom. 

Everybody knows that this type of chart has nothing to do with reality, in which the Chief has the Power and the indians dance according to his wishes. Is this Tree of Life a similar graphic?

I am inclined to say "yes" but not so much because humans are invisible in this Tree of Life. The scientific definition of "Life" is flawed, in my view. To define Life by "their metabolic capacities" is just too simple, mostly as such a definition excludes viruses. Indeed, viruses do not eat and do not produce waste (ie, shit). Neither do female eggs and male sperm (link 1, link 2). Yet together they produce Life like viruses (sperm) and a host (egg).

Nevertheless, there is scientific evidence that viruses may be older than any Life on Earth and possibly even older than Earth itself. If latter ageing would be confirmed then alien "life" has become a certainty rather than a possibility. In fact, Science still does not know where viruses come from and how old they are (source). To exclude viruses from this tree of "Life", may relate more to human arrogance and ignorance than to knowledge - let alone wisdom.

I think and feel that viruses are the tipping point towards Life - and Death. Viruses can survive a 30,000 year freeze in polar conditions, find a host, and come back to "life" (source). Just imagine the role of ancient viruses and melting - ancient - polar caps on contemporary human life (eg, plague). Viruses are also the cause of (human) gene modifications (source). The scientific perspective on viruses is slowly changing from (very) negative (ie, diseases) to (mildly) positive (ie, DNA updates).

I think and feel that viruses are the missing roots of this Tree of Life. 

Oleta Adams - Rhythm of Life (1990) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Mother Nature, Father Time
Maybe it's the family of man
Angels cry when they hear that tune
It's sleepless nights for the man in the moon


Friday, 22 April 2016

Tipping points - USA

A few days ago, I wrote about the Earth’s wobble as the possible tipping point for climate change. Today’s blog is about some other possible tipping points and all regarding the USA. Recently, several interesting statements were made and to some extent even quite independently.

The fall of the US Dollar is only a matter of time. This week, TIME Magazine published an extensive article on the fundamentals for this widely expected fall: The United States of Insolvency. In my view, the US$ only looks strong because other main currencies are even weaker and that hides its fundamental weakness. Also see my 6 May 2015 blog: US Dollar collapse.

Both Donald Trump and President Obama have recently criticised the free riders within NATO (eg, NYT, WP). Mr Trump has even threatened Asian allies to withdraw US regional presence if they do not reimburse the USA for more than the 50% they do now (eg, Bloomberg, NYT). Mr Trump also feels that NATO is obsolete and that the USA should focus on its many domestic issues (eg, education, infrastructure, jobs). His comments may be valid for American domestic purposes but it's also likely to boost the global ambitions of US frenemies. 

China is clearly aware of that. On 17 April 2016, the Chinese Finance Minister made a remarkable statement in relation to Donald Trump's tax proposal on US imports from China: if the US put Trump’s proposal into effect, it “would not be entitled to its position as the world’s major power" (eg, Guardian, WSJ). The reference to the end of the US hegemony (from 1900 onwards) is very interesting. Also see my blogs about the SuperPowers for the past 5,000 years, and the rise & fall of civilisations (parts 1 and 2).

Another very recent statement: "Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks". (NYT 15 April 2016)

In my view, NATO is the perfect illustration of current US global hegemony. NATO is dominated by the USA. The US criticism towards NATO is ultimately an attack on "its [own] position as the world’s major power". Therefore, the election of Donald Trump as the next US President could be the final trigger for several global tipping points, including the end of US global hegemony (eg, NATO), and the fall of the US$. 

Usually, the rise and fall of civilisations can only be witnessed and explained decades after its occurrence. Mr Trump himself may become a tipping point in several unexpected ways: rise in Republican Party, rise to US Presidency, fall of America's global hegemony, and the fall of US$. The rise of China and the fall of USA was predicted in 1943 by another American: Edgar Cayce.

Things always happen for a reason. Mr Trump is the token of American arrogance. American Proverbs claim the following: Arrogance is a kingdom without a crown, Arrogance is a roadblock on the highway of wisdom, and an arrogant bug is a cocky roach. I suppose few people will shed a tear.

Paul Carrack - Don't Shed a Tear (1987) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Don't shed a tear for me 
My life won't end without you
(Without you)
Long as the night will be 
The sun will rise without you


Thursday, 21 April 2016

History, legends and myths

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” J.R.R. Tolkien, excerpt from The Lord of the Rings.

One of these legends – or even myths – was the city of El Dorado until it was rediscovered in 2009 by satellite (Guardian). Now the city of El Dorado is part of human history again. Could this example imply that more - or even most - ancient human myths and legends tell the “truth”?? In general, most scientists will assume that legends and myths are virtually the same as fairy tales.

Until writing these blogs, I assumed that the Great Flood as mentioned in the Bible and many other sources, was just a story to educate churchgoers to stop sinning. A fairy tale, if put bluntly. I was really surprised to find out that scientific evidence indeed confirms a massive global flooding of some 120 to 140 meters (some 400 feet) during 11,000 BC to 4,000 BC. The icing and melting of polar caps is a totally natural evolutionary and historical phenomenon.

Considering the human habit to build settlements near oceans, rivers and seas, a substantial part of our then human civilisation must have disappeared below sea level during the great global flooding. Just imagine a 120 to 140 meter (or 400 feet) sea level rise in your back garden. And some 30% of my country is already below sea level anyway. Some legends and myths are bound to become true as less than 0.05% of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage or the spires of undersea volcanic vents (Scientific American).

Most scientists suffer from the “Not Invented Here” syndrome (part 1, part 2 and part 3 of my blogs). Consequently, legends and myths remain what they are now until scientific discoveries show that they were indeed part of human history. Such discoveries need to be foolproof however or else they will be contested by the majority of Science.

Often the “Not Invented Here” syndrome is a consequence of a single rather than a multidisciplinary scientific approach. Carbon dating in geology once seemed like a foolproof technology to me until I understood its limitations. Any statue directly carved out of rock (eg, Egyptian Sphinx) is a problem as rock may date back millions or even billions of years. Such information is not very helpful.

The Great Flood washed away a lot of scientific evidence which may take centuries to be revealed again to humanity, like Bimini Road, or the Greek city of Pavlopetri part of UNESCO's underwater cultural heritage, or the underwater city in Gulf of Khambhat (India). And always within close vicinity towards our current shores. The explanations for that vicinity are surprisingly simple once you picture the impact of a 120 to 140 meter (400 feet) flood in your mind.
Today I am inclined to believe that legends and myths must have a core truth. Actually, I didn't really expect the unicorn to be part of that truth. Nevertheless, scientists recently discovered that this animal co-existed with humans until some 30,000 years ago (eg, GuardianScience).

I think and feel that Tolkien was remarkably astute in his observation: “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth”.

Clannad & Bono - In a Lifetime (1986) - lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Silent Treatment (2)

Silence is golden, so they say. No doubt silence is a useful tactic in a discussion. It often causes bewilderment as people don't expect or like deliberate silences. A silence also allows you to consider your next move and causes your previous remark to sink in. That's the positive way of using the powerful art of silence. There's also a shadow side towards using silence.

Communication is my preferred way of handling issues. However, sometimes arguments no longer suffice and another tool needs to be applied to stress a point. Sometimes people hurt you badly and only leave you the choice of revenge/retaliation, letting go & moving on, regret/remorse/reconnect, or another (4th) option: the silent treatment. Silence is a most powerful weapon and should not be applied lightly as the path towards reconnecting becomes more and more difficult following the duration of your silence.

Unfortunately, words are sometimes no longer able to convince people that their attitude is - or opinions are - inappropriate. Sometimes we just want to feel compassion and support. A lack of compassion or empathy feels like betrayal in those circumstances. Betrayal is probably the worst feeling to experience. Applying the ultimate weapon – silence – becomes a proportionate response.

When people hurt me - whether deliberate or unintentional - I go silent. Mostly, I use that silence to recover from that hurt. When people hurt me badly then I use my silence as punishment and as a weapon. My silence may last for hours, days, weeks, or even longer, depending on the importance of the “sorry” that I'm waiting for. No “sorry” means no communication. In rare cases, my silence is indefinite when I never ever want to meet these persons again in my life. Betrayal at its worst.

Silence is my ultimate weapon towards the people that hurt me the most. It works much better than arguments, fights, revenge or retaliation. My silence tells you that you no longer exist. I don't use this weapon easily as I know its strength. I have been on the receiving end of such silence as well. My daughter is still using it against me following my ugly 2010 divorce. And if you still care for someone then his/her silence hurts. Nevertheless, its impact deteriorates over time.

Remarkably, even the youngest of children understand the powerful art of the sound of silence. It's their way of punishing their parents for not listening to them. It must be intuition (a unknown known) and part of human firmware. And even these youngest of children already understand that it's a last resort after all other communication options have failed.

From an evolutionary psychology point of view, social exclusion (“banning”) must indeed have been the ultimate punishment as the group would also no longer provide safety and security. However, sometimes silence may look like a “banning” to some people but actually is a reverse and self chosen action, also known as solitude.

Sorry indeed seems the hardest word to express for many people. And especially to people who lack empathy in the first place. These people will not even understand that the other person is waiting to hear a simple “Sorry”. These people may hear you but don't listen to what you say. They're too convinced of their own opinions. They're too busy with themselves. Then silence becomes a proportionate response. Or as we say in Dutch: “wie niet wil luisteren, die moet maar voelen”.

Elton John - Sorry seems to be the hardest word (1976) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you're not there

What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it's all over
And sorry seems to be the hardest word

It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do
What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Brazil vs Venezuela

Sometimes democracy is really confusing. Take Brazil and Venezuela for example. The economy in both countries is severely affected by the fall in oil prices. In both countries, the power is in the hands of left. In both countries, people oppose that power. In both countries, right may win back power from left following a democratic change. In Venezuela, the left wing President refuses to give up power despite clear general election results. In Brazil, the left wing President refuses to give up power and accuses Parliament of a (democratic) coup. In both cases, the situation is very confusing.

I am inclined to choose different sides in both cases despite its many similarities. To me the situation in Brazil feels very different than the one in Venezuela. Despite the many similarities, Brazil feels like a democratic right coup while Venezuela feels like an undemocratic left coup.

The situation in Brazil is mostly about the wide-spread corruption in all layers of business and politics and also about the dire state of the Brazilian economy. The only person who is not charged with corruption is the Brazilian President, although her predecessor is. The majority of Brazilian parliament wants to get rid of her anyway and uses a weird logic to do so: the expectations in the country's budget were too optimistic. Following that weird logic, most heads of state would need to be impeached. Ironically, more than 50% of all (left and right) politicians of that same Brazilian parliament are linked to corruption suspicions while the Brazilian President is not.

The situation in Venezuela is mostly about the extremely dire state of the economy. Following the 2015 general elections, the composition of the Venezuelan parliament changed from left to an almost constitutional majority for right (DW). Despite this democratic change, the Venezuelan President is desperately clinging on to the former power of extreme left with the help of the legal system. Democratic decisions of the right wing Venezuelan parliament are declared illegal by the extreme left President or Venezuelan judges. So far, the start of an impeachment of the Venezuelan President lacks a constitutional majority and his term may thus last to 2019.

The feeling of Power is genuinely addictive in politics. We see that in Russia through the flip-flop of the Russian President with the PM role in order to undermine the maximum constitutional term of the Presidency. To some extent, we also see a flip-flop in the USA by Bill and Hillary Clinton given the maximum constitutional term of the US Presidency. And to some extent, we also saw a flip-flop in Turkey between the roles of President and PM since 2000.

The quest for Power is always limited by death (Zimbabwe) and sometimes even by the outright ambition for absolute Power (Bolivia 2016). Even in politics, the (disputed) saying of Abraham Lincoln applies: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time".

Parliamentary republics with an executive president - aka the Presidential system - seem to be at the heart of these democratic problems. Semi-presidential systems (eg, Germany) do not. Unfortunately, this quest for executive power (eg, CEO, President) also attracts “an intelligent person, characterized by a poverty of emotions, the absence of shame, egocentricity, superficial charm, lack of guilt, lack of anxiety, immunity to punishment, unpredictability, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, and a transient interpersonal lifestyle” - a.k.a. psychopaths (eg, ForbesFortuneTIME).

Explanation of the 2016 Brazilian crisis by Glenn Greenwald


Monday, 18 April 2016

Wobbling Earth

There is a most interesting area in Science where astrology, astronomy and climate change meet. The Earth may feel like a stable tennis ball but actually behaves like a spinning top without us noticing. The Earth's spinning cycle is 25,920 years. That astronomical cycle (a.k.a. (axial) precession) covers 12 Astrological Ages of 2160 years each (and similar to our 12 Zodiac signs), and some scientists refer to our Earth's wobble as the "Pacemaker of the Ice Ages" (Science, 1976).

Many people will have heard of the astrological Age of Aquarius following the hit songs from the 1967 musical Hair and the 1979 movie of the same name: Aquarius, Hair, Hare-Krishna, I got lifeGood morning starshineLet the sunshine in or Three-Five-Zero-Zero. The Age of Aquarius is supposed to bring "harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding" (see lyrics below).

Currently, we live in the astrological Age of Pisces or "The Age of Monotheism, Spirituality, and the Fish". Wiki: "The age of Pisces began c. 1 AD and will end c. 2150 AD. With the story of the birth of Christ coinciding with this date, many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fishes. Jesus bears many of the temperaments and personality traits of a Pisces, and is thus considered an archetype of the Piscean. Moreover, the twelve apostles were called the "fishers of men," early Christians called themselves "little fishes," and a code word for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, "Ikhthus." With this, the start of the age, or the "Great Month of Pisces" is regarded as the beginning of the Christian religion".

There is still quite some debate about the exact dates of the astrological Ages. Some claim that the Age of Pisces ended on 21 December 2012 which date represents the 2012 Cosmic Alignment and also the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (eg, Mayan calendar). The transfer between astrological Ages often creates fear (eg, end of the world).

To some extent, this fear might be genuine as climate change indeed relates to the Earth's wobble. Two out of the eight known causes for climate change (see my blog of 9 May 2015) deal with the Earth's wobble. The 1976 Science article mentions several wobbling cycles: "23,000, 42,000, and approximately 100,000 years". In the 1920s, the Serbian geophysicist and astronomer Milankovitch already theorized that variations in eccentricityaxial tilt, and precession of the Earth's orbit determined climatic patterns on Earth through orbital forcing. (Wiki)

Actually, I would not be surprised if the Earth's wobble is the "tipping point" for all 8 known causes for climate change. Interestingly, the direction and speed of the Earth's wobble has changed quite recently: "Around the year 2000, Earth's spin axis took an abrupt turn toward the east and is now drifting almost twice as fast as before, at a rate of almost 7 inches (17 centimeters) a year." Remarkably, "Changes in polar ice appeared to have no relationship to the wobble -- only changes in water on land. The researchers say it's because the spin axis is very sensitive to changes occurring around 45 degrees latitude, both north and south". (NASA, 8 April 2016)

This Earth's wobble and the resulting drifting could explain why the North Pole and Antarctica once had a subtropical climate (eg, BBC, BBC). Based on an annual 17 centimeters it would only take 17,500 years to complete a drift of 3,000 km. Science: "Ice in Antarctica suddenly appeared [] about 35 million years ago. For the previous 100 million years the continent had been essentially ice-free. Even after Antarctica had drifted to near its present location, its climate remained subtropical but then, 35.5 million years ago, ice formed on Antarctica in only about 100,000 years, which is an "overnight" shift in geological terms".

Being a Pisces (March) in the astrological Age of Pisces (1-2150) makes me feel special. Yet, the Earth is desperately waiting for the Age of Aquarius and its "harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding".

Hair - Age of Aquarius (1967) - lyrics, movie, musical

When the moon is in the seventh house

And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius, Aquarius

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Missing You


Alison Krauss & John Waite - Missing You (1984) - lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Every time I think of you 
I always catch my breath 
And I'm still standing here 
And you're miles away 
And I'm wondering why you left 
And there's a storm that's raging 
Through my frozen heart tonight 
I hear your name in certain circles 
And it always makes me smile 
I spend my time 
Thinking about you 
And it's almost driving me wild 
And there's a heart that's breaking 
Down this long distance line tonight 
I ain't missing you at all 
Since you've been gone 
Away 
I ain't missing you 
No matter 
What I might say 
There's a message 
In the wild 
And I'm sending you 
this signal tonight 
You don't know 
How desperate I've become 
And it looks like I'm losing this fight 
In your world 
I have no meaning 
Though I'm trying hard 
to understand 
And it's my heart that's breaking 
Down this long distance line tonight 
I ain't missing you at all 
Since you've been gone 
Away 
I ain't missing you 
No matter 
What my friends say 
And there's a message that I'm sending out 
Like a telegraph to your soul 
And if I can't bridge this distance 
Stop this heartbreak overload 
I ain't missing you at all 
Since you've been gone 
Away 
I ain't missing you 
No matter 
What my friends say 
I ain't missing you 
I ain't missing you 
I keep lying to myself 
And there's a storm that's raging 
Through my frozen heart tonight 
I ain't missing you at all 
Since you've been gone 
Away 
I ain't missing you 
No matter 
What my friends say 
Ain't missing you 
I ain't missing you 
I ain't missing you 
I keep lying to myself 


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Justice and hypocrisy

Yesterday, the German Chancellor finally decided to let German judges rule on the complaint from the Turkish President following a German YouTube song and a German comedy show by which he felt insulted. One of the reasons for this development might also be the notorious German lack of humour. Even the Dutch PM hit at this phenomenon in the 2016 Dutch Correspondents' Dinner (see fragment in video after 21.35 minutes).

The Dutch have their own version of Jan Bömermann and his name is Geert Wilders. Both like to insult and to provoke. In both cases, judges need to decide what politicians do not dare to touch. The freedom of speech for Dutch politicians is far from clear however as quite recently two main social-democratic Dutch politicians were not prosecuted for similar statements on Moroccans (NOS).

The use of courts to rule on matters that are too sensitive for politicians seems to be borrowed from the USA. Using lawyers to achieve one's goals or to succumb a less wealthy opponent is common practice for many decades. Using the Supreme Court to achieve political goals is more recent (eg, Obamacare) and is probably the result of the US stalemate - or deadlock - in US politics.

I could blame political correctness or the fear of popularity loss but I think and feel that the issue goes much deeper. Again this lack of accountability and responsibility may be a fundamental flaw in Western style democracies and the Turkish President understands that flaw very well.

DW 5 April 2016: "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he rejects US and EU criticism over clampdowns on press freedoms. Erdogan has called on western leaders to "contemplate their own shame" before criticizing Turkey". Also see MEE, ST, Yahoo.

The Turkish President's reference to Western leaders to "contemplate their own shame" is indeed an interesting one. Obviously, this remark comes from someone who assumes a victim role and uses reverse psychology towards his opponents. Yet sometimes such persons do make remarks that touch a nerve in their opponents. This may be one of these remarks.

I suppose this "shame" could relate to the 6 billion euro deal that the EU concluded with Turkey to counter the huge EU migrant and refugee problem. In that case, I would agree with the Turkish President as this deal is indeed shameful. Not so much for him for taking the money but for the European leaders who sell out on European principles.

The Turkish President is using his new leverage on Europe to strong-arm the German Chancellor. She hopes that the German judges will do what she does not dare to do: To defend freedom of speech and to defend European principles. That would allow the German Chancellor to wash her hands in innocence like Pontius Pilate did before her (explanation).

The Turkish president's remark ("Those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights must first contemplate their own shame") is also a small variation on what Jesus once said after he was invited to condemn an adulteress: "Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone". (Wiki)

Bob Marley - Hypocrites (1967) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2