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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

2017 General Elections

Election season has started in several European countries, including mine. The political issues may seem unique for each country but are largely the same: housing/immigrants/jobs/welfare, nationalism vs internationalism, Religion vs State.

Similar to the Brexit referendum, the parties who are against (eg, EU, immigrants, Islam) are not interested to govern even if they claim they are. The reason is also similar to Brexit: they offer slogans, not solutions. It's much easier to be the largest party and shout from the opposition benches. It's much more rewarding keeping a fragile multi party government as their hostage. No accountability, no responsibility. Also see my blogs of 25 October 2015 and 26 March 2016.

A Brexit scenario – governing – would be a disaster for these Njet parties. It would unveil the emptiness of their promises. The Dutch Freedom Party makes very sure that governing will not happen. Their party program is just 1 A4 on Facebook, without any (financial) backing. Just opportunistic promises aimed at their voters’ fears. It might work.

The mainstream parties have a few options: a strong minority cabinet relying on a different case-by-case parliamentary majority, or a fragile multi party cabinet with a parliamentary majority. The Dutch situation showed that a strong minority cabinet is indeed feasible. The level of disgust towards the Njet parties is crucial though.

The best defense is a good offense. This famous adage probably dates back to the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu (544 BC - 496 BC). The Njet parties are well aware of that. Rather than defending their positions, it would be more interesting to learn about the key values of all parties. At least that would bring a less emotional choice between major political beliefs.

My questions to them would be the following: How does Labour see a job market taken over by robotics? How do the Christian Democrats see the restrictions on a fellow Abrahamic religion and Religion at large? How do the Liberals see a free market in this day and age? How will they ensure a society with political and social stability that minimises the need for extreme opinions?

The answers to these questions may even be converging for the mainstream political parties. To some extent, it would – again - depend on their level of disgust towards the Njet parties. Sometimes it's tempting to take an opportunity, join the winning side, and losing your integrity in that same process.

Although some slogans of the Njet parties are indeed tempting, I will definitely vote No to Njet. A Brexit may never even happen despite their new PM saying: “Brexit means Brexit”. Either the UK courts or the UK Parliament will stop Brexit and absolve its government in the process. The outcome of general elections can however only be overturned by new general elections.

The 2017 general elections (eg, France, Germany, Netherlands) are finally about serious issues again. I expect Russian interference in European general elections, similar to what is currently happening in the USA. There is also a lot at stake for Russia (eg, European army, NATO, oil pipelines, sanctions).

Krezip - Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime (2008) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Entertainment, Fear and Religion

While editing yesterday's blog about how societies would look like without religion, I introduced a link to entertainment: "These societies would aim at self love, maximising individual pleasure (ie, entertainment) by advertising temptation, and promote fear for others in order to divide and rule."

Entertainment was also mentioned in my 2 August 2016 blog on the Age of Pisces and Aquarius. Wiki: "The water-bearer may symbolize widespread transparent, peaceful, neighborly, and sustainable living. Furthermore, they see the appearance of dictators, self-expression, and the rising influence of the entertainment industry are linked to the Aquarian Age by its opposite sign Leo."

There is a link between the demise of religion, the transition from the Age of Pisces to Aquarius, the rising influence of the entertainment industry and the "appearance of dictators" in the astrological Age of Aquarius (Wiki). That link is Fear. Fear is a key ingredient in entertainment (eg, action, crime, horror, Sci-Fi, thriller) and the rise of dictators thrives on Fear. 

The quote in the left picture by Zen monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki may well be the link between the rise of entertainment and the demise of religion. Entertainment is probably the best way to occupy people's minds in the absence of religion.

The Roman poet Juvenal (circa A.D. 100) once wrote in his Satire X poem that the people "anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses".

Wiki: "Roman politicians passed laws in 140 B.C. to keep the votes of poorer citizens, by introducing a grain dole: giving out cheap food and entertainment, "bread and circuses", became the most effective way to rise to power." Note: italic markings are mine.

The demise of Christian religion has already started decades ago. Islam may not survive the schism between Shia and Sunni and the relentless global terrorism from radical Islam. It's rather easy for Politics to blame all religions (ie, Religion) for anything that is wrong in today's society. Once the opportunity is there, people will often use it.

The Power domain has three belief systems: Money, Politics and Religion. Money finances both sides and will thus always be on the winning team's side. For thousands of years, Religion and State were each other's checks and balances. If Politics were able to ban its main competitor - Religion - it would be an immense game changer. 

Human beings will never be able to successfully compete with Allah/God/Yahweh, Nature, and/or the Universe. The mere idea is preposterous. It's a human fantasy.

The Power (Forces) of Nature and/or the Universe is far beyond the Power domain of the 7 Belief systems.


Earth, Wind & Fire - Fantasy (1978) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Monday, 29 August 2016

How a society would look like without Religion

This weekend I read a Dutch newspaper article about the added value of religion to society. Mark van Vugt, professor in evolutionary psychology and organisational psychology, argues that a punishing God is helpful for aligning less complex societies. In more complex societies, governments fulfil a similar role. The unveiled criticism towards any religion is common nowadays. It may become safer hiding your (Christian, Jewish or Muslim) religion.

Such criticism makes me wonder how societies would even look like without religion.

My 27 August 2016 blog about the 10 Commandments might be a good start. All main 3 Abrahamic religions (ie, Judaism, Christianity and Islam) aim to provide humanity with a moral compass. This moral compass is geared to steer humanity away from temptation. Love - for others and not self love - is the essence of any religion. Others would include God, your parents, romantic partner, neighbours and even strangers.

In the absence of Religion, a separation between Religion and State is no longer required. The eternal Power balance between Religion vs State thus shifts towards Money vs State. It's however quite likely that Money and Politics will find a profitable merger. Hence, I expect that companies will govern future cities and ultimately global City States.

The question how societies would look like without religion gets really interesting now. These societies would aim at self love, maximising individual pleasure (ie, entertainment) by advertising temptation, and promote fear for others in order to divide and rule. Ethics and morality would only be included in the governing company’s charter when it would increase profitability.

Population control will be important. Children would decrease profitability (prosperity) because the same pie has more eaters. Furthermore, robotics have taken away the need for human jobs. The absence of jobs and the absence of moral values (eg, care for others) is likely to create a human society based on the survival of the strongest (fittest). Hence, stealing, murder and adultery will be entirely normal.

In the absence of Religion, a merger between Money and Politics is an extremely powerful merger because this merger is very likely to absorb Philosophy, Science and the Truth. It's a merger along the lines of “money talks, reason walks”.

What about Love? Love (for others) is the eternal exception in the struggle between the Knowledge and Power domain. Love is blind and does not take sides. Love is not a fighter, except for love itself. Love will never die. Without love humanity will literally die.

Scientists have never found a human society on this planet without evidence of religion. That fact still does not result in the obvious. Instead human societies are now increasingly labelled as ignorant for believing in religion. There is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe!”

Bon Jovi - Keep the Faith (1992) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Don't Give Up


Don't Give Up

in this proud land we grew up strong
we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I've changed my face, I've changed my name
but no one wants you when you lose

don't give up
'cos you have friends
don't give up
you're not beaten yet
don't give up
I know you can make it good

though I saw it all around
never thought I could be affected
thought that we'd be the last to go
it is so strange the way things turn

drove the night toward my home
the place that I was born, on the lakeside
as daylight broke, I saw the earth
the trees had burned down to the ground

don't give up
you still have us
don't give up
we don't need much of anything
don't give up
'cause somewhere there's a place
where we belong

rest your head
you worry too much
it's going to be alright
when times get rough
you can fall back on us
don't give up
please don't give up

'got to walk out of here
I can't take anymore
going to stand on that bridge
keep my eyes down below
whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river's flowing
that river's flowing

moved on to another town
tried hard to settle down
for every job, so many men
so many men no-one needs

don't give up
'cause you have friends
don't give up
you're not the only one
don't give up
no reason to be ashamed
don't give up
you still have us
don't give up now
we're proud of who you are
don't give up
you know it's never been easy
don't give up
'cause I believe there's a place
there's a place where we belong

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush - Don't Give Up (1986) - lyrics, video, Wiki


Listening to this song may pull you also through.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The 10 Commandments

The last few days I've had a strange urge and felt reluctant to follow-up on it. My curiosity has won. I've done a sanity check on my concept of the 7 Belief systems and its 7 Guiding Principles by using the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments are similar and sacred in all 3 of the Abrahamic religions, being Judaism (oldest), Christianity, and Islam (youngest).

After analysing the 10 Commandments, I noticed that 4 of them relate to Love: divine (13), parental (5) and romantic (7) love. After puzzling with the other 6 Commandments, I came to the following linking:

1. Knowledge domain:
  • Philosophy – equality principle: 10th Commandment (controlling your desires/thoughts)
  • Science – humanism principle: 2nd Commandment (don't try to become like God)
  • The Truth – justice principle: 9th Commandment (no false witness)
2. Power domain:
The above clearly supports the famous proverb from 1 Corinthians 13-13: “Now abide these three: Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of these is Love.”

I'm not sure how I should feel after linking the 10 Commandments to my concept of the 7 Belief systems and its 7 Guiding Principles. I think, feel and believe, the linking at least does not contradict my concept. Perhaps I might even claim (some) support.

I think, feel and believe it's safe to say that the 10 Commandments are about resisting temptations. Most Commandments are clear “Thou shall not” and then insert the name of the temptation. In other words, temptation is the most dangerous pitfall for humanity. So why are humans burdened with so many temptations??

A religious answer would refer to the curse levied on Adam and Eve – representing the image of humanity - after eating forbidden fruits from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Humanity gained "liberty" by falling for temptation. Temptation was the eternal price for human liberty.

Another perspective springs to mind: As children, our parents protected us against temptations. Growing up into adulthood is also finding our own special way in dealing with temptations. Parents cannot always protect their children. Children need to play and learn from their mistakes. Sometimes this learning will be the hard way. Our daily choices in life are governed by (resisting) temptations.

Somehow I feel that I've come full circle now. I really need to digest the above.

Santana – Let the children play (1977) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2



Friday, 26 August 2016

Nature, Nurture and Urbanisation

The Nature versus Nurture debate is often a scientific and/or dilemma with respect to accountability and responsibility. In my 25 August 2016 blog, I mentioned Nature and Nurture in a different context: their role within the 7 Belief systems (eg, gravity, temptation).

I think, feel and believe that it's safe to say that humans view Nature today as everything on planet Earth except for humans.

Humans fear the Forces of Nature: Darkness (eg, no sight), Earth (eg, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions ), Fire (eg, forest fires), Ice (eg, ice age), Light (eg, skin cancer), Lightning (eg, electrocution), Water (eg, drought, floods), Wind (eg, hurricanes). (picture source)

For thousands of years, several civilisations built large cities that subsequently were deserted and often for unknown reasons (eg, Cahokia). By 2050, nearly 70% of humanity will live and work in global cities (eg, FT). It seems that urbanisation has finally won from Nature. Urbanisation may even be the human answer to their fear of (the forces of) Nature

Urbanisation has also had a profound impact on Nurture. The way parents raise children (upbringing), the way humans teach knowledge (education), and the way we interact with other humans at home/school/sports/work (social environment) has all changed following urbanisation. I think, feel and believe that our evolutionary link with Nature is largely broken.

The few known studies on urbanisation and its impact on the human mind paint a dire picture. Please see my 23 May 2016 blog. It's hardly a surprise as caged animals (eg, chicken, pigs, and even a zoo) already demonstrate irritation, frustration, anger and fighting from being forced to cohabit in crowded places. Urbanisation feels somehow similar as “caging” humans.

Urbanisation is not only a consequence of a human fear of (the forces of) Nature but also a human love for anything that we can create ourselves (Nurture) and shields us from Nature (eg, airco, electricity, food, heating, houses, lights, smells, sounds). Having animals as pets might be our only concession to Nature although some pets are treated like humans.

Perhaps Urbanisation is even the crucial link between Nature & Nurture and Temptation, as mentioned earlier in my blogs of 19 and 25 August. Temptation does exist in the smallest of human societies but is immensely amplified through urbanisation.

Furthermore, urbanisation erodes the 7 Guiding Principles (ie, Equality, Humanism and Justice in the Knowledge domain, and Charity, Fraternity and Liberty in the Power domain) and especially the 7th Guiding Principle - Love (for others) – due to anonymity, a main feature of urbanisation.

Moreover, human vulnerability will increase due to urbanisation. It's much easier for a virus to wipe out a human civilisation when humans live closely together and can infect each other. Health issues would also be an explanation why ancient civilisations left their cities.

More and more I see urbanisation as a curse for humanity. Perhaps the real debate isn't Nature vs Nurture but Nature vs Urbanisation.

Earth, Wind & Fire - That's The Way Of The World (1975) - 

You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Don't hesitate 'cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart 'cause you're never (never, never, ..) old at heart

That's the way of the world
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
A child is born with a heart of gold
The way of the world makes his heart grow cold


Thursday, 25 August 2016

The 7 Belief systems - a summary

My 2015 concept of the 7 Belief systems in still under development. Since my Revisit blog of 30 January 2016, some major improvements have taken place. I introduced a seemingly minor change in the heptagon on 15 July 2016. To me, it felt like another breakthrough. The recent expansion of my concept (see blogs of 17-18-19 August 2016) was also the reason I stopped writing my book. I felt something important was missing. Today's blog is like an executive summary of that book.

The 7 Belief systems is becoming a conceptual framework that encompasses several important concepts of life (eg, knowledge, power, wisdom). Initially, the heptagon (see picture at the right) represented the 7 extreme beliefs, worth sacrificing your (own) life for, being: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth.

I started in an alphabetical order until I realised that these 7 extreme beliefs are in 2 separate and balancing domains (Knowledge = Power) and are far away from their core (Wisdom). Only 1 extreme belief is blind for both domains: Love. Love also connects both domains through the eternal triangle Faith-Hope-Love. Recently, it appeared to me that the other 4 extreme beliefs also balance each other (eg, the Truth in Knowledge <=> Politics in Power).

For a long time, I've been puzzled by a person’s movement from Wisdom (our core) to extreme beliefs (out of control). Recently, I realised that there must be connecting lines from our core to each extreme belief. These connecting lines also form a kind of layer around our core and are our Guiding Principles. The crucial analogy of atmosphere and gravity then suddenly dawned on me.

The 7 Guiding Principles that keep us “grounded” are: Equality (Ph), Humanism (S) and Justice (T) in the Knowledge domain, and Charity (M), Fraternity (R) and Liberty (P) in the Power domain. The independent 7th Guiding Principle (and 7th Belief system) is Love (for others).

These 7 Guiding Principles are like the atmosphere in which we breathe. Some people are more “grounded” than others, they stick to their core. Gravity is inside everything and also inside us. The gravity of some people is so strong that other people become magnetised to their beliefs and spin out of control towards the edges of the heptagon, aka the 7 extreme Belief systems.

Beyond our core of Wisdom and its layer of the 7 Guiding Principles, there is Temptation (eg, beliefs, lust, money). Temptation is an ongoing magnetic force that may trigger a person to Change. Change always triggers Fear. Extreme fears will result in extreme Beliefs. Beyond extreme beliefs is the Dark Side of our minds.

Nature and Nurture play a vital role towards Temptation. Nurture includes parental upbringing, (religious) education and social environment (eg, friends). Nurture also defines our long-term human emotions (ie, fear versus love). Our (dis)respect for Nature defines our gravity.

The title of my book about the 7 Belief systems might well be The Book of Love and Fear. Or just the Book of Love.

Gavin James - Book of Love (2015) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Anger Management

A part of the former me returned yesterday, to my own surprise. I haven't felt angry since a long time. I have probably burned a bridge but I don't care. My anger related to a rejection. The rejection was politically correct but its timing infuriated me. The release of my anger took away my hurt over being rejected. I even feel better now.

The only thing that still puzzles me is this: why did I decide to fight rather than flight? The wise thing to do was to ignore the rejection and to remain silent. I suppose somehow tension has been building up and a volcanic emotional eruption came to my “rescue”. The subtitle of a 2016 Psychology Today article is clear: Without doubt, anger is the most powerful - and regressive - “cover-up.”

There are several tensions in my life, some old and also some new. Until yesterday, I classified each of them as minor and the aggregate as small. Somehow these tensions must have been cooking before boiling over yesterday. My long period of Zen was brutally interrupted. I now wonder whether my long period of flighting was just covering up the fighter inside me.

The article that I quoted in my 13 August 2016 blog suddenly felt real: "…the adrenaline [] becomes a sort of poison that flows through the entire system because no amount of physical effort is exerted to consume it." Indeed it felt as if my judgement was being clouded.

Releasing anger from people – or “anger management” – should release these boiling tensions. Essentially, that is a positive effort. Politicians use anger management to their advantage. Appealing to fears triggers anger. An angry voter is more likely to vote. Voting releases the anger. Moreover, a lot is forgotten anyway after 4 years.

Anger management is about genuine, existing and individual fears. Fear mongering is another type of anger management: false, new and societal anger and fears based on bigotry, prejudice, twisted truths or plain lies. The recurring messages of these fear mongers creates toxic minds and probably even human time-bombs. Someday they will go off and scaremongers will blame anyone but themselves.

The ironic part is that these fear mongers hide behind democracy and the right of free speech. However, once in power, they will restrict democracy and the right of free speech as much as possible. It takes a fear monger, to know their danger.

Democracy doesn't really have an answer against these deliberate abuses. Democracy still has a naïve belief that voters will prefer long term stability over short term change. Political anger management - at both sides of the aisle - is directed at fear, temptation, and the (short term) pleasure of retaliation in the voting booth. Also see my 23 August 2016 blog on Temptation.

I was able to release my anger at the person who caused it and to cleanse my toxic mind. There are however many people out there who are only building up anger. Either genuine or false anger created by fear mongers. Suggesting to them to take matters in their own hands (eg, 2nd Amendment remark) is far worse than just being irresponsible or playing mind games. It's public mind control. 
 
Genesis - Land of Confusion (1986) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see
This is a land of confusion


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Temptation

A couple of months ago, I received an article from the April 2016 Dutch Psychology Magazine about resisting temptations. Back then, the article was out of context. Today, this topic finally makes sense to me, especially given my 19 August 2016 blog on Gravity and the 7 Belief systems and the impact of temptations.

Margriet Sitskoorn, neuropsychologist and Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at Tilburg University, states that our human brain often prefers short term pleasure above long term well being (eg, exercise, food, lust). After reading this statement, I wondered about its universal application. Subconsciously, I recognised this principle from somewhere else.

I suddenly realised that there is hardly a difference between a discounted cash flow calculation and preferring short term pleasure. A profit today is worth more than a similar future profit. Inflation (aka interest) erodes future values. Having food or water today is more valuable than having food or water next week. Most people would even prefer cash now than a higher receivable.

In Finance and Economics, we refer to the time value of money concept: there is a "greater benefit of receiving money now rather than later. It is founded on time preference." Wiki suggests that time preference is an Economics concept. I suppose Margriet Sitskoorn would strongly disagree.

There is nothing new in time preference. Today, we still use the medieval saying that it's better to have 1 bird in the hand than 10 in the sky (Dutch) / wood (UK). The bird in that proverb related to falcons used for (medieval) hunting. 

Margriet Sitskoorn argues that our brain still works along the evolutionary preference of now rather than later when it comes to temptations. The prefrontal cortex, a more recent part of the human brain, "has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour" (Wiki). In the articleMargriet Sitskoorn argues that we can train the prefrontal cortex to deal with temptations.

Training the prefrontal cortex probably fits this day and age. I am old school. I was looking for ancient wisdom and noticed a very powerful remark: "The second tip is that the Torah teaches us that a psyche devoid of spirituality and meaning is a breeding ground for unbridled lust" (source). I expect that Christianity and Islam claim the same, being the 1st and 2nd derivative of Judaism.

The quote in the left picture is one of Zen monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki. Zen "was strongly influenced by Taoism", a "religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin".

Novelist Terry Pratchett once jokingly stated: "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it". Or take Groucho Marx: "Now, there's a man with an open mind. You can feel the breeze from here."

The Knowledge domain (ie, Philosophy, Science and the Truth) provides the old way of training your frontal cortex and dealing with temptations. The Power domain (ie, Money, Politics and Religion) often provides fertile ground for temptations.

Heaven 17 - Temptation (1983) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Step by step and day by day
Every second counts I can't break away
Keep us from temptation
Keep us from temptation
Keep us from temptation
Lead us not into temptation


Monday, 22 August 2016

Your own worst enemy

Some 25 years ago, a senior audit partner called me in his office. He asked me some questions about an audit assignment for which I was responsible. His questions immediately made me realise I had made a mistake. I tried beating around the bush and finding excuses. My behaviour infuriated him. He then told me that I had a lot of potential but that I was also my own worst enemy.

I immediately knew he was right. I have learned a lot from his remark – and from him. Following his remark, I decided changing my behaviour. Ever since that moment I have taken full responsibility for my mistakes and even those of my team. It may seem counter intuitive but assuming responsibility builds trusts while denial erodes trust. I always remember a quote attributed to the Dutch politician Thorbecke: "Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback".

For quite some time, I have considered Donald Trump to be a perfect example of being his own worst enemy. The draft blog relating to that view was however never published. Yesterday I have been entirely rewriting that draft. Donald Trump is an extreme believer. He might even be the "perfect" example of my concept of the 7 Belief systems.

Being your own worst enemy is doing the wrong thing while knowing the difference between right and wrong. It's making a bad choice which may cause guilt, regret, remorse or shame afterwards. Or, by paraphrasing my 20 August 2016 blog on moral compass: it's opportunity over integrity.

Donald Trump's extreme beliefs cover 5 out of the 7 Belief systems: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, and the Truth. So far I have been unable to find any links to the remaining 2 Belief systems, being Religion and Science.

There is some overlap between his psychological profile and his adherence to the 7 Belief systems. His alleged narcissism relates to extreme self Love. His bigotry is an extreme Philosophical view on White Male Supremacy. His Greed (ie, Money) is well known at his banks, business partners, customersemployees, subcontractors and suppliers. His alleged pathological lying is essentially an extreme belief in his own Truth. His admiration for authoritarian leadership might well relate to an extreme Political belief.

My 19 August 2016 blog mentioned that people, who spin out of control into the 7 Belief systems, may become lethal. There are 2 sides to that coin: others and self. Donald Trump's recent remark on the 2nd Amendment is such a lethal comment, directed to others.

Politicians express the vox populi as that will bring them electoral gain and subsequently Power. Donald Trump believes in what he says. His followers believe in him. He is no politician and will never ever be one, as that would contradict his beliefs.

The bipartisan demands for releasing his tax returns are intriguing. By definition, tax returns aim to present a minimalistic picture. The wealth of this self-described billionaire is unlikely to transpire from his tax returns. Releasing them would make him look like a loser. He cannot afford that. Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback.

America - A Horse With No Name (1971) - artistslyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Free


Free

Whispering in his ear
My magic potion for love
Telling him I’m sincere
And that there’s nothin’ too good for us

And I just got to be me, be me

Whispering in his ear
My magic potion for love
Telling him I’m sincere
And that there’s nothin’ too good for us

But I want to be free, free, free
And I just got to be me, yeah, be me

Teasing hands, all his might
Give our nights such mystery
Happiness all the time
Oh, and how that man pleases me

But I want to be free, free, free
And I just got to be me, yeah, be me

Feeling you close to me
Makes all my senses smile
Let’s not waste ecstasy
‘Cause I’ll only be here for awhile

I’ve got to be free, free, free, oh
And I just got to be me, yeah, yeah, be me, oh
Be free, free, now baby

(I just got to be me) And I just wanna (Be) I just wanna (Me) be me
Free
Free

Deniece Williams - Free (1976) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


For a friend

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Moral compass: integrity vs opportunity

I am not perfect. I have never even aimed for being perfect. It's just too much effort and frankly also boring. If perfect represents a probability of 0% error then all of us are far from perfect. During my auditing years (1981-1994), I have already realised that you can't learn anything from companies that run perfectly. You can however learn a lot from companies that do not perform well. Somehow the ingredients of success are far less clear than the ingredients of failure.

This blog was initially triggered by a picture on the FB page of Expanded Consciousness. Its intriguing quote is unfortunately misattributed to the British novelist C.S. Lewis (1898-1963). This blog also fits well with the ones of 18 and 19 August.

The quote to the left is a paraphrase from the book Shattering the Glass Slipper by the "Humorous Motivational SpeakerCharles Marshall which states: “Integrity is doing the right thing when you don’t have to—when no one else is looking or will ever know—when there will be no congratulations or recognition for having done so.” (link 1link 2)

I suppose that integrity and opportunism are the opposite sides of the scales that provide balance in our life; also see my 3 August 2016 blog on symmetry and balance. I have chosen for integrity but that doesn't make me perfect. Far from it even as I continue to make mistakes in my life. With the knowledge of hindsight, some of my mistakes were intentional but most were unintentional. Indeed most of my mistakes taught me a lot (picture).

I'm proud of my moral compass in life. In principle and in general, I adhere to the saying of Charles Marshall. At times, opportunity still knocks on my door and I get tempted to give myself some slack. Well, I do not. I don't want to feel guilt, regret, remorse or shame afterwards.

The above doesn't mean I'm no longer tempted. Temptation and opportunity are always around us. Temptation and opportunity require us to make a choice, every single day. Each choice invokes a short or lengthy discussion with myself, and sometimes even a fight. Arguments are exchanged and the best argument wins.

Opportunity started with the serpent offering an apple to Eve. Eve then tempted Adam to eat the apple despite clear instructions not to eat fruits from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Guilt, regret, remorse and shame followed ever since. (Wiki)

It's kind of funny that an ancient bible text still points to the essence: we often know that it's not wise to seize certain opportunities but do it anyway as we expect that no one is watching and hope that we will not get caught.

Joan Armatrading - Opportunity (1977) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Opportunity
Came to my door
When I was down
On my luck

Friday, 19 August 2016

Gravity and the 7 Belief systems

My 17 August and 18 August 2016 blogs have resulted in a new breakthrough in my concept of the 7 Belief systems. Since my 15 July 2016 blog, Wisdom was already in the middle of the Knowledge and Power domain. Wisdom is our core, our human center of gravity.

Gravity is the force that makes planets round and also the force that keeps us “grounded” (see my 14 July 2016 blog). Above us is a unique atmosphere that protects us (eg, meteoroids, uv radiation) and also allows us to breathe. When we exit the Earth’s atmosphere, everything becomes lethal.

I now finally realise that my concept of the 7 Belief systems works almost identical. I have felt it earlier but was unable to reach it in my mind. The Wisdom core is surrounded by a layer (an “atmosphere”) of guiding principles which should keep us “grounded”. Perhaps these 7 guiding principles refer to Morality – or to Wisdom itself. These 7 are: Equality, Humanism and Justice in the Knowledge domain, and Charity, Fraternity and Liberty in the Power domain. The independent 7th Belief system and Guiding Principle is Love (for others).

There is an interesting balancing act within the 7 Belief systems:
  1. Knowledge = Power (and a concept by the French philosopher Michel Foucault);
  2. Philosophy balances Religion, Science balances Money, and the Truth balances Politics. 
  3. The accompanying 7 Guiding Principles also balance each other: Equality (Ph) balances Fraternity (R), Justice (T) balances Liberty (P), and Humanism (S) balances Charity (M). 
  4. The independent 7th Guiding Principle is Love (for others). 

Beyond these 7 Guiding Principles there is Change. Change is a balancing act between Nature and Nurture. Change always triggers Fear. Extreme fears will result in extreme Beliefs. Beyond extreme beliefs is the Dark Side of our minds. I am not sure if there's a way back from there. The only escape from there is more likely to be death (eg, suicide).

There are many forces that may cause us to spin out of control from our own gravity. These forces could also be labelled as temptations. Our Nurture has a profound impact on how we deal with these temptations. Our love for Nature usually relieves us from the stress which is brought by these same temptations.

Ultimately, the 7 Belief systems are also temptations that makes us spin out of control from our core Wisdom. Money (aka Greed) is the most obvious temptation. Even when we are out of control, we still know right from wrong but either we are not strong enough (addicted) or we do not longer care as our Dark Side has taken over.

This blog also makes me realise the remaining interconnectedness in my blogs. Until now, I wrongly assumed there was another concept hidden in my blogs, apart from my concept of the 7 Belief systems. Recently, I even discussed this feeling. It feels as if someone has been playing with my mind and was just waiting for me the see the Bigger Picture. I just did. Finally.

John Mayer - Gravity (2007) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Sara Bareilles - Gravity (2009) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2



Thursday, 18 August 2016

The 7 Belief systems - Love vs Fear

My 17 August 2016 blog on Fear and the 7 Belief systems left a question mark in my mind. What are the counter balances against today’s 7 global fears? Finding specific ones did not seem useful. Finding universal counter balances wasn't easy either. The counter balances in the Knowledge domain (ie, Philosophy, Science and the Truth) took the least effort. At some point, I began to wonder whether the Power domain (ie, Money, Politics, Religion) even has any counter balances. 

The universal counter balance against Fear is Love. Hence, the generic answer to all 7 global fears must relate to Love. I think, feel and believe that this approach has indeed resulted in the answers I was looking for. 

The antidote for self love must be Love (others). Love for others is a perfect antidote against egocentrism.

Philosophy, Science and the Truth (the Knowledge domain) are characterised by the following (loving) principles: Equality, Humanism and Justice. 

Equality (eg, genders, races, religion) is the cornerstone of Philosophy and is the antidote against hate related issues like antisemitism, racism and sexism.

I think, feel and believe that Humanism is the cornerstone of Science. The benefits and survival of a single group must however never come at the expense of other humans. Humanism includes a love for Nature as we are only our planet’s stewards. A healthy Nature allows for a healthy Humanity. A toxic planet comes at the expense of most people.

Justice is the universal safeguard for the Truth as it takes away our fear that rich opinions outweigh poor facts.

Money, Politics and Religion (the Power domain) are characterised by the following (loving) principles: Charity, Liberty and Fraternity. 

Charity (or generosity) is the universal antidote against (the fear of) poverty, in the absence of government taxation and public welfare redistribution. Charity is also a pillar in all three major Abrahamic religions, being Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Liberty (eg, beliefs, religion, speech) is the cornerstone of democratic Politics. Liberty is also the universal antidote against the fear of imprisonment and persecution. Liberty in the Power domain is balanced by Justice in the Knowledge domain.

Fraternity (or brotherhood) is an often overlooked cornerstone of Religion. The fear over religions makes us forget that all (wo)men are created in the image/likeness of Allah, God or Yahweh. Equality in the Knowledge domain is a logical consequence of Fraternity in the Power domain.

These 7 universal principles - Charity, Equality, Fraternity, Humanism, Justice, Liberty and Love - must also represent something else. Right now, I'm thinking of the 7 principles of Morality. Frankly, I am still digesting all of the above. I am not sure what I have found.

En Vogue - Free Your Mind (1992) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Free your mind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don't be so shallow




Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Fear and the 7 Belief systems

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. I should have seen this earlier as I already linked most items in my earlier blogs. Today's main 7 fear related global issues all relate to the 7 Belief systems: bigotry, climate change, immigrants, Islam, nationalism, opinions vs facts, and skin colour.

As already noted in my Age of Pisces blog, awareness, consciousness, and individualism are the keywords for the current astrological period of 2160 years.

Love is usually directed to others. Individualism has culminated in egocentrism and self love (eg, opinions). Bigotry and hatred are the result.

In the Power domain we see several fights about immigrants, Islam and nationalism.

The fear over losing housing, jobs and welfare to immigrants is related to Money.

The fight between Christianity and Islam and also Hinduism and Islam is about a fear for a dominant Religion.

Politics typically exploits fears to gain additional power. The ongoing trend of globalism creates a fear of losing domestic power. Nationalism is the answer to that fear. It's not a solution.

In the Knowledge domain we have 3 intense debates, being climate change, opinions vs facts, and skin colour. The fear of whites losing supremacy has resulted in irritation, frustration and then anger. This anger has mainly been directed to blacks. 

The climate change debate is an interesting one as this fear originated in Science and has already moved on to the Truth for some people. Recent example between scientist and Australian senator: "I want empirical evidence". "I brought the graph". "The data has been corrupted.” “By who?” “It's been manipulated by Nasa." (eg, ABC, BBC, Guardian).

I think, feel and believe that the last fear - the fear of facts and our preference for opinions - is also linked to the first fear. The Truth is now within ourselves because our awareness, consciousness, and individualism have culminated into egocentrism and self love (eg, opinions).

Given the above, it's becoming harder and harder for me to like human beings. Fortunately, there are always gems amongst us, and that fact makes me retain Hope. My Faith remains my guard against Fear. Sometimes I think of having a dog as they do offer unconditional Love.

Jah Cure featuring Phylissia Ross - Unconditional Love (2010) - lyrics, video, Wiki

El amor es puro
El amor entiende lo que nadie puede entender
Quiero amarte para siempre
Enséñame como amarte incondicionalmente

You never see it coming
Then the next thing you know... unconditional love... unconditional love
She ain't looking for no diamonds
Ain't digging for no gold
Just somebody to love... unconditional love
Woaaah


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Ukraine connection

Last week, several Republicans hinted on losing the 8 November 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and/or the Republican House majority (eg, 50 Republican national security experts, over 70 prominent Republicans asking to shift Republican funds away from TrumpMcConnell, Ryan, Trump). The list of the Republican exodus from Trump is long and still expanding.

It now seems that even Moscow no longer believes that Trump will win.

On 31 July 2016, Donald Trump made some curious remarks about Crimea, Ukraine and Russia to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Trump: "He's not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want." (CNN)

George Stephanopoulos responded, in a reference to Crimea, which Moscow took from Ukraine in early 2014: "Well, he's already there, isn't he?" (CNN)

Trump: "OK -- well, he's there in a certain way. But I'm not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he's going away. He takes Crimea." (CNN)

During the ABC interview, Stephanopoulos mentioned that Trump has suggested he could recognize Russia's claim on Crimea over Ukraine's. Trump didn't back away from that possibility in the interview. "I'm going to take a look at it," he said. "But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also ... just so you understand, that was done under Obama's administration." (CNN)

Given these Trump statements there would be no point for Russia invading Ukraine until Donald Trump gets elected as US President. 

Still the odds are that Russia will invade Ukraine shortly. The GPF Watchlist of 11 August 2016 by George Friedman mentions "an unconfirmed report on Facebook that a Russian brigade has crossed into Ukraine's Donbass region in the direction of Debaltseve, Donetsk region. The report is sufficiently precise in locations to be worth putting on this list." The GPF Reality Check of 12 August 2016 repeats this claim in the 1st paragraph. Note: italic marking is mine.

A confirmed Russian invasion into Ukraine is likely to put Donald Trump in an even more terrible position than he already is. Several media have either claimed or suggested that Donald Trump is Moscow's favourite candidate in the November 2016 Presidential Election (eg, CNN, Guardian, Newsweek, Political InsiderSlate). 

A confirmed Russian invasion into Ukraine before November 2016 would suggest that Moscow has given up on its favourite candidate. My only hope is that the current situation is window dressing in view of the 18 September 2016 Russian general election. The political vacuum in USA (until 8 November 2016 or even 20 January 2017) and also in Europe (eg, Brexit, 2017 general elections in France and Germany, NATO, Turkey), could easily create a new status quo in Europe.

Status Quo - In The Army Now (1986) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2



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


Monday, 15 August 2016

Tipping Points - the human brain

Our brain is more mysterious than the least explored regions of the deepest ocean (Independent). Little is known about our oceans although 71% of Earth's surface is covered with water (Wiki). Less than 0.05% of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage (eg, MH 370) or the spires of undersea volcanic vents (Scientific American).

It may seem weird but scientists know much more about the surface of the moon and other planets than our oceans. Detailed mapping is available for Venus (98%) and Mars (60%) and our moon even for 100% at a seven meter resolution (Scientific American).

Independent: "Until recently, studies of the brain relied either on looking at gross changes resulting from head injuries, say, or brain tumours, or on charting oxygen and glucose consumption in the brains of the healthy." On 10 August 2016, a scientific breakthrough was published in which "the switching-off of genes in the human brain has been watched live for the first time" (New Scientist).

The analogy that came to my mind after reading that information was about a computer. Computers read and write data on a storage disk. Sometimes a spot on that disk cannot be accessed for technical reasons. Our brain appears to work along the same lines. A study on mice at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows how such genes stuck in the “on” position can lead to faulty brain wiring that affects learning and memory (eg, Science, ScienceDailyWUSM).

WUSM: “We’ve shown in mice that genes don’t just shut off by themselves; there’s an active mechanism to turn off genes after they’re turned on,” said Azad Bonni, MD, PhD, the Edison Professor of Neuroscience and head of the Department of Neuroscience. “If that mechanism is disrupted in the brain, you see serious consequences for learning and memory.”

The initial results on gene deactivation in humans are a positive surprise: "Scanning the healthy brains of eight people, [Jacob] Hooker [at Harvard Medical School] was surprised how similar the patterns of gene deactivation were between them. “We think of it as a highly dynamic process, so we expected lots of variation between people,” says Hooker. It suggests gene-expression levels are maintained close to a standard pattern, he says." (New Scientist).

New Scientist: This could mean that changes in gene inactivation are a sign that something is wrong. Hooker and his team plan to compare patterns from healthy people with those of people who have brain disorders to see if they can detect which genes are involved in these conditions. “We’ve already scanned seven patients with schizophrenia, a couple with Huntington’s disease, and have funding to scan 40 Alzheimer’s patients,” says Hooker.

The above is likely to have an immense impact and not only on professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists. Some day, robots may be able to perform brain scans and repair inactive genes. The impact on society at large might be astonishing, like (forced) treatment of criminals, fears, mental disorders, psychopaths, sociopaths. Transhumanism used to be an obscure concept, and even labelled as one of the world's most dangerous ideas (FT, 2005), but it has never been closer or more realistic than today.

Brainbox - Down Man (1969) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Blame it on the sun

Many people are saying that this is Donald Trump's new campaign song...........


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.