New life

CVG_6650

The grownups of this world decided to go to war again, people still hate each other and don’t understand that we only have this life, and that we shouldn’t discard it so easily.  The people in power are as ignorant as we all are the only difference is that they are in power. The air of knowledge and certainty hanging around them is a mirage originating from our own mind. What can we do? Not much. I read books to learn and think about it, write about it. But that’s about it, or not? Walking outside you don’t realize that the human world is a rotten place, it’s quite nice and the little lambs are walking around already, would the warmonger feel something when they see something like this? Natures clock is just ticking on regardless it’s children that don’t see its beauty.

Day 747, The end of winter and Facebook.

Day 747-1

Spring is finally here; the temperature is a few degrees above zero during the day now and is saw the first buds waking up from their winter sleep.  Living closer to nature makes me more aware of the different seasons and the winter season last a good 5 months here so its nice that the light is coming back and that it is all green again pretty soon.

I did also some spring cleaning and not only in my house. I left Facebook a couple of weeks ago after many years. I guess all the commotion surrounding Facebook the last few weeks was the final straw, I just don’t trust them anymore. I am not so afraid that they misuse my data, I mostly posted for work and almost never look at the feed let alone fill out stupid quizzes or liked stuff. The only reason why I didn’t move away from it earlier is because Facebook is like a shortcut to a lot of old friends and I had some nice group with my buddies from the Marines for instance. Those things I will miss but I don’t like it that Facebook has more or less a monopoly and therefore it can do what it wants. Read this article and you understand my doubts about this young guy in charge of a company that has the power to change people’s minds and elections.

If it was up to me than I would make Facebook into a phone book where the contacts that you already have are available for other apps to use. The big problem for a new social platform is that your friends are not on there. If all my friends were also visible on a new Opensource Facebook alternative for instance I could interact with them with the rule-set of my app and not that of Facebook.

Facebook is not invented to bring you and your friends together, Facebook is invented to make money, and you know what that does with people.

Day 695, No power and compassion.

Day 694-1-

Yesterday around five we had a power outage till eleven, so I couldn’t post my daily picture, first time in almost 700 days. It was kind of fun to live by candle light and a stove to keep us warm, fun because this happens every now and then and we know it will come back eventually. We also cooked our dinner on the wood stove…well cooked…I made some soup from a package, but it worked. Because we are addicted to flickering lights we watched some old vacation videos on our laptop while eating our soup, something you never take the time for but was actually fun to watch and I read a book after dinner of course and called it a night early to catch up at some overdue sleep.

Now it’s morning and while doing this I watch some YouTube about the Florida shooting, I feel sorry for those students and parents and get angry at all those gun nuts that can’t let go of there precious. If America supposed to be a modern country it looks really like a backwater, how dumb can you be to let everybody buy assault rifles! But don’t forget, you people that cry over this, the American military wrecks many families in other countries almost every day with their drone strikes, those civilians that get killed are made of the same flesh and blood as the people in Florida and with our wealth we could save thousands of children from dying of hunger every day. Compassion is not something we can handle on a daily basis, just in small amounts.

Noam Chomsky

This is the interview i talked about in my previous post, it’s interesting, remember that he’s almost 90.

From Wikipedia.

Avram Noam Chomsky, born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes described as “the father of modern linguistics,” Chomsky is also one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and laureate professor at the University of Arizona..

Born to middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. At the age of 16 he began studies at the University of Pennsylvania, taking courses in linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. From 1951 to 1955 he was appointed to Harvard University’s Society of Fellows, where he developed the theory of transformational grammar for which he was awarded his doctorate in 1955. That year he began teaching at MIT, in 1957 emerging as a significant figure in the field of linguistics for his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which remodeled the scientific study of language, while from 1958 to 1959 he was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is credited as the creator or co-creator of the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Chomsky also played a pivotal role in the decline of behaviorism, being particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.

An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism, in 1967 Chomsky attracted widespread public attention for his anti-war essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and placed on President Richard Nixon’s Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over subsequent decades, he also became involved in the Linguistics Wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later co-wrote an analysis articulating the propaganda model of media criticism, and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Additionally, his defense of unconditional freedom of speech – including for Holocaust deniers – generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the early 1980s. Following his retirement from active teaching, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the War on Terror and supporting the Occupy movement.

One of the most cited scholars in history, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as a paradigm shifter who helped spark a major revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarly research, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. His ideas have proved highly significant within the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements, but have also drawn criticism, with some accusing Chomsky of anti-Americanism.

Day 673, How to get depressed.

Day 673-1

To prevent complacency and happiness I took my weekly dose of depressive literature today. The book I chose and started listening to today is from Noam Chomsky and is called: Who rules the world Chomsky is a thinker I can recommend if you want your opinion of the world to get lowered by a mile. I really like his work and I get a lot of inspiration from him, but it is depressive to read his view of the world. In short, he sees America and their friends as a cause of much suffering in the world, a returning theme is the hypocrisy of these states when they call out terrorism done to them and the ease they dismiss there meddling in the world as being seen as terrorism by the receiving end of their meddling. I have no time or the capability to check all the cases Chomsky so easily sums up, I rely on others to do that kind of work and I can safely say that I agree with him after reading a lot of other books about the specific cases.  There is a lot going on in the world and if you only consume one side of the story you will miss a lot.

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it. Noam Chomsky

Reading the specific American or western side is for us westerners not necessary, our cultures is drenched with messages on how to see certain world events. Most of what we consume, through film, tv, media, books, or the internet; even if it is against America and their allies, is for the most part seen through our western eyes and not from the other side.  A good example is the recent missile alarm in Hawaii. For 38 minutes those people were afraid that their life was going to end. It was all over the news how terrible that experience was. I happen to watch Democracy now on YouTube that day, I like their critical view. Someone compared it to people in Pakistan and Afghanistan that hear drones flying invisible in the sky, over their heads. For those people it’s like a missile alarm almost every day, they don’t know when the next bomb is coming down, but they know it will, they live in terror on a daily basis like those Americans did for 38 minutes. Which story did you here the most? You probably never realized that those people live under that kind of pressure, and we admire Obama who in this case terrorized those people for years. Obama is the terrorist in the eyes of the victims of a missile hitting the wrong house.

There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. Noam Chomsky

 

While doing my picture today I had some Chomsky on, on YouTube. It was a google interview with him. One thing I liked was the story of the workers and artisan’s a hundred years ago who would hire a young boy, if they could afford it, to read books to them while they work. Something I don’t have the money for but thank god for the audio-books. But the point of his story was that the working class in those day was often better informed than the other classes, something that is no longer true. And I agree with him on this, knowledge is so important. People are no longer interested to learn more about the world, it’s easy to pick a side by reading some headlines and following the people you like. On social media an amateurish poem or story about my work gets always more reaction’s than some depressive message about the world. Most people just don’t want to know that stuff, they tell me. But if you want a better world you have to start educating yourself, it’s like the plastic bag they offer you in the store, what does it matter for the environment if you take that one bag, it’s already made… you tell yourself.

Day 670, Hypocrites.

Day 670-1

It is always nice to visit your home country. I had my reasons to leave the Netherlands and moved to Norway but some things I miss. Walking in Amsterdam with my colleagues from Norway and seeing their reactions to red lights and funny smells reminded me how used I am to the Dutch way of dealing with drugs and prostitution. I think that my colleagues are seen as progressives in Norway, but their reaction genuinely surprised me. They were opposed to it and telling stories how bad drugs is and how prostitutes are all forced in doing their work. We discussed it and how I think that their view is influenced by the propaganda the Norwegian government is spewing, something the Dutch government does to off course, but then the other way. I learned that Drugs and prostitution can be found in any society and that it’s stupid to bury the problem like they do, for instance, in Norway. For us it’s legal to buy soft drugs to prevent kids from coming in contact with hard drugs and some prostitutes might still do their work against there wishes but most of them don’t and can leave their job mush easier and work safer. I know it’s a culture clash, but more and more countries are going this rational way, so I think it is the right way. But Norway is in many ways a paternalistic country, or as they say in America: they have a nanny state. Alcohol is also strongly regulated here, you can’t buy a beer after a certain time and all the other kinds of alcohol are only for sale in stores controlled by the government. Thankfully I am detached enough from Norwegian society that it doesn’t border me that much, but if I think about it, it can annoy me that they don’t give me the freedom to do what I want with my own body, these colleagues literally say that they don’t mind taking away my freedom to buy beer at 20:05 or smoke a harmless joint. On of there arguments is that they have to pay for the damage I do to society when I get sick or addicted. But what about the people that do dangerous sports, don’t sport, eat fat, work to hard or do whatever life choice they make that is dangerous and unhealthy, do you forbid those activities? I see no reason why someone could withhold you from doing potentially stupid things to yourself, as long as you don’t endanger others it’s fine for me.

Related to this story and how hypocritical people are is this story from today in the Guardian: Link It’s about the legal and synthetic version of heroin: OxyContin. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from these legal drugs that are as addictive as the illegal versions.

But few know their wealth comes from Purdue Pharma, a private Connecticut company the family developed and wholly owns. In 1995, the company revolutionized the prescription painkiller market with the invention of OxyContin, a drug that is a legal, concentrated, chemical version of morphine or heroin. It was designed to be safe; when it first came to market, its slow-release formula was unique. After winning government approval it was hailed as a medical breakthrough, which Goldin now refers to as “magical thinking”.

It was aggressively marketed to doctors – many of whom were taken on lavish junkets, given misleading information and paid to give talks on the drug – while patients were wrongly told the pills were a reliable long-term solution to chronic pain, and in some cases offered coupons for a month’s free sample.”

I always like to look at today’s society from the future, let’s say 300 years from now. I think that they would describe a drugs problem around the end of the 20th century but the biggest criminals are not the small fry like Joaquin Guz or Pablo Escobar but the large pharmaceutical companies followed closely by their supportive governments.

 

 

Selfie.

Photoshop 1-13

This picture is taken in a beautiful part of America and the sign tells a story of that place. Look at all the marks that the foreigners left as a sign of their appreciation, to show the world that they traveled all the way to this great place. I chose this picture and changed it to use it as a commentary on our society that is heading more and more towards a “me” focused world instead of a world where the other (you) also counts. People say more and more:  “I don’t want refugees because I don’t trust them” instead of YOU come from a country destroyed by a war and YOU have it much worse than I have so YOU can come here.

The internet brought the world and its people closer together compared to 20, 50 or a 100 years ago but this technical marvel has not brought our hearts closer together. Twitter brought us the Arab spring and a fifth of the world is connected on Facebook and you would think that we would be more understanding of each other. Instead we see more and more people and governments closing their doors and longing back to the day’s where everything was neat in a box and labeled for clarity. Our modern need to take selfies is a vivid reminder of this, we like to share with the world a picture of ourselves, look at me.

I was this week for work in Amsterdam and there I saw the famous selfie sticks in use and I paid some attention. To be fair, the people were taking photos of all the sites, but they stuck their head in front of it and the camera every time. Imagine these people showing their pictures back home to some family members: here is a picture of me, and me, and me and my friend, and me etc. They showed the world where they have been instead of what that other world looks like. But maybe I’m not fair, 20 years ago it was not possible to easily make selfies with the film camera’s we had back then and it was a lot of work to send a couple of hundred friends a copy of your pictures. Maybe the modern technique has only awoken a slumbering need in us humans. Maybe there was never a Youtah and always a Metah

CVG_1397

Picture explained 1.

Photoshop 1-45

I made this picture in Photoshop at the end of December 2016. I think it was after reading an article about Syria and the lack of compassion we westerners have with those people. I imagined how someone is watching tv and see destroyed houses and dead people on the street and that they casually lean over to get some chips, maybe change the channel to watch a cartoon as if nothing happened. Or you can compare it with watching a beautiful landscape, you mumble something to your spouse, and you turn around and walk on to the next place…”Ooh yea, more bombs, what can you do”

The frustration is off course also pointed at myself, I still remember when ISIS blow up some historical monuments, I was more chocked by that the than by the constant news of dead children washed ashore. Maybe that’s why I make these pictures and write about it, I don’t want it to be normal, I don’t want to be jaded, see that kind of needless suffering as another landscape I have seen before.

The picture below is the original i made at the Grand Canyon, the background are two picture from the net and are from a city in Syria. I hope it catches our western distance to that war and our voyeurism.

 

CVG_1213

 

Day 650, How to make up your mind.

Day 650-1

It is really popular In our modern culture to say that someone should “make up their own mind”. That you should trust your own feelings and don’t listen to what others say. If you understand that advice as just another platitude than there is not so much harm in it but if you take them literally than there is a big problem.  The problem is that you assume that we can make up our own mind but the best we can do is to stick with an internal narrative that is for the most part plagiarized.

Continue reading “Day 650, How to make up your mind.”

FAX

Fax

Facts (short for Proven), sometimes called the truth or facts that are proven (the latter short for proven facts), is the proven-facts transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), normally to a brain connected to a head or other sentient device. The original proof is scanned with a fact machine (or a fact-copier), which processes the contents (text or images) as a single fixed graphic image, converting it into a bitlesson, and then transmitting it through the school system in the form of audio-frequency tones. The receiving fact machine interprets the tones and reconstructs the image, printing a paper copy.[1] Early systems used direct conversions of truth darkness to audio tone in a continuous or analog manner. Since the 1980s, most machines modulate the transmitted audio frequencies using a digital representation of the page which is compressed to quickly transmit areas which are all-white or all-black.

Fat naked people

Day 259-1I wanted to no more about civilian casualties of war, or Collateral damage. While doing research on the internet I came upon this site from the Watson Institute. The article goes about civilian casualties in wars that America started. They did research that shows that “The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries. As of March 2015, approximately 210,000 civilians have died violent deaths as a result of the wars.” There are other numbers to, if you search for Casualties of the Iraq War you will find among others this wiki page that reads: “Official estimates of Iraq War casualties range from 110,000 to 460,000. Other estimates, such as the 2006 Lancet study, and the 2007 Opinion Research Business survey, put the numbers as high as 650,000 and 1.2 million respectively”. If even big institutes and universities can’t make up their mind with all their available resources than I, sitting behind my computer, will of course never find out the truth. But if you assume it is the lowest number, and only for the war that America started in Iraq in 2003, than 110,000-civilian’s casualties are still a lot.

Maybe I am crazy, but I immediately see in front of me a dull meeting room. In this room there is some bad lightning, lukewarm coffee and numbers scribbled on a board. There are a couple of people sitting at a big table, It looks like all middle-aged white man. They discuss the tolerated number of casualties of the war they are about to start. They sit there all smug. Probably thinking in themselves: “look at me, sitting here at the big table, making big decision, I am so serious, I am so important…wonder what’s for dinner tonight”. But it’s true, there was a table like that, in a room like that, with just a few old, probably fat and white, guys deciding over the willful killing of thousands of civilians, and every war kills civilians. They might claim it’s the state that goes to war, and they are just the tools that do it, but…

Specner-Tunick-Stadschouwburg-theatre-2014
Spencer Tunick – Widewalls

Picture this: try to see everybody naked in a big field. Naked we are all the same, without all the bells and whistles you will never know if that person is a hairdresser, a plumber or a congressman. We are all the same in that imaginary naked world but for some reason these fat white men started pointing at some people by a tree with a comfortable couch. The fat men give the order to kill them, they want the couch. These followers do that and… some bystanders get also killed. If you take away all the bells and whistles you end up with this picture. Collateral damage is what they call it, but at the end that is not what it is, It’s just a bunch of people that wanted something no matter the cost they, don’t care that some bystanders might die. Observing a group of naked people doing this ritual would surely make you wonder, put them some cloth on and call them president and general and it suddenly makes more sense…sadly, now it fits in a whole familiar narrative.

Every person that died in such an unjust war is murdered.

I’m not against war, if in the imaginary field full of naked people someone start beating his neighbor to death and you send your strongest friend there to stop him, first with words off course, and he accidentally hit the murderers younger brother that was standing to close. You might cal it collateral damage where an innocent bystander got hit, but there was a good cause. (I know, where do you draw the line, but morals without a line are no morals, passivism is no solution) It is generally agreed on that the Iraq war was not necessary and if there was a stronger power than America we would have seen some self-righteous American statesmen on the stand in Den Haag. Every person that died in such an unjust war is murdered. Nietzsche has this idea that morals get their value from the powerful, and he is right in that, America is not punished for the murder of more than 100,000 innocent bystanders because they are the most powerful country and can make the rules. Most Americans still go to bed without thinking about that, they just don’t seem to care. Would you stay in a country that murdered 100,000 man, woman and children?

If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. Noam Chomsky
I struggle with these things, I like America, my fiancé is from America, I’ve been there several times, I wouldn’t mind living there for a while, I like going to the zoo. Its a beautiful country. Hollywood has softened my critical mind. The “idea of America” is almost always influenced by the media at large. Movies, comedy shows, news and so on. They all paint a picture, positive or negative, but they paint it. America is a big country, friendly people, racism, hamburgers, religious, funny presidents, ridiculous wealthy people, red

 

genghis-khan-
Mongolian warrior and ruler Genghis Khan created the largest empire in the world, the Mongol Empire, by destroying individual tribes in Northeast Asia. biography.com

necks, new Yorker’s, guns, American dream, poverty, and off course their wars. And If you slightly lift the Hollywood vail in front of your critical mind, you also see that Americans are not really interested in the rest of the world, I see this fake “Hollywood America” that is as narcissistic, nihilistic and schizophrenic as can be, but also has an air of innocence and naivete over itself. That’s how I see America, and that is a different picture than I have of a Hitler-Germany, a Stalin-USSR or a Mao-China, but they have something in common. They all rationalize their murderers rule over there subjects. And yes, I think we are all, the whole world, subjects of America. They have by far the most powerful military and culture in the world. They can pollute what they want, bully other countries, and start wars when they see fit. That kind of power corrupts and they are masters in rationalizing it.  In 500 years, when their power and culture is no longer dominant, they will write about America in the 21st century in a similar way as we now write about Genghis Khan or the Conquistadors. We write about these murderer’s figures and groups, there adventures and complement it with some hard facts about them, including a list of there wars and casualties. That’s it, in 500 years America will be reduced to some anecdotes in a corner of a history book, and a list next to it of all the peoples it murdered.

I know (of) a lot of good Americans but I don’t think it matters when the current is so strong against them, they will also be judged by time an get lost…maybe we all are.

 

“What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. . . . For some time now our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end. . . .” Friedrich Nietzsche

Nihilism is a natural consequence of a culture (or civilization) ruled and regulated by categories that mask manipulation, mastery and domination of peoples and nature.” Cornel West

 

 

 

The problem of democracy

Day 281-1

There is only democracy because we have no answer to the question of how we should govern ourselves.  The people that govern us are following the whims of the constituent and hence steer the boat erratically across the sea of time, every now and then catching a wave from the side. The only thing that keeps order in this imaginary boat is the relative order in the steer house, not every sailor gets a swing at the big wheel, and even a drunken skipper can be sent to their quarters.

After 1945, most prosperous nations are democracies. Before the war there were also democracies, but the chosen leaders were often granted more power. Its often said that Hitler came to power by democratic means, but his takeover of the government and consequently becoming a dictator is for the most part due to the system behind their democracy. Their system let him strategically move around his opponents and even let him use a law that gave him basically dictatorial powers. In Germany the inconsistent behavior of the voters where not the biggest cause for the rise to power of Hitler, the long tentacles of their peculiar history provided a system of government that allowed the rise of authoritarian rulers. England has a better history in this regard and it’s not surprising that the voters over there kicked their war winning prime minister (Churchill) on the curbs without causing a problem when the power had to be handed over.

A definition of democracy is that the power lies with the people. Most of the times this power is given to a representative, of the people, and from there a whole system is built made out of ministers, prime ministers, senators, parliaments and more. This system works, more or less, as a mood stabilizer, dampening the worst decision of the constituency. The different representatives can decide not to work with a racist party, even if they get a sizable part of the votes. But the people that vote still contribute to the main direction the country is going despite of the stabilizing power of the legislative and executive power.

Even more important than the stabilizing effect of the legislative and executive power for our fortune is the separation of powers or simply said: the agreement amongst citizens that prevent their ruler from ignoring or making laws that are made by the citizens. This system is developed in the 18th century where a king could still make laws, and order the police and judges what to do with these laws. They slowly moved to a separate entity for law making (legislative Power), and even the king had to obey these laws.  The judges became also independent (judicative Power), so they were free to interpret the laws and were no longer ordered on how to interpret them. Later these potentates became a symbolic head of state or were replaced by something less ancient and their power was more formally divided between the Legislative Power (parliament, normally in two chambers), executive Power (government and administration) and judicative Power (courts of justice)

This separation of power takes more direct influence away from the people in so far the main direction of the country is concerned.  There are some fundamental laws in each country that cannot be change by a simple majority vote like for example the constitution in America. So, together with our governmental system they ensure a certain stability for the long term. But for the short term we still have these ridiculous elections where the direction of a country is often determent by a minority that cannot make up their mind, a majority of the voters stay with their side for a long time.

It is not easy to come up with a better system. I have never studied politics, the things I say about democracy and the separation of power should be common knowledge, and I don’t pretend to know all the nuances. My problem is not this system we’ve built but the question of how you resolve differences of opinion. Giving everybody a vote is one way to solve a dispute but there are some questions where this can be dangerous. In a debate there are a lot of questions that you can answer with your opinion, for example birth control. There are no hard facts for or against it, your subjective feeling should decide your answer and in a democratic society each individual can decide if they want to use birth control and no law should be made enforcing or withholding it. But debating about the health risks of smoking is another story, there are too many hard facts about the negative effects of it. Forbidding people from smoking in certain places is no problem because it affects other people and its accepted that it is harmful towards others. But a law that forbids people from smoking is not good because the negative effects of smoking only effects the smoker, and in a democracy, we should be allowed to be boss over your own body. We can agree on these two I hope but with the next example, climate change, it gets more difficult. With climate change we also have an overwhelming amount of evidence, like with smoking, but not allowing cigarettes in a bar takes away some freedom, most people understand the reasons why. It took more than 60 years before the risks of smoking were finally accepted to a point that lawmakers could make some laws prohibiting smoking in certain places and labeling cigarettes with warnings. Imagine if these laws were enacted, 60 years ago, because scientist recommended it and the voters believed them. Countless people would have been saved from unnecessary painful deaths. The same problem we have now with climate change where political motivated opinions prevent us from taking strong and necessary actions. People are easy persuaded by warnings that their gasoline will be more expensive, and their freedom taken away, things that touch people directly, so they think. You have a problem when you debate a climate change denier, they more or less deny the science that they also rely on when they go to the hospital or drive a car. It is not rational, and as long as their grandfather hasn’t died of climate change related illnesses they will probably not change their mind. Like with the birth control example, you cannot say that it is just a matter of opinion because there are facts.

With climate change you touch a sore point in our democracy. The people that know, the scientist, say: go there. But the people that are in power, the voters, don’t necessarily understand why, and are easily persuaded to choose a goal not so far away. Why would I pay for something I will not benefit from…I don’t care about the world my children have to live in.  The voter and their representatives can debate a lot about  birth control, and as long as no one forbids either birth control or the beliefs against it there is no problem but for the things that matter, like climate change, democracy is a bad system.

In my fantasy democratic system, in a galaxy far, far away, there are no elections. The people have to write an essay, starting when they are 15, and repeat it every 5 years. In that essay they have to tell about their dreams, likes, dislikes, point of view and whatever makes their stance in life clear. Everybody does that every 5 years of their life, this way you have a constant stream of opinions that the government can use to steer their decision making with. In an ideal world some kind of artificial intelligence would read all of these letters and come up with some kind of guideline. In this system everybody has an equal vote, there are good reasons for this, you’ll get in shady waters if you give a philosopher, who writes a 50 pages essay more say than someone who just manages to fill 1 page. The effort is important, even if your level of motivation might be determined by your genes, you have to draw the line somewhere. These essays follow some rules of course, like a minimum length, and it has to show an understanding of the arguments and not a summary of someone else’s ideas, something a A.I. can simply find out.

This society offers, of course, free lessons on every level and in every field of science necessary to make a good essay, filled with well thought out arguments, to ensure a good functioning democracy…maybe we should start with this last part.

Free will

Drawings from the bottom of the drawer.

I have made some drawings in the past and they all came alive because of overflowing thoughts and philosophies and the urge to visualize them. The lack of words, and listeners, to express myself put my fantasy at work and I started these drawings. I have no talent for drawing or ambition in that direction. I only judge my work, and deem it finished, in so far as it pleases my eye and sense of proportion. I will now try to describe some of these drawings and tell something about the thoughts behind it. Bear in mind that some drawings are almost 20 years old and that my thoughts about them now compared to my intentions then can differ now, but I hope only in details and nuances and not in the core meaning.

tekening -1

 

We see here a checkerboard floating through space. This checkerboard resembles your life and is part of an underlying construction. On the checkerboard stands a depiction of you. The mechanical cross stands for religion and/or a constructed governing force that holds the checkerboard in place and can tilt it, so to slide you to one side unknowingly.  In the background you see a similar contraption where the other person, like you, is consuming parts of other people’s lives or at least the places where you could go. Underneath the main checkerboard hangs a large construct that you don’t see at the other one. This constrict works like a counterweight, and is made of knowledge, and dampens the effect of the steering crosses. I made it with a pen you couldn’t erase, to simulate life, when I made a little mistake I turned it in a flower as a sign of hope.

The checkerboard

If we get born, we are “thrown” into a specific situation. You are born in a specific country, class, religion, age, political system and so on. All these situations play a great role in your life if you want it to or not. If you are born in China in 1968 you cannot pretend to be only influenced by Brazilian culture when your 4 years old. What happens around you has a strong influence on you and how you will become when you grow up. You can go along with your culture and or rebel against it, but in both cases, you react to the situation you were “thrown” in at your birth. The checkerboard represents the life you are in and all the possibilities available to you in that life. You have a limited choice in where you stand but it all depends on where you grew up. The construction where the checkerboard rest on represents the constructed nature of most of the things and situations that influence us. Your are born in a specific family, there are many different forms of family life through the ages and in all the different cultures. You can have a typical 21st century western family with a mom and dad and two kids or, a family from 300 years ago in another part of the world where you live in a big building with 10 brothers and sister, uncles, aunts, grandmother, grandfather, and your parents. Both are constructed ways of living together, life, culture and history made these groups the way they are, nature has not so much to do with it. It is not hard to imagine what an effect these two different groups would have on you when you grow up in either one of them. You as a person have no choice in that, you are formed by your circumstances. “Everyone is the other and no one is himself.” Martin Heidegger

The iron crosses.

The iron cross represents the mechanism that has a more steering role after you start making “your own” choices in where to stand on the “checkerboard” that is given to you by your birth. Let’s say you are born in a religious family, then there are only a few places on your checkerboard where you can go to, to become an atheist. If you remain in a country that is heavily controlled by religious rulers than this “iron cross” represent these rulers and will tilt you on the checkerboard to a place where you will stay religious. Let’s say that you now move to a secular country, you will still be bound by the checkerboard or possibilities given to you by birth but now the “iron cross” or authorities will not steer you away from the little secular squares you have, but steer you towards it. Another way of reaching the few secular squares you have, in this example, is by studying and gaining knowledge. This knowledge might work as a counterweight to the forces in your religious country have on the direction of your life, and thus might steer you to the secular spaces on your checkerboard. This is most likely not a conscious move on your part, if you by coincidence start reading the “wrong” books this so-called counterweight might form without you knowing it. This iron cross is not only representing religion but all man-made constructs that steer your life, like the form of government or social structures you live under. All of these, steer your life towards their wishes. Remember that these constructs are not controlled by humans, they might be invented by them, but they live a life of their own and steer you as well as the so called rulers that are proclaiming and defending that system.

The others

The others, or other people in your life, take away pieces of your checkerboard or life. We do the same thing when we are in the vicinity of others.  Let’s take the religious person from before as an example. If I, an atheist, would become a friend with a religious person and we start talking and discussing life I will slowly eat away from their religious side of their checkerboard till I potentially consume, enough religious parts that they have no choice and land on a secular square despite the pull of the “cross” or system they live under. They will also feast on my secular squares and it depends on their quality and the pull of the system where I live under to see if and when in the end I will give.

In short.

You are born in specific circumstances that will give you a limited amount of choices. Society will guide your future choices, by the way of social pressure or laws but self-education can make you more independent. Other people will take away choices like someone telling you, while growing up, what you can’t do, and this will make it harder and harder to reach that goal that you desire.

Where is the free will?

I think that our free will is encapsulated in an imaginary tiny box. In that box we have free will but just outside that the box is everything we do in the world and determent by the world. Free will is something we think, but we act deterministic. We think we made a choice, and that is the limit of our freedom, we can think.

Let’s say you agree with me that we are thrown into the world and that YOU have had no choice in that. You had no choice in the circumstances you grew up in, it is determent for you. So, you might think that you choose that school later in life, but that choice was already made by the time and place you were born. You can choose from different schools, that all belonged to that specific time and place, you were born. That you choose the technical school was probably because of an example or someone talked you into it and don’t forget your genetic makeup. It is impossible to prove that there was a single point in your life where you decided to go to that school without influences from outside. Even if you stubbornly choose the opposite of all that surrounds you it still just the opposite of what was already determined.  Like I said, it feels like a choice, but it isn’t. There are all kinds of forces steering us forward. This doesn’t mean that you than give up. If you know that life is like that you can use that little freedom in your head to prepare yourself for the movements of life. I can give you an example of that: in my training as a Marine we learned certain fighting skills whereby you use the force of your opponent to defeat him. A little guy could, by accepting the forces around him, the powerful swing going towards his face, and stepping aside and lightly guide the powerful blow in a direction where the opened my stumble by means of his own forward momentum, and thus using these forces to beat a towering hulk. Your freedom rest in excepting the forces around you and not get overwhelmed by it. Your freedom lies, encapsulated, in that little box in your mind, and only there you can be free as long as you are not overwhelmed by the forces around you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

War of the dummies

Day 240-1I grow up with a mother that brought us to large demonstrations against American and Russian aggression. There were posters with peace signs on the wall and I remember that she told us, when we were young and in the early eighties, that if “the bomb” would fall we would go to the big city, so we would die quickly. There was a real scare that time for an atomic war and all because of that dumb actor and his war loving buddies in America that thought it was smart to taunt a dying bear. So, it’s clear that I didn’t grew up in a militaristic family, but me and my brother still choose to join the military. I was drafted, and I could have refused but I wasn’t sure why I was against war.

Continue reading “War of the dummies”

Tax robbers

Why are rich individuals and large companies trying to evade paying taxes in the country that gave them the stable climate and infrastructure that was necessary to grow their businesses. If they are so smart that they think it’s all because of them that they and their company succeed let them try the same thing in a poor country without a decent infrastructure and a well-educated labor force.

Why are people so upset about paying taxes? Countries that are famous for their high tax rates are also high on the list of happiest countries. Paying taxes makes everybody happier. Countries are also better as a whole when the gap between the higher and lower incomes are small.

I think it’s laziness if people defend rich people and companies with the argument that I often here, companies like Apple and Google/Alphabet need so much money and pay high salaries because of all the things they invent. If I remember correctly, lots of companies like this were founded by people with little money and resources and their first products were more revolutionary than everything they invented after that.  Money was not the only thing that drove these people, they had ideas and vision and worked with that. That spirit disappears often when a company gets big and fat, by than they need all the incentives they can get to move.

Companies can pay more taxes, if they cut wages on the top management, that obviously only works for the money and not because they believe in something or have a vision. High income individuals can also pay more taxes till we spread the wealth we have better. The generations that live now are born in this wealth, we have done nothing for it except maintaining it. This wealth is made the last few hundred years and in big parts by entrepreneurs that bought cheap or stole from peoples that were not ready for this kind of trade and power and could not resist. They got rich exploiting the poor and uneducated.

In many cultures money is still the number one motivator and that’s a shame because if it wasn’t and we would stick our heads together as a world we could solve a lot of problems.

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Before and after Newton

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”. (Genesis 11:1)

“So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous”. (Exodus 9:24)

“Allah hath turned some to apes and swine,”. (5:60)

Day 273-1Why is religion still around? Most people in the world will drive a car, make a phone call or watch tv. All these activities are made possible because of science, the same science that can disprove most of the claims from the different religions. Religious people don’t except the scientific method if it disproves their beliefs but except it the moment they get in a car, made possible by science.

Everyone that bases their actions on, tradition, hearsay, voices, or old books should by now know that the “they stand on thin ice”.

  • You can see a clear evolution in religious traditions like the concept of an “eye for an eye “to a justice system or the role of the woman in the household. The strict “god given” rules are more flexible as time goes by taking away strength from their claim of divine inspiration. Claiming that something is tradition and therefore true is in this light difficult. If you claim the newest tradition/laws as true then that contradicts often the original traditions or law books.
  • Many stories and rules in the different books and religious laws are themselves based on an oral tradition wherein stories go from one to another. Our modern historians or the police use hearsay but never as the only source, and these stories are often debated as to filter out the truth. In some religions there is also a tradition to debate the origins and validity of their thousands year old books and laws, but as everybody knows that has studied ancient history the evidence for these theories are thin and surely not enough to base a whole religion on let alone prosecute people and fight wars.
  • In most religious traditions hearing voices is a big part of their (written)belief. Throughout the ages and in many cultures, people that heard voices had often a special place even if they made no sense. This changed slowly and nowadays we have a whole industry to calm these people down. But if you genuinely heard voices or not, it’s not hard to imagine that a charismatic person can pretend to hear voices and give his wishes more convincing power. There are many reason why people (claim to) hear voices but like with hearsay it should not be a basis for a religion that can be so destructive.
  • The old books are al based on the first three points and can be dismissed.

Imagine you want to put together an IKEA shelf and the book with instruction was based on tradition, hearsay, and people with voices in their head. You might think that any way with IKEA manuals, but I guaranty you that there is a lot of science involved in making these manuals and furniture.

Even the most religious person in the world has probably some modern equipment that was made with science that contradicts his belief. And if people say that they “just know that God exist” you just ask them if they would fly in a modern airplane where the engineer that designs the wing just “knows the right shape”. As modern people we should know that saying that it feels right doesn’t make it right. That’s a sentiment from a time when people believed in witches, talking snakes and a flat earth.

Science can also be used for evil like a weapon. But a weapon itself is not dangerous, it becomes dangerous if it gets used in the name of some beliefs.

I know that there are a lot of peaceful religious people that use their personal god as a guide and strength in their life but there are better ways to find a guide in this life. One is to just look around and get amazed by nature and how lucky we are to be part of it, science is the tool to see and understand even more of it.

Fill your mind with science because an empty mind can be filled with nonsense.

 

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