Categories for World

Timothy Morton

Timothy Bloxam Morton (born 19 June 1968) is Professor and Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. A member of the object-oriented philosophy movement, Morton’s work explores the intersection of object-oriented thought and ecological studies.

A few weeks ago i came across this article in the Guardian: A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene. I made a draft then, with the title Anthropocene. Today i changed that title to Timothy Morton. And made another draft for Anthropocene, to work on later. Let’s be clear. I was interested.

I’m nowhere near done with reading about Morton. I haven’t even touched any of his books. I will start with watching videos on youtube. The fastest way.

A couple of hours later, i did watch some youtube clips. I will watch the longer ones later tonight. I also reread the Guardian article. Too fast, i’m afraid. But still. This post is me pointing to someone and telling you he has something interesting and confusing to say.

Advances in science are now underscoring how “enmeshed” we are with other beings – from the microbes that account for roughly half the cells in our bodies, to our reliance for survival on the Earth’s electromagnetic heat shield. At the same time, hyperobjects, in their unwieldy enormity, alert us to the absolute boundaries of science, and therefore the limits of human mastery. Science can only take us so far. This means changing our relationship with the other entities in the universe – whether animal, vegetable or mineral – from one of exploitation through science to one of solidarity in ignorance. If we fail to do this, we will continue to wreak havoc on the planet, threatening the ways of life we hold dear, and even our very existence. In contrast to utopian fantasies that we will be saved by the rise of artificial intelligence or some other new technology, the Anthropocene teaches us that we can’t transcend our limitations or our reliance on other beings. We can only live with them.

Published on July 4, 2017 at 6:00 by

The truth

The truth. These words mean so many different things to all different people. Here, i can only write about the one truth i’m familiar with. My truth.

The truth of my life. My life as i have been leading it for the past fifty three years. I have made many mistakes. I have learned from most of them. Some because i was told i had done a wrong thing. Others because i experienced doing something not quite right. I have also done some things right. I have been careful. I am sensitive, easily hurt, taken away by a thought. So yes, i have been careful. I will rather be alone then with people i feel uncomfortable with. I like to be on my own. Listening to music. Reading a book. Sitting at my balcony and stare up to the sky. Watch some television. I enjoy that.

I do like to think about the world. I don’t follow all the news, but i do like to keep up. There are many other things besides the news which tells you something about the state of the world. I am an optimistic person. But i do understand why some people fail to see the good side of the world.

I do think there is something wrong in the world. It is the people getting used to lies, untruths, deception. People becoming used to not trusting others. People saying something and meaning something else. Not even because they want to lie, it is because they don’t feel the difference. They assume this is how the world works. Saying something because it is your job, for instance. Saying something because you want other people to believe you. To get something back. Money. Power. Status.

In this Western Europe, in the Netherlands, this country i live in, i am falling through. I try to catch something to stop my fall, something to hold me up. I have only a few weeks left over. Not that i’m anticipating the worst then. I still have the value of my house, which i bought twenty two years ago. I can monetize that, of course. But it is not the way i want to go.

Yes.

I still want it. I still want to get famous. I still think i can keep up with the pressure put on you in that situation. Yes, i need friends. Most importantly, i need a boy friend. To keep me sane. To cuddle with. To love.

People around me, people who i have talked with, about this subject, tell me i’m crazy. It will never happen. Never. Two people have said that. Of the people who only think that and don’t tell me, i don’t know how many of those there are.

Everybody leads its own life. The life they know, they grew up in. The experiences they had, which shaped their world. I tried to fit in. For years. Desperately. Until i stopped.

So i have given up working. Or at least, given up looking for it. I won’t say no if somebody asks me to do something. But hardly anyone asks. I have said it last week, in the About post, this website, maintaining it, writing the posts for it, that is my work. Honestly. Five days a week. With at the most five weeks of holiday a year. I do need to find a way to make money with it, of course. I don’t want ads. I don’t have enough visitors for that anyway. So becoming famous would be a way.

I enjoy the conversations i have with the people in the garden. They are feisty. Most of the time people don’t agree with me. But it is fun. Enjoyable. And i do learn about things i don’t know enough about. Taxes. Anarchy. Weeds. Compost. Flowers. Worms. And so on. I love that.

But i want to stick to my story. The story of my life. Which isn’t finished yet. I have only been working in the garden for a year and two months. I do feel i need to bring something out in fruition. Something in me.

So this post is a part of that feeling. Me trying to bring something out. Not for someone else, but for me. Because i feel my life will not be complete without it.

The truth of my life. Simple words. As i am sitting here, listening to the sounds of neighbours, the noises of cars and trams on the streets, this truth does escape me often.

No, this is not the right time. Not yet. I don’t feel a thought in myself coming up. But i am still happy, thinking, feeling where i am.

Have a good weekend. Salute!

Published on June 23, 2017 at 6:00 by

Solstice

Today it is a solstice on our earth. 21 June 2017, 4:24 UT, 6:24 CET. The Sun reached its most northerly position. Today, in our northern hemisphere, this June solstice is the time that the Sun almost stands still. It will start its movement to the southern hemisphere.

UT date and time of
equinoxes and solstices on Earth
event equinox solstice equinox solstice
month March June September December
year
day time day time day time day time
2010 20 17:32 21 11:28 23 03:09 21 23:38
2011 20 23:21 21 17:16 23 09:04 22 05:30
2012 20 05:14 20 23:09 22 14:49 21 11:12
2013 20 11:02 21 05:04 22 20:44 21 17:11
2014 20 16:57 21 10:51 23 02:29 21 23:03
2015 20 22:45 21 16:38 23 08:21 22 04:48
2016 20 04:30 20 22:34 22 14:21 21 10:44
2017 20 10:28 21 04:24 22 20:02 21 16:28
2018 20 16:15 21 10:07 23 01:54 21 22:23
2019 20 21:58 21 15:54 23 07:50 22 04:19
2020 20 03:50 20 21:44 22 13:31 21 10:02

Copied from the wikipedia page Solstice.

The earth takes a year to turn around the sun. Since the earth is on an axis, we experience the seasons on earth. In June the sun comes at its highest point. It is the start of summer. This date differs from the meteorological date, which in the north encompasses the months June, July and August. Since the heat takes time to spread through the ocean and seas, the warmest months are after the solstice.

For me, this year, this day means a lot to me. I’m happy to say i’ve reached this point while i still live in my house.

I struggling within me on how to continue. I do hope it will turn out good for me. I’m almost sure of it. Almost. I have got to get that to a full 100%! And yes, i’m working on it.

But this day is a day of celebration. Hopefully this evening i will be in the gardening, with friends, something to eat and something to drink.

Celebrate!

Published on June 21, 2017 at 6:00 by

Elon Musk

Today, Tuesday 30 May, i worked in the fruit garden. The temperature had dropped, but it still felt warm and a bit moist. We worked on making a strawberry bed around the cherry trees. I wasn’t much help. But i did do some odd jobs. Getting all the grass cuttings on the compost heap. Getting everybody water. And talking!

I got into a conversation with Daniël about Mars. Me, i don’t buy into it. I know there is a project, but i think it is ludicrous. There is no oxygen on Mars. There is no way to come back to earth. I think it is insane. Daniël thinks different about it. Then the name Elon Musk dropped. I said i didn’t like his reason to set up his project to go to Mars. He seems to have given up on earth and wants to colonize Mars. As a plan B. Because he has given up on earth. Daniël didn’t know anything about that. Than i said i would look things up about this. I do know i have read this. I would make a post about it. So here it goes!

He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI; founder and CEO of Neuralink. He was previously co-founder and chairman of SolarCity; co-founder of Zip2; and founder of X.com, which merged with Confinity and took the name PayPal. As of May 2017, he has an estimated net worth of $15.2 billion, making him the 80th-wealthiest person in the world. In December 2016, Musk was ranked 21st on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.

Musk has stated that the goals of SolarCity, Tesla, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.

In addition to his primary business pursuits, he has also envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a VTOL supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet.

I do appreciate Musk, i do admit. He is an intelligent man who works hard and thinks hard. It is his desire to establish a human colony on Mars which cast doubt.

… reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.

Or as it also says on his wikipedia page:

An asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: an engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Humankind evolved over millions of years, but in the last sixty years atomic weaponry created the potential to extinguish ourselves. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct.

We must expand life beyond this green and blue ball – or go extinct.

The absence of any noticeable life may be an argument in favour of us being in a simulation…. Like when you’re playing an adventure game, and you can see the stars in the background, but you can’t ever get there. If it’s not a simulation, then maybe we’re in a lab and there’s some advanced alien civilization that’s just watching how we develop, out of curiosity, like mould in a petri dish…. If you look at our current technology level, something strange has to happen to civilizations, and I mean strange in a bad way. … And it could be that there are a whole lot of dead, one-planet civilizations.

With this i completely disagree. I do think our earth is a miracle place. A treasure in the universe. With the billions of other galaxies in this universe, it does seem likely there is life on other planets. But the structure of this universe, expanding right now, means the distance between planets with life possibilities can be beyond our traveling capacity. Thousands of light-years away from each other. I do think it is our planet is rare, at this distance from its moderate sun, with its large companion by its side, the moon, which protects this earth from asteroids, makes a high- and low-tide possible with the daily movement so important for life on this earth.

I’m not saying terraforming Mars is a hopeless case.

Terraforming Mars would entail three major interlaced changes: building up the magnetosphere, building up the atmosphere, and raising the temperature.

I would never send humans to Mars though. Of course, there are always people willing to go. Excited by the adventure, willing to make a final move to the edge of their imagination. But it is a death trap, right now. Maybe someday somewhere way back in the past, there was a situation on Mars in which bacteria could grow and start changing the atmosphere. But it didn’t happen. We’ve seen The Martian, we can imagine living in a dessert type environment and going out with protection clothing only and working on a vegetable garden inside, sure. But Mars is not a dessert as we know it. Mars has only 0.145% oxygen in its environment. If we want to terraform Mars, we need to prepare it with robots and ammonia and hydrocarbons and whatever technical help we can find. It will take hundred of years, i think. And it seems to me a project in which this whole world, all the countries on it, needs to work together. And really, we do have other pressing issues right now. Right here on this planet we call earth. Home.

This thought of ourselves living in a simulation, in a sort of matrix, can lead to thoughts it doesn’t matter what we do. If we are watched by others, if we live our lives in this make believe world, it doesn’t matter what we do. But we don’t. This is the magic of our lives, on this planet, in this universe. It rolls on with time continuously. We make up stories of the past. Some are truish. Others are false. We make up gods, we make up stories about lands and families and money. But we all live now, in this world. We do not live in the past. Or in the future. Now. The most special time there is. The time so difficult to grasp, so hard to be in. Now. And we can let our lives be ruled by past stories, or we can move on and try something new. We have complete freedom in the way we set out our life. Which is so hard to see, so difficult to feel. Now.

We are subject to risk, everywhere on this planet, anytime in this world. An asteroid could hit our planet. Ride through the cover of the moon and hit us hard and make life extremely difficult. Of course. It has happened before. Millions of years ago. But we can not make a life with this risk in our hearts. We simply need to make the best of our lives as it is right now. Start to build a better world. A greener world. A world in which all the people born on it can make a life for themselves. For some it will be more difficult than for others, but that is the chance of being born here on this planet. Your life here is a chance to build something, to work on something worthwhile, to love people around you, to have a family, to maybe have children. To make the future a better place to be. To make this world cleaner. To make this world a better place for our children and all the children after that.

I believe this is the essence of our life.

All the people trying to make us move in the way they want to, all the people making money over our backs, all the people making us work so hard and earn so little, all the people hiding behind the curtains and not being visible.

All these people i don’t believe.

I work in the garden. Three days a week now. I love it.

It is a small thing to do. I’m a small person on this planet.

This website, with its five posts a week, is a place in which i can channel my thoughts, make them grow. A place in which i can think. With all the liberty i can feel in me. Right now.

I’m not saying i have all the answers. I’m saying i want to talk with you. About many things. About supercouples. About making walks. About working in a garden. About music. About food. About your personal life. About movies, books and television. About terraforming Mars. About our planetary system. About the universe.

There are many things you will know better than me. And some things i know better than you.

I’m afraid Elon Musk had to step aside for a bit. This post may be about him, about some of his thoughts. I’d love to talk with him about them. Even though i will be really nervous if this would ever happen.

In the end though, this post is about me. Why i maintain this website. I have so many thoughts in my mind. They do keep me awake at night. And yes, some of them are about me, about wishes i have for myself, dreams i would love to come true. Others are about this world, about our lives, about my sadness, about my friends. About this stupid and miracle world we live in. The world we destroy because we can.

Stop!

Published on May 31, 2017 at 6:00 by

A completed life

The Dutch party D66 is advocate of a law which will enable elderly to end their life when they believe their life is completed. The elderly are people of 75 years or older. This is different from the euthanasia law, which is build on a medical perspective.

In March 2017 in the Dutch program Nieuwsuur Alexander Pechtold was interviewed for almost an hour. There were also some people invited to ask a question. Martin Kock was one of those people. He has a death wish, but is still 18 years younger than 75. He wants to know why he can not make his own decision.

I saw this episode later on. For a couple of days this topic was trending in the news shows on Dutch television. I didn’t follow it at the time, but it did stick in my mind. Parts of me were puzzled by the question. It is also a strange topic for me. I don’t have any desire to make an end of my life. I enjoy it with all intensity.

I found another clip on youtube where Martin Kock talks to the camera and explains more about his wish.

Later on in the program De Wereld Draait Door there was a discussion between Pechtold and Segers, the list puller of the Christen Union.

The past few months this topic stayed with me. At one point i talked with my mother about it. Did she know anyone around her who felt her life was complete. No. This doesn’t mean all, of course. Most people will not talk about this. So you will not know it if someone does feel this desire.

An article in the Groene, Extra Bingo Is Geen Oplossing (1 June 2016 ). Decay, loneliness, loss. The ingredients of a completed life. A 2011 research of the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam showed that a hundred thousand elderly people in the Netherlands have a death wish or a diminished will to live.

What is a completed life? It seems to me a life full of accomplished wishes, full of life, work, friends. A moment in life where you look back upon it and feel happy with the work you have done. It can be big things or small things. It can be having had a family and enjoying your grand children or great grand children.

This is not the completed life which is meant here. Existential loneliness, is the term here. A feeling of uselessness, loneliness, a burden upon society, a burden upon your family, if you have any. Death seems the only way out. Death is more pleasing than the vision of being dependent on lowly payed young people leaving you sitting in your own shit for hours, if not days. Live is unlivable.

A major problem hinted at in this article and Voltooid leven vraagt ander antwoord dan dood is that older people feel themselves standing outside society. Not being included in, not being able to use your skills to help other people makes you feel unworthy. The distance between yourself and the working society grows with each year.

The articles i found today are very helpful and gives a lot more depth and background to my thinking.

Last Sunday i had a talk with Daniël about this very same subject. I was still a bit concerned about the question being asked. As if you need permission from the government to make an end to your life. I think there is a limit to the influence of government on the people. In the end, the life you lead is your own responsibility. Making an end to it is your own responsibility too. There are many ways to make an end to your life. Stop eating and drinking for one thing. To ask for a pill to make an end to your life is convenient, yes. But i don’t think politics goes into that area.

After reading the articles linked here, i am finding out there are many more issues involved here.

I am not able to give an answer here and now. I am seriously thinking about this. Weighing all the answers of other people, without getting to a definite yes or no. Balancing.

So i will leave this post here.

To be continued.

Published on May 5, 2017 at 6:00 by

The Value of Science

by Richard P. Feynman

Of all its many values, the greatest must be the freedom to doubt.

“The Value of Science” was given as a public address at the 1955 autumn meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. held on the Caliech campus November 2, 3 and 4.

FROM TIME TO TIME, people suggest to me that scientists ought to give more consideration to social problems – especially that they should be more responsible in considering the impact of science upon society. This same suggestion must he made to many other scientists, and it seems a be generally believed that if the scientists would only look at these very difficult social problems and not spend so much time fooling with the less vital scientific ones, great success would come of it.

It seems to me that we do think about these problems from time to time, but we don’t put full‑time effort on them – the reason being that we know we don’t have any magic formula for solving problems, that social problems are very much harder than scientific ones, and that we usually don’t get anywhere when we do think about them.

I believe that a scientist looking at non‑scientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy – and when he talks about a non‑scientific matter, he will sound as naive as anyone untrained in the matter. Since the question of the value of science is not a scientific subject, this talk is dedicated to proving my point – by example.

The first way in which science is of value is familiar to everyone. It is that scientific knowledge enables us to do all kinds of things and to make all kinds of things. Of course if we make good things, it is not only to the credit of science; it is also to the credit of the moral choice which led us to good work. Scientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or had‑hut it does not carry instructions on how to use it. Such power has evident value – even though the power may be negated by what one does.

I learned a way of expressing this common human problem on a trip to Honolulu. In a Buddhist temple there, the man in charge explained a little bit about the Buddhist religion for tourists, and then ended his talk by telling them he had something to say to them that they would never forget – and I have never forgotten it. It was a proverb of the Buddhist religion:

“To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven ; the same key opens the gates of hell.”

What then, is the value of the key to heaven? It is true that if we lack clear instructions that determine which is the gate to heaven and which the gate to hell, the key may be a dangerous object to use, but it obviously has value. How can we enter heaven without it?

The instructions, also, would be of no value without the key. So it is evident that, in spite of the fact that science could produce enormous horror in the world it is of value because it can produce something.

Another value of science is the fun called intellectual enjoyment which some people get from reading and learning and thinking about it, and which others get from working in it. This is a very real and important point and one which is not considered enough by those who tell us it is our social responsibility to reflect on the impact of science on society.

Is this mere personal enjoyment of value to society as a whole? No! But it is also a responsibility to consider the value of society itself. Is it, in the last analysis, to arrange things so that people can enjoy things? If so, the enjoyment of science is as important as anything else.

But I would like not to underestimate the value of the world view which is the result of scientific effort. We have been led to imagine all sorts of things infinitely more marvelous than the imaginings Of poets and dreamers of the past. It shows that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. For instance, how much more remarkable it is for us all to be stuck – half of us upside down – by a mysterious attraction, to a spinning ball that has been swinging in space for billions of years, than to be carried on the back of an elephant supported on a tortoise swimming in a bottomless sea.

I have thought about these things so many times alone that I hope you will excuse me if I remind you of some thoughts that I am sure you have all had – or this type of thought – which no one could ever have had in the past, because people then didn’t have the information we have about the world today.

For instance, I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think. There are the rushing waves . . . mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business . . trillions apart . . . yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages . . . before any eyes could see . . year after year . . . thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what? . . . on a dead planet, with no life to entertain.

Never at rest . . . tortured by energy . . . wasted prodigiously by the sun . . . poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves . . . and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity . . . living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle onto the dry land here it is standing . . . atoms with consciousness . . . matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea . . . wonders at wondering . . . I . . . a universe of atoms . . . an atom in the universe.

The grand adventure
The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, come again and again when we look at any problem deeply enough. With more knowledge comes deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, but with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading to more wonderful questions and mysteries – certainly a grand adventure!

It is true that few unscientific people have this type of religious experience. Our poets do not write about it; our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. I don’t know why. Is nobody inspired by our present picture of the universe? The value of science remains still unsung by singers, so you are reduced to hearing – not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age.

Perhaps one of the reasons is that you have to know how to read the music. For instance, the scientific article says, perhaps, something like this: “The radioactive phosphorous content of the cerebrum of the rat decreases to one‑half in a period of two weeks.” Now what does that mean?

It means that phosphorus that is in the brain of a rat (and also in mine, and yours is not the same phosphorus as it was two weeks ago, but that all of the atoms that are in the brain are being replaced, and the ones that were there before have gone away.

So what is this mind, what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! That is what now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago – a mind which has long ago been replaced.

That is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms, to note that the thing which I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, then go out always new atoms but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

The remarkable idea
When we read about this in the newspaper, it says, “The scientist says that this discovery may have importance in the cure of cancer.” The paper is only interested in the use of the idea, not the idea itself. Hardly anyone can understand the importance of an idea, it is so remarkable. Except that, possibly, some children catch on. And when a child catches on to an idea like that, we have a scientist. These ideas do filter down (in spite of all the conversation about TV replacing thinking), and lots of kids get the spirit – and when they have the spirit you have a scientist. It’s too late for them to get the spirit when they are in our universities, so we must attempt to explain these ideas to children.

I would now like to turn to a third value that science has. It is a little more indirect, but not much. The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty – some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.

Now. we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to he unsure – that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes that this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle. Permit us to question – to doubt, that’s all – not to be sure. And I think it is important that we do not forget the importance of this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained. Here lies a responsibility to society.

We are all sad when we think of the wondrous potentialities human beings seem to have, as contrasted with their small accomplishments. Again and again people have thought that we could do much better. They of the past saw in the nightmare of their times a dream for the future. We, of their future, see that their dreams, in certain ways surpassed, have in many ways remained dreams. The hopes for the future today are, in good share, those of yesterday.

Education, for good and evil
Once some thought that the possibilities people had were not developed because most of these people were ignorant. With education universal, could all men be Voltaires? Bad can be taught at least as efficiently as good. Education is a strong force, but for either good or evil.

Communications between nations must promote understanding: so went another dream. But the machines of communication can be channeled or choked. What is communicated can be truth or lie. Communication is a strong force also, but for either good or bad.

The applied sciences should free men of material problems at least. Medicine controls diseases. And the record here seems all to the good. Yet there are men patiently working to create great plagues and poisons. They are to be used in warfare tomorrow.

Nearly everybody dislikes war. Our dream today is peace. In peace, man can develop best the enormous possibilities he seems to have. But maybe future men will find that peace, too, can be good and bad. Perhaps peaceful men will drink out of boredom. Then perhaps drink will become the great problem which seems to keep man from getting all he thinks he should out of his abilities.

Clearly, peace is a great force, as is sobriety, as are material power, communication, education, honesty and the ideals of many dreamers.

We have more of these forces to control than did the ancients. And maybe we are doing a little better than most of them could do. But what we ought to be able to do seems gigantic compared with our confused accomplishments,

Why is this? Why can’t we conquer ourselves?

Because we find that even great forces and abilities do not seem to carry with them clear instructions on how to use them. As an example, the great accumulation of understanding as to how the physical world behaves only convinces one that this behavior seems to have a kind of meaninglessness. The sciences do not directly teach good and bad.

Through all ages men have tried to fathom the meaning of life. They have realized that if some direction or meaning could be given to our actions, great human forces would be unleashed. So, very many answers have been given to the question of the meaning of it all, But they have all been of different sorts, and the proponents of one answer have looked with horror at the actions of the believers in another. Horror, because from a disagreeing point of view all the great potentialities of this race were being channeled into a false and confining blind alley. In fact, it is from the history of the enormous monstrosities created by false belief that philosophers have realized the apparently infinite and wondrous capacities of human beings. The dream is to find the open channel.

What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence?

If we take everything into account, not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn’t know, then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.

This is not a new idea; this is the idea of the age of reason. This is the philosophy that guided the men who made the democracy that we live under. The idea that no one really knew how to run a government led to the idea that we should arrange a system by which new ideas could be developed, tried out, tossed out, more new ideas brought in; a trial and error system. This method was a result of the fact that science was already showing itself to be a successful venture at the end of the 18th century. Even then it was clear to socially‑minded people that the openness of the possibilities was an opportunity, and it that doubt and discussion were essential to progress into the unknown. If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

Our responsibility as scientists
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. There are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the men of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our grow for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant; if we suppress all discussion, all criticism, saying, “This is it, boys, man is saved!” and thus doom man for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so man lines before.

It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress and great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress that is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom, to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed, and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.

Source: http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/40/2/Science.htm

Published on April 6, 2017 at 6:00 by

Action

The Action shop, a shop only 50 meters away from my house, i don’t visit that much. Only last week, some people i walked by and smiled to said to me it was good i lived so close to it. I shrugged.

I had this post as a draft for a couple of weeks. And yes, i didn’t use it. I just remembered. So i will delete that draft and keep this one in place.

I did buy two bedsheets in the past year. The ones i had were torn. I tried fixing them, but it all got loose once more. So i bought new ones. I did do a search for the cheapest ones i could find. The ones in the HEMA were 10 euros. The ones in the Action were 6,95. So yeah. Action.

A few months ago there was a television program on Dutch television about discount shops. That was what woke me up. I never thought people would buy so many things in there. But yes, they do. Whole houses filled up with things bought there.

Jinek interview with Roland Duong about discount shops (Dutch)

Earlier I bought plastic containers in the Action. Like a year and a half ago, not sure. But that is it. I did go into the shop once before, but i left a bit flabbergasted with nothing. So many things, all very cheap.

So today i went in specifically to make photos. I did worry a bit beforehand. There could be guards there, that could try to prevent me from taking the photos. Not that i will do anything with them. But that didn’t happen. Some people saw me taking the photos, but nobody said anything.

I was actually taking in everything that was there. I liked the paint brushes, the paint, the papers, the insect hotels, the coloured feltpens, the metal boxes, the plastic containers, the glass containers, the toothbrush sets for electrical brushes, the hair colourings, the candles, the gardening gloves, the underwear, some of the the food, like the bio nut paste. More than i had imagined.

Ooh, the name. Action. Another bolt in my piece about language. Remember!

Anyway, here are the photos. Enjoy!

Published on April 5, 2017 at 6:00 by

Dutch elections

Next week, Wednesday 15 March, the Dutch elections will be held. In this election all 150 members of the House of Representatives, the Tweede Kamer, are chosen.

No single party has ever managed to win a majority of the votes, good for 76 seats in the house. The Dutch government has been a coalition of several parties for more than a century.

I grew up in a left wing labour family. We had a Vara tv magazine, we listened to the Saturday radio show In de Rooie Haan. We watched the VPRO on Sundays and had the newspaper Het Vrije Volk, the Free People – which no longer exists. The first party i ever voted for was the Communistic Party. I was eighteen years old.

I never was terribly interested in politics. For convenience, i settled for the Dutch Labour party, the PvdA. I did vote most of the time. I might have skipped a few. I don’t remember.

The past two years i have changed, my life has changed. My thoughts about many things, like politics, have sharpened. These last weeks before the elections the debates and discussions on television are on almost every night. I don’t watch them all. The one thing that stuck was a question somebody in the audience asked Pechtold (D66) about his death wish. He was only in his late 50s.

We are all born free in this world with our own responsibility for our lives. The government has nothing to do with how somebody would like to end his or her own life. I’m really baffled by the question, as if the man was waiting for approval for his going away. The answer uses the word dignity. Death is simply the end of your life. I’d love it to be dignified for everybody, but i do see that it is not the case. To me, this drives the responsibility of our government too far. You can simply slit your wrists and be done with it. Not that i wish anyone to do this. But if you want to go, simply go.

I’m also thinking about the importance of money and economics. The way the future is projected. Plans of the parties are calculated through with an horizon of 60 years. So many things can happen in that time. It is impossible to know everything, or rather anything about these events. But it still goes through. Most parties parade the apparently good results.

Once i have a little money myself, i will donate some to the Peace garden. I will try to find people who are working on school gardens. I think every school, for children aged between 4 and 12 years old, should have a school garden system. With gardeners working with the children.

These are my personal dreams. If ever i get the money of course!

As for our country, my vote goes to the Partij van de Dieren. I like their thinking about economics. We do need to find a way to change the buying habits of so many people, buying all this nonsense junk in the shops. We do need to take care of our planet. It is a magical place with so many animals and plants sharing this world with us. We need to take care of all of it. Not kill and pollute.

Plan B (English)Plan B (Dutch).

I am still thinking about who i am going to vote for. Marianne Thieme is the main front person of the Partij van de Dieren. But i am also following Ewald Engelen on Facebook and Twitter, he is on number ten of the list. So my vote might go to him. Still thinking!

I am following my own dreams, my own thoughts, my own ideals. I’m happy i found a good party to place my votes with.

I do hope you will find a good place too.

Published on March 7, 2017 at 6:00 by