Category Archives: Inspiration

Oh, You Scientists!

This interesting piece from the BBC came across my desktop the other day…

and I feel compelled to comment.

One interesting science-historical fact is from the days before the discovery of atomic forces, before we ‘knew’ that the energy produced by the son is based on nuclear fusion where two heavy hydrogen atoms are fused into one helium atom. The energy contained in the one helium is less than that of the two hydrogen and the energy difference makes our days bright and life possible on earth.

But it is not, that before the discovery of these processes scientists just sat there and agreed to wait for the discovery of nuclear fusion – no – they used what they knew then to explain the sun. Lacking nuclear fusion to generate heat they turned to coal, which they knew well to generate heat. So they came up with the idea that the sun is a big ball of pure coal – and it burned. They already had a good idea how big the sun was so, commandeering all the scientific methods at their disposal, they calculated how long we could depend on the sun to give is light and life. I don’t recall what the number was they came up with, but it was considerably lower that the now estimated ten billion. It dd  not matter too much, as other branches of science also did  not know too much about the time it took the current state to develop to what they could observe. And the creation of the world in five days was still a well accepted possibility.

We might smile just how cute – and wrong – science was then. But I can not help imagine scientists in a century or two who unearth this BBC video and have a good laugh.

I wonder where the humility of science has been lost so that it can now tell us with utter conviction “How the Solar System Formed.”

According to Steve Jobs

  1. Steve-MiniWe don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.
  2. That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.
  3. Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
  4. I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.
  5. Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.
  6. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
  7. Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
  8. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
  9. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
  10. My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.
  11. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
  12. What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
  13. Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
  14. It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.
  15. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
  16. You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
  17. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
  18. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
  19. If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away.
  20. Ultimately, it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things into what you’re doing. Picasso had a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas, and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.

Living Differently

Recently – or actually not that recently – I have started questioning the idea of having a big space to live in. Sure, if it’s cold outside and you have to be inside for months on end, it is nice to move around in a heated space. But for many years now I am actually in an area where there is not that much of a winter and where that argument is not really valid.

I watched a video of a couple that changed from a big apartment to one of the typical tiny houses of hundred-twenty square foot. She had the obvious idea of simply going outside when she wanted space.

These very tiny houses might be a bit too small for me, but something like this looks very appealing to me.

What did you learn in school today?

That’s one answer down my alley…


And for all of you who want to sing along with this song “What Did You Learn in School Today?”  by Tom Paxton – here you go…

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody’s free.
And that’s what the teacher said to me.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It’s always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

Past Life Echoes

Past Lfe EchoesEchoes from the Past – a story once told on a web site that were to promote diving into past life times, not out of curiosity, but to find and remove reasons for things not quite going right…

It was a beautiful morning in Frankfurt…

I had been very excited about my first job after college although that excitement had now calmed down a bit after a long winter – living in bread-and-breakfast hotels waiting for my own place to become available. Spring had finally come and with it the date to move into my own apartment close to my new work in Frankfurt, Germany.

Now life was just perfect. A good job with the perception of an abundance of money after long years of scarcity during college. A very nice girl-friend, my own comfortable apartment and now – to top it all – spring had sprung.

And there I was, driving through this beautiful morning, along the river Main. Heading into Frankfurt.

Music from the radio, and then suddenly I started to cry.

I mean CRY – tears running down my face, sobbing deeply.

It was just a song on the radio! In case you are interested – it was “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” by Edith Piaf – –

– – what, you don’t even know who that is? – OK, just briefly so that my story will make more sense. Edith Piaf was a big singing star in the 30’s in France. Her stardom peaked during the 40’s when Germany occupied bigger parts of France, especially Paris. She died before I was beyond the children’s song phase – in this lifetime.

In other words, I could not have had any experience with her that I could place within my current lifetime.

So – what the heck happened?

It took me many years to find out – many years and a lot of money. I might, at a later time, tell this long story of my trials and tribulations, but for now let’s get on with the short version and Edith Piaf.

On this beautiful morning my drive into town was fortunately long enough to give me time to collect myself, this was an experience that I could not forget and that did not really seem to make sense to me.

Shortly after these events I started to study a philosophy that easily accepted the idea of past lives. However learning about a philosophy and making a connection to the real life around us are usually two very different subjects.

Although being educated in the hard sciences I had started to look for more meaning behind it all. Somehow physics alone was not explaining all the things I could observe. Science fiction had been a nice compromise with the technological aspect on one side and the possibilities of mental and spiritual powers on the other.

I had easily accepted the idea of telepathy, surviving the death of a body and similar concepts found in science fiction but it had always been from the point of view of a spectator.

That was about to change! The philosophy I was learning about was an applied philosophy, meaning that the ideas we studied were not only of intellectual value but were actually put to the test by trying them out.

This allowed me, for the first time, to leave my spectator’s view-point behind and get involved. Thus I experienced that there were past lived and that made a whole lot of a difference in my daily life.

Now back to Edith …

… it must have been one of those WOW-moments while singing in the shower – that I realized, some time after I had to cry so hard, that I knew Edith Piaf! I did some digging with the techniques I had learned and found myself to be one of those Germans occupying Paris, France in World War II and having a hell of a good time, going to shows and other entertainment Paris had to offer.

Imagine this proper SS officer, arrogant to the max, believing that Paris was all his – that was me!

One of those shows my buddy-officers and I had liked had been a concert with Edith Piaf.

And did I ever connect to this tiny person with the huge voice and those sad eyes.

There was something about those eyes – something always there but never firm enough in my grasp so that I could have examined it to understand.

I also felt that there was something more but I could not get a handle on.

What to do?

For quite a while I chose one very interesting way of handling it – ignoring it. Have you ever done that? That was pretty easy, because rarely this incident was brought up to it the level of consciousness in order to actually bother me.

But deep down we always know if a matter is just dormant, right? Waiting to be restimulated and taking control is rather different than the condition when something is really, once and for all, handled.

I did unravel the whole story to a point where it now takes effort to recall it because it has become unimportant. It obviously had an effect on my life because uncontrollable crying can be considered ‘having an effect.’

There are now many resources available on the interweb if you are on the quest to unravel your past or find out, for example, why you are afraid of heights or small spaces. One I can recommend is the Whole Self Institute which takes a no-nonsense approach to subjects like past lives or grief handling.

Anarchy is Good

voluntarizmI have to admit that my first understanding of anarchy was in line with the definition that most people use these days – chaos!

But if we look at the definition and root of this word, we find that chaos is not really part of it. It comes from the Greek an- + archos meaning no ruler. It is certainly true that the removal of an established ruler can easily lead to chaos.

Take, for example, a kid that is strictly controlled. Take this control away suddenly and you will most likely had a child that goes wild. But does that mean that the child will remain wild? With most sane kids – and most of them are sane – they will soon find a balance and become accustomed to the lack of control and will be as productive or unproductive as their inherent make-up is. This has been demonstrated in an experiment of un-schooling, where a group of kids were not forced to do anything. Certainly they first slacked off, but after a rather short time of turbulence they started to better themselves voluntarily. If you have ever experienced the difference between forced and voluntary learning you know how much more efficient learning is that you actually want.

But this is an experiment that needs to be run to its end result. A system that would want control could easily subvert the experiment by first taking away control, let the kids go wild and then, when chaos is at it’s best, step in, proclaim that freedom does not work, and put the control back on.

This is the same principle used to convince us that anarchy is not working. Governments want to keep their control because this is what they live on. Any instance where control slips for a while, for example after a revolution or war, is them used to rationalize that chaos ensued and that government has to be established again as soon as possible.

Let me give you another picture that demonstrated that perfectly and which you will have in mind from now on whenever you hear about anarchy. Think of cooking pea soup in a pressure cooker. All the ingredients go in the pot, the lid is closed (control) and heat is turned up. Soon boiling starts, steam develops, and pressure builds in the pot. Nothing dramatic happens. The valve in the lid of the pot will let off some of the steam occasionally in order to keep the pot from exploding.

Now, suddenly open the pressure relief valve and see what happens.

You will have pea soup all  over the kitchen. Yes, I tried that and this is the reason I used pea soup for my example. All the pressure trapped within the peas suddenly has no opposition any more and goes everywhere and takes pieces of the peas with it. The conclusion could now be to never relief the pressure – which would be equivalent to the politician telling us that we need police and military and prisons and laws regulating everything from commerce to farting.

But there is also another solution, because, after all, we want to get to the delicious pea soup. That solution is to release the pressure gradually, or – in the more dirty alternative – don’t care about the mess in the kitchen. Either way, we can enjoy the pea soup.

The sweet taste of liberty and lack of legalized violence where personal interactions occur on a voluntary basis.

Back to the idea of anarchy, a society of ‘no ruler.’ To get there will require a total revamping of the up-bringing of the next generations. Right now, kids, that have a disagreement or fight, are taught to go to an authority who will decide for them who is wrong and who is right. That will have to change to teach them to solve their problems and disagreements amongst themselves. Certainly this will not happen in schools that are sponsored by those who want the status quo.

I see this state of mind appreciating a society based on voluntary interactions spreading and getting more and more into the main stream, Ron Paul being one of the examples for that. He had to fail because the bigger part of the people is still too afraid of pea soup all over the kitchen, but it appears to me that we are at this time in state two of the three stages of truth as described by Arthur Schopenhauer:

  1. It is ridiculed.
  2. It is violently opposed.
  3. It is accepted as being self-evident.

I just wonder when we finally get to stage three.



Boys Staring at Goats

One fine winter up in the mountains…
(isn’t it amazing that there are, in that densely populated Southern California, still places where boys can go out by themselves and explore – and make friends with goats – and stare at them?)

(Click on an image to start a slide show.)

Why do I love space so much?

I really wonder why I’m such a sucker for all things space.

From early teen-hood on I looooved science fiction, I still miss anything in this genre to this day and would really like to become one of those space tourists to the international space station, even though, looking over my finances, I’m a bit short at this time.

For quite some time I was sure the reason was simply experience – that I had lived all that space opera stuff in previous, long past, life times, but currently I am not so sure anymore. It might still be true, but I wonder if this explanation might have been a bit too easy and obvious.

Still, I enjoyed these two time lapse videos from the International Space Station, even though low earth orbit does not compare to some proper hyperspace travel or inertia free space drives (yes, I am re-reading Doc EE Smith’s Triplanetary right now.)