Category Archives: Culture

Seeing the Future

When I was in my late teens, starting to read science-fiction, I was sure that by now we would regularly traveling to other planets and had settlements on the moon, and the flying car was a given.

But many of these things are still only subject of science-fiction, but something totally unimagined has materialized – a network that did make the world’s knowledge accessible from the palm of my hand. I knew there would be talking robots but that I would be able to access all data with just a query – I just hadn’t thought of.

Found this interesting video of visual thoughts of how the future might look like…

But with that last experience, what’s really going to happen, will be something totally different altogether.

Google in the 60s

My first encounters with computers were through the medium of punch cards and line-printers.

Thus, finding the Google60 art project made me a bit nostalgic. The project tries to show how you would interact with the all-pervasive Google through the mediums of the 60s.

Click on the image to experience it yourself…

Google60-inout

Google 60 Art Project

Triumph of the Nerds

Now that all those nerds that created the computer revolution are getting to an age where we might lose them – see Steve Jobs – documentaries like Robert X. Cringley’s Triumph of the Nerds become more of a history text book (book understood more figuratively).

In the old InfoWorld magazine/newspaper Cringley’s column “Notes from the Field” was always my favorite – your’s too, Max, right?

So, I just had to stop and listen (and watch) when I ran into his documentary “Triumph of the Nerds” on Youtube.

Free Home For Anyone Who Will Take It

Found this good story on Facebook and like to present it here…

I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the successful passing of the recent health care bill. I could not finish my breakfast. This is what ensued:

They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes. I heard the young man exclaim, “Isn’t Obama like Jesus Christ? I mean, after all, he is healing the sick.” The young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, “Yeah, and he does it for free. I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market would work for health care. Another said, ‘The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power. Obama should be made a Saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate.” At this, I had more than enough.

I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table.

“Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?” They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation. I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.

“I would like to give one of you my house. It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there. Anyone interested?” They looked at each other in astonishment. “Why would you do something like that?” asked a young man, “There isn’t anything for free in this world.” They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point. “I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money what so ever. Anyone interested?” In unison, a resounding “Hell Yeah” fills the room.

“Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money-free bargain.” I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking his head in apparent disgust. “I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules.” Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces. The perky young woman asked, “What are the rules?” I smiled and said, “I don’t know. I have not yet defined them. However, it is a free home that I offer you.” They giggled amongst themselves, the youngest of which said, “What an old coot. He must be crazy to give away his home. Go take your meds, old man.” I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further. “I am serious, this is a legitimate offer.” They gaped at me for a moment.

“I’ll take it you old fool. Where are the keys?” boasted the youngest among them. “Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then?” I asked.. The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table. “Oh hell yeah! Where do I sign up?” I took a napkin and wrote, “I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction.” I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature. “Where are the keys to my new house?” he asked in a mocking tone of voice. All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.

“Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere from this point forward. You may only live in the house for one hour a day. You will not use anything inside of the home. You will obey me without question or resistance. I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you. You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature. Your morals and principles shall be as mine. You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith. These are my terms. Here are your keys.” I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumbfounded.

“Are you out of your mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms?” the young man appeared irritated. “You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement.” Was all I said. The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him. I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people. “You can shove that stupid deal up you’re a** old man, I want no part of it” exclaimed the now infuriated young man. “You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends; you cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it. I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared. I am the power you agreed to. I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to. In short, I am your Master.” At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.

After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent. “What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation. I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain. Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn; that you are entitled to that which you did not earn; that you willingly allowed someone else to think for you. Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you. You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee. Your only chance of freedom is if your new Master gives it to you. A freedom that is given can also be taken away; therefore, it is not freedom.” With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man. “This is the nature of your new health care legislation.”

I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation and was surprised by applause. The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, “Thank you Sir, these kids don’t understand Liberty these days.” He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, “You earned this one, it is an honor to pickup the tab.” I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled, and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.

Use reason,
Clifford A.

School and Social Behavior

For a while I myself subscribed to the idea that school is a good place for kids to practice their social skills.

Even if that might be true to some extend and we try to weigh the good against the bad, I believe that it is about time to abolish the traditional, government-run schools.

I nice picture I ran into today drives that home a bit more…

What school really teaches

What to Do to Be on Money and Coins

When playing with my scanner and photo editing software to find out how to get around the built-in law prohibiting to scan money, I looked at the dude on that one bill and could not help thinking about what he did to become so admired that he now is on one of those pieces of paper that is usually called money.

Honest Abe managed to trample liberty with all his feet by forcing the south to remain in the union. They did not like to be in that union any more but Abe did not want to lose what they contributed so he waged a war to keep them in. As he was the victor he packaged his motives as “freeing the slaves” – but politicians, especially when victorious have always been very good at this kind of re-purposing.

Another dude that I just recently learned to see in a different light does not have his own paper bill, but at least he has a coin, and, as I remember, at least one stamp with his picture…

Wernher von Braun – the man who took us to the moon.

But he also was a war criminal because he built – or helped build – all the V2s that were used to bomb England. He did not have to stand trial in Nuremberg because his services were needed in the US of A.

So, what could I do to get my picture on some money or at least a coin?

No good idea yet but maybe some of you might come up with something.

And, so that you did not come here for nothing – here is how I got the picture of Abe from the 5 Dollar bill. My scanner – an HP – did scan the bill without a problem into a png file. I could not open that in Photoshop or Corel Paint – but Gimp was not so picky about the law. So I opened it there, cropped and straightened it, then selected all and hit the Crtl C.

In Photoshop I could open a new doc and just paste the data from Gimp. Once saved as a Photoshop native format – psd – there was no problem re-opening that file – and cutting out honest Abe.

2001 for the new Generation

Stanley Kubric’s movie 2001 must be my most favorite movie – how could it be not – I  have watched it probably about 10 times. But then again, that was a long time ago.

When I wanted to share that love with my son a while back he got bored with it really quickly. I realized that this is definitely a movie for which you have to have patience and that is not trained with today’s fast-paced flicks.

Finally, somebody came a long and made – at least – a trailer for this cinematic masterpiece that might appeal to the new generation. They might be disappointed once they start watching it for real – especially the long takes in the beginning – but maybe they gain some patience and learn to enjoy scenes that are longer than three seconds…

Sexual Emancipation for Men

From the time of my early childhood I have seen the view on gender and sex certainly change. Initially it was the natural order of things that papa was out to work and mama was home taking care of the house and children.

Then came the ‘sexual revolution’ which changed all that. All was turned upside down and put together in a different way. Somehow I ended up with the deep rooted opinion that it is very, very bad to act in a way that could be considered sexist. Only the inner values, which are independent of gender, were considered to be relevant. You were supposed to be sex-blind.

That naturally created some discrepancy between what I could observe and what I was supposed to observe. Let’s take the example of a very pretty girl. One guy who, like me, was drilled to see only the inner values – even though that was rather difficult to do – started a conversation about philosophical questions of life, the universe and everything to engage the intellectual being inside that pretty exterior, and got nowhere.

The other guy just locked his eyes onto her body, drooling noticeable, only able to utter such intelligent thoughts as “Wow, you are so beautiful, can I have your number?” Not a single note about the inner qualities. He usually got the number.

Often the purely sexual aspect is exhibited – oozing sexuality instead of displaying a masters degree or a doctor title. And, funny enough, this is mostly done by the female, who officially works on being appreciated for her intellect and not the cleavage. Let’s take a normal business setting. Men are usually totally a-sexual in such an environment, buttoned up shirt with a tie. But the female executives often show off her non-intellectual qualities. What would happen if men would do that?

All these thought, I have to admit, never really surface totally within me, until very recently, when I ran into a picture of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Ms. Merkel is probably a very intelligent person, at least in the limited political way, so why in the world is she sexualizing her appearance so much. There is no beauty in this as she is not a particularly beautiful person, and whom is she trying to arouse? Or is this just a sport to see how long it takes that male until he finally looks at her boobs? There certainly are other options to dress as you notice when you look at the person in the background behind Ms. Merkel.

When I though about how this would look like if the male part of the political world would give up its boring non-sexuality and let it all hang out as well, I became curious. So I went out to find if it did indeed exist, and to my total surprise, I found it.

George W after the sexual liberation

Wouldn’t that put a completely new face on politics? Please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to bash either Bush nor Merkel. It is just that here we are offered by these very public figures a way to understand just how much of a double talk exists in the arena of emancipation. We could use any setting in business as well, we would, most likely, find a similar situation.

Hopefully, after draining my brain of inner conflict, I will now be able to just compliment a woman on her looks without the idea of violating the emancipation law. Because, quite honestly, I appreciate female beauty just as any other male. Just as I am sure women appreciate male beauty. Just as a side note, a co-worker of my wife once called me ‘ruggedly handsome!’ I still dearly love Sharon!

What do you think, should men start fighting for sexual equality in politics and business and dress more like George in the above picture?

The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels

Did you enjoy your history classes in school?

I believe there is hardly anybody who will answer ‘yes’ to this question, and I believe this to be by design. People at the helm, the so-called ‘leaders’ are usually not the smart and productive ones. Otherwise they would not have to resort to plunder. So we can not expect them to be very creative in inventing new ways of cheating the productive part of the people out of the fruit of their labor.

They have to look at successful actions in the past. But as these actions are always doomed and not very long lasting it would be very bad for business if others would recognize their actions and see where they lead.

Thus history lessons have to be made so boring that nobody wants to even look at them. Trying to actively hide them would not work because a good mystery will always cause interest and that is definitely something that must be avoided.

Making it boring was therefore a very good move. If a noticeable number of people would be interested in history – even the rather recent one like that of the Hitler empire – they would see the plain parallels in today’s events.

Hitler for example used the word Vaterland (fatherland) and the emotionally charged word to rally the people behind his agenda. ‘Homeland’ feels pretty close to that. Both don’t have any real meaning as a farm in Maryland is as little my home, or fatherland as a farm in China. The current owners of both would kick me off if I were to go there and life there now. If something is not mine it is not mine independent of where it is.

But beside making the real history, one that tried to convey reasons behind events and not only the date, a mock-history is sold and promoted by Hollywood. This fake history causes people to believe that they know what went on and so there really no reason any more to do some actual research into cause and effect.

All these ideas are not new and all over the past the few who could look and see realized this reality. One such evidence is the essay “The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels” by Lawrence W. Reed, the director of The Foundation for Economic Education. This was a talk given in 1979 and is read by Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio.

Or see it directly on YouTube.

Independence Day and the Belief in Authority

I grew up in Germany after a time in history when the German people had had a very bad experience with patriotism.

The love for the Fatherland (not Homeland as it’s called in the US today) had been used to rally most of the German people to commit mass-murder and be mass-murdered. I was born when that experience was still very fresh and that means that I did not soak up any patriotism with my mother’s milk – just the opposite, patriotism was something to be despised. Especially when I was little, this was more a feeling than an intellectual understanding.

I never lost that gut-understanding and, coming to America, one of the most patriotic countries on this planet, did not change that a bit. This must be the reason that at this time of the year, with the independence day looming, my toenails start to curl up a bit in anticipation of all the flag waving and land-of-the-free singing.

Though it appears that I am not alone with this uneasy feeling confronted with the love for the fatherland.

Leo Tolstoy defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers.

That actually, I have to admit, is a bit stronger that just the feeling of toenails curling up.

Gustave Herve, another anti-patriot, calls patriotism a superstition – one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion.

So, what is the problem here? A bigger part of the world’s population is patriotic, and what is wrong with loving one’s country? Don’t we all have fond memories of the house we grew up in, the neighborhood, the city? And should that not extend to the country? But why stop at the country border, should we not expand that out to the whole world, or, in a short time, after somebody finally invents the warp drive, the whole galaxy, the universe?

Maybe we will have to look a bit closer what this ‘country’ that many are so patriotic about, really is.

What happens at the border between two different countries?

One of the most guarded borders I know of is the one that, for so many years, existed between East and West Germany. I have crossed it several times and it was indeed the feeling of entering a different world. But the difference was not the language – German of one kind or the other on both sided. The land itself? No, because now, that this border is gone, you can cross that line without even noticing it any more. And it’s not culture either because these two Germanies had been one culture before they became two countries.

The only thing I can see, that was really different, was the group of rulers. On the Western side it was Konrad Adenauer and on the Eastern side it was Walter Ulbricht, each with his gang.

It now appears to me that the only difference between somebody named Franz in East Germany and somebody named Hans in West Germany was the ruler they considered themselves be a subject of.

Very similar to Jack in Oklahoma who claims to be a subject of Mr. Obama and Jim in Calgary who thinks he has to answer to M. Harper.

The display of patriotism here in the US of A, once the 4th of July roles in, if we really go down to the very basics, just means the pride to which dude that patriot is willing to give his money, life and children.

Let us look briefly at the ‘land of the free.’ That turns out to be a dud very quickly. If it were the land of the free, and I had decided that it is good and fair to give half of my money to somebody to do with it whatever he pleases and on top of that allow this person to take my children and train them into potential soldier for his cause, then I should be able to choose who what person would be, right? Could you just send your 50% taxes over to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (that’s the dude over in Iran, in case you don’t have the  current political scene at your direct disposal)? Or, to be a little bit less radical, send if over to Steven Harper?

See, the idea of the ‘land of the free’ is right out the window – we are subjects! – Just so well trained and indoctrinated that the very idea of being able to select the ruler to receive one’s contribution appears idiotic.

Now the question comes to bear if there is anything we can do to change this situation. First we have to investigate the idea of ‘being proud of’ something.

Can I really be proud of an accomplishment that is not mine? I had considered this question before when sitting in traffic. Unfailingly, once in a while you wait behind a ‘Proud Parent of Something or Another.’ Honor student, cheer-leader, etc. I had wondered on occasion what reason these parents have to be proud. I can understand that they are happy – but proud? Why? It’s something their children  have accomplished. Then again, maybe not, perhaps there was a father sitting in the car in front of me who had always, dutifully, done the homework for his son. But I actually don’t think that was the case, I don’t believe they would have advertised that on the back of their car. Same for being a proud American – proud of what accomplishment? Making lots of money so that it can be collected by the tax man to build bombs with, which are then thrown on people the proud American has never met and who he has no quarrel with?

Would that really be something to be proud of – if it was actually true?

Can you be proud of making somebody so jealous, I mean so badly jealous, that he starts to fly airplanes into some bankers buildings? Wouldn’t it be something to be much prouder of, that, after you really created so much wealth, you would reach out and help those in need to get to where you are, as well? Wouldn’t that be something to be proud of, to do deeds that other will actually love you for?

Acting like that would require clear and logical thinking, something that cannot be expected in the presence of emotionally charged propaganda. One of the most emotionally charged areas in our lives are our children – we do anything to protect them and give them a better life.

Thus the easiest way to get somebody blindly lined up behind a cause is the statement “it’s for the children!” And how do we protect our children best? Sending them to war to fight for freedom – that is the true spirit of patriotism.

Yes, I am well aware that this does not make any sense. How about you?

Now we might make the mistake to blame those people who spread this propaganda and who manipulate in order to gain power. That would be the wrong target for our indignation. The correct target is the one looking at you back from the mirror when you brush your teeth.

There are always people around that want to cheat, who want to get something without actually creating a value that can be traded. They are easy to handle. You might fall for their schemes once or twice, but then you understand and you just don’t deal with them. If they don’t find new victims they will just wither ways and the gene pool got a little bit better. The problem is our conviction that there is any legitimacy to their action, even if their random rules are called ‘law’.

That these ‘laws’ are utterly random, without any basis in logic, becomes clear when you ask yourself why it is OK to smoke one kind of leaves, while you go to jail if you smoke another kind. I know, it is all there to ‘protect our children.’ But we already know where that comes from.

Breaking any of these so-called laws will expose you to a possible punishment, and following those laws to avoid the penalty makes sense.

But there is a different, much more sinister, element to our obedience to the ‘law’ beside the avoidance of punishment.

Imagine you are driving out in the countryside at three in the morning. Full moon, you can see far and wide and there really is not a soul around. Suddenly, totally out of place, there is a traffic light, and, as most, if not all, traffic lights do, it shows you a red light for you to stop.

Now, imagine further that you stop at that light and it is one of those lights that never seem to turn green. Finally, as there really is nobody within miles, neither a civilian, nor a cop, you decide to go and break the ‘law.’

How do you feel about that?

If you don’t have the slightest murmur of guilt, then there is hope for you. But, chances are, you feel that you have done something bad because you broke the ‘law.’ What you feel there is the conditioning of submitting to authorities. The mysterious quality that transforms mere mortals to god-like creatures.

I know, I exaggerate a bit here, but I want to make the point, that many of us carry the grain of belief in authority itself. The conviction that something like authority does exist, that there is something that makes it OK for one person to tell another what to do.

But this belief is total and utter superstition.

Let us, for the moment, take that good old document, this country was based upon, even though we are not using it any more. One of the premises of that parchment is that ‘all men are created equal.’

Unlike many other cultures that evolved from monarchies, this country was built on the foundation that there are no different classes that would privilege some of the members. That was the theory, but unfortunately reality sometimes does not ‘get’ it. There were just too many immigrants that had such a deeply ingrained belief that there are people better than them, that this parchment did nothing in preventing those people to create their superiors  again.

They were totally free not to do this, but they did it anyways. Fighting an authority is not the same as a complete conviction that it does not exist. The opposite actually – you can only fight something that you believe exist.

Once we succeed in a basic change of mind about this, there will be no need any more to fight city hall – city hall will just wither away. In the process there will be some collateral damage, but this will be so minor in comparison to the continued permission to city hall to do with us what it wants.

So, your homework for this glorious Forth-of-July weekend is to understand – and I mean a gut-understanding – that authority itself as a phenomenon, does not exist. Except in our mind!

If you give somebody the permission to tell you what you have to do and think, he will certainly take that offer. Many might not, but there are plenty of the politician/lawyer type of people around that will take your offer with a grateful nod of their head and then get out the whip and whip you into shape.

Just be aware that you can withdraw that permission at any time. It will be a bit harder than had you never given it in the first place, but it is definitely possible.