Sort of random thought on saying ‘yes’

Cloud

Cloud

Ideas and insights tend to pop into your head at unexpected moments. This one came to me during my commute on the train to Amsterdam. I’m not pretending it is unique discovery, I’m sure many of you were aware of this simple fact a long time ago. But for me, it was actually new. Here it comes:

Saying ‘yes’ is more difficult than saying ‘no’.

By which I mean, if someone tells you an idea or shows you something, it actually a lot more challenging to say: “hey, you did a good job, I like it.” than it is to give criticism, disguised as ‘constructive’ feedback. Approving takes more courage than disapproving.

To say ‘yes’ means that you’re committing to something. It makes you vulnerable. To say ‘no’ (or most variations of ‘yes, but…’) means you’re protected. No matter what happens, you cannot be held responsible for anything. At the same time, since you gave your input, you’re still eligible for the taking of possible credit should that time ever come.

I like living on the edge. I like saying ‘yes.’
You?

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The problem for the hopelessly romantic melancholic

bosbaanEveryone has problems. So do the hopelessly romantic melancholic people. Especially in communicating with ordinary folk. Like in the example below where two friends sit in a diner having a coffee, waiting for their breakfast.

Said: “How I’m doing? I don’t know…. [pause] I guess today I sort of feel like I’m in this Norwegian art house film. Where a middle-aged divorced woman from Bergen receives a letter from a long-lost brother somewhere way up North. And then she and her two teenage kids take a train to go meet him. You get panned camera shots of all these railway stations and mountains glide past in the window. Everything is really slow, gray and desolate. And the nature is really rugged except for a shot of a reindeer mom and a youngling which sets of a really heartwarming scene between the mother and the kids. You know? The soundtrack is beautiful but a bit sad and you sort of just wish you were in that film, not as an actor, but for real you know. Cause everything about those people just seems to matter even though it doesn’t. It’s a bit like that.”

Heard: “So you wanna be woman huh?”

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Master Chief does safe sex

Halo’s Master Chief is a genuine hero. Brave, strong, sexy… But does he practice safe sex?
I made this video a couple of years ago with some of Holland’s most talented YouTube bloggers; DusDavid, DitIsMilan, Dionnetje1990, Dylan Haegens and Realiteittijd.

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Attempting to give a fuck

Attempting to give a fuck

Source unknown… to me. But, well.

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Female viagra is just Whoppers for between the sheets.

This morning I read a large article about a new drug that is currently awaiting FDA approval. or actually it;s two drugs, Lybrido and lybridos. Both have been developped to make women want to have have sex. So, in a way, it is supposed to fix a problem much like viagra does. One big difference: where Viagra helps men who already want to have sex, these pills are supposed to make women want something which they therwise wouldn’t.

All the sex you want
Your sex?I am not against having sex. And I am certainly not against other people having sex. If people want to have sex with each other five times a day and no one gets hurt: good luck to you. The keyword in those phrases is ‘want’. As much as am I very much in favor of people having sex who want to have sex, I am also very much against people having sex who do not want to have sex. Which does not make me a fan of pills that aim to do precisely that, make someone want something she does not want out of her own.

Filthy bastards and desperate housewives
Undoubtedly thereare women who would actually benefit from such a pill. Women who as a result of medication or a hormonsl inbalance would like to ‘want to’, but are physically unable to actually get ‘in the mood’. But, let’s face it, the majority f these pills will be sold to

  1. Filthy bastards who do want to ‘shag the missus’, but do not want to have to go through all that romantic crap
  2. Desperate houswives who believe all their neighbours are having wonderful tantric sex everyday and therfor are afraid something is wrong with them

No matter which way you look at it, it seems like a typical male (and I mean this in the most Neanderthal-like way) solution to a potential problem. Take a pill, lie down and shut up.

Screw thy neighbour
The sexual revolution and feminism have something in common. Where they both advocated freedom for all genders, they ended up with a big win for men. Women have to choose their careers over their familiy (thats what feminists fought for apparently), in others words: they need to pretend they’re men. And you have to have sex at least 2,7 times a week, because after the sexual revolution you need to fuck above the national average. Both are, with all due respect, complete bollocks. We are in desperate need of a new hollistic revolution that says; if you want to stay at home with your kids instead of working for a seconds car, third flatscreen and fourth Carribean cruise, then that’s okay. If you don’t want sex 2,7 times a week but, say, once a month and you and your partner are fine with it, then that’s okay. Don’t take pills (or jobs) just to live up to your neighbour’s expectation. Screw them… well, you know what I mean.

Quality, not quantity
The point of all this? These pills are typical for our consumerist mentality. These pills are only aiming to help you have more sex, not better sex. It does nothing to help you in your relationship, to respect, enjoy and love each other more. just like hamburgers make you forget about real food, these pills make you forget about real sex. They’re just Whoppers for between the sheets.  Good food requires good ingredients and thoughtfull, loving preparation.It requires time and attention. Get the analogy?

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Mrs. Merkel’s privacy

Apparently, after Edward Snowden’s information showed that the NSA might have tapped Angela Merkel’s private phone (as revealed by the German magazine Der Spiegel) she immediately placed a call to Obama, demanding an explanation.
This has not been officially confirmed (yet) ofcourse, but it sounds plausible enough. Especially since the American ambassador has been summoned to the German parliament for an explanation.

Go Brussels

It’s quite understandable that the German prime minister would be outraged at such a breach of her privacy. And of course her first response was an emotional one. However, at the same time: her privacy is not worth more than mine, or that of any German citizen. And since we do not have Barrack’s telephone number, where was her call when our privacy was violated by our American friends? Or why didn’t she place a call to Brussels to place a call to the White House on behalf of all European citizens?

Yeah, if I’d had Obama’s direct line, I guess I’d call directly too.

 

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Why standardisation leads to efficiency loss.

Obviously, standardisation does not always lead to loss of efficiency. But sometimes it does. The standardisation police are people too (although some of us would hate to admit it) which means they make human mistakes. They see how standardisation of certain processes, like production processes and workflows, works in certain areas. And then they take matters a bit too far. And they try to standardise everything. How you do your work, when and where you do it, how you dress, when you eat, what you eat. The outcome doesn’t matter that much as long as you followed the procedure. And standardisation becomes the end, not the means.

Don’t run, we are your friendsImage
We standardise things to make them easier. so we have to think about stuff less. And so we can work together with others more efficiently. It should reduce hassle. But when you have to force people into a certain way of doing things, then this is no longer true. People tend to do things they way they feel comfortable, most of the times this is the most efficient way for them. Force them to do things the same way ‘everyone else’ is forced to do it, they start doing stuff twice. Their way, and the standard way. But now they do both poorly.

If you are not exactly like us, you are against us
Science says: Some people work more effectively in he morning, others in the evening. Standardisation says: everyone get in before nine AM and be productive. Science says, some people work in a steady, easy productive pase, others perform in peaks. standardisation says: we make the same planning and time schedules for the same projects, not for people. Science says: depending on your personality you may be good at planning, creating, managing or perform a different role. Standardisation says; everyone does their work in the exact same way. Science and standardisation don’t always agree. Unfortunately, if your manager like standardisation, science can go take a hike.

Sweetness
So, in the end, you have to hit that certain point of sweetness when everything come together. The exact right amount of standardisation so no one has to worry about all that annoying time-consuming stuff anymore. And everyone can focus on what she/he is really good at. In a way where they can excel at their job. But if you want to convince your standardising manager about this, don’t use the word ‘sweetness’.

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Farmers from the Pirate Bay.

As the proud father of two sons I have had to educate myself in an area where I never thought I would have any expertise whatsoever. Tractors. They love them. The two things that make them happiest of all are tractors and playing games on my tablet or laptop. So naturally, when I saw that the toy store had the game Farming Simulator (with real lifelike Claes tractors!) on offer I bought a copy. For my sons of course. Not for myself.

Click. Nothing.

FarmSim2011Luckily I was smart enough to install the game before I gave the dvd to my kids. What if I ran into installation problems, or if the dvd was faulty? However, installation went smooth and in no time I clicked on the desktop item to start the game. For a couple of minutes, nothing happened. Then I saw the opening screen. I clicked, nothing happened. Minutes later, I could start walking around my virtual farm, but after every click or move nothing happened for minutes. As it turned out, my laptop (which I remember buying for web browsing and text processing purposes) didn’t have enough power to smoothly run the program. Even on minimal performance.

One device. One.

Main reason my laptop didn’t need to be too powerful, was because I used to edit movies I made on a desktop pc. So that thing is easily fast enough, This meant that the kids had to go upstairs to play the game, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But when I tried to install the game I read “this game can only be installed on one device.” Say what? One device? ONE device!? I bought the thing, the game should be mine to play wherever and whenever I like right. That’s like buying a cd and then only be allowed to play it in your car, not your home. What they’re also saying is, if the device you installed this game on ever dies, you can only play this game again if you buy a new copy. And even if I am totally wrong in my assumption that I ethically should be allowed to install my game where I please,  why didn’t the game say so when I was unpacking and installing it on a computer that didn’t meet minimal requirements? How difficult would that be? (answer: not at all)

Farmers from the Pirate Bay

The first thing I thought I could think rationally again were involved  words like ‘Keygen’, ‘crack’ and ‘torrent’. The gaming industry is really trying to make everyone feel bad about illegally downloading there wares which I understand. But then why would you intentionally screw your customers over with such crappy products? Software is like any other product. If you buy it, you would own it and be able to use it wherever, whenever. Once upon a time it might have been difficult to arrange this, but that is no longer a valid argument. If I get my farmers from the Pirate Bay now, I do not feel like I’m stealing. I’m just getting what I paid for.

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Why intellectual property laws slow down innovation

As you may have learned from previous posts, I am not a big fan of intellectual property laws*. In theory, these laws should arrange that the ‘creative people’ get a fair pay, but in reality what they do is they make sure no one else can work with an idea unless they pay silly amounts of money. And of course, there are people making a comfortable living doing nothing but threatening companies with lawsuits about patents they don’t even own.

Fear leads to…

Intellectual property legislation, copyrights and patents are all based on fear. Fear of the possibilty that someone else might take advantage of your idea. At the same time there actually are other people taking advantage of this fear, and making a lot of money using the ‘rules of the game’. Patent traders, farmaceutical companies, entertainment multinationals et cetera are, on an ethical level, no better than for example, the Pirate Bay. Don’t hate the player, hate the game? Well, if we’re playing the quoting game, I’m quoting the greatest of philosophers, Yoda. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” So there.

Lego

10083559456_d0ae17543d_oAnd while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, I find a great example of how nòt having patents could benefit all, including the one who would be holding those  patents, is Lego (Sorry Angry Nerd) This idea came to while building a really REALLY big Lego Star Wars set.(I could lie that I bought it for my son, but… well.). During the building process I had several  ‘wow’ experiences. It’s not just a matter of efficiently putting blocks together untill you have something resembling a Star Wars spaceship. Putting everything together you start to appreciate the details, there are little designer jokes, stuff that’s hidden in the end that no one knows about. This got me thinking about the Lego Star Wars animation series that you can find on YouTube, even if this stuff would sell really well on DVD. You can play Lego Star Wars online games for free. And even though the for-sale games are better, the free games could easily be sold. Many developers ask money for much less. There are many blogs, vlogs and communities out there making use of Lego Star wars content that are not being persecuted to death Disney style. Why would that be?

Just bricks

In the end, it’s just bricks. Lego used to hold a patent on their bricks, but the time frame ran out. And now there are many other companies that build stuff  that fits onto Lego. Megablocks for example. This could have been the end for Lego. All the industries I mentioned earlier claim that copyright infringement and piracy will be the, unfair, end for them. But Lego proves that’s bullshit. Lego is thriving. It’s not just the bricks, even though their bricks are of much better quality than the competition. It’s the whole Lego-universe, if you will. The bricks, the video’s, the games, the clothing, the magazines, the communities… Lego doesn’t have customers, it had fans. Fans who spend money. Happily. If Lego would only start making medicine…

*I make the obvious exception for Creative Commons Licencsing.

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Why advertising is bad for a free market. And democracy

Advertisers and agencies like to  claim that ‘advertising is the motor of the economy’. And that ‘freedom of commercial speech’ is one of the greter goods brouight to us by democracy. However, as is often the case with advertising, their claims do not have as much to do with fact as they do with nonsense.

Chomsky

2225071619_f274625701_bNone other than the great Noam Chomsky stated that advertising is actually bad for a free market. A functioning free market can only exist when consumenrs can make informed choices. Adverising tries to make consumers do the exact opposite: make irrational choices, based on irrational, often false, information.

Free commercial speech

Freedom of speech is a great good for all demcracies. It guarantees that all opinions, thoughts and ideas can be spread. But commercial speech as in advertising is not an opinion, nor a thought or idea as intended. Advertising does not (anylobger) aim to inform consumers about a certain product or service. It aims to manipulate consumers into spending as much on a certain product or service. By connecting luacrative emotions to their product, subliminal cues or irrational fears. They do research into what drives consumers to buy certains things and feed back that information to them.

The advertising democracy

2210429958_f024d4b471_bFor a politician is a lot more important what he or she looks like (tall, good hair, low voice, no sweating) than what their, intended, policies are. We all know that. but that does not stop us from still being influenced by those very things. And the problem is, the people that are in a position to do something about this, by setting up campaigning legislation for example are the very same people who wounded up in that position by exploiting that situation: politicians.

Rational choices

Should advertising be forbidden? Probably, but purely for ethical reasons. It won’t do any practical good. If there were no longer commercials to feed us lies and manipulation we still wouldn;t be able to make a truly rational choice for a certain product based on precise and exact information. It’s just not the way our minds are wired. Scientist estimate that over 85% of our behaviour is irrational, not planned. And that may actually be good thing. Who wants to be a computer after all?

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