2017-01-13

Wishing you a less busy 2017

Reading:
Just finished a monumental read from 2016, KL, a history of the concentration camps. A deeper insight in the destructive machinery and administration at the hear to the Third Reich. Scary to note the dehumanisation, the mechanics behind the organisation of the extermination of so many victims and a staunch warning:
Now reading: BUSY, an inspiring book on how to reorganise your life for more health, happiness and fun, by stopping being too busy. A real eye-opener in how we focus on the wrong things in our daily lives.  
Viewing: Captain Fantastic; a moving story of a non-conformistic family trying to not fit in.
Listening to:

Thinking: Be like the rain
Travelling: from Port Elisabeth over Dubai back home, and now in the upcoming months towards Geneva, Barcelona and bi-weekly trips to Paris
Last picture: the incredible landscapes of the Klein Karoo

2016-04-01

March 22 in Belgium

March 22 was Belgium's 9/11
There is a before, and a horrible after.

Our thoughts go to the victims of barbaric violence, perpetrated by radicals.

32 people died in Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek train station.
It could have been each and everyone of us passing through, on the way to work, to family, to love. Many of us escaped; in fact almost all of us are the "lucky ones".

United we stand, for a while at least, and we should not fear the political recuperation.

Many questions remain on underinvestment, under-estimation of the threat, under-performing political systems.
Yet, in all the carnage and violence, it's comforting to see the small signs of kindness, of courage under fire, of deep commitment by police forces and first responsders.

Over the last 15 months, since Charlie Hebdo, Verviers, the foiled Thalys plot, the shooter at the Jewish museum, the Paris attacks of 13/11 and now this brutal confrontation in the core itself of European values.

Let's not forget that the overwhelming majority of terror acts does not occur in Europe, but in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The "war" is not East vs West. This is not about Islam. This is about power, and power-shifting.

We should not allow our open and pluralistic socieites to become closed, and "in fear".
We should teach our children respect and love. We should lead in humanity.
Hopefully we can do that for other next generations as well, and not just our own.

Our response must be measured, and we have to keep faith in justice for all, and respect for each human's "human" rights. Let's promote that idea, instead of violent rhetorics.

2016-02-01

Post-Resolutions

Hello, it's me again…. Adele jumps back to world stage with a fantastic "ear-worm". You can't get it out of your head. However, and immensely more sadly, David “Starman” Bowie left us with the best parting gift before being incinerated into dust to dust. Belgian radio station #StudioBrussels made world headlines by immortalizing a “starman” constellation - 
What were your resolutions in January? Is it worth making them anyway?
Mine include for this year: write more blogposts (check!); better health thru sports; more and better music to soothe the souls…. And more time for friends.

Here is a list of what you and I can learn from Steve Jobs: start ticking some boxes:
1. Love what you do
 “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating, I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. And so I decided to start over.” — Steve Jobs
2. Cut out or avoid the bozos
Bozos are incompetent, stupid, and negative people. Steve Jobs had no time for these people and got rid of them when he could. They are like weeds and they will also hire like-minded people. They will have a negative impact on morale. Even if you are unable to fire them, you can make strenuous efforts to have as little to do with them as possible. Surround yourself with positive and upbeat colleagues who will inspire you.
3. Surround yourself with culture to be more creative
The best way to be creative is to surround yourself with culture, art, and history. Enriching his life with cultural influences was an essential element in helping his passion for design to flourish. Apple products are the perfect example. Serendipity and connecting the dots may be more important than we think.
“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.” — Steve Jobs
4. Don’t be afraid to take risks
 “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs
5. Qualifications are not everything
Steve Jobs never actually graduated from college. He discovered and taught us that what really counts is to have a positive mindset and how you nurture your skills. Paper qualifications are important, but they must always take second place in developing our skills.
“Truth be told, I never graduated from college. And this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address in 2005
6. Keep it simple
When the engineers were developing the iPod, Jobs insisted that there should be no buttons at all and that the only button would be the on/off one. The engineers were skeptical to say the least, but Jobs would not relent. Keeping the whole operation simple was essential to this and many other projects. In the end, the scroll wheel was developed and is still a feature of IT today. We can learn from Steve Jobs that laser focus can sharpen our minds and help us to prioritize.
“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. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — Steve Jobs
7. Money need not dictate your projects
Jobs wanted to change the world and put a “ding in the universe,” as he himself put it. His projects were all designed to create amazing products to make the world a better place. Making money was not his primary aim. Here is a very valuable life lesson. If we focus on making profit without worrying too much about giving value or in helping society, then perhaps we should rethink our objectives.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” — Steve Jobs
8. Learn to be bold
At the age of 12, Steve Jobs telephoned Hewlett Packard to get some spare parts he needed for a project he was working on. As a result of that telephone call, HP gave him a summer job and he never looked back. The lesson we can learn here is to always try, even if we are turned down.
“If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.” – Nora Roberts
 9. Question everything
Steve Jobs often told interviewers that he had always questioned everything. For example, he questioned his religious beliefs when he saw starving children. He advised people to question rules and assumptions. This questioning was the foundation for many of his most creative ideas. That should be an inspiration for us when we examine how we live and work. If we continuously question why something is always done in a certain way, we are well on the way to success.
Steve Jobs questioned everything about the building of his yacht Venus, which was to be sleek and minimalist and cost $138 million. The owner of the Dutch shipyard where it was built, Henk de Vries, said that Jobs was always telling them that they could do better!
“Everything was questioned and that made it very challenging,” — Henk de Vries
10. Technology can change the world for the better
Apparently, Steve Jobs as a kid was struck by an article which listed the most efficient species with regards speed and locomotion. He noticed that the condor was in the first place while human beings were way down the list. Put a human being on a bicycle and that combination shot to the top of the list, way ahead of the condor. Jobs later used this in an ad for Apple when he called his computer the bicycle of the mind. That sort of smart technology is the way to change the world for the better.
Steve Jobs was an inspiring example we need to follow.




  • Reading: Wrecked by Charlotte Roche
  • Viewing: re-viewing the entire X-files episodes, on a stationary bike, practicing for a 1/4 Triathlon
  • Listening to:  David Bowie, Under Pressure
  • Thinking: Today is a good day to create better memories than yesterday
  • Travelling: back from BCN, looking forward to Zürs, racking up my mileage on the #Thalys this year; and then onwards to maybe Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Ended last year with a trip from Bremen to London to Jordan to The Hague to Dakar to Marseille.....
  • Last pictures

2015-01-21

Gram

Today's "Gram" inaugurates a new serial project, trademark Wacondah ventures, right?

Confined to our frustrations, we suffer; it is so much better to try to compile & cross-reference statements on current affairs and voice opinions. Lead example used to be the "Journaal" by Mark Grammens, who in the best of Anglo-Saxon journalistic tradition, tried to question our reality and comment the commentators!

Today's frontpage:
World-famous Belgian painter Luc Tuymans is all over the news: he was convinced of plagiarism and fraud by a lower court, for having shamelessly copied a photograph through painting.
While you can argue about that, and cite the "imitatio" principle honoured by timeless traditions in all types of art; one can't help to wonder "why" he was convicted.

His lawyers state that is was full of "parody" and thus exempt from the copyright protection act under Belgian law. However, the judge did not follow this line of argumentation.

For the time being, the photographer is right and should have her work protected in the public domain.


But beneath it all; isn't this case about "hybris"? Maybe it has to do with the way Tuymans looks down on other people (which is his absolute freedom of speech-protected right). I think there is an element of "attitude" that was judged yesterday. In any case, there will be an appeal. If I were the photographer, I'd drop the case and bask in the attention of media,to promote my work and be remembered forever as having been copied by a "Master" yourself! In addition, by dropping the case, you'd be able to demonstrate a much grander attitude. People are indeed remembered not only for what they produce, but for how they behave. Grandiose! Attitude!
If I were Tuymans, I'd put up a big smile, and share some of the royalties to initiate a new collaboration; but sourly, and surely, that's not gonna happen.
We should like artists for their work; but it's even better if we can also like them for their morals and attitude!
So, having promoted Tuymans here; I think it's only fair and square to post a link to young photographer Katrijn Van Giel

Question of the day: do the produders of radio commercials conspire to "not" make us laugh? Clearly, there is a general lack of imagination. Airtime is expensive, and so is my time: as a result we turn to other media. Note to self; next car should have the best state-of-the art private media channels.


Benoit Poelvoorde; of "C'est Arrivé Près de Chez Vous" fame, declares that his dog is fed up with interviews! Up for the watchlist: "La rançon de la gloire"


Reading: The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan (vampires! pandemonium! virusses!)
Viewing: American Sniper (slated for best-actor Oscar later this year?): Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in a high-intensity based-on-a-true story: are snipers cowards, or defenders of freedom?
Listening to: Spotify! and Parov Stelar
Thinking: Voltaire is en vogue after last week's attacks on Charlie Hebdo: let us therefore "Judge a man by the questions he asks, not the answers he gives"!
Travelling: Paris, Barcelona, Santiago, Daegu, Washington, Algonquin Park(*), Stockholm, Dakar (that's what's on the agenda so far)

2015-01-08

Je suis Charlie

all our thoughts go out to the victims of the barbaric attack on "Charlie Hebdo" yesterday in Paris.

Eight puzzling questions:

1. why did one of the terrorists pauze to pick up a shoe on the ground before entering the runaway car after executing an already wounded police officer?
2. the attack seemed carefully prepared and orchestrated: however: how come did they end up in the wrong appartment building and why did they have to ask for directions to the right adress?
3. appearantly, the police found one of the perpetrator's identity card in the Citroen C3 car. This points to poor tradecraft? Or was it a deliberate clue? Do they want to be caught?
4. Surveillance cameras are ubiquitous in Paris and on French highways: the last runaway car must be known by the police. The exfiltration plan was appearantly well-prepared, yet sloppily executed - they choose random 2nd and 3rd stage vehicles: how long can you stay underground in our society?
****update: suspects located at 11.00 in the AISNE region*** (2015-01-08)
5. French TV coverage is very limited in images; it seems as if there is a ban on information release at this stage. There is an appearant lack of investigative reporting going on.
6. Charlie Hebdo was a very high-profile "soft" target. Close protection was "in place" and "in person" yet unsufficient against a direct hit. Appearantly, there has been increased pressure in the last weeks, why wasn't security beefed up?
7. Almost 24 hours later, no claims for responsibility have been posted on the Internet?
8. How plausible is it that a returning Jihadi trains his brother in just a couple of months in the art of urban guerilla warfare? Both seemed extremely well-trained, cold-blooded and methodic. are there training camps in Europe? And how difficult is it to get modified AK47s these days?