Thursday, February 25, 2010

How about you? Never get tired of all the exaggerations in tweets?

Sometimes I feel as if I'm from out of space. All those tweets that are: new, exciting, more, good, wildest, latest, spark, awesome, ever, better, best, great, greatest, top, special, expert, ace, golden, one, recommended, changing, integrated, definitive, revolutionary, highly, genius, influential or super. Mostly with a capital letter.

At first I always checked out those tweets but I found out pretty soon mostly it's exaggeration. Mostly it's misuse of terminoly or cry for attention.

Why? Why are so many twitterers using so over the top words for just another story, software or picture? Am I too dutch on this? I guess it's because Twitter is above all a promotion medium. Self-promotion or promotion for their friends, career, organisation or business. Some statistics. Why do we tweet? 29% promoting own company, 26% networking career, 25% finding new stuff, 9% to talk about anything except business, 9% other and 3% promoting non-profit organisation (source July 2009).

Twitter is above all a marketplace. A place where everyone speaks out very loud: follow & read me and buy my business.

Exaggeration. I'm much more wondering about all the fascination for "new", "great" and "best". Something to do with the american "new frontier"? The present day translation of "Go West young man. Go West"? Is it something typical of western culture? Where does it come from historical? How do chinese sell their business? What words are they using for it - how does their picture look like in Wordle? Or are they not using words?
  Footnote. Picture source: Wordle JeanD99

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bookreviews & On music

Bookreviews by @JeanD99:
Non-read review
  • Writer David Hazony. Book 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life' (2010). Non-read review: 4 reasons why I'll not read this book
 On music

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Me neither or The show stops right after the peak

Do you ever watch porn? Ever checked out home made video's on youporn? Me neither!

Fairytales and porn resemble each other! What? Let me explain. A fairytale is a story that ends with the remark "and they lived happily ever after". Read the fairytale  'The sleeping beauty'. After 100 years sleep she wakes up with a kiss by a prince and they lived happily ever after. We don't know what happened with the two of them: kids? house? friends? mutual interest? war? earthquakes? how was their marriage after 7 years? still in love?  who died first? how did they look back on their lives in retrospect?
Watch a random pornmovie. After a lot of physical excercise and sometimes the complete Kama Sutra the participants (sometimes only 2) get their orgasms. We don't know what happened with the participants: in love? married? kids? house? friends? mutual interest? war? earthquakes? were they paid for the video? just for "fun"? who died first? how did they look back on their lives in retrospect?

The resemble of both is that the show stops right after the peak. And in "normal" lives (read mine)? A peak too - I meant the bookreading ;) - once in a while but most of the days it's quiet, plain and boring.  Loving, working, raising up kids, reading, blogging and living: it's transpiration and hard work. Everyday!

Why is there never a book or movie about normal lifes? About quiet, plain and boring lives? About the lives of you and me?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reverie 'Leisure' or What if we hadn't invented weekends?

When my dad - almost 75 years old - talks about his childhood he always tells that back then they had to go to the primairy school on Saterday too and had to go to the church on Sunday twice a day. Holidays? Never. Parties? Funfair in summer was the highlight of the year. Leisure? He had to help his mum and dad with their peasant farm: milking cows, weeding the garden and picking eggs.

His childhoodmemories came back when I read the next quote, in Haffner, 'Kanttekeningen bij Hitler en Churchill' from Churchill (july 1953): "If we can disarm (...) we can give the workers something which they  never had before: free time. A four-day week of work and then three days fun!" This quote made me think and wonder. For my generation in Western Europe leisure is naturally and obvious. It feels as if there always were holidays and time to be free to do "something" or "nothing" for ones own pleasure.

Where did leisure came from? What's it's historical background? According to wikipedia 'leisure' can be translated “to be permitted” or “to be free”. Leisure or free time on Saterday and Sunday is born in Britain around 1870: "Early factories required workers to perform long shifts, often up to eighteen hours per day, with only Sundays off work. By the 1870s though, more efficient machinery and the emergence of trade unions resulted in decreases in working hours per day, and allowed industrialists to give their workers Saturdays as well as Sundays off work." 

OK now I get the big picture. Leisure is a spin off from our Western 'industrial revolution'. It's the time trade unions have captured - nothing comes for free - from the factory owners. First there was hard work 18 hours a day and on Sunday to church. Then the "weekends" were born.  What would we not have had if we hadn't invented weekends - and the whole leisure industry coming with it?
  • No foolballclubs and Football World Cup - no Cruyff nor Maradonna
  • No movies and moviestars - no Victoria and David Beckham nor Oscars
  • No radio, music and diskjockies - no Elvis Presley nor Beatles
  • No TV and TV-stars - no Berlusconi
  • No travelindustry - no Richard Branson
  • No personal computers - no Bill Gates nor Apple
  • No internet 
  • No webbrowsers
  • No Twitter, Buzz or Google
  • No blogs
  • No readers that could read THESE WORDS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Virtual friends in 2010. The distance is so much bigger but the format is the same.

The world seems so exhibitionistic these days. I like privacy and intimicy. To be honest I'm not impressed by Facebook, MySpace and other friends-from-friends internetsites. I like to follow a few friends on MySpace. Look at their pictures and lurk a bit on their public "communication" but I don't feel the need to read, listen (and smell, taste and touch in the future?) to their friends and friends-friends. Why should I? For me all this is leisure time. I don't have to sell my business.

What do I want? I just want to have a few friends. Better a few friends I know very well than have 1.000 "friends" or "followers" I only know shallow. I like to know what my friends read, how their job is, what they dream and where they travel to. I like to share pictures. Share only in private. Why do people share so much of themselves? Why so exhibitionistic? Does "it" work better? What is "it"? Better for gaining new friends? Better for challenging life? Is hidden underneath it: the need to be in control of one's life and of their friends lives? If yes, why the need to be in control?

Why do people have the need to have more than 50 friends? Are they seeking for affirmation or love? Does it boost one's ego? Desmond Morris tells in his book 'The Naked Ape' (1967) that our human behaviour is largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as hunter-gatherers who lived in groups from 40-60 people to survive. This “40-60 people group” concept is according to Morris still alive. It's something I always recognize in my personal life. I stick to my 50 friends. It keeps my timeline in Twitter quiet.

Virtual friends in 2010. For me it still feels strange to be a friend to another human being on the other side of planet Earth. People who I never saw in real life and probably never will see in real life. It's distant, virtual and digital but at the same time we have to invest in our distant friends too. Listen to them. Talk to them. Give them attention. Give them affirmation. Be honest. The distance is so much bigger but the format is the same.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

History gliders (or sailplanes) in 3 pictures. Most distinctive evolution: launching method.

Picture 1. Around 1930. Launching glider with bungees. Two groups of 3 or 4 people pull the glider with 2 bungees from the top of a gently sloping hill.
Picture 2. Year 2005. Launching glider with a winch. The winch pulls the glider with a 1.000 to 1.600 meter cable to height of about 400 to 700 meter.
Picture 3. Year 2009. Launching glider with self-launching engine.

The history of gliders (or sailplanes) and gliding is old. In 1902 the Wright brothers build for the first time a working, true three-axis control. With this glider combined with an engine and propellers they were able to make the first sustained flight with a powered, controlled aircraft. Let's concentrate on gliding as a sport in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft.

What is the most distinctive evolution in the history of gliding as a sport? 
  • You: Glider? JeanD99: Don't look at the airplane. Since 1902 the distance that a glider can fly for each meter it descends is increased up 70:1 - this is the lift-to-drag ratio (L/D) - but gravity is a relentless force because sink is sink for every bird in the sky.
  • You: Skids, wheels, wheelbrakes or withdrawn wheels? JeanD99: I don't think so. The evolution of wheels made the landing easier during history but a landing is still a landing.
  • You: Pilots? Glider-instructors? Training? JeanD99:  Until the 1930's the pilot sat alone in the glider. Once in the sky he/ she was alone with all his/ her happiness, dreams, tears and fears. Making good or bad decisions without someone who could intervene. Later on dual-gliders were developed and training produced better skilled pilots but this didn't change the two critical moments in every flight: its beginning and its end.
  • You: Instrumentation and other technical aids? JeanD99: The first gliders didn't have any instrument at all! They only had three-axis control. Altimeter, airspeed indicator, compass, variometer (measures climb or sink rate of the plane), turn and bank indicator, MacCready ring (indicator for optimal flying for given conditions),  computer with GPS technology (provide the glider's position in 3 dimensions by a moving map display), FLARM (anti-collision device), transponder (help air traffic controllers and other airplanes to identify the aircraft and to maintain separation) etcetera they are a great help for flying long distances. But it's still flying.
  • You: Discovery of the sources of rising air? JeanD99: Gliders can stay for hours airborne if and only if they find sufficient rising air. Most commonly used sources: ridge lift (first used by Klemperer in 1921), thermals (Kronfeld in 1928) and wave lift (Hirth in 1933). This is not the distinctive I'm pointing at.
The most distinctive evolution in the history of gliding as a sport is: 'launching'. The method of launching implies the business on the ground. It implies how many man are involved on the ground. In the first phase, gliders were launched with 2 bungees from the top of a gently sloping hill. A minimum of 7 people (6 pulling and 1 instructor) were involved.
In the second phase, starting somewhere after World War II, gliders are launched with a winch. The winch pulls the glider with a 1.000 to 1.600 meter cable to height of about 400 to 700 meter. This method needs a long airfield and a minimum groundcrew of 5. This phase is still the mainstraim method in presentday sportgliding worldwide. It's a relative cheap method of launching. 

Since a few years we entered, with the self-launching gliders, the third phase. It's an evolution which will have huge impact on the groundcrew and the gliderclubs. In presentday gliding with it's mainstream winch-launching most members on a gliderclub devote whole days around the airfield: flying a few times and most of the day helping out other members of the club. If you scratch my back I'll scratch yours. The self-launching gliders makes it possible to start alone and come back anytime the pilot(s) wants. The need to land the glider not on the homebase ('land out') is largely decreased. This method needs a minimum groundcrew of 1.

And the future? I guess more training on the ground in glider-simulators and more technological improvements: auto-starting, auto-flying and auto-landing.

Picture 4. Launching glider via aerotowing by engined aircraft.

Footnote. You: What about launching a glider via aerotowing by another engined aircraft? JeanD99: This method is being used commonly since the 1940's. This method is relative expensive and not mainstream in the world of gliding.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reading books. It's like a mirror. It always brings me closer to ...

Why do people read? I don't know. Why do I read? I read the newspaper for getting informed of what's going on in my country and on planet Earth. I read books for pleasure. Mostly history related. I want to know where "we" came from and by knowing that being able to predict where we're going to. I want to monitor if  "we" are on the "right" track. I don't want to follow any authority. I always want to read the sources myself. It's so easy to say that Hitler, Mohammed and Jesus are a piece of crap but they once were individual human beings too with their own tears and fears, jealousy and love, dreams and (personal) constraints?

I read books for fun and pleasure, looking for a mirror, dreaming of what's lost and dreaming of what could be. I read books because it makes me feel alive. In a way books always bring me closer to me. I'm more me while I read. Hunderds of questions in a flow while reading. Mostly no need to answer my own questions. When a question is urgent I'll look for an answer in another book, on internet, by doing something else or while sleeping. Urgent questions of today are mostly vanished in 2 or 3 days. Strange isn't it?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gavin Maxwell. My fascination

For 6 months I was a drafted peacekeeping soldier in the Sinai. Age 21. English speaking world. Alone. Without friends or family. Alone without someone who could hold my hand and tell me once in a while “you are OK and don’t worry”. Going to the Sinai was something I volunteered to. I wanted to test myself. I deliberately wanted to be alone in a world of strangers/ others and see, feel what it would do to me. It was a great time for me! I read a lot of books. I met a lot of interesting people. I saw a lot of Egypt and Israel. Above all I loved to be alone and to overcome my fear everytime I met others.

When my service as a drafted airforce soldier was over I went to the university. Somewhere in the first few months at the university I stifled against the writer Gavin Maxwell (1914-1969). He made me realize that in Europe there are still remote places where individual ’homo sapiens’ can be alone. That was a big surprise for me - I thought that they had gone  more than 500 years ago. I must have read his ‘Ring of bright water’ at least 15 times. How I love(d) his life alone with his otters on the remote spot ’Bay of Alder’ (in gaellic ‘Camusfearna’). On the map ‘Sandaig’ in Scotland. His modest house where he could write books, plan his travels and lick his new wounds was a #dream and #travel destination for me. It was something I wanted to have myself too one day.

Wanted”? Yes! It’s not something I want for myself anymore. I’m perfectly happy with my wife, my four healthy kids, my books and the place where I live. I discovered – while living my life - that Camusfearna is not a physical place but a place that can be everywhere. I live in a quiet little village on the countryside in The Netherlands. Far away from the big city noise I can be alone. Read my books. Write a little. Walk alone for hours. My own big old house is my own “fortress from which to essay raid and foray, an embattled position behind whose walls one may retire to lick new wounds and plan fresh journeys to father horizons.”

For me personally ‘The House of Elrig’ is Gavin’s best book. It’s about his childhood and adolescense. It’s about the house of his parents where he grew up and longed for deeply while he was at school. Elrig was his kingdom when he was in exile far away. In a way Elrig and Camusfearna are two aspects of the same man: the longing for a fortress. Someone who never grew up and always stayed a kid, full of wonder and the need of exploring our surrounding world.

P.s. I wrote a guestblog at @kirsty_wilson's Travelplustips on Sandaig. You can read it here.