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"At a high level, it is important to understand that mostnew relationships in 2019 begin online. Traditional methods such as introductions by friends and family, meeting at work, etc. have been outmoded and are increasingly outlier outcomes." from The Dating Market: Thesis Overview.

Values

My pyramid
January 20th, 2020

Honesty
Kindness – Intuition – Integrity
Presence – Openess – Humor – Love – Trust – Sobriety.

Take another step toward what matters.

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SUR-FAKE (2015) by Antoine Geiger: "This research echoes the SUR-FACE project. It is placing the screen as an object of "mass subculture", alienating the relation to our own body, and more generally to the physical world."

Believe It or Not!

Weird news and MythBusters
January 17th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "Ripley's Believe It or Not! is an American franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims. [...]
At the peak of its popularity, the syndicated feature was read daily by about 80 million readers, and during the first three weeks of May 1932 alone, Ripley received over two million pieces of fan mail. Dozens of paperback editions reprinting the newspaper panels have been published over the decades. Recent Ripley's Believe It or Not! books containing new material have supplemented illustrations with photographs.
Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz's first publication of artwork was published by Ripley. It was a cartoon claiming his dog was 'a hunting dog who eats pins, tacks, screws, nails and razor blades.' Schulz's dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts' Snoopy."

Via Wikipedia: "MythBusters is an Australian-American science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions. The series premiered on the Discovery Channel on January 23, 2003. [...]
The show's hosts, special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, used elements of the scientific method to test the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages, Internet videos, and news stories."

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Douglas Gordon at Eva Presenhuber, November 2 – December 15, 2019.

End of 2019

Ten memories I treasure
December 31st, 2019

Being present On a weekend trip with a friend and her 2,5 year old daughter I forgot to put my backpack into the car after a hike for mushrooms. Later, when I looked for it it was gone. The next day I thought about going to a lost and found in the next city. Instead I remembered that the city had a huge hospital which is now owned by the Thich Nhat Hanh order, and called European Institute of applied Buddhism. We all went and got invited for lunch. Everything was to be done in silence – getting the food from the buffet, sitting down at a table, and eating. The little girl did it beautifully. For me it was a moving experience in mindfulness. A few days later I got a message from a lady who found my backpack – including my keys and diary. I just love when things like this happen.

Ceremony An ultra inspiring, and brave friend of mine initiated and orchestrated the most beautiful, cathartic, and heartfelt ceremony for her family and friends to say goodbye to her brother, who had just died. I have never experienced anything like this before. A lot of feelings flooded the room, many tears, and sobbing – deeply felt connection and love, straight from the hearts. I was totally overwhelmed, and am still so grateful to have been invited.

Conversations In preparation for my Transformats seminar for our Klang and Realität master program I watched many of bell hooks' conversations. She is a great, kind, beautiful, honest teacher, and an important inspiration for me. You will find many of the conversations here: bell hooks at The New School. The New School says, "hooks (née Gloria Watkins) is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. During her residencies bell hooks has held conversations with Laverne Cox, Cornel West, Gloria Steinem, Melissa Harris-Perry, and New School students." Watch them all!

Comedian I think it was the first warm day of spring when I still had a lot of energy in the evening, and looked up the local newspaper to find something to do. I saw that Hagen Rether was doing his Liebe program at the Cologne philharmonic and went although it was sold out. The lady at the tickets told me that someone had just left their ticket for her to give it away for free. It seemed like a sign saying I made the right decision. The show was truly mind-blowing. I laughed and cried for three hours straight.

Concert A friend discovered Angel Bat Dawid in Den Haag where she played her European premiere at Rewire this year. The Guardian calls her debut album The Oracle "one of the year’s best releases in any genre, where swelling vocals, warm organ chords and lilting and freaked-out clarinet lines combine in a profoundly affecting whole". In November I saw her in Cologne on a slow Monday night. She was truly living her process, I think. After the concert I bought her record and asked her to sign it. She gave me a deep hug. Later that night I saw her ran and scream through the place like thunderbolts. I am still in awe.
Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

Film One of my all-time favorite gurus is Laurie Anderson. In 1989 I saw her live for the first time, and went to see her concert film Home of the Brave shortly after. Everything about that film influenced me, and this year I thought about showing it in a seminar, and re-watched it by myself to see if it still has an impact. It did, and I combined the film with interviews about one of her recent project Habea Corpus. Some teachers just stick.

Guided tour In the middle of an extremely hot and dry summer I went for a guided tour to see why the opera building in Cologne has been in a building freeze for three years now. It was nice to walk in the cold basement floors of the amazing structure, which gets dismantle to it's original design by fabulous Wilhelm Riphahn. It was also hilarious to see the total construction madness -especially in the energy, ventilation and water infrastructures- that led to the halt of the renovation. A witty and fun tour indeed.

Loop The track I listened to the most in 2019 was [surprisingly] the ultimate 'pop' composition Allegretto of the Symphony No. 7 in A major by Ludwig van Beethoven. I heard many different conductors. The version I like the best is Liszt's transcription played by uber weird-sexy Glenn Gould. Karajan's 1971 version with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is of course beautiful too.

Tea After my last yoga lesson for this year my teacher placed a little gift next to my mat. I did not know what to say because only I got a present. I asked if I could open it, and it was a little bag with dried Linden flowers to make Limeflower tea from it. It also had a note which said that I can connect with nature and specifically the lime tree in our street through those flowers. The tree and nine others are about to fall for a new school building, and we are both members of a civic group, that wants to save the Linden tree and her friends.

TV The best reality TV I have seen -ever and by far- is Queer Eye. I agree with The Guardian when they write, "there is so much emotional truth going on here and not for a second does it feel manipulated. It sums up the excellence of this show: it has political nous, it has heart, it has style and it feels utterly relevant to now", and in another article, "it is kind and warm, and it is the most feelgood of feelgood TV, and it manages to entertain by crossing, for a time at least, boundaries of class, of race and of sexuality". My favorite fab 5? Of course the one and only Jonathan van Ness.

So, here we are... And what is next?

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Banksy on Instagram.

Beep. Ding. Vroom.

Sounds that will define the highways of the future
September 28th, 2019

Via The New York Times: "Two years ago, Nissan hired the studio Man Made Music for what seemed like a straightforward task: Design a sound that its quiet electric vehicles could play to announce themselves on the road.

The automaker wasn’t just splurging on a flashy feature. It was preparing for a federal regulation set to take effect next year that would require all hybrid and electric vehicles, which are quieter than their gas-guzzling ancestors, to emit noise at certain speeds for pedestrian safety. […]

The team at Man Made Music, which is used to developing audio for TV, movies and radio, spent nearly half of 2017 working on the sound, a layering of sampled wind and string instruments, and analog and digital synth sounds [listen to “Canto,” the future sound of Nissan’s electrified vehicles]."

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Illustration by Geoff McFetridge, who not only has his own design studio but has been showing internationally with his so complex yet simple, elegant, colorblocked works.

Use self-dialogue

An experimental study of a virtual reality counselling paradigm using embodied self-dialogue
August 8th, 2019

Via Nature: "When faced with a personal problem people typically give better advice to others than to themselves. This has been termed ‘Solomon’s Paradox’, named after the biblical King Solomon who was wise for others, but not so when it came to making decisions that would have an impact on his own standing.

Suppose that instead of imagining a problem from the perspective of another you were actually able to have a conversation with yourself about it, but from the embodied perspective of another.

A previous study showed how it is possible to enact internal dialogue in virtual reality (VR) through participants alternately occupying two different virtual bodies – one representing themselves and the other Sigmund Freud. They could maintain a self-conversation by explaining their problem to the virtual Freud and then from the embodied perspective of Freud see and hear the explanation by their virtual doppelganger, and then give some advice. Alternating between the two bodies they could maintain a self-dialogue, as if between two different people.

Here we show that the process of alternating between their own and the Freud body is important for successful psychological outcomes. An experiment was carried out with 58 people, 29 in the body swapping Self-Conversation condition and 29 in a condition where they only spoke to a Scripted Freud character. The results showed that the Self-Conversation method results in a greater perception of change and help compared to the Scripted. We compare this method with the distancing paradigm where participants imagine resolving a problem from a first or third person perspective.

We consider the method as a possible strategy for self-counselling."

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Illustration by Laura Callaghan, a Irish illustrator based in London. On her Instagramm she subtiles this image, "Maidin Mhaith 3. A piping hot cup of HELP."

The Four Agreements

As mentioned by Laverne Cox in a public dialogue with bell hooks
July 31st, 2019

Via Amber-Allen Publishing:

"BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

The Four Agreements sound simple, even simplistic. But try keeping just one for an entire day!"

 

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Big Science is the 1982 debut album by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson.

Na na na na na, na na na (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)

July 21st, 2019
The Hippies Were Right: It's All about Vibrations, Man!

Via Scientific American: "The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the hard problem of consciousness […] Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a 'resonance theory of consciousness' that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally. […]

Stephen Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate what he calls 'sync' (synchrony) […] Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches. […] The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face. […]

The panpsychist argues that consciousness (subjectivity) did not emerge; rather, it’s always associated with matter, and vice versa (they are two sides of the same coin), but mind as associated with most of the matter in our universe is generally very simple. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoy just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter 'complexifies,' so mind complexifies, and vice versa."

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Diane Arbus photographed by Tod Papageorge, Central Park, New York, 1967.

A minute on the internet

Your internet data is rotting
June 1st, 2019

Via The Conversation: "The internet currently accesses about 15 zettabytes of data, and is growing at a rate of 70 terabytes per second. It is an admittedly leaky vessel, and content is constantly going offline to wind up lost forever.

Massive and desperate efforts are underway to preserve whatever is worth preserving, but even sorting out what is and what is not is itself a formidable undertaking. What will be of value in 10 years – or 50 years? And how to preserve it?

Acid-free paper can last 500 years; stone inscriptions even longer. But magnetic media like hard drives have a much shorter life, lasting only three to five years. They also need to be copied and verified on a very short life cycle to avoid data degradation at observed failure rates between 3% and 8% annually."

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The Prisoner (1967) Brit TV show, episode 1 "Arrival".

Negative feelings have been rising

2019 World Happiness Report
May 7th, 2019

Via Yes!: "According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, negative feelings are rising around the world—and the United States is particularly hard hit with an 'epidemic of addictions.' Tellingly, the report also shows a widening happiness gap, with some people reporting much more well-being and others showing much less within each country.
Released annually on the International Day of Happiness, the World Happiness Report ranks countries based on their life satisfaction in the Gallup World Poll. Residents rate how satisfied they are with their lives on a scale of zero to 10, from the worst possible life to the best possible life.
This year, the most satisfied country was Finland, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands. [...]

One trend is very clear: Negative feelings—worry, sadness, and anger—have been rising around the world, up by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018. [...]

One thing is certain, says Sachs: 'The U.S. is suffering an epidemic of addictions.' This includes an addiction to technology, which researcher Jean Twenge largely blames for the worrying mental health trends among U.S. adolescents. In her chapter of the report, she argues that screen time is displacing activities that are key to our happiness, like in-person social contact. Forty-five percent of adolescents are online 'almost constantly,' and the average high school senior spends six hours a day texting, on social media or on the internet.
But we’re hooked on more than just technology. According to researcher Steve Sussman, around half of Americans suffer from at least one addiction. Some of the most prevalent are alcohol, food, and work—which each affect around 10 percent of adults—as well as drugs, gambling, exercise, shopping, and sex."

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Cultural evolution of emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics. Authors: Charlotte Brand, Alberto Acerbi, Alex Mesoudi.

Emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics

Cultural evolution
April 25th, 2019

Via Center for Open Science: "The cultural dynamics of music has recently become a popular avenue of research in the field of cultural evolution, reflecting a growing interest in art and popular culture more generally. Just as biologists seek to explain population-level trends in genetic evolution in terms of micro-evolutionary processes such as selection, drift and migration, cultural evolutionists have sought to explain population-level cultural phenomena in terms of underlying social, psychological and demographic factors. Primary amongst these factors are learning biases, describing how cultural items are socially transmitted from person to person. As big datasets become more openly available and workable, and statistical modelling techniques become more powerful, efficient and user-friendly, describing population-level dynamics in terms of simple, individual-level learning biases is becoming more feasible. Here we test for the presence of learning biases in two large datasets of popular song lyrics dating from 1965-2015. We find some evidence of content bias, prestige bias and success bias in the proliferation of negative lyrics, and suggest that negative expression of emotions in music, and perhaps art generally, provides an avenue for people to not only process and express their own negative emotions, but also benefit from the knowledge that prestigious others experience similarly negative emotions as they do."

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