Power … – also of words

One of the rare occasions that I use this space for simply reproducing from another site. Words have power … – if we use them to become ourselves powerful.

On 12 June 1942, Anne Frank received a notebook covered by a red-and-white plaid for her 13th birthday. She made it her diary, which went on to become one of the world’s most famous books. She would have turned 90 tomorrow.

From this day until 1 August 1944, she put down in words what it was like to live in a ‘Secret Annex’, the cluster of rooms with blacked out windows above Anne’s father’s office in Amsterdam where Anne, her sister Margot, her parents and four of their acquaintances hid from the Nazis.

She recorded her most intimate thoughts and feelings, describing the pressures of communal living mixed with spells of raw terror at moments of near discovery.

In addressing the journal directly as “Dear Kitty”, as though composing a letter, Anne takes the reader on a journey, a very personal one, yet paradoxically, one so many of us can somehow relate to. Because it speaks a language many of us can connect to. For instance:

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”. 

Can we not somehow relate these words to the current political turmoil Europe is going through? Her words are powerful. And that power remains independent from age, social status, nationality. It is universal and her book rightly became iconic.

Anne Frank aspired to become a journalist, writing the following on Wednesday, 5 April 1944:

“I finally realised that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!

When I write, I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

As a journalist, I take pride in sharing these words with you. This way, you and I contribute to keeping the memory of Anne Frank alive. It is also a way to recognise what a great writer she already was.



Environment, sustainability, protection of resources …, a short contribution may widen the view that is usually taken.

One of the paradoxes of the societies we live in, characterised by the present pope as throw-away-culture, is the waste of those resources that are actually valued and seen in one or the other way as productive, constituting the wealth of the times we live in. We speak, importantly, without doubt, about the environment. We sure should not forget taking other aspects into account under this heading.

The Economist published on the 8th of May an article titled

Riding alone in a car is an increasingly unaffordable luxury.

We read:

The right to use scarce road space is valuable. When it is given away, drivers overuse available roads, and clog them. The waste is colossal. An estimate by INRIX, a consulting firm, suggests that the value of time lost to traffic in 2018 in America alone reached $87bn.

In an article titled

The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies

and published it the Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Aleecia M. McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor inform the reader:

We estimate that if all American Internet users were to annually read the online privacy policies word-for-word each time they visited a new site, the nation would spend about 54 billion hours reading privacy policies.

Sure, one of the challenges our economies face today, is the lack of employment, unemployment being another waste of …, well, actually of lives as those who are unemployed are far from enjoying leisure time as “main occupation” – the main occupation is worrying about how to get bread and butter on the table, maintaining social contacts, and remaining motivated to take up what is “on offer” (often visits to museums are free), but what does not make sense as “stand alone activity” in stand-alone existences …., meaningless as certain jobs of which the only meaning is that they do exist – as Bullshit Jobs, as David Graeber calls them.Indeed, all these examples underlining what I emphasized: “It is the stable”.


There is a paradox when it comes to the greatness of life, there is the challenge of the unbearable lightness of being, taking up up on Kundera.

Life, with all its beauty, cold be so great, could offer a real lightness of being ….

yet before becoming great for all and everybody it still needs

Peace to the cottages! War on the palaces!

Who gets the third phone, I ?

The Networking-effect, not anything else than spiraling what does already exist ….

… though here as with any kind of this effect the fundamental question is about hen, egg …, and the rooster, at some stage pretending that he (yes, he) is the real creator of everything. One may reword the question and ask:

Who gets the third phone?

In case this sounds strange, a brief explanation will do: the network effect is often explained by making reference to the phone:

  • Having one phone, just being the first and only one, is surely an exiting thing in terms of holding a device in your hand that is potentially a world changer, though it is equally frustrating as it value depends on somebody else also having a phone.
  • In actual fact, being the second having such device is …, well, it is probably the same person as the one who has the first because it is necessary to have two devices to test and proof that “it works” – From Ray Tomlinson, who had been working on this, we learn the following:

The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.

These first messages were sent in late 1971. The next release of TENEX went out in early 1972 and included the version of SNDMSG with network mail capabilities. The CPYNET protocol was soon replaced with a real file transfer protocol having specific mail handling features. Later, a number of more general mail protocols were developed.

http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/ka10.html, there with courtesy Dan Murphey.

  • Being the third who owns a phone, makes a decisive difference: it is the step “beyond the idea”, the moment of take off: if it is …, well, we may call it a “social decision first order”, it is the want to be in touch with somebody even if that person is not physically present; we may say there is another option, let us call it “social decision second order” – this is the want to change the world by initialising a new way of communication, namely communication across a long distance, limited to the participants of the communicative act (many people can hear fanfares or see smoke) – it is communication across the world, or at least within the village or the community – mind, this community is already a changed one if compared with “the original one”: it consists of more people than those being in the immediately (= without mediation) reachable present presence …. – but we may also find a different background, namely an economic one: again, one of first order: the need to maintain in touch to execute a specific business; the other of second order, which is about establishing a large network that can execute one task, composed of different sub-tasks that: if you want the institutionalisation of the six degrees of dependence, focused on  a special, though not entirely pre-defined “undertaking”.
  • Many of these in fact implying the need of going beyond the overall use of three phones. And this opens the way for a another reasoning, can we say it is a social-economic one? Or on of anticipated surplus-value? Or one based I a felt or assumed further process of socialisation? Surely different aspects play a role, and surely it is difficult to find the exact and reliable answer. And surely, in hindsight motives are coming to the fore that are in the meantime completely overgrown and changed by
    • mechanisms required by running the show – academic networks that change focus due to the requirement of financing the work
    • people who joined and take over with different interests
    • or we find a shift towards using nice wrapping paper with beautiful ribbons – perhaps the ribbons made of the ropes with which people could have hanged in other eras as their acts are just ordinary criminal offenses.


Happy New Year

Or New Years Eve, celebrated those days when it had been linked to the vernal equinox. Some uproar in the BaseCamp because of some mates celebrating NEWRUZ … not worthwhile elaborating on this quarrel in detail (though there is much to learn about this holiday, now also internationally recognised). But I was chatting with Loay about it, and expressed my conviction that we have in general so much nationalism in our thinking, not the extreme but just the apparent need to classify everything and everybody, not least making reference to nationality: “We” (people of the country 1 or 2 or country 148 …) are so different, special, compared with the others … . It may well be about being especially good, but also about especially neglecting, neglected, poor untidy … And “they” are … and yes, so often it is about negative things: “their music”, “their meals and eating habits”, “their law”, “their attitude to work” … and one may even add: though often there is some truth in it, there are too often ridiculous prejudices, stereotypes and unjustified generalisations.

Still, I am wondering why we are so often sticking together – I still remember my time in Brussels:

Les Français avec les Français, Język polski z polskim, Na Gaeilge leis na Gaeilge, Gli italiani con gli italiani, Die Deutschen mit den Deutschen – occasionally one felt alone, not being French, Polish, Irish, German or anything … until one decides for this and other reasons it is Time to Say Good-Bye, moving forward, leaving so many behind

A lot has to do with lack of knowledge, missing opportunity to engage in deep learning. Why are we talking about deep learning for computers and any IT-“self”-driving cars, while we are forgetting over all this the need to have deep learning as part of school and university curricular?

Soon to be published, interesting in this context:

Peter Herrmann: Right to Stay_Right to Move, With a preface by Lorena Ossio
Vienna Academic Press.


what does it actually mean? why is it usually seen as positive if something, somebody is shortlisted?
Originating apparently in business and in particular in HR, it is now a term increasingly used in general to highlight people, books, competitors for the longest word

who is the winner and how are the losers?


(whatsoever comes to your mind as worthwile being awarded with something to attribute a special meaning of whatever kind for whatever purpose and aim seems to be noteworthy to be awarded or brought to the attention of others)

what does shortlisted actually mean when we look at a list compiled by a disabled person?

  • the list of disabling items and matters is so long that already one page, neatly compiled, is actually really short if related to other things that are listed
  • the issue at stake is so relevant and important (e.g. the non-accessibility of a toilet for wheelchair-users due to a hindering step – yes, using the “duck” in the non-subdivided passenger compartment of the train is not impossible but still not the most fancy thing to do) that other issues are becoming nearly meaningless (the missing shelve that allows a disabled person to put some cosmetics, deodorant, a hairbrush and comb … into an appropriate location, having it handy for his/her beautification – yes, also wheely-users may think about it)
  • is it about the small print? we manage to print so small that nearly nobody can read anything and actually everybody is being disabled
  • is it about security? the observation of security issues (firealarm-procedures causing so much inconvenience that the gained security is paid for by serious disturbances and dangerous activities to be safe
  • or is it the unintrusive friendliness and support of some that allows to feel just .. part of everything as everybody else who is walking on two legs instead of creeping like the Kantian worm through the mud …

Which list will be shortlisted as the longest? which as the shortest?

Utilitarianism – the core of it

Mark Pendergast, writing on August 15th, 1993 in the New York Times

A Brief History of Coca-Colonization

He really brought utilitarianism down to its very core: 

Devoted employees of the 101-year-old company that makes the world’s favorite soft drink have always believed that the human being was created primarily to serve as a conduit for the dark fizzy beverage. 

Indeed, it is not primarily the utilitarian customer – it is the producer that counts. And furthermore, as a job is a utility and even an essential one, it is better to be of the same opinion as s/he is and identify with “your” firm.

Now, is that a paradox? The real producer is surely not producing, at most sitting alone or amongst other CEOs, thinking about new strategies of extending business, without considering possible negative externalities, elaborating ways of producing externalities in order to enhance profit …

Now one may wonder and take up the question recently asked here;

What is if the satisfied human actually is becoming aware of the fact that s/he is a “pig”, in the metaphorical sense? A being that established this satisfaction on deception, wrong-doing, bribery or simply not sufficiently questioning the facts … just a moron …?