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Paul Bernal's Blog

A story about Facebook went around twitter last night that provoked quite a reaction in privacy advocates like me: Facebook, it seems, is experimenting with getting people to ‘snitch’ on any of their friends who don’t use their real names. Take a look at this:

Facebook has had a ‘real names’ policy for a while: this is what their ‘Help Center’ says on the subject:


People in my field have known about this for a long time – it’s been the cause of a few ‘high profile’ events such as when Salman Rushdie had his account suspended because they didn’t believe that he was who he said he was – but few people had taken it very seriously for anyone other than the famous. Everyone knows ‘fake’ names and ‘fake’ accounts – my sister’s dog has a Facebook account – so few believed that Facebook was going to bother enforcing…

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This morning, when I was getting ready to leave the train, there was a young mother sitting next to the doors. She held a baby on her arm. And as I passed by, that baby looked up to me with its blue eyes and smiled.

In that instant, I felt as if everything in the world was okay. There is something about the genuine, unconditional smile, that makes you feel appreciated, noticed, valuable.

I have been trying it out all day long: just smile, genuinely smile at random people. No reserves, no side-intentions (look at their eyes!), and you will see that you get a lot of them in return. You can be sure that you made a few people feel good about themselves, and the smiles you’ll see appearing on their faces will certainly have a similar effect on you.

Happy

Happy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was watching this TED talk this morning on the train, it made me think of several things, but especially about the (lack of?) attention to detail in my life, and how I tend to forget stuff that matters to colleagues and friends. I enjoyed watching it, and I will keep you posted about what I am going to do with this in my life (if I don’t forget, hur, hur).

Update: a friend recommended a blog post about building your own mind palace. You might enjoy reading that one as well (I did).

Brigitte kaandorp

Brigitte kaandorp (Photo credit: Roel Wijnants)

The night before last I went to see Brigitte Kaandorp, one of my favorite Dutch cabaret artists. She can relate (in practically any meaning of the word), and has a certain vision of life that I really love (or should I say: I love what I think her vision of life is). Probably my favorite song of hers is titled “Leven zonder angst“, or Live Without Fear (go there and listen). As I couldn’t really find a translation of the lyrics, here is my shot at one:

Dutch (from Songteksten.net) English (my own try)
Leven zonder angst – Brigitte Kaandorp
Gisterennacht
Ik kon maar niet slapen
Ik lag te woelen in m’n ledikant
Ik telde 100.000 witte schapen
En die bleven maar staan
En die keken me aan
En ik riep ga nou eens aan de kantIk wil leven zonder angst
Ik wil branden zonder blaren
Ik wil geld zonder te sparen
Ik wil feest zonder gedoe
Ik wil zuipen zonder kater
Een horloge zonder later
Ik wil dansen zonder moe

Ik wil regen zonder jas
Ik wil varen zonder anker
Ik wil roken zonder kanker
‘k Wil een salto zonder net
Ik wil alles weten zonder boeken
Alles vinden zonder zoeken
Ik wil slapen zonder bed

Jij zei vannacht
Joh, je bent niet goed lekker
Je woont niet zomaar gratis op Soestdijk
In het zweet uws aanschijns zult gij uw brood verdienen
En toen keek ik je aan
En toen wou ik je slaan
Want je had zo vervelend gelijk

Maar ik wil liefde zonder eind
Ik wil vrijen zonder zorgen
Van de avond tot de morgen
Ik wil mannen zonder tal
Ik wil doorgaan zonder stoppen
Ik wil binnen zonder kloppen
En een lijf zonder verval

Ik wil vreten zonder dik
Ik wil aangenaam verpozen
Zonder schillen, zonder dozen
Ik wil varkens zonder pest
‘k Wil een kind zonder te baren
En zonder praktische bezwaren
Ik wil zwemmen zonder vest

Ik wil reizen zonder doel
Ik wil zeilen zonder haven
‘k Wil een graf zonder te graven
Ik wil vissen zonder vangst
Ik wil oud zonder bederven
Ik wil dood zonder sterven
Ik wil leven
Ik wil leven
Ik wil leven zonder angst

Live Without Fear – Brigitte Kaandorp
Yesterday night
I just couldn’t sleep
Tossing and turning in my bed
I counted 100.000 white sheep
And they kept standing there
And they looked at me
And I yelled: move aside alreadyI want to live without fear
Want to burn without blisters
Want money without saving
Want a party without hassle
I want to drink without hangover
A watch without later
I want to dance without tired

I want rain without a coat
I want to sail without anchor
Want to smoke without cancer
Want a salto without net
Want to know all without books
Find everything without searching
I want to sleep without a bed

You said last night
Dude, you’re not well
You can’t live just for free at Soestdijk
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread
And then I looked at you
And I wanted to hit you
For you were so annoyingly right

But I want love without end
Want to make out without worry
From the evening to the morning
I want men without count
I want to continue without stopping
I want to enter without knocking
And a body without decay

I want to munch without fat
I want to enjoy the park comfortably
Without litter, without traces
I want swines without fever
Want a child without birthing
and without practical objections
I want to swim without a vest

I want to travel without aim
Want to sail without a harbor
Want a grave without digging
Want to fish without catch
I want old without decaying
I want dead without dying
I want to live
I want to live
I want to live without fear

I apologize for the strange translation. Some plays on words only work in Dutch, I guess, because they are also strongly connected to cultural phenomena or (then) recent events. Also, trying to keep the translated lyrics in the original shape, I couldn’t always think of a proper word or synonym, so I might have used a weaker or not-quite-the-same translation. I tried to link to explanatory sites wherever one of the above was applicable.

What I like most about hearing these lyrics, is the comparison between inherent effects of causes (most of which are some kind of undesired side-effects), and the implied effect of fear caused by living. Plainly said: you can’t have one without the other, however much you might wish for that.

On another level, almost every side-effect is something you might worry about when (thinking about) doing the action that might cause it. And worrying is the main cause of fear. Whenever you feel fear, chances are that you just thought about what might happen. So in that case, the solution to living without fear would be: living without worrying. The side-effects are inevitable, so there’s nothing to be done about them. But, you still have the choice: you can also choose not to live at all (i.e. just sit and wait until it’s over).

Do you live?